Links 12/8/2013: Netrunner 13.06, New Sabayon

Posted in News Roundup at 11:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Finland’s Upper Secondary School Exams Going All-Linux

    “The Matriculation Examination Board of Finland has just opened an international hacking contest to find flaws and exploits in Digabi Live — the Live Debian based operating system to be used in the all-digital final exams by the year 2016. The contest ends on 1st of September, and the winners are about to scoop hefty hardware prizes, also available as cash.”

  • The state of the Linux community

    What prompted me to write this article were two things. One, the recent donation drive on Tuxmachines. Two, the announcement about the closing of The H, which you may also have known as The H: Open Source, Security and Development. What is common for both these announcement is the obvious difficulty in having a sustainable financial model when running sites dealing in Linux.

  • TLWIR: Developing a GNU/Linux-Based Quality Assurance System

    I write about GNU/Linux for a living. It always frustrates me when I make a mistake that makes it through my review process to the actual published article. Most often, it is a spelling error that I missed during my proofreading process. I recently decided that I had to find a systematic method of identifying errors BEFORE publishing my articles.

    Quality assurance is the most important aspect of any endeavor, whether its is building safety systems into a state-of-the-art hybrid vehicle at Toyota, or writing articles that present accurate information about the GNU/Linux operating system.

  • I quit using Linux because…

    Once in a while, a prominent or not so prominent member of the Linux community makes a switch – for one reason or the other – to another operating system, usually to Mac OS X. The latest is Denis Koryavov, the former GUI Development lead for ROSA Laboratory, a Linux software solutions provider based in Russia and the publisher of ROSA Linux.

  • Desktop

    • GNU/Linux and That Other OS Head-to-Head In Uruguay

      The battle for Freedom continues in Uruguay, a country of more than 3 million in South America. You can see in this chart that every up-tick in adoption corresponds to a down-tick in M$’s OS. This is the only game in town on legacy PCs. GNU/Linux is slowly but surely winning share.

  • Kernel Space

    • Those unexpected regressions…

      A while ago, I read Ken Stark’s delicious rant because of a kernel regression.


      Fortunately, my brother had won a set of CDs with a collection of programs that included some free software and demos. In one of them, there was StarOffice, which allowed me to create my presentation. When finished, I saved it both as an .sdd file and a converted .ppt file.

      That was a long time ago. I thought I had lost the presentation forever, but I found an old CD containing only the original .sdd thesis presentation. Logically, I wanted to see it.

      I had seen LibreOffice deal with .sdd files before, so, when I got the dialog asking me for a program to open the ancient presentation, I knew that something was wrong.

      There was simply no way to open it.

    • Linux 3.11-rc5 Celebrates 20 Years Since Windows 3.11

      Twenty years ago today Microsoft released Windows 3.11 while today Linus Torvalds released the Linux 3.11-rc5 kernel. He wished he could have released Linux 3.11 kernel final today, but that didn’t happen.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Nouveau Receives Video Improvements

        A set of patches were published this weekend to improve the Nouveau NVIDIA Gallium3D graphics driver’s handling of video playback acceleration for certain scenarios.

      • Linux’s Common Display Framework Is Still Going

        The Common Display Framework (CDF) proposal for the Linux kernel that started last year is still being worked on. The CDF code is now up to its third revision, but this isn’t likely to be the final revision before pushing it for mainline inclusion.

      • X.Org 7.8 Isn’t Actively Being Pursued

        While there’s an X.Org 7.8 Wiki page that mentions planned features like XWayland integration and video driver hot-plugging, there isn’t active work towards putting out the X.Org 7.8 katamari nor specifically on delivering these mentioned features.

      • Precise vBlank Timing Comes For Nouveau NV50

        Precise vBlank timing support has been patched for the Nouveau DRM driver to support the NV50 through NVC0 NVIDIA GPUs (up to and through Fermi but not yet any NVD0 or Kepler hardware).

      • NVIDIA VP3/VP4 Engines Exposed On Nouveau For MPEG-2/VC-1

        The open-source and reverse-engineered Nouveau driver is now able to tap the more recent “VP3″ and “VP4″ video encode/decode engines on recent NVIDIA GPUs that make up NVIDIA’s PureVideo HD technology. With utilizing these VP3/VP4 engines, there can be MPEG-2 and VC-1 acceleration using this hardware.

    • Benchmarks

      • The Top Features Of Phoronix Test Suite 4.8

        The official release of Phoronix Test Suite 4.8 (codenamed “Sokndal”) is expected in the next week. With the imminent release of our industry-leading open-source automated benchmarking platform for Linux / BSD / OS X / Solaris, here’s a look at some of the top features coming. Aside from just those carrying out the benchmarks, many of the features also benefit those viewing the results — such as Phoronix.com readers.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Plasma Media Center 1.1 RC Release
      • Krita Lime (2.8prealpha). New features overview

        Some time have passed since I was talking about new features of the current development version of Krita. But there are lots of them actually! Let me show them to you :)

      • Recalling the days from Akademy 2013 in Bilbao, Spain

        It has been almost 3 weeks since I’ve been back from Akademy 2013 which was held in the splendid city of Bilbao this year, and it would be foolish to not write about my experiences there, since memories however bright they might be, can easily fade away with time.

      • KDE Plasma Media Center 1.1 Up To RC Stage

        The first release candidate for KDE’s Plasma Media Center 1.1 release is now available. Plasma Media Center supports viewing photographs, watching movies, and listening to music from one central KDE component.

      • KDE Lock Screen vs. Touch Input

        With respect to touch input, most parts of KDE can be handled very easily. However, one, imho, very important aspect, simply lacks all touch UI support: the lock screen (and also the login screen), right now, do not support touch UIs at all.

      • Release Party in Stuttgart this Friday

        This Friday (16th) there will be a release party in Wirtshaus Troll in Stuttgart starting at 19:00 to celebrate the awesome 4.11 release of the KDE SC. For more information (also about other release parties) check the Wiki

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Mageia 3 – Gone in 60 seconds

        I have never reviewed Mageia before and there is a reason for that. Mageia has always been my “Eleanor”.

        The “Eleanor” reference comes from the film “Gone in 60 seconds” and refers to the one car that Nicolas Cage cannot steal because something happens when he tries to do so.

        Mageia has always given me that sort of a problem. I tried Mageia 1 and 2 without success and rather than write a bad review I decided to write nothing at all.

        Mageia though appears to be one of the more popular distributions and I can’t just go on in this fashion. Therefore I have installed it, tried it and now I am going to tell you about my experience.

      • A proper alpha..

        Some of it is at least, we’ve released the live isos today which you should find on your nearest mirror.

      • Mageia 4 In Alpha, Lots Of Features Planned
    • Gentoo Family

      • Press Release: Sabayon 13.08

        Sabayon 13.08 is a modern and easy to use Linux distribution based on Gentoo, following an extreme, yet reliable, rolling release model. This is a monthly release generated, tested and published to mirrors by our build servers containing the latest and greatest collection of software available in the Entropy repositories. The ChangeLog files related to this release are available on our mirrors. Linux Kernel 3.10.4 with BFQ iosched, updated external ZFS filesystem support, GNOME 3.8.4, KDE 4.10.5, MATE 1.6.2, Xfce 4.10, LibreOffice 4.1, UEFI SecureBoot for 64 bit images (with bundled UEFI shell), systemd as default init system, Plymouth as default splash system and new high-dpi artwork are just some of the things you will find inside the box. Please read on to know where to find the images and their torrent files on our mirrors.

      • Sabayon 13.08 Brings Systemd By Default, UEFI Fixes
    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Debian Virtualization: LXC Application Containers

        Linux containers (LXC) is a lightweight virtualization technology build into Linux kernel. Unlike other virtualization technologies, the virtual machines (VM) are driven without any overhead by the kernel already running on the computer. In VM you run only the processes you need, most of the time without even going trough the regular SysV or Linux init. This means that memory is used very conservatively. These lightweight containers are sometimes called application containers, as opposed to distribution containers where you run a full distro starting with SysV/Linux init.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Canonical Lowers Ubuntu One Price to Boost Kickstarter

            Electronista reports that Canonical has adjusted its Kickstarter campaign for the Ubuntu Edge smartphone again to generate more high-dollar pledges. The company is now offering the smartphone for $695 instead of its full $830 price as originally set when the Ubuntu Edge Kickstarter project launched on July 22. Currently, there are 12 days left, and Canonical has only managed to generate just under $9.3 million out of the project’s $32 million goal.

          • Canonical will win even if Ubuntu Edge doesn’t make its $32 million

            It looks less and less likely that Canonical will raise the $32-million it needs for the Ubuntu Edge. So what! It won’t matter in the long run.

          • Ubuntu 13.04 Enables Phased Updates – But What Are They?

            Earlier this week ‘Phased Updates’ were enabled for Ubuntu 13.04 – but what are they?

            Worry ye not: we’re here with a quick overview of what this sci-fi-sounding change is and what it will mean to you going forward.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Linux Deepin 12.12.1 Review: Amazingly beautiful and soothing Ubuntu GNOME spin from China!

              I have used Deepin Linux earlier but never got time to actually pen down a review. It is based on Ubuntu but uses the GNOME shell rather than Unity and comes with great support for Chinese language. I am no expert in Chinese and hence, downloaded the 32-bit English version of Linux Deepin for this test.

            • Taking a look at gNewSense

              You might have noticed that posting in this space has been rather non existent for a while. That’s not because I’ve lost interest in FLOSS, nor is it because of a lack of ideas or desire to post. It’s just that things have gotten in the way.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Remotely control your Raspberry Pi

      Take control of your Raspberry Pi from your smartphone, tablet or PC, from anywhere in the world

    • Phones

      • Android

        • What Does “App” Mean?

          I think I’m going to start using the term “app” to mean “all the pieces you need to build to have a deliverable piece of software.” Because three-letter words are good, and anyhow that’s what the actual people out there who use what we build are starting to say.

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

      • Forrester: Tablets and 2017

        There it is. The world can and does accept tablets as legitimate PCs capable of doing almost everything and being portable besides.

      • Tablet PC, Tablet PC, Tablet PC

        That’s all gone now. When a retailer like Wal-mart has the temerity to use a term like “Tablet PC”, they are going off-script.

      • Acer to downplay Windows in favor of Android, Chrome OS

        Acer has told investors that it will reduce its emphasis on Windows PCs and laptops over the next few quarters in favor of devices based on operating systems from Microsoft’s archrival Google.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Google open-sources 2 cool Chrome Web Lab experiments as its year-long London exhibition ends

    Google has turned to GitHub to take two of its most popular Chrome experiments to the Open Source development community.

    If you recall last July, London’s Science Museum entered into a year-long collaboration with Google called Web Lab, a collaborative project featuring a range of interactive Chrome experiments designed to bring the inner workings of the Web to life.

    Visitors to the free exhibition, which will close this Sunday, were given five separate experiments to get involved with.

  • Boffin Makes List of Open Source Youtube Downloader Software Available On Its Website
  • Open source has won, let’s look to the future

    My nearly 11 minute keynote at OSCON 2013 this year, felt long enough when I gave it, but in terms of what I have to say about the future of open source, it wasn’t even close.

    Here I expand on the lessons I’ve learned from other people working in open source, new technologies emerging in open source that haven’t come of age yet, my passion for open source not being a Zero Sum game, and bringing open source to other parts of society and industry.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • ZTE to sell ZTE Open Firefox OS phone on eBay US and UK
      • ZTE Open Firefox OS Phone to Sell in U.S. and U.K. on eBay

        In another important milestone for Mozilla’s Firefox OS mobile phone platform, the ZTE Open Firefox OS phone is set to start selling soon via eBay’s stores in the U.S. and U.K. ZTE and Mozilla officials confirmed the news on Monday, noting that unlocked phones will sell for $79.99. Thus far, phones based on Mozilla’s open mobile OS have been targeted at emerging markets, including several Latin American, countries. The phones will be orange, as seen here, and users in the U.S. and U.K. will be able to pick their carrier networks.

  • Education

    • How open source took root in one Pennsylvania school district

      I’ve been working in educational technology for more than 17 years and have spent much of my career advocating for open source in schools. For years, open source in education has gotten a bad rap. Superintendents, school boards and teachers frequently misunderstood open source software to be synonymous with dubious code birthed by mad, degenerate “hackers” who spend dark nights scheming to unleash complex and nefarious plots for social disruption.

    • Yet Another School System Thrives on FLOSS

      People still doubt my claims that GNU/Linux and FLOSS thrives in education but my experience in the bush in northern Canada is not unique.

  • Healthcare

  • Project Releases

    • OpenIndiana 151a Finally Sees An Update

      OpenIndiana, the operating system seeking to let Sun Microsystems’ OpenSolaris project live on within the open-source community, is finally out with an update. This isn’t a stable OpenIndiana release but rather is still a pre-release to 151a.

  • Openness/Sharing


  • Google Reader Replacements

    The Google Reader service was launched in 2005 and built up a faithful user base of millions over the years. This aggregator of content served by web feeds offered an undeniably intuitive way for users to access a stream of updates from selected websites, enabling them to easily keep tabs on their favourite websites. Following the announcement in March 2013 that Google was to close the doors to this service – it closed July 2013 – millions of users have had to seek an alternative feed-reading service. How many made the right choice?

  • Science

    • How to: make a microscope from a webcam

      Mark Miodownik, presenter from Dara O Briain’s Science Club on BBC Two, reveals how you can perform simple science experiments at home. Try some DIY science and see the microscopic world up close by turning a webcam inside out…

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Farmers in Bicol uproot golden rice

      “We are very concerned as there are news that feed testing will start this year and that the harvest will be used in these feed experiments. In China, the people have protested against the feed trials on children, prompting proponents to compensate the affected families. We do not want our people, especially our children to be used in these experiments.” – Sikwal GMO

    • Filipino farmers destroy genetically modified ‘Golden Rice’ crops

      A group of activist farmers in the Philippines stormed a government research facility and destroyed an area of genetically modified rice crops the size of 10 football fields. According to New Scientist, the farmers say that genetically modified organism (GMO) foods have not been established to be safe for consumption and that the real solution to world hunger isn’t biologically engineered plants, but a reduction in worldwide rates of poverty.

      “The Golden Rice is a poison,” said Willy Marbella to New Scientist. Marbella is a farmer and deputy secretary general of a group of activists known as KMP — Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas or Peasant Movement of the Philippines.

    • The Tiniest New Technology Poses Unanswered Safety Questions

      You might use nanotechnology in the sunscreens you squirt or lather on your kids. You might like your lips and taste it in your favorite lip-gloss. You might even eat it in your Jell-O pudding. But is it safe?

      Well, that’s a tricky question.

      “Before you can do a risk assessment, you have to be able to do an exposure assessment and a toxicity assessment,” says Consumers Union senior scientist Michael Hansen. “And they really can’t be done yet with nanoparticles. So it makes doing a risk assessment really hard. And there is increasing evidence that particles at the nanoscale can have more of a toxic effect. And that shouldn’t be surprising.”

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • West turned blind eye to Israel’s involvement in Sabra and Shatila ‘slaughter’

      Between 800 and 3,500 people were killed – mostly older men, women and children – by Israeli-backed, far-right Christian Phalangist militias between September 16 and 18, 1982.

      The Israeli army had invaded Lebanon in June of that year in an attempt to remove the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and its leader, Yasser Arafat, and had succeeded in forcing their departure a week earlier.

      Read more: http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/middle-east/west-turned-blind-eye-to-israels-involvement-in-sabra-and-shatila-slaughter#ixzz2bhbGe8SR
      Follow us: @TheNationalUAE on Twitter | thenational.ae on Facebook

    • The innocents caught under the drones: For fearful Yemenis the US and al-Qa’ida look very similar

      I have encountered two separate Yemens this past week: the one portrayed in Western media outlets and the other reality of living in Sana’a. One was rife with conflict and insecurity, the other associated with the navigation of the capital’s gridlocked traffic. Yet the two Yemens collided in a visceral way for most people.

      The al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) plot, described vaguely by President Obama as a “threat stream”, and the subsequent US embassy closure in Sana’a were far from the minds of most Yemenis. Most were more preoccupied with the approaching conclusion of Ramadan, the Eid al-Fitr celebrations and the political direction of the nation, most notably the United Nations-backed National Dialogue Conference, which aims at drafting a new constitution before elections in February.

    • Activists groups can be considered terrorists

      To better understand the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and who is considered a threat we must first ask ourselves “What is a terrorist?” By definition, a terrorist is a person or group of people that cause fear and panic in others by their words or actions. The US government would have us believe that “covered persons” refers to “terrorists” such as al-Qaida or the Taliban.

      However, that is not clearly written in the NDAA. The NDAA only mentions “covered persons.” The government, therefore, could effectively use the NDAA with its indefinite detention and lack of due process against anyone it considers a terrorist. This includes peaceful groups such as the Free State Project and the Occupy movement.

    • Q&A: Chilean author on the CIA’s role in the 1973 military coup

      The Santiago Times speaks to Carlos Busso, an investigative journalist, about his new book on the CIA in Chile, why Allende was a threat and the unofficial story of the coup.

    • How drones shatter Yemeni hopes

      Some years ago, a Western journalist described Yemen as “history’s last departure lounge.” But nobody even in their wildest imagination would have thought this Arab country would one day become the latest theater of America’s drone war and bizarre killings.

      Yes, US missile strikes and civilian casualties coupled with a near total absence of government services and deepening poverty is making Yemen the magnet of the very groups US wants to destroy as part of the war on terror.

    • Putting brakes on use of drones in N.C. right move

      The guidelines for use of drone aircraft by governmental agencies are simple and clear: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”


      The people who wrote the Fourth Amendment could not foresee drones, but they were wise enough to outlaw warrantless searches without specifying how the search would be carried out.

    • Citizens for Legitimate Government: 11 August 2013

      U.S. buying even more hardware for Yemen’s military 09 Aug 2013 U.S. drones have been battering Yemen, killing at least 28 people, and American spy planes watch from overhead. And now, Yemen’s skies are looking to get even more crowded. The U.S. Navy is helping the Yemeni air force buy 12 light spy planes, adding to the hundreds of millions of dollars worth of military aid the U.S. has given to the Sana’a regime. The Navy’s Light Observation Aircraft for Yemen program aims to buy 12 small planes — or maybe choppers — equipped with infrared and night vision cameras and the ability to beam the images collected by those cameras back to a ground station.[Gee, looks like arming the murderous regime in Yemen is sequester-proof. Ditto the Syrian rebels aka cannibals. This is *insane.* Start reading.]

      Yemeni Al Qaeda expert casts doubt on terror threat claims 11 Aug 2013 Yemen’s foremost Al Qaeda researcher says recent U.S. drone strikes have failed to kill senior leaders of the organization, and he dismisses claims that a plot to bomb a Canadian-owned oil facility was foiled by Yemeni authorities. Abdulrazzaq al-Jamal, a journalist and researcher who has been given exclusive access to the terrorist group’s Yemen branch, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), said the series of drone strikes in the past 12 days have killed 32 people, including low-level foot soldiers and civilians.

      Yemenis call U.S. drone strikes an overreaction to al Qaida threat 09 Aug 2013 The United States launching of eight drone strikes in Yemen in the span of 13 days has ignited widespread outrage in the country. The anger over the strikes, which came as an al Qaida-related threat shuttered U.S. embassies and consulates in Yemen and 15 other countries, has overwhelmed attention to the threat itself, which many here view skeptically anyway.

    • Imprisoned CIA Whistleblower John Kiriakou: Totality of Punishment Is Not Limited to a Prison Sentence

      Former CIA officer John Kiriakou, who has served five months of a thirty-month sentence in the federal correctional institution in Loretto, Pennsylvania, has written a fourth letter from the prison.

  • Transparency Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • Kaufman: Why has no banker gone to jail?

      Last week, for the first time, the Securities and Exchange Commission won a case against an individual banker for fraudulent behavior leading to the financial meltdown of 2008-09.

      Hold the applause. The banker was a mid-level executive. It was a civil case; he will face other penalties but will not be going to jail. The U.S. government’s record remains intact. It has sent no one from Wall Street to jail for playing a role in the financial crisis.

    • Americans abroad rejecting US citizenship as tax hikes loom

      The number of Americans who decided to renounce their citizenship in the second quarter of 2013 increased sixfold the same period in 2012, a number the federal government attributes to strict impending financial disclosure rules.

      The United States is the only country out of 34 in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that continues to tax citizens regardless of where they live around the world.

    • Thank You, TSA, NSA, FBI and CIA!

      The secret is that the Federal Reserve can’t really control the economy at all. It can influence it. And the influence it has is all negative; that’s the joke. Setting interest rates at any level other than that chosen by willing borrowers and lenders, the Fed distorts the price of credit. And distorting prices always leads to problems…either shortages or surpluses.

      Also, by fixing rates at ultra-low levels, the Federal Reserve is actually stealing from one group and giving to another. The middle class, savers, and working people lose wealth. Hedge fund managers, bankers, zombies…and, of course, those loveable feds themselves…gain.

    • Donald Trump On ABC’s This Week: “I Don’t Know, Nobody Knows” If Obama Was Born In The U.S.
    • WSJ’s Stephen Moore: Devastating Sequestration Cuts Are A “Success” Free Of “Negative Consequences”

      The Wall Street Journal editorial board’s Stephen Moore falsely claimed that the drastic budget cuts known as sequestration have had “none of the anticipated negative consequences,” when in reality economists have explained that the cuts have had devastating effects on economic growth, jobs, and programs for low-income Americans.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • LEAKED: Intelligence Agencies Running Mass Number of Propaganda Accounts on Social Media

      If there is one thing we can take away from the news of recent months it is, in the words of the New York Times, that “the modern American surveillance state is not really the stuff of paranoid fantasies; it has arrived.”

      “Surveillance and deception are not just fodder for the next ‘Matrix’ movie, but a real sort of epistemic warfare,” the paper reported.

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • Op-Ed: Obama on NSA reform — Not giving credit where credit is due

      Without this publicity and consequent public awareness about the program, the president would probably just have let sleeping dogs lie and let the program continue without change. Snowden’s revelations and their consequent effects have forced Obama at least to go through the motions of reform to get ahead of the game. This has been combined with a huge increase in warnings of a global terror threat that can be used to convince the public that the surveillance programs are essential to their security. As a recent article put it, Snowden, Greenwald and whistle blowers were winning. A poll showed that most Americans thought of Snowden as a whistle blower rather than a traitor.

    • Indiana University law prof: NSA surveillance violates privacy

      Fred Cate penned a brief with other law professors asking the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s order authorizing the government to collect the data. He argues the intelligence court’s 2006 order violates the Patriot Act and “and presents a significant risk to the personal privacy of millions.”

    • Matt Welch Criticizes NSA Spying, Liberty-for-Security Swaps on Fox News

      On Thursday, Aug. 1, I appeared on Fox News’s Your World With Neil Cavuto to talk about the ongoing NSA revelations triggered by Edward Snowden, and where Americans should “draw the line” between liberty and security:

    • Impeach the President, Dismantle the NSA, and Fire the top Echelon of our Military

      Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, and Edward Snowden and others understand their obligation as honorable citizens to protect and defend the honor of those who once had the courage to dedicate their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to making truth and integrity a way of life for all peoples starting right here at home. Many lost their fortunes and their lives doing so. We are no longer being led by such people although there are many people living in the United States today who do have the courage, the honor, and the ability to do what our Founders did.

    • Robocalls: A job for NSA

      The state and federal Do-Not-Call programs are a joke.

    • Matt Damon Slams President Obama: WATCH ‘Elysium’ Actor Discuss NSA, ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law [VIDEO] Weekend Box Office Results

      Elysium actor Matt Damon has been known as a big supporter of President Obama, especially during his presidential campaign in 2008. However, it seems Damon has soured on the president, judging by a recent interview. During an interview with BET, Damon suggested that it feels like he and the President of the United States have separated. Damon told BET, “He (President Obama) broke up with me.”

    • Former adviser Van Jones calls Obama’s denial of NSA spying ‘ridiculous’ (Video)

      Van Jones, a former special adviser to President Barack Obama for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, and co-host of CNN’s “Crossfire,” has described the statement the president made Tuesday on NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” that the government does not having a spying program as “ridiculous.”

    • Zimmermann’s Law: PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder Phil Zimmermann on the surveillance society

      Phil Zimmermann, creator of PGP, in a wide-ranging interview talks about the corrupting nature of big data, the end of privacy and the rise of the surveillance society. He also shared his thoughts on Moore’s Law and its marriage to public policy, and why Silent Circle shutdown its email-service.


      Given the frenetic nature of the news, I didn’t think I would get a chance to have a measured discussion with Zimmermann. Much to my surprise, he got on the phone and we ended up discussing everything from the rise of the surveillance state; big data and its devastating impact on society; data totalitarianism; the somewhat dubious role of Google and Facebook in our lives; and why as a society we can’t fall victim to the cynicism that is starting to permeate our lives. He also talked at length about the important role of our legislators in pushing back against the unstoppable tide of the “surveillance society.”

    • Loophole Shows That, Yes, NSA Has ‘Authority’ To Spy On Americans — Directly In Contrast With Public Statements
    • NSA’s Rules Allowing Warrantless Searches On Americans Came THE SAME DAY It Was Told Searches Violated 4th Amendment

      We already wrote about the bombshell revelation from the Guardian that the NSA changed the rules in October of 2011, so that it had permission to do warrantless searches on US persons (contrary to public claims). However, Marcy Wheeler recognized the date of that update is the very same date that the FISA court supposedly smacked down the NSA for violating the 4th Amendment with some searches.

    • FBI suspected of cyber-attack on anonymous web-hosting and email services

      On August 5 malicious software (malware) in the form of a Java Script (JS) attack code was discovered embedded in multiple websites hosted by the anonymous hosting company Freedom Hosting (FH), the largest hosting company on the anonymous Tor network. Initial research into the malware by experts suggests that it originated from and returned private data back to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or other US government agencies.

    • Not only do they spy on us…

      ….but Big Brother also charges us to spy on us.

    • NSA to chop sysadmin numbers by 90 percent – or is it?

      Most likely, these people would be put on other work rather than fired.

    • Obama’s NSA ‘reforms’ won’t change anything

      While I attended President Obama’s Friday news conference, which largely dealt with surveillance and security, I couldn’t help but wonder whether one man, eight time zones away, was watching: Edward Snowden.

      Having lived in Moscow for many years, I know the Russian capital has many Friday night diversions — but what could been more interesting for Snowden than to watch the president of the United States continue to react to his bombshell revelations? Snowden probably gets a kick out of hearing the president mention his name, too — the ultimate validation of his own importance. Indeed, the president even devalued himself by taunting Snowden. If Snowden is so sure of himself and his views, Obama said, why not return home, get a lawyer, and make his case in court?

    • Don’t Insult Our Intelligence, Mr. President: This Debate Wouldn’t Be Happening Without Ed Snowden

      One of the more ridiculous claim’s during President Obama’s press conference on NSA surveillance today was the claim that he had already started this process prior to the Ed Snowden leaks and that it’s likely we would end up in the same place. While he admitted that Snowden may have “accelerated” the process, he’s also claiming that the leaks put our national security at risk.

    • Obama’s Response To NSA Was To Appease The Public, Not Reduce The Spying

      Even more to the point, his comments represent a fundamental misunderstanding of why the public doesn’t trust the government. That’s because he keeps insisting that the program isn’t being abused and that all of this collection is legal. But, really, that’s not what the concern is about. Even though we actually know that the NSA has a history of abuse (and other parts of the intelligence community before that), a major concern is that scooping up so much data is considered legal in the first place.

    • Obama says phone spying not abused, will continue

      President Barack Obama made it clear Friday he has no intention of stopping the daily collection of American phone records. And while he offered “appropriate reforms,” he blamed government leaks for creating distrust of his domestic spying program.

    • DOJ: There’s No Expectation Of Privacy In Your Phone Records Because People Don’t Like Terrorists

      Following our post on the NSA’s document defending its surveillance programs, let’s look more closely at the Justice Department’s “white paper” explaining the legal rationale for scooping up all of the metadata on every phone call under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, also known as the “business records” or “tangible things” section. This document just focuses on that one program, rather than the many other programs, and within its 23 pages there are so many ridiculous things. I’m sure we’ll come back to many of them in future posts. After going through it a few times, it seems abundantly clear that this was a rush job by the administration to defend this particular program, without realizing just how ridiculous many of its claims are. As Julian Sanchez has noted, the arguments made in this document appear to contradict the DOJ’s actions in dozens of ways, and basically invalidates a ton of previous arguments concerning other surveillance programs. And, worse, it more or less opens the door for massive surveillance on a variety of other things. Again from Sanchez, the argument in this paper could easily apply to having a local prosecutor subpoena all city phone records looking for drug dealing. Because safety!

    • Obama’s Simply Wrong: Whistleblower Protections Would Not Have Applied To Snowden

      During the Q&A portion of today’s President Obama press conference, reporter Chuck Todd asked Obama about Ed Snowden and whether he was a “patriot,” after Obama announced some reforms and even directly made clear that those who support civil liberties and greater transparency “love their country” and are “patriots.” Except, Obama said that he does not think Snowden is a patriot, in part because he had signed the Whistleblower Protection Act and extended the protections to the intelligence community. This is laughable on a variety of levels, including the Obama administration’s actions against other whistleblowers like Thomas Drake and William Binney, who did go through official channels, and then were subject to ridiculous investigations and (with Drake) totally trumped up charges on a bogus unrelated issue.

    • Obama’s Response To NSA Surveillance: Some Minor Reforms & Transparency; Still Lacking Justification
    • London’s bins are tracking your smartphone

      Smartbins use devices’ Wi-Fi connections to log their MAC address and track customer habits

    • Rep. Justin Amash: House Intelligence Committee Withheld NSA Documents From Incoming Congressmen

      Defenders of the NSA’s program always point to two things: it’s all legal and it’s all subject to oversight. Part of the “oversight” is the FISA “thumbs up” system that has approved every request for two years in a row. The other part of the “oversight” is Congress itself.

      Unfortunately, members of Congress have been lied to directly about the extent of the collections occurring under Section 215 (and 702), so that’s one strike against the “oversight.” Now, it appears that members of Congress are being selectively provided with information about the programs.

    • Assange: Obama ‘validates’ Snowden

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says President Obama’s plans to make changes in National Security Agency surveillance programs stem from a single source: Edward Snowden.

      Obama “validated Edward Snowden’s role as a whistle-blower” with his proposals to revamp NSA programs, Assange said in a written statement Saturday.

      “But rather than thank Edward Snowden, the president laughably attempted to criticize him while claiming that there was a plan all along, ‘before Edward Snowden,’” Assange said. “The simple fact is that without Snowden’s disclosures, no one would know about the programs and no reforms could take place.”

    • Michael Hayden, Former NSA Chief: After A Major Attack, U.S. Likely To Seize More Surveillance Powers
    • Julian Assange: Obama ‘validates’ Snowden by proposing NSA changes
    • Required reading: The surveillance state

      President Barack Obama says he will work with Congress to review US surveillance programmes and the powers of the National Security Agency (NSA), following the whistle-blower Edward Snowden’s revelations of a programme of mass surveillance of electronic communications, including emails and Skype calls.

    • Snowden’s father decries ‘political theater’ over son’s leaks

      The father of Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, complained Sunday about the “political theater” surrounding his son’s disclosures of secret surveillance programs and dismissed President Obama’s proposed reforms as “superficial.”

    • Surveillance debate or immigration reform?

      For President Barack Obama, August was supposed to be the time when a major immigration bill landed on his desk.

    • Obama’s NSA review vindicates Snowden, Assange says
    • EU a Key NSA Target
    • Stickonspy: sticker-reminder that the NSA likes to fool around with your webcam

      Stickonspy sells die-cut stickers that go around your laptop’s webcam to remind yourself — and others — that spooks from western governments have made a practice of using spyware that allows them to covertly switch on laptop and mobile phone cameras and microphones to spy on their owners. $3 for one, $10 for 6.

    • Crypto-currency for NSA leaker: Snowden fund accepts Bitcoin

      US fugitive Edward Snowden’s defense fund, launched recently by WikiLeaks to raise money for the legal protection of the NSA leaker, has announced it now accepts donations in virtual currency Bitcoin.

      The Journalistic Source Protection Defence Fund (JSPD) was set up on August 9 with the goal to provide legal as well as campaign aid to journalistic sources. Snowden, who is behind the biggest intelligence leak in the history of the US National Security Agency (NSA), has been selected the first such source.

    • The NSA Isn’t the Only One Spying On You — Your Phone Company is Helping

      A recent federal court ruling that sanctioned the warrantless tracking of American cellular users was deeply troubling. It revealed a disturbing expansion in the scope of power of U.S. executive bodies and has sparked a great distrust among the American people of federal and state authorities.

      In what has become, as the New York Times describes, “a routine tool” for state and federal agents, cell-phone tracking remains a topic many law enforcement officials shy away from discussing. The popularity of the practice has led to its adoption by many local police departments and has become the most prevalent invasive way government officials invade personal privacy.

    • Former NSA chief predicts surveillance programs will expand

      The former head of the National Security Agency said Sunday that not only does ending the NSA’s domestic surveillance programs seems unlikely, but he images those endeavors could expand in scope during the coming years.

    • Want to shoot some guns during recess? Spy agencies court Congress while deceiving it
    • Why won’t they tell us the truth about the NSA?

      But we soon discovered that also was not true either. We learned in another Guardian newspaper article last week that the top secret “X-Keyscore” program allows even low-level analysts to “search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals.”

    • Obama Spurns NSA Spying Reform

      Huey Long once said fascism will arrive “wrapped in an American flag.” In “Friendly Fascism,” Bertram Gross (1912 – 1997) called Ronald Reagan its prototype ruler. Gross didn’t know Obama.

      He represents the worst of rogue governance. He advances America’s imperium. He heads its police state apparatus. He’s waging war on humanity. He’s doing it abroad and at home.

      He puts a smiling face on repression. He’s hardline. He’s ruthless. He’s done what supporters thought impossible. He exceeds the worst of George Bush. He says one thing. He does another. He demands it.

      His promises ring hollow. He broke every major one made. He’s a serial liar. He’s a moral coward. On August 9, he defended the indefensible. He did so disingenuously.

    • The Art of Deception: A Necessary Skill for Intelligence Officials

      As more and more becomes known about blanket spying by the National Security Agency, one thing is becoming increasingly apparent. Government officials are deliberately and repeatedly misleading Congress and the US public in a concerted effort to conceal as much as possible about what the NSA is actually doing.

    • NSA server in Ukraine as part of electronic surveillance program, Snowden revelations suggest

      Details of a top secret U.S. National Security Agency program for culling intelligence from the internet indicate that at least one computer server was or is located in Ukraine, the Guardian wrote on July 31, citing documents provided by former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden.

    • In light of NSA revelations, two German companies to automatically encrypt emails

      Two of Germany’s biggest Internet service providers said Friday they will start encrypting customers’ emails by default in response to user concerns about online snooping after reports that the U.S. National Security Agency monitors international electronic communications.

    • Germany ‘mid-level’ interest to NSA: Report

      Germany is considered to be of ‘mid-level’ interest to the US National Security Agency with the European Union a key priority of spying targets, reports weekly Der Spiegel, citing a document leaked by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

    • US Snooping Programme Had One Server Located In India: Report

      A controversial US surveillance programme that sweeps Internet usage data had 700 snooping servers installed at 150 locations around the world, including one in India, according to a report.

      The XKeyscore programme, run by the National Security Agency (NSA), allowed analysts to search through vast databases containing e-mails, online chats and browsing histories of millions of individuals, the Guardian reported, citing documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

    • NSA Likely Houses Servers in American Embassy, Report Says

      A source in the Russian special services said with “practically 100 percent certainty” that a server supporting the NSA surveillance system XKeyscore is located in the American embassy in Moscow.

    • One of NSA servers used for XKeyscore located in US embassy in Moscow – media
    • National Security Agency Spies on Us and Pays Others to Spy

      Several stories concerning the National Security Agency spying on U.S. citizens surfaced recently.

      British newspaper The Guardian reported on a computer program called XKeyScore. This program allows civilian hackers working for the NSA to fill out a form which gives them access to our email and phone call contents. It can give them recorded files, or real-time email, chat, text or phone-call communications.

    • EU ranked as ‘key priority’ for NSA monitoring

      The European Union is ranked as a key priority by the NSA for monitoring a German newspaper reported Saturday, citing a document leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

    • Edward Snowden’s father gets visa to visit NSA leaker in Russia

      National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden’s father has secured documents to visit his son in Russia and plans to discuss how he could fight espionage charges, Lon Snowden and his attorney said Sunday.

    • Snowden’s father gets visa to visit NSA leaker son in Russia
    • NSA snooping casts pall over Kerry trip

      Secretary of State John Kerry’s trip to Colombia and Brazil this week builds on efforts to deepen relations with Latin America, but he can expect a curt reception from the two U.S. allies after reports that an American spy program widely targeted data in emails and telephone calls across the region.

    • NSA’s Spy History Poses Daunting Challenge for President Obama

      For decades, the NSA has routinely monitored the phone calls, and before emails, the telegrams of thousands of Americans. The rationale has always been the same, and Obama has repeatedly said it in defense of the spy program, and that’s that the surveillance has done much to protect Americans from foreign threats and attacks. The NSA recently tossed out the figure of 42 terrorist acts that it supposedly nipped in the bud because of the spy program. The problem with that is the agency’s history. Its named targets in the past have not been solely alleged Muslim extremists, but Communists, peace activists, black radicals, civil rights leaders, and even drug peddlers.

    • Assange says Obama’s NSA reform vindicates Snowden
    • New search engine protects you from NSA

      The website is called Zeekly.com and founder Jeffrey Sisk explains it doesn’t retain search history, and also runs on 2048-bit SSL encryption to keep private what Internet users don’t want public.

    • Forget Transparency: Now Is The Time to End the NSA’s Surveillance

      On Friday, President Obama delivered a speech meant to answer Americans’ concerns about NSA surveillance. Like most 50-minute speeches by major politicians, it amounts to 50 minutes of life we’ll never get back, and little substance.

      The take-away from the speech is that President Obama is “comfortable” with the surveillance program exactly as it already exists, and the “reforms,” to the extent of which they will happen at all, center on his quote “how do I make the American people more comfortable.”

      In effect, this means a PR campaign to convince the public that what the NSA is doing is okay, and it is noteworthy that one of the major “reforms” announced was having the intelligence agencies make a website to sell the programs to the public.

    • King: Obama needs to speak out more in support of NSA

      Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said Obama could have used his “bully pulpit” to allay fears among the public that the National Security Agency was snooping on their private telephone and Internet communications.

      “What I’m very critical of him for is basically he’s been silent for the last two months,” said King, an outspoken proponent of anti-terrorism intelligence efforts. “He has allowed the Edward Snowdens and the others of the world to dominate the media, and now we have so many people who actually think the NSA is spying on people.”

    • GOP lawmakers balk at privacy advocate in FISA Court
    • Clyburn: Obama can’t have ‘blank check’ on NSA surveillance
    • Peter King: Obama ‘silent’ on NSA
    • Republicans Warn Against NSA Changes

      Some senior Republicans in Congress on Sunday threw cold water on a cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s plan to revamp the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs–his proposal to provide a new advocate for privacy concerns.

    • Edward Snowden dodges NSA traps in endless runner iOS and Android game
    • Ways To Reduce The Chances Of Being Spied On By The NSA Or Anyone Else

      One tool is Tor, a free service that is described as “virtual tunnels that allows people and groups to improve their privacy and security on the Internet” by providing “the foundation for a range of applications that allow organizations and individuals to share information over public networks without compromising their privacy.”

      Tor makes it possible to avoid being tracked by web sites use and to use email, chat and other services anonymously. It also allows users to access services that may be blocked by their Internet service provider (in some countries by government order).

      A new iPhonem, Android, Windows and Blackberry app called Seecrypt“allows you to make and receive unlimited, secure voice calls and text messages between Seecrypt Mobile-enabled devices, anywhere in the world.”

    • Former CIA, NSA Chief: Obama Wants Americans to Accept Surveillance

      Former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden addressed President Obama’s promises of more “transparency” for the surveillance programs, saying that his goal is just to make Americans comfortable enough to accept the program.

    • Lon Snowden, NSA Leaker’s Father, Claims Russia Has Issued Him A Visa

      National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden’s father has secured documents to visit his son in Russia and plans to discuss how he could fight espionage charges, Lon Snowden and his attorney said Sunday.

    • Mega to run ‘cutting-edge’ encrypted email after Lavabit’s ‘privacy seppuku’

      Kim Dotcom’s Mega.co.nz is working on a highly-secure email service to run on a non-US-based server. It comes as the US squeezes email providers that offer encryption and Mega’s CEO calls Lavabit’s shutdown an “honorable act of Privacy Seppuku.”

      Mega’s Chief Executive Vikram Kumar, who is heading the development of the company’s own end-to-end encryption technology to protect the privacy of the future email’s users, has reacted to the Lavabit founder’s decision to suspend his service’s operations – an act, which was shortly followed by voluntary closing down of another secure email service, Silent Circle.

    • New Rule: Congressmen Who Thought Iraq Had WMDs Can’t Talk About NSA Effectiveness

      Senator Saxby Chambliss is either a blind war hawk or is deliberately misleading the public. Last week, after the National Security Agency had intercepted an al-Qaida conference call plotting attacks against U.S. embassies, Chambliss claimed it was proof that mass surveillance programs were effective. But the AP reports that the NSA’s controversial phone and Internet monitoring programs “played no part in detecting the initial tip.”

      The press should have known — and reported on — the fact that Chambliss had a history of hawkish interpretations of intelligence reports after he voted for the Iraq War in 2002. Indeed, the most ardent defenders of the NSA are exactly those members of Congress who wrongly believed we needed to invade Iraq after believing that there was an imminent threat from Saddam Hussein’s Weapons of Mass Destruction.

    • The NSA is turning the internet into a total surveillance system

      Now we know all Americans’ international email is searched and saved, we can see how far the ‘collect it all’ mission has gone

    • Lawmakers tasked with overseeing NSA surveillance programs feel “inadequate”

      In the wake of the Obama Administration’s nod towards greater transparency for its surveillance programs, some members of Congressional intelligence and judiciary committees now say that they have not had the proper opportunity to understand, much less challenge these programs.

      “In terms of the oversight function, I feel inadequate most of the time,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), a member of the House Intelligence Committee. She spoke with The Washington Post on Saturday evening, admitting that while the programs were “approved” by Congress—”Was it approved by a fully knowing Congress? That is not the case.”

    • Russia among countries atop NSA surveillance priority list

      Russia, alongside the EU, China and Iran, are on top of the NSA’s spying priority list, according to a document leaked by fugitive Edward Snowden and published by Der Spiegel weekly.

      In the classified document, dated April 2013, countries are assigned levels of interest for NSA surveillance from 1 (the highest) to 5 (the lowest).

      Among the top surveillance targets are China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, North Korea and Afghanistan. The EU, as a whole is also ranking high, though individually its 28 member-states are of lesser importance to the US intelligence, with Germany and France representing mid-level interest, while countries like Finland, Croatia and Denmark are denoted as almost irrelevant in data gathering.

    • Peter King Defends NSA Against ‘Slanders’: ‘Drives Me Crazy’ To Hear ‘Snooping And Spying’

      On this Sunday’s Face the Nation, New York Congressman Peter King denounced the beating the NSA’s reputation has taken as a result of Edward Snowden’s revelations of the organization’s surveillance programs, arguing that “loose words” like “spying” and “snooping” unfairly diminished the patriotism of NSA staff and officials.

    • Snowden details how NSA can search e-mails, calls without warrant
    • Iran, Russia, China, EU atop NSA Piority List

      Russia, alongside the EU, China and Iran, are on top of the NSA’s spying priority list, according to a document leaked by fugitive Edward Snowden and published by Der Spiegel weekly.

    • Obama’s assurances miss core concerns over NSA surveillance programme

      The US president, Barack Obama, sought to reassure his country, as well as his allies, with a public review and additional oversight of US national security surveillance programmes, but observers said the steps do little to address the core issues at the heart of public concern over the practices.

    • US Govt. Employee Bravely Calls for the Total Abolition of NSA

      These programs have only one objective, and they cannot be reformed or “controlled” or otherwise fixed. Their objective is to reduce the people of the whole Earth under absolute tyranny.

    • On NSA Surveillance, Congressional Oversight Fell Short

      Much of President Obama’s defense of the NSA surveillance program yesterday came down to it being under the oversight of all three branches of the federal government, himself, the Congress, and the secret judges that signed off on the warrants.

    • Lavabit’s Ladar Levison: ‘If You Knew What I Know About Email, You Might Not Use It’

      Ladar Levison, 32, has spent ten years building encrypted email service Lavabit, attracting over 410,000 users. When NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was revealed to be one of those users in July, Dallas-based Lavabit got a surge of new customers: $12,000 worth of paid subscribers, triple his usual monthly sign-up. On Thursday, though, Levison pulled the plug on his company, posting a cryptic message about a government investigation that would force him to “become complicit in crimes against the American people” were he to stay in business. Many people have speculated that the investigation concerned the government trying to get access to the email of Edward Snowden, who has been charged with espionage. There are legal restrictions which prevent Levison from being more specific about a protest of government methods that has forced him to shutter his company, an unprecedented move.

  • Civil Rights

    • New CCTV Code of Practice comes into force

      The code is a step in the right direction towards bringing proper oversight to the millions of cameras that capture our movements every day. However, with only a small fraction of cameras covered and without any penalties for breaking the code, we hope that this is only the beginning of the process and that further steps will be taken in the future to protect people’s privacy from unjustified or excessive surveillance.

    • TSA, change the airport security mindset
  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Copyright owners group tears apart law review process

        Australia’s home entertainment industry lobby has slammed the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) over its handling of a review of the country’s copyright regime.

      • Australian Copyright Industry Says Proposal To Bring In Fair Use Is ‘Solution For Problem That Doesn’t Exist’

        A couple of months back, Techdirt wrote about Australia’s proposals to shift from the current fair dealing approach to fair use as part of wide-ranging reform of copyright there. When something similar was mooted in the UK as part of what became the Hargreaves Review, it was shouted down by the copyright maximalists on the grounds that it would lead to widespread litigation. As Mike pointed out at the time, that’s nonsense: the existence of a large body of US case law dealing with this area makes it much easier to bring in fair use without the need for its contours to be defined in the courts.

Groklaw Slams the US Legal Framework for (Mis)Handling of Patents

Posted in Patents at 4:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“I am a US citizen, and I’m ashamed of what has just happened.” –Pamela Jones

Groklaw team

Summary: Even the popular Web site headed by a law professor and a paralegal is growing angry at what it is increasingly viewing as protectionism that facilitates corruption, not justice

PATENT maximalists have long used the nice-sounding word “innovation” in order to market to the public corporate protectionism, which does not sound as widely beneficial as “innovation”. Public perceptions are evolving on all sorts of issues, one of which is patents.

Ever since Google took part of Motorola it has been involved in battles where patent stacking by Apple and Microsoft challenged the zero cost of Android, the world’s leading operating system (as measured in terms of number of new installations). Geoffrey Manne writes:

It remains to be seen if the costs to consumers from firms curtailing their investments in R&D or withholding their patents from the standard-setting process will outweigh the costs (yes, some costs do exist; the patent system is not frictionless and it is far from perfect, of course) from the “over”-enforcement of SEPs lamented by critics. But what is clear is that these costs can’t be ignored. Reverse hold-up can’t be wished away, and there is a serious risk that the harm likely to be caused by further eroding the enforceability of SEPs by means of injunctions will significantly outweigh whatever benefits it may also confer.

SEPs are standard-essential patents, as we covered recently. The one with her eyes on the FRAND ball is the headmistress of Groklaw. Citing a 2006 paper, Jones shows that “royalty stacking” has long been seen as a form of “exploitative abuse”. Jones also cites an analysis showing the relevance of this to the Samsung-Apple battle. Noting Microsoft’s contribution to this battle, she writes:

Motorola Presses Its Case v. Microsoft’s FRAND Attack in Seattle and in Germany


As for the judge, he’s maybe starting to realize that some of his assumptions about FRAND requirements conflict with what the experts are now telling him. He expresses a measure of confusion about it in an order [PDF] on what the experts for both sides can tell the jury. Here’s what he won’t allow Motorola’s experts to tell them: that being willing to negotiate is sufficient to meet a FRAND obligation. That contradicts what this judge has already ruled in this crazy case, so he doesn’t like that, I suppose. The “reason” they can’t say that to the jury is, he says, because he gets to decide what is or isn’t a fulfillment of a RAND obligation, in that he’s Da Law on Microsoft’s obligations under Washington state law which he believes the world must go along with, Germany included. Experts can’t opine on legal conclusions. However, Motorola has now informed him via this route that he’s been getting some things seriously wrong on what FRAND obligations are and what good faith requires. Perhaps it will influence him. He says that the Motorola experts can input how the jury instructions read. I wouldn’t put much faith in that if I were Motorola, and I gather they don’t. This German prong is getting interesting, I must say.

As FOSS Force put it the other day:

Microsoft continues to collect patents [payments] from nearly everyone using Android, without proving a thing.

Meanwhile, notes Jones, the Microsoft-led Nokia is threatening Android with FRAND as well. Quoting a slightly old article, she picks her words as follows: “This is an article from June, I know, but it speaks to the problem the ITC was trying to address, before the White House just emasculated the ITC. It’s for subscribers only, but I wanted you to know about it, because Nokia’s counsel said that in the past, companies were “far more likely” to respect IP because they participated in the standardisation process and had the incentive to make sure it worked. But today would-be licensees “apply the totally opposite strategy” and “established and respected companies” wilfully infringe IP. That is exactly what Apple and Microsoft have been doing, as I see it. They claim they respect IP, and they demand that theirs be respected, but they have yet to pay Samsung or Motorola for their FRAND patents, instead forcing them to incur the expense of litigation while they enjoy a long, free ride. Lukander said that the problem of free-riding is much greater than any problem of hold up by FRAND patent owners, and that as a result, Nokia has decided to step back from the standardisation process, electing either not to join certain standard-setting organisations or not to contribute certain technologies to these organisations. The FRAND system used to work fine, Nokia said, because negotiations usually worked, but they only worked because the threat of an injunction inspired cooperative negotiations. But now, it’s working against innovation and against users, because it’s no longer balanced. Timothy Lucie-Smith, head of IP licensing at Ericsson, is also quoted in the article, saying that companies that accused others of hold-ups “just want to get a good deal [after] coming late to the development process”. And that’s exactly what I’ve been telling you this is about, since day one.”

“The ITC’s political bias and harm to innovation is so controversial that even lawyers’ blogs call for its dismissal.”Remember when Groklaw protected Apple’s side in a lawsuit for a long time? That all seems to be undone now. “Apple drops to 32% tablet market share in Q2 amidst strong YoY Android growth,” said one headline. Jones commented on it by saying it “will continue, because no one admires a bully.”

So Jones is definitely not sympathising with Apple or buying Apple products anymore. That’s good. While unprepared to criticise the USPTO as much as we have, she is definitely slamming the ITC and some of this peripheral legal bureaucracy right now. The ITC’s political bias and harm to innovation is so controversial that even lawyers’ blogs call for its dismissal. Our wiki page about the ITC shows that none of this should be seen as new. Pamela Jones said something which we said years ago about this corruption of the system. To quote: “By that definition of the ITC, they certainly did their job, protect a US company from a “foreigner” even though Apple was found by the ITC to be guilty of reverse holdup.”

Yes, exactly. Not news.

“It’s not even a small step to patent reform to make the system even less fair,” she added. “As long as they are Apple’s and not Samsung’s property rights” the ITC will do its thing, she believes.

“Apple is already moving to ban Samsung again.”On another day she wrote: “It’s so obviously protectionism, it’s hardly a surprise that it’s upset people. Samsung was found by the ITC to have behaved in good faith, but Apple was ruled to have been guilty of “reverse hold up”, meaning it didn’t present itself as a willing licensee. If *that* isn’t enough to justify an injunction, when everyone — courts and regulators — say it should be enough, what would be? And the reason given — that they were worried about FRAND hold up — is clearly not the real reason, since in this fact pattern, it was actually the opposite. So, it’s a black mark on the US in Korea. If courts and regulators play favorites, based on a company’s nation of origin, why wouldn’t other countries do the same? And if you can’t get a fair shake in the US, why would companies located elsewhere ever donate anything to a standard, knowing that they have no way to enforce their rights? Nokia has already said it won’t be donating as it has in the past. Telling such companies that they are still free to enforce their rights in court is silly. It costs millions for a patent infringement lawsuit, for starters, while unwilling licensees like Apple free ride, and as we saw in the Apple v. Samsung litigation, fairness isn’t at all what a foreign company can expect to receive in US courtrooms either. Apple is the biggest US taxpayer, and it paid off. That’s about it. And it smells funny. Yes. I said it. This is about lobbying by Microsoft and Apple, here and in Europe and Australia and wherever they can. It has nothing to do with FRAND holdup. It’s not even pretending to be about fairness. It’s about money. Apple and Microsoft don’t have a lot of FRAND patents. So they want to block competitors in the smartphone market from distribution with regular patents and design patents — just wait to see what ITC does to Samsung next week, with the excuse that the patents are utility patents, not FRAND — and then Samsung and others who developed this field are blocked from doing the same. Sound fair to you? I am a US citizen, and I’m ashamed of what has just happened.”

For those who believe there is no harm, Jones cites this report:

The decision will probably handicap Samsung’s ability to obtain higher technology licensing fees from Apple in any negotiations, said Susan Kohn Ross, a trade lawyer with Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp in Los Angeles.

And guess what? Apple is already moving to ban Samsung again. From the same corporate news site:

Apple Inc. (AAPL) is trying to force Samsung Electronics Co.’s mobile devices off U.S. store shelves a week after dodging an iPhone 4 ban by a rare White House veto.

As Jones put it in relation to this separate article: “The US can waive Apple’s reverse holdup regarding Samsung’s FRAND patent, because the US economy needs and wants iPhones. But if India looks at its own national needs with respect to IP, that’s not allowed.”

The problem here is systemic. So we need to hammer the system, which a corporate coup distorted if not created. Here is Jones’ longer analysis of this case:

The ITC, according to the Wall St. Journal, decided today to order an injunction against certain Samsung products, thanks to Apple, who was just shown mercy by the President when the shoe was on the other foot. Of course, you know this isn’t necessarily the end. The President gets to do for Samsung what it did for Apple, should he so desire:

As part of its findings, the ITC overturned an administrative judge’s earlier finding that Samsung infringed a potentially important Apple patent on phone design.

The ITC said Samsung can continue to import and sell its infringing devices during a two-month period in which the Obama administration can review Friday’s order.

Samsung had warned the ITC that a product ban potentially could have a significant impact on the South Korean company’s U.S. devices and create “an immediate and long-lasting shortfall” of smartphones in the U.S. market.

Remember that patent aggression that Microsoft had engaged in and the lawsuit filed against a government department which stood in Microsoft's way? Google is trying to do the right thing here. As one report put it, “Google Asks Judge to Toss Microsoft Suit Over Phone Ban”.

“This whole system is undergoing a rapid collapse, so US citizens should reform or overthrow parts of it.”Well, that was a great reminder that the same government which fights privacy, truth/whistleblowing, and even journalism while firmly standing for torture, assassination and indefinite detainment without charges is no exception when it comes to patents. This whole system is undergoing a rapid collapse, so US citizens should reform or overthrow parts of it. The end of the patent regime, for instance, is long overdue.

Patent Aggression, Patent Trolls, and the Increased Visibility of Microsoft’s Role

Posted in Bill Gates, Microsoft, Patents at 4:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bill and Nathan

Summary: Antitrust violators from Microsoft continue trying to portray patents as charity, or mix the two in order to blur the massive difference

The Gates Foundation needs Intellectual Ventures (IV) to portray itself as “innovative” and Intellectual Ventures needs the Gates Foundation to portray itself as “charitable” (e.g. “helping scientists” or “helping solve the world’s problems”). The heads of these two patent-centric operations, Bill and Nathan, are very close friends and they’re only part of Microsoft’s strong affair with patent monopolies. Microsoft’s co-founder is unequivocally a patent troll with great notoriety.

Isn’t it just stunning that a lot of patent trolls are strongly connected to Microsoft, including the company’s founders? There are many examples of this.

The other day, Will Hill looked at the history of a Microsoft executive who had crashed a plane into a building. He wrote:

Looking Closer at Bill Henningsgaard

A former Microsoft executive crashed his airplane into a home in Connecticut killing himself and son in the plane and two children on the ground. A priest is with the mom. Another, more detailed story. This was not his first air crash.

He shows up in Microsoft anti-trust documents, as part of the team pressuring Intel to migrate to Windows instead of gnu/linux for chip design [pdf] , this 2000 team chest thumping like fascists about beating Sun, Novell, Unix, Linux, Notes, world, dog, etc., wrecking Word Perfect and OpenDoc[pdf] and trying to get more money out of Windoze and office by having partners like Dell lease them instead of selling them outright.

Of more recent interest was last business, Social Venture Partners, which is described as philanthropy in the same way the Intellectual Ventures patent troll is. The two are not unrelated, “Nathan Myhrvold, CEO and co-founder of IV, recently delivered the keynote address at the 2012 Social Innovation Fast Pitch in Seattle. Created by Social Venture Partners, the Social Innovation Fast Pitch offers coaching, mentoring and workshops for local innovators to hone their ideas”. Here is a branch in San Diego, which claims,

We specialize in analyzing and valuing intellectual property assets such as brands, patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Essentially we work with IP owners to enhance the value of their assets.

In fact, a Google search turns up branches in Arizona, LA and other places. SVC has partnered with the Gates Foundation and other Microsoft affiliated organizations to fund yet more groups, and advertise a way to donate to “vetted” charities. What’s charity got to do with patent valuation and why would you want such people to direct your money?

Another current business of his was Eastside Pathways, which “that aims to connect different service agencies and advocates for bridging the education gap in Bellevue schools.” which is strange because Belleview is wealthy and has good schools. Helping schools is a fine idea but cooperation with the Gates Foundation is a good way to ruin public schools. Perhaps by invading them with unqualified TFA teachers, unfair teacher evaluations and defunding public schools in favor of charter schools. Other people from Bellevue have been accused of pushing the Gates/Broad agenda this way,

We are, in the state of Washington, once again having the battle over charter schools. The good people in our state have voted it down three times but it has come up again due to the “let’s go around the voters” shenanigans of a former Republican turned Democratic Senator from the upscale suburbs of Bellevue who has determined what is best for the rest of us in terms of charter schools. These charter schools staffed with TFA temps would of course not be proliferating in Bellevue but in the Central District of Seattle, a place that I dare say Senator Tom rarely ventures.

It is difficult to say from a distance, but things mixed up with patents and Gates stink.

The Gates Foundation is very much close to patent agenda, which is also among its business models (not charity). So here again we have a familiar pattern of plutocracy portraying itself as defending the society it is actively looting.

Remember Lodsys, the IV-connected (hence Microsoft- and Gates-connected) patent troll which sues everyone but Microsoft? Well, they too try to pretend to be about charity, but not everyone is buying it. Here is how one writer sees it:

That this item being claimed for (essentially, a button to allow in app payments) is part of what Apple supplies to developers makes it all the more interesting. For of course this provides Lodsys with a vast database of people to sue: all those developing apps are on that potential list.

There’s much more on the background here and here.

But what we all really want to know is, well, how do we stop the patent trolls like Lodsys? How can we still have a system where the rightful owners of useful and valid patents get to protect their intellectual property and yet people with shaky patents of variable validity don’t get to sue the rest of the industry into bankruptcy?

Go back to the roots of it and find Microsoft folks, among others. Here is another take:

One app developer fought back with the help of some pro bono attorneys who gave up a $200k paycheck to help. They brought Lodsys to its knees in a settlement that ended up putting money in the hands of a charitable organization. Which is winning on every.single.front.

This is horrible because charity is increasingly being associated with corruption, thanks to the likes of Lodsys and some plutocrats.

Google is worried about trolls, based on it actions. Google stands behind none of them (never as a proxy, unlike Microsoft). To quote one article:

Google has added 79 patents to the list of patents for which it pledges not to sue any user, distributor or developer of open-source software, unless first attacked.

The issue we have is, companies try to portray patents as some kind of charity or contribution to society and Google plays along with this notion in its original post, “Google: More patents in the service of open source” (IDG did not use the word “donate”). This is an issue which we mentioned the other day. No patent can be “donated”, it is a distortion of concepts. Saying you won’t sue is not the same as you offering a gift.

Richard Stallman Discusses War on Sharing

Posted in TechBytes Video at 1:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

TechBytes with Stallman

Direct download as Ogg (00:05:12, 17.5 MB)

Summary: Dr. Richard Stallman, the Free Software Foundation’s founder, explains his take on copyright and the artificial restriction being used against sharing

Made entirely using Free/libre software, heavily compressed for performance on the Web at quality’s expense

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