Software Patents Are Against the First Amendment, Rules a CAFC Judge in Historic Decision That is Another Nail in the Software Patents Coffin

Posted in America, Patents at 4:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Screenshots taken by Jan Wildeboer (Red Hat)

Opinion on IV

Opinion on IV

Summary: Further reinforcing the current trend, software patents’ demise in the United States has just been ascertained again, even if legal firms and patent maximalists prefer not to comment on it (as it would give this latest decision more visibility)

THE latest decision (see portions above) from the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) is eye-catching, but either it hasn’t caught the eye of legal firms or they’re just trying to ignore it, so we’ll be covering it more than we usually cover such decisions. We have made a local copy [PDF] (original here) of the full decision. We also mentioned it earlier today and yesterday, reaffirming that several software patents are dead, potentially implicating many more (by precedence/extrapolation).

Jan Wildeboer wrote to us (and few others) [1, 2]: “Wow! Software patents can violate #1stamendment according to #CAFC judge! [...] Can’t get enough. Judge defines patent trolls. #CAFC level. Huge. Page 36…”

Some people are also writing to us about it in our IRC channels today. They want this subject covered.

Where is the news coverage about it? It has been several days since this decision and patent law firms are still a month behind the times (McRO again), obsessing over very old news. Consider as a new example Sterne Kessler Goldstein & Fox’s “Patent Rights in the U.S.: Is the Pendulum Finally Swinging Back to Center?” (earlier today)

They speak about McRO while ignoring everything that has happened since. Shame on them. It seems as though bad legal advice from patent law firms is becoming the norm. They mislead scientists for cash (litigation, patent applications etc.), attempting to convince them that patents on algorithms are still a ‘thing’ after Alice. One does not even need to sue a company with software patents in order to lose these patents, owing to inter partes reviews (IPRs). The above lawyers reveal their biases with their obligatory rants about PTAB, stating that “PTAB [is] causing uncertainty over validity and enforcement of patents.”

We are still waiting to see patent law firms which offer their bogus ‘analyses’ (if any) of this latest CAFC ruling on software patents; they hope we don’t see it, judging by the fact that only Patently-O wrote about it (we covered it this morning). The ruling is very important because it serves to demonstrate a loss for patent trolls and for software patents (or patent trolls that use software patents, which is typical). The decision criticises patent trolling as well.

Judging by this new press release (from Trend Micro, which is itself a patent aggressor, not the patent microcosm), some other companies breathe in relief.

So far, based on our research, only one press article has been published about this decision. It’s titled “Here’s Why Software Patents Are in Peril After the Intellectual Ventures Ruling” and it says:

The end may be in sight for software patents—which have long been highly controversial in the tech industry—in the wake of a remarkable appeals court ruling that described such patents as a “deadweight loss on the nation’s economy” and a threat to the First Amendment’s free speech protections.

The ruling, issued on Friday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, found that three patents asserted against anti-virus companies Symantec symc and Trend Micro were invalid because they did not describe a patentable invention. The patents were owned by Intellectual Ventures, which has a notorious reputation in the tech world as a so-called “patent troll,” a phrase that describes firms that buy up old patents and wage lawsuits in order to demand payments from productive companies.


Software Patents as a Threat to Free Speech

Friday’s ruling is also significant because Judge Mayer eschews the insider baseball language that typically dominates patent law, and addresses patents in the broader context of technology and government monopolies.

Pointing out that intellectual property monopolies can limit free speech, Mayer notes that copyright law has built-in First Amendment protections such as “fair use” and that patent law must include similar safeguards. He suggests that the safeguard comes in the form of a part of the Patent Act, known as “Section 101,” which says some things—including abstract ideas—simply can’t be patented in the first place.

IAM ‘magazine’ has not said anything about this decision. So much for ‘news’; it was so quick to crow about McRO (beating everybody to it), but not a word about Intellectual Ventures? They have just released a new issue of the magazine and this time the Intellectual Ventures troll is not on their main feature/cover page (puff pieces galore); not this time around…

Over at Twitter IAM wrote: “Trolls don’t fight it out in the courtroom. They seek to leverage low quality patents to secure quick licensing wins” (does not mention Intellectual Ventures)

Funny that IAM mentions the VirnetX case but not Intellectual Ventures, which speaks directly to IAM. This case was actually mentioned here twice in the past few days alone and it was challenged in court. David Kravets wrote about it, publishing this article that clarifies Texan courts (i.e. notorious bias) ruled on it, not CAFC:

An East Texas jury concluded late Friday that Apple must pay a patent troll $302.4 million in damages for infringing two patents connected to Apple’s FaceTime communication application.

The verdict is the third in the long-running case in which two earlier verdicts were overturned—one on appeal and the other by the Tyler, Texas federal judge presiding over the 6-year-long litigation.

The latest outcome is certain to renew the same legal arguments that were made in the earlier cases: Apple, for one, has maintained all along that the evidence doesn’t support infringement. VirnetX, as it did in the past and is now doing, is seeking more damages for what it says is “willful” infringement on Apple’s part. What’s more, in the previous litigation, the Nevada patent-holding company had asked the judge to shutter the Apple service at issue. Apple has maintained that such a demand was made “So that it can be used to extract a massive licensing fee.”

The case began with four of VirnetX’s patents (1, 2, 3, 4), which had originated at a company called Science Applications International Corporation, or SAIC. VirnetX has been saying for years that it plans to market various products, but its income comes from licensing patents.

If Apple can escalate this upwards, then a court like CAFC would quite likely invalidate the patents, as usual. The higher one goes (in the courts/legal system), the less room for mischief and leeway for software patents. It’s a shame that courts lower down don’t obey rulings that are handed from above, especially courts that are based in Texas.

Links 3/10/2016: GNU Linux-Libre 4.8, DNF 2.0.0

Posted in News Roundup at 3:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • Down the rabbit hole, part 3: Linux and Tor are key to ensuring privacy, security

      So, I’ve decided I need to improve the privacy and security of my life (especially as it relates to computing). And I’ve come to the conclusion that in order to effectively do this, I need to focus on utilizing open source software as much as possible.

      What next?

      Let’s start at a very simple, basic level: the operating system of my laptop computers (I don’t actually have a desktop currently, but the same ideas will apply) and how they connect to the internet.

  • Server

    • Mellanox Deploys Standard Linux Operating Systems over Ethernet Switches

      Today Mellanox announced the availability of standard Linux kernel driver for the company Open Ethernet, Spectrum switch platforms. Developed within the large Linux community, the new driver enables standard Linux Operating Systems and off-the-shelf Linux-based applications to operate on the switch, including L2 and L3 switching. Open Ethernet provides data centers with the flexibility to choose the best hardware platform and the best software platform, resulting in optimized data center performance and higher return on investment.

    • Mellanox Introduces New Driver for Open Ethernet, Spectrum Switch Platforms
    • Mesos and Kubernetes on a hybrid (IBM Power and x86) architecture scenario

      Currently, there are several popular containers clustering system for Linux®, such as Kubernetes, Mesos and so on. Google Kubernetes and Apache Mesos are probably two commonly used tools to deploy containers inside a cluster. Both are created as helper tools that can be used to manage a cluster of containers. However, they differ greatly in their approaches.

      Always, our customs have a hybrid architecture that includes IBM® Power® and x86. So, this article provides the reference solutions about how to apply Mesos and Kubernetes into Linux on a hybrid architecture (including Power and x86) environment.

      See Figure 1 for the reference architecture.

  • Kernel Space

    • GNU Linux-libre 4.8-gnu Released, Deblobs More Drivers

      Hot off the release of the official upstream Linux 4.8 kernel, the GNU Linux-libre 4.8-gnu kernel is now available as the deblobbed code that strips out support for loading non-free firmware and other references to non-free kernel support.

      With GNU Linux-libre 4.8-gnu, there is a change to allow AMD Evergreen GPUs to be able to successfully initialize correctly without any binary-only blobs, a port from a change these developers did back for R600 hardware on an earlier kernel.

    • Linux Kernel 4.8 released with Microsoft Surface 3 touchscreen support [Ed: How on Earth have some people spun a Linux release as a “Microsoft” thing? Part of the “Microsoft loves Linux” Big Lie or is “Microsoft” the biggest Linux feature now? Maybe just headline baiting.]
    • Linux 4.8 kernel will support newer hardware, including your Microsoft Surface 3
    • Systemd bug allows ordinary user to crash Linux systems

      The systemd project is yet to release a fix for a bug that was disclosed on 28 September but at least one GNU/Linux distribution has patched the same.

      The bug, allowing a user to crash a system by using a short command as an ordinary user, was disclosed by a developer named Andrew Ayer.

      After running this command, according to Ayer, “You can no longer start and stop daemons. inetd-style services no longer accept connections. You cannot cleanly reboot the system. The system feels generally unstable (e.g. ssh and su hang for 30 seconds since systemd is now integrated with the login system).”

    • Major Linux distributions suffer from the latest system crippling bug

      A system administrator, Andrew Ayer discovered a crippling bug while working with his Linux System. He reported the issue at length in a blogpost pointing out how anyone could crash Systemd by one single tweet. The system will not collapse as soon as the tweet is rendered on screen by the system. Instead, what it meant was that any Linux distribution could be crippled by a command that can fit into one tweet. He even posted a tweet with the command to prove his point.

    • Linux 4.9′s CPUFreq To Make Greater Use Of Scheduler Info, IOWait Boosting

      The past few kernel releases there’s been a redesign of CPUFreq and P-State code for being able to make use of the kernel’s scheduler utilization data by these CPU frequency scaling drivers. That work also led to the introduction of the Schedutil governor. Work along this line has continued for Linux 4.9.

    • EFI Test Driver Added To The Mainline Linux 4.9 Kernel

      The EFI material is one of the early pull requests for the Linux 4.9 kernel and its bringing a new driver via EFI_TEST.

    • Linux 4.9 On x86_64 To Support Vmapped Stacks

      With the forthcoming Linux 4.9 kernel, x86_64 builds will support CONFIG_VMAP_STACK where kernel stacks are allocated with vmalloc_node for greater security.

    • Mellanox Platform Support Coming In Linux 4.9

      The x86/platform updates for the Linux 4.9 kernel that entered development on Sunday is bringing initial support for the Mellanox systems platform.

    • Linux Should Soon Start Receiving “Make WiFi Fast” Improvements

      In the months ahead the Linux kernel should start receiving the work out of the “make-wifi-fast” initiative for improving WiFi reliability and performance.

      The Bufferbloat project has been working on the Make-WiFi-Fast project because “the current Linux WiFi stack and drivers are far from optimal.” The project aims to reduce latency, develop new packet scheduling and AQM techniques, and improve the stack to allow 802.11ac MU-MIMO to properly work.

  • Applications

  • Distributions

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

      • Apricity OS, a beautiful way to to enter Arch era

        Last time we told you about Manjaro Linux, which is an Arch based linux distribution. Now the point is there is not only one fork but there are others too. Today we will discuss about another fork of Arch in this 12th segment of “Introduction with Linux Distro”. The distribution we will see today is one of the most beautiful distributions in linux world and it is named Apricity OS.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • DNF 2.0.0 and DNF-PLUGINS-CORE 1.0.0 Released

          DNF-2.0 is out! This major version release of DNF brings many user experience improvements such as more understandable dependency problem reporting messages, weak dependencies shown in transaction summary, more intuitive help usage invoking and others. Repoquery plugin has moved into DNF itself. Whole DNF stack release fixes over 60 bugs. DNF-2.0 release was focused on getting rid of yum incompatibilities i.e. treat yum configuration options the same (`include`, `includepkgs` and `exclude`). Unfortunately this release is not fully compatible with DNF-1. See the list of DNF-1 and DNF-2 incompatible changes. Especially plugins will need to be changed to the new DNF argument parser. For complete list of changes see DNF and plugins release notes.

        • DNF 2.0 Released For Improved Package Management On Fedora

          Version 2.0 of the DNF package manager is now available in release candidate form as a major update to this Yum successor. Meanwhile, DNF-Plugins-Core reached version 1.0 for testing.

        • When every Beta closes another Alpha opens…

          As many of you may know, deadlines for Beta packaging for Fedora 25 have recently come and gone. With this said, designs for the default wallpaper are underway and I’m continuing to work through quirks in the design in order to represent the subtle, yet bold and memorable aesthetic that is present in Fedora wallpapers. Getting closer to the Alpha package deadline, I figured that I’d post another progress picture of where I’m at so far. Be sure to check out https://fedorahosted.org/design-team/ticket/473 for more information as to the background and thought process of the design as well!

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Software Can Now Show Screenshots of Snap Apps

            A small fix this one, but it’s something that will help Snap apps stand out in the Ubuntu Software store.

            Snap apps are already available to find and install from the GNOME Ubuntu Software app, on both Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and Ubuntu 16.10. As there’s (still) no way to search for Snap app specifically you need to know the Snap app you want to find before you can find it.

            But until recently Snap apps didn’t display application screenshots, a valuable feature of any app store.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Arduino on Arduino battle ends in reconciliation, merger

      On Saturday, the two rival groups—Arduino LLC (Arduino.cc) and Arduino Srl (Arduino.org)—announced that they had “settled their differences,” and agreed to merge. At present, the similarly-designed sites both carry the official Arduino logo, and both sell official Arduino products.

      The electronics platform Arduino describes itself as “the world’s leading open-source ecosystem for educators, Makers and IoT developers of all ages.” Its board plans are published under Creative Commons (CC) licences, while its software is released as open source. Ars interviewed one of Arduino’s co-founders, Massimo Banzi, back in 2013.

    • ROS: An Open Source Robotics Platform on Linux

      ROS is an open source framework allowing you to create advanced robots. Using ROS takes much of the tedious work out of creating useful robots because it supplies code for navigation, arm manipulation, and other common robot tasks. ROS allows various software components to communicate between one or more computers and microcontrollers, and it allows you to control one or more machine robot networks from a desktop, web browser, and/or other input device. Although ROS stands for Robot Operating System, it is really a framework that sits on top of an existing operating system such as GNU/Linux. Packages are provided for Ubuntu Linux to help get your robot up and rolling.

    • ORWL Open Source, Physically Secure Personal Computer $699 (video)

      First unveiled back in 2012 the ORWL open source personal computer has been designed with your data security in mind and is being marketed as the very first open source physically secure computer.

      What’s the promotional two-minute video below to learn more about the ORWL and how it can be used to keep your personal data safe. ORWL is currently in the final days of its crowdfunding campaign and has nearly raised double what the team requires to take the secure personal computer into production. For more information, full specifications and to make a pledge jump over to Crowd Supply via the link below.

    • Phones

      • Linux V4.8 on N900

        Basics work, good. GSM does not work too well, which is kind of a problem. Camera broke between 4.7 and 4.8. That is not good, either.

      • Android

        • Best Phones for Rooting and Modding

          If you’re not content with the software some company decided you are allowed to use and are willing to roll up your sleeves and do something about it, the Nexus 5X is the best phone to do it with.

          Because it’s a phone directly from Google, the bootloader is easy to unlock using tools and directions Google gives you, and you’ll have no restrictions on the software you can install. If you keep going until the phone just stops working getting back to the factory software is just as easy, and Google provides a downloadable image you can use to restore.

        • EU to Google: stop Android anti-competitive deals, or else [Ed: Remember Microsoft was behind this, remember Android is Linux based, ask yourself if "Microsoft loves Linux"]
        • White Google Pixel and Pixel XL leaked by Bell
        • Google Maps for Android Update Brings Calendar Integration, Shows Upcoming Events
        • Most Secure Android Phone

          The Nexus 6P is the most secure Android phone you can buy, and one of the most secure phones of any available today.

          Without disabling any security protections, the Nexus 6P is protected against known public security exploits and remote installations are monitored by Google’s scanning software which blocks potential malicious content. While security and privacy are two very different things, when you decide you want private things to stay private you need to make sure your phone is secure to keep them that way.

Free Software/Open Source

  • How startups can use open source software to compete against the big guys

    Open source software allows more small businesses in industries that haven’t yet been completely disrupted by technology to create agile software with a small team. This kind of access is what helped my team create our own content marketing software to better service our clients in-house. We did it with a small dev team, and we aren’t alone in that. I think we’re going to start seeing more companies use open source software to create custom tech solutions to fit their needs and make them more competitive against industry giants. – John Hall, Influence & Co.

  • Zeppelin: a Secure Smart Contracts Open-Source Framework for Blockchain Applications

    On September 15, the roadmap proposal for Zeppelin, a MIT licensed open source framework for building secure smart contracts, was published. This comes at an appropriate time as evidenced by the number of talks and discussions at DevCon2 surrounding formal verification of smart contracts.

    Demian Brener and Manuel Aráoz, founders of Smart Contract Solutions, are pioneering the effort around Zeppelin. Zeppelin is a community effort to enable the development of secure, tested and audited smart contract code. Earlier this year, “The DAO”, the largest smart contract application to date, was hacked for $60M by exploiting a loophole in its smart contract. This has justified many concerns in the community bringing formal verification to the forefront.

  • Google Open Sources Powerful Image Recognition Tool

    On the artificial intelligence front, there is a true renaissance going on right now, and it includes a slew of new open source tools, many of which are likely to give rise to businesses built around them. For example, Google recently open sourced a program called TensorFlow. It’s based on the same internal toolset that Google has spent years developing to support its AI software and other predictive and analytics programs. You can find out more about TensorFlow at its site, and you might be surprised to learn that it is the engine behind several Google tools you may already use, including Google Photos and the speech recognition found in the Google app.

    Now, Google has open sourced a “Show and Tell” algorithm to developers, who can purportedly use it recognize objects in photos with up to 93.9 percent accuracy, and help to automate smart photo captioning. It’s based on TensorFlow, and here are details.

  • Events

    • OpenStack Summit to Include Distinguished Contributor Awards

      Not long ago, the OpenStack Foundation created a Superuser publication to facilitate knowledge sharing and collaborative problem solving among individuals who are running OpenStack clouds. It’s actually become a very rich site, and if you are at all involved with OpenStack, it’s worth investigating.

      As the Superuser site has announced, at the upcoming OpenStack Summit in Barcelona, a special round of community awards will be handed out by the OpenStack Foundation. The idea is to recognize esteemed contributors, and here are the details on how you can enter a submission for consideration.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice


    • GnuCash A Free & Open Source Accounting Software For Linux

      GnuCash is a free open source accounting program launched in 1998 for small business. GnuCash implements a double entry bookkeeping system. It was first designed for Linux but later in 2004 it was released for Mac and in 2007 was available for Windows. Its current version is 2.6.14. GnuCash is also available for Android in Playstore.

  • Public Services/Government


  • Security

    • security things in Linux v4.7
    • Microsoft warns Windows security fix may break network shares

      The latest of these, Preview Build 14936 – for testers on what Microsoft refers to as the Fast Ring – comes with the usual set of updates, new features, and fixes for things that the previous release managed to break.

      However, what caught our eye was a warning that after updating, users may find that shared devices such as NAS boxes have mysteriously disappeared from the home network folder, and that any previously mapped network drives are unavailable.

      Microsoft offers a fix for this; if you change your network to “private” or “enterprise”, it should start working again.

      It seems that the cause of this hiccup is a fix that Microsoft made earlier in September to address a security hole severe enough that it might allow remote code execution with elevated permissions on an affected system, although this would require an attacker to create a specially crafted request.

      The fix addresses this by, among other things, “correcting how Windows enforces permissions”.

      Windows Insiders are typically no newbies and used to preview builds breaking stuff, but it is likely that this change will find its way into the Windows 10 code everybody else is running sooner or later.

    • Android Devices Are Targeted By New Lockscreen Ransomware
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Inside the Shadowy PR Firm That’s Lobbying for Regime Change in Syria

      On September 30, demonstrators gathered in city squares across the West for a “weekend of action” to “stop the bombs” raining down from Syrian government and Russian warplanes on rebel-held eastern Aleppo. Thousands joined the protests, holding signs that read “Topple Assad” and declaring, “Enough With Assad.” Few participants likely knew that the actions were organized under the auspices of an opposition-funded public relations company called the Syria Campaign.

    • Under Intense Pressure to Silence Wikileaks, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Proposed Drone Strike on Julian Assange

      Julian Assange and his free-speech brainchild Wikileaks were once lauded as global heroes of public service among United States politicians and policy makers. But by 2010, four years after its inception during the President George W. Bush administration, Assange and his organization were no longer considered lovable troublemakers and mavericks.

      A year into President Barack Obama’s first term, Wikileaks was suddenly considered an out-of-control free-speech Frankenstein wreaking havoc on United States foreign policy and intelligence gathering at the direction of Assange, its proverbial Dr. Frankenstein.

      The honeymoon for the whistle-blower web site, once a darling of the Democratic Party, was now over. Even more alarming, Assange’s personal safety and organization were increasingly at risk from U.S. concerns.

      By November 2010, Assange was a household name globally, but especially on Capitol Hill. And in the State Department alone his prowess of releasing otherwise secret, damning military documents and emails were filling conference rooms at Foggy Bottom and the White House with policy wonks and bureaucrats desperately seeking to squelch the upstart Wikileaks. At the State Department, meeting after meeting was conducted about how Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her inner circle were going to squash Assange and Wikileaks latest planned document dump on the United States. Deemed “CableGate,” Assange planned to release confidential cables, or communications, unveiling damaging internal conversations between State Department personnel and its foreign assets and allies.

      Prodded by the looming CableGate, Clinton met with staff on Tuesday November 23, 2010 shortly after 8 a.m. on Mahogany Row at the State Department to attempt to formulate a strategy to avert Assange’s plans to release an enormous batch of 250,000 secret cables, dating from 1966 to 2010. Assange had professed for months to rain the internal cables down on Clinton and President Obama. The collective fear was the context of the secret cables would hamper U.S. intelligence gathering and compromise private correspondences and intelligence shared with foreign governments and opposition leaders. Splashing such juicy details on television news shows and the front pages of major newspapers in the country was great for the media but lousy for intelligence and foreign policy. Many, including Clinton and her elected boss, expressed fear these revelations would embarrass and expose intelligence allies of the United States and set America’s already fragile foreign policy back decades.

    • The Empire Strikes Back

      A decade ago left-wing governments, defying Washington and global corporations, took power in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Venezuela, Uruguay, Bolivia and Ecuador. It seemed as if the tide in Latin America was turning. The interference by Washington and exploitation by international corporations might finally be defeated. Latin American governments, headed by charismatic leaders such as Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Brazil, Evo Morales in Bolivia and Rafael Correa in Ecuador, won huge electoral victories. They instituted socialist reforms that benefited the poor and the working class. They refused to be puppets of the United States. They took control of their nations’ own resources and destinies. They mounted the first successful revolt against neoliberalism and corporate domination. It was a revolt many in the United States hoped to emulate here.

      But the movements and governments in Latin America have fallen prey to the dark forces of U.S. imperialism and the wrath of corporate power. The tricks long practiced by Washington and its corporate allies have returned—the black propaganda; the manipulation of the media; the bribery and corruption of politicians, generals, police, labor leaders and journalists; the legislative coups d’état; the economic strangulation; the discrediting of democratically elected leaders; the criminalization of the left; and the use of death squads to silence and disappear those fighting on behalf of the poor. It is an old, dirty game.

      President Correa, who earned enmity from Washington for granting political asylum to Julian Assange four years ago and for closing the United States’ Manta military air base in 2009, warned recently that a new version of Operation Condor is underway in Latin America. Operation Condor, which operated in the 1970s and ’80s, saw thousands of labor union organizers, community leaders, students, activists, politicians, diplomats, religious leaders, journalists and artists tortured, assassinated and disappeared. The intelligence chiefs from right-wing regimes in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay and, later, Brazil had overseen the campaigns of terror. They received funds from the United States and logistical support and training from the Central Intelligence Agency. Press freedom, union organizing, all forms of artistic dissent and political opposition were abolished. In a coordinated effort these regimes brutally dismembered radical and leftist movements across Latin America. In Argentina alone 30,000 people disappeared.

    • Colombia referendum: Voters reject Farc peace deal

      Voters in Colombia have rejected a landmark peace deal with Farc rebels in a shock referendum result, with 50.2% voting against it.

      The deal was signed last week by President Juan Manuel Santos and Farc leader Timoleon Jimenez after nearly four years of negotiations.

      But it needed to be ratified by Colombians in order to come into force.

      Addressing the nation, President Santos said he accepted the result but would continue working to achieve peace.

    • Democracy At Its Worst – Colombians Choose War

      The recent result in Colombia is very unsatisfactory. It allows both sides to see victory is achievable with a little more killing or screaming or whatever…

      The world is not a better place when democracy decides that war is better than a few compromises and wider participation of groups in society. Let’s hope that cooler heads prevail and people care enough to do the right thing sooner or later.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Reykjavík: the geothermal city that aims to go carbon neutral

      Reykjavík used to be marketed as a place of ‘pure energy’, run on geothermal power – and now Iceland’s capital is trying to become the world’s first carbon neutral city.

      Last month, Iceland became the one of the first countries to ratify the Paris climate deal with a unilateral parliamentary vote, shortly after Reykjavik announced its aim to be carbon neutral by 2040.

      It wants to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions from 2.8 tonnes per person in 2013 to zero – largely by changing the shape of the city to reverse urban sprawl and encouraging Icelanders out of their beloved cars to walk, cycle or use public transport.

      The city already has a head-start thanks to its reliance on geothermal energy. The US, for example, has a greenhouse gas footprint of 16.5 tonnes per person.

  • Finance

    • 589 million Chinese tourists will spend $72 billion in just seven days celebrating “Golden Week”

      Nearly 600 million Chinese tourists will flock to local tourist spots or fly overseas during the country’s 67th National Day holiday, a seven-day break nicknamed “Golden Week.” Unexpectedly, the new hot destination is Morocco, the North African country.

      South Korea, Thailand and Japan continue to be the top 10 most popular travel destinations (link in Chinese) for Chinese tourists, but there was a 3500% year-on-year increase in visa applications to Morocco processed by Ctrip, a Nasdaq-listed travel agency based in Shanghai, China, according to a 2016 National Day Holiday travel prediction report by Ctrip and the state-backed China Travel Academy. The report also said the United Kingdom, Cambodia, Russia and New Zealand will each see a 60% year-on-year increase.

    • After article 50, Brexit will be easy. A trade deal will be anything but

      Article 50, providing for Brexit, will be triggered by the end of March next year, Theresa May has promised. Two years after it is triggered, Britain will find itself outside the European Union, unless there is unanimous agreement among the other member states to extend the time limit.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Trump Campaign Threatens To Sue NY Times For Sharing His 1995 Tax Returns

      It’s kind of amazing how quickly Donald Trump’s lawyers seem to threaten any media outlet for publishing information about him that he doesn’t like. The latest target is the NY Times which ran a big story over the weekend with some leaked pages of his 1995 tax returns, suggesting that the guy who repeatedly claims he’s great at business, reported personal losses of $916 million. We’ll leave the analyzing of the tax returns to those who do that sort of thing (though I will recommend reading this analysis, which suggests that it’s likely a key part of the NYT article is wrong concerning Trump’s ability to use those losses to avoid taxes for 18 years), but we did want to focus in on something more relevant to what we discuss here at Techdirt.


      But, it’s not that simple. The NY Times would have a pretty strong First Amendment defense that what they’re doing here is very much in the public interest. After all, Trump himself has made his tax returns (and his supposed acumen as a business man) an issue in this campaign by refusing to release them, despite every other major party candidate for President releasing tax returns going back decades (and even Trump himself mocked Mitt Romney for taking too long to release his own tax returns in 2012). So there’s no argument here that this isn’t newsworthy. It clearly is, and that certainly helps the NY Times’s case. To me it seems like it should be a clear First Amendment win for the Times — and plenty of others agree.

      Plus, there’s the fact that if Trump actually did sue, he’d have to admit the returns are really his and are accurate.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Hackers auctioning NSA code disappointed in bidding
    • NSA Secrets Could Be Yours for Only $1,083!
    • Hacker group finds no takers for NSA exploits
    • Nobody wants hacked NSA tools; The Shadow Brokers go on an angry rant in broken English
    • No-one wants to buy the Shadow Brokers’ stolen NSA tools
    • The Peculiar Case of Email in the Cloud [Ed: All E-mail goes through a server; stop using the Clown Computing buzzword, it’s misleading and harmful]

      If you install Postfix on your server, it’s possible to use a Gmail account to send all e-mail on your system. There are a few downsides to this method, but the configuration is simple, and Google’s e-mail servers are very reliable. Plus, because you’re not acting as an e-mail server yourself, you don’t have to worry about having your e-mail rejected by recipients. It’s legitimately coming from gmail.com.

      The first unfortunate consequence is that for its simplest implementation, you need to enable “less secure apps” to log in to your Gmail account. I actually set up a separate gmail.com account for my server, and then I don’t worry about the less secure setting. Thankfully, if this is a concern, it’s possible to use two-factor authentication (more on that later).

    • Snowden — see this film!

      You’ve seen the news stories, and maybe the documentary. The film Snowden will still scare and inspire you. Oliver Stone has made a film that will draw you in, engage you, and even feel anxious about Snowden’s safety. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is amazingly like the man you’ve seen on TV or Youtube.

      Imdb says about Snowden: Its performance during its opening weekend was the lowest opening of Oliver Stone’s career for a film playing in over 2,000 theaters. So go to a theater near you, and see it!

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • UNSOLVED: The Murder of Ferguson Activist Darren Seals

      It’s been three weeks since the body of 29-year-old Ferguson, Missouri protester Darren Seals was discovered inside his burning vehicle with a gunshot wound to the head. St. Louis County police say the homicide investigation is still without leads. However, some community members are questioning the legitimacy of that investigation.

      Darren Seals was one of the most visible and vocal activists to emerge from Ferguson following the 2014 police shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. Seals was known as a “day one-er” – meaning he was a visible presence from the very beginning.

      Watching, from just outside the yellow police tape on the afternoon of August 9th, 2014, as Brown’s body lay in the middle of Canfield Drive, and then demonstrating later that same day just a few blocks away on West Florissant Avenue – where clashes between police and protesters would eventually capture the world’s attention.

    • Chelsea Manning’s Integrity

      In Laura Poitras’s documentary, Citizenfour, Edward Snowden worries to Poitras and Glenn Greenwald that “they” (the press and government) will use his “personality” as a distraction when Greenwald starts publishing stories about the documents that Snowden has leaked. Snowden’s concern was meaningful considering the media coverage of Chelsea Manning, who was on trial at the time Poitras was filming the documentary for charges arising from the Espionage Act, including the charge of aiding the enemy.

      Manning’s queerness, gender nonconformity (she now identifies as trans*), and experiences of being bullied in the Army made her an easy target for claims that her leaking of documents was not true whistleblowing, but amounted simply to a private vendetta against the Army and government. In one of the first articles on Manning in the New York Times, for example, Ginger Thompson suggested that Manning might have leaked documents as a way of seeking revenge for being bullied in the military, or for her struggles under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, or out of “delusions of grandeur.”

    • Arkansas Congressman Who Helped Protect Citizens’ Right To Record Police Arrested For Recording Police

      While the recording of police activities has been covered here for years, I think we’re starting to see what is at least a slight ratcheting down of the drama over the issue. Once almost universally rejected by law enforcement groups, the freedom to record police as they go about their public duty has become more recognized rather than less. That doesn’t mean the issue is settled, though, as shown in a recent example in which Arkansas police arrested a state Congressman who had helped push through a state law protecting the rights of citizens to film police.

    • Arkansas lawmaker who pushed law protecting right to video police is arrested for videoing an arrest

      Officer Jeff Thompson of the Little Rock Police Department arrested Arkansas state Representative John Walker for recording their treatment of a black man who had been put in handcuffs during a traffic stop.

    • Green Party vice presidential candidate Ajamu Baraka on Palestine and Syria

      Ajamu Baraka: Well, of course. The linking of these struggles for liberation in Central America and South Africa with the struggles in the US is a part of the tradition of black internationalism, the center of which is a struggle against the continuity of the colonial, capitalism system. So the quite natural connection has always been with Palestine. In fact, one of the first real structural, organizational connections we point to is the fact that SNCC, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee issued a statement standing in solidarity with the liberation aspirations of the Palestinians in the mid-1960s. And of course there was a very negative backlash for that. So solidarity with Palestinian struggles for self-determination has always been part of the black internationalist tradition. The connection for us has always been clear.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Domain name system transitions to private sector

      ICANN, the body that regulates the domain name system, is no longer under US government oversight as of October 1

      The contract between ICANN and the US Department of Commerce National Telecommunications and Information Administration to perform the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions expired at midnight on Friday.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Big Week For WIPO Marrakesh Treaty On Access For Visually Impaired; Human Rights Side Under Focus [Ed: WIPO is attacking its own staff and Gurry needs to resign]

      The Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled was adopted on 27 June 2013, and the 20th WIPO member ratified it on 30 June 2016, bringing it into force 90 days later on 30 September. The first-ever meeting of the Marrakesh Treaty Assembly is scheduled to take place on 5 October at WIPO.

      The Social Forum of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is taking place from 3-5 October at the UN Palais. The theme of the 2016 session of the Social Forum is the “promotion and full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities in the context of the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD),” according to the event website.

    • External Offices, WIPO Normative Work At Heart Of General Assemblies

      WIPO Director General Francis Gurry, in his opening speech, said “very good process has been made across the organisation over the course of the past 12 months.” He remarked on the last biennium’s (2014-2015) overall surplus of CHF 70.3 million (US$ 72.3 million). WIPO is faring well in the current biennium, he said, and is foreseen to yield an overall surplus as well.

    • Copyrights

      • Phoneix Police Issues Totally Bogus Cease & Desist To Trump Campaign Claiming Copyright Infringement

        Yes, yes, we know that resorting to copyright to take down speech from a politician you don’t like is pretty common. Most of the time it involves musicians not liking politicians playing songs, but lately we’ve seen some other ones as well. Last week, for example, we wrote about a photographer successfully using the DMCA to remove the now infamous image of a bowl of Skittles that Donald Trump Jr. tweeted.

        The latest, however, is even more ridiculous. The city of Phoenix Arizona has sent a cease & desist letter to the Donald Trump campaign, arguing (incorrectly) that Trump was violating their copyrights and publicity rights, by using imagery of Phoneix police officers in an advertisement (first reported by a local NBC affiliate in Arizona). The ad is available on YouTube, and don’t blink or you might miss the Phoneix police officers. It’s a pretty generic politician ad, frankly, but there’s a very brief shot of Trump shaking hands with some Phoneix police officers on a tarmac somewhere (I’m guessing Phoenix…). It appears to last all of about a second.

Translation and Response to Battistelli’s Face-Saving ‘Interview’ With Juve

Posted in Deception, Europe, Interview, Patents at 4:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“There is an old joke which asks – how to tell if a politician is lying? The answer – if they are moving their lips.” (source)

Battistelli liar
Source (original): Rospatent

Summary: An interview prepared by Battistelli’s department, inclusive of all the ‘official’ narratives, is now translated into English and responded to succinctly (for accuracy and a more complete record of events)

THE EPO‘s President is basically a politician, and like most politicians he habitually lies with apparent sincerity. We recently asked for a translation of an article from Juve, which is essentially a written interview in which Battistelli and his PR people stick their ‘official’ story. We now have a complete translation to which we respond in-line (below the quotes):

Here is the introductory part:


In July, the European Patent Office reformed its Boards of Appeals. This reform must be implemented by the beginning of 2017. To achieve this, a President of the Boards of Appeal has to be found. Critics complain that the reform will not give the EPO Boards enough independence. In this JUVE interview, EPO President Battistelli gives his view and explains why patent renewal fees will not necessarily reduce if the UK leaves the EU and, with it, the new European patent system.

We gave a sort of translation of the mirage of independence for the boards. AMBA later refuted that as well.

Regarding the UK, it does not have to leave the EPO if it leaves the EU as the EPO is not an EU organisation and it includes several member states outside the EU.

JUVE: The Administrative Council and the Office describe the reform of the Boards of Appeal as a milestone for the strengthening of status, efficiency and sustainability of the EPO appeal system. Why?

BENOIT BATTISTELLI: The reform is pioneering because attempts at a structural reform have already failed twice, in 1995 and 2004. The Administrative Council gave the Office the mandate to develop a reform proposal which was within the boundaries of the European Patent Convention (EPC). This allowed, in spite of the scope of the reform, a fast implementation. Because otherwise a protracted process would have been needed, including a diplomatic conference and ratification by the parliaments of all 38 member states.

What he is trying to say is, suddenly he cares about the EPC, even though we showed many times in the past that Battistelli arrogantly defies the EPC.

What “fast implementation” means in this context is a forced implementation that does not allow much time for discussion and potentially resistance (same as in patent appeals). It’s just autocracy. To him, diplomacy is just a nuisance that needs to be overcome. We have seen a lot of this in the UPC.

JUVE: What have you achieved?

BENOIT BATTISTELLI: The Boards of Appeal play a very important role in the European Patent System. The reform shall emphasise that and ensure the sustainability of the EPO appeal system: it strengthens the organisational and managerial autonomy of the boards, the perception of their independence, and their efficiency. In addition, a series of measures will be introduced, that will allow the Administrative Council and the future President of the Boards of Appeal to improve legal proceedings for the parties – for instance, by shortening process times and making the appeal procedures more consistent.

In reality, all that’s being achieved is shrinking of the appeals body, less opportunities to appeal (not to mention less time), higher financial barriers (for access) to appeals and no substantial separation at all, given that Battistelli is, according to Board 28, continuing to attack a judge.

JUVE: Nevertheless, not only EPO Boards of Appeal members have criticised that the emphasis has been too much on efficiency and less on the independence of the EPO Boards. How do you respond?

BENOIT BATTISTELLI: The independence of the Boards of Appeal is clearly incorporated in the EPC, and their role as an independent judicial institution has always been recognised by the highest European and national courts. Therefore, the reform shall primarily improve the perception of independence. To achieve this the current DG3 will be restructured into a Boards of Appeal Unit with its own President. The President of the Boards of Appeal will be given tasks and powers which have been delegated to him by the President of the EPO. As far as management duties are concerned, he is only answerable to the Administrative Council. This is a substantial change. This is because as well as improvements to independence the President of the Boards of Appeal shall also increase the efficiency of the Boards of Appeal.

When Battistelli alludes to the EPC he basically admits that he violates it. Why? Because it’s abundantly clear that he has not respected their independence and continues doing so. He keeps speaking about “perception of independence” perhaps because he knows that he wants to give them no real independence; he’s faking it.

JUVE: Why is this at all necessary?

BENOIT BATTISTELLI: The current backlog and the protracted length of the procedure need sorting out. The continuous increase in litigation in the last couple of decades is, however, in no way only limited to the EPO Boards of Appeal. However, it is necessary to confront this situation with appropriate measures.

In other words, quality control is a nuisance to Battistelli because it means that the whole process is slower and there is a queue. God forbid! He acknowledges an increase in litigation, as though this is desirable or somewhat of a given. So in short, speed and raw quantity (quantified using a dumb politician’s yardstick) trump quality now. It’s quite evident from what he is saying.

JUVE: By having, with the new Boards of Appeal Committee, a joint right of proposal for the new President you will have further influence on the Boards of Appeal. Why is the participation of the EPO President at all necessary in this matter?

BENOIT BATTISTELLI: It is stipulated in the EPC that the Chairman of the Enlarged Board of Appeal shall be appointed by the Administrative Council upon a proposal by the President of the Office. According to the reform, the Office President and Boards of Appeal Committee shall jointly propose the President of the Boards of Appeal, who will be delegated managerial responsibilities. In this way the President of the EPO will share the right of proposal with the Committee – currently he alone has this right. This will allow the President of the Boards of Appeal to lead his unit without influence by the management of the EPO.

Given that the Administrative Council is almost in bed with Battistelli (hardly overseeing him at all), and given the track record of bad faith from both, it seems apparent that the above answer is lots of hogwash and hot air.

JUVE: Once more: why, as Office President, will you continue to participate in these matters?

BENOIT BATTISTELLI: At the end of the day the President is legally responsible for ensuring that the whole Office functions in a proper way, including the budget. Hence, he must be able to trust that the person that takes over his powers exercises them properly. The decision to appoint the President of the Boards of Appeal lies, anyway, with the Administrative Council.

…which in itself is somewhat in the pocket — some believe almost literally — of Battistelli.

JUVE: When will you delegate your powers?

BENOIT BATTISTELLI. As soon as the President of the Boards of Appeal has been appointed I will be able to sign a document to transfer powers.

One can safely assume that Battistelli will have veto power and can therefore ensure that the person is subservient or obedient to begin with.

JUVE: Has it already been decided who the first President of the Boards of Appeal will be?

BENOIT BATTISTELLI: He shall be appointed by the Administrative Council before the end of the year. It is planned that he will take up his duties when the reform comes into effect in January 2017.

Notice the word “he” (maybe an artifact of translation from German). Given the lack of diversity at the Office, it would not at all be surprising if the person turned out to be white male, possibly French and right wing.

JUVE: In the future the Office and the Boards of Appeal shall be separately housed in Munich. Has there already been a decision over the future location of the Boards of Appeal?

BENOIT BATTISTELLI. Negotiations with property owners in Munich are already very advanced and hence the decision can be made in October.

They already decided, but they are playing a game here.

JUVE: The disciplinary procedure against the judge that you suspended has still not been concluded. In June the Enlarged Board of Appeal deviated from the recommendation, by the Administrative Council, of dismissal. By October Jesper Kongstad, Chairman of the Administrative Council, has to draw up a proposal as to how to further proceed. According to the statutes he has to propose that the judge be reinstated. You wouldn’t favour that?

BENOIT BATTISTELLI: According to our Convention the Administrative Council has disciplinary authority over Boards of Appeal members, while the President has the power to suggest disciplinary measures and furthermore carries total responsibility for the proper functioning of the Office. In the case in question the Council decided in December 2014, because of the knowledge of serious misconduct, to suspend the Boards of Appeal member from service. After the submission of an extensive investigation report the Council, in March 2015, initiated a disciplinary procedure. Under the chairmanship of a former ECJ judge, a disciplinary committee, which also had members of the EPO Boards of Appeal and experienced external lawyers, came unanimously to the conclusion that the serious misconduct of the Boards of Appeal member demanded his dismissal. In decisions in June and October 2015 the Council followed this review and requested that the Enlarged Board of Appeal submit a proposal for dismissal. However, almost a year after this request the Enlarged Board of Appeal decided to not follow the request, because I pointed out that at the EPO disciplinary proceedings are confidential and cannot be carried out in public. These are the facts. Let us be clear: this isn’t about personal sensitivities, but the integrity of the appeal system at the EPO.

Complete nonsense. Battistelli’s lips just move a lot.

Regarding confidentiality, it’s quite likely Battistelli and his goons who leaked smears to the media in order to defame the accused, making the Office look worse than bad, one might even say “corrupt”. A short time afterwards they began attacking me too — all this shortly after they had signed the FTI Consulting contract that was later expanded to dominate Dutch and German media (separate from the EPO’s payments to media giants which soon turned into EPO mouthpieces).

JUVE: The Brexit decision endangers the start of the new European patent system. The EPO is involved in this system. What chance do you see that the Unitary Patent and hence the whole system will start in April 2017 as planned?

BENOIT BATTISTELLI: The EPO hopes to find a solution that lets the Unitary Patent come into force as soon as possible. It is here crucial that partaking member states ratify the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court. After the referendum the Dutch parliament agreed to ratification and so sent out an important political signal. Independently from the political decisions it can be assumed that the system will come, albeit very probably with a delay. The work is, however, far too advanced, and has generated too much positive momentum, for it to be shelved.

No, the UPC is almost certainly dead (in its current form), if not just in the UK then in the whole of Europe. They’ll probably try to repackage it and maybe even rename it again. This can take years and there’s no guarantee anything will come out of it. In the mean time, the EPO is rotting and there's expectation of layoffs within a couple of years if Battistelli's vision gets implemented.

JUVE: If the UK can’t take part in the system will the renewal fees for the EU patent have to be recalculated?

BENOIT BATTISTELLI: It is too early to estimate the impact on the renewal fees for the Unitary Patent. They have been so determined to correspond to the sum of the renewal fees for the four countries in which classical European patents are most frequently validated. This so-called “Top 4” solution was preceded by very long and difficult discussions of the member states. By the way, the level of the fees was already decided before the accession of Italy and wasn’t increased afterwards, because the member states didn’t want to reopen the debate. This could also be the case if the UK leaves. Finally, the model would even then still offer excellent value, because it would give patent protection in a multitude of EU member states at a very attractive cost.

The patent trolls would certainly love it, but again, why assume this can ever happen? Why suppose an inevitability? The UPC is about as dead as the EU Patent or Community Patent, which several years ago we were told were inevitable and only a matter of time. Remember Charlie McCreevy‘s and Michel Barnier‘s lobbying for this? The latter, incidentally, became the key person in Brexit negotiations.

At the end of last week IAM remarked on this Brexit update, asking, “lawyers, would this have UPC implications?”

“Depends which lawyers one asks,” I replied. Patent lawyers (especially those who invested in UPC) are not David Allen Green, who writes a lot about Brexit these days (one of the most prominent commentators on the subject in the UK). Incidentally, David Allen Green is the person who defended me from several vicious attacks from the EPO.

“Theresa May,” told us a reader last night, “said at the Conservative Party Conference that after Brexit the UK will be “a fully-independent, sovereign country” that will no longer be in the “jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice”, Bang goes the UPC then!”

“Anybody claiming from now on that UK should ratify the UPC soon should loose their illusions,” wrote another person last night [1, 2]. To quote the full comment:

It has just become known that procedure according to Art 50 will be started fore the end of March 2017.

The European communities act of 1972 will be repelled and a Great Repeal Bill will be decided.

It becomes thus clear that the Brexit is on its way. Any ratification before this date has been transferred to dream world…..

Anybody claiming from now on that UK should ratify the UPC soon should have lost its illusions; it would better think how UPC could progress without UK.

Battistelli is a chronic liar (with a track record to prove it). He said the UPC would be in effect this year (he said this as recently as last year) and he keeps changing his story every time he’s caught in a lie. Don’t believe anything that Battistelli and Team UPC say about the unitary patent system, or whatever they will choose to call next year.

Alice/Section 101 Still Spelling Doom for Proponents of Software Patents, Including Some Patent Law Firms

Posted in America, Australia, Patents at 4:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The demise of software patents everywhere, in slow motion…

Thumbs up

Summary: The industry formed around the patenting of algorithms is suffering a rapid decline, as people everywhere realise that software patents in the US are worthless, even if they are somehow granted in the first place

THE TRANSITION into a software patents-free US is costing a lot of money to patent law firms all the around the world. They have become accustomed to telling clients to pursue US patents on software, but this doesn’t work anymore. These clients know a little better, in spite of misleading and selective ‘analyses’ from patent law firms.

Following the lines of pro-software patents blogs like “Bilski Blog”, the “Section 101 Blog” attempts to perpetuate the illusion of software patents potency in the US, soon to be cited by Bastian Best, who promotes software patents in Europe. Almost 3 weeks later these people are still obsessing about McRO — or about one single patent — obviously while ignoring the latest CAFC decisions because these weaken their case. We wrote about it yesterday (almost nobody else wrote about, much as we predicted because of cherry-picking, or lies by omission). Professor Dennis Crouch wrote about it yesterday as well. To quote:

The big news from Intellectual Ventures v. Symantec (Fed. Cir. 2016) is not that the court found IV’s content identification system patents invalid as claiming ineligible subject matter. (Although that did happen). Rather, the big event is Judge Mayer’s concurring opinion that makes “make two points: (1) patents constricting the essential channels of online communication run afoul of the First Amendment; and (2) claims directed to software implemented on a generic computer are categorically not eligible for patent.”


Declaring that software implemented on a generic computer falls outside of section 101 would provide much-needed clarity and consistency in our approach to patent eligibility.

This decision cites even Microsoft. It’s one of the large majority of decisions which show that CAFC is still very hostile towards software patents (more so than district courts), thanks to SCOTUS (notably the Alice decision).

Alice is causing layoffs and shutdowns of patent law firms that depend on software patents or the perception that they’re worth something, as covered here a month ago (high profile examples). Here we have a new example of this (often a blog that promotes software patents). One attorney moves from software patents to actual development of software and Benjamin Henrion told him last night “welcome back to software development.”

The explanation for this move is as follows:

The US Supreme Court issued a decision, in Alice, that has (perhaps unintentionally) granted US patent examiners and the lower courts effective carte blanche to reject claims to any computer-implemented invention they do not like the look or smell of. In around 2010, IP Australia decided that it was time to crack down on claims directed to certain computer-implemented business methods, and created a monster that ultimately resulted in the decision of a Full Bench of the Federal Court of Australia in the RPL Central case and similarly rendered a broader range of subject matter effectively unpatentable. More recently, the Australian Government’s Productivity Commission published a draft report in its enquiry into Intellectual Property Arrangements which contained a recommendation ‘to explicitly exclude business methods and software from being patentable subject matter’ in Australia.

Do I think that all computer-implemented innovations should be patentable? No. Are there still many software-based inventions that remain patentable despite the recent developments? Yes, of course there are. Do I think that the pendulum has swung too far against patent-eligibility in the US and Australia? Well, yes, I do. But what I think about all this is not really the issue right now.

The fact is that, rightly or wrongly, the law has shifted, and as a result the nature and value of advice that I provide to clients in the software space has changed as a result. I simply cannot add value to businesses in this area that I could when the boundaries of patent-eligibility were clearer and more stable. Whether I think it should be this way or not, the end result is still that my skills, knowledge and experience are now under-utilised as a patent attorney. Aside from anything else, this is highly demotivating, and I have come to believe that my talents might be put to better use elsewhere.

Or, to put it more bluntly, what is the point of me if the things I do best are of limited value to clients?

“Based on EPO insiders, they now allow patenting of software as long as it’s combined with something (like a car in this case).”Well, maybe they just realise that they lie to the public and to clients, and they have a guilty conscience over it. That’s what we have been saying for years. The world needs more software development, not more software patents. It needs more development and innovation, not more protectionism and lawsuits.

The above alludes to the situation in Australia, where patents are not worth that much because of the small population size and hence US patents are often pursued. This morning in the Indian press we have some articles [1, 2] that speaks of a company called Rivigo, which is pursing software patents in the US. To quote: “Rivigo has developed algorithms that deal with managing fuel efficiency and pilferage, availability of drivers in the relay system, and loading plans to help reduce damages to products carried by its trucks.”

“It often feels like the only way to get something out of software patents is to go to Texas — something which even BlackBerry (Canadian) has begun doing.”Well, the company went to the US to patent software because these patents are not permitted in India, but such patent would be invalided by courts or boards in the US as well, especially because of Alice. Just because the USPTO (or Battistelli’s EPO for that matter) accept some application doesn’t mean the claimed invention is novel and innovative. Based on EPO insiders, they now allow patenting of software as long as it's combined with something (like a car in this case). The courts wouldn’t quite fall for it and therefore it seems safe to say that software patents everywhere are just a slowly-imploding bubble.

Also mentioned yesterday was this case against Apple down in Texas (we last wrote about the corrupt Texas courts yesterday). It often feels like the only way to get something out of software patents is to go to Texas — something which even BlackBerry (Canadian) has begun doing.

Links 3/10/2016: Linux 4.8 Released, Steam Survey Shows GNU/Linux Growth

Posted in News Roundup at 3:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • The Bug Report

      So I get a bug report. It is on GNU/Linux, of course, because that is the only ecosystem that sends bug reports.

      So first I boot up my work box (Computer #1, Windows 10) which is the one that has the sweet monitor and try to VPN to the Server box (Computer #2, GNU/Linux Fedora Server, amd64). But, of course, at one point I’d stripped all the non-console-mode functionality off of the server, so VPN is a fail. I could have done the fix easily via ssh and emacs-nox, but, I figure it will only take a minute to get a graphical environment up and running.

      There’s a GNU Linux VM running on VirtualBox on the work box, but, I get distracted from the actual problem when I can’t figure out how to get VirtualBox to create a large screen. Totally not a problem, but, I get obsessed with this minutiae and can’t let it go. I waste time tweaking the virtual graphics card settings with no effect.

    • Doom for Windows [Ed: by the creator of DirectX, who isn't pleased with Windows Update.]

      Windows failed to make the leap to new business models and new distributed computing paradigms such that now in the year 2016 Microsoft is on the cutting edge of adopting Apple’s 2007 business model for Windows 10. Here’s why Microsoft has reached the end of its road. They lost the mobile market, they lost search, they’re struggling to compete in the cloud and all they have left is a legacy OS with an architecture from the days of personal computing when connectivity was something only nerds and IT managers worried about. Now the idea of personal computer security is collapsing. It is readily becoming apparent that NOTHING can stop malicious attackers from eventually penetrating the best most advanced security measures of any personal device. Furthermore, as the Edward Snowden scandal has made plain to us all, if malicious attackers aren’t breaking into our computers, then the worlds governments are requiring companies to make their products vulnerable to intrusion. The idea that a lowly personal computer behind a frail consumer router… made in China… stands any chance of resisting serious hacking attempts is a fast fading dream.

      Back when I was making online game publishing DRM (Digital Rights Management) Solutions we measured the time it took Chinese and Russian hackers to crack our best latest security attempts in weeks. Today it can take a matter of days or hours.

      The Windows Operating system has become vast, bloated and cumbersome to maintain. It faces constant security bombardment by the entire worlds connected hacker community and government security agencies. The volume of patches it needs to maintain even the most rudimentary pretext of stability and security requires a constant and overwhelming flood of Windows updates. The seriousness of the situation and the sheer flood of data Microsoft is constantly sending to our computers is staggering. I wanted to show a screen shot of my HUGE Windows Update history but mysteriously, after this most recent disastrous update… Microsoft has seen fit to clear my machine of that information…

    • No Free Upgrades, No New Users: Windows 10 Declines for First Time Since Launch [Ed: based on Microsoft-connected firm]

      The latest batch of market share statistics provided by Net Applications for desktop operating systems puts Windows 10 on the second position in the rankings, but it also reveals something totally unexpected that happened last month.

      Windows 10 has actually lost market share last month despite the fact that everyone expected the operating system to continue its growth, which could be a sign that Microsoft’s 1 billion devices running Windows 10 goal might take a bit longer to become reality.

  • Kernel Space

    • You can crash Linux Systemd with a single Tweet

      System administrator Andrew Ayer has discovered a potentially critical bug in systemd which can bring a vulnerable Linux server to its knees with a single command line.”After running this command, PID 1 is hung in the pause system call. You can no longer start and stop daemons.

    • How to reignite a flamewar in one tweet (and I still don’t get it)
    • Multiple Linux Distributions Affected By Crippling Bug In Systemd

      System administrator Andrew Ayer has discovered a potentially critical bug in systemd which can bring a vulnerable Linux server to its knees with one command. “After running this command, PID 1 is hung in the pause system call. You can no longer start and stop daemons. inetd-style services no longer accept connections. You cannot cleanly reboot the system.” According to the bug report, Debian, Ubuntu, and CentOS are among the distros susceptible to various levels of resource exhaustion. The bug, which has existed for more than two years, does not require root access to exploit.

    • Lennart’s Look At Systemd This Year, What’s Going To Happen In 2017

      We have already covered some of the interesting talks from this year’s systemd conference including how to use it for application sandboxing, a new wireless daemon coming to replace wpa_supplicant, and BUS1 is on the way. But saving the best for last in another presentation to watch this weekend for those interested in systemd: Lennart Poettering’s state of the union address for systemd and a look ahead to 2017 features.

      Lennart’s systemd presentation covered recent improvements/features to systemd as well as a look ahead at some of the ideas baking for future releases. A lot of emphasis was placed on Portable Services for systemd and sandboxing of applications. Some other future ideas are having a Dbus daemon within systemd, more work on containers support, and a variety of new tunables coming. Some of the future options coming include ProtectKernelLogs, ProtectClock, ProtectKernelModules, ProtectMount, ProtectKeyRing, DataDirectory, CacheDirectory, and RestrictNamespaces.

    • October Should Be Very Exciting For Linux Enthusiasts
    • Legends of Linux Part 1: Linus Torvalds

      AS PART of our visit to LinuxCon this week we’re going to ask five key players in the Linux story the same 10 questions to get an idea of where Linux has been, where it is and where it’s going.

      And who better to start with than Linus Torvalds, the often outspoken creator of Linux itself. Torvalds isn’t actually attending the celebrations this year, but was kind enough to chat to the INQUIRER by email.

    • Linux Kernel 4.8 Released By Linus Torvalds — Here Are The 10 Best Features
    • Linux Kernel 4.8 Officially Released, Merge Window for Kernel 4.9 Now Open

      Today, October 2, 2016, Linus Torvalds proudly announced the release and availability for download of the Linux 4.8 kernel branch, which is now the latest stable and most advanced one.

      Linux kernel 4.8 has been in development for the past two months, during which it received no less than eight Release Candidate (RC) testing versions that early adopters were able to compile and install on their GNU/Linux operating system to test various hardware components or simply report bugs. That’s right, the Linux 4.8 kernel series was one of those special ones that received that eighth Release Candidate.

    • Linux 4.8 Kernel Released

      The Linux 4.8 kernel is now officially available.

      Linus Torvalds tagged Linux 4.8.0 and kept the codename as “Psychotic Stoned Sheep.”

    • The Best Features Of The Linux 4.8 Kernel

      If all goes according to plan, the Linux 4.8 kernel will be officially released this afternoon by Linus Torvalds.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Mesa May Move To A Date-Based Versioning System

        Beginning next year, Mesa developers so far appear favorable to moving towards a date-based versioning concept.

        Per the proposal laid out yesterday by AMD’s Marek Olšák, Mesa would move to a date-based version string. He explained, “2017 would start with 17.0, then 17.1, 17.2, 17.3 for following quarters of the year, respectively. 2018 would start with 18.0, then 18.1, 18.2, 18.3. The motivation is that you can easily tell when a specific Mesa version was released with an accuracy of 3 months.”

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • 4MRecover 20.0 Data Recovery Live CD Is Now in Beta, Includes TestDisk 7.0

        4MLinux developer and project leader Zbigniew Konojacki informs Softpedia today, October 2, 2016, about the release and immediate availability for download of the Beta pre-release version of the upcoming 4MRecover 20.0 Live CD.

        As you might know already, the 4MLinux 20.0 and 4MLinux Core 20.0 GNU/Linux distributions are in the works, which means that Zbigniew Konojacki is also preparing new versions of his other projects, including 4MRecover, a Live CD that can be used for data recovery independent of a computer operating system.

        Therefore, 4MRecover 20.0 Beta is based on the Beta release of the 4MLinux 20.0 operating system, which should be officially promoted to the stable channel on the first day of November 2016, and it ships, as usual, with the powerful TestDisk 7.0 data recovery and PhotoRec 7.0 image recovery software.

    • Arch Family

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • openSUSE Tumbleweed Gets Linux Kernel 4.7.5, openSSL 1.0.2j, and Firefox 49.0.1

        Today, October 2, 2016, Douglas DeMaio from the openSUSE project announced that the rolling release Tumbleweed distro received five new snapshots during the last week of September, which brought many goodies to users.

        As mentioned before, these new snapshots brought several updated components and applications for the openSUSE Tumbleweed operating system, which continually received the latest software releases a few days after they’re announced upstream. The most important one being the Linux 4.7.5 kernel.

        We’ve already reported last week that openSUSE Tumbleweed was the first stable GNU/Linux distribution to include the recently released GNOME 3.22 desktop environment, and the openSUSE team now reveals the fact that KDE Plasma 5.8 LTS is coming soon as well, along with Bash 4.4, Qt 5.7, Mono 4.6, and FreeType 2.7.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • DebEX KDE Live DVD Updated with KDE 4.14.2 and Plasma 5, Linux Kernel 4.8 RC8

          GNU/Linux developer Arne Exton informs us about the release of a new stable build of his Debian-based DebEX KDE Live DVD, which ships with the latest stable Linux kernel packages and up-to-date software components.

          Based on the Debian GNU/Linux 8.6 “Jessie” operating system, DebEX KDE Live DVD Build 161001 is out as a drop-in replacement to version 160604, but it looks like Arne Exton managed to implement the latest Release Candidate (RC) version of the just announced Linux 4.8 kernel, which should be out any moment now.

        • Parsix GNU/Linux 8.5 Reached End of Life, Upgrade to Parsix GNU/Linux 8.10 Now

          As reported last month, the Parsix GNU/Linux 8.5 operating system was about to reach the end of its life on September 30, 2016, so today being October 2 means that you need to upgrade your system right now.

          Dubbed Atticus, Parsix GNU/Linux 8.5 was announced approximately months ago, on the 14th of February, and it was entirely based on the Debian GNU/Linux 8.5 “Jessie” operating system, which means that is shipped with the long-term supported Linux 4.1.17 kernel and thes GNOME 3.18 desktop environment with GNOME Shell 3.18.3.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • CoursePad to Become Open Source

    Cornell’s most popular course scheduling website, CoursePad.me, became an open source platform on Github last Thursday after enjoying two years of popularity among students, according to Jingsi Zhu ’16, the website’s sole developer.

    Zhu explained that he chose to open source his website — or make its code freely available for modification and redistribution — after he graduated last semester and realized that he would need to devote more time to his work than to CoursePad.

  • Yahoo open sources its NSFW-detecting neural network

    Yahoo has open-sourced its NSFW (not suitable/safe for work) detecting neural network, allowing developers to work towards improving the algorithm. Jay Mahadeokar and Gerry Pesavento of Yahoo explained in a blogpost that defining NSFW material on Internet is subjective and identifying such images is non-trivial. “Since images and user-generated content dominate the Internet today, filtering NSFW images becomes an essential component of Web and mobile applications,” they said.

  • Open source drives companies to change hiring and development

    “Do I want to play with this open source thing?” This was the question most people asked 20 years ago when I started reviewing PostgreSQL bug fixes and assembling like-minded database colleagues to help start the PostgreSQL Global Development Group.

    It’s mind-blowing to see how much things have changed.

    Today, not becoming a follower of some open source community almost means you’re cobaling yourself—excluding yourself from the reality of how organizations use open software today. As engineers, we always want to keep up with the latest technologies not only to satisfy our desire to create and innovate, but also to remain marketable in a business world where products and technology constantly evolve. What’s happened with the open source movement is different.

    Open source today is not just about the products and technologies that companies use, but rather a whole rainbow of adjustments that have penetrated the corporate culture beyond the engineering department.

    I heard some of the best examples of this during a discussion for data industry leaders at the forefront of open source software innovation this summer. The event was co-hosted by EnterpriseDB (EDB) and MIT Technology Review. We shared our experiences of data transformation with Postgres, NoSQL, and other solutions, and really learned a lot from each other.

  • Security analytics platform now an Apache open source project

    Infosec pros have been hoping for some time that big data and analytics can be harnessed to improve cyber security. A fledgling open source project with genes from Intel and Cloudera is another step in that direction.

  • Events

    • Indian language localization community meets in New Delhi

      Localization is one of the less glamorous aspects of computing. Despite the fact that less than 6% of the world speaks English, a majority of projects don’t feel inclined to accommodate the rest of the population. One of the primary reasons for sticking to English is the steep learning curve and the lack of standardization in various aspects of the localization process.

      The FUEL Project organized the GILT conference in New Delhi, India September 24-25 to highlight and address these issues. The annual event showcases the efforts of language technology organizations and volunteer communities, but this year’s also gave a platform for non-technical users to voice their concerns. The Indic computing developers were joined by academics, reporters, language researchers, publishers, and entrepreneurs who rely on localization tools to connect and interact with audiences in the various regional languages in India. The brainstorming between the two groups, both on and off the stage, was one of the highlights of the conference.

  • SaaS/Back End

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Rehab Addict’s Nicole Curtis and Hackers Agree : Open Hardware Rules

        They say necessity is the mother of invention and it also happens to be responsible for transforming Nicole Curtis from a waitress/real estate agent into the TV star of Rehab Addicts. Much like the dozens of high-tech makers highlighted in Thomas’s book Making Makers, Nicole’s early challenge of “I had no money” galvanized her to find ways to turn beat up old houses and trash into high-value treasures.

        Her approach has been enormously successful. Nicole routinely shows her Rehab Addict fans how to remodel their homes and save a fortune. For example, she redid a bathroom by upcycling what others discarded for a tenth of the cost of putting in a new bathroom. Her videos provide the how tos for anyone with similar problems -they represent the “source code” to rehab a house.


  • French man walks into Apple store and smashes all of its iPhones, shouting ‘this is happening!’

    A man has been caught on camera smashing thousands of pounds worth of new iPhones on display in an Apple shop.

    The unidentified man, who is wearing dark glasses and carrying a steel ball used for boules, methodically removes display phones from their upright holders, and smashes the ball down onto the phones’ Retina HD displays.

    Footage shows him destroying at least 12 iPhones at the shop in Dijon, before he is challenged by security.

  • EU plans to give free Interrail pass to every 18-year-old in Europe on their birthday

    Plans to give all teenagers living in the EU a free Interrail pass on their 18th birthday are to be debated at the European Parliament.

    The proposal aims to give young Europeans a “sense of belonging” to the continent and comes after the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker called for greater cooperation within the EU during his State of the Union speech in Strasbourg.

  • Revealed: How one Amazon Kindle scam made millions of dollars

    He spent a little over 10 years working as a software development engineer for various companies, including Microsoft. He went on to co-found a startup, Alteroxity, which claims to help authors publish ebooks that are already “done for you” — that includes the writing, the creation, the publishing, and even “dozens of honest positive reviews”.

  • Science

    • 80% of data in Chinese clinical trials have been fabricated

      A Chinese government investigation has revealed that more than 80 percent of the data used in clinical trials of new pharmaceutical drugs have been “fabricated”.

      The report uncovered fraudulent behaviour at almost every level, and showed that some pharmaceutical companies had hidden or deleted records of potentially adverse side effects, and tampered with data that didn’t meet their desired outcomes.

      In light of the findings, 80 percent of current drug applications, which were awaiting approval for mass production, have now been cancelled.

      The investigation, led by the Chinese State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA), looked at data from 1,622 clinical trials for new pharmaceutical drugs currently awaiting approval. The applications in question were all for Western medicine, not traditional Chinese medicine.

    • Vint Cerf: Modern Media Are Made for Forgetting

      Vint Cerf, the living legend largely responsible for the development of the Internet protocol suite, has some concerns about history. In his current column for the Communications of the ACM, Cerf worries about the decreasing longevity of our media, and, thus, about our ability as a civilization to self-document—to have a historical record that one day far in the future might be remarked upon and learned from. Magnetic films do not quite have the staying power as clay tablets.

      It’s more than a then-vs-now thing. It’s a progression through history. Clay tablets are more resilient than papyrus manuscripts are more resilient than parchment are more resilient than printed photographs are more resilient than digital photographs.

      At stake, according to Cerf, is “the possibility that the centuries well before ours will be better known than ours will be unless we are persistent about preserving digital content. The earlier media seem to have a kind of timeless longevity while modern media from the 1800s forward seem to have shrinking lifetimes. Just as the monks and Muslims of the Middle Ages preserved content by copying into new media, won’t we need to do the same for our modern content?”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • This Is The Scariest Thing About Health Care In America Today

      I got an email from my husband’s nephrologist the other day that said: “I honestly do not think he will recover.” Before you gasp in horror and go to your dark place, just know that he and I have made our peace with this information. Kidney dialysis is a game-changer, not a game-ender.

      No, it actually wasn’t that particular sentence at all that made my heart sink. The Titanic that overcame me was when his doctor referred him to a vascular surgeon who is not within our insurance company’s network.

      The horrifying reality of my husband’s month-long hospitalization early this summer is that many of the doctors who paraded through his room and stayed for all of about 90 seconds were also out-of-network. And I have the bills to prove it.

      “Well gee, she probably has a cheap-o plan or should be blaming Obamacare,” you may be thinking. You’d be wrong. I work for a large company and we are covered by my large company’s group plan. We bought the best ― and most expensive ― plan offered, one that allowed us to go see any out-of-network doctor if we really wanted to. But somehow, during a hospitalization, the “if we really wanted to” part leaves your control.

    • In Year Since Water Crisis Began, Flint Struggles In Pipe Replacement Efforts

      It’s been one year since health officials in Michigan warned people in the city of Flint to stop drinking the tap water after a research team from Virginia Tech discovered elevated lead levels.

    • In Major Settlement, States Gang Up to Strike Deal with Soldier-Suing Company

      A coalition of attorneys general representing 49 states and the District of Columbia announced a settlement today with USA Discounters, requiring it to pay $40 million in penalties and wipe out more than $95 million in debt for its past customers.

      When ProPublica published its investigation of USA Discounters in 2014, the company was operating two dozen stores, most of them right outside the country’s largest military installations.

      To buy the marked-up furniture, appliances, and electronics the company offered in its showrooms, service members took out loans laden with high interest rates and extra fees. Soldiers who couldn’t pay were then subject to the company’s collection machine, which filed tens of thousands of collection suits in a local Virginia court regardless of wherever in the world the soldier might be.

      Late in 2014, the company underwent a rebranding, dubbing itself “USA Living.” Then, last year, it began to close its stores and later filed for bankruptcy.

  • Security

    • Your next DDoS attack, brought to you courtesy of the IoT

      The internet is reeling under the onslaught of unprecedented denial-of-service attacks, the sort we normally associate with powerful adversaries like international criminal syndicates and major governments, but these attacks are commanded by penny-ante crooks who are able to harness millions of low-powered, insecure Internet of Things devices like smart lightbulbs to do their bidding.

      Symantec reports on the rising trend in IoT malware, which attack systems that “may not include any advanced security features” and are “designed to be plugged in and forgotten” without “any firmware updates” so that “infection of such devices may go unnoticed by the owner.”

      The USA and China are the two countries where people own most of these things, so they’re also where most of the malicious traffic originates. Symantec ran a honeypot that recorded attempts to login and compromise a system that presented as a vulnerable IoT device, and found that the most common login attempts used the default passwords of “root” and “admin,” suggesting that malware authors have discovered that IoT owners rarely change these defaults. Other common logins include “123456,” “test” and “oracle.”

    • Meet Linux.Mirai Trojan, a DDoS nightmare
    • Linux.Mirai Trojan Carries Out DDoS Attacks
    • Fears of a hacked election may keep 1 out of every 5 voters home, says report

      Recent hacks of the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and election databases have increased fears that cybercriminals will try to interfere with the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

      Concerns leading up to election day on November 8 could have a real impact on voter turnout, according to a study from cybersecurity firm Carbon Black. More than one in five registered U.S. voters may stay home on election day because of fears about cybersecurity and vote tampering, the study — an online survey of 700 registered voters aged 18-54 — found.

    • Hostile Web Sites

      I was asked whether it would be safe to open a link in a spam message with wget. So here are some thoughts about wget security and web browser security in general.

    • Bug Bounty Hunters Can Earn $1.5 Million For A Successful Jailbreak Of iOS 10
    • How To Ensure Trustworthy, Open Source Elections [Ed: This reminds us Microsoft must be kicked out of election process [1, 2]

      A strong democracy hinges not only on the right to vote but also on trustworthy elections and voting systems. Reports that Russia or others may seek to impact the upcoming U.S. presidential election—most recently, FBI evidence that foreign hackers targeted voter databases in Arizona and Illinois—has brought simmering concerns over the legitimacy of election results to a boil.

    • Source Code for IoT Botnet ‘Mirai’ Released

      The source code that powers the “Internet of Things” (IoT) botnet responsible for launching the historically large distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack against KrebsOnSecurity last month has been publicly released, virtually guaranteeing that the Internet will soon be flooded with attacks from many new botnets powered by insecure routers, IP cameras, digital video recorders and other easily hackable devices.

      The leak of the source code was announced Friday on the English-language hacking community Hackforums. The malware, dubbed “Mirai,” spreads to vulnerable devices by continuously scanning the Internet for IoT systems protected by factory default or hard-coded usernames and passwords.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Pentagon Paid for Fake ‘Al Qaeda’ Videos

      The Pentagon gave a controversial UK PR firm over half a billion dollars to run a top secret propaganda program in Iraq, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism can reveal.

      Bell Pottinger’s output included short TV segments made in the style of Arabic news networks and fake insurgent videos which could be used to track the people who watched them, according to a former employee.

      The agency’s staff worked alongside high-ranking U.S. military officers in their Baghdad Camp Victory headquarters as the insurgency raged outside.

      Bell Pottinger’s former chairman Lord Tim Bell confirmed to the Sunday Times, which has worked with the Bureau on this story, that his firm had worked on a “covert” military operation “covered by various secrecy documents.”

      Bell Pottinger reported to the Pentagon, the CIA and the National Security Council on its work in Iraq, he said.

    • As Brazil’s New Ruler Admits Lie Behind Impeachment, US Press Closes Eyes

      The Intercept‘s Inacio Vieira notes that the economic plan that Rousseff refused to implement called for widespread cuts to social programs and privatization, a radically different agenda from the one approved by the 54.5 million Brazilian voters who gave Rousseff’s Workers’ Party its fourth electoral victory in 2014.

      But Temer’s remarkable confession was not seen as newsworthy by virtually anyone in US corporate media—though the New York Times (9/19/16) did report on the speech by Temer to the United Nations a few days earlier in which he insisted in reference to the impeachment, “Everything happened with absolute respect for the constitutional order.”

    • When Is Direct Military Intervention Not Direct Military Intervention?

      “President Obama has long refused to approve direct military intervention in Syria,” the New York Times asserted in an editorial (9/29/16) about “Vladimir Putin’s Outlaw State.”

      That’s a peculiar thing to say, given that the Times regularly covers the United States’ ongoing direct military intervention in Syria. Since 2014, according to official Pentagon figures, the US has carried out 5,337 airstrikes in Syria. According to the monitoring group Airwars, these airstrikes (along with a few hundred strikes by US allies) have likely killed between 818 and 1,229 Syrian civilians.

      Nor is direct US military intervention in Syria limited to aerial attacks. In May 2015, the New York Times (5/16/15) reported on a combat raid by US Delta Force commandos in eastern Syria. Later that year, the Times (10/30/15) observed that President Barack Obama had announced he was sending (in the paper’s words) “several dozen” special forces troops on an “open-ended mission” inside Syria.

    • It’s Personal Now: Apologizing to My Daughter for the Last 15 Years of War


      I recently sent my last kid off for her senior year of college. There are rituals to these things, and because dad-confessions are not among them, I just carried the boxes and kept quiet.

      But what I really wanted to say to her — rather than see you later, call this weekend, do you need money? — was: I’m sorry.

      Like all parents in these situations, I was thinking about her future. And like all of America, in that future she won’t be able to escape what is now encompassed by the word “terrorism.”

    • Bring Back The Cold War

      Pundits have declared a “New Cold War.” If only!

    • Colombia’s Santos, FARC scramble to revive peace after shock vote

      Colombia’s government and Marxist FARC guerrillas will scramble on Monday to revive a plan to end their 52-year war after voters rejected the hard-negotiated deal as too lenient on the rebels in a shock result that plunged the nation into uncertainty.

      Putting on a brave face after a major political defeat, President Juan Manuel Santos offered hope to those who backed his four-year peace negotiation with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Cuba.

      Latin America’s longest conflict has killed 220,000 people.

      “I will not give up, I will keep seeking peace until the last minute of my term,” he said moments after losing Sunday’s plebiscite to those who want a re-negotiation of the deal or an obliteration of the FARC on the battlefield.

    • Colombia’s Brexit moment as politicians misjudge popular anger at Farc amnesty

      Colombia’s rejection of a peace deal with Farc rebels to end 52 years of war does not mean an automatic return to hostilities, but it makes the possibility of peace, which had looked close enough to touch, once again a faraway prospect.

      All the pieces were in place to begin implementation of a deal that was four years in the making after talks between government and Farc negotiators in Havana. The Farc had ratified the accord at a national conference, President Juan Manuel Santos and Farc leader Timochenko had signed it in a public ceremony and UN monitors were ready to oversee the bringing together and disarmament of the Farc’s 5,800 fighters. The Nobel committee was reportedly considering a peace prize for Colombia.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Bees added to US endangered species list for the first time

      Seven types of bees once found in abundance in Hawaii have become the first bees to be added to the US federal list of endangered and threatened species.

      The listing decision, published on Friday in the Federal Register, classifies seven varieties of yellow-faced or masked bees as endangered, due to such factors as habitat loss, wildfires and the invasion of non-native plants and insects.

      The bees, so named for yellow-to-white facial markings, once crowded Hawaii and Maui but recent surveys found their populations have plunged in the same fashion as other types of wild bees – and some commercial ones – elsewhere in the United States, federal wildlife managers said.

  • Finance

    • How Donald Trump could have – legally – paid no taxes

      Trump claimed a $916 million loss in 1995, according to a few pages from his state tax returns obtained by the New York Times.

      Because of how Trump structured his businesses and because of the vast array of tax breaks available to real estate developers, it’s a loss that he could have used to reduce the income tax he might otherwise owe.

      CNN has not independently verified the authenticity of the documents published by the New York Times.

    • ‘The Gender Pay Gap Follows Women Into All Areas’

      Janine Jackson: Every now and again, media will release a list of “best places to work if you’re a woman,” citing companies that treat women, well, fairly. Surely meant to be a spotlight on good guys, these features give the dispiriting impression that fair treatment for women at work is a matter of noblesse oblige, and the onus is on women to shop around till they find a job where they won’t be discriminated against.

      A fundamental reflection of that discrimination is, of course, the gender pay gap. The census data used to figure out the pay gap was released recently, and the American Association of University Women has put together their report analyzing it. Here to talk about where we’re at is Kevin Miller, senior researcher at AAUW and author of the new report, The Simple Truth About the Gender Pay Gap. He joins us now by phone from Washington, DC. Welcome to CounterSpin, Kevin Miller.

    • Post-Debate, NYT Scores Points on Trade–Not So Much on Accuracy

      While China has recently been trying to keep up the value of its currency by selling reserves, it still holds more than $4 trillion in foreign reserves, counting its sovereign wealth fund. This is more than four times the holdings that would typically be expected of a country its size. These holdings have the effect of keeping down the value of China’s currency.

      If this seems difficult to understand, the Federal Reserve now holds more than $3 trillion in assets as a result of its quantitative easing programs of the last seven years. It raised its short-term interest rate by a quarter point last December; nonetheless, almost all economists would agree the net effect of the Fed’s actions is to keep interest rates lower than they would otherwise be. The same is true of China and its foreign reserve position.

      The piece goes on to say that NAFTA has “for more than two decades has been widely counted as a main achievement of her husband,” Bill Clinton. It doesn’t say who holds this view. The deal did not lead to a rise in the US trade surplus with Mexico, which was a claim by its proponents before its passage. It also has not led to more rapid growth in Mexico, which has actually fallen further behind the United States in the two decades since NAFTA.

    • Alice O’Connor on the Politics of Poverty

      This week on CounterSpin: New data showing a drop in the percentage of Americans living below the poverty line is being rightly celebrated. But if eliminating poverty is really our goal, wouldn’t there be keener interest in asking exactly why the number went down—or what it means that it didn’t go down for everyone? For that matter, is monitoring the ups and downs in the poverty rate really the most useful way to think about the problem of persistent social inequity and hardship—or the best measure of the adequacy of the responses we’ve developed?

      We talk about the limits of how we talk about poverty with Alice O’Connor. She’s a professor of history at the University of California/Santa Barbara and author of Poverty Knowledge: Social Science, Social Policy and the Poor in 20th Century US History.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Why Facts Don’t Matter to Donald Trump or the 2016 Electorate

      Between the hours of 3 AM and 5 AM Friday morning, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump went on a tweetstorm in which he was, you know, just saying that maybe Hillary Clinton helped former Miss Universe (and a target of Trump’s misogyny) Alicia Machado become a US citizen “so she could use her in the debate.”

      Is that true? Almost certainly not—but in this election season, truth and facts hardly seem to matter. Trump’s attacks on Machado are just the latest data point in an election cycle that has seen wild speculation, rampant exaggeration, and outright lies become accepted as fact by huge swaths of the electorate on both sides of the aisle.

    • Challenge Donald Trump: The media needs to stop acting like the Republican nominee is reality TV

      According to the most recent polls — Donald Trump is now leading Hillary Clinton in the critical swing states of Ohio and Florida.

      And if their behavior in the primaries is any indication — the U.S. media is about to deliver this nation into the hands of Donald J. Trump, and there’s probably very little any of us can do about it.

      The “how” of this has played out in front of us for a year: While Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton were debating issues on the Democratic side — and being largely ignored — Trump was getting wall-to-wall coverage as he bullied his Republican opponents in the primary.

      So the “how” was grounded in editorial and business decisions about who to cover and how.

    • Trump Tax Records Obtained by The Times Reveal He Could Have Avoided Paying Taxes for Nearly Two Decades

      Donald J. Trump declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax returns, a tax deduction so substantial it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years, records obtained by The New York Times show.

      The 1995 tax records, never before disclosed, reveal the extraordinary tax benefits that Mr. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, derived from the financial wreckage he left behind in the early 1990s through mismanagement of three Atlantic City casinos, his ill-fated foray into the airline business and his ill-timed purchase of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.

      Tax experts hired by The Times to analyze Mr. Trump’s 1995 records said that tax rules especially advantageous to wealthy filers would have allowed Mr. Trump to use his $916 million loss to cancel out an equivalent amount of taxable income over an 18-year period.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • There’s exactly one way to prevent misuse of surveillance data: to never collect it in the first place

      A key conclusion in my latest column deserves elaboration: why all available empiric data tells us that the only way to prevent misuse of surveillance data is to never collect it in the first place. This is a very unpopular fact with surveillance hawks, but it’s nevertheless the truth: all collected surveillance data will be abused and turned against the citizen, and that with a mathematical level of certainty.

      While it can’t be logically proven that all surveillance data has been misused and that the surveillance power has been abused, there comes a point in time in any activity where all available empiric data gives the same indication of failure forcefully enough to make people stop and ask “hey, maybe this wasn’t such a good idea”. We’re there with the so-called War on Drugs, we’re there with a number of activities, but the establishment is still fighting forcefully for more surveillance – even though all the data against it is there, and has been for decades.

      Let’s take one example of a super-benign data collection. Around 125 years ago, the Netherlands wanted to serve their citizens better in city planning to make sure everybody had a place of worship nearby, so they started collecting data on people’s faith and where they lived, in order to make sure everybody had a short distance to walk to places of worship.

      There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this on the surface, right? Making sure people have access to services? And yet, this is squarely in the “what could possibly go wrong” category.

    • Shadow Brokers rant about people wanting stolen NSA-linked hacking tools for free

      The hacking group trying to auction off NSA-linked Equation Group hacking tools is unhappy because no one has coughed up the big bucks yet to buy the exploits.

      On Saturday, the Shadow Brokers took to Medium to release the group’s third message. The hackers sound hurt that people don’t trust them and – if cursing is any indication – the hackers are angry that the Equation Group cyber weapons auction has flopped so far.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • This U.S. chess champion is missing the world contest in Iran to protest country’s hijab policy

      One female chess player is protesting Iran’s hijab laws by missing the world tournament.

      Nazi Paikidze-Barnes is the reigning U.S. women’s chess champion. But she won’t be going to the Women’s World Championship being held there in February.

      She explained her decision on Friday in a Facebook post in which she called the World Chess Federation’s decision to have the contest in Tehran “unacceptable.”

      SEE ALSO: Models in hijabs make history at New York Fashion Week

      “I think it’s unacceptable to host a WOMEN’S World Championship in a place where women do not have basic fundamental rights and are treated as second-class citizens,” she wrote on the site.

    • O.C. Woman Says Airline Made Her Move Because 2 Pakistani Monks Can’t Sit Next To Female

      An Orange County woman said she is the victim of discrimination.

      Mary Campos says her pre-booked ticket was given away by United Airlines. The reason? She’s a woman, and two men didn’t want to sit next to a female.

      It’s a story that is Only On 2. Stacey Butler spoke to Campos.

      A a million-mile flier, Campos — a mom who lives in Coto de Caza — said she thought she’d seen it all.

      Until a gate agent handed her a new boarding pass just before she got on a flight to Houston last Monday.

      “He said this is your new seat,” Campos said, “And I said, ‘Excuse me?’ And he said, ‘I don’t know how to tell you this’”

      She said she continued by saying, “Yes?”


      The letter said, in part, “What if I were handicapped, or transgender?” she wrote. “What if your entire crew were female? Any belief that prevents individuals from interacting with females should not travel on commercial aircraft.”

      She got a reply that said United would look into it. She said she didn’t hear from them again.

      But Butler did. A company spokesperson wrote, in part:

      “We regret that Ms. Campos was unhappy with the handling of the seat assignments on her flight. United holds its employees to the highest standards of professionalism and has zero tolerance for discrimination.”

    • Egyptian MP calls for women to undergo virginity tests before being admitted to university

      An Egyptian MP has called for women to be forced to undergo virginity tests before being admitted to university, it has been reported.

      Parliamentary member Elhamy Agina called on the Minister of Higher Education to issue a mandate requiring him or his officials to enforce the virginity tests, Egyptian Streets reports. He has suggested that university cards could only been issued to female students on completition of a virginity test.

      In an interview with local media, he said: “Any girl who enters university, we have to check her medical examination to prove that she is a Miss. Therefore, each girl must present an official document upon being admitted to university stating she’s a Miss.”

      The term “Miss” in Egyptian culture is often used to refer euphemistically as to whether a woman is a virgin.

    • Operators of baby factory risk 10 years imprisonment

      Henceforth, operators of baby factories, racketeering with human pregnancy and those involved in sale of new born baby across the country on conviction by Court of any competent jurisdiction will be subjected to 10 years imprisonment.

      The punitive measure was contained in the bill for an Act to amend “trafficking in persons (Prohibition) law enforcement and administration Act No. 28 of 2005 to prohibit racketeering with human pregnancy or operation of baby prosecution factory, harbouring or pregnancy persons under the age of 18 and above or selling or attempting to sell new born baby and for related matters, 2016.”

    • California Governor Signs Major Civil Forfeiture Reform – Institute for Justice

      Today, California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 443, a major overhaul of the state’s civil forfeiture laws. The bill marks one of the nation’s most significant reforms of its kind.

      “Civil forfeiture is one of the most serious assaults on due process and private property rights in America today,” said Institute for Justice Legislative Counsel Lee McGrath. “By generally requiring a criminal conviction, SB 443 would go far in curbing this abuse of power.”

    • Don’t Abandon Due Process, Not Even For Terrorism

      The clash in American history between liberty and safety is as old as the republic itself. As far back as 1798, notwithstanding the lofty goals and individualistic values of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, the same generation — in some cases the same human beings — that wrote in the First Amendment that “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech” enacted the Alien and Sedition Acts, which punished speech critical of the government.

      Similarly, the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process has been ignored by those in government charged with enforcing it when they deal with a criminal defendant whom they perceive the public hates or fears. So it should come as no surprise that no sooner had the suspect in the recent New Jersey and New York City bombings been arrested than public calls came to strip him of his rights, send him to Gitmo and extract information from him. This is more Vladimir Putin than James Madison.

    • Big Papers Want Foreign Companies, Not War Crime Victims, to Sue US

      Notice that the possibility of other countries suing the US for war crimes its government commits is automatically assumed to be undesirable. The Washington Post puts “terrorism” in irony quotes because, of course, the US could never actually commit terrorism; claims to this effect could only be invoked “when convenient” by greedy non-Americans.

      The New York Times uses its trademark euphemisms to describe how the US is “engaged in the world” with “drone operations.” A nice way of saying the US uses drones to bomb people in a half-dozen countries with—so far—legal impunity. Changing this state of affairs is simply glossed over as a nonstarter.

      USA Today frames any attempt at legal recourse over American terrorism overseas as “retaliation”—presumably for some righteous kill executed by the United States in the service of freedom.

      The New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today are saying that exposing American military and intelligence personnel to foreign liability is per se bad—a nativism so casual and matter-of-fact one might hardly notice it until circumstances force them to explicitly state it. No account is taken of the 7 billion non-Americans or their rights. No explanation is given as to why victims of US terror–of which there are many–shouldn’t register in our moral calculus. They just don’t.

      The irony is that none of these publications were overly concerned with exposing the US to foreign lawsuits when they offered support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a corporate trade deal that includes a provision for Investor-State Dispute Settlement—meaning it permits corporations to sue governments, including the US, in the event that a regulation undermines corporate profits. So increased exposure to liability to the US government when it gives more power to corporations is permissible, even desirable, but when it might provide recourse for victims of US war crimes? Not so much.

    • Death threats force Muslim woman into hiding

      Liberal Party politician Mostafa Geha was one of several speakers at the demo, arranged by the local Liberal Party and GAPH, an organisation against “honour violence.” It came in response to a sustained campaign of intimidation and violence on 21-year-old Walaa, who lives in Hedemora.

      In an interview with local radio station P4 Dalarna, she claimed that she has been harassed by both men and women in the town for “not living in the right way”. Tension heightened during a confrontation when she was hit in the face by a young man who had been harassing her over a long period.

      Walaa reported the incident to the police but in the following days the row spread over social media and the story was picked up by local Liberal Party leaders.

      “I decided we should organise a demonstration because that is the way we solve conflict in Sweden. We do it by trying to hold a discussion and say “this is not right”, Anna Eling, chairperson for the Liberals in Hedemora told TT.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • US government no longer manages internet’s technical functions

      The US government has ceded control of the technical management of the internet, in what has been called the “most significant change in the internet’s functioning for a generation”.

      Following a long legal battle, the California-based NGO Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will gain control over the organisation of unique online identifiers.

      The change will not affect ordinary internet users but is a reflection of the rapidly shifting online landscape and attitudes to it.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • “If KickassTorrents is a Criminal Operation, Google Should Start Worrying”

        Polish authorities have extended the arrest of Artem Vaulin, the alleged owner of KickassTorrents. His defense team is currently preparing to fight the U.S. extradition request, which will start next month. According to Artem’s U.S. lawyer, operating a torrent site is not a criminal offense. “If KickassTorrents is a criminal operation, then Google should start worrying,” he says.

      • Watching Pirate Streams Isn’t Illegal, EU Commission Argues

        This week the European Court of Justice heard a crucial case that will give more clarity on the infringing nature of unauthorized streaming. Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN and the Spanish authorities argued that offering or watching pirate streams is a violation of the EU Copyright Directive. However, the European Commission believes that consumers who watch unauthorized streams are not breaking the law. […]

        Based on the hearing the Advocate General will issue a recommendation later this year, which will be followed by a final verdict from the EU Court of Justice somewhere early 2017.

      • Record Label Picks Copyright Fight — With The Wrong Guy

        An Australian record label may have picked a fight with the wrong guy. The label sent a standard takedown notice threatening to sue after YouTube computers spotted its music in a video.

        It turns out that video was posted by one of the most famous copyright attorneys in the world, and Lawrence Lessig is suing back.

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