The US Patent System Has Become a Dog-Wagging Tail That Serves Patent Law Firms and Parasites But Not Inventors

Posted in America, Patents at 3:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

And this is where genuine inventors’ money goes (using a recently-invalidated patent that Erich Spangenberg had exploited to collect almost $50,000,000 in 'protection' money)

Erich Spangenberg greed
Reference: Has Patent, Will Sue: An Alert to Corporate America

Summary: Lack of justice in the US patent system, which became a virtual cash cow of rogue actors that produce nothing and are taxing everything, as long as the system lets them get away with it

THE previous post may have seemed harsh on Patently-O, but having followed the site for many years, we did notice a somewhat notable bias (unlike before). Academia is supposed to view things from an independent and open-minded viewpoint, but sometimes it gets seduced into one side of the debate — often the side that pays better. The other day Patently-O published a post for Tim Holbrook, Professor of Law at Emory University School of Law.

“In our view, Texas gets far too much of the ‘action’ when it comes to patents, partly by disregarding the rules, ignoring precedence, and inviting patent trolls to judges that are notorious for pro-plaintiffs (or anti-defendants) bias.”The post speaks of Life Technologies Corp. v. Promega Corp. (covered here before) and says it “may reflect a shift away from the use of the presumption in interpreting particular provisions within a particular statute once the extraterritorial reach of that provision already has been confirmed.”

As this case was covered here before, we don’t wish to re-introduce it (look up Life Technologies Corp. as it’s all over the Web, notably this patent case). Patently-O recently wrote about another case — one in which Crouch intervenes. He wrote: “There’s a ton of briefing between the parties and other amicus on whether, or not, Texas state courts should recognize a patent agent-client privilege.”

“The article at hand shows how the patent system has basically become the game of a bunch of law firms with proprietary software, not sole inventors like the mythology goes.”In our view, Texas gets far too much of the ‘action’ when it comes to patents, partly by disregarding the rules, ignoring precedence, and inviting patent trolls to judges that are notorious for pro-plaintiffs (or anti-defendants) bias. SCOTUS urgently needs to put an end to it. The whole situation has damaged the perception of patent justice and generally discredited much of the system, demolishing public consent to it. How many people in the US still view patent law — with all the patent trolls they keep reading about — as desirable? If very few, then maybe policy is the problem, or the push towards patent maximalism where public interests are altogether disregarded. The EPO has recently accomplished the same thing — to the point where 0% of EPO stakeholders support the EPO's management and an identical number (it doesn't get any lower than this) of well-paid EPO staff say they support their management.

Curiously enough, and for a change (this wasn’t from Crouch), Patently-O wrote the other day about “ethics of docketing software,” basically just citing another article and adding: “Although I understand why it is so, I often joke that patent prosecutors seem to miss only deadlines for the very valuable patents….”

“Huge corporations with tens of thousands of patents each and some outside law firm/s command the lion’s share of patents.”The article at hand shows how the patent system has basically become the game of a bunch of law firms with proprietary software, not sole inventors like the mythology goes. Huge corporations with tens of thousands of patents each and some outside law firm/s command the lion’s share of patents. They do everything in bulk and can crush any small company that ‘dares’ sue, unless it’s a troll (in which case there’s nothing to sue it over). To quote a portion: “As an attorney, your primary goal should be to provide competent representation for your clients. Both the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and state ethics rules mandate that lawyers commit themselves to competence. This means that attorneys must have the requisite “legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation” to handle each case, according to the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 1.1.”

It also says: “Legal technology is here to stay. Don’t miss out on the game-changing benefits various softwares and platforms could have on your firm. Your clients — and your colleagues — will appreciate increases in efficiency, and customer acquisition will follow suit.”

“We heard similar stories about the EPO; EPO stakeholders who chose not to waste money on law firms were urged to do so by the EPO and were repeatedly rebuffed by the EPO — to the point where the whole process (for one single patent) cost as much as a whole house!”How many people other than law firms can afford such software? It seems like the whole system has become the den of few law firms rather than actual inventors who can follow instructions and get patents granted. This new book, “Patent Office Litigation,” is in fact composed by a law firm, not actual inventors. It says a lot about what the patent system became in the US. We heard similar stories about the EPO; EPO stakeholders who chose not to waste money on law firms were urged to do so by the EPO and were repeatedly rebuffed by the EPO — to the point where the whole process (for one single patent) cost as much as a whole house! It got so serious that one single case was eventually escalated to British and EU-level authorities, to no avail (because the EPO enjoys immunity).

Going back to Patently-O, it’s made apparent that interacting with the patent system in the US is a hard job; “patent infringement complaints,” it says, “like all others, must comply with Iqbal and Twombly, which require pleading factual material that, if taken as true, plausibly states a claim upon which relief can be granted.”

Sounds like a time-consuming process. Here is the entire relevant part:

As you know, it used to be you could file a complaint for patent infringement using Form 18, which barely said anything beyond “Plaintiff owns a patent, and you infringe it.” Nowadays, patent infringement complaints, like all others, must comply with Iqbal and Twombly, which require pleading factual material that, if taken as true, plausibly states a claim upon which relief can be granted.

A while back, I wrote about how this is going to be difficult to do in some cases: how do you gather a Rule 11 basis to plead plausible facts when, for example, the claimed method is practiced by a corporation inside its well-guarded factory?

A recent decision, Harvard v. Micron (17-11249, D. Mass. Jan. 31, 2017) (available here), gives a real world example of this. The original complaint alleged that the patented method was commonly used to perform the accused process. The defendant moved to dismiss, asserting that this was not enough to make it “plausible” that, in fact, the defendant used the method.

The last part (above) sounds like a lawyers’ trick to just buy more time and cost more money (to the plaintiff). And if the above wasn’t compelling enough an example of systems where only lawyer win (more time means more money to them, at clients’ expense), get this: the patents system now attracts not only patent trolls but also frauds and charlatans, such as in this example:

NOV initially refused to produce the ACA, instead producing only a “Assistant Secretary’s Certificate,” which assigned only “physical assets.” After being forced to produce the ACA, Omron renewed its motion to dismiss for lack of standing. The district court agreed that that NOV could not prove ownership of the ’142 Patent as of the filing date of this case, and dismissed the case, with prejudice, for lack of standing.

In other words, the plaintiff turns out to now even ‘own’ the patent (or not sure about it). How did they even get this far? And what if there was an out-of-court settlement, agreed upon patents that are basically vapour? We saw examples like these before and it should be regarded or treated as a criminal offense, akin to extortion rackets.

PTAB and CAFC Crush Patents on Business Methods and Software, So Dennis Crouch Tries to Slow Them Down

Posted in America, Deception, Patents at 2:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Academic for patent maximalists, like those ‘oil academics’?

Dennis D. Crouch

Summary: The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) have together eliminated perhaps several thousands of patents (even more by extension, by means of precedence), so the meta-industry associated with such patents strikes back, and occasionally this is painted as scholarly analysis albeit inherently biased

THE USPTO is full of rubbish patents (some of which infamously rubbish and the subject of public ridicule, e.g. this one), so there’s somewhat of a backlog for PTAB to deal with, essentially ‘undermining’ — or correctly invaliding — patents that should never have been granted at all (with or without further amendments).

“Not only can PTAB deal with many patents at one time; it can also do that at an affordable rate (easy access to appeals process) and without the patent aggressor asserting anything in court.”We recently came across this list of newly-issued patents and found among them a Dell patent on an antifeature, namely a “seamless method for booting from a degraded software raid volume on a UEFI system.” (for those who don’t know what UEFI is, see our Wiki). Recovery from error aside (in an already-expensive case of storage redundancy), why use UEFI in the first place?

The patent goes to Texas, where Dell originates from:

Dell Products, Round Rock, Texas, has been assigned a patent (9,569,297) developed by two co-inventors for “seamless method for booting from a degraded software raid volume on a UEFI system.” The co-inventors are Ahmad A.J. Ali of Austin, Texas, and Charles Rose of Nashua. The patent application was filed on July 16, 2014 (14/333,232).

This sounds like it involves hardware or a device (RAID), but plenty of RAIDs actually get implemented in software these days and UEFI itself is purely software, simply slapped on some chip. The above seems like a possible candidate for invalidation, e.g. by means of Alice, but putting all that aside, who would actually invalidate such a patent unless Dell chooses to take this to court (or threaten behind closed doors), in which case still there is no guarantee at all that a case would end without a settlement, i.e. without the patent facing any scrutiny. In most cases, companies such as Dell just threaten using a large bundle of patents (Microsoft is alleged to be using hundreds at a time) in order to overwhelm the target and overburden the defense, adding extraordinary volume to it, assuring it would be too expensive to pursue defense (settlement would be cheaper, even if at the cost of millions of dollars).

“We need more of PTAB. It needs to grow by orders of magnitude and clear the virtual ‘backlog’ which is rubbish patents waiting to be invalidated.”Such is the injustice incurred by a lax and lazy patent office. All the excruciating costs are being passed outwards, i.e. to so-called ‘externalities’. This is where PTAB comes handy. Not only can PTAB deal with many patents at one time; it can also do that at an affordable rate (easy access to appeals process) and without the patent aggressor asserting anything in court. We need more of PTAB. It needs to grow by orders of magnitude and clear the virtual ‘backlog’ which is rubbish patents waiting to be invalidated.

Patent maximalists obviously loathe PTAB. Some of them speak of it more politely than others. Watchtroll just insults judges, whereas Dennis Crouch — being an academic — must remain more subtle about it. It’s being agreed, he recently asserted, that “an expert can make conclusions of obviousness/non-obviousness and that the PTO can rely upon those statements.”

Here is the whole relevant part and how it relates to PTAB:

Expert Testimony on the Conclusion of Obviousness: In the inter partes reexamination case here, the issue arose with the patent challenger (Strava) used an expert witness to testify to the legal conclusion that the claims at issue were obvious. This is problematic because in ordinary circumstances it is improper for an expert witness to testify as to a question of law. Rather, the ordinary use of expert testimony is solely to “help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue.” FRE 702. Of course, the Federal Rules of Evidence do not apply to the Patent Trial & Appeal Board proceedings or patent reexaminations.

On appeal here, the Federal Circuit appears to agree with the challenger – that an expert can make conclusions of obviousness/non-obviousness and that the PTO can rely upon those statements.

We had this subject covered in last week's article and more articles before that. It’s a common theme of outcomes and this was heavily covered recently, in light of cases like Apple, Inc. v Ameranth, Inc. [1, 2] — a case which has gone on since the end of last year [1, 2].

“Both PTAB and CAFC increasingly go after patents on business methods, not just software patents, which are inherently similar in many cases (as many business operations are done on computers through software).”The latest on Ameranth, courtesy of Foley & Lardner LLP (law firm), says that “Apple successfully invalidated three patents for failure to recite patent eligible subject matter. Apple, Inc. v. Ameranth, Inc., 2015-1792, 2015-1793 (Fed. Cir. 2016). The patents relate to synchronous communication systems for electronically generating and transmitting menu selections. While the covered technology is not directly related to personalized medicine, the Federal Circuit’s review of the patents’ specifications and the court’s claim constructions in the context of a 35 U.S.C. § 101 challenge is instructive to patent applicants seeking to patent methods that may be characterized as an abstract idea, such as methods linking treatment options or clinical trials to potential patients.”

This CBM challenge, using § 101, was successful also at the CAFC, as is usual. Both PTAB and CAFC increasingly go after patents on business methods, not just software patents, which are inherently similar in many cases (as many business operations are done on computers through software).

Professor Crouch is, in our humble assessment, just trying to slow down PTAB (or appeals of its determinations). PTAB, which actually did good work and improved the US patent system, is of no good for the likes of Crouch. They view it as a threat to their profession, as we noted here several years ago.

“We have already explained a sort of ‘scatterback’ effect at CAFC, wherein an avalanche of appeals lands on CAFC’s lap.”Michael Loney, writing from a litigation capital, says that “Law professor Dennis Crouch is calling for the Federal Circuit to not give Rule 36 affirmances in PTAB appeals, arguing it is required by statute to issue an opinion. The court has continued to issue them but has asked for briefing in two en banc rehearing requests of affirmances” (it has a lot to catch up with).

We have already explained a sort of ‘scatterback’ effect at CAFC, wherein an avalanche of appeals lands on CAFC’s lap. They need to rush things up a bit, otherwise the whole system will get clogged up and the queue — or ‘backlog’ so to speak — will grow unbearably long.

“Maybe that will teach patent holders to stop wasting CAFC’s time with these appeals, which are fruitless about 4 out of 5 times anyway (as the appeals are meritless).”Resistance from patent maximalists when it comes to PTAB — which continues to enjoy CAFC’s and the Supreme Court’s support — is understandable, but the patent maximalists are not the actual industry. They just try to justify their own needless and growingly-sordid existence, which gave rise to trolls and extortion rackets. Now that PTAB is axing lots of crappy patents we expect to see Crouch continuing to shower us with posts such as this, ranting about lack of opinion. “Another new petition for rehearing,” he wrote the other say, “has been filed with the Federal Circuit asking the court to reconsider its Rule 36 Jurisprudence in light of the statutory requirements that the court issue an opinion in cases appealed from the Patent & Trademark Office.”

He said that “[a]fter losing before the PTAB, the petitioner appealed and the Federal Circuit issued a R.36 “Affirmance without Opinion.””

“Stop worrying so much about patent holders and stop comparing patents to property (patents are certainly not property).”Yes, well done. Do it even faster. Maybe that will teach patent holders to stop wasting CAFC’s time with these appeals, which are fruitless about 4 out of 5 times anyway (as the appeals are meritless).

In another post from the same site it is being argued that “[t]he Supreme Court has asked for the USPTO’s input on whether it should hear the pending dispute Oil States Energy Services v. Greene’s Energy Group (Supreme Court 2017). The case again raises constitutional questions as to the power of an executive agency (the USPTO) to cancel issued patent rights.”

Stop worrying so much about patent holders and stop comparing patents to property (patents are certainly not property). It’s stuff like the above which led us to treating Crouch less as an academic and more as a front for patent maximalists. He demonstrates that not only Big Oil has an impact — typically financial strings — on academia.

Positive Signs After Alice: Software Patents Still Invalidated in Bulk, Eastern District of Texas Down for the Count, and Michelle Lee Stays

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 1:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Michelle K. Lee
Reference: Wikipedia

Summary: An outline of the latest news from the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), the Eastern District of Texas (EDTX), and proponents of software patents, who are growing ever more desperate in the wake of Alice

THE death of software patents (in the US) is habitually and even casually being denied by those who have made a lot of money from them, notably law firms.

Clearly, in the patent microcosm’s press (like Texas Lawyer in this case), the term “most popular” means popular among trolls and lawyers. Watch this new article titled “EDTX’s Rodney Gilstrap Is Still America’s Most Popular Patent Judge” (EDTX is the Eastern District of Texas).

“Clearly, in the patent microcosm’s press (like Texas Lawyer in this case), the term “most popular” means popular among trolls and lawyers.”The article as a whole is behind a paywall, but the summary states: “While patent infringement filings are down both nationally and in Texas according to a recent report, there’s still no question who the King of America’s patent docket is: U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap of Marshall.”

King of the trolls maybe, now that the father of patent trolling is dead. The Eastern District of Texas and Judge Gilstrap are a farce; as we pointed out a few days ago, the Supreme Court should act fast against both, essentially by moving cases out of this “rocket docket” of patent trolls, starving the demand for kangaroo patent courts.

Writing about the latest twist in the Smartflash case, a site that promotes software patents mentioned how the Eastern District of Texas was once again overruled by CAFC. To quote:

The Federal Circuit has reversed Eastern District of Texas Judge Gilstrap’s denial of a post-trial motion for a judgment of patent-ineligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101 of three patents directed to accessing and storing payment data. Smartflash, LLC v. Apple, Inc., No. 2016-1059 (Fed. Cir . March 1, 2017). Chief Judge Prost, writing for a panel that included Judges Newman and Lourie, saved Apple from a jury verdict that claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 7,334,720; 8,118,221; and 8,336,772 were valid and infringed.

The patent microcosm, including the above site, continues to bemoan the death of yet more software patents. Here is one of the latest examples, “Data Back-Up Claims Held Patent-Ineligible under Alice,” and to quote:

As a plethora of cases demonstrates, no matter how separate the patent-eligibility is from the question of prior art in practice, the reality is that the analyses go hand-in-hand. So when drafting patent applications think hard about whether you can state a technical solution to a technical problem. And if you can state a technical problem and solution, do it, as clearly as you can.

A District Court meanwhile throws away yet more software patents that have nothing innovative in them. Why did the USPTO grant these in the first place? Watchtroll says that the defendant “argued that both of TAGI’s patents are directed at unpatentable subject matter under 35 U.S.C. Section 101. In response, the court applied the now familiar two-step standard Alice/Mayo test for distinguishing patents claiming abstract ideas and laws of nature.”

“…Alice is here to stay and the Supreme Court has taken no other case that can reverse Alice.”As usual, they ruled against these patents, as they do in the significant majority of the cases (most of the time) nowadays. Watchtroll, as expected, continues to moan about death of so many software patents (calling the software “revolutionary”), but maybe these people should just move on and get another (real) job, not lobbying for software patents and fooling developers into pursuing patents that are a waste of money.

The funniest headline we have come across? A clickbait headline from boosters software patents, asking “Goodbye Alice?”

Haha, that’s a good one. No, Alice is here to stay and the Supreme Court has taken no other case that can reverse Alice. Here is what the article says, citing front group IPO (which has this new IBM-led campaign to shoot down Alice):

A recent proposal by the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) to amend 35 U.S.C. § 101 could bring positive change to applicants attempting to acquire patent rights for computer implemented inventions in the US.

The proposal comes after court decisions such as Alice Corp Pty v CLS Bank Int’l (2012) (Alice Corp) blurred the lines between patentability and obviousness, requiring an assessment of the “inventive concept” to be performed when evaluating subject matter eligibility of an application, and resulting in a significant number of computer-related inventions being found invalid for lack of patentable subject matter.

What’s wrong with that? It’s about time. Ask actual software developers if they ever wanted software patents to begin with. They never did. Now that software patents are ebbing away so do patent trolls, which the Supreme Court might soon throw out of the Eastern District of Texas.

“Now that software patents are ebbing away so do patent trolls, which the Supreme Court might soon throw out of the Eastern District of Texas.”Recently, the “Federal Circuit ruled that companies who receive patent demand letters from trolls can’t sue them in their home district,” Daniel Nazer wrote for the EFF. One must remember the close correlation between software patents, patent trolls, and the Eastern District of Texas. If even the lower courts sometimes deny the Eastern District of Texas access to everyone’s alleged grievances, then we might not even have to wait until TC Heartland. However, to quote Nazer, the Federal Circuit has not exactly been consistent, at least not yet (consistency will likely come after the Supreme Court issues a ruling on TC Heartland, some time later this year):

If a patent troll threatens your company, can you go to your nearest federal court and ask for a ruling that the patent is invalid or that you aren’t infringing it? According to the Federal Circuit (the court that hears all patent appeals), the answer to this question is usually no. The court has a special rule for patent owners that demand letters cannot create jurisdiction. EFF, together with Public Knowledge, recently filed a friend-of-the-court brief asking for this rule to be overturned. But in a decision this week, the Federal Circuit reached the right result for the accused infringer in the case, but left its bad law largely in place.


Second, in a case called Red Wing Shoe, the Federal Circuit ruled that companies who receive patent demand letters from trolls can’t sue them in their home district to get a determination the patent is invalid or not-infringed. As others have noted, the Federal Circuit has “gone to great lengths to deny jurisdiction over patentees sending demand letters from afar.”

We eagerly await the decision on TC Heartland, we very much welcome CAFC decisions in favour of PTAB findings (a topic to be covered in our next post), we need to guard PTAB from the patent microcosm, and last but not least ensure Michelle Lee keeps her job in spite of a vicious witch-hunt against her [1, 2, 3, 4].

The Very Thought of UPC in the UK “is a Perfect Example of What Lobbying Can Achieve!”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Is Jo Johnson just a lobbyists’ politician, or a Battistelli lapdog like his predecessor?

Jo Johnson

Summary: Only the endlessly-repeated myth of the UPC being ratifiable in the UK makes it conceivable that it will happen this month (Jo Johnson ignoring his own common sense), but what would happen after Brexit?

THE NUMBER of fake news articles about UPC keeps increasing, especially in the United Kingdom (British press is known for its PR tendencies, not the best of fact-checking). We have already highlighted some very recent examples of UPC fake news [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. It’s misleading coverage that’s ‘weaponised’ for lobbying purposes, e.g. by CIPA.

“We have already highlighted some very recent examples of UPC fake news.”The seminal lies originate not only from blogs of Team UPC but also co-opted blogs like IP Kat (which they hogged for extra audience until recently, when IP Kat stopped being a UPC mouthpiece of Bristows). The EPO adds to the lies by sending Margot Fröhlinger [1, 2, 3] to all sorts of echo chamber-like events, where pretty much all the attendees are of a particular profession and lobby-able politicians/officials are their target audience.

“We are going to respond to all that lobbying in the coming week.”The “UK cannot participate in the UPC after Brexit,” points out this new comment in IP Kat. “What we see here is a perfect example of what lobbying can achieve!”

Yes, even Jo Johnson knows it cannot be done, but will he do it anyway? We are going to respond to all that lobbying in the coming week. Here is the full comment:

It is amazing to see how happily the whole profession, or at least the high proponents of the UPC in UK, are going into the wall.

That even the new responsible for IP in the UK government acknowledges that UK cannot participate in the UPC after Brexit, is revealing. And yet, that ratification should take place is flabbergasting.

How can a professional representative in all honesty advise his client not to opt out whilst the situation of UK post Brexit is so unclear as far as the UPC is concerned. He can, but only if he thinks of his purse and not of the interest of his client.

What we see here is a perfect example of what lobbying can achieve!

“An article in Austrian press criticises EPO,” one reader told us this afternoon in relation to “Prost auf das Monopol” [link].

“Unfortunately no translation available,” the reader said. So we hereby ask for help from anyone whose German is strong enough to produce a translation worthy of publication.

Team Battistelli, Already Grossly Overpaid (With Salary Gone Hidden), Wants Even More Money

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Battistelli’s predecessor did reveal her salary, but at Battistelli’s extremist Office the mere suggestion of transparency can get one immediately fired

Naked Trump

Summary: Battistelli and his “swamp” continue to suck out everything that’s left inside the EPO, including money, reputation, brainpower and common dignity

TEAM Battistelli is draining the EPO like a worm empties an apple. There were recently promotions among these ranks, as we covered here after we had received several independent confirmations.

“We could use a leak related to this, or simply a document with or about the proposal/s.”“In the meantime,” this one person wrote today, Battistelli “proposes that his upper management, which according to the social study is already overpaid in comparison to the other international organisations, gets a functional allowance of up to 2 months of pay per year. Are the rats filling their pockets before leaving the boat?”

Can anybody confirm this? We could use a leak related to this, or simply a document with or about the proposal/s. Please send us material, but be cautious because of the growing surveillance state (additional hiring in the spying and ‘interrogation’ department).

The relationship between the EPO and Battistelli can be best described by The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs (where the goose is the Office).

EPO President Benoît Battistelli, Like Far-Right Politicians, is a Great Danger to Europe

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Benoît Battistelli’s political orientation is right-wing, but his policies go even further to the right

Satirical carnival floats mock Trump
Reference: Satirical carnival floats mock Trump, Brexit

Summary: Consideration of some of the latest observations and incidents, which make the EPO look like a far-right institution, where human rights and the law are habitually and nonchalantly trampled on

YESTERDAY we took note of an article from The Register which spoke of surveillance aspects. What next? Will workers and visitors also be compelled if not forced to give away their passwords, as pursued in the US under Trump? We kindly ask sources to be extra cautious as it’s clear that Battistelli is now on a fishing expedition. Battistelli’s management is officially rogue and only immunity keeps it in tact, for now.

Somebody has just posted a comment, noting that the Dutch Foreign Minister “talk[ed] with the vice president Minnoye in The Hague [and] Minnoye did not run away,” unlike Battistelli who ‘evacuated’ himself from a meeting with a top Dutch official last year. To quote the entire comment:

The minister of foreign affairs Bert Koenders of The Netherlands had a talk with the vice president Minnoye in The Hague. Minnoye did nut run away.
What Koenders and Minnoye talked about you can read here in a letter of Koenders to the Dutch parlement (see the URL here below).
I am afraid that Benoit Battistelli is not very happy with this letter. The letter is in Dutch. However Google delivers a quite good translation.


“Back on topic,” wrote another person, “the Dutch foreign minister called in VP1 for a riot act reading about industrial relations. See techrights for report and the ministers official report. Understand bits but needs a translation but bits done by techrights and is bruising.”

“I am afraid that Benoit Battistelli is not very happy with this letter. The letter is in Dutch.”
Two people then dropped a link to our article, which unfortunately got published very late on a Friday and thus didn’t reach a broad readership that it deserved.

We remind readers that Minnoye was, as confirmed to us several times, vocal in his concern about EPO leaks. What will his imminent (summertime) departure mean? As mentioned here yesterday, the surveillance appears to be escalating (we could use more leaks related to that, as was the case in 2015), with or without Minnoye. Some of this might be in serious breach of German and Dutch laws.

“Why else would anyone still be working there?”

“Mind boggles that anyone would still be working for Battistelli.”
That’s what one person asked about the EPO this weekend. “Mind boggles that anyone would still be working for Battistelli.”

The response that was fast to arrive was: “Or maybe the employees normally like their jobs and are just waiting for Battistelli to be replaced. I’ve worked in a couple of places where the management have a little difficulty realising that certain of their ilk are not fit for the job but unless they actually want to close the EPO then they will find a way of getting rid of this tosser.”

“A patent office with this much trouble is not one anyone in their right mind would consider trustworthy or reliable.”
One has to carefully distinguish between the EPO and Team Battistelli, which merely uses the EPO — like a Trojan horse going into a host’s body — for astronomical salaries, an ego boost, and maybe some commercial/political connections/favours, not to mention cronyism or money going outwards to private firms (by the tens of millions per annum).

The impact on the European economy is profound and under Battistelli it has been very negative. As one person pointed out: “A patent office with this much trouble is not one anyone in their right mind would consider trustworthy or reliable. This has serious consequences directly affecting science and technology progress and the secondary effect of affecting applied science and technology for commerce. This problem needs to be fixed immediately. DO NOT let it become the USTPO.” (means USPTO)

“We’re learning the hard way in the US that there really is a difference between business and politics.”
“The same happens in business,” another person said. “The people at the top are often borderline psychopaths who can not only do no wrong but can’t conceive of anything going wrong under their watch. And if it does go wrong, not only was it someone else’s fault but it’s not even a problem. It’s just another “opportunity”.”

It already causes great damage to the EU itself. As one person put it, comparing this to Trump: “We’re learning the hard way in the US that there really is a difference between business and politics. Ignoring Trump’s numerous eccentricities for a moment what we have is someone used to sitting at the top of a business organization issuing diktats — “You’re Fired!” — and having them obeyed without question. Or Else. Politics doesn’t work like that, despite the superficial attractions of a dictatorship in reality being a leader is just being the chief cat herder. The EPO problem illustrates the fundamental problem with the EU — what should be a federation of European states with well defined powers for the federal government is a sort of sloppily constructed business entity which spawns organizations that lack accountability and public control. The result may suit many, especially businesses, but it increasingly becomes an unwieldy dictatorship, one that lacks even a Big Brother to point the finger at.”

“The result may suit many, especially businesses, but it increasingly becomes an unwieldy dictatorship, one that lacks even a Big Brother to point the finger at.”
Well, there are a couple of new comments to that effect as well, demonstrating how the EPO situation now damages the European Union.

Battistelli at the EPO is a great danger to human rights, to the European Union, the European economy, and so much more. That’s why EPO stakeholders do not tolerate him and if the Administrative Council wasn’t so complicit, they would oust him later this month.

Poisonous Patents at the European Patent Office (EPO)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

How far should patent scope go?

Zinc colour

Summary: When colouring involves ingestible metals and questions about public interest in patenting arise, reminding the population that patents are not some limitless God-given right

THE “European Patent Office uphelds patent for zinc pyrithione in architectural paints,” says this new press release-like article (there are earlier such articles), though the “EPO’s decision can be appealed. Subject to the outcome of an appeal the patent will remain in force until 3 February 2018.” In light of recent debates about "poisonous priority" at Battistelli’s EPO, this might deserve closer scrutiny.

“One might joke that a patent on this would actively limit the practice, by giving just one company a monopoly on the practice.”The patent from Switzerland can be accessed through the EPO’s Web site (EP 0963291 B1). There are health issues associated with that. See the 2015 paper, “Time to Ban Lead in Industrial Paints and Coatings” (among others). Zinc is said to be less damaging than lead and zinc pyrithione is used in creams, shampoos, soaps, etc. Make no mistake, however, as not all zinc mixtures are created equal. The chemicals “can be mixed with other materials to make industrial items such as paint, dyes, and more. These combination substances can be particularly toxic” and lead to poisoning, similar to lead poisoning that Flint made so infamous over the past few years. “Lonza Group Ltd, a holding company under Swiss law, is fully committed to good corporate governance,” it insists, but we still can’t help but suspect that dissemination of zinc pyrithione into groundwater is in no way desirable. One might joke that a patent on this would actively limit the practice, by giving just one company a monopoly on the practice.

“The great danger right now is that if the UPC ever becomes a reality, even if outside the UK (left alone and out of it due to Brexit), patent scope will expand even further, attracting all sorts of unwanted lawsuits.”Patent scope at the EPO was the original cause for our concern about the EPO. That was almost one decade ago (see earlier articles in this Wiki page), with greater concern regarding software patents (back when the USPTO was very lenient and various US courts overly soft on them). Our articles about software patents in Europe go back to 2007 and occasionally we complained about patents on life, too. These were patents that the public was up in arms about, partly because of health issues.

The great danger right now is that if the UPC ever becomes a reality, even if outside the UK (left alone and out of it due to Brexit), patent scope will expand even further, attracting all sorts of unwanted lawsuits. “The whole game is to ratify without a new discussion in [British] Parliament before the end of March,” Henrion noted in IP Kat, which used to regularly promote the UPC. We expect many people to sign this petition next week.

We are very pro-EPO. We want to repair the EPO, as do opinionated EPO workers.

Links 5/3/2017: Postfix 3.2 Released, Wine 2.3 Released, 4MLinux 21.0 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 7:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • By request, Razer may have a Linux option for its Razer Blade gaming laptop

      Razer founder and CEO Min-Liang Tan said on Thursday that the company is now looking to support Linux on the Razer Blade laptop. He said that support for the open-source operating system is one of the most common requests for the Razer Blade and that Razer is now looking into the possibility. He is now asking all Linux “enthusiasts” to provide their feedback, suggestions, and ideas in the new Linux Corner section of Razer Insider.

      “We decided to lead a new forum section that is dedicated to Linux’s applications for gamers or other creators alike,” the company states in its introductory post. “The Linux Corner is a result of this where fans can now discuss their experience, provide feedback, and talk about everything related to Tux’s OS running on the Razer Blade.”

    • Microsoft Admits High Cost Of Windows 10 Upgrades
    • Best Chromebooks for business 2017: Should I buy a Chromebook? Chromebook buying advice

      Instead of running Microsoft Windows or Mac OS X, Chromebooks support Google’s Chrome operating system (OS), meaning that these machines are entirely internet and cloud-based.

      Good for those familiar with the Chrome web browser and the Google productivity suite (Docs, Sheets, Slides), not so good for those wanting to perform heavy duty tasks with external applications.

      But keep an open mind, if you’re looking for a cheap laptop to perform internet-based tasks, such as emails or web browsing, the Chromebook could be a viable option or a great option for a second machine.

      Read on to find out the best Chromebooks for business…

    • Apple’s Devices Lose Luster in American Classrooms

      Apple is losing its grip on American classrooms, which technology companies have long used to hook students on their brands for life.

      Over the last three years, Apple’s iPads and Mac notebooks — which accounted for about half of the mobile devices shipped to schools in the United States in 2013 — have steadily lost ground to Chromebooks, inexpensive laptops that run on Google’s Chrome operating system and are produced by Samsung, Acer and other computer makers.

    • Apple Losing Out to Microsoft and Google in U.S. Classrooms [iophk: "weird-ass spin there in the title. Apple is really losing to Google, Microsoft is treading water instead."]

      According to research company Futuresource Consulting, in 2016 the number of devices in American classrooms that run iOS and macOS fell to third place behind both Google-powered laptops and Windows devices.

    • The Librem 13 v1: A full-fledged modern laptop with coreboot for freedom and privacy freaks

      Coreboot is a free and open source software. The project aimed at replacing the proprietary BIOS firmware and blobs. Unfortunately, Coreboot does not run on the modern laptop (except Chromebooks) due to Intel ME and other closed source technologies.

    • The Linux Migration: Other Users’ Stories, Part 1

      Shortly after I announced my intention to migrate to Linux as my primary desktop OS, a number of other folks contacted me and said they had made the same choice or they had been encouraged by my decision to also try it themselves. It seems that there is a fair amount of pent-up interest—at least in the IT community—to embrace Linux as a primary desktop OS. Given the level of interest, I thought it might be helpful for readers to hear from others who are also switching to Linux as their primary desktop OS, and so this post kicks off a series of posts where I’ll share other users’ stories about their Linux migration.

      In this first post of the series, you’ll get a chance to hear from Roddy Strachan. I’ve structured the information in a “question-and-answer” format to make it a bit easier to follow.

  • Server

  • Kernel Space

    • Hyperledger nears release of its first production-ready blockchain

      The Hyperledger project, a cross-industry open source blockchain group led by the Linux Foundation, plans to release its first production-ready distributed ledger code base by the end of the month, as projects involving the nascent technology begin to mature.

      The group, whose more than 120 members include IBM, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Cisco Systems Inc and the Bank of England, said in a blog post published on Friday that its technical committee had promoted its first blockchain project, Hyperledger Fabric, to an active phase.

    • Cockpit 133

      Cockpit is the modern Linux admin interface. We release regularly. Here are the release notes from version 133.

    • Cockpit 130, 131 and 132

      Cockpit is the modern Linux admin interface. We release regularly. Here are the release notes from version 130, 131 and 132.

    • Linux’s OOM killer

      Some days ago I was wondering how Linux decides which process to kill when free memory is running low. (Spoiler: heuristics!)

    • Cloud Native Computing Foundation Adds CoreDNS as Seventh Hosted Project

      The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) has accepted the CoreDNS networking project into its project roster. CoreDNS had been trying to become hosted CNCF project since at least October 2016, though it’s first attempt was not successful.

      The CNCF itself is a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project and first got started back in July 2015. The first project to come over to the CNCF was Google’s Kubernetes, open-source container orchestration platform. Since then the CNCF has added five other projects including: Prometheus monitoring, OpenTracing, Fluentd logging, LinkerD and the gRPC projects.

    • Btrfs Gets More Fixes & Performance Optimizations For Linux 4.11

      Chris Mason has sent in a secondary pull request of Btrfs material for the Linux 4.11 merge window.

      Last week Mason sent in the main Btrfs pull request for 4.11 and it basically amounted to fixes. With the secondary pull request mailed in on Thursday, there are more fixes and performance improvements.

    • WeTek Hub & WeTek Play Steaming/Media Devices To Be Supported By Linux 4.11

      Submitted earlier in the Linux 4.11 merge window were the big ARM SoC and platform changes for this next kernel version while some last-minute ARM changes have just arrived.

      Arnd Bergmann sent in some last-minute ARM SoC updates for the Linux 4.11 kernel. These late changes include USB 3.0 support for Samsung’s Exynos 7, some Samsung power management updates, WeTek set-top box support, and some fixes.

    • Valleyview & Cherryview To Get Atomic Mode-Setting Enabled

      Intel’s set to enable atomic mode-setting by default with code slated to land for the Linux 4.12 kernel.

      The initial patches for enabling atomic mode-setting by default turned it on for Gen5 (Ironlake) hardware and newer, but left out Valleyview and Cherryview hardware due to problems. But now it looks like for Linux 4.12 the Cherryview/Valleyview problems could be addressed and see those mobile platforms go atomic too.

    • Geminilake Will Require Intel Audio Firmware Blobs

      Besides recent Intel graphics hardware making use of firmware binary blobs now for the GuC/HuC functionality, Intel audio hardware continues in making use of firmware binary-only blobs for audio support.

    • Systemd open issues after 233 release

      In May last year, we made good progress with the bug backlog. This was before the systemd-230 release. In November, we were preparing for systemd-232, a we made a nice dip too. After four more months of development, systemd-233 was released. I was a bit disappointed to see that this time we didn’t make such visible progress…

    • Graphics Stack

      • X.Org Server 1.19.2 Brings Xwayland, Glamor & Prime Improvements, Security Fixes

        Adam Jackson is announcing the release and immediate availability of the second maintenance update to the X.Org Server 1.19 display server stable series for GNU/Linux distributions.

        X.Org Server 1.19.2 comes one and a half months after the launch of the first point release and includes a bunch of stability improvements for Xwayland, Glamor, XFree86, Prime, and input support, besides patching a security issue that could brute-force the MIT-MAGIC-COOKIE authentication, namely CVE-2017-2624.

      • [Mesa-dev] [ANNOUNCE] mesa 17.0.1

        GLX/GLVND fix for “The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth” and other games. When using EGL under X11/DRI3 eglQuerySurface now returns correct geometry. A regression in EGL/Wayland where the wrong format was passed is addressed.

      • Mesa 17.0.1 Released With 60+ Fixes

        Emil Velikov has announced the first point release to last month’s big Mesa 17.0 release.

    • Benchmarks

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDevelop 5.0.4 released

        Today, we are happy to announce the release of KDevelop 5.0.4, the fourth bug fix and stabilization release for KDevelop 5.0. An upgrade to 5.0.4 is strongly recommended to all users of 5.0.3 and below.

      • KDAB contributions to Qt 5.8

        And here we are again, with the usual showcase of the most outstanding contributions to Qt 5.8 developed by KDAB engineers.

      • KStars 2.7.5 is released for MacOS and Windows

        I’m very excited to announce the release of KStars 2.7.5 for MacOS and Windows!

        This is the first official KStars release for MacOS 10.11+, and while we made sure to test it thoroughly, please treat it as a beta release and report any bugs to the KDE bug tracking website.

      • [Krita] Interview with Guilherme Silveira Dias

        I flow between the frugal pal who can still find a creative way of making art even when the limitations get worse; And the bon vivant of me and my father at art supplies stores like they were literally our home sweet home. My current notebook is a shabby 32GB onboard flash-disk that barely allows me to draw in a screen sized canvas with Krita Gemini. Yes, I’m using a touch screen pen because my notebook ignores and treats my Intuos 2 as a mouse. So I’m having a much better experience with my tiny android phone with its drawing apps. One of those apps, Autodesk Sketchbook, under my circumstances now, is my only choice for 2D Digital Painting. Good stuff, bought it and am making comics with it!!! Hahahaha.

      • Danbooru Client 0.6.1 released

        It offers a convenient, KF5 and Qt5-based GUI coupled with a QML image view to browse, view, and download images hosted in two of the most famous Danbooru boards (konachan.com and yande.re).

      • Qt Installer Framework 2.0.5 released

        We’re happy to release Qt Installer Framework 2.0.5.

        2.0.5 is a bug fix release, the full list of bug fixes can be found from Changelog.

      • Heaptrack v1.0.0 Release
      • New in Qt 5.8: meta-object support for namespaces

        A small new feature that was added to Qt 5.8 is the ability for moc (Qt’s meta-object compiler) to extract meta-object information at the namespace level. This means, for instance, that you can have introspection support for enumerations defined in a namespace (not just in QObject subclasses, or classes tagged with Q_GADGET), and use such enumerations in QtScript, QtDBus and QML.

      • Okular Form Field auto-updating (Work In Progress)
      • Release of KIMAP2 0.1.0

        I’m pleased to announce the release of KIMAP2 0.1.0.

        KIMAP2 is a KJob based IMAP protocol implementation.

      • Release of KAsync 0.1.0

        I’m pleased to announce KAsync 0.1.0.

        KAsync is a library to write composable asynchronous code using lambda-based continuations.

      • KDE Wikis: where should I write?

        I’ve seen as well an awesome tutorial being published on Planet KDE, with a very wrong address.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME ‘Games’ App Scores Better Video Output, More Libretro Cores

        GNOME 3.24 will shortly be upon us, bringing with the first stable release of the (rather spiffy) Games app.

        Games, if you’re not familiar with it, and as it’s not available in the Ubuntu archives you might not be, is sort of like a music player but for your video games library.

        You can use the app to browse, search, filter, find and quickly play your existing games and ROMs.

      • Gnome Foundation executive director wants you to think beyond the desktop

        Neil McGovern was recently elected as the Executive Director of the Gnome Foundation, a position that was previously held by Karen Sandler.

        Prior to joining the Gnome Foundation, McGovern was working with Collabora Productivity, a UK-based company that offers enterprise solutions based on the fully open source LibreOffice project. He spent five years at Collabora before taking over the full-time role at the Gnome Foundation.

        As you may already know, Gnome is one of the major open source projects. It’s a desktop environment for Linux and BSD systems. The Gnome Foundation oversees the development of the project.

  • Distributions

    • Three Rescue Disks for Your Toolbox

      If you’re a SysAdmin, or work anywhere on the Ops side of DevOps, a rescue disc should be an essential part of your arsenal. With a bootable rescue system, either on a CD or on a thumb drive, you can recover a password, detect and remove a rootkit or other malware, repair a Master Boot Record, retrieve data from a damaged drive and more.

      You can build your own, of course. All of the necessary tools are freely available under open source licenses and are included in the repositories of most Linux distributions. But the easier route is to use one of the Linux distributions designed specifically as a rescue disc, and which comes with all of the tools you might need already installed. There are many, but we’ll look at three of the most popular. Each includes tools to fix problems on machines running either Linux or Windows.

    • The most awaited distribution in Q2 2017

      The second quarter of 2017 promises to be very interesting.

      Several distributions schedule their release between April and June 2017.

      Apart from two usual competitors that issue their new releases every 6 months, Ubuntu and Fedora, we will see Tails 3.0 and Linux Lite 3.4.

    • Reviews

      • LXQt usability review – We got a long way to go

        LXQt feels like an experiment in thinking, tinkering and development, and there does not seem to be an ultimate goal with a clearly defined end state. The prolific and colorful origins, the co-existence of its root projects, and the multitude of technologies involved present an additional layer of complexity. Then, in between versions 0.10 and 0.11, there has been only a relatively small delta in terms of quality, functionality and user-friendliness.

        Comparing the two, unfortunately, most of the visual bugs remain. Options are present in multiple locations, sometimes in more than one place. There isn’t a uniform method to control the system and its behavior, and some of the settings seem hard-coded in applications while others are ignored when you alter the defaults. Functionality, LXQt does not cooperate – or is not aware – well with non-LXQt software, if such a stack may or should be defined. The workflow is not very intuitive. There has been some progress, but not enough.

        Like the old song goes, we got a long way to go and a short time to get there. At this point, I am not certain LXQt has enough oomph to weather the infancy problems and rise above the early development stage woes. This is a non-trivial effort, and mostly, it demands sharp focus and strict definitions on usability. Then again, I am not aware of any golden formulas or paradigms when it comes to UI design or user experience in Linux. Some practices are followed, but they are not enforced, definitely not across different desktop environments and applications, and some of the choices are purely development-driven. Which should not be.

        It is worthy of an experiment and some rigorous testing, just to get the feel of what it does and how it works. However, LXQt is still not production ready, and it remains a niche offering for hardcore users and enthusiasts, who are interested in Qt first and foremost, rather than any wider populace of users, who just seek to fire and forget and enjoy their machines.

        Well, I shall keep an eye and follow this project. I hope you enjoyed this long and possibly exhausting review. The quest for the Linux desktop perfection continues. See you.

    • New Releases

      • 4MLinux 21.0 STABLE released.

        The status of the 4MLinux 21.0 series has been changed to STABLE. Create your documents with LibreOffice and GIMP 2.8.20, share them using DropBox 19.4.13, surf the Internet with Firefox 51.0.1 and Chromium 56.0.2924.76, stay in touch with your friends via Skype and Thunderbird 45.7.1, enjoy your music collection with Audacious 3.8.2 and aTunes 3.1.2, watch your favorite videos with MPlayer SVN-r37889 and VLC 2.2.4, play games with Mesa 13.0.4/Wine 2.2 support enabled. You can also setup the 4MLinux LAMP Server (Linux 4.4.44, Apache 2.4.25, MariaDB 10.1.21, PHP 5.6.30 and PHP 7.0.15). Perl 5.24.0 and Python 2.7.12 are also available.

      • Maui 17.03 – “Cuba Libre” released

        The Maui Team is happy to announce the release of Maui 17.03 – Cuba Libre.

        This release comes with plenty new package updates and KDE Plasma 5.9.3.
        It also ships Frameworks 5.31, Qt 5.7.1 and LTS Linux Kernel 4.4.0~65.
        Firefox was updated to version 51 and Thunderbird to version 45.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • The March 2017 Issue of the PCLinuxOS Magazine

        The PCLinuxOS Magazine staff is pleased to announce the release of the March 2017 issue. With the exception of a brief period in 2009, The PCLinuxOS Magazine has been published on a monthly basis since September, 2006. The PCLinuxOS Magazine is a product of the PCLinuxOS community, published by volunteers from the community. The magazine is lead by Paul Arnote, Chief Editor, and Assistant Editor Meemaw. The PCLinuxOS Magazine is released under the Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial-Share-Alike 3.0 Unported license, and some rights are reserved. All articles may be freely reproduced via any and all means following first publication by The PCLinuxOS Magazine, provided that attribution to both The PCLinuxOS Magazine and the original author are maintained, and a link is provided to the originally published article.

    • Slackware Family

      • I added Chromium 56 for Slackware 14.1 with a caveat

        A while ago, Chromium 56 ‘stable’ was released. It took a while for me to release Slackware 14.1 packages because of a crash bug in XFCE (and probably other non-KDE desktops too). I have been trying to find ways around the crash and been looking for patches, but there does not seem to be a solution for Slackware 14.1 other than working around it and losing some functionality.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Norwegian Bokmål translation of The Debian Administrator’s Handbook complete, proofreading in progress

        For almost a year now, we have been working on making a Norwegian Bokmål edition of The Debian Administrator’s Handbook. Now, thanks to the tireless effort of Ole-Erik, Ingrid and Andreas, the initial translation is complete, and we are working on the proof reading to ensure consistent language and use of correct computer science terms. The plan is to make the book available on paper, as well as in electronic form. For that to happen, the proof reading must be completed and all the figures need to be translated. If you want to help out, get in touch.

      • My Free Software Activities in February 2017

        We have reached the end of Stretch’s development cycle, a phase called full freeze. That means packages may only migrate to Testing aka Stretch after approval by the release team. Changes must be minimal and only address important or release critical bugs. This is usually the time when I stop uploading new upstream releases to unstable to avoid any disruptions. Of course there are exceptions but if you are unsure best practice is to use experimental instead. A lot of RC bugs are still open and affect the next release. In February I could close five one and triage two more.

      • What to Do After Installing Debian

        Debian organizes everything, so it is not a surprise that much of working with post-install Debian involves enabling the right repositories and selecting packages from them.

        This approach means that, although configuring Debian naturally overlaps with the configuration of most Linux distributions, it has a perspective that takes awhile to fully grasp and appreciate.

        The easiest time to configure Debian, of course, is during installation, and Debian’s detailed installer makes it trivial to setup even many advanced features before your first login. However, needs and preferences differ and develop, and after you enter your password for the first time, Debian has all the tools you need to configure everything you need. The only catch is that finding what you need can sometimes take a while.

      • Contribute your skills to Debian in Paris, May 13-14 2017

        Debian is a free operating system for your computer. An operating system is the set of basic programs and utilities that make your computer run. Debian comes with dozens of thousands of packages, precompiled software bundled up for easy installation on your machine. A number of other operating systems, such as Ubuntu and Tails, are based on Debian.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • How Often Do You Change Your Desktop Wallpaper? [Poll]
          • New video demos Ubuntu Personal 16.04 on Aquaris M10 tablet

            German YouTuber Alex has published a new (german) video on his “Warum Linux Besser Ist” (“Why Linux is better”) channel detailing how to install Ubuntu Personal 16.04 on the bq Aquaris M10 FHD tablet.

            For the installation process he uses the magic-device-tool created by fellow Ubuntu member Marius Quabeck. Among its many supported device and operating system combinations, the magic-device-tool also offers an option for installing the latest (“staging”) image on the bq Aquaris M10 FHD tablet (both the official Ubuntu version and the Android version). This image identifies itself as “Ubuntu 16.04 (r157)” and was released on March 3, 2017.

          • Playing Games on Ubuntu Core
          • Mir and graphics on Ubuntu Core

            Mir is a set of libraries for implementing a display server for Linux, developed by Canonical since 2012 and aimed at replacing the X Window System. It stands in competition with Wayland. Both are designed to be faster, more secure (X11 lets any application snoop on any other application and grab the whole screen), and generally better than the aging X Window System (which was mainly developed for remote connections to mainframes).

          • MirAL 1.3

            There’s a new MirAL release (1.3.0) available in ‘Zesty Zapus’ (Ubuntu 17.04) and the so-called “stable phone overlay” ppa for ‘Xenial Xerus’ (Ubuntu 16.04LTS). MirAL is a project aimed at simplifying the development of Mir servers and particularly providing a stable ABI and sensible default behaviors.

          • MirAL 1.3 Adds Support For Workspaces, Background In Miral-Shell

            Alan Griffiths of Canonical has announced the release of MirAL 1.3, Mir’s abstraction layer to ease bringing up new environments under Mir while providing a stable ABI.

          • Flavours and Variants

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source


  • Health/Nutrition

    • ‘Pope Francis has urged us to have fewer children,’ claims Vatican academy member

      “Pope Francis has urged us to have fewer children to make the world more sustainable,” a panelist at a Vatican-run workshop on “how to save the natural world” claimed on Thursday.

      This solution to securing the world’s sustainability was presented by botanist and environmentalist Peter Raven during a press conference that concluded the “Biological Extinction” workshop that took place at the Vatican earlier this week.

      Greg Burke, director of the Holy See Press Office, moderated a panel, which included Raven, President of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (PAS), Werner Arber, University of Cambridge Professor Emeritus of Economics Partha Dasgupta, and PAS chancellor Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo.

    • What Do Farmers Do All Winter?

      Wouldn’t it be nice to take an entire season off work? Perhaps, but don’t expect farmers to be the ones to tell you what that’s like. Whether or not their crops are in peak season, farmers work tirelessly throughout the year to ensure you’re getting the highest quality food possible.

    • Global Fund Names Interim Executive Director Starting In June

      Earlier in her career she worked for Médecins Sans Frontières in Uganda, worked as a doctor in Sudan, and for the Pan-American Health Organization/World Health Organization in El Salvador.

    • UN Human Rights Council To Host Expert Panel On Medicines Access This Week

      The United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva this week will host a panel discussion among a notable range of experts on access to medicines and the controversial UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel report issued last September. The panel is expected to lead to a report sent on to the Human Rights Council for possible action next autumn.

    • Environmentalists bristle at Nestle’s water bid

      Michigan environmentalists are continuing to criticize a bottled water company’s plan to increase the amount of water it withdraws from an Osceola County aquifer.

      An environmental group called Clean Water Action delivered more than 5,000 letters to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Friday showing opposition to Nestle Waters North America’s request to increase the amount of water it takes from the current 250 gallons per minute to 400 gallons. The underground reservoir has been used for the company’s Ice Mountain bottled water brand.

      The DEQ requires $5,000 for a permit application related to the withdrawal, which would total about 210 million gallons a year.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Fundamentalists hacked my husband to death. That hate is poisoning politics

      I have no memory of the attack, but the pictures of my husband’s bloody, motionless body on the street, me next to him pleading for help, the four large stab wounds on my head and a sliced-off thumb, will remind me forever of the hatred and intolerance that changed my life.

      Our assailants, armed with machetes, were Islamists who on 26 February 2015, ambushed us while we were visiting our homeland, Bangladesh, for a book-signing trip. They hacked my husband, Avijit Roy, to death and left me gravely injured.

      Why did we deserve such violence? Because fundamentalists were threatened by our writings – on science, philosophy and criticism of religious dogma – and they identified us as enemies of Islam. This week, I attended another book fair in The Hague, organised by the Hague Peace Project and Muktomona (our blog which was created by Avijit as a freethinking platform) to commemorate the second anniversary of Avijit’s death – at a time when our world seems more polarised than ever.

    • Gunmen kill leading lawyer in NW Pakistan

      Pakistani police say unidentified gunmen have killed a prominent attorney in an apparent targeted shooting in a northwestern town near a tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

      Khalid Khan, a police officer in Shabqadar, says two gunmen on a motorcycle opened fired on Mohammed Jan Gigyani when he was driving his car Saturday. Khan said Gigyani was critically wounded and died en route to a hospital.

      Khan says Gigyani was a prominent lawyer affiliated with the secular Qaumi Watan political party.

    • Downplaying US Contribution to Potential Yemen Famine

      For almost two years, the United States has backed—with weapons, logistics and political support—a Saudi-led war in Yemen that has left over 10,000 dead, 40,000 wounded, 2.5 million internally displaced, 2.2 million children suffering from malnutrition and over 90 percent of civilians in need of humanitarian aid.

      A recent UN report on the humanitarian crisis and near-famine conditions in Yemen (that encompassed South Sudan, Nigeria and Somalia as well) has led to a rare instance of Western media taking notice of the war and its catastrophic effect. But missing from most of these reports is the role of the United States and its ally Saudi Arabia—whose two-year-long siege and bombing have left the country in ruins.

      A Daily News editorial (“USA for Africa (and Yemen),” 2/27/17) called on readers to give to aid organizations helping to alleviate the crisis, but neglected to mention the US/Saudi role in the humanitarian disaster the Daily News itself insisted was “caused by acts of man rather than God.” Which men were those? The Daily News doesn’t say.

    • Human nature as victim in Colombia

      The massacre of the Unión Patriótica party is another such emblematic moment – a previous attempt on the part of the FARC to demobilise and enter a peace process, on this occasion 5,000 people were murdered, as some organisations in Colombia have documented. This is only one moment out of so many in our history which remain unaccounted for.

    • Shotgun Pointed at Black Children Trivialized as ‘Confederate Flag Incident’

      As FAIR has noted before (4/1/15, 3/8/16), how a story is framed is as important—if not more so—than the content of an article. Sixty percent of Americans don’t read past the headline and 60 percent of Americans share articles on social media without reading them. How a story is teed up to the reader is an essential element in how our media shape our understanding of the news.

  • Transparency/Secrecy

    • State Supreme Court Says California Officials Can No Longer Hide Documents In Personal Email Accounts And Devices

      Unfortunately, using personal accounts/devices is still widespread at all levels of government. This means there’s no quick fix. It will take a steady stream of court rulings to make this official everywhere. And that makes it the public’s problem, as it takes constituents with the will and the funding to spend years in court forcing government agencies to do what they always should have been doing.

    • Spotting Shadow Regulation

      Our case study is the announcement this week of an anti-piracy agreement between search engines and creative industries, that was brokered by the UK Intellectual Property Office. This self-styled “Voluntary Code of Practice” requires search engines Bing and Google to take additional steps to remove links to alleged copyright-infringing content from the first page of search results that they return in response to user queries that would otherwise include such links, and from auto-complete suggestions.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • “Master Negotiator” Donald Trump Lies About then Fails On Keystone XL Steel

      Late yesterday evening, news broke that TransCanada, the company behind the formerly rejected Keystone XL pipeline, will not be required to use U.S. steel to construct the dirty tar sands pipeline from Alberta, Canada through the U.S. to refineries in the Houston area. This is in spite of the repeated pledges by Donald Trump — including at Tuesday’s speech before a joint session of Congress — that it will be built with “American steel.”

      Earlier this week, TransCanada delayed its $15 billion Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) suit under NAFTA over President Barack Obama’s rejection of the pipeline until March 27, the same day that the final permitting decision for Keystone XL is due. It has been speculated that the lawsuit was suspended rather that dropped to ensure that TransCanada was not required to use U.S. steel despite Trump’s public statements that it would be.

    • Great Lakes restoration would be gutted in early White House plan

      With reports swirling that President Donald Trump intends sharp cutbacks at the Environmental Protection Agency, the Free Press has learned that a drastic reduction may be under consideration for Great Lakes restoration efforts, which in the past have received bipartisan support.

      The National Association of Clean Air Agencies confirmed for the Free Press late Thursday that an initial proposal from the White House Office of Management and Budget calls for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to be cut from $300 million a year to about $10 million.

    • Oklahoma Tribe Sues Oil Companies in Tribal Court Over Quake

      An Oklahoma-based Native American tribe filed a lawsuit in its own tribal court system Friday accusing several oil companies of triggering the state’s largest earthquake that caused extensive damage to some near-century-old tribal buildings.

      The Pawnee Nation alleges in the suit that wastewater injected into wells operated by the defendants caused the 5.8-magnitude quake in September and is seeking physical damages to real and personal property, market value losses, as well as punitive damages.

    • Volkswagen emissions scandal: Britons dying due to toxic fumes travelling across North Sea from Germany

      Britons are dying because of the Volkswagen emission scandal with dozens killed from fumes travelling across the North Sea from Germany and ‘many times’ more killed by pollution from cars on UK roads, a study suggests.

      Between 2008 and 2015 Volkswagen rigged diesel cars so they could pass stringent environmental tests while emitting dangerous levels of pollution.

      More than one million VW cars in Britain were fitted with ‘defeat devices’ which pumped deadly nitrogen dioxide into the atmosphere at banned quantities.

    • Gas mileage up a gallon since early ’90s

      Despite advancements in fuel-saving technologies over the last 25 years, on-road fuel economy for all vehicles is up only one mile per gallon during that time.

      In an update to research conducted two years ago, Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute say that actual, on-road fuel economy for the entire fleet of vehicles (including cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles) has improved from 16.9 mpg in 1991 to 17.9 mpg in 2015.

    • High Tide Bulletin: Spring 2017

      The rising and falling of the sea is a phenomenon upon which we can always depend. Tides are the regular rise and fall of the sea surface caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and sun and their position relative to the earth.There are some factors that cause the tides to be higher than what is “normally” seen from day to day. This bulletin tells you when you may experience higher than normal high tides for the period of time between March and May 2017.

    • Oil and Water Don’t Mix: Why the ACLU Is Standing Up for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe

      On December 4, the Army Corps of Engineers did the right thing by refusing to give Energy Transfer Partners permission to build a portion of the nearly 1,200-mile-long Dakota Access Pipeline under Lake Oahe in North Dakota. The corps’ decision to perform an environmental impact assessment and explore alternative routes for the pipeline fulfilled the U.S.’s treaty obligations with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which vigorously protested the pipeline out of a credible fear that it could rupture and destroy its water supply, as well as acted in accordance with this nation’s environmental protection laws. It was a big win for the tribe and its supporters.

    • Revealed: exported EU animals subject to abuse and illegal conditions

      Animals exported live from EU countries are routinely being subjected to abuse, illegal transportation conditions and inhumane slaughter, an investigation has found.

      Dozens of undercover videos and photographs obtained by the Guardian show live cattle and sheep from EU countries being beaten, shocked with electric prods, held for days in overcrowded pens and covered head to toe in faeces as they are transported from Europe to their final destinations in Turkey and the Middle East in conditions that breach European law.

  • Finance

    • Snapchat, which says it may never make a profit, is valued at $24 billion after a $3 billion IPO

      Despite a decline in users, no revenue to speak of, no headquarters, new competition entering the market and an extremely young CEO, Snapchat doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Many social media experts report that the app may soon gain the popularity of Facebook, with younger generations preferring it over the curated feel of other apps.

    • Every time we take an Uber we’re spreading its social poison

      There are very few things that $5bn can’t buy, but one of them is manners. This week video emerged of Travis Kalanick, the CEO and founder of ride-share app Uber, patronising and swearing at one of his own drivers, who complained that harsh company policies had forced him into bankruptcy. “Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own shit,” sneered Kalanick. Truer words were never spoken by a tycoon: for Uber, along with many other aggressive corporations, not taking responsibility for your own shit isn’t just a philosophy, it’s a business model.

      Uber has barely been out of the news this year, with a succession of scandals cementing the company’s reputation as a byword for cod-libertarian douchebaggery. Accusations of strike-breaking during protests against Donald Trump’s “Muslim ban” sparked a viral campaign to get customers to delete the app. A week later, a former employee went public with accusations of sexual harassment and institutional misogyny. Kalanick, who was pressured to withdraw from a position as a business adviser to Trump, is now facing legal suits across the world from drivers who insist that they would be better able to “take responsibility” for their lives if they could earn a living wage.

    • Uber’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week

      You think you had a bad week? Welcome to Uber’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week.

      First, a little context. Last week was already one of the worst in the ride-hailing company’s history. It started on a Sunday when a former engineer, Susan Fowler, published an explosive blog post alleging sexual harassment and discrimination. Then Uber got blasted by its own investors for fostering a “toxic” culture. To make matters worse, it also got sued by Google-parent Alphabet’s Waymo for allegedly stealing some driverless car technology. Uber, of course, denies doing that.

    • Uber uses ‘secret program’ Greyball to avoid regulators

      Uber has been using a secret tool in countries across the world in order to avoid law enforcement authorities, it has been revealed.

      Greyball, a tool which uses geolocation data, credit card information and social media account data, has been used by the company for years in order to identify and avoid officers aiming to catch drivers out in cities where the discount cab firm is not permitted.

      Rides hailed from a location near a city enforcement agent suspected of launching a sting to specifically trap Uber drivers could be ignored or cancelled using the app, The New York Times reported.

    • Brexit Will Lower Wages

      It has surprised the naïve that in the last two weeks Tory ministers have been lining up to assure employers that there will be no reduction in the flow of immigrant workers into
      the UK after Brexit.

      There are two things that infuriate me about the “left wing” argument that EU immigration lowers wages in the UK through importing labour. Firstly it is not left wing at all, it is narrowly nationalist and founded on the protectionist premise that the condition of the worker in say Poland – who would benefit both from opportunities in the UK and from international labour competition elevating wages there – does not matter. The “left wing” proponents of the protected national labour market are actually just ill-disguised racists.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Trump Hides Behind the Military

      Consider this major disconnect. On one hand, President Trump presents a proposed budget that calls for a major increase in spending on the military, even while drastically slashing funding for huge parts of much else that the federal government does. On the other hand, his first address to Congress says almost nothing about foreign policy and provides almost no explanation of what supposedly requires that expansion in the military and how it is to be used.

    • Theresa May Moves to Replace Devolution with Westminster Control

      May seems to be suffering an extraordinary degree of hubris; she sees the Tories having achieved very slightly over half of the SNP vote at the Holyrood elections as a sign of mass popularity. She is laying down that Unionism means Unionism just as purely as Brexit means Brexit. Devolution is only represented in her speech as an evil that must be guarded against.

    • NYT Reporting on Trump’s Budget Outline Is Seriously Confused

      Most of us recognize Donald Trump and Paul Ryan as politicians, who hold their jobs as a result of being able to gain the support of important interest groups. It really doesn’t make much difference what their political philosophy is. Contrary to what the New York Times might lead us to believe, this is not a battle of political philosophy, it is a battle over money.


      The claim that Paul Ryan is concerned that these programs would “swallow the bulk of government spending” directly contradicts everything Paul Ryan has been explicitly advocating for years. Ryan has repeatedly put forward budgets that would reduce the size of the federal government to zero outside of the military, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. (See Table 2 in the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis.) It is difficult to understand how a major newspaper can so completely misrepresent a strongly and repeatedly stated view of one of the country’s most important political figures.

    • Media Fawn Over Trump’s Success at Saying Words in Semi-Coherent Fashion

      What came to be known as the “expectations game” during the George W. Bush years was wielded with notorious cynicism. The assumption behind this game in those days was that Bush was a bumbling doofus who could hardly string together a coherent sentence, so if he got to the level of a high school debate, media chalked it up as a “win.”

      The game, successfully rebooted by Donald Trump over the past 18 months, was in full play during Trump’s speech to Congress last night: So long as Trump wasn’t his petulant, incoherent, race-baiting self, it would be considered a victory for the 45th president.

    • 5 Trump Cabinet Members Who’ve Made False Statements to Congress

      As most of the world knows by now, Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not tell the truth when he was asked during his confirmation hearings about contacts with Russian officials.

      But Sessions isn’t the only one. At least four other cabinet members made statements during their nomination hearings that are contradicted by actual facts: EPA Chief Scott Pruitt, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

      The statements were all made under oath, except those of DeVos. It is a crime to “knowingly” lie in testimony to Congress, but it’s rarely prosecuted.

    • WaPo Spins Its Scoop to Minimize Damage to Sessions

      But the problem is not that Sessions “did not disclose” his meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak; it’s that he lied about them under oath.

      As the Post‘s story notes in its sixth paragraph, when asked during his confirmation hearings about contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, he replied, “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.”

      “I did not have communications with the Russians”—an unqualified denial of the kind of meetings he now acknowledges that he had.

    • Sessions’s Recusal Gives Senators Powerful Leverage to Demand Russia Special Prosecutor

      Now that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from any involvement in investigations by the Justice Department involving potential Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, the authority to make decisions on the issue — including whether the appointment of a special prosecutor is necessary — falls to the deputy attorney general.

      This turn of events gives the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee the power to demand a special prosecutor, if they choose to wield it.

      There is currently no permanent deputy attorney general, just Acting Attorney General Dana Boente, a former U.S. Attorney who stepped in after Sally Yates, an Obama appointee, was fired. However, Donald Trump’s nominee, U.S. Attorney for Maryland Rod Rosenstein, will undergo confirmation hearings with the Senate Judiciary Committee this month.

    • Gerald Kaufman

      I am still more sorry because Kaufman became a victim of the current ludicrous, but media-supported, campaign to whip up accusations of anti-Semitism against any critic of Israel. In one extraordinarily horrible manifestation of this, Tal Ofer, Labour Progress member and a member of the board of Deputies, sought to have Gerald Kaufman, a Jewish MP, excluded from the parliamentary Channukah celebrations. That seems to me extraordinarily graceless and unpleasant and the polar opposite of Kaufman’s own kindliness.

    • President Trump’s Speech Last Night Ignored the Human Misery and Fear He Has Already Inflicted

      Last night, President Donald Trump delivered the first address to Congress of his short but disastrous presidency. For more than an hour, the president engaged in the empty rhetoric of unity and concern for all Americans in a speech completely divorced from the reality of harm he has already inflicted on America’s most vulnerable communities. In just five short weeks, the Trump administration has rolled out policy after policy that tramples on core American ideals.

    • Jeff Sessions Must Now Tell America the Whole Truth

      Before answering questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee on 10 January, then-Sen. Jeff Sessions raised his hand and pledged an oath to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”.

      Today it appears Sessions violated that oath before the committee, and the Senate Judiciary Committee must open a full investigation into whether the attorney general perjured himself when he said he had no contact with Russian officials during the election.

    • [Older] Not Okay: Professor Smeared After Advocating for Election Integrity

      Imagine if someone, after reading something you wrote online that they didn’t agree with, decided to forge racist and anti-Semitic emails under your name. This appears to be what happened to J. Alex Halderman, a computer security researcher and professor of computer science at the University of Michigan. Halderman is one of many election security experts—along with EFF, of course—who has advocated for auditing the results of the 2016 presidential election. The recent attempts to smear his name in retaliation for standing up for election integrity are a threat to online free speech.

      Halderman, who is a frequent collaborator and sometimes client of EFF, published a piece on Medium in November 2016 arguing that we should perform recounts in three states—Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania—to ensure that the election had not been “hacked.” To be clear, despite a report in New York Magazine, Halderman never stated that there was hard evidence that the election results had in fact been electronically manipulated.

    • The Golden Age of Email Hacks Is Only Getting Started

      This story offers no end of rolling punchlines, the kicker being the vitriol the vice president showed during the campaign toward Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. More importantly, as the Indianapolis Star first reported, it represents a troubling security lapse by a high-ranking public official. The batch of emails released by the state of Indiana reveals that Pence’s AOL inbox hosted plenty of sensitive material, up to and including the arrests of terror suspects.

      You can pull any number of threads here, split all kinds of hairs about the relative vulnerabilities of private servers and personal accounts, and crack endless “you’ve got mail” jokes. But the biggest thing to remember has little to do with Pence: From a security standpoint, email is fundamentally broken. Until that changes, expect email hacks and scandals aplenty.

    • Mike Pence on personal email use: ‘No comparison’ to Clinton

      Vice President Mike Pence defended his use of a personal email account to conduct state business while he was Indiana’s governor, saying “there’s no comparison” between his situation and the controversy surrounding Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server that rocked the 2016 presidential campaign.

      “There’s no comparison whatsoever,” Pence said following an event he did with House Speaker Paul Ryan in Janesville, Wisconsin, when asked about whether his situation gave him any sympathy for the Democratic presidential nominee.

    • Vice President Fails To Demand An FBI Investigation After His Private Email Account Is Hacked

      I can only assume Mike Pence is so self-absorbed he’s literally incapable of recognizing his own hypocrisy. Either that or he’s completely shameless.

      After engaging in a presidential campaign where much was made of Hillary Clinton’s private email address/server, Pence went to court to prevent his AOL emails from being released to public records requesters.

      I can only assume Pence is now welcoming an FBI investigation into his use of an AOL account.

    • Reports that Donald Trump’s unsecured Android phone is root of White House leaks are made up. Fake!

      A fake news report claiming that President Donald Trump’s unsecured Android cell phone is probably the source of several news leaks from the White House is actually the fabrication of a well-known source of contrived stories.

      A Feb. 26, 2017, article on TheSeattleTribune.com says in a headline, “Trump’s Android device believed to be source of recent White House leaks.” The post was flagged by Facebook users as being potentially false, as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat fake news.

    • Jeff Sessions Is a Disgrace to the Justice Department

      Attorney General Jeff Sessions is rightfully in hot water for lying to Congress about his contacts with Russian officials during the presidential campaign. This underscores the need for a special prosecutor to independently investigate alleged Russian interference in the 2016 elections as well as possible ties between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

      But the problem with Sessions goes well beyond Russia. He’s put the Trump administration on the wrong side of every major issue when it comes to civil rights, the Constitution, and the rule of law.

    • After Trump, boys at her daughter’s school Nazi-salute in the hall. Here’s how a mom responded.

      The kids aren’t alt-right. Right?

      A few weeks ago a neighbor posted to Facebook about some skinheads at our local middle school. The post went something like this:

      “Some punks at school draw swastikas and shows them to [my son]. He thinks he’s a Jew and that this will freak him out. Skinheads. Can’t even get it right.”

      Kind of flip. Don’t get me wrong, she wasn’t trying to minimize. She was disgusted. But after reading the back and forth in the comments and chatting with her myself, it was clear that she wouldn’t be reporting this incident to the school. She was confident that they wouldn’t do anything. When it came down to it, this incident didn’t set off the same alarms for her as it did for me. Her son isn’t Jewish. My daughters are. And not only is my daughter who attends this same middle school a Jew, she is vocal and proud of who she is. Up until these past few weeks, I didn’t think that was a danger.

    • California Nonprofit May Have Violated Tax Law By Donating to Anti-Muslim, Far-Right Dutch Candidate

      The David Horowitz Freedom Center, a controversial California-based nonprofit that sponsors virulently anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant campaigns in the U.S., has quietly played a prominent role in financing Dutch far-right nationalist Geert Wilders’s People’s Party for Freedom (PVV). The PVV’s platform calls for an end to Muslim immigration and the closing down of mosques and Islamic schools in the Netherlands — and polls suggest it may win the largest number of seats in the Netherland’s parliamentary elections this month.

    • The Basic Formula For Every Shocking Russia/Trump Revelation
    • With No Evidence, Trump Accuses Obama of Wiretapping Trump Tower

      And Trump himself has garnered many comparisons to Nixon for the president’s failure to divest from his businesses, his administration’s attempts to use government agencies to protect its own interests, and his right-wing campaign rhetoric.

    • Top Obama adviser to Trump: ‘No president can order a wiretap’

      A former policy adviser to President Obama is firing back at President Trump’s claim that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower, saying it didn’t happen — at least not under Obama’s orders.

      “No President can order a wiretap. Those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you,” Ben Rhodes tweeted Saturday morning.

      He also said “only a liar” could make the case, as Trump suggested, that Obama wire tapped Trump Tower ahead of the election.

    • Obama Spokesman Says President Trump’s Wiretapping Claim Is ‘Simply False’

      Former president Barack Obama responded to President Donald Trump’s accusation that Obama ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower phones while still in office.

      “A cardinal rule of the Obama Administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice,” Obama spokesperson Kevin Lewis said in a statement on Saturday. “As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.”

    • This Isn’t ‘a Total Witch Hunt!’—Jeff Sessions Is in Real Trouble

      No one should lie under oath, but doing so ought to disqualify an attorney-general nominee from the job. However, that’s essentially what Attorney General Jeff Sessions admitted doing Thursday afternoon in a bizarre press conference where he announced he will recuse himself from Justice Department investigations into Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Sessions’s explanation for failing to tell the Senate Judiciary Committee about his meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak raised more questions than it answered. His demeanor was at times oddly flippant and unprofessional—as when he said it was possible he discussed the Trump campaign with Kislyak, because “most of these ambassadors are pretty gossipy.”

      Sessions seemed to be trying to head off perjury charges when he told reporters “my reply to the question…was honest and correct as I understood it at the time,” referring to Senator Al Franken’s inquiring about possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. “I was taken aback…by this brand new information…that a surrogate—and I had been called a surrogate for Donald Trump—had been meeting continuously with Russian officials.… in retrospect, I should’ve slowed down and said, ‘But I did meet one Russian official a couple of times, and that would be the ambassador.’”

      In fact, Sessions wasn’t being asked about his own meetings with Russian officials. In the confirmation hearing, Franken summarized a news story that reported on a “continuing exchange of information” between Russian officials and Trump advisers, and then asked Sessions what he would do “if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign.” In retrospect, Sessions’s dishonest answer is even stranger. “I’m not aware of any of those activities,” Sessions told Franken, adding, “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign, and I did not have communications with the Russians.” Why Sessions chose to give an answer about his own contact with the Russians—when Franken hadn’t asked about that—is a mystery that we can only hope ongoing investigations will explain.

      Sessions went on to describe one of his meetings with Kislyak, a scheduled sit-down in his Senate office with two senior aides there as well. He flashed back and forth between saying he couldn’t “recall” much of the meeting, and going into detail about their discussions of Ukraine. “To listen to him…Russia had done nothing that was wrong in any area, and everybody else was wrong with regard to the Ukraine,” Sessions recalled. “It got to be a little bit of a testy conversation at that point.” That’s a lot of information for a meeting Sessions seemed not to recall.

      Moreover, the revelation that the Kislyak meeting was on his calendar, and that senior staffers attended with him, makes it even more remarkable that Sessions didn’t disclose it to the Senate Judiciary Committee—or go back and correct the record after he was “taken aback” by “brand new information” (which wasn’t at all new) about connections between Trump campaign officials and Russian leaders.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • [Older] Congressional Oversight Committee Wants Warrants to Rein in Police Abuse of Cell-Site Simulators

      A bipartisan Congressional committee’s recent report showcases troubling details about police abuse of cell-site simulators, and calls on Congress to pass laws ensuring that this powerful technology is only deployed with a court-issued probable cause warrant.

      Cell-site simulators, often called IMSI catchers or Stingrays, masquerade as cell phone towers and trick our phones into connecting to them so police can track down suspect targets, but their use also collects the data and location of innocent bystanders and extracts unnecessary sensitive data in the process.

    • [Older] Virginia Supreme Court Should Protect Drivers from License Plate Surveillance

      EFF urged the Supreme Court of Virginia today to protect the state’s residents from a police surveillance database created with automated license plate readers (ALPRs).

      We’ve been following law enforcement use of ALPR technology a long time, because the information that these readers collect can reveal sensitive details about our lives. Police departments that use ALPRs mount them on patrol cars or on stationary objects and leave them on all the time, meaning that the police can learn where we are and when, whether it’s at our house of worship, our doctor’s office, or a political meeting, and the police can track this data over time.

    • The U.S. Government’s Privacy Watchdog Is Basically Dead, Emails Reveal

      There’s a little-known federal agency whose job is to ensure U.S. spy agencies protect privacy and other civil liberties even as they work to defeat terrorists and criminals, and to blow the whistle when that doesn’t happen. But the agency, known as the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, is down to just a single voting member — which means it has been stripped of nearly all its powers, according to emails obtained by The Intercept.

    • [Older] Sen. Wyden: Border Searches of Digital Devices Should Require a Warrant

      This week Sen. Wyden (D-OR) sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly stating that he will soon introduce legislation that would require law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant before searching the data on digital devices at the border. We applaud Sen. Wyden for taking a stand on this important privacy issue.

      Sen. Wyden said that he wants to “guarantee that the Fourth Amendment is respected at the border.”

      We have been arguing for a while that the Fourth Amendment requires a warrant based on probable cause for border searches of cell phones, laptops and other mobile devices that contain gigabytes of highly personal information.

    • [Older] We’re Halfway to Encrypting the Entire Web

      The movement to encrypt the web has reached a milestone. As of earlier this month, approximately half of Internet traffic is now protected by HTTPS. In other words, we are halfway to a web safer from the eavesdropping, content hijacking, cookie stealing, and censorship that HTTPS can protect against.

    • The Trump Administration Is Threatening to Publicly Release the Private Data of Immigrants and Foreign Visitors

      Over the last month, the Trump administration has waged a war on the rights of immigrants and foreigners — including by issuing a policy that strips away basic privacy protections that have been provided by Democratic and Republican presidents for decades.

    • [Older] Congress Contemplates Making it Illegal to Protect Consumer Privacy Online

      When you go online you reveal a tremendous amount of private information about yourself. What you browse, what you purchase, who you communicate with—all reveal something personal about you. Long ago, Congress made privacy a legal right, so that your telephone company was prohibited from using its position as your communications provider to exploit your personal information. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently updated the protections to apply when you use your broadband provider. Now in the near future, Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, and other major cable and telephone companies must get your permission before they can use sensitive information you reveal through your online activity.

    • [Older] Civil Society Condemns Malware Attacks Against Mexican Public Health Advocates

      A group of Mexican nutrition policy makers and public health workers have been the latest targets of government malware attacks. According to the New York Times, several public health advocates were targeted by spyware developed by NSO Group, a surveillance software company that sells its products exclusively to governments. The targets were all vocal proponents of Mexico’s 2014 soda tax—a regulation that the soda industry saw as a threat to its commercial interests in Mexico.

    • San Diego Police Target African American Children for Unlawful DNA Collection

      Specifically targeting black children for unlawful DNA collection is a gross abuse of technology by law enforcement. But it’s exactly what the San Diego Police Department is doing, according to a lawsuit just filed by the ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties on behalf of one of the families affected. SDPD’s actions, as alleged in the complaint, illustrate the severe and very real threats to privacy, civil liberties, and civil rights presented by granting law enforcement access to our DNA. SDPD must stop its discriminatory abuse of DNA collection technology.

    • Which VPN Services Keep You Anonymous in 2017?

      VPN services have become an important tool to counter the growing threat of Internet surveillance. Encrypting one’s traffic through a VPN connection helps to keep online communications private, but is your VPN truly anonymous? We take a look at the logging policies of dozens of top VPN providers.

    • Ex spy who campaigned over murdered WPC Yvonne Fletcher charged with harassment

      A Former British spy who campaigned over the murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher has been charged with harassing a Midland cop.

      Michael Arnold, 59, was a technology officer at the GCHQ intelligence centre when the tragic 25-year-old was shot and killed outside the Libyan Embassy in 1984.

      In 2014 he went public to allege an order to “cover the streets of London with blood” by Libyan dictator Colonel Gaddafi was intercepted, decoded and translated by GCHQ staff – but not acted upon.

    • [Older] Congress Must Protect Americans’ Location Privacy
    • The Privacy Revolution that never came

      There is a war waging today, and shots are being fired through the wire. You make your move. They make theirs. Who’s winning? The ones trying harder of course. In this game of oversized entities vs. techies, we are significantly out-powered.

      Information. That’s all anyone ever wanted. For a government, it is its lifeblood. In the past, information was relatively easy to control and stiffen. Today, information is out of control.

      Information travels at the speed of light, the fastest possible speed of anything in the universe. How do you possibly stop something like that? You can’t. Our troubles begin when an over-eager entity thinks it can.

    • UK Bill Would Force Service Providers To Set Up Fake Cell Towers For Surveillance Of Prisoners’ Communications

      The latest arena for deployment of cell tower spoofers is prisons. Along with the diminished rights and lowered expectation of privacy afforded to prisoners, those incarcerated can now expect their cell phone calls to be blocked or intercepted.

      The Register reports a new bill being introduced in the UK would give prisons legal authority to install IMSI catchers to monitor prisoners’ communications and track/locate contraband devices. The use of Stingray devices in prisons isn’t exactly new, although it hasn’t really received much attention. Last year, Motherboard reported the Scottish prison system had been deploying cell tower spoofers for one specific reasons: to make prisoners’ cell phone communications impossible. The devices blocked 2G and 3G signals, according to FOI’ed documents. (The documents also noted prisoners had already defeated the repurposed cell tower spoofers, so whatever was included in those documents is already outdated.)

    • Trump Wants NSA Program Reauthorized But Won’t Tell Congress How Many Americans It Spies On

      The White House wants Congress to reauthorize two of the NSA’s largest surveillance programs before they expire at the end of the year.

      One of them scans the traffic that passes through the massive internet cables going in and out of the U.S. and ends up catching a vast number of American communications in its dragnet.

    • Bill Would Legalize Active Defense Against Hacks

      A new bill intended to update the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act would allow victims of computer attacks to engage in active defense measures to identify the attacker and disrupt the attack.

      Proposed by Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.), the bill would grant victims of computer intrusions unprecedented rights. Known as the Active Cyber Defense Certainty Act, the legislation seeks to amend the CFAA, the much-maligned 1986 law that is used in most computer crime prosecutions.

    • Global civil society groups call for suspension of the EU-US Privacy Shield

      La Quadrature du Net joins a coalition of European and global civil society organisations and signs a letter asking to suspend the Privacy Shield, the arrangement enabling the transfer of personal data between the US and the EU. These organisations consider that the US do not currently give sufficient safeguards for ensuring the data protection of Europeans. This arrangement is also currently challenged before the European Court of Justice by Digital Rights Ireland and by the Exégètes Amateur 1.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • UK government threatens jail for journalists who work with whistleblowers

      Under a new proposal from the UK Law Commission, journalists who handle or report on leaked documents demonstrating corruption or government malfeasance would face prison sentences.

      The recommendation applies to any documents that relate to the “economic wellbeing of the country” and other “national secrets” — including documents that relate to the ongoign Brexit negotiations.

    • Man who saved two children from Manchester fire to be deported

      A man has been told he will be deported from the UK weeks after he saved two children from a house fire in Manchester. Robert Chilowa, who was commended by police for the rescue, said the order felt like a “slap in the face”.

      The Zimbabwean national was hospitalised for smoke inhalation after the fire at his neighbour’s house and says officials have now also told him he cannot use the NHS.

      “I did a great job but now what they are saying is, ‘Get lost’,” he said on Friday. “Friends said, ‘When are you going to see the Queen? When are you going to be knighted?”

      Chilowa ran out of his house barefoot when he heard screams in the early hours of 10 February. A girl who had jumped from the building told him her siblings were still inside. Fighting the heat and smoke, he called up and told the two youngsters to jump and he would catch them.

    • Here’s A Tip: If You’re Desiging Special Apps To Hide From Regulators, You’re Going To Get In Trouble

      In response, Uber has claimed that the program was designed to greylist “terms of service violators”, but if that’s the case it can just kick them off the service and tell them they violated the ToS. From the report, it seems clear that even if the program was used for ToS violators, it was also used against regulators.

      I’ve certainly been vocal about the fact that I think city and state regulations limiting Uber/Lyft and the like are generally bad ideas. What may have started out as a good idea to prevent cabbies taking advantage of riders has turned into quite a corrupt system used to limit competition and artificially inflate prices. I think that the idea behind Uber and Lyft and similar services is super powerful. But, that doesn’t mean the company should get a pass for this kind of stuff.

      Directly building an app to avoid regulators just looks really, really shady, and it’s going to come back to haunt you (just ask Zenefits or Volkswagen). And while the article claims that the tool might be a CFAA violation, I don’t see how that’s possible, unless it involved even more nefarious activities under the hood (none of what’s revealed in the article would seem to qualify as a CFAA violation, even under the really stretched interpretations of the CFAA that we’ve seen).

    • Uber’s “Greyball” tool helped company evade authorities in Portland, Paris

      Uber has been using a tool called “Greyball” to identify authorities in markets where the ride-hailing service is curtailed or outright banned by regional rules. If the authorities try to hail a ride through Uber’s app, the company will show ghost cars, which aren’t really in the area, or show no cars in the area at all.

    • Greyball: how Uber used secret software to dodge the law

      Uber’s annus horribilis continued apace Friday, as it was hit with revelations of a secret program to evade law enforcement, the resignation of another top executive and more allegations of workplace discrimination.

      The New York Times reported that for years Uber used a tool called Greyball to systematically deceive law enforcement officials in cities where its service violated regulations. Officials attempting to hail an Uber during a sting operation were “greyballed” – they might see icons of cars within the app navigating nearby, but no one would come pick them up. The program helped Uber drivers avoid being ticketed.

    • How Uber Deceives the Authorities Worldwide

      Uber has for years engaged in a worldwide program to deceive the authorities in markets where its low-cost ride-hailing service was resisted by law enforcement or, in some instances, had been banned.

      The program, involving a tool called Greyball, uses data collected from the Uber app and other techniques to identify and circumvent officials who were trying to clamp down on the ride-hailing service. Uber used these methods to evade the authorities in cities like Boston, Paris and Las Vegas, and in countries like Australia, China and South Korea.

      Greyball was part of a program called VTOS, short for “violation of terms of service,” which Uber created to root out people it thought were using or targeting its service improperly. The program, including Greyball, began as early as 2014 and remains in use, predominantly outside the United States. Greyball was approved by Uber’s legal team.

    • Uber loses legal test case over language

      Uber has lost its attempt to prevent its drivers being forced to take English language tests.

      The ride-hailing app went to court after Transport for London (TfL) said that drivers should have to prove their ability to communicate in English.

      Uber argued that the standard of reading and writing required by the test was too high.

      The US firm said the test was “unfair and disproportionate” and it would appeal against the court’s decision.

    • European Parliament votes to end visa-free travel for Americans

      The European Parliament has voted to end visa-free travel for Americans within the EU.

      It comes after the US failed to agree visa-free travel for citizens of five EU countries – Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania – as part of a reciprocity agreement. US citizens can normally travel to all countries in the bloc without a visa.

      The vote urges the revocation of the scheme within two months, meaning Americans will have to apply for extra documents for 12 months after the European Commission implements a “delegated act” to bring the change into effect.

      The Commission discovered three years ago that the US was not meeting its obligations under the reciprocity agreement but has not yet taken any legal action. The latest vote, prepared by the civil liberties committee and approved by a plenary session of parliament, gives the Commission two months to act before MEPs can consider action in the European Court of Justice.

      Australia, Brunei, Japan and Canada were also failing in their obligations, but all four have lifted, or are soon to lift, any visa restrictions on travel for EU citizens.

    • Protesters Disrupt Speech by ‘Bell Curve’ Author at Vermont College

      Hundreds of students at Middlebury College in Vermont shouted down a controversial speaker on Thursday night, disrupting a program and confronting the speaker in an encounter that turned violent and left a faculty member injured.

      Laurie L. Patton, the president of the college, issued an apology on Friday to all who attended the event and to the speaker, Charles Murray, 74, whose book “The Bell Curve,” published in 1994, was an explosive treatise arguing that blacks were intellectually inferior to whites because of their genetic makeup.

    • Secret Teacher: Social media is hurting pupils – we need more support

      This week, the government announced plans to target “sexting and cyberbullying” as part of an initiative to make the internet safer for young people. It is to meet with technology companies, charities, academies and mental health professionals to develop a strategy. All this sounds wonderful, but the speed of reaction to what has been a very real situation for years has been painfully slow.

      My previous efforts in trying to make a difference on this issue have not resulted in any meaningful government response, and I fear that more discussion will lead to a slow solution, or one with no impact. I also notice that a key stakeholder has been missed from the government’s list – the social media giants themselves.

    • Saudi Arabia Is Redefining Islam for the World’s Largest Muslim Nation

      Since 1980, Saudi Arabia has devoted millions of dollars to exporting its strict brand of Islam, Salafism, to historically tolerant and diverse Indonesia. It has built more than 150 mosques (albeit in a country that has about 800,000), a huge free university in Jakarta, and several Arabic language institutes; supplied more than 100 boarding schools with books and teachers (albeit in a country estimated to have between 13,000 and 30,000 boarding schools); brought in preachers and teachers; and disbursed thousands of scholarships for graduate study in Saudi Arabia. All this adds up to a deep network of Saudi influence.

      “The advent of Salafism in Indonesia is part of Saudi Arabia’s global project to spread its brand of Islam throughout the Muslim world,” said Din Wahid, an expert on Indonesian Salafism at Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University (UIN) in Jakarta.

    • Torture, abuse, & harassment: ex-housemaids describe horrors of working in Saudi Arabia to RT

      She and her husband were hoaxed by an agent in Mumbai, who promised to provide a job for them in Riyadh, but offered a different one in the Saudi city of Dammam. She was separated from her husband right after landing in Saudi Arabia, and held captive, tortured, and harassed on a daily basis. She was also forced to work for a “home service,” which is a byword for the flesh trade in Saudi Arabia, she says. Her struggle to gain back her freedom lasted several years.

    • Click to agree with what? No one reads terms of service, studies confirm

      The words on the screen, in small type, were as innocent and familiar as a house key. “By clicking Join,” they read, “you agree to abide by our terms of service.” Hundreds of college students tapped the big green “Join” button to become members of NameDrop, a new social network. But according to paragraph 2.3.1 of the terms of service, they’d agreed to give NameDrop their future first-born children.

      Only a quarter of the 543 students even bothered to look at the fine print. But “look” is not “read”: on average, these more careful joiners spent around a minute with the thousands of words that make up NameDrop’s privacy and service agreements. And then they all agreed to them.

    • A Private Prison Already Failed This Texas County. And Now Officials Want It Back?

      Ten years ago, Willacy County officials made a catastrophic mistake. And they’re about to make it again.

      In 2006, “Tent City” opened in Willacy County as a detention facility for civil immigration detainees held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Also known as “Ritmo” — the “Gitmo” of Raymondville, the city where it was located — it soon became infamous as one of the most inhumane facilities in the country.

    • Dissent and the State Department: What Comes Next?

      Some 1000 employees at the Department of State are said to have signed a formal memo sent through the “Dissent Channel” in late January, opposing President Donald Trump’s Executive Order initially blocking all Syrian refugee admissions indefinitely, delaying other refugees 120 days, prohibiting for 90 days all other travelers (diplomats excluded) from seven Muslim-majority nations, and other immigration-related issues.

    • In South Dakota, Officials Defied a Federal Judge and Took Indian Kids Away From Their Parents in Rigged Proceedings

      Nearly four decades later, state and local social workers and judges in Rapid City, South Dakota, are violating the rules in open defiance of ICWA, the Constitution, and now a federal judge. The reason for their noncompliance is unclear but the consequences are striking. Since 2010, more than 1,000 Native-American children in Pennington County, home to Rapid City, have been removed from their families by state welfare workers and placed in foster care, disproportionately in non-Indian homes.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Make the internet great again

      If you go to CNN.com today, the front page of their website will take up just shy of 100 MB of RAM while it is loaded. By comparison, the same page from the year 2000 takes literally 1/10th that (thanks Archive.org).

      CPU usage is even worse. The idle CNN.com from the year 2000 just sits there. Happily eating just about 0% of even the slowest CPUs. Today’s version gobbles up a good 10% of the i7 sitting in front of me—while sitting idle. For a single page. Displaying a few news headlines.

      Results may vary from day to day and browser to browser, but all of you have experienced frustration at the resources used by websites and modern browsers.

      This is, to say the least, absolutely ridiculous.

    • 802.eleventy what? A deep dive into why Wi-Fi kind of sucks

      When wireless networking based around the 802.11b standard first hit consumer markets in the late nineties, it looked pretty good on paper. Promising “11 Mbps” compared to original wired Ethernet’s 10 Mbps, a reasonable person might have thought 802.11b was actually faster than 10Mbps wired Ethernet connections. It was a while before I was exposed to wireless networking—smartphones weren’t a thing yet, and laptops were still hideously expensive, underpowered, and overweight. I was already rocking Fast Ethernet (100 Mbps) wired networks in all my clients’ offices and my own house, so the idea of cutting my speed by 90 percent really didn’t appeal.

    • Op-ed: The Internet belongs to the people, not powerful corporate interests

      When I was growing up in Brooklyn, my father owned a small pest-control business. If his competitor down the street had received preferred electricity service, he would have been rightly outraged—and the law would have protected him from that unfair treatment. We don’t reserve certain highways for a single trucking company, and we don’t limit phone service to hand-picked stores.

      In today’s economy, it is equally important that access to the backbone of twenty-first century infrastructure, the Internet, be similarly unfettered. That is why it is critical that we maintain the net neutrality protections and clear oversight authority that the Federal Communications Commission put in place in 2015 through the Open Internet Order.

  • DRM

    • Response to Tim Berners-Lee’s defeatist post about DRM in Web standards

      Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, star of the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, and one of the best-known tech celebrities outside of Silicon Valley, believes he is powerless.

      Well, at least when it comes to keeping Web users free and safe.

      On Monday, he published a blog post defending his recent decision to override objections to streaming and browser companies’ plan to enshrine insecure, freedom-defying DRM (Digital Restrictions Management) in the technical standards that underly the Web. The plan, known as EME (Encrypted Media Extensions), would grant perceived legitimacy to these digital handcuffs and energize the long-standing campaign to incorporate them ever deeper into the digital world.


      Portraying DRM as a necessary evil, Berners-Lee goes on to argue that it must be welcomed into the Web through enshrinement in official standards. If it is not, he fears that Hollywood will take its movies to other platforms—such as proprietary applications and set-top boxes—which will spy on users more than the DRM that mediates Web-based streaming. But it is dubious how much better Web-based DRM really is for users, considering that the W3C can only suggest that companies implement it in a way that spies on users less, and there is little incentive for companies to heed that suggestion, regardless of the streaming medium.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • WIPO Committee On Protection Of Folklore: New Inspiration From Developing Countries [Ed: Latest stunt. WIPO by its very existence and agenda/mission statement is against developing countries, so this is an exercise in PR or reputation laundering.]

      There seems to be something in the air at the World Intellectual Property Organization committee working to find solutions to protect indigenous traditional cultural expressions (folklore) from misappropriation. After 16 years of snail’s pace and mostly unfruitful efforts, the landscape appears to be moving, as developing countries seek a common proactive position, with new treaty language, while the European Union and the United States seem to be increasingly lonely, according to sources.

    • Copyrights

      • [Older] BWP Media v. Polyvore: It’s All About Control

        Major entertainment companies are once again trying to expand copyright law to gain leverage over a wide variety of user-generated content sites. If they succeed, they would have a veto over Internet users’ access to the tools that allow us to remix, mashup, and participate in popular culture. EFF, along with the Center for Democracy and Technology, and Public Knowledge, filed an amicus brief in the case of BWP Media v. Polyvore, urging the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to defend copyright law’s important protections for user-generated content platforms.

      • [Older] EFF to Appeals Court: Protect Software Interoperability

        An essential principle of copyright law is under threat: the principle that a copyright cannot grant a monopoly over the idea of adding up numbers, drawing a design specified by the user, or moving a robot arm using the designer’s movement commands. We are all free to write our own code to achieve the same functional results; copyright only monopolizes the creative expression – if any – in the written code that implements that idea.

        SAS Institute would like to change that, harming all of us who rely upon competition in the tech sector and enjoy the benefits that come with it. EFF filed an amicus brief today in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, urging the judges to protect interoperability, reverse engineering, and innovation by upholding traditional limits on the scope of copyright power.

      • [Older] EFF to Copyright Office: Safe Harbors Work

        The “notice-and-takedown” process for addressing online copyright infringement isn’t perfect: it’s often abused to remove lawful speech from the Internet. But it many cases this process, described in Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), works pretty well—particularly because of the safe harbors that protect Internet services that comply with the law. That’s why it’s so frustrating that major media and entertainment companies are still pushing the Copyright Office to recommend throwing away the safe harbors and instead order Internet platforms to filter users’ communications.

      • Australia’s Battle Over Fair Use Boils Over

        Public submissions on the Australian Productivity Commission’s proposal to introduce a fair use right into Australian copyright law have just closed, and Australian rightsholders are frothing at the mouth in their attempts to block this long-overdue reform.

        A joint letter that rightsholder groups issued last week repeats the already-debunked claim that the adoption of fair use would “smash GDP to the tune over 1 billion dollars” [sic], and a separate letter from Screen Producers Australia [PDF] predicts that with the adoption of fair use, “the Australian film and television sector would go from an internationally renowned industry … to a cottage industry overnight.”

      • [Older] Publishers Still Fighting to Bury Universities, Libraries in Fees for Making Fair Use of Academic Excerpts

        On behalf of three national library associations, EFF today urged a federal appeals court for the second time to protect librarians’ and students’ rights to make fair use of excerpts from academic books and research.

        Nearly a decade ago, three of the largest academic publishers in the world— backed by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) trade group— sued Georgia State University (GSU) for copyright infringement, insisting that GSU owed licensing fees for the use of excerpts of academic works in its electronic reserve system. Such systems are commonly used to help students save money; rather than forcing students to buy a whole book when they only need a short excerpt from it, professors will place the excerpts “on reserve” for students to access. GSU argued that posting excerpts in the e-reserve systems was a “fair use” of the material, thus not subject to licensing fees. GSU also changed its e-reserve policy to ensure its practices were consistent with a set of fair use best practices that were developed pursuant to a broad consensus among libraries and other stakeholders. The practices are widely used, and were even praised by the AAP itself.

      • Not Warning Kid About Piracy Makes Father Liable, Court Rules [Ed: collective accountability is an autocrat's dream come true]

        A German court has ruled that a father is liable for an audiobook his 11-year old son downloaded. The man told the kid to only use the computer for school purposes and not to simply download things. However, the court ruled that this was not a proper anti-piracy instruction.

      • UK Police Claim 64% Drop in Mainstream Advertising on 200 Pirate Sites

        City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit is claiming success in denying potential revenue to more than 200 ‘pirate’ sites. As a result of Operation Creative, the division says that in the past twelve months there has been a 64% decrease in advertising placed by the UK’s top ad spending companies.

      • Run The Jewels Succeeds With Free Music And A True Connection With Fans

        Because Killer Mike and El-P connect with their fans on so many levels — they treat their fans well, don’t take themselves too seriously, and have built up a following that enjoys their work. For example, the whole Meow the Jewels effort from a couple years ago fits right in with our increasingly long list of examples artists connecting with fans and giving them a reason to buy. It started with (of course), offering the music for free, combined with a variety of premium packages — including the “I’m on the List, Asshole” package, in which you get backstage passes to a bunch of shows, and a promise that El-P and Killer Mike will pretend to be friends with you. But El-P also joked about remixing the album with just cat sounds, called “Meow the Jewels.” And their fans took them seriously and put together a Kickstarter campaign. The guys originally felt uncomfortable about this, but eventually embraced it with a plan to donate all the music to charity. And, of course, they did, in fact, make the remix, and it’s… actually pretty cool.

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