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Links 24/8/2020: TenFourFox FPR26, DebConf20 Talks and Linux 5.9 RC2

Posted in News Roundup at 5:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • Test and Code: 127: WFH, WTF? – Tips and Tricks for Working From Home – Reuven Lerner & Julian Sequeira

        Many people have been working from home now that are not used to working from home.
        Or at least are working from home more than they ever did before. That’s definitely true for me.
        Even though I’ve been working from home since March, I wanted some tips from people who have been doing it longer.

        Julian Sequeira, of PyBites fame, has been working from home for about a year.
        Reuven Lerner, an amazing Python trainer, has been working from home for much longer.

        We originally had a big list of WFH topics. But we had so much fun with the tips and tricks part, that that’s pretty much the whole episode.

        But there’s lots of great tips and tricks, so I’m glad we focused on that.

      • GNU World Order 368

        More about **linuxdoc-tools**, including some basic info about SGML and DTD.

      • “Hey, DT. Your Distro Reviews Suck!” (Plus Other Comments I Get)

        In this lengthy rant video, I address a few questions that I’ve been receiving from viewers. I discuss my thoughts on why my distro reviews suck, Brave being the best browser, whether I am a Buddhist, AAA games and the Free Software Movement, why my videos are monetized, and why I started making videos in the first place

    • Kernel Space

      • Linux 5.9-rc2
        It's Sunday afternoon, which means it's time for another release candidate.
        Nothing in particular stands out, there's a random collection of fixes
        and updates in here. It is perhaps a bit filesystem-heavy, because the
        ext4 updates came in late, so a bit unusually we have 20+% of the
        patch being under fs/, and that's the biggest chunk in here after the
        usual driver updates (sound, gpu, networking, scsi, vfio).
        Other than that, it's mostly arch fixes and some tooling fixes, with a
        smattering elsewhere.
        The appended shortlog gives an overview of the details, it's all
        pretty small stuff. The diffstat shows the ext4 changes and a RISC-V
        timer chip standing out, and even those aren't really particularly
        Please test,
      • Kernel prepatch 5.9-rc2

        The 5.9-rc2 kernel prepatch is out for testing. “Nothing in particular stands out, there’s a random collection of fixes and updates in here.”

      • Linux 5.9-rc2 Released With EXT4 Updates, More POWER10 Bits

        It’s been one week already since feature work ended on Linux 5.9 and that means it’s time for the 5.9-rc2 kernel. Like clockwork, Linux Torvalds has shipped Linux 5.9-rc2 with the initial batch of bug/regression fixes as well as some late changes for the cycle.

      • Graphics Stack

        • Some Ugly Code Can Get NVIDIA’s Linux Driver Working With Accelerated XWayland

          Red Hat’s Adam Jackson has been working on “GLX Delay” as a means of offering accelerated GLX with OpenGL for XWayland when using the NVIDIA proprietary driver. The proposed code is going through Mesa even though it’s for the proprietary NVIDIA driver benefit and also requires a change to the OpenGL Vendor Neutral Dispatch Library (libglvnd).

          This work-in-progress code does allow the likes of glxgears and glxinfo to now successfully run on XWayland with the NVIDIA proprietary driver. Adam prominently noted, “due to the design of this approach the actual GL rendering part should be about as fast as it is against Xorg, or against EGL on the bare metal, so in principle this can eventually be just as performant as it is with Xorg.”

        • NVIDIA and accelerated Xwayland gets closer with code that ‘sounds unpleasant’

          Why is it going into Mesa when it’s for the NVIDIA proprietary driver? They said pretty simply that Mesa’s GLX code already implements most of what’s needed to allow it. Additionally, Jackson mentioned how it seems like it will “eliminate a large class of reasons why you might need to use Xorg and NVIDIA’s driver” and that it is “better than what you currently get for GLX clients in that scenario, which is llvmpipe”. However, it can be seen that it “entrenches the position of NVIDIA’s libEGL, since we’ve only made it more useable” but “on balance, that this reduces the binary driver footprint, and I think that’s a good direction to go”.

          In short: if finished and accepted, you might in future see NVIDIA’s proprietary Linux driver + Wayland working nicer.

    • Applications

      • The 10 Best Open-Source Video Editors

        Although mainstream video editors such as Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, and Filmora do get the job done (and that too, quite well), their subscription packages can cost an arm and a leg. Accordingly, it won’t be wrong to say that not everyone would be able to afford such pricey software. If you feel the same way, you’re in luck as there are plenty of free and open-source video editors out there, which you can not just free but also allows making changes as per your needs if you know a thing or two about coding.

      • OnionShare: An Open-Source Tool to Share Files Securely Over Tor Network

        You might have already come across a lot of online services to share files securely but it may not be completely anonymous.

        Also, you do have to rely on a centralized service to share your files and if the service decides to shut down like Firefox Send — you can’t really depend on it to safely share files all the time.

        All things considered, OnionShare is an amazing open-source tool that lets you share files using the Tor Onion service. It should be an amazing alternative to all the cloud file sharing services.

      • Glimpse – A Fork of the GIMP

        Glimpse is a free and open-source image editor for easy-to-use expert level image manipulation. Its capabilities include transforming, cropping, and retouching photos, batch image processing, automated format conversions, and color balance correction.

        Glimpse is based on the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) and built with the goal of experimenting with new ideas to expand the use of free software. A strong reason for the change in name from GIMP to Glimpse is to strip the software of all connotations that may be considered ableist and of its joke reference origin.

        That notwithstanding, the Glimpse team has publicly expressed their interest in cooperating with the GNU Image Manipulation Program contributors and not competing with them. Even a portion of donations to Glimpse is passed on to the GIMP team to help facilitate progress.

        Glimpse, therefore, features a major overhaul to GIMP with a new name and logo to complement a refurbished user interface. Other improvements in the latest version include the removal of unnecessary “fun” brushes, a rebranded “Gimpressionist” plug-in and text color picker, the credit of upstream contributors in the UI, a brand style overhaul and better non-English translations. Concerning customization, the ‘Gray’ UI theme and ‘Color’ icon pack are available.

      • 10 Interesting and Useful Apps I Discovered in Snap Store

        Snap Store is a graphical desktop application store with thousands of applications used by millions of people across 41 Linux distributions. In this guide, I will share with you 10 interesting and useful applications I discovered in Snap Store.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Baldur’s Gate engine remake GemRB celebrates 20 years with a new release

        GemRB, a fine example of an open source game engine reimplementation for the Infinity Engine that powered the classic RPGs including Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale and Planescape: Torment games celebrates two big things.

      • Team Fortress 2 has a new update out with a Summer 2020 Cosmetic Case

        Valve have realise Team Fortress 2 is actually still alive and have done a fresh update, although only minor it does add in a new Summer 2020 Cosmetic Case.

        Seems like the worst might be over for the racist bot problem they had recently, as Valve had to add in a bunch of restrictions to newer accounts to prevent them spamming text and voice chat. Now they’re back to irregular random updates like this, the first in well over a month.

        Part of this update is to bring in a new Case, for those of you playing who love to collect all the items there’s a new Summer 2020 Cosmetic Case which contains a random pick from 22 new community-contributed items and there’s also 4 new community-created Unusual effects. Crates get dropped to players at random as they play, or you can buy it from the Steam Market and it’s already dropped to a really low price, although it does need a key purchase to open too as Valve do love their loot box system.

    • Distributions

      • BSD/UNIX

        • Origin stories about Unix

          Brian W. Kernighan opens his book Unix: A History and a Memoir with the line, “To understand how Unix happened, we have to understand Bell Labs, especially how it worked and the creative environment that it provided.” And so begins a wonderful trip back in time, following the creation and development of early Unix with someone who was there.

          You may recognize Brian Kernighan’s name. He is the “K” in AWK, the “K” in “K&R C” (he co-wrote the original “Kernighan and Ritchie” book about the C programming language), and he has authored and co-authored many books about Unix and technology. On my own bookshelf, I can find several of Kernighan’s books, including The Unix Programming Environment (with Rob Pike), The AWK Programming Language (with Alfred Aho and Peter J. Weinberger), and The C Programming Language (with Dennis M. Ritchie). And of course, his latest entry, Unix: A History and a Memoir.

      • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • SUSE/OpenSUSE

      • Review: GeckoLinux 152 “KDE Plasma”, MX Linux 19.2 “KDE”

        This week instead of spending several days with one distribution I decided to try two alternative spins or approaches to projects I have explored in the recent past. In particular I wanted to compare the latest release of GeckoLinux against its parent, openSUSE, and try out the new KDE Plasma edition of MX Linux. Let’s start with Gecko.

        The GeckoLinux project presents itself as a more desktop-oriented version of openSUSE, which I reviewed in July. The project ships in multiple live desktop editions for 64-bit (x86_64) computers. Available editions include Cinnamon, GNOME, KDE Plasma, LXQt, MATE and Xfce. I decided to try the KDE Plasma edition to keep my trial as close to my experience with openSUSE 15.2 as possible.

        Booting from the Gecko media brings up the KDE Plasma desktop. Icons for opening a language installer and the Calamares system installer are located on the desktop. There is a panel placed at the bottom of the display.

    • Debian Family

      • Social Equality and Free Software – BoF at DebConf20

        Shortly after yesterday’s start of the Debian Conference 2020, I had the honor to participate in a BoF on social equality in free software, led by the OSI vice president and head of the FOSSASIA community, Hong Phuc Dang.


        After a short introduction by Hong Phuc we turned to a self-introduction and “what is equality for me” round. This brought up already a wide variety of issues that need to be addressed if we want to counter inequality in free software (culture differences, language barriers, internet connection, access to services, onboarding difficulties, political restrictions, …).

        Unfortunately, on-air time was rather restricted, but even after the DebConf related streaming time slot was finished, we continued discussing problems and possible approaches for another two hours. We have agreed to continue our collaboration and meetings in the hope that we, in particular the FOSSASIA community, can support those in need to counter inequality.

      • Code reviews: from nitpicking to cooperation

        After we gave our talk at DebConf 20, Doing things together, there were 5 minutes left for the live Q&A. Pollo asked a question that I think is interesting and deserves a longer answer: How can we still have a good code review process without making it a “you need to be perfect” scenario? I often find picky code reviews help me write better code.

        I find it useful to first disentangle what code reviews are good for, how we do them, why we do them that way, and how we can potentially improve processes.

  • Devices/Embedded

  • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

    • PeaZip 7.4.0

      PeaZip is an open source file and archive manager. It’s freeware and free of charge for any use. PeaZip can extract most of archive formats both from Windows and Unix worlds, ranging from mainstream 7Z, RAR, TAR and ZIP to experimental ones like PAQ/LPAQ family, currently the most powerful compressor available.

      Open and extract 180+ archive formats: 001, 7Z, ACE(*), ARC, ARJ, BZ2, CAB, DMG, GZ, ISO, LHA, PAQ, PEA, RAR, TAR, UDF, WIM, XZ, ZIP ZIPX – view full list of supported archive file formats for archiving and for extraction.

    • Web Browsers

      • Mozilla

        • TenFourFox FPR26 available

          TenFourFox Feature Parity Release 26 final is now (finally) available for testing (downloads, hashes, release notes). The delay is due to the severe heat wave and rolling blackouts we had here in overly sunny Southern California; besides the fact that Quad G5s have never been considered particularly power-thrifty, I had the A/C reduced to save electricity further and running the G5 and the Talos II simultaneously would have made the rear office absolutely miserable. There are no additional changes other than outstanding security updates, though since we will be switching to ESR78 for FPR27 anyway, I pulled a few lower-priority security and stability fixes from ESR78 in advance that didn’t make it to ESR68. Assuming all goes well, it will go live tomorrow (Monday) afternoon/evening Pacific time.

    • SaaS/Back End/Databases

      • Happy 10th anniversary, OpenStack!

        OpenStack has transformed the open source industry since it launched 10 years ago. It was an endeavor to bring greater choice in cloud solutions by combining NASA’s Nova with Rackspace’s Swift object storage and has since grown into a strong base for open infrastructure.

        In 2010, “the cloud” was barely a thing, and having a standardized, open source platform for public and private clouds was a dream. A decade later, OpenStack is a cloud platform that critical industries rely on. As evidence of its massive market base, 451 Research projects a US$ 7.7 billion OpenStack market by 2023, with the most growth in Asia (36%), Latin America (27%), Europe (22%), and North America (17%).

        Within a year, the fledgling OpenStack community grew from a couple-dozen developers to nearly 250 unique contributors to its first release, dubbed Austin. Fast-forward to 2020: OpenStack now ranks among the top three most active open source projects in the world and is the most widely deployed open source cloud infrastructure software.

    • Funding

      • Blender pulls in another funding partner with Unity [Ed: Microsoft Mono boosters buy a share in Blender]

        Joining many other companies that seemingly woke up to actually supporting free and open source software, Unity has now pledged funding towards Blender.

        Blender is the free and open source 3D creation suite. It supports the entirety of the 3D pipeline—modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and motion tracking, video editing and 2D animation pipeline.

        Unity has joined them as a Corporate Patron which means they join the likes of AMD, NVIDIA and Epic Games in providing at least €120k a year in funding. This has helped to push the monthly amount that the Blender Foundation receives to over €100K per month (more here). Blender say this will allow 20 developers to work on the application full-time, which is good news for the industry as a whole.

    • Programming/Development

      • Round One: Machine beats man in air-combat exercise

        The winning computer pilot, trained by a Maryland-based company called Heron Systems, spent the first three rounds of computer simulations dominating its artificial intelligence (AI) opponents with a game plan unimaginable for human pilots. The system would immediately turn toward its enemy in each combat scenario, flying directly at its opponent while firing its gun and veering away at the last possible moment, sometimes within 100 feet of a midair collision.

        It’s the sort of tactic that wouldn’t be allowed in “Top Gun”-style contests the Air Force and Navy run as training for their pilots. Normally, pilots aren’t permitted to get within 500 feet of each other or directly face off. The distance is meant to prevent accidents, but also has a practical combat rationale: if a pilot blows up the enemy at too close a range, the pilot is liable to fly into the resulting debris, sucking metal into their own engine and destroying their aircraft.

        The AI system isn’t constrained by self-preservation instincts. It’s a sign of why AI might be helpful — computer brains can develop novel solutions — but also why they have to be monitored for unintended consequences.

      • To static site, or not, again

        It’s that time of year when I reassess whether I want to keep using a static-site generator, or go back to maintaining a hosted CMS. Those of you who’ve read my silly blog here over years have witnessed me thinking out loud about this many times.

        It was an easier decision to move back to a CMS when I generated the site with Jekyll, on account of it taking half an hour to build my site. Optimisations and simplifying my themes cut this down, but it was still a barrier to me writing, which defeats the entire point of having a blog. Hugo now generates the entire site and any pushed updates in a matter of seconds now, so that concern is moot.

      • Libraries and dependencies I’m willing to take

        I’ve been on a bit of a tear lately about the perils of adding dependencies to projects and expecting them to work properly. I’ve also seen that there are some people who try to parse this as a declaration of “nothing is good enough, therefore everything must be replaced”. That’s obviously not the case, but they get their jollies trying to claim otherwise.

        It seems like the easiest way to handle this is to just come out and talk about the libraries that I actually use, or have used recently, and probably will use again.

      • Perl/Raku

        • Marketing & Branding Survey Results

          Some 85.9% respondents self identify as Perl programmers and 22.7% as Raku programmers, 33.2% as Software project leaders, and 30% as Business Owners.


          The contrasts are interesting. TPF is strongly perceived as being Powered by volunteers with it being the most recognized value. However, respondents where more concerned with being Professional when asked what they would like to associate, it being the second most desired value. This was reflected in Amateur receiving a meaningful response in perceptions and none in likes. Powered by volunteers went significantly downward from perceived to liked values.

          Passion for software projects is recognized but people’s response indicated they want to see more of that passion. Similarly, there is a big gap between the perceived and the desired levels of Trustworthy and Transparent.

          Supportive was recognized as the 3rd highest response in perceptions, and 4th but with more responses in liked values.

          Servant leadership received a small response in both cases. This is a value that TPF has historically seen as being at the core of their values.

      • Python

        • Nice Animations with Twisted and PyGame

          One of my favorite features within Twisted — but also one of the least known — is LoopingCall.withCount, which can be used in applications where you have some real-time thing happening, which needs to keep happening at a smooth rate regardless of any concurrent activity or pauses in the main loop. Originally designed for playing audio samples from a softphone without introducing a desync delay over time, it can also be used to play animations while keeping track of their appropriate frame.

          LoopingCall is all around a fun tool to build little game features with. I’ve built a quick little demo to showcase some discoveries I’ve made over a few years of small hobby projects (none of which are ready for an open-source release) over here: DrawSnek.

        • Functional Programming Primitives in Python

          Functional programming (FP) is a programming technique that avoids side effects by performing computation primarily through the evaluation of mathematical functions and the use of immutable data structures.

          In some cases, using a functional programming style can reduce the likelihood of bugs in your programs and make them more maintainable. Admittedly, FP is a little difficult to pin down because many modern FP languages (like Haskell) support a vast range of additional features and concepts—like advanced typing systems—that are often assumed to be a part of FP.

        • PyDev of the Week: Ethan Smith

          This week we welcome Ethan Smith (@ethanhs) as our PyDev of the Week! Ethan is a core developer of the Mypy project, which is a static type checker for Python.

        • Using Sentry to Handle Python Exceptions in Django Projects

          Web applications built in Django can become sprawlingly complex over time, which is one reason why centralized error handling is important. This tutorial will guide you through adding a free, basic Sentry configuration to a new Django project.

        • PSF GSoC students blogs: Weekly Check-in #13
        • PSF GSoC students blogs: GSoC: Week #13
        • PSF GSoC students blogs: Week 12 : All Done!
        • Python Qt5 – Add and remove items between two QTreeWidgets.

          Today’s tutorial will show you how to add and remove items between two QTreeWidgets.
          The source code is very simple to understand: the user interface is created with two QTreeWidgets.
          One is completed with elements and when the buttons are pressed, the elements are interchanged.

        • Sven Hoexter: google cloud buster images without python 2

          Fun in the morning, we realized that the Debian Cloud image builds dropped python 2 and that propagated to the Google provided Debian/buster images. So in case you use something like ansible, and so far assumed python 2 as the default interpreter, and installed additional python 2 modules to support ansible modules, you now have to either install python 2 again or just move to python 3k.

      • Java

        • Java development on top of Kubernetes using Eclipse JKube

          It has been 25 years since developers started adopting Java technology and making it part of their core application stack. Today, many Java developers and Java-based shops are migrating or looking to migrate their infrastructure to Kubernetes, or to related distributions like Red Hat OpenShift and Amazon EKS.

          Kubernetes has a steep learning curve, however, and it adds an additional layer of operations to the familiar Java development workflow. In this article, I introduce Eclipse JKube and show you how to use it to simplify the Kubernetes workflow. As you’ll see, Eclipse JKube provides a migration path to Kubernetes while letting you stay within the familiar Java ecosystem. I will also quickly show you how to deploy a Java application to OpenShift using OpenShift Maven plugin.

  • Leftovers

    • Education

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Microsoft Backs Epic’s Apple Battle on Game Technology Access

          The graphics technology, known as Unreal Engine, is a suite of software used by millions of developers to build 3-D games and other products. Cutting off Epic from Apple’s iOS and Mac developer tools would mean the gaming company can no longer distribute Unreal Engine to other developers, Epic said in its legal filing. Microsoft, which makes the Xbox, uses the technology for games developed for consoles, PCs and mobile devices.

        • Microsoft Supports Epic Games, Says Apple Blocking Access to Unreal Engine Would Harm Game Creators

          In a declaration in support of Epic Games [PDF], Microsoft gaming executive Kevin Gammill wrote that “Apple’s discontinuation of Epic’s ability to develop and support Unreal Engine for iOS or macOS will harm game creators and gamers.” Specifically, Gammill said that games utilizing Unreal Engine will be put at a “substantial disadvantage,” citing Microsoft’s own racing game Forza Street for iPhone and iPad as an example.

        • [Old] Fear of collateral damage in Apple battle with ‘Fortnite’ maker

          Unreal Engine is used by thousands of developers to create some of the top games in the App Store including PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which “alone is installed on hundreds of millions of mobile devices”, Epic said in its legal filing. If the engine can no longer be updated, it will impact third-party developers caught in the crossfire.

        • Security

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Facebook Portal adds Zoom, Cisco video app access

              On Wednesday, Facebook detailed the range of options being added, including the ability to download video apps from several video conferencing vendors: Zoom, Cisco Webex, Verizon’s BlueJeans and GoToMeeting.

              That means video meetings with up to 1,000 users can be supported on the Portal – depending on the subscription level a user has – alongside access to whiteboard features via BlueJeans and Zoom.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • China Launches Advanced Warship for Pakistan Navy

        The Chinese builder is expected to deliver all four units to Pakistan by 2021, which Chinese media said could “double the combat power” of the Pakistan Navy fleet.

        Pakistani officials said the Type-054A/P frigate is in service with China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and recognized as its backbone.

        China and Pakistan are jointly producing various military-related hardware, including the JF-17 multirole combat aircraft, demonstrating the strong mutual defense ties.

      • Coup Plotters in Mali Were Trained by U.S. Military

        The Washington Post first reported that Goita, the head of the new junta, was trained by U.S. and European forces, including U.S. Special Operations forces. Lt. Col. Anton Semelroth, a Pentagon spokesperson, told Foreign Policy in a statement that the U.S. military is “looking into other Malians who have participated in U.S. training and, though counter to that training, may have played a role in the recent mutiny.”

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Environment

    • Finance

      • Why InfoSec Creators Should Move to Direct Support Monetization

        Basically, the less the audience notices the platform, the better off you are.

        With Medium and Twitch, the relationship is between the platform and them. With something like Patreon, they still go to patreon.com to see the content. And with something like Memberful you can interact with your audience on yoursite.com, and if someone subscribes the money comes to you directly.

      • Reforms Are Won When Social Movements Inflict Real Costs on the Economic Elite

        There’s a tendency in U.S. progressive politics to focus on rehabilitating capitalism for working people. Elizabeth Warren’s campaign for president had the patina of an “anti-corruption” crusade, giving a populist spin to technocratic fixes that would update the embedded liberalism of the postwar era for the twenty-first century. Think tanks and public intellectuals likewise emphasize antitrust as a means to improve the welfare of consumers and workers while giving smaller firms a better chance to succeed. Even during a global pandemic, the underlying concern is that neoliberal governance has become dysfunctional, but that it can be replaced with something akin to social democracy without losing American capitalism’s purported dynamism. This tendency is a response, in part, to the Trump administration, whose pursuit of tax cuts, corporate bailouts, and deregulation exemplifies not so much artful subterfuge but a brazen contempt for proper oversight of industry. While the progressive wing of the Democratic Party reasserts its voice, its arsenal of proposed reforms ultimately promises to mend a grossly inequitable system, not challenge it outright. The problem with the reformist approach, as Levers of Power, by Kevin A. Young, Tarun Banerjee, and Michael Schwartz, shows, is that it doesn’t admit the deeper, fundamental structure of policymaking in capitalist societies, and the intrinsic control economic elites wield over it.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Universities teaching Chinese students remotely need to scale the Great Firewall

        The UN estimates that nearly 1 million Chinese students were enrolled at international universities in 2017, the latest year for which data are available. Many current and prospective students remain stuck in China because of the pandemic. As a result, universities are having to factor in something they might not have considered before: censorship and surveillance due to China’s [I]nternet controls.

      • Report: How and Why Hollywood Self-censors for China

        A recent PEN America report, “Made in Hollywood, Censored by Beijing,” explains how Chinese authorities’ notoriously tight control over access to these financial rewards gives the CCP “major sway over whether a Hollywood movie will be profitable or not—and studio executives know it.” Beyond the raw binary of access or denial, PEN America explains, Chinese authorities wield an array of more precise levers. They can allow a greater profit share by including a film in the annual quota of 34 foreign releases; exclude it, leaving the option of selling Chinese earning rights for a lower flat fee; or block it entirely. More favorable financial terms are available to filmmakers willing to accept the closer control that comes with a joint production. They can control the timing of a film’s opening relative to its global release, public holidays, or rival pictures. They can restrict, allow, assist, or undermine promotion, not least through favorable or unfavorable attention in state and other media. Underlying all of this is the threat of indefinite, unspoken inclusion on long-rumored blacklists.

      • Report: Hollywood censors films for content ‘offensive’ to China, fearing loss of business there

        Film content is now frequently changed even for American audiences, while studios provide censored versions of films specifically for Chinese audiences and sometimes invite Chinese censors onto film sets to advise them on how to avoid “tripping the censors’ wires,” PEN America said.

        Studios’ decisions on casting, plot, dialogue, and settings are now made “based on a desire to avoid antagonizing Chinese officials who control whether their films gain access to the booming Chinese market,” PEN America said, adding that these decisions are carefully made “behind closed doors” and out of public view.

        After making two films in 1997—Kundun and Seven Years in Tibet–depicting China’s conquest of Tibet, two major studios were banned from doing business in China for the next five years, and Hollywood quickly got the message, with Disney CEO Michael Eisner going to Beijing to apologize for his company’s production of Kundun and its sympathetic treatment of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

      • Mauritius requested Google to remove content involving minister of technology from search results

        Google’s latest transparency report was published on 22 June 2020. While going through the report I noticed that a request was made by Mauritius to delist a webpage from Google search results. The request was made by the Computer Emergency Response Team of Mauritius (CERT-MU) and it involved a webpage accusing the Minister of Technology of domestic violence.

      • China is killing academic freedom in Hong Kong

        Academic freedom in Hong Kong has been under concerted attack from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) since the Occupy Central pro-democracy protests of 2014, in which students and professors played a prominent role. A report published in 2018 by Hong Kong Watch, a human-rights organisation, found that, following the demonstrations, bothersome academics had been sacked, had their promotions blocked, or faced orchestrated campaigns demanding their removal, often in Beijing-friendly press outlets. It also concluded that government-appointed figures had begun to govern universities for the benefit of their patrons, rather than students and faculty.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • Miroslava Breach murder: Mexico jails man who ordered journalist’s death

        A press rights group, Propuesta Cívica, urged the Mexican authorities to investigate such attacks.

        Four journalists have been killed this year, according to journalism watchdog Reporters Without Borders, which describes Mexico as “one of world’s deadliest countries for the media”.

        “Collusion between officials and organized crime poses a grave threat to journalists’ safety and cripples the judicial system at all levels,” it says.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Monopolies

      • IP implications of 3D printing, a new study

        The use, adoption and application of 3D printing has increased rapidly in recent times, particularly in the health sector during the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic with schools, universities, organisations and individuals uniting to produce personal protective equipment (PPE), and life-saving respiratory valves. Recognising this growth in 3D printing, the European Commission published specific guidance in April 2020 to enable manufacturers to comply with the applicable EU law. Our Kat friend, Professor Dinusha Mendis, of CIPPM fame provides us with a summary of the conclusions from their timely European Commission study: ‘The Intellectual Property Implications of the Development of Industrial 3D Printing’. Here is what Dinusha says about the project…


        Separate to the CAD file and design data, is the 3D model where the position remains unclear at present. Whilst under copyright law, the 3D model can be seen as a distinct ‘work’ separate from the resulting physical product, the law in this regard needs further clarification. In patent law, it is also unclear, based on the current practice of the patent offices, whether a 3D model included in a CAD file can be accepted as a digital representation of an invention in the same way as the textual description of a claim. The 3D model should fulfil the requirements for design protection, although there is room for further clarity. Under trade mark laws, the most relevant protection as a three-dimensional mark will be difficult to achieve for most 3D models.

        The position in relation to 3D printing hardware, such as 3D printers and 3D scanners, is very clear with patent, design, trade mark and trade secret laws applying to inventions, as well as the appearance of the product and signs. The law in relation to the protection of 3D printing materials, has also been developed over many years and once again current patent, trade mark and trade secret laws apply. However, there is a need for clarity in protecting digital materials, particularly those which transform shape during the printing process whilst there is some controversy in protecting new bio-materials. Under design law, 3D printing materials may be a feature of the appearance of a product or a part of a product thereby leading to design protection.

      • Patents

        • Keeping up with Dutch patent litigation: Half-year case law review 2020

          Finding it difficult to keep up with an ever-changing world in the midst of a health, environmental, social and political crisis, while keeping up with patent law? Do not worry, the IPKat is doing a series of half-yearly “catch-ups” of the main European patent law jurisdictions before we all start a new “school year”. In this post, the Kat’s friends at Brinkhof in the Netherlands in the form of Barbara Mooij and Alexander de Leeux report on the first half of this year’s patent cases in the Netherlands. Over to Barbara and Alexander…


          Sisvel is the owner of a standard essential patent related to a so-called EGPRS-system, which is used in the GSM telecommunication standard. Sisvel made an ETSI declaration that it will grant licenses under FRAND conditions in respect of the patent at issue. Xiaomi is a manufacturer and supplier of mobile phones, and had entered the Dutch market with its products. In preliminary relief proceedings Sisvel requested a PI against Xiaomi. This PI was rejected by the District Court of The Hague. Sisvel appealed this decision.

          The CoA focussed on the balance of interests and held that, on the one hand, courts must assess the extent of the damages incurred if a PI is not issued, and, on the other hand, take into account the provisional nature of the decision and the potential far-reaching consequences of a PI. In this case, any damages on the side of Sisvel would solely be of a financial nature (i.e. lost license fees) and could be estimated relatively easily ex post facto. For Xiaomi, however, the consequences of a granted PI would be much greater since Xiaomi was still in the process of building up its market position. Xiaomi faced lost profits and damaged customer relations. According to the CoA, these potentially irreversible consequences demand caution in the granting of a PI. It seems as if this consideration has broad applicability in FRAND cases, as the potential damages for the claimant will almost always be lost license fees and therefore financial in nature.

          Ultimately, the CoA confirmed the District Court decision rejecting the PI. The CoA ruled that the case was too complex for preliminary relief proceedings, because of the relatively complex technology and Xiaomi’s FRAND defence. Based on this reasoning obtaining a PI based on a standard essential patent will be more difficult, as the technology will often be complex and usually a FRAND defence is put forward. Additionally, the CoA determined that Sisvel’s interest were sufficiently accommodated as Xiaomi had provided a guarantee for the payment of any license fees by means of an escrow agreement. Hence, when facing a request for a PI it seems advisable to provide a guarantee, as this could tip the balance of interests in favour of rejecting the PI.

        • Blue Star gains on securing three new patents

          Blue Star rose 1.11% to Rs 561.45 on BSE after the air conditioning and commercial refrigeration major said it received three patents by the Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trade Marks.

          Blue Star in a regulatory filing during market hours today announced that it has been awarded three patents by Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
          The company received patent for System and Method for Maintaining Optimum Condensing Temperature at Low Load in Heating Mode in VRF systems. The invention helps resolve the issue of a fall in the condensing temperature encountered by the system while in heating mode, which could result in cold air draft from Indoor Units (IDUs).

          Another patent is for ‘Refrigerant Recovery in Multi-Air Conditioner System’. The invention will help in detecting shortage of refrigerant and ensure its recovery when the load on the system is very low in a Multi-Air Conditioner VRF system.

          The third patent is for ‘Method and System for Maintaining Uninterrupted Cooling Operation by VRF Systems at High Pressure’. This patent reveals the method of avoiding high pressure tripping in a Digital VRF (DVRF) system wherein one or more fixed compressors are operating in parallel with one digital scroll compressor. At high ambient condition, sudden loading of the digital compressor can result in tripping on high discharge pressure. With the present invention, Blue Star provides a unique system operation feature to overcome the high pressure tripping issue.

        • NJ Law Limiting Patentee’s Capacity to Sue Upheld on Appeal

          The district court quickly dismissed the case — holding that Tormasi lacks the capacity to sue to enforce his patent rights. On appeal, the Federal Circuit has affirmed.


          Judge Stoll penned a short dissent — explaining that New Jersey’s capacity to sue statute should govern here, and there is no indication that the prohibition of in-prison business was designed to further limit someone’s capacity to use the Federal Court system. “It makes little sense to narrow the New Jersey statute on capacity to sue in light of the ‘no business’ rule, which is an administrative rule of the Department of Corrections that prescribes sanctions for certain ‘prohibited acts.’”

          We also have the particular issue here of Federal Patent Rights and the state’s role in limiting a patent owner from asserting and enforcing those rights.

        • Software Patents

          • Federal Circuit Finds Calculating Machine Ineligible [Ed: It's a joke. But it's revealing. Patent extremists are so frustrated that software patents no longer have legitimacy in the US; so now they're mocking courts and judges -- a new low]

            In a unanimous panel ruling, the Federal Circuit has found that the calculating machine of U.S. Patent No. 388,116 fails to meet the eligibility requirements of 35 U.S.C. § 101. Inventor W.S. Burroughs of St. Louis described the machine as “mechanically assisting arithmetical calculations.” Particularly, it includes “one or more registers, of a series of independent keys and intervening connections constructed, arranged, and operating, as fully specified hereinafter, so as to indicate upon the register the sum of any series of numbers by the proper manipulation of the keys, and also so as to print or permanently record the final result.” But this device ran afoul of recent Federal Circuit case law regarding the so-called “abstract idea” exception to patentability.

            In a challenge brought by a potential licensee, the Court was asked to review the validity of the ’116 patent. While the Court agreed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s ultimate conclusion that the claimed invention was novel and non-obvious, it found that the Office did not apply the § 101 test strictly enough during prosecution.


            Moving on, the Court looked to the remaining elements of the claim to determine whether it included an inventive concept — something significantly more than the abstract idea that constituted a practical application of that idea. It found that the additional elements of claim 1, indicators, keys, connections, and stops, were all well-understood, routine and conventional components claimed at a high level. The Court concluded that “considering the elements of the claim both individually and as an ordered combination, they recite no additional parts or steps that would suffice to transform the nature of the claim into a patent-eligible application.”

      • Copyrights

        • Overbroad UEFA Takedown Notice Targets Virgin Media, Best Buy and DIRECTV

          European football organization UEFA takes piracy very seriously. The company uses a wide variety of anti-piracy strategies, which include sending DMCA notices to Google. While most reported URLs are indeed problematic, a recent request is clearly too broad, as it requests the removal of pages published by Virgin Media, Best Buy and DIRECTV.

        • YTS Torrent Giant is Part of a Bizarre & Brand New Anti-Piracy Scheme

          The operator of YTS, currently the world’s second-largest torrent site, provided data to a law firm which launched a cash settlement campaign against the site’s own users. TorrentFreak has seen a copy of a new letter sent to an alleged user of the site, which is underpinned by the most extraordinary business/legal arrangement ever witnessed in the piracy scene.

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