Bonum Certa Men Certa

Links 21/7/2010: SEC Runs Away, ACTA Still Abound



Leftovers

  • Times loses almost 90% of online readership
    Less than three weeks after the Times paywall went up, data shows a massive decline in web traffic


  • Massachusetts May Be The First To Get A Right To Repair Law
    For quite some time now there have been reports about how carmakers have been forcing car owners to take cars to the dealers for (expensive) repairs, by using special software to diagnose problems in the computer system, and only giving the necessary software to dealers. This is actually one of many nasty consequences of the DMCA's anti-circumvention rules (pay attention Canada), whereby it should be perfectly legal for anyone you ask to work on your car -- but thanks to digital locks placed on your car's computer by automakers, other mechanics would be breaking the law just to figure out how to get around the locks. Every year for the past decade, there are attempts to pass a national "right to repair" act at the federal level to take care of this, but it never goes anywhere.


  • US Senate Passes 'Libel Tourism' Bill
    AFP reports that the US Senate has passed (by a 'unanimous consent' voice vote) a bill that prevents US federal courts from recognizing or enforcing a foreign judgment for defamation that is inconsistent with the First Amendment to the US Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech. If the bill becomes law it will shield US journalists, authors, and publishers from 'libel tourists' who file suit in countries where they expect to get the most favorable ruling.




  • Digital Politics

    • Councillor faces inquiry over ‘stupid’ Scientologists tweet
      A COUNCILLOR is facing a disciplinary hearing after calling the Church of Scientology “stupid” in a post on the Twitter website.

      Wales’ public standards watchdog said John Dixon is likely to have breached the code of conduct for local authority members with his short message last year.

      The Church of Scientology, whose followers include entertainers Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Kirsty Allie, made an official complaint after spotting the posting last year.


    • Digital Diplomacy
      It was a Wednesday night in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood, and Jared Cohen, the youngest member of the State Department’s policy planning staff, and Alec Ross, the first senior adviser for innovation to the secretary of state, were taking their tweeting very seriously. Cohen had spent the day in transit from D.C.; Ross hadn’t eaten anything besides a morning muffin. Yet they were in the mood to share, and dinner could wait. It wasn’t every day they got to tweet about visiting the headquarters of Twitter.


    • Bureaucrats Now Have a Social Network of Their Own in Russia
      It is quite obvious that the social networking boom of the recent years has resulted in abundance of social networks that probably cover all the niches of society. It is quite obvious that in some countries (like Russia where I live) this process is taking longer than it did in the US because all the trends arrive here with a noticeable delay. So while the US has social networks for everything already, in Russia we are now witnessing yet another novelty – a social network intended specifically for state officials.






  • Finance

    • Congress passes financial reform bill
      Congress gave final approval Thursday to the most ambitious overhaul of financial regulation in generations, ending more than a year of wrangling over the shape of the new rules and shifting the government's focus to the monumental task of implementing them.


    • Tim Geithner’s Ninth Political Life
      In modern American life, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner stands out as amazingly resilient and remarkably lucky – despite presiding over or being deeply involved in a series of political debacles, he has gone from strength to strength. After at least eight improbably bounce backs, he might seem unassailable. But his latest mistake – blocking Elizabeth Warren from heading the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – may well prove politically fatal.


    • Strong earnings from Apple send stock futures up
      Stock futures are headed for a higher opening after Apple and Coca-Cola turned in stronger earnings results.


    • Financial Overhaul Signals Shift on Deregulation
      Congress approved a sweeping expansion of federal financial regulation on Thursday, reflecting a renewed mistrust of financial markets after decades in which Washington stood back from Wall Street with wide-eyed admiration.


    • Will This Stop the Next Financial Armageddon?
      Depending upon who you listened to, the financial reform bill that passed yesterday was lionized by some as the most awesome thing since condoms, or derided by others as totally insufficient to protect us from the indiscretions of happy-go-lucky banks.


    • Congress OKs Wall St. crackdown, consumer guards
      Congress on Thursday passed the stiffest restrictions on banks and Wall Street since the Great Depression, clamping down on lending practices and expanding consumer protections to prevent a repeat of the 2008 meltdown that knocked the economy to its knees.


    • Reform Legislation Does Little to Address Systemic Faults in Banking
      Banks had always coveted the exorbitant fees collected by their “cousins” in the investment banking industry, but the Glass-Steagall Act blocked access to this lucrative capital raising business. The Act, passed during the Great Depression, was created to prevent both styles of banking from destroying one another. Merchant banks, as they were called at the time, helped companies raise capital, but took no deposits. Traditional banks took deposits and made loans. In 1999, a Republican Congress removed the prohibitions of the Act altogether.


    • Banks Should Come Clean on Subpoenas
      Banks often try to emulate the success of Goldman Sachs. Now would be a good time to avoid one of its blunders.


    • Goldman Sachs faces Brazil police probe: report
      Brazil's federal police are investigating Goldman Sachs Group Inc for the alleged use of insider information in the takeover of pulp company Ripasa by rival Suzano Celulose in 2004, Brazilian newspaper Valor Economico reported on Tuesday.


    • Goldman Sachs On How To Navigate The Slowdown


    • Goldman Sachs, Citigroup Sued Over Subprime Loans
      Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Citigroup Inc., Morgan Stanley and dozens more bank and brokerages were sued by a Boston area-based fund seeking reimbursement for losses related to subprime loans.

      Cambridge Place Investment Management Inc., founded by ex- Goldman Sachs Group bankers Martin Finegold and Robert Kramer, lost more than $1.2 billion as a result of the banks’ untrue statements, according to a copy of the complaint filed July 9 in state court in Massachusetts.


    • Homes lost to foreclosure on track for 1M in 2010
      Rosalyn Dalebout rents out space in her home to three tenants, has cut off her phone service and canceled her earthquake and life insurance - all to pay her mortgage every month.


    • Frustration and Despair as Job Search Drags On
      Ms. Sadler, who lost her job at an automotive parts plant in October 2008, learned last month that her unemployment insurance had been cut off. She is one of an estimated 2.1 million Americans whose benefits have expired and who are waiting for an end to an impasse that has lasted months in the Senate over extending the payments once more to the long-term unemployed.


    • JPMorgan earns $4.8 billion in 2nd quarter
      JPMorgan Chase & Co. said Thursday its second-quarter net income soared 77 percent to $4.8 billion as a slowdown in losses from failed loans helped offset a difficult spring in trading and investment banking.


    • Goldman Sachs May Be Seeking a Broad SEC Settlement


    • Goldman Settles With S.E.C. for $550 Million
      Goldman Sachs has agreed to pay $550 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission, one of the largest penalties ever paid by a Wall Street firm, to settle charges of securities fraud linked to mortgage investments.


    • Goldman, SEC Discuss Catch-All Settlement
      Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and the Securities and Exchange Commission recently held discussions about a possible settlement to simultaneously resolve the fraud lawsuit against Goldman and some of the agency's lower-profile probes of the Wall Street firm's mortgage department, according to people familiar with the situation.


    • The Men Who Ended Goldman’s War
      LAST Wednesday at around 3 p.m., the Securities and Exchange Commission and Goldman Sachs settled an epic, seismic battle — one waged over whether the storied investment bank defrauded investors in a transaction that regulators said Goldman had built to self-destruct.


    • Threadneedle Appoints Goldman’s Cielinski to Head Fixed Income
      Threadneedle Asset Management Ltd. said it hired Jim Cielinski as head of fixed income from Goldman Sachs Group Inc.


    • Goldman COO: Would Leave If I Could
      As Goldman Sachs (GS) continues to seek a settlement with federal securities over probes into its business practice, people inside the company are bracing a significant change in senior management that goes beyond the possibility of CEO Lloyd Blankfein losing his job, FOX Business has learned.


    • Fabrice Tourre Is Goldman Sachs’s Sacrificial Lamb
      Fabrice Tourre was so loyal to Goldman Sachs. Why wouldn't he have been? They had been good to him. After the subprime market tanked, his bosses had praised his creation of Abacus, a collection of crappy mortgage securities he had created so that hedge-funder John Paulson could short it, and cemented his status in the firm by giving him a promotion and a raise. So when the SEC sued Goldman for fraud over the deal, and certain embarrassing e-mails Fab had written about it came to light, he believed they would have his back, even after they put him on suspended leave.


    • Goldman Sachs profits fall 82 percent
      Investment giant Goldman Sachs on Tuesday said its profits fell 82 percent in the second quarter of the year against the same period last year.


    • Holding Bankers’ Feet to the Fire
      KUDOS to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, overseer of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the crippled mortgage finance giants. While some in Washington have continued to coddle the big banks even after they drove our economy into the ditch, this agency seems serious about recovering money for taxpayers by holding bad financial actors to account.


    • More Stimulus Despair
      I’ll be frank: the discussion of fiscal stimulus this past year and a half has filled me with despair over the state of the economics profession. If you believe stimulus is a bad idea, fine; but surely the least one could have expected is that opponents would listen, even a bit, to what proponents were saying. In particular, the case for stimulus has always been highly conditional. Fiscal stimulus is what you do only if two conditions are satisfied: high unemployment, so that the proximate risk is deflation, not inflation; and monetary policy constrained by the zero lower bound.


    • Fed in Hot Seat Again on Economic Stimulus
      With unemployment high and inflation low, a question is being asked more often and more loudly: Can and should the Federal Reserve do more to get the economy moving?


    • 3 Auto Dealer Tactics the Overhaul Missed
      Sometime next week, President Obama will finally sign a financial reform bill. Plenty of banks will have to deal with messy new rules, but one big winner in the “spare me from further regulation” sweepstakes was auto dealers.


    • Double Dip Discussion
      Some day growth will pickup again. The debt problems will be with us for some time, but one of the keys for more growth is absorption of excess capacity. New investment is already happening for semiconductor manufacturing (see AMAT and other semi-equipment manufactures, and the WSJ Applied Materials Boosts Revenue Forecast)


    • Is Another Economics Possible?
      “Another World Is Possible” is the slogan of the World Social Forum, an event first convened in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 2001 as a challenge to the World Economic Forum, the annual gathering of the world’s political and corporate leaders in Davos, Switzerland.


    • CountryWide goes Kafka - a First Person Narrative
      This post is going to be a bit different, at least for me. Generally I like to write things that are more data oriented, and that involve some pictures and figures. But this is a little story that happened to my wife and me, only a few weeks back, and I think it provides a bit of an illustration about how the economy works, or doesn't, in these post-Housing Bubble days. Its an absurd story, it makes no sense whatsoever, it cannot possibly happen in a civilized country, much less one that calls itself capitalist, but every word is true. So here goes...






  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Censorship: Labor's hidden policy
      Labor's internet filtering policy isn't being discussed in the run-up to the election but its impact on Australia is significant.

      Championed by Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, the $30million+ filter is being sold by Labor as an internet block for child pornography, bestiality and extreme pornography with 'wide ranging support from the Australian public' and 'only minimal opposition against'.


    • Anonymity On-line
      We've covered Tor in LJ before (see Kyle Rankin's "Browse the Web without a Trace", January 2008), but that was some time ago, and this subject seems to be more timely with each passing day. Also, with Tor being at only 0.2.x status, it still qualifies as software in development, so I'm justified in featuring it this month.


    • Julian Assange: Why the world needs WikiLeaks
      The controversial website WikiLeaks collects and posts highly classified documents and video. Founder Julian Assange, who's reportedly being sought for questioning by US authorities, talks to TED's Chris Anderson about how the site operates, what it has accomplished -- and what drives him. The interview includes graphic footage of a recent US airstrike in Baghdad.


    • Wikileaks' estranged co-founder becomes a critic (Q&A)
      John Young was one of Wikileaks' early founders. Now he's one of the organization's more prominent critics.

      Young, a 74-year-old architect who lives in Manhattan, publishes a document-leaking Web site called Cryptome.org that predates Wikileaks by over a decade. He's drawn fire from Microsoft after posting leaked internal documents about police requests, irked the U.K. government for disclosing the names of possible spies, and annoyed Homeland Security by disclosing a review of Democratic National Convention security measures.


    • If you're beating a "petitioner," make sure it's not an official's wife
      Policemen in Hubei have actually apologized for beating "a petitioner"... because it wasn't a petitioner at all. Rather, poor Mrs. Chen Yulian, 58, was the wife of a Hubei provincial politics and law committee official who was walking to the gate of the provincial party committee's office buildings on June 23.


    • Government Plans Act Of Parliament To Evict Brian Haw
      Anti-war protestor and near-permanent fixture across from the Commons, Brian Haw, will be subject to another attempted eviction when the Government rushes through special laws to oust him, according to the Standard.








  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • Net Neutrality is a double edged sword
      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again Net Neutrality is a double edged sword. Sure I want the Internet to be free and return back to the good ‘ol days, no blocking of torrents or filtering my data.


    • Sony is back – with more DRM
      Digital Restrictions Management consumer control.

      It goes around and around and around and spinning it — again — is Sony which, with BMG, its former partner, injected DRM and rootkit spyware into the computers of people who’d bought some of its music CDs. The software, equally dangerous to users and computers, was hidden on Sony BMG discs, secretly installing itself when buyers played the music.


    • "Universal DRM" renamed UltraViolet, beta starts this fall
      The Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) is moving forward with a brand name and a beta test for its cloud-based "digital locker" system. The name for the technology will be UltraViolet and the beta test will begin this fall, while the specs and licensing details are expected to be ready by the end of 2010.




  • Copyrights

    • Record labels should make MP3s free, and freely shareable
      A few days ago, with no small amount of glee, Ray Beckerman from the Recording Industry vs The People blog suggested that $16m in legal fees had netted the Recording Industry Association of America less than $400,000 in court judgements against pirates in 2008. (You can see for yourself just how much glee Beckerman felt by reading his post title, which is: “Ha ha ha ha ha. RIAA paid its lawyers more than $16,000,000 in 2008 to recover only $391,000!!!”.)


    • MOG Launches All-You-Can-Eat Music Service For iPhone And Android
      After months of waiting, it’s finally here. Streaming music service MOG has launched its mobile applications for Android and iPhone, giving subscribers unlimited access to its library of 8 million songs, which can be streamed or downloaded over both 3G and WiFi. If you listen to a lot of music, or just like being able to listen to music on-demand without having to sync to your PC, this is definitely worth checking out. Access to the mobile service costs $9.99 a month, but MOG is offering free 3-day trials when you download the apps (no credit card is required).


    • MP3tunes, Roku stream iTunes users' songs to TVs
      Roku, the set-top box known for streaming Netflix movies from the Web to users' television sets, has teamed with MP3tunes.com to offer users the ability to stream their iTunes music libraries to their TVs.


    • Appeals Court Reminds Documentary Makers That Facts Are Not Copyrightable
      Two years ago, we wrote about how a court had ruled against a documentary filmmaker who was upset that the producers of the Hollywood film We Are Marshall hadn't paid them for the story. The documentary filmmakers had made a (what else?) documentary about the story of the football team at Marshall, where a plane crash killed the team, and then the school rebuilt its football program. The Warner Bros. film was about the same story, but as we pointed out at the time, facts aren't copyrightable, and anyone can make a film based on historical facts. It is true that Hollywood studios often will pay for the "rights" to a story from a newspaper or author, even though they don't need to secure the "rights" that way. They do so for a variety of reasons, such as getting more in-depth access to the writers for accuracy purposes or just for general endorsement. But there's no legal requirement to do so.


    • World’s First Pirate ISP Launches In Sweden
      The Swedish Pirate Party, who are at the forefront of anti-copyright lobbying in Sweden, are planning to shake up the country’s ISP market. After taking over the supply of bandwidth to The Pirate Bay, Piratpartiet will now partner in the launch of Pirate ISP, a new broadband service that will offer anonymity to customers and provide financial support to the Party.


    • Admins Of Oldest BitTorrent Site Face Criminal Charges
      Two administrators of Filesoup – the longest standing BitTorrent community – have been charged with conspiracy to infringe copyright for their involvement with the site. The case is the second against UK-based BitTorrent site operators. The first case was brought against the owner of the OiNK BitTorrent tracker, who was later cleared of all charges.




    • ACTA

      • Why Parma Ham May Stand in the Way of ACTA and CETA
        Canada is currently negotiating two major international trade agreements and my weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that while it may seem hard to believe, their successful completion may ultimately depend on the level of protection provided to Parma ham. The Canada - European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) are both facing increasing opposition based on European demands to expand protection for "geographical indications."


      • ACTA's Article 2.3, on "Other Remedies": the July 1, 2010 text
        Article 2.3 of the July 1, 2010 version of the ACTA text provides for "Other Remedies" for infringement. The Japan, Switzerland and EU versions of the text appear to be overreaching, including for example by directly conflicting with explicit TRIPS provisions and provisions in the laws of ACTA negotiating countries, including several European Countries.


      • EU data protection body slams ACTA on fundamental rights






    • Digital Economy (UK)

      • Changes in law 'could be detrimental to consumers with open Wi-Fi'
        There are "continuing concerns" surrounding open Wi-Fi under the Digital Economy Act, according to Dr Damian Tambini, member of the Communications Consumer Panel and senior lecturer at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

        "This is an area where there could be considerable consumer detriment over the next 12 months," Dr Tambini said.










Clip of the Day



CLUG Talk - 08 Apr 2008 - DBus and other freedesktop stuff (introducing pyglue) (2008)

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