by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jun 14th 2013 6:34pm
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jun 14th 2013 5:36pm
from the keep-trying dept
Prenda Law is currently winding down its operations and is in the process of dismissing its remaining cases pursuant to the instructions of its clients.It later says that Prenda Law has not filed any new copyright infringement cases in several months. Of course, this completely ignores the fact that Duffy and what appears to be basically the same crew of people immediately flipped the switch to a new firm, called the Anti-Piracy Law Group, which has continued to do the same basic shakedown game, even as they were being hit with sanctions and more for the same game under the Prenda label. Funny how Duffy leaves that part out...
by Michael Ho
Fri, Jun 14th 2013 5:00pm
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
- The Nutritional Science Initiative (NuSI) is an organization dedicated to improving the quality of research for nutrition and obesity. NuSI is currently looking to clarify the root causes of obesity (and related conditions), determining what makes people obese: overeating itself or hormonal/biochemical triggers that cause overeating. [url]
- Consuming seaweed enriched toast seemed to get some people to subsequently eat 179 fewer calories for the rest of the day. The seaweed was ground up and added to the bread without affecting the taste, and it apparently acts as a bulking agent in the stomach to make people feel full. [url]
- Is snacking at night worse than eating the same thing in the morning? Possibly. It might not just be what you eat, but when you eat it. [url]
- Marijuana smokers tend to eat more than 600 extra calories in a day, but for some reason, they have slimmer waists, higher levels of HDL and lower insulin levels and insulin resistance. So if you needed another reason to smoke pot, it's possibly a treatment for obesity and diabetes.... [url]
Fri, Jun 14th 2013 4:15pm
from the hey,-look,-there-it-is-again! dept
Reader dennis deems writes in about the latest such example in which someone keeps trying to delete 3-year-old controversial information out of Texas Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson's Wikipedia page only to find that controversy being resurrected in the news yet again.
The deleted entry, which has since been restored, concerned a 2010 scandal in which Johnson was found to have "awarded 23 scholarships over five years to two of her grandsons, two sons of her nephew and the children of her top congressional aide in Dallas." It was a clear violation of the scholarship fund's anti-nepotism and residency rules. Johnson eventually repaid the foundation more than $31,000 for the misappropriated scholarships, but has been hammered over the issue by rivals during her two most recent campaigns.And now it will be an issue in any subsequent campaigns as well, and fresh in the media's bloodstream too, all thanks to whoever is trying to disappear the entry about Johnson's apparent corruption. For her part, the Congresswoman insists that it isn't she who is attempting these changes and she has no idea who is. Whether you believe that or not, even supporters of Johnson who might try this have to be punching themselves over how this is all working out. The report suggests a link to Johnson's campaign manager which, if it is indeed him, simply indicates that the Congresswoman needs a new campaign manager.
After all, as we continue to learn, no matter how bad the transgression of a public figure, the coverup is always worse. As one Wikipedia editor told the culprit:
By removing information about Johnson's nepotistic scholarship awards, you served only to bring this scandal back to the attention of The Dallas Morning News. If that was your intention, then you succeeded - as the material is now back in the article and Bernice's name is once again being smeared in Dallas. If it wasn't your intention, then you really screwed the pooch. At any rate, if you persist in removing content from this encyclopedia, regardless of your motives, your account will be disabled.So take heed, public figures. There is simply no percentage in fudging your Wikipedia entries. It won't actually work, it will Streisand-rocket whatever information you're trying to suppress, and you'll end up with media egg all over your face.
Fri, Jun 14th 2013 3:24pm
from the competition:-who-can-abuse-civil-rights-more? dept
The NYPD really loves its stop and frisk policy. The prospect of randomly stopping
exclusively minorities a random selection of New Yorkers really excites the department. And why not? The practice has done wonders to prevent crime in the city. Well, if you define “crime” as pot possession. Because the policy hasn’t accomplished much of anything else.
Now the constitutionality of the policy is in jeopardy, awaiting a decision from Judge Shira “Don’t Call Me Judy” Scheindlin, the judge the City decided to embarrass by commissioning a report accusing her of bias because the City is incredibly stupid.
When and if (OK, “when”) Judge Scheindlin strikes down the current iteration of the policy, Eric Holder has a suggestion for how to remedy the violation. And Mayor Mike Bloomberg is none too pleased…
The Attorney General’s office filed a brief yesterday outlining one option Judge Scheindlin might consider in awarding injunctive relief:
The News reports that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s office filed a brief yesterday requesting that if the NYPD loses the case and its stop-and-frisk policies are found to be illegal, “the court has wide discretion to enter injunctive relief,” which “may include the appointment of an independent monitor.” … Mayor Bloomberg is reportedly “outraged.”
And we all know what an “outraged” Michael Bloomberg looks like.
Alex Pareene of Salon notes:
The NYPD obviously needs a monitor. The city argues that the department’s own internal affairs bureau is oversight enough, but the IAB has failed to uncover or prosecute an array of recent examples of police misconduct and IAB veterans and plenty of cops who’ve dealt with the bureau say it’s slow, incompetent, and bordering on corrupt. New York’s Civilian Complaint Review Board is independent and thorough, but it also has no authority beyond issuing recommendations to the commissioner. A complete lack of accountability and oversight is part of Bloomberg’s governing philosophy, which holds that he should be able to appoint people who answer only to him, and then those people should be in charge forever.
Not only is New York’s IAB suspect, there are rumors (which I’ve been unable to confirm) that the Manhattan District Attorney is moving the office of the prosecutors assigned to these cases from an undisclosed location back to the main office. Placing prosecutors looking into police misconduct back in a building where multiple cops can watch potential informers enter and exit seems like foolhardy.
For all the flack that Eric Holder is taking (and all the flack Assistant AG Thomas Perez is about to get in his Secretary of Labor confirmation hearings), Holder’s handling of civil rights has been aggressive and commendable:
Holder’s Justice Department has actually had a very impressive record on civil rights cases. His Civil Rights Division, led by Thomas Perez, has not hesitated to investigate police departments for misconduct, and it has forced reforms in cities like in New Orleans. In March of this year, Perez announced an investigation into Cleveland police focusing on excessive force. Thomas Perez is decidedly one of the best things about the Obama administration. That he’d push the Justice Department to weigh in on the NYPD case, over the strong objections of Mayor Bloomberg, is laudable, especially because Obama himself has a strange obsession with winning the mayor’s favor.
If she rules against the City, Judge Scheindlin may not accept the DOJ’s offer, but it looks logical on paper. Federal agents pulling rank all over town is sure to make Bloomberg and the NYPD even angrier.
I guess the City doesn’t like being singled out and subjected to humiliating spot searches to guarantee that it’s in full compliance with the law. Go figure.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jun 14th 2013 2:47pm
from the hmm... dept
“Digital piracy is theft. It is a serious crime that harms one of California’s most important economic engines – our entertainment industry,” said Attorney General Harris. “This case sends a clear message that the California Department of Justice will investigate digital piracy and prosecute violators to the fullest extent of the law.”Except that infringement and theft are two very different issues, which are taken care of under two very different laws. I know that the MPAA loves to call infringement "theft" but it does not make it legally "theft."
Separately, it's worth pointing out that the details of this case, once again show that the claims of people that various "pirate" sites are making tons of money doesn't have much support:
Over the 18 months of the website’s operation, the brothers earned approximately $150,000 in advertising revenue.So, 18 months, 3 brothers, $150,000. That's $50,000 per brother. Or, about $33,000 per year, per person, not counting expenses. If the sites were even remotely popular, most of that money went towards hosting. So, not exactly a huge moneymaker.
Either way, the bigger issue here appears to be the attempt by the MPAA and AG Harris to redefine copyright law as "theft" to avoid a federal case concerning copyright. That's an incredible attempt to change the meaning of the law, which one hopes a judge will toss out on preemption grounds. If these brothers actually did what they're accused of, why not go after them on copyright infringement grounds? It seems likely that the MPAA has been just waiting for a case like this to try to circumvent the basic tenets of copyright law, to pretend that laws on theft apply.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jun 14th 2013 2:02pm
from the analysis-paralysis dept
They're making themselves dysfunctional by collecting all of this data. They've got so much collection capability but they can't do everything. They're probably getting something on the order of 80 percent of what goes up on the network. So they're going into the telecoms who have recorded all of the material that has gone across the network. And the telecoms keep a record of it for I think about a year. They're asking the telecoms for all the data so they can fill in the gaps. So between the two sources of what they've collected, they get the whole picture.Yes, it may be useful in hindsight (not that useful automatically makes it legal), but what would be even more useful is if they stopped focusing so much on collecting data, and went back to doing traditional investigative work that focuses on real targets. Piling on to the haystack doesn't help anyone. It comes from the faulty belief that piling more data on top -- even if it's useless data -- must be a good thing.
They can do textual processing at a rate of about 10 gigabits a second. What that means is about a million and a quarter 1,000-character emails a second. They've got something like 10 to 20 sites for this around the United States. So you can really see why they need to build something like Utah to store all of this stuff. But the basic problem is they can't figure out what they have, so they store it all in the hope that down the road they might figure something out and they can go back and figure out what's happening and what people did. It's retroactive analysis.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jun 14th 2013 12:57pm
from the it'll-hit-their-bottom-lines dept
Right after the initial NSA leaks came out, David Kirkpatrick quickly wrote about how the Obama administration appeared to be sacrificing the US internet industry in a weak attempt at trying to increase security (despite no evidence that it's actually done that). The global implications of the NSA spying aren't hard to figure out -- especially when looking at how many people around the globe use these services:
It's quite possible that Obama has undermined the effectiveness and attractiveness for political speech and protest of what have been the most potent communications tools for activism in history. Political and commercial opponents of the U.S. in every country as well as governments themselves will likely alert citizens to the potential that U.S. companies could pass their info back to US authorities. This will seriously conflict with these companies' aim to maintain their platforms as neutral global environments. It could dramatically slow their global growth.Further, he points out, this will likely drive users to foreign corporations, rather than American ones, as they strive to protect their privacy:
[....] Do we really want to impair such powerful tools for spreading dialogue, political discourse, and U.S. values? Is it worthwhile to impair the extraordinary financial and commercial success of these great flagships for the American economy? Does Obama want Facebook et al just to be seen as tools of American power? That is certainly not the way the average user in Bolivia sees it. They see it as a tool of their own personal power, and they don't want governments interfering with that.
Don't believe there are not alternatives to the U.S. Net collossi. Companies worldwide are already relentlessly working on alternatives. The second largest search service worldwide is China's Baidu, with more than 8% of searches globally at the end of last year according to ComScore. Russia's Yandex is at close to 3%, more than Microsoft's own search product. In social networking, China's Tencent has had a stunning recent success with its WeChat product, which by some counts has over 450 million users worldwide, including many tens of millions outside China. Most major Chinese Internet companies have global ambitions.Kirkpatrick was focusing more on the consumer side, and the importance of using these tools for open and free communication. But the same issues clearly impact the business side as well. As CFO.com recently, noted, companies are gong to be a lot less trusting of US-based cloud computing companies because of these leaks. Exposing the key info to governments is a real risk:
At the end of the day, if you have mission critical data and information in the possession of a third party service provider - Cloud or otherwise – the assumption that your provider will be in full control over their environments may be drawn unto doubt. As a CFO, it is prudent to consider your next steps very carefully to ensure that your intellectual property and trade secrets do not become the assets of others.Given the suggestions that the US government has used this surveillance as a form of economic espionage, these fears seem quite well grounded. Foreign companies are now going to be a lot less interested in using the services of American companies.
And this isn't a theoretical problem either. Sweden just issued a ruling that bars the public sector from using Google's cloud services. Meanwhile, India is already telling companies that they need to setup local servers rather than make use of US servers if they want to do business in India.
This issue is important on a number of levels, but technology companies, who rely on a global audience, should be standing up and loudly protesting the NSA's broad surveillance, because it's going to hit their bottom lines hard. The administration and the NSA are directly making it difficult for US internet companies to be global enterprises, at a time when that's exactly what we need. Is it really worth sacrificing one of the few growing and dynamic industries that the US has these days, based on some vague and unproven claims that the government "needs" all of this info? It seems like a massive cost for almost no benefit.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jun 14th 2013 12:18pm
Pianist Storms Off Stage, Claims Fans Filming His Performance Mean Record Labels Won't Give Him A Contract
from the can-we-have-a-little-reality,-please dept
Classical pianist Krystian Zimerman stormed off the stage after spotting someone in the audience holding up a mobile phone. It's not entirely clear how he knew they were recording video, rather than merely taking a photograph, but either way, he came back to insist that YouTube was somehow destroying his career:
On returning, he told the audience that he had lost many recording projects and contracts because music managers had told him: "We're sorry, that has already been on YouTube." "The destruction of music because of YouTube is enormous," he added.Now, let's think about this for a second. This makes absolutely no sense. A shaky smartphone recording of a live performance of a song does little to nothing to take away from a recorded version of the song. The two are entirely different. Furthermore, such a video is actually much more likely to drive more interest in both the overall works of the musician and in going to see them perform live.
Now, I can understand why some musicians might find it generally distracting, and might even put in place general rules within the venue that require people not to film on their mobile phones. And, if such rules are in place, it seems completely fine for the venue to ask those who violate the rules to leave. But to argue that such actions are "destroying the music business" is simply not supportable in reality. And, frankly, if music managers have actually told him that he's lost a record contract because a performance is on YouTube, then it seems pretty clear that he's dealing with clueless music managers. If a music manager said that, my first reaction would be to find a reality-based music manager, rather than a completely clueless one, because the manager who reacts that way is clearly not going to be helpful for the rest of my career.
Unfortunately, others, including the person behind the festival took the bizarre complaints even further:
Franz Xaver Ohnesorg, the festival's director, said he felt a great deal of sympathy towards Zimerman, one of the star performers. "What happened is theft, pure and simple," he told German media.Theft of what? And how? This goes beyond just the whole "it's not theft if nothing is missing" argument. This is not theft under any possible interpretation of "theft." This was just a fan wishing to create a digital memory of the experience, and possibly share that with others, such that others might look forward to more of Zimerman's music and performances.
Again, I recognize that some musicians might find it distracting, but the focus should be on that, rather than bogus claims about it being "theft" or laughable claims about recording contracts not granted because of fan videos.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jun 14th 2013 11:17am
from the once-again dept
“Notwithstanding the parade of horribles trotted out by the petitioner, it has presented no evidence of any actual harm, any egregious risk of error, or any broad potential for abuse,” the court said, adding that the government’s “efforts to protect national security should not be frustrated by the courts.”As the article points out, Google and Twitter have also fought back against various attempts by the federal government to reach deep into their databases -- and, in both cases, have lost those lawsuits.
Of course, it appears that some companies, like Microsoft and the telcos are much more comfortable with providing info to the government.
It really seems like the focus of concern should very much be on the government's requests here, as well as the secret FISA court and its rubber stamp, given that companies that have tried to fight back against the government keep losing.