from the you-can't-make-this-stuff-up dept
Yes, this is yet another silly move by an automated system, but it once again highlights some of the ridiculousness involved in DMCA takedowns for search results.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Oct 8th 2012 10:49am
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Aug 30th 2012 3:14am
Mon, Aug 6th 2012 3:37pm
Yet, while there was general agreement that an overhaul was badly needed, the law that was eventually passed did little to fix what is widely seen as the current system’s chief weakness: that it leads to the issuing of too many patents that lack real innovation and that clog up the legal system once their holders seek to enforce them against alleged infringers.As a result, we have arrived at another inflection point as patents, and the problems surrounding them, are again in the headlines. Although the Samsung vs. Apple trial, and its fight over who owns the rights to a rectangle, is getting a majority of the recent headlines, another major patent battle is looming. This Monday opening bids were submitted ahead of an August 8 auction for some 1,100 patents belonging to the now bankrupt Eastman Kodak Corporation. Given the rampant patent litigation in the high-tech space, the thought of 1,100 more litigation weapons flooding the marketplace is troubling. The situation gets even more worrisome when one looks at the parties lining up to bid.
In the US, the DOJ approved both deals (plus Google’s Motorola acquisition) but said it would continue to monitor the wireless device space because it remained concerned as to whether or not prior pledges would be honored:
When the OSI first learned of this proposed transaction, we were alarmed that four companies with dominant market positions and a mixed attitude towards open source software could redeploy what the open source community had considered to be a friendly asset–Novell’s patent portfolio–into a weapon against open source software. We are delighted that you have made clear that the [german antitrust regulator] cannot allow a transaction that would create or strengthen a dominant position on markets in which such investors are active, and we are happy to provide the additional information you have requested about the proposed restructuring of this transaction.
The division’s continued monitoring of how competitors are exercising their patent rights will ensure that competition and innovation are unfettered in this important industry.However, soon thereafter, the President of the company behind the Apple and Microsoft backed bid – the Rockstar Consortium – publicly repudiated new commitments made by the companies that established it, saying: “We are separate. [Apple and Microsoft's pledges] don’t apply to us.”
All three of the transactions highlight the complex intersection of intellectual property rights and antitrust law and the need to determine the correct balance between the rightful exercise of patent rights and a patent holder’s incentive and ability to harm competition through the anticompetitive use of those rights.
And this revealing comment that articulates Veschi’s justification for holding the rest of the industry hostage:
“Pretty much anybody out there is infringing… It would be hard for me to envision that there are high-tech companies out there that don’t use some of the patents in our portfolio.”
So, to recap, the commitments that gave worldwide antitrust regulators the confidence to approve these controversial deals are being repudiated by the individual with the power to ignore them, and who thinks that:
“A lot of people are still surprised to see the quality and the diversity of the IP that was in Nortel… And the fundamental question comes back: ‘How the hell did you guys go bankrupt? Why weren’t you Google? Why weren’t you Facebook? Why weren’t you all these things, because you guys actually had the ideas for these business models before they did?’ They were within a Bell Labs-y kind of environment, and maybe the wherewithal of turning them into businesses wasn’t necessarily there.”
Apparently, the purpose of the patent system is to allow unsuccessful companies the right to extract billions of dollars from companies that are more successful. (Again, how is this not a net drag on innovation?)
But the very fact that he claims EVERYONE in the IT industry infringes on his patents seems to be prima facie evidence that many, if not most, of these patents were not novel, and therefore invalid… unless he is contesting that every IT company stole Nortel’s ideas, which is laughable. But I digress…
What we do know now is that patent commitments made to competition authorities are suspect (and, of course, commitments are made to be broken), particularly when patents are controlled by NPEs outside of the direct control of the original purchasers.
To fully understand the problems posed by Intellectual Ventures’ involvement in this new consortium, one must also understand the tectonic shift in the underlying foundations of the patent system. Although the explosion of low-quality, poorly defined patents – particularly in the software space – has long been identified as a problem that greatly increases litigation risk and the overall deadweight loss to our economy, the problem has been largely isolated until recently. It was once thought that the threat of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD to borrow the Cold War acronym), meant that the big companies with large patent portfolios would not sue their peers because they would be sued back and everyone would lose. However, the rapid growth of huge non-producing entities (NPEs) that exist solely to exert other people’s patents (usually acquired through bankruptcy) against successful companies greatly changed the precarious MAD equilibrium that once existed.
Some – admittedly clever – companies, such as Apple, recognized that they could acquire patents, take a perpetual license to them, and then sell them off to NPEs such as Intellectual Ventures (or as they have already done with Digitude), who are then incentivized to attack the original purchasers' competitors (because the purchasers have a license and its competitors don’t). This strategy allows the original purchaser to attack their competitors and make money off of the patent sale to the NPE (and often they take a cut of the litigation and settlement revenue as well) all the while insulating themselves from the threat of countersuit (the NPE is immune to the threat of counter-assertion because they don’t make products and therefore do not infringe on anyone’s patents).
To extend the nuclear war metaphor to encapsulate this new phenomenon, if the old paradigm was Mutually Assured Destruction where corporations, like nation states, refuse to attack each other because of the threat of personal annihilation, these new NPEs are akin to stateless terrorist entities with nuclear weapons, who are immune to direct threat of attack. Also, much like stateless terrorist organizations, these NPEs move in the shadows and cover their tracks. Intellectual Ventures, by one scholars account, has at least 1300 shell corporations – so its activities are difficult to track. So, we therefore see “states” discretely selling “nukes” to “terrorist cells” with the understanding that they will be used against their foes who cannot directly attack them back.
The bankruptcy portfolio auctions, however, are a variation on this theme, and are more similar to loose nukes from “failed states,” wherein weapons of business destruction flood the marketplace as one entity fails, and the remaining entities with the most to lose – enterprises that actually produce value – must scramble to keep these loose nukes out of the hands of less reputable actors.
DOJ Should Review Newest Auction with Recent Trends in Mind
These patent consortiums allow companies like Apple and Intellectual Ventures to work together to acquire more patents that will be used in the thermonuclear war against Android. As the case of the prior auctions make clear, the commitments that competition authorities have relied on in the past to ensure that these consortiums don’t use patents “anticompetitively” (which is semi-ironic, given that new patent thickets are valuable because they give you the right to harass your competition) are suspect at best, particularly because Intellectual Ventures will filter the patents through a network of “legally distinct” shell companies – companies that “companies” will likely claim prior commitments don’t apply to them – before they are used against Apple’s Android competitors, which they surely will be, given the incentives of those involved.
Given the Justice Department’s prior concerns and recent micro and macro trends in the patent ecosystem, it seems that it is completely appropriate for the DOJ (and competition authorities around the world) to review this upcoming transaction from a different lens than it did just 6 months ago. The world has changed.
Cross Posted from Project DisCo
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jul 27th 2012 11:59am
The mere threat of regulation is driving innovation in the direction of backdoors and surveillance compliance. And US law doesn’t require that, yet.But what's actually happening, since so much of this seems to be conjecture and speculation? Well, as the attention and questions grew, Skype itself weighed in to "clarify." It noted that it has been installing more in-house "supernodes" (in the more distant past, various Skype users would act as supernodes) to improve quality for the directory -- but that Skype to Skype calls (again, not calls that touch the public telephone network) were still encrypted person-to-person calls:
The move to in-house hosting of "supernodes" does not provide for monitoring or recording of calls. "Supernodes" help Skype clients to locate each other so that Skype calls can be made. Simply put, supernodes act as a distributed directory of Skype users. Skype to Skype calls do not flow through our data centres and the "supernodes" are not involved in passing media (audio or video) between Skype clients.But... is there still reason to be somewhat (though not hysterically) concerned? Perhaps. Chris Soghoian has the best post by far on what's known and what's unknown, which explains how Skype's person-to-person encryption may not be as totally untappable as some people assume. He notes that while the Skype to Skype calls are encrypted, Skype has access to the encryption key (he has a full explanation for how/why this is) and then explains what this likely means:
These calls continue to be established directly between participating Skype nodes (clients). In some cases, Skype has added servers to assist in the establishment, management or maintenance of calls; for example, a server is used to notify a client that a new call is being initiated to it and where the full Skype application is not running (e.g. the device is suspended, sleeping or requires notification of the incoming call), or in a group video call, where a server aggregates the media streams (video) from multiple clients and routes this to clients that might not otherwise have enough bandwidth to establish connections to all of the participants.
[....] Skype software autonomously applies encryption to Skype to Skype calls between computers, smartphones and other mobile devices with the capacity to carry a full version of Skype software as it always has done. This has not changed.
Ok, so Skype has access to users' communications encryption keys (or can enable others to impersonate as Skype users). What does this mean for the confidentiality of Skype calls? Skype may in fact be telling the truth when it tells journalists that it does not provide CALEA-style wiretap capabilities to governments. It may not need to. If governments can intercept and record the encrypted communications of users (via assistance provided by Internet Service Providers), and have the encryption keys used by both ends of the conversation -- or can impersonate Skype users and perform man in the middle attacks on their conversations, then they can decrypt the voice communications without any further assistance from Skype.So there's a risk there, and Soghoian notes that Skype's reticence to set the record straight on exactly how it handles encryption leaves open this possibility. That is it's entirely possible that there are ways that law enforcement can intercept Skype calls, while Skype can still talk about its encryption, leaving the false impression that the calls are immune from interception. Soghoian also notes that the talk about Skype handing over info (not call access) to law enforcement is not new and has been known for quite some time (and, honestly, doesn't appear all that different from lots of other similar setups).
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jul 25th 2012 12:22pm
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jul 24th 2012 3:02am
by Tim Cushing
Mon, Jul 23rd 2012 9:07am
I’m uncomfortable with any debate that can argue around patches being seen as bad things to have, things that customers or services need to be protected from. Patches are to improve games. Patches are to make games better. Arguing against patches is to argue against the right to have better games. This is a ridiculous thing, beyond absurd. I’m uncomfortable when an imaginary line is drawn between services where patches are ok and where patches are not. Why is a patch to an iThing seen as desirable but XBLA not, beyond the whims of Microsoft?Rob also looks at some of the other arguments, many of which we've seen used in the comment threads here at Techdirt, especially when dealing with artists finding themselves being manhandled by contractual details. This one in particular surfaces (too) often: "Too bad. They signed a contract."
I’m uncomfortable when people feel comfortable pulling the getting into bed with the devil argument, you signed a contract for fame and fortune and now, this is the price you must pay. I’m uncomfortable because it leaves no room for nuance, it leaves no room for context. It becomes a moral argument with nothing that hinges around whether something is fair, whether something is unfair, whether something is even viable. I would not like to be the person to cast such a judgement because I would not like to be the person if something went titsupus contractualus for me, to have the same argument thrown in my face.This argument has always bothered me as well. Those espousing it seem hold two contradictory thoughts: that those holding the contract (label, studio, etc.) are somehow both massively benefitting the artists (simply by being the "infallible" system) and allowed to screw their signed artists without being called out for it. So, if the contract allows for screwing of said artists, it's just too bad. Legalese trumps any effort towards making it a mutually beneficial situation.
I’m uncomfortable with the “but it’s Fish” train of thought because next time, it might not be Fish. It might be me. It might be you. It might be your friend or a developer you love not a developer you love to hate.Then, of course, there's the "helpful" percentage of the crowd, always willing to suggest how things might have been done differently. It's one thing to suggest a solution while suggestions are still being welcomed. It's quite another to roll in post-mortem and point out everywhere the victim went wrong.
I’m uncomfortable when people say “you should have just released on Steam in the first place” when contracts were signed at a time when Steam was still 12 months away from showing its indie selling claws to one and all, when its notorious difficulty to get greenlit was at its peak. When other services were seen as behind the XBLA curve. I’m uncomfortable with hindsight being used as a stick to berate people with.That's a tough one to avoid. Nearly everyone who's ever posted a comment or written for a blog has at one point or another found it impossible to resist playing a few downs as armchair quarterback. "What you should do next time" is definitely preferable to anything containing the past tense ("What you should have done..."), but neither does much to address the actual roadblock in question.
Right now, I’m just uncomfortable with the whole charade that’s sprung from a statement which points out the ridiculousness of a system that can penalise people for wanting to make better games. And I’m uncomfortable with how comfortably we let this shit slide over us.Say what you will about Fish's divisive personality or the rigged system that is XBLA. Talk about how an indie studio with a million paying customers shouldn't complain about costs and time. Point out rival services and their advantages. But don't forget that underneath it all, a developer wanted to improve its game and the gatekeeper decided that the developers and customers would be better off if everyone "played by the rules" and nothing got fixed.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jul 17th 2012 3:49pm
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jun 25th 2012 3:03am
The page you are trying to browse to is categorized as "Gambling"You can confirm this at Microsoft's site if you type donate.fsf.org in the box. Currently, it shows the following:
If you believe you are getting this message by mistake, try contacting your administrator or Helpdesk.
Technical Information (for support personnel)
Error Code: 403 Forbidden. Forefront TMG denied the specified Uniform Resource Locator (URL). (12233)
IP Address: [IP Redacted]
Date: 6/14/2012 6:31:39 PM [GMT]
Server: [server name redacted]
by Michael Ho
Tue, Jun 19th 2012 5:00pm
Explore some core concepts:
|3:44am:||Amazon Wants To Sell Fan Fiction With It, Originator And FanFic Author All Sharing Profits (58)|
|11:54pm:||Cool New Platform For Supporting Artists: Patreon, From Jack Conte (19)|
|7:53pm:||Modest Proposal: Going Piracy Neutral (36)|
|5:00pm:||DailyDirt: Graduation Advice To Remember (3)|
|4:32pm:||New Bill Would Stop Patent Trolls From Hiding Behind Shell Companies (29)|
|3:26pm:||Eric Schmidt Still A Fan Of Figuring Out A Way To Erase The Past (23)|
|2:24pm:||Chinese Hacks Of Google Database Of Surveillance Targets Highlight How Dumb Technology Backdoors Are (21)|
|1:20pm:||Released Video From Silva Beating Shows His Last Moments; Video Of Actual Beating Still Missing (88)|
|12:17pm:||AT&T Says You Can Use Any Video Streaming App You Want... Just As Soon As It Can Get The Meter Running (26)|
|11:14am:||Reporters Find Exposed Personal Data Via Google, Threatened With CFAA Charges (68)|
|10:07am:||New York Times Tells Startup It Can't Even Mention The NY Times (92)|
|9:12am:||So It's Come To This: Seven High School Students Arrested For Throwing... Water Balloons (162)|
|7:50am:||First Hand Account Of Judicial Smackdown Of Prenda In Minnesota (107)|
|5:51am:||Quack Professor Releases Dumbest Violent Video Game Theory Ever (51)|
|3:46am:||How Low Can Drones Go? (76)|
|11:19pm:||Prenda Gets Some Tiny Bit Of Good News, As It May Get Out Of Two Critical Cases (18)|
|8:16pm:||Ridiculous Timing: Obama Administration Responds To Spying On AP By Pushing Journalist Shield Law That Wouldn't Matter (35)|
|5:00pm:||DailyDirt: Weapons In The Sky (9)|
|4:02pm:||Bad Day For Prenda Continues: Judge Rejects Stay, Adds $1k Per Day For Each Day They Don't Pay Up (56)|
|3:01pm:||Angry Judge Tells Prenda To Stop Falsifying Alan Cooper's Signature; Calls It Fraud (59)|
|2:15pm:||More Details Emerge On Key Legal Fight Over DMCA Abuse (36)|
|1:04pm:||NYC Says Renting Out Your Place Via Airbnb Is Running An Illegal Hotel (38)|
|12:01pm:||If You Think You Should Actually Own Products You Bought, Now Would Be A Good Time To Call Congress (152)|
|11:04am:||Makers Of Nutella Force Fan Who Created World Nutella Day To Shut It Down [Updated] (57)|
|10:05am:||Kitchen Nightmares Lawyers Threaten Infamous Samy And Amy If They Talk About Their Experience On The Show (31)|
|9:03am:||If You're Going To Illegally Seize Citizens' Cell Phones, At Least Make Sure You're Grabbing The Right Ones (94)|
|7:41am:||DOJ And Dept. Of Education To Colleges: Start Restricting Free Speech On Campus Or Kiss Your Federal Funding Goodbye (88)|
|5:37am:||Retired Lt. Col.: Violent Media Has Bred A Generation Of Killers (99)|
|3:33am:||Why Even Good Hospitals And Doctors Are An Obstacle To Better, Cheaper Healthcare (26)|
|12:10am:||'Intellectual Property' Mess Holding Up The TPP (21)|