by Mike Masnick
Wed, Oct 19th 2011 10:26pm
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Oct 19th 2011 7:26pm
from the on-the-hook dept
by Michael Ho
Wed, Oct 19th 2011 5:00pm
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
- The evolution machine is just a prototype right now, but it could speed up genetic engineering projects with directed and automated mutations for microbes. One of the projects for the evolution machine would be to create an organism that was immune to all viruses. What could possibly go wrong with that? [url]
- Single-cell biological lasers have been created with green fluorescent protein and human embryonic kidney cells. It's not sharks with lasers attached to their heads, but it's a start. [url]
- The technique of steganography by printed arrays of microbes (SPAM) sounds like the nerdiest way to send a message. Using bacteria to encode secret messages could also be another interesting method for lots of copies keeps stuff safe (LOCKSS). [url]
- To discover more interesting biological curiosities, check out what's currently floating around the StumbleUpon universe. [url]
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Oct 19th 2011 4:03pm
from the it's-fraud-to-report-the-truth dept
In Plaintiff’s case, Defendants were able to and did access Plaintiff’s personal and credit card information by intercepting and recording her confidential electronic communications without or beyond her consent, further using that information to cross-reference public records and other sources to obtain, among other things, Plaintiff’s legal name, age, date of birth, and other personal, confidential information, and making some of that unlawfully-obtained confidential information available to the public at www.imdb.com and other affiliated and unaffiliated websites.All of this... because she didn't want her age identified on her IMDB page. The details behind all of this is that the actress is apparently Asian American, but does not use her real name for acting. Instead, she uses an Americanized name, and claims that she has been meticulous in not connecting the two identities at all. Thus, she claims that no one could possibly know the real age of the actress' stage name, unless they could connect her real name to the stage name. She claims that in signing up for IMDBPro, she supplied her credit card, with her real name, which Amazon then used to identify who she was and to figure out her actual date of birth. The woman insists that she appears much younger, and that she's suffered greatly from having her age revealed:
First, because lesser-known forty-year-old actresses are not in demand in the entertainment business, Plaintiff has suffered a substantial decrease in acting credits, employment opportunities and earnings since Defendants’ addition of Plaintiff’s legal date of birth to the Internet Movie Database. Second, because Plaintiff looks so much younger than her actual age indicates, Plaintiff has experienced rejection in the industry for each “forty-year-old” role for which she has interviewed because she does not and cannot physically portray the role of a forty-year old woman.So what's the actual legal issue? She's claiming breach of contract, fraud, and violations of Washington State's privacy and consumer protection acts. The details suggest that it's not quite as crazy as it seemed at first... but still pretty crazy. First off, it's not entirely clear that Amazon actually did what she claims (used her credit card info to establish her age). It's entirely possible that the info on IMDB came from other sources. Second, even if it's upsetting to her, it's not at all clear that one's age is the kind of info that could ever be deemed "private" or personally identifiable info that is subject to privacy rules. The case seems to hinge on whether or not there's any real expectation of privacy in one's age. I just can't see a court buying that argument.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Oct 19th 2011 2:52pm
from the sad dept
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Oct 19th 2011 1:52pm
from the say-no-to-s.978 dept
Thus, the bill could, in fact, be used against people streaming videos via YouTube for their own benefit. People like... Justin Bieber. In fact, a new advocacy group has kicked off a campaign against S.978 by asking people to help free Justin Bieber.
Game, set, match. Under Klobuchar's streaming felony bill, Justin Bieber likely committed a felony.
Now, I realize that many people don't much like Bieber or his music, but does he deserve to go to jail? Now, obviously, defenders of s.978 will claim that they don't intend to go after the likes of Justin Bieber. But just the fact that they could suggests a massively problematic bill. And, realistically, the problem isn't the Biebers of the world, but the next kids who upload a video of themselves lip synching to some song. This is a massively problematic bill, and hopefully you'll check out the Free Bieber site to help let Congress know that this bill is bad news.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Oct 19th 2011 12:45pm
from the privacy-violations? dept
the dissemination of photographs and videos in addition to the names and affiliations of those police officers therein were treated as privacy violations. The court cites Art. 2 of the law of January 6, 1978, which makes makes it illegal for private sector entities to process personal identifying information without first registering with a government commission (CNIL). Moreover, dissemination of that personal identifying information has to be done under conditions that respect the privacy of the persons in question. The court also treats certain statements made about the police on the website as defamatory.The "defamation" claim at the end may make some people think that this move is more justified, but a later comment clarifies the statements seen as "defamatory." None appeared to implicate any individual, but rather complain about the police in general and seem to be pretty obvious hyperbole -- i.e., things that wouldn't normally be seen as defamatory. The privacy claim is simply ridiculous. It seems to assume privacy rights where none exist.
It's difficult to see how this decision is anything other than an attempt by the French courts to hide police misconduct. That seems rather shameful.
by Glyn Moody
Wed, Oct 19th 2011 11:43am
London 2012 Olympics Go For Gold in the Extreme 'Ambush Marketing' Law Event: 'Guilty Until Proven Innocent' – And No Streaking Allowed
from the bare-faced-cheek dept
Techdirt has already written about the UK police getting special powers to enter homes during the 2012 games, as well as free speech being curtailed. Now there are plans to suspend the presumption of innocence too:
One of the fundamental principles of European justice will be temporarily suspended during next year’s London Olympics to protect the commercial interests of sponsors, if Government proposals are accepted by Parliament later this year.So great is the threat of ambush marketing to the 2012 Olympic Games that other basic freedoms are being abrogated – like the right to run around naked in public with advertisements on your body:
Under the plans, anyone suspected of so-called “ambush marketing” or unauthorized trading near the Olympic Park during the Games would be presumed guilty until proven innocent – a clear contradiction of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) believes the move is justified to facilitate the staging of the Games, which it describes as a “once-in-a-lifetime occasion”.
Regulations proposed by the DCMS state that an interference with the right to be presumed innocent “will be justified” as long as it is confined within reasonable limits.
Streakers who use their bodies to advertise during the Olympics could face a £20,000 [$32,000] fine under new rules.The good news is that the tweaked 2006 Act would not apply to people running around naked without advertisements, although a spokesman said: "there may still be legal ramifications". So please do bear that in mind if you experience a sudden urge to take off your clothes in London during the Olympics next year.
The London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 is being tweaked to target people who attempt marketing stunts during the tournament.
A man invaded a diving event at the Athens 2004 Olympics with a brand daubed on his bare chest.
Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and on Google+
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Oct 19th 2011 10:45am
Universal Music Keeps Trying To Claim Zoe Keating's Royalty Checks, Despite Having Nothing To Do With Her
from the the-plight-of-the-indie-musician dept
However, earlier this week, Keating noted that Universal Music was once again claiming her own music as its own, and trying to claim the royalties owed to her. I asked her for some details, and she passed along all of the various emails, including the ones from earlier this year, in which SoundExchange insisted that everything was sorted out. Of course, in one of those emails, SoundExchange also admits that such situations are "not uncommon." That seems pretty ridiculous, but as long as they sorted everything out.
The latest, however, is that even though SoundExchange had previously reached out to Universal Music, on behalf of Keating, it now sent her an email saying that there were, once again "overlapping claims." Even worse, the note said that if she didn't respond within 90 days, the royalties would go to Universal, because they give preference when songs are claimed directly by a label.
Keating was forced, yet again, to complain to SoundExchange over Universal Music trying to take her royalties. In response, someone from SE suggested that it may have been Keating's own confusion -- even suggesting that she may have been confused about the difference between master sound recordings and compositions (Keating was not confused, and holds the rights to both, since they're entirely original compositions and recordings by her).
Those with a conspiratorial bent might think that this is a neat way for the major labels, like Universal Music to simply claim the rights to any indie artist's music. Just keep making the claim, and leave it to the artist to sort it out by working through SoundExchange's bureaucracy. I certainly doubt that's truly the case. It probably is just someone, somewhere making an administrative mistake in how things are recorded -- but just the fact that Keating has to continually explain this situation just to keep Universal Music from getting the royalties owed to her is pretty crazy. On top of that, each time this happens, such funds are held until the conflict is resolved. For an indie musician, having such funds held can be a pretty big deal.
The whole situation seems pretty ridiculous all around.
Update: The situation has now been resolved, with Universal admitting -- yet again -- that it does not have any claim or rights to Keating's music. Separately, SoundExchange wanted to make clear that the "conflict" in data came from a (nameless) webcaster, who incorrectly listed Keating's music on their playlist as belonging to Universal Music. They insist that Universal had nothing to do with the actual claim. What's unclear is why SoundExchange relies on webcasters for the copyright holder info. I can understand getting a listing of songs and artists, but asking them to figure out who the label/copyright holder is seems like a situation that is going to turn up all sorts of bogus data, something that SoundExchange admits outright is "a challenge across the industry."
Separately, SoundExchange claims that they do not give preference to labels as I stated in my post. But in the letter sent to Keating on Monday, it states: "our policy is to give preference to repertoire that is claimed directly by a label. Therefore, if we haven't heard from you within 90 days, we will adjust the claim in favor of the new claimant." That certainly sounds like they would have given preference to Universal Music. If that's not the case, it seems like they should clarify the language in such emails.
Wed, Oct 19th 2011 9:39am
from the objective-research dept
According to Forskning.no, this lack of objectivity has led the games industry to inflate piracy numbers:(from the Google Translation)
These include an influential 2009 report, made by the U.S. trade association for game manufacturers, ESA. It is this which, according Drachen indicate that piracy is two to three times greater - depending on how the ESA press release is interpreted.To counteract this subjectivity, the researchers took a sampling of all commercial games from November 2010 to January 2011 and watched the activity of those games on BitTorrent and combined that information with other information on the games, such as genre and review scores. In all, they listed 173 games of interest, of which 127 were found on BitTorrent. Using this data, they came to the following conclusions:
The Danish researchers estimate that is 290 million games a year. In comparison indicates ESA figures that 600 million games pirate copies in a year, and because of uncertainties in the measurement method, which is highly secret, the American figures to be considerably larger, according Drachen.
- The majority of games they tracked had fewer than 50,000 unique peers observed on BitTorrent. At the same time, the 10 most popular games had a combined 5.37 million unique peers.
- 'Action' games made up the lion's share of BitTorrent activity, comprising 45.61% of unique peers in all. 'Role-Playing Games', of which only 10 were observed, accounted for 15.58% of unique peers. However, when they looked at individual games, 'Action' games were less popular than 'Racing', 'Role-Playing', and 'Simulation' games, comprising 0.95%, 1.6%, 1.43%, and 1.08% respectively.
- Aggregated review scores correlated positively with the number of unique peers. Meaning, the higher the MetaCritic score, the more unique peers will be found on BitTorrent.
- In all, observed about 12.6 million unique peers accessing the 127 games on BitTorrent.
This is a great first step in bringing objectivity into piracy debates. Hopefully, what will come of this is more interest in objective studies on piracy not just for games but also for other entertainment such as movies and music. The more information that is available will help content creators and distributors to make educated decisions on how to minimize the risk of piracy and better connect with their fans. Sadly, this study has made no headway on any of the major games industry news sites. One would hope that objectivity and quantifiable information would make for some interesting news.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Oct 19th 2011 8:18am
from the don't-let-that-happen dept
Let me go right to the question of the PROTECT IP Act... What this is, at its heart, is a question of whether one part of our economy -- the content sector -- can use government as a club to go after another part of our economy -- which is the innovation sector and everything that the internet represents.My only issue with this characterization is that it's a little broad. For example, Techdirt is, very much, a part of "the content sector." But we're quite worried about PROTECT IP. I recognize that the Senator was using shorthand, but it's helpful to distinguish the legacy content sector from the next generation content players who don't want to rely on the government to prop up our business models. Either way, the overall point is absolutely true, and it's too bad that almost no one else in Congress is willing to address the reality of the situation. It has everything to do with a small group of companies -- who are unwilling to adapt -- trying to lash out at the industries they need most.
The PROTECT IP, when you really strip it down, is about whether or not you're going to have arbitrary seizure of domains. Whether or not you're going to have these vague standards for going in and seizing a domain. And then, and something I think is particularly ominous, ceding a significant portion of the authority over the internet to private companies, in effect, allowing them to bring private rights of action.... This legislation, in its current form, would take a significant toll on both freedom and innovation. And particularly now, when the digital space is one of the most exciting parts of an economy, where we've had some tough times.The rest of the interview is equally interesting as well, touching on his efforts to make sure the 4th Amendment applies to the GPS info associated with your mobile phone, his efforts to press the Obama administration to reveal its secret interpretation of the PATRIOT Act, and a variety of other subjects that we talk about here all the time -- including the idea that people here need to pay attention to what our government is doing and speak out when lobbyists and politicians are trying to hold back civil liberties or innovation.
I know it feels like we mention Senator Wyden pretty frequently, but there are two reasons for that: (1) So much of the things he gets involved in are the issues that we normally discuss here and (2) he's one of the only people in Congress who seems to really be interested in these things. It's good to see him come to Silicon Valley and spread that message directly to folks here.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Oct 19th 2011 7:04am
from the political-maneuvering dept
However, while the existing law stands, it's a bit surprising to see that one Spanish court has gone completely in the other direction and found the operators of a couple sites to be guilty of criminal copyright infringement, for which they may face a year in jail, in addition to fines. The lawyer for one of the guys suggests that this ruling is a result of politics, not the law. It's hard not to think that way given how it appears to fly in the face of most other decisions in Spain. I would imagine that there's still going to be an appeal in the case before it's really settled.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Oct 19th 2011 4:59am
from the correlation-vs.-causation dept
At the end of last month, popular UAE footballer Theyab Awana was killed in a high speed crash near Abu Dhabi, and it was claimed that he was sending a message on his BlackBerry when he hit a lorry.That would suggest a pretty major third variable which likely distorts the impact of the Blackberry outage.
The football star's father, Awana Ahmad Al Mosabi, made an emotional plea to people not to use smartphones while driving, and a Facebook campaign against the use of BlackBerry Messenger while driving has grown in popularity.
by Glyn Moody
Wed, Oct 19th 2011 1:24am
Just How Open Are Open Consultations, If Only Big Companies Have The Resources To Answer The Questions?
from the if-you-need-to-ask-the-price-you-can't-afford-it dept
One of the important achievements of the open government movement in recent years has been a widening of consultations. Where before the only external input came from industry interest groups and their lobbyists, today the general public in many countries is invited to give its views on a range of proposed government policies. But is this just window-dressing?
That's what Chris Taggart, co-founder of OpenCorporates and founder of the UK local government site OpenlyLocal, wondered recently when he was preparing to participate in a UK government workshop about open data:
Yesterday I received an email from a Cabinet Office civil servant in preparation for a workshop tomorrow about the Open Data in Growth Review, and in it I was asked to provide:
Taggart's rhetorical question exposes the continuing bias in apparently open consultations that ask for detailed responses: only big companies with the people or resources to apply to such questions are taken seriously, which means that the views of the general public are once more discounted.
"an estimation of the impact of Open Data generally, or a specific data set, on UK economic growth… an estimation of the economic impact of open data on your business (perhaps in terms of increase in turnover or number of new jobs created) of Open Data or a specific data set, and where possible the UK economy as a whole"
"How many Treasury economists can I borrow to help me answer these questions? Seriously."
Because that’s the point. Like the faux Public Data Corporation consultation that refuses to allow the issue of governance to be addressed, this feels very much like a stitch-up. Who, apart from economists, or those large companies and organisations who employ economists, has the skill, tools, or ability to answer questions like that.
In fact, it's worse than that, since the actual figures produced by big companies – particularly those with a vested interest in preserving outdated copyright laws, say – often turn out to have no real basis in fact, as numerous previous Techdirt stories have shown. Large organizations can just use their size to lend an air of credibility to estimates that may be little better than some back of the envelope calculation.
Recognising this fact, Taggart decided to fight fire with fire by producing his own estimates that were pretty much jotted down on the back of an envelope. He also cleverly turned the question around, calculating not the positive impact of open data – something hypothetical and hence very hard to estimate – but the observed negative impact of closed data.
His calculations are surprisingly detailed (it must have been a big envelope), and are well-worth reading. His final figure? A loss of £17,850 million – around $28 billion – a year to the UK economy:
That, back of the envelope-wise, is what closed data is costing us, the loss through creating artificial scarcity by restricting public sector data to only those pay. Like narrowing an infinitely wide crossing to a small gate just so you can charge – hey, that’s an idea, why not put a toll booth on every bridge in London, that would raise some money – you can do it, but would that really be a good idea?
Just because consultations are open doesn't mean the submissions are representative.
And for those who say the figures are bunk, that I’ve picked them out of the air, not understood the economics, or simply made mistakes in the maths – well, you’re probably right. If you want me to do better give me those Treasury economists, and the resources to use them, or accept that you’re only getting the voice of those that do, and not innovative SMEs [small and medium enterprises], still less the Big Society [ordinary people].