by Mike Masnick
Mon, Oct 3rd 2011 11:04pm
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Oct 3rd 2011 8:07pm
from the too-late dept
by Michael Ho
Mon, Oct 3rd 2011 5:00pm
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
- If you want the subjects of your photos to look really small, take a picture of them next to a really big coin. Remember: it's not counterfeiting if you make coins the size of a coffee table... [url]
- Tilt-shift photographic effects can be created in a few different ways -- to fabricate images of a crowd of people, looking like ants. Someday this is what The Sims will look like. [url]
- If you think photography is easy, get ready to be mocked. If you like seeing photos with really bad composition and cheesy photoshop effects, youarenotaphotographer is the blog for you. [url]
- Who knew that photos of pregnant women could become an internet meme like planking? Thankfully, there don't seem to be any photos of pregnant women planking. [url]
- To discover more interesting photography-related content, check out what's currently floating around the StumbleUpon universe. [url] By the way, StumbleUpon can recommend some good Techdirt articles, too.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Oct 3rd 2011 3:55pm
from the thank-goodness-for-little-things dept
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Oct 3rd 2011 2:43pm
from the feeling-safer? dept
I told her that I was not comfortable with having my breasts touched and that I had a card in my wallet that explains the type of expanders, serial numbers and my doctor’s information (pictured) and asked to retrieve it. This request was denied. Instead, she called over a female supervisor who told me the exam had to take place. I was again told that I could not retrieve the card and needed to submit to a physical exam in order to be cleared. She then said, “And if we don’t clear you, you don’t fly” loud enough for other passengers to hear. And they did. And they stared at the bald woman being yelled at by a TSA Supervisor.As Dorn explains, "I have been through emotional and physical hell this past year due to breast cancer. The way I was treated by these TSA agents added a shitload of insult to injury and caused me a great deal of humiliation." In a separate interview with the NY Times, she notes that her breasts still hurt, and she was worried about the pain of the patdown, and that she was never offered the option of a patdown in a private area (as the TSA insists they grant). That article also contains a typical PR-laden response from the TSA:
To my further dismay, my belongings, including my computer, were completely out of sight. I had no choice but to allow an agent to touch my breasts in front of other passengers.
We strive to treat every passenger with dignity and respect. In this case, that may not have happened. During the screening process, if advanced imaging technology detects an anomaly that cannot be cleared, secondary screening is required to ensure the passenger does not have threat items, such as explosives concealed under clothing.Which, of course, brings to mind a simple question: does anyone actually have a positive experience dealing with the TSA patdowns?
All passengers may request private secondary screening. While an initial review indicates that proper screening procedures were followed, we regret that this passenger did not have a positive experience.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Oct 3rd 2011 1:44pm
What Does Japan Need To Do To Deal With The Aftermath Of The Devastating Earthquake? Apparently Pass ACTA!
from the say-what-now? dept
On the preceding day, Friday, September 30, an international symposium entitled, “Global Intellectual Property Strategy and the Reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake: Eliminating Counterfeit and Pirated Products through ACTA”, will be held in Sendai as a side event of the signing ceremony.By now this has already happened, and we haven't seen any info about it, but, seriously? What does the Great East Japan Earthquake have to do with intellectual property at all? And is Japan really suggesting that ACTA plays some sort of role in rebuilding Japan? Perhaps ACTA supporters and their efforts to keep any outside influence away from the negotiators has gone to their head, such that they think they can say any insane thing and people won't notice.
Mon, Oct 3rd 2011 12:28pm
from the pirates-unite dept
John Goodale, Unity's general manager of Asia, told Edge that Unity has seen a 258.7% growth in revenue in Asia over the last year. He puts much of this growth down to piracy of the Unity3D development platform.
How can it possibly make money from people "stealing" its products? It does so by selling additional content to the users whether legit or not.
It's not talked about often, but we have a product called Asset Server that allows large teams to share assets more effectively, and according to the sales reports that I get we sell far more Asset Server in Asia than we do in the west.As far as I can tell, Unity is looking at those who pirate its software in much the same way it looks at those who download the free version of the software, as customers. Goodale explains the flexibility he has been given in reaching out to the Asian market is the primary driver of this success:
Throughout my 25 years of doing business in Asia, I've seen very few companies be so dedicated to that region, or give me the flexibility and tools that I need to be successful. And as a result, I am just having way too much fun!I really hope this line of thinking grows and penetrates the games industry even deeper. It is something I have argued and debated multiple times on games industry news sites and blogs. There are many people who feel the same way and many more who are dead set on treating piracy as a criminal offense. I don't blame them for the way the feel as it is their livelihood at stake. Yet, I can't understand their desire to hold onto an ideal that in the long run will fail -- especially when there are so many examples, like this one, of a company discovering it can make more money by adapting, rather than by trying to stop infringement.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Oct 3rd 2011 11:28am
from the a-well-thought-out-shakedown dept
There are various interesting things in the article worth commenting on. First is the smaller settlements/making it up in volume technique. While its initial lawsuits against coffee shops and restaurants did focus on the central corporations, with the hotels, Innovatio appears to be focusing on individual franchisees. Yes, the small businesses who own individual hotels and probably have no idea how to deal with a patent infringement lawsuit -- all because they dared to offer WiFi somewhere in their hotels. To make it "easy" of course, Innovatio's lawyers will let them settle for between $2,300 and $5,000. In almost every case, that's going to be cheaper than hiring a lawyer to just get started dealing with this -- which I'm sure is exactly what Innovatio intends.
The company is represented by the infamous law firm of Niro, Haller & Niro, which is the firm that originally inspired the term "patent troll." The lawyer representing the company, Matthew McAndrews, seems to imply that the company believes the patents cover everyone who has a home WiFi setup, but they don't plan to go after such folks right now, for "strategic" reasons:
"Innovatio has made a strategic and business judgment at this stage that it doesn’t intend to pursue [lawsuits on the basis of] residential use of WiFi," McAndrews said during a phone conversation last week.And while that certainly could change, you may be relieved (or probably not) to learn that McAndrews does not "perceive" such a "strategic" decision will change. However, later in the article, he seems to indicate otherwise:
Ultimately, he said, Innovatio’s "plan is to license this portfolio to the fullest extent possible. That would include anyone who's wireless networking."And then there's this:
"We want you to continue to use this technology, we just want our client to get his due share,” McAndrews said. “This is not a seat-of-the-pants, fly-by-night shakedown."I guess he means this is a well-planned, well-financed shakedown that's going to stick around for a while. Lovely.
At least there is some firepower arguing against Innovatio. After its first round of lawsuits, Motorola and Cisco went to court, asking for a declaratory judgment that its WiFi products do not infringe... and that Innovatio's patents are invalid. Hopefully that comes to pass or WiFi may get a hell of a lot more expensive.
by Glyn Moody
Mon, Oct 3rd 2011 10:31am
German Politician Who Wanted Two-Strike Copyright Law Should Disconnect Himself After Multiple Infringements Found
from the do-as-i-say-not-as-i-do dept
To be fair, the copying is not always exact. For example, in the US, major ISPs have agreed to a “five/six strikes” plan, depending on how you count. More recently, a German politician called Siegfried Kauder has proposed a “two-strikes” law. After just one accusation from rightsholders, there's a warning; after two accusations, you'd be disconnected from the Internet for three weeks – without any need for a court order (link to German news story).
But this being the Internet age, a supporter of the German Pirate Party, Alexander Double, decided to check out Kauder's digital presence. To his amusement, he found several pictures on Kauder's official web site that seemed to have come from somewhere else. For example, the top right-hand picture on this page uses a picture from Panoramio, but with the EXIF data of the latter stripped out in the former.
After Double raised this issue in a blog post, those pictures were no longer visible on Kauder's site (the link above goes to an archive copy on the Wayback Machine to show the original state). In explanation, Kauder tried to turn things to his advantage, telling the German magazine Der Spiegel:
"Ich bin denen dankbar, die mir Gelegenheit gegeben haben zu zeigen, dass das Warnmodell funktionieren kann. Ich wurde auf die Verwendung von zwei Lichtbildern auf meiner Homepage aufmerksam gemacht, die urheberrechtlich geschützt sind. Die Fotos sind entfernt. Also: Das Warnmodell funktioniert."or, roughly translated:
"I'm grateful to those who have given me the opportunity to show that the warning model can work. I was made aware of two photos on my Homepage that were protected by copyright. The photos have been removed. So the warning model works."End of the story, you might have thought: he seems to admit that he shouldn't have used them but, as he says, the notice he received ensured that they were removed from his site.
But as people continued digging into that site, they found that some of the images were still there on the server, just not visible. Moreover, there were other photos that seemed to have come from elsewhere – for example, the left-hand part of the home page's banner image looks like it was borrowed from here. As Alexander Double pointed out, that makes *two strikes* in all: if Kauder's law had been in force, his Internet connection would be cut off for three weeks, no judge required.
This entertaining saga shows a number of things. That, once more, the politicians most keen to bring in severe laws against copyright infringement – indeed, against just alleged copyright infringement – themselves often break them. And even if this happened by accident, it goes to show just how easy it is for people to break the law without realizing it; and yet that would presumably not be admitted as a defense. It also shows that Kauder's "warning" system doesn't work: he was warned, and removed some images, but left others that appear to infringe.
Even Kauder's colleagues in the pro-copyright CDU are distancing themselves from what are being called “Kauder-Strikes” (with the follow-on scandal about the unauthorized images being dubbed “Kaudergate”). Here's what the politician Peter Altmaier tweeted:
Kauder-Strikes geht gar nicht: Wer Bücher klaut ist kriminell, aber man nimmt ihm nicht die Lesebrille weg.That is:
Kauder-Strikes are just not on. Someone who steals a book may be a criminal, but we don't take away their reading glasses.And yet that is precisely what the “three strike” laws and their variants around the world are trying to do.
Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and on Google+
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Oct 3rd 2011 9:30am
from the i-find-this-offensive dept
In the past, lawmakers pushing these laws have tended to simply ignore the First Amendment issue, and focus on screaming "protect the children!" as loudly as possible (never mind the fact that kids seem much less concerned about "bullying" than all these adults seem to think). However, it appears that some state Senators in NY are trying a new line of attack: going directly after the First Amendment and suggesting that current interpretations are way too broad, and it's not really meant to protect any sort of free speech right. In fact, it sounds as though they're trying to redefine the right to free speech into a privilege that can be taken away. Seriously:
Proponents of a more refined First Amendment argue that this freedom should be treated not as a right but as a privilege — a special entitlement granted by the state on a conditional basis that can be revoked if it is ever abused or maltreated.Yes, that totally flips the First Amendment on its head. It is not a "more refined First Amendment." It's the anti-First Amendment. It suggests, by its very nature, that the government possesses the right to grant the "privilege" of free speech to citizens... and thus the right to revoke it. That's an astonishingly dangerous path, and one that should not be taken seriously. Of course, given their right to speak freely, state senators Jeff Klein, Diane Savino, David Carlucci and David Valesky have every right to put forth that argument -- but similarly, it allows others to point out their rather scary beliefs.
If you'd like to see the full report (pdf), I warn you that it is almost entirely written IN ALL CAPS (for no clear reason, there are a few chunks that revert to normal capitalization -- including a big chunk in the middle, that starts mid-section). I have no idea why so much of the paper is in ALL CAPS, but I'm kind of offended by it. Can we please remove their "privilege" to put out such things until they've learned to not maltreat capital letters?
The paper attempts to list out various examples of types of cyberstalking and cyberbullying -- some of which seem pretty ridiculous:
LEAVING IMPROPER MESSAGES ON ONLINE MESSAGE BOARDS OR SENDING HURTFUL AND DAMAGING MESSAGES TO OTHERS;"Improper"? Seem a little broad to you? Does that mean the next person who comments here about something off-topic is a cyberbully?
“FLAMING” (HURTFUL, CRUEL, AND OFTENTIMES INTIMIDATING MESSAGES INTENDED TO INFLAME, INSIGHT, OR ENRAGE);Whoo boy. An awful lot of you in the comments better watch out...
“HAPPY SLAPPING” (RECORDING PHYSICAL ASSAULTS ON MOBILE PHONES OR DIGITAL CAMERAS, THEN DISTRIBUTING THEM TO OTHERS);Holy crap. 2005 wants its silly "crazy children" meme back. Yes, there were a few instances of this extremely brief "fad" that came and went in like a month half a decade ago. Then the next internet meme came along.
"TROLLING” (DELIBERATELY AND DECEITFULLY POSTING INFORMATION TO ENTICE GENUINELY HELPFUL PEOPLE TO RESPOND (OFTEN EMOTIONALLY), OFTEN DONE TO PROVOKE OTHERS);Ooh, once again. Commenters beware.
EXCLUSION (INTENTIONALLY AND CRUELLY EXCLUDING SOMEONE FROM AN ONLINE GROUP).Seriously? If we don't let you into the club, it's now a form of cyberbullying? It makes you wonder what happened to these particular Senators when they were kids.
The paper also attacks "anonymity," again ignoring how anonymity can often be extremely helpful to kids who wish to discuss things and ask questions without revealing who they are.
As for where they're going with this? Well, you guessed it: they're planning to introduce new laws to deal with cyberbullying (even though NY already has such a law). The plan is to extend two existing areas of law: "stalking in the third degree" will now include cyberbullying, and "manslaughter in the second degree" will be expanded to "include the emerging problem of bullycide."
This is basically a "Lori Drew" law. And it's ridiculous. If I say something to someone and they then go commit suicide, should I be guilty of manslaughter? Do the folks behind this not realize that this doesn't help prevent suicides, but it encourages them in giving people who are upset by something someone said extra incentive to kill themselves to "get back" at the person who was mean to them.
The cyberstalking part is no less ridiculous. It's ridiculously broad. It does not require that the person accused of cyberstalking initiate the activity, it does not require intent to harm or frighten, and a single message can be a cause of action. Think about that for a second. Someone could send you a message, you could do a single reply with no ill will or bad intent... and be guilty of the crime of cyberstalking. Damn. Do the folks writing this bill not realize how widely this will be abused?
Hopefully no one is so offended in reading such a dangerous proposal that they go out and commit suicide. At least be comforted in knowing that it won't allow for the authors to be accused of manslaughter until after the bill passes.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Oct 3rd 2011 8:27am
from the just-admit-he-screwed-up dept
The NYPD Deputy Inspector Roy Richter, who is basically Bologna's "union representative" is defending Bologna's actions thusly:
“Deputy Inspector Bologna's actions that day were motivated by his concern for the safety of officers under his command and the safety of the public. The limited use of pepper spray effectively restored order without any escalation of force or serious injury to either demonstrator or police officer.”Someone else at the police department had another cover story:
A law enforcement official familiar with Inspector Bologna’s account of what occurred, however, said he was not aiming at the four women who appeared in videos to have sustained the brunt of the spray. Rather, he was trying to spray some men who he believed were pushing up against officers and causing a confrontation that put officers at risk of injury, the official said.Given how many videos of the scene and surrounding areas have been shown, it's amazing anyone can claim that with a straight face. There was no indication of these "others." There was no indication of any attempt to arrest others near the women. If Bologna was aiming at these mythical men, he's a terrible shot, because he hit those women he wasn't aiming for point blank.
"The intention was to place them under arrest, but they fled," the official said.
In the meantime, the folks at USLaw.com remind us that Bologna wasn't the only police officer using random "escalation" techniques. They point out this video of an NYPD officer purposely tripping a protester who already appeared to be in the control of multiple officers. Of course, the act of tripping the guy makes it look like he's trying to resist arrest.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Oct 3rd 2011 7:21am
from the of-course-they-did dept
The US, of course, was not the only one to sign -- and not the only one to recognize that ACTA is inconsistent with local laws, despite promises to the contrary. Canada signed as well, and used it to say that Canada now needs to implement more copyright reform to keep Canada in line with the treaty:
Fast’s office said the government still needs to create and pass legislation to implement the anti-counterfeiting agreement in Canada.Funny, since all along we kept hearing how ACTA wasn't about changing laws in various countries, but just coming to agreements on how enforcement would be carried out. In fact, when criticized about ACTA, the former Canadian Minister of Industry insisted that ACTA would not require changing Canadian law. Amazing that the Canadian government admits that this was false the day they sign it.
Another signatory? Why, New Zealand, of course. Last year, New Zealand (which already recently changed its copyright laws) said that it didn't foresee any changes to copyright law because of ACTA. And yet... now the New Zealand government admits that changes will be needed to local copyright law before the treaty is ratified.
Singapore, Australia, South Korea, Japan (of course) and Morocco also all signed on. Australia's and New Zealand's signings don't mean quite as much, as their legislatures need to ratify the agreement (the part the US is trying to skip).
Not surprisingly, the RIAA put out a ridiculous statement "saluting" the "will" of ACTA negotiators to complete ACTA. Yeah. The will to continue to hide the agreement from public scrutiny until it was "done" and no changes were allowed? The "will" to pretend that it's an "executive agreement" rather than a treaty, as per the Constitution? The "will" to insist that ACTA is consistent with domestic laws when it's not? Sorry. That's not worth saluting. That's worth not being allowed to participate in these kinds of negotiations any more.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Oct 3rd 2011 5:20am
from the transparency? dept
A democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency. As Justice Louis Brandeis wrote, "sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants." In our democracy, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which encourages accountability through transparency, is the most prominent expression of a profound national commitment to ensuring an open Government. At the heart of that commitment is the idea that accountability is in the interest of the Government and the citizenry alike.Seems pretty straightforward and certainly sounded like a refreshing change from the ridiculously secret previous administration who hated to share anything if it could avoid it. Unfortunately, it appears that this Day One move was nothing but smoke and mirrors. The current administration has been dreadful about responding to FOIA requests.
The Freedom of Information Act should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails. The Government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears. Nondisclosure should never be based on an effort to protect the personal interests of Government officials at the expense of those they are supposed to serve. In responding to requests under the FOIA, executive branch agencies (agencies) should act promptly and in a spirit of cooperation, recognizing that such agencies are servants of the public.
A new lawsuit highlights just how ridiculous things have become. The EFF has sued the government after the administration refused a FOIA request to reveal who is on the Intelligence Oversight Board, which is a "presidentially appointed, civilian panel in charge of reviewing all misconduct reports for American intelligence agencies." Only problem? In three years in office President Obama has not named a single appointment to the Board. The EFF wanted to find out who's actually handling the duties of the IOB... and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) simply failed to turn over the info.
The EFF had filed a request to expedite the FOIA request with the original request on February 15th, which was denied on February 17th. They then appealed the denial on February 28th... and have heard nothing since then concerning either the appeal or the content requested about the IOB. Remember, the standard response time for a FOIA request is 20 days, and we're talking months of nothing.
What happened to "A democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency"?
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Oct 3rd 2011 3:01am
from the well,-duh dept
Because of the conflicts between what Hulu management (who do seem pretty clued in) and their ownership wanted to do with the company, Hulu was recently put up for sale. But, now it's coming out that the bids Hulu is receiving are much lower than the owners want -- and it's because they've made it clear they plan to cut off all free content from Hulu:
But the bidders all figured out pretty quickly that the TV companies who own Hulu now want to phase out free ad-supported content completely. So as soon as the current set of Hulu contracts expire in a couple of years, it would be back to the negotiating table.Because of that, no one was willing to bid over $2 billion -- and the TV guys (of course) think it's worth a lot more than that, even as they're trying to kill it. Well, one exception: apparently Google was willing to pay closer to $4 billion... but it would only do that under certain conditions (which likely involve getting the TV guys to renew/guarantee future deals). So congrats, backwards looking TV guys, not only are you killing Hulu, you're killing the goodwill you build up via the company so you can't even cash out on that.