by Mike Masnick
Fri, May 2nd 2014 7:39pm
by Mike Masnick
Fri, May 2nd 2014 6:37pm
Second Apple v. Samsung Patent Trial Ends With A Partial Victory For Apple, But Far From What It Wanted
from the fizzled-out dept
While Apple "won" this trial, Apple simply lost on damages. There's the best way to describe a number that's such a low proportion of what it was seeking.Now, can we go back to actually competing in the marketplace? Eh, doubtful. This isn't over yet.
From the trial's very beginning, Apple lawyers said that the whole purpose of Samsung presenting two patents of its own and asking for the "small" sum of $6 million was a cynical one: to convince the jurors that patents aren't worth that much.
If that was Samsung's goal—today's verdict is "mission accomplished." Considering litigation at this level is something of a war of attrition; Samsung has shown that it can basically fight Apple to a standstill. It's doubtful that $120 million would cover Apple's legal bill for even this litigation, much less the whole worldwide patent war it launched.
by Tim Cushing
Fri, May 2nd 2014 5:34pm
from the despite-all-these-efforts,-still-rather-reviled dept
Vigilant, one of the nation's largest automatic license plate reader (ALPR) contractors, is trying to keep its public image as untarnished as possible. At this point, Vigilant has nearly 2 billion license plate records stored in its databases, which can be accessed by hundreds of law enforcement agencies.
Very recently, Vigilant took the state of Utah to court for violating its First Amendment right to take pictures and make money (photography/Citizens United, for those trying to keep score) by not allowing it to set up shop within its borders. As that news surfaced, so did a press release from the ALPR contractor which featured glowing comments from law enforcement officers who claimed the database helped track down bad guys (the baddest of the bad, too -- pedophiles) and did nothing more than anyone with a camera could do -- take photos of license plates.
Now, it has issued a very questionable poll that claims its technology has widespread support from the American public.
The survey asked seven questions, the first of which was the following: "In your opinion has license plate recognition—the ability for law enforcement to take photographs of license plates with a data and time stamp—helped to solve crimes?"That bit of exclusionary math notwithstanding (6-4 would be more accurate), it's not clear whether many of the respondents even knew what a license plate reader was or how much data these readers are capable of collecting (up to 60 plates per minute). The respondents may also have been unaware that the plate readers collect far more than photos of license plates. They also collect time/date/location data. So, when those polled responded to the following question, they may not have had any idea how easily the supposedly-innocuous ALPRs can connect a person with a license plate.
The results showed that 62 percent of respondents said yes, 10 percent said no, and 29 percent said they were unsure. What conclusion did Vigilant and Zogby draw from this result? It touted that "by a 6-1 margin, Californians say that license plate recognition technology helps police solve crimes."
The survey also asked: "Do you agree or disagree that license plates reveal nothing about me. People who see my license plate cannot determine my name or where I live."There's some iffy wording here as well -- the polling company provided no information that shows just how many agencies and entities have access to Vigilant's LPR databases along with access to other driver data from other locations, all of which is linked by license plate numbers. Even without this information, the margin of "victory" for Vigilant is slim: 54% to 46%. But Vigilant has used this flawed poll to claim that Californians support the use of LPRs.
Roughly 24 percent of respondents said that they strongly agree; 30 percent somewhat agree; 21 percent somewhat disagree; 17 percent strongly disagree and 8 percent were not sure.
But that's not the only way Vigilant is trying to maintain a positive PR front. The other aspect is more insidious than a small sampling of Californians answering badly-worded questions.
Vigilant Solutions, founded in 2009, claims to have the nation’s largest repository of license-plate images with nearly 2 billion records stored in its National Vehicle Location Service (NVLS). Despite the enormous implications of the database for the public, any law enforcement agency that signs up for the service is sworn to a vow of silence by the company’s terms of service.Vigilant isn't the only manufacturer of law enforcement surveillance/tracking technology to try to keep cops from talking about their shiny new tools. As you'll recall, Harris, manufacturer of the cell tower spoofer called the Stingray, made law enforcement agencies sign the same sort of non-disclosure agreement at the time of sale, one that also prohibited disclosure to not just the media, but to other government agencies as well. This worked out well for law enforcement officers, giving them a reason to skip seeking warrants… right up until all of this was made very public by a court battle.
Vigilant is clear about the reason for the secrecy: it’s to prevent customers from “cooperating” with media and calling attention to its database.
Here's the actual wording in Vigilant's contract, as uncovered by the EFF:
You shall not create, publish, distribute, or permit any written, electronically transmitted or other form of publicity material that makes reference to LEARN [Law Enforcement Archival and Reporting Network] or this Agreement without first submitting the material to LEARN-NVLS and receiving written consent from LEARN-NVLS. This prohibition is specifically intended to prohibit users from cooperating with any media outlet to bring attention to LEARN or LEARN-NVLS. Breach this provision may result in LEARN-NVLS immediately termination of this Agreement upon notice to you [sic].Vigilant knows the public would undoubtedly have issues with its multi-billion license plate collection and the fact that several hundred thousand new records are being generated every day. If it had any belief in its product's ability to instill public confidence it wouldn't be suing states, publishing questionable polls and swearing those with inside knowledge to secrecy. Update: After these terms became public, Vigilant has now updated the terms to make them slightly less crazy...
Law enforcement agencies know this as well, but have been willing to let their silence speak volumes. In most cases, technology like that provided by Harris and Vigilant goes into service well before the public even hears about it. Only when it's exposed are any moves made to introduce privacy protections, minimization procedures or anything else that should have been present before the tech hit the streets.
The ultimate hypocrisy of it all is that both Vigilant and law enforcement agencies defend the mass capture of license plate/location data as just gathering publicly-available information. But when it comes to their info, everything's a secret, enforced by contract if necessary. Then they go even further and claim the public information gathered is private and can't be released, even to the owner of the license plates captured. It's a one-way street of data that's disingenuous, dishonest and, above all, an insult to the very public these agencies are meant to serve.
by Michael Ho
Fri, May 2nd 2014 5:00pm
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
- Imagine a water bottle that filled itself by condensing water vapor from the air. A prototype bottle could fill itself at a rate as fast as 3 liters per hour, and this bottle mimics the Namib Desert beetle's ability to harvest moisture in the desert. [url]
- If you don't want to waste a lot of money on expensive bottled mineral water, you can try to make your own mineral water by mixing various metal salts with purified water. If you're not that picky, you can even start with tap water and adjust your recipe accordingly. [url]
- If you're against the idea of plastic water bottles filling up landfills, someday you might be consuming blobs of water contained in an edible membrane made from brown algae. The Ooho water container is biodegradable, costs about 2 cents per blob, and looks like it could be a useful in an impromptu water balloon fight. [url]
by Mike Masnick
Fri, May 2nd 2014 3:35pm
It's All Fun And Virtual Reality Until Oculus Gets Bought For $2 Billion -- Then ZeniMax Wants Its Cut
from the fun-of-employment-agreements dept
Carmack, in response to this has noted that no work he did has been patented, and while ZeniMax may own his code, they can't claim to own the concept of virtual reality. This may not come down to patents (or copyright). It may come down to the terms of Carmack's employment agreement. As lots of developers know, it's not uncommon for some companies to have ridiculously overbroad employment agreements that try to claim the rights to basically any concept you ever thought about while you work for them.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, May 2nd 2014 2:22pm
from the this-is-a-problem dept
Recently, AGCOM decided to exercise its new power, issuing its first administrative blocking injunction against a site called Cineblog01 -- meaning that ISPs in Italy need to block users from accessing the site. Now, it does appear that the site was linking and/or embedding certain films that may have been infringing. But there are still serious problems with the injunction. IPKat, who wrote about this, details three fairly serious problems with the way that AGCOM handled this.
- AGCOM declared the site guilty of "massive infringement" based on having just eleven movies. That seems like a ridiculously low threshold. Under such a threshold nearly any user-generated content site might be declared as engaging in "massive infringement."
- Much is made of the claim that AGCOM tried to reach the operator of the site. They are required to try to communicate with the "website manager." Since the operators of the site used a privacy guard feature from their Panamanian registrar for their Whois entry, AGCOM basically just reached out to that Panamanian registrar, and when there was no response, concluded that the site's operators were ignoring the requests. While we can argue over whether or not the site should have provided a better means to communicate, it still seems fairly weak to argue that sending an email to a third party like that constitutes true notification of the complaint.
- Third, and most importantly, IPKat checked out the site and the eleven movies in question... and found that they all had been removed already. In other words, it seems fairly clear the site was perfectly amenable to a standard notice-and-takedown type of system, but AGCOM went all in and ordered the entire site blocked.
Fri, May 2nd 2014 1:20pm
from the you're-not-helping dept
Prostitution, they say, is the oldest of professions, which sort of has to be bullshit, because if selling sex was the first job ever, how could anyone ever pay for the sex? But I digress. Even if it isn't the oldest profession, it certainly has a grand tradition of being used to whip up moral panics, such as when Congress freaked the hell out when they discovered, gasp, prostitutes can use Twitter! Who'd have thought? (Doesn't syphilis make your thumbs fall off or something?) In any case, we've also recently seen that some police departments mistakenly believe that they too should be peddling themselves on social media, never mind how little they think through their campaigns.
But where prostitution and police using social media intersect results in the really terrible idea one Maryland department had to live-tweet/blog police prostitution stings. From the department's own blog:
We won't tell you when or where, other than it's somewhere in the county sometime next week. The PGPD's Vice Unit will conduct a prostitution sting that targets those soliciting prostitutes and we'll tweet it out as it happens. From the ads to the arrests, we'll show you how the PGPD is battling the oldest profession. Suspect photos and information will be tweeted. We're using this progressive, and what we believe unprecedented, social media tactic to warn any potential participants that this type of criminal behavior is not welcome in Prince George's County. You can follow @PGPDNews and search #PGPDVice as we take you along for the takedowns.Prostitution is undoubtedly a complex subject, but one where many people feel that a hardline legal approach to it is inappropriate. In some places in this country, it isn't even illegal. Where it still is illegal, many social workers will advocate a softer approach than shaming the hell out of everyone and throwing the book at hookers. That's what we've been doing all this time, after all, and it hasn't fixed a damned thing.
Also, police departments are not in the damned entertainment business. That last line on their post, about taking the public along "for the takedowns"? Screw them. Do your jobs, make things as safe as you possibly can, and leave the entertaining to the professionals. Posting names, never mind pictures, directly from the police of the accused is not fun, it isn't entertaining, and it sure as hell ain't justice. And I'm not the only one that thinks so.
But they then decided it was a good idea to live-tweet the sting as it was happening — which would include taking photos of suspects and posting them on Twitter — using the hashtag #PGPDVice. It's mystifying that the police would think that live-tweeting a sting would get them any good publicity. After all, it was just last week that the New York Police Department saw its attempt at Twitter outreach go terribly, when they tried to start the hashtag #myNYPD to get pictures of people hanging out with the cops and instead got inundated with stories of people who had been targeted by stop-and-frisk and racial profiling.If you must attack prostitutes and their johns, at least try to keep a bit of the dignity of your profession while you're at it. You keep policing everyone, and I'll handle the entertainment bit.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, May 2nd 2014 12:16pm
Quentin Tarantino Tries, Tries Again Against Gawker: Claims Direct Infringement Because Gawker Knew Page Numbers
from the interesting-theories dept
On January 23, 2014, after Gawker obtained the Screenplay Download URL in response to its request for leak of an unauthorized infringing copy of the Screenplay, Gawker itself illegally downloaded to its computers an unauthorized infringing PDF copy of the Screenplay -- read it and learned that the PDF download document was 146 pages -- directly infringing Tarantino’s copyright.Tarantino also claims that they induced the person who uploaded the screenplay to AnonFiles to do so and that Gawker's reporters "fabricated a story" about how the document had been made publicly available. It's not clear how Tarantino or his lawyers could possibly know that. Either way, the lawsuit remains quite a stretch -- and certainly could create serious problems for other journalists if the theories that Tarantino is presenting are considered valid copyright infringement.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, May 2nd 2014 11:23am
Dutch Student Sued By Kanye West Over Coinye Rejects Kanye's Settlement Offers; Prepares Countersuit
from the picking-a-fight-with-someone-who-has-nothing-to-lose dept
In March, West's lawyers racked up some more billable hours by amending the complaint with some actual names including a Dutch student named Robbie Hontelé -- who had, at times, acted as a sort of spokesperson for COINYE-exchanges. Hontelé responded to the lawsuit a few weeks ago with a short video where this student with "no money for lawyers" does a pretty good job (even admitting he's not a native English speaker, and never been to the US) outlining how the lawsuit is bogus:
West's lawyers apparently realized that it was a mistake to go after Hontelé, so they sent him a "settlement" offer -- in which he'd agree to a somewhat broad "permanent injunction" basically barring him from ever having anything to do with anything related to Kanye West or Coinye. This injunction includes saying he can't even use a website that makes use of the Kanye West trademark or mentions Coinye (even legally). It appears he would be violating the injunction if he so much as read a blog about Kanye West or Coinye. He'd also be barred from having anything to do with any currency that ever bore the likeness of Kanye -- even if he had nothing to do with adding Kanye's likeness (so, say he bought some Dogecoin, and someone totally unrelated to him made a Dogecoin image with Kanye on it, he could be breaking the injunction). There was much more in the injunction, but it was way overbroad. Yes, they would agree to "settle" the lawsuit, but basically, even though Hontelé hadn't really done anything wrong, they were going to bar him from all sorts of perfectly reasonable activity.
In response, Hontelé has shared with us his response to West's lawyers, in which he turns down their request -- and notes that he is intending to file a countersuit in the Netherlands for damaging his reputation.
Dear sir/madam,I certainly don't know nearly enough about Dutch law to know if such a suit is likely to succeed, but it really seems like maybe Kanye West's expensive Manhattan lawyers could have done a better job "protecting" their client by just ignoring a silly little thing like Coinye.
In response to your request to settle I am writing you this message.
Thank you for your offer; unfortunately I am not able to sign your offer. As stated before I do not have the money to hire a lawyer with knowledge of American law. I therefore have not been able to get proper counsel on what the consequences of this agreement could be. Aside from that: I feel that signing any offer to settle would imply guilt.
I am confident that when this goes to trial in the Netherlands the judge will rule in favour of me. I feel obligated to let you know that I am planning to file a counter-suit against Kanye West / Mascotte Holdings for damaging my good name. I am available to talk about a settlement on that front, as I have not made any considerable legal costs in that matter.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, May 2nd 2014 10:16am
Court Tells Ex-Wife Of Husband Who Killed Himself To Use Copyright To Delete Anything He Ever Wrote Online
from the that's-not-what-copyright-is-for dept
It appears that, back in March, a judge put Dina Mackney in charge of Chris Mackney's estate. Given the rancorous divorce proceedings and the eventual suicide, this doesn't seem even remotely appropriate. Then, around the same time, a judge in a Virginia court basically issued a court order telling Dina Mackney to go ahead and seek to use those powers to basically censor a whole bunch of what Chris Mackney had to say online.
ORDERED AND DECREED that Petitioner shall have the legal authority to take any reasonable action necessary to access, remove and destroy any web postings, to require that websites be taken down and/or otherwise dispose of intangible property including but not limited to information that the deceased has posted online on any website or social media account including, but not limited to material located at the following domain names:After that is a long list of domain names, including various blogs that have discussed the Chris Mackney story, but also a broad swath of other sites, including all of Google (specifically calling out Google Docs and Google Drive -- where Mackney had posted many documents, including news articles that he believed supported his position), Facebook (where Mackney had originally posted his intent to commit suicide), Scribd, Reddit, Wikipedia and many more. Some of the links include sites where Mackney had previously commented on blog stories or other discussion groups.
The order goes on to basically tell Dina Mackney that she can seek to delete all evidence of her husband existing online at all:
... and to wind down and remove any website posts or other online activity by the decedent at such time and in such direction as the Administrator may deem appropriate, it being the intent that this Order shall apply to any online activity by the decedent during his lifetime.Again, even while being conscious of the legitimate privacy concerns raised by the situation, this is immensely troubling on multiple levels. First, the idea here is clearly to use copyright as a tool to delete Chris Mackney's online existence entirely. And, indeed, while the lawyer raises other arguments (including privacy and defamation), the letters (and I've seen about half a dozen at this point) all lead with the copyright claim, citing the DMCA's notice-and-takedown provisions. Here's one example.
Second, while some of the reposted content may raise certain issues, the content that Mackney himself posted to various sites clearly is not infringing. When he posted it to those sites, he almost certainly granted those sites a perpetual license to post that content. To after-the-fact claim copyright on it is bizarre and ridiculous. For much of the other content, Mackney himself clearly was granting an implicit license for the content to be shared (and sometimes shared widely). There may be legitimate reasons why that content should not be shared, but copyright infringement is clearly not one of those -- and that's what it's being used for here, not just for the content that may legitimately go too far from a privacy standpoint, but for everything Chris Mackney has ever posted online.
It's difficult to see how that's appropriate in any situation, even if we were dealing with a loving widow after decades of a happy marriage, let alone the opposing partner in a bitter divorce battle (no matter whose arguments in the divorce made more sense). The situation here is certainly messy, but using copyright to basically try to delete Chris Mackney's entire online presence appears to be a massive overreach of copyright law.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, May 2nd 2014 9:09am
from the killing-innovation dept
But, the Postmaster General basically did everything possible to kill it. You really should read the full story, but it involves the Postmaster General calling Outbox's founders into his office. They thought that it might be about an opportunity to work together to provide the American public a much better service. But it wasn't:
When Evan and Will got called in to meet with the Postmaster General they were joined by the USPS's General Counsel and Chief of Digital Strategy. But instead, Evan recounts that US Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe "looked at us and said 'we have a misunderstanding. ‘You disrupt my service and we will never work with you.'" Further, "You mentioned making the service better for our customers; but the American citizens aren't our customers—about 400 junk mailers are our customers. Your service hurts our ability to serve those customers."While the USPS would not directly confirm this exchange (it also did not deny it), it did send Khanna a statement that pretty much confirms it, even if it tried to spin the way they explained it:
According to Evan, the Chief of Digital Strategy's comments were even more stark, "[Your market model] will never work anyway. Digital is a fad. It will only work in Europe."
The Postal Service is focused on providing an essential service in our mission to serve the American public and does not view Outbox as supporting that mission. We do have concerns regarding the destruction of mail—even if authorized by the receiver—and will continue to monitor market activities to ensure protection of our brand and the value and security of the mail.Khanna asked if any users had actually complained about signing up for Outbox and somehow having the "security of their mail" harmed. The USPS did not answer. Khanna also asked why the USPS wouldn't even give Outbox the option of continuing its service if they didn't "destroy" the physical mail. The USPS did not answer.
This story is shameful, but not unique. We see it all the time, though it's rare that politicians are so direct in admitting their real motives (though, as we've seen, some others have done so recently as well). But this is the constant struggle of disruption and innovation. Incumbents with business models that don't serve the public, don't look to make a better product. Rather they look for political ways to restrict competition and block innovation. The USPS destroying Outbox is just one in a long line of depressing examples.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, May 2nd 2014 7:47am
from the how-to-be-totally-uninformed dept
First, he pulls the trick we discussed recently in which he pretends that complying with the law is somehow circumventing the law. Then he does that thing where he completely hand-waves away the claim that a ruling against Aereo won't impact cloud computing, by just insisting that they're different, without bothering to deal with (as many of the Justices pointed out in the oral arguments) that there's a real problem with declaring Aereo a public performance, as there's no clear way to distinguish it from cloud computing.
But the real problem with Katyal's reasoning is the "but if they were serious they could just get licenses" argument:
Licensed services like Netflix, Amazon and iTunes play by the rules, and that means their services are not at issue here. In fact, these services provide concrete evidence that refutes Aereo's vague threats about "innovation" writ large. These services developed because of licensing – not despite it. And they continue to thrive today, to the benefit of the public and copyright holders alike, because they deliver something valuable to consumers – not just a way to circumvent the law.Except that nearly everything above is misleading to inaccurate (sometimes in the extreme). Aereo plays by the rules too -- the rules that allow people to time shift and place shift over the air broadcasting, which is provided for free to the public, supported by advertising (and an enormous grant of free spectrum to the broadcasters from the public, supposedly for the public good). The fact that Netflix, Amazon and iTunes license other content has no bearing on the actual legal issue of whether or not providing the same piece of content to multiple parties (even if they are individual copies) is a "public performance." That some businesses do a different thing another way is not the issue. The issue is how a ruling that this represents a public performance will massively increase liability on any company that stores and transmits the same content to multiple people.
Aereo, on the other hand, is an illegitimate, unlicensed streaming service. It grabs broadcasters' signals from the airwaves without paying for them, stores user-specific copies of that programming in its servers, and then delivers that programming over the Internet live or on-demand for a fee. Aereo would prefer that everyone just focus on that second function (storage) but disregard the other two (theft and transmission).
And, Aereo also seems to deliver something valuable to consumers. I've spoken to many Aereo customers and they all absolutely love the service.
As for Katyal's ridiculous claims of "theft" or "grabbing" -- that's just rhetoric used to mislead. These are over the air signals, and it's perfectly legal to "grab" those signals as the Supreme Court made clear in the Betamax case that Katyal must surely know about. Similarly, it's perfectly legal to transmit such content over the internet, via something like a Slingbox, so long as it's done privately by an individual for his or her own account. And that's what Aereo has set up for consumers -- a service to do what is clearly established as legal.
At the hearing, the Justices asked about these critical differences between Aereo and legitimate cloud services. They repeatedly mentioned the line between merely passive storage, on the one hand, and active content-distribution services, on the other. Aereo falls in that second category, which is why this case does not implicate cloud storage services. And it does not have a license, which is why this case does not implicate iTunes, Amazon or other legitimate streaming services on the content-delivery side of the line.Katyal appears to be under the misconception that the "worries" about how this could impact cloud computing are people worrying about how it impacts iTunes or Amazon Prime's streaming service. They're not. They're worried about how it impacts things like iCloud or Amazon's S3 services, in which people store content on far away servers. Based on the arguments of the broadcasters, Apple and Amazon may be implicated as providing a "public performance" of content that people choose to store and stream from those services -- unrelated to the "licenses" that they have for their other services. It's kind of amazing that Katyal can be so confused about this.
Delivering on-demand streaming of copyrighted programming for a fee is the quintessential public performance.I store plenty of (authorized) music MP3s on Amazon S3. And I stream from there. I pay Amazon for that service. But Amazon has not licensed those works. Yes, Amazon has licenses for its digital music, but these are not songs purchased from Amazon (some aren't even available on Amazon). But Katyal appears to be claiming that my storing of content and streaming it is a public performance. And that's exactly the problem we're talking about.
Katyal keeps insisting that Aereo is selling the content. He's wrong. They're selling the service of enabling people to access content that is available free, over the air. It's a classic case of ignoring the value of the service, and insisting 100% of Aereo's value is the content.
Much is at stake in the Supreme Court's decision in this case. Broadcasters invest billions of dollars to create, acquire, and distribute the most-watched video programming in the country, and perhaps even the world.... And then they give it away for free via over the air broadcasts. And nothing that Aereo does impacts that market at all. The broadcasters' real problem, which Katyal doesn't mention because it would expose the sheer ridiculousness of his argument, is that the broadcasters have become fat and happy based on cable and satellite retransmission deals. That's what they're really fighting over, though they don't want to admit it. Notice that nowhere does Katyal admit that all of the content in question is broadcast free over the air? I wonder why...
I recognize that Katyal is a high powered lawyer who used to be the Solicitor General, but the broadcasters really ought to spend their money on someone slightly more convincing.
Fri, May 2nd 2014 5:40am
from the human-race-has-been-lost dept
When we discuss book bans, we typically discuss them in terms of being revolted by the myopic viewpoint of those doing the banning. For instance, Tim Cushing recently wrote about one book that was banned, despite being an award-winning novel, for including some fairly mild language dealing with sexuality and masturbation. In that case, some parents went to the police to keep teenagers from passing out the books anyway, as if some kind of school book ban had the force of law. That was, obviously, quite a silly situation.
But we shouldn't let this taint all book-banning activities. After all, some books are truly dangerous. Take the tome of violence-advocacy recently targeted for banishment by the Toronto library system, for instance, and see if you can't find it in your heart to admit that some books are too dangerous to be allowed.
Librarians at the Toronto Public Library were asked to remove copies of Dr. Seuss’ 1963 children's book "Hop on Pop” from the establishment’s collection because it allegedly promotes violence. A document detailing the seven books the library has been asked to remove over the past year was posted online on Monday.Now, I know what you're thinking: "But, Tim, it's a harmless rhyming children's book. It isn't promoting violence!" Well, you're not fooling anyone. It seems pretty clear to me that this book, written by some guy named Dr. Seuss (probably a terrorist), is being actively promoted as a way to quite literally stomp out fathers. Think of the children.....that will never be born because other children are stomping on men's two-bits at the behest of some 1960's love-child Dr. of death! This will not stand!
The book “encourages children to use violence against their fathers,” according to the complaint.
The Materials Review Committee pointed out that the book is “humorous,” “well-loved” and that it has “appeared on many ‘Best of’ children’s book lists.” The MRC also pointed out that the children in the Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s book are actually told not to hop on pop.Nobody's buying it, MRC. These are probably the same people that told us there were WMDs in Iraq and that 9/11 wasn't just a false-flag operation orchestrated by a zombie Hitler that's kept in an underground bunker beneath the Grand Canyon. You can't fool us. A tiny fraction of people in Toronto want this book banned, damn it.
Despite the complaint, the library opted to retain the book in the children's collection.Does government overreach know no bounds? We say "don't tread on me," and they house this book that literally tells children (except it doesn't) to tread on their fathers? Canadians, write your Congressmen (or whatever it is you call them up there). Something must be done.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, May 2nd 2014 3:33am
from the good-for-them dept
Google already routinely notified users of government data requests but adopted an updated policy this week detailing the few situations in which notification is withheld, such as when there is imminent risk of physical harm to a potential crime victim. “We notify users about legal demands when appropriate, unless prohibited by law or court order,” the company said in a statement.If you're looking for who to thank about this turn of events, there are two places to point. First: the good folks at EFF. For the past few years, it's been publishing its Who Has Your Back? chart looking at how companies respond to government requests for data. Each year, this list has convinced more and more companies to improve how they protect their users, and how they push back on government requests. And, the reason why so many companies are rushing to change their policies is because the EFF is about to release its latest version. Yet another reason to be happy the EFF exists.
Lawyers at Apple, Facebook and Microsoft are working on their own revisions, company officials said, although the details have not been released. All are moving toward more routinely notifying users, said the companies, which had not previously disclosed these changes.
“Later this month, Apple will update its policies so that in most cases when law enforcement requests personal information about a customer, the customer will receive a notification from Apple,” company spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said.
Second, of course, is Ed Snowden. While not entirely directly at issue here -- since things like FISA Court Orders and National Security Letters are subject to gag orders barring companies from telling their users -- the generally heightened interest in government access to information provided to internet services has certainly created a culture where these companies can't get away with just rolling over for the government any more.
Of course, you could argue that it's taken these companies too long to get here -- and that's absolutely true -- but better late than never.
Oh yeah. Guess who's really upset about all of this:
The Justice Department disagrees, saying in a statement that new industry policies threaten investigations and put potential crime victims in greater peril.Once again, it seems like the DOJ and others think that anything that makes their job harder is somehow wrong. But that's incorrect. The whole point of protecting freedom is that it's supposed to be hard for law enforcement to spy on people and arrest them. That's how it's supposed to work.
“These risks of endangering life, risking destruction of evidence, or allowing suspects to flee or intimidate witnesses are not merely hypothetical, but unfortunately routine,” department spokesman Peter Carr said, citing a case in which early disclosure put at risk a cooperative witness in a case. He declined to offer details because the case was under seal.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, May 2nd 2014 12:13am
from the will-glassholes-look-better-in-hindsight? dept
A few months ago, though, the folks at On the Media's TLDR blog posted a story comparing the launch of the Walkman to the launch of Glass that I keep thinking about. The basic idea was that with the Walkman there was a similar reaction to the idea of people walking around wearing headphones all the time. Of course, today, you basically can't walk anywhere without seeing people with headphones on -- but, as they note, in the early days, people really didn't like it. That link takes you to an NPR story from 1981 about people reacting to the original Walkman. And the quotes could almost all be applied to much of the haters of Google Glass today:
Unidentified Man #1: They're obnoxious.That "smug" line is really the killer one, given that's the biggest complaint about "glassholes." I have no idea if Glass itself will catch on. Certainly plenty of the reviews point to significant problems with the current versions. But it seems likely that something like Glass, if not Glass itself, will eventually catch on. Even if they look dorky and make people look smug. I recently saw, for example, a Kickstarter project for some interesting looking augmented reality glasses that have many similar features to Glass. And the product video made it look really cool... until they actually showed someone wearing the damn thing, and my emotional response was the same as folks above. It just looks ridiculous.
Unidentified Man #2: It looks stupid to me. Some people approve of it, you know. It's fine if - privacy your home, you know? A closet radio listener.
(Soundbite of laughter)
PROFITT: You know what? I love these big radios.
(Soundbite of music)
PROFITT: But there's something weird about these little headphones, isn't there?
Unidentified Man #2: Yeah, people do kind of look funny and they kind of look, like, you know, pretty smug when I'm wearing them and everything.
Unidentified Man #1: With a radio, it's a power impulse, because I used to have big radio and everybody admires you with the radio. But as far as the little Walkmans is concerned, you're keeping all the sound to yourself.
PROFITT: What, pray tell, are you listening to on your headphones?
Of course, the more you look, the more you realize that such fears aren't a new phenomenon or a rare thing either. The Walkman/headphones example is just one of many. For example, back when Eastman Kodak released its first cameras, there was a similar freakout:
The appearance of Eastman's cameras was so sudden and so pervasive that the reaction in some quarters was fear. A figure called the "camera fiend" began to appear at beach resorts, prowling the premises until he could catch female bathers unawares. One resort felt the trend so heavily that it posted a notice: "PEOPLE ARE FORBIDDEN TO USE THEIR KODAKS ON THE BEACH." Other locations were no safer. For a time, Kodak cameras were banned from the Washington Monument. The "Hartford Courant" sounded the alarm as well, declaring that "the sedate citizen can't indulge in any hilariousness without the risk of being caught in the act and having his photograph passed around among his Sunday School children."Even if these kinds of reactions may be perfectly normal emotional responses to new technologies, these days, I'm trying to keep in mind that recognizing the real possibility of such devices can take some time. So, the next time you're tempted to make fun of someone for wearing Glass or something similar, think about whether you'd make fun of the same person for popping in earbuds to listen to some music or a podcast, or for carrying a camera around her neck, and remember... things change.