by Mike Masnick
Fri, Aug 2nd 2013 7:39pm
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Aug 2nd 2013 6:32pm
from the look-at-that... dept
In this specific case, the video was not removed for copyright infringement reasons as has been widely reported. Rotolight received external advice with respect to this particular video that it was potentially misleading and unrepresentative. This advice resulted in the only request the company has made to have a video removed from any video sharing website in the last 3 years.As Popehat notes, either Rotolight or Vimeo is lying here, and it's hard to believe that it's Vimeo. If they didn't send a copyright takedown, then why don't they say what they actually sent? Clearly, Vimeo received some sort of notification.
However, two more tidbits have popped up since then, thanks to the lovely internet. First, we have Jeepers Media pointing out to us that Rotolight's claim above that this is the "only request the company has made to have a video removed from any video sharing website in the last 3 years" does not appear to be true. CheesyCam has the story of how it had posted a YouTube video... and Rotolight had (you guessed it) taken it down:
While CheesyCam doesn't link to the original post, it appears to be here. Oops. So, clearly not the first. Also, a commenter on Popehat points out that it's highly unlikely that Rotolight did not understand copyright or the nature of DMCA notices (or the difference between copyright and trademark), in part because the founder/president of Rotolight also runs one of the largest music publishing/producing businesses in the UK -- and his wife is an entertainment lawyer who wrote a book about copyright that was published not too long ago.
That’s total bull, because this has actually been a practice of RotoLight for at least the last two years. Two years ago, I posted up a video about one user and a UFO camping light who may have mentioned he was making his own DIY RotoLight. Obviously it was a UFO camping LED light, and because of the camparisons, RotoLight commented on this blog and admitted to taking down the users YouTube video:“FYI, the YouTube Video on which your article relates has been removed due its to defamtory nature, breach of our Registered Trademark and misleading information”.
Whoa wait a minute! The DMCA cannot be used for Trademark claims. That was two years ago, and who knows how many other YouTube or Vimeo videos were taken down in that time frame, but I can tell you the recent Den Lennie attempt was not the first. The fact that they are now playing dumb and backtracking as if this was the only DMCA they filed is a load of crap.
So, um, that's nice that you're a small business and you want to rehabilitate your reputation and all... but it might help to start out by not lying about the claim that this was the first such video you've taken down -- or about the nature of the takedown. As they say, it's often not the original bad deed that gets you in the end... but the attempted coverup.
by Glyn Moody
Fri, Aug 2nd 2013 5:26pm
from the national-sovereignty,-who-needs-it? dept
One of the myths perpetuated by governments taking part in major international treaty negotiations like ACTA, TPP and TAFTA/TTIP is that somehow no national sovereignty is given up during the process, and that therefore the public shouldn't worry about what goes on in those secret meetings. That's clearly absurd, because negotiations involve concessions, usually by the weaker parties, which often touch on national competences.
The reality -- that smaller countries lose some of their autonomy -- is illustrated starkly by what has just happened in New Zealand, as reported by The National Business Review:
New Zealand's copyright laws were meant to be reviewed this year, five years after the Copyright (New Technologies) Amendment Act in 2008. The government, has decided not to stick to this timetable, waiting instead to know what terms it may have to agree to under the TPP.
That is, instead of consulting with the New Zealand public and other stakeholders about what form copyright fit for the digital age might take, the government there has cancelled all discussions, and is waiting meekly to be instructed by the TPP negotiators -- the US, in other words -- what changes they will be required to make to their legislation in order to comply with the treaty.
To add insult to injury, it seems that the New Zealand government won't even explain why exactly its electorate is being deprived of any say in the laws that will govern it:
Papers released under the Official Information Act last week reveal that the government will delay the 2013 copyright law review until "TPP negotiations have concluded". The reasons given for the delay have been removed from the public version of the document.
That really sums up the TPP negotiations: conducted in secret, coming to decisions that are then imposed on the public for reasons they are not allowed to know, regardless of previous plans and promises made by their governments. No wonder more and more people view trade agreements as lacking in any kind of legitimacy. Expect the TAFTA/TTIP negotiations to be exactly the same -- and for the same fatuous claims to be made by those taking part that national sovereignty is not being surrendered.
by Michael Ho
Fri, Aug 2nd 2013 5:00pm
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
- Twinkies are back on stores shelves with a new and improved... shelf life of 45 days. Previously, Twinkies had a shelf life of just 26 days -- and not an indefinite lifespan that most people assume. [url]
- Canned foods can last a really long time, and some folks actually prefer the taste of canned items that have been aged. The definition of a shelf life is not about when a packaged food is inedible, but when the food acquires a noticeably different flavor compared to a newly-manufactured item. [url]
- About 70% of the food we eat is stored or transported at chilled temperatures. And if you think that's a high percentage: "An astonishing 80% of the nation's potato output is cut, processed, frozen, bagged, and distributed as French fries." [url]
Fri, Aug 2nd 2013 3:58pm
from the shall-we-play-a-game? dept
Well, no it can't. Not for me and not for EA either, now that a federal class action suit has been filed against the company for falsely suggesting in the marketing for their EA Sports titles that online play would last a lot longer than it actually does.
Justin Bassett claims he bought several sports-themed games for Xbox 360 for about $59.99 each, relying on Electronic Arts' representation that the games were enabled for unlimited, online play. But the games were available for only a limited time, he says.Now, I don't know if it counts as a conflict of interest that I play a ton of sports games and also find it massively annoying when I can't beat 14 year old Russian children anymore because EA shut down the servers, but I figured I'd disclose that anyway. The fact is that marketing material for these games at the very least gives no indication for how long EA will allow online play and at worst vaguely insinuates that there is no predetermined time limit. Certainly most owners of sports titles don't purchase them every single year, so a time limit of a calendar year seems ridiculous sans a strong indicator that that's the plan. As such, the suit alleges a host of wrong-doings.
"Had plaintiff known at the time that he would not be able to play the products online for a certain amount of time, he would not have purchased the products or paid the price he paid for the products," Bassett claims.
"Consumers frequently rely on labels in making purchase decisions. Here, plaintiff and the other class members reasonably relied to their detriment on defendant's misleading representations and omissions. Defendant's misleading affirmative statements about the capability of online play for the products obscured the material fact that defendant failed to disclose about the limited nature of its online support for the products."Nobody is suggesting that EA has to keep their online play servers going indefinitely, but reasonable should mean reasonable. There may be some folks out there that buy Madden every year, but most do not. They update their rosters, either on their own or with help, and keep playing that title for 2-4 years. Is a 3 year online play window really unreasonable? And if they weren't going to support online play for that long, shouldn't EA disclose that in their advertising and/or packaging?
Bennett seeks compensatory, statutory and punitive damages for consumer law violations, false advertising, unfair competition, and breach of warranty.
Fri, Aug 2nd 2013 3:01pm
from the what-was-i-thinking? dept
Well, rest easy, because Square Enix's legal team is here to remind you that they still totally hate their biggest fans and all is just as wrong with the world as it ever was. You already know where we're going with this, so here are the claims from the DMCA takedown notice they sent over the Kickstarter project.
· The project itself is in infringement of our copyrights and should be removed in its entirety from Kickstarter.Not only did the projcet admit it on Kickstarter, they admitted it to you guys when they reached out to let you know what they were doing. And they made a point to secure music licensing. To go the DMCA route rather than finding an amicable way to properly license this with them would be bad enough, but to know what the filmmakers were doing and let them get this far only to dash their project on the rocks of your legal team is downright sadistic. The project's page is now down, noting that there is an intellectual property dispute, which means prospective backers can't contribute any longer.
· The project itself admits it is an unofficial fan project in its title “Final Fantasy VII: The Web Series (Unofficial Fan Project).
· The description of the project itself claims to use the copyrighted characters and events of Final Fantasy VII.
Via their Facebook page, the team let their fans know that they're still trying to get something worked out with Square Enix and managed to deliver the message with a touch of irony any Final Fantasy 7 fan will appreciate.
Ladies and Gentlemen!Here's hoping Square Enix muzzles their legal dogs and does the right thing by their fans, because it would be a shame to see one of the most popular games ever taint its reputation by being DMCA bullies over a harmless fan film.
You will have noticed that the Square Enix legal team have taken an interest in our project. We're in the process of opening up discussions with the team regarding the ongoing status of our project and hopefully the continuation of our Kickstarter campaign. We'll keep you up to date on any envelopments.
"These days, all it takes for your dreams to come true is money and power."
- President Shinra
Fri, Aug 2nd 2013 2:02pm
from the what-year-is-this? dept
When it comes to the kind of speech that some people don't like, our wine-drinking friends in Europe haven't always done so well. You may recall the battle between the French and Twitter over some dumb, bigoted tweets and the identities behind them. Or perhaps you'll recall the French government working with Twitter to suspend several accounts that were parodies of then-President and Anthony Wiener look-a-like Nicolas Sarkozy. While free speech in Europe isn't always so fleshed out as it is here in the colonies, France in particular appears to have some severely antiquated laws on the books. One of the more egregious is that it was apparently illegal to "offend the head of state", i.e. the President, a law dating back to 1881.
Well, heads up all you French Presidents out there, because that law has officially been amended after just barely over a century, according to the news sent in by reader RyanNerd.
Whereas before any rude remark risked an automatic fine for “offending the head of state”, the president is now reduced to the same category as ministers and parliamentarians and would need to have a judge prove there had been slander or defamation.On the off chance any of you don't keep up with your Google alerts for news relating to French Presidents and their ironic double-standards, "Get lost, jerk" was a statement Sarkozy made to someone who once refused to shake his hand in 2008. Whereas before you couldn't call Sarkozy a thin-skinned walking phalus for his actions, hey, now you can. No more $50k fine!
The change came after the European Court of Human Rights ruled in March that France violated a demonstrator’s right to freedom of expression when it fined him for holding a banner up to former President Nicolas Sarkozy reading: “Get lost, jerk.”
Of course, Sarkozy is no longer President and Francois Hollande is, so let's see what you've got, French citizens!
President Francois Hollande has so far shown a thick skin, however, as critics have given him a string of unkind nicknames like “Flanby”, a brand of wobbly caramel pudding or “Mr. Little Jokes”.Oh, okay. Well, look, you can't really blame the French for crappy insults. They've been out of practice for over a hundred years. I would suggest, however, that congratulating a man for being thick-skinned when he comes from the stock that brought us skin-growing breakfasts like eggs benedict might be unnecessary.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Aug 2nd 2013 1:04pm
from the well,-duh dept
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Aug 2nd 2013 12:01pm
from the that-seems-problematic dept
Federal agencies have largely kept quiet about these capabilities, but court documents and interviews with people involved in the programs provide new details about the hacking tools, including spyware delivered to computers and phones through email or Web links—techniques more commonly associated with attacks by criminals.The report also notes things like using a computer's camera to take photos -- though, in the one case where this tactic was requested, the judge nixed the request, worried that it might lead to the collection of info on innocent people. There's also this wonderful line:
[....] The FBI develops some hacking tools internally and purchases others from the private sector. With such technology, the bureau can remotely activate the microphones in phones running Google Inc.'s Android software to record conversations, one former U.S. official said. It can do the same to microphones in laptops without the user knowing, the person said.
The bureau has controls to ensure only "relevant data" are scooped up, the person said. A screening team goes through all of the data pulled from the hack to determine what is relevant, then hands off that material to the case team and stops working on the case.Considering how we've already seen the feds redefine "relevant," that seems kind of laughable.
Of course, if you're a computer hacker, you might be safe:
The bureau typically uses hacking in cases involving organized crime, child pornography or counterterrorism, a former U.S. official said. It is loath to use these tools when investigating hackers, out of fear the suspect will discover and publicize the technique, the person said.So, um, if you want to avoid such things, I guess you should get busy hacking.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Aug 2nd 2013 10:59am
from the it's-called-journalism dept
Obviously, it's the former, but how can people argue that the reporting on the CIA revelations is great journalism, while the reporting on NSA surveillance or US military excesses are somehow "aiding the enemy"? All are disclosing secret or confidential information about the US government and its actions. All are very much in the public interest. But, for whatever reason, many people seem to want to pretend that Greenwald writing about the NSA is somehow different from Tapper revealing what the CIA was up to.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Aug 2nd 2013 9:59am
from the not-this-again dept
"In the case of Carolina, it appears some of her friends, some of her relatives, asked for the removal of some of this strong content, and it wasn't removed -- and this played a role in her decision to commit suicide," he said.This is ridiculous on multiple levels. As we dealt with back in the Lori Drew case, when you go around blaming people with criminal charges after someone commits suicide, you're encouraging more suicide, because you're telling people that if they kill themselves, there will suddenly be real punishment for those who bullied them. But the decision to commit suicide is an individual's choice. This is not to defend bullying, but you open up a very dangerous path when you start suggesting criminal charges against someone based on someone else's actions.
But, the even bigger issue is the focus on Facebook -- which was merely the service being used for communication. If the harassment of the teen had come via the telephone, would Italian prosecutors be looking to bring criminal charges against Telecom Italia? If the harassment had happened on the playground, would the prosecutors be looking to bring criminal charges against the school? Of course not. But, for whatever reason, in this digital era, people seem to think it makes sense to blame the technology service that someone used.
This is why we think secondary liability protections like Section 230 of the CDA are so important. This is why we think it's horrifically dangerous that here in the US, state attorneys general are looking to obliterate such secondary liability protection -- allowing them to file similarly ridiculous lawsuits against third party service providers.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Aug 2nd 2013 9:03am
from the good-point dept
Matt Schruers, over at Project DisCo has a good post discussing this exact point, noting that infringement leads to a redistribution of income. We can argue over whether or not that redistribution is good or bad (or societally beneficial or not), but to claim it's an overall loss to the economy is clearly wrong. He notes how rarely this even comes up in the discussion, which is unfortunate. However, he also points us to this hilarious Adult Swim ad, that I'd not seen before, which explains how piracy feeds babies (except, of course, TV piracy):
Matt's article is well worth reading -- and remembering, when the next group of "studies" claims massive losses to the economy. However, I'd argue in some ways, he actually understates the nefariousness of the "economic loss" claims that are often used. That's because one of the favorite "loss" stats that maximalists like to use -- such as the annual report that IPI puts out done by Stephen Siwek -- makes use of ridiculous "ripple effect" calculations. That is, they don't just say that "movie piracy costs the economy $6 billion per year," but they then add in a multiplier effect, claiming that this is to count the "ripple effects" of the money not spent on the movie. This is simply bad economics in a variety of ways. First, it's counting the same dollar over and over again:
In IPI-land, when a movie studio makes $10 selling a DVD to a Canadian, and then gives $7 to the company that manufactured the DVD and $2 to the guy who shipped it to Canada, society has benefitted by $10+$7+$2=$19. Yet some simple math shows that this is nonsense: the studio is $1 richer, the trucker is $2, and the manufacturer is $7. Shockingly enough, that adds up to $10. What each participant cares about is his profits, not his revenues.So not only are they recounting the same dollar over and over and over and over and over again, pretending it's new each time, they're also only counting such ripples in one direction. That is, they assume that the money saved by not purchasing the content in question doesn't go back into the economy productively elsewhere. And, like the "piracy feeds babies" joke above, at times, the "ripple effect" in the other direction can be quite beneficial for the economy. For example, say a small company uses unauthorized copies of expensive software to build an amazing tool that drives all sorts of productivity growth elsewhere. That may be wrong and illegal, but the impact on the economy can actually be quite positive.
Again, the point of all of this is not to say that infringement has no economic impact at all -- or that it's good or bad. There are a lot of different variables at play here. And that's the key point. Any serious look at the economic impact of changing the laws needs to take a look at all of that in determining the overall economic impact, and not just at the aggregate economic impact, but the economic impact throughout the chain. Unfortunately, so far, very few studies appear to go that far, and, instead present very misleading statements about the overall impact on the economy.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Aug 2nd 2013 8:01am
from the there's-a-process? dept
One of those discussed is Thomas Drake, whom we've written about often. He's now been reduced to working at an Apple store, because the government has more or less black-balled him, such that he can't get a job utilizing his actual skills. Bizarrely, he tells the story of Attorney General Eric Holder, who was in charge of the case against him that collapsed completely as it went to court, coming in to shop for a new iPhone:
Last year, he was working when he spotted an unlikely customer: Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who came in to check out iPhones.They cover others, like Richard Barlow, who blew the whistle on the CIA lying to Congress about whether or not Pakistan could use some F-16s it was about to buy from the US to hold (and potentially launch) nuclear weapons. He went through the proper channels to alert officials of the mistake and three days later he was fired. Even though a GAO report vindicated Barlow and said his statements were reasonable and that he was clearly fired as a retaliatory move, he was unable to get another job in the government saying his "record was smeared." He now lives out near
Drake introduced himself and asked: "Do you know why they have come after me?"
"Yes, I do," Holder said.
"But do you know the rest of the story?," he asked.
Holder quickly left with his security detail, Drake said.
The article has a few more stories like this one. Principled people who blew the whistle, and even when they were later vindicated, it made it impossible to get their jobs back or new jobs (or, in some cases, even to get money owed to them).
And people wonder why Snowden chose the path that he did? Sure, the other countries where he may end up don't have great track records either, but the US now has a well-established track record of doing serious harm to whistleblowers, especially within the intelligence community.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Aug 2nd 2013 6:45am
from the if-you-can-redefine-the-language dept
- Surveillance: When we actually access full content of your calls and emails, but not when we access all the data about who you talk to, where you are and what you do.
- Collect: When we run a search on data we
collecteder... "stored for safe keeping."
- Relevant: Everything. It might become relevant in the future, thus it's relevant today.
- Targeted: As long as we're collecting the info for an investigation that involves a "target" then any info is "targeted" even if that info has nothing to do with the "target."
- Incidental: Everything that we collect... er... store that may become "relevant" at some point but isn't now even though it's "targeted." In short: everything.
- Inadvertent: Stuff we did on purpose on a massive scale that looks bad when exposed publicly.
- Minimize: A term we use to pretend that we delete information on Americans, but which has many exceptions, including if you encrypted your communications or if we have a sneaking suspicion that you're 51% foreign based on a hunch.
- No: When said to Congress in response to questions about whether we collect data on millions of Americans, this means "fuck you."
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Aug 2nd 2013 4:48am
Congressional Oversight? Dianne Feinstein Says She's 'Not A High-Tech Techie' But Knows NSA Can't Abuse Surveillance
from the oh-really? dept
Feinstein said, “I am not a high-tech techie, but I have been told that is not possible.”Note that among Feinstein's jobs is oversight of this program. Yet, what kind of "oversight" is it when she admits that she's not qualified to understand the technology but "has been told" that such abuses are not possible? That doesn't seem like oversight. That seems like asking the NSA "can this system be abused?" and the NSA saying "oh, no no no, not at all." That's not exactly oversight, now is it?
by Tim Cushing
Fri, Aug 2nd 2013 2:45am
from the this-all-sounds-very-familiar... dept
More privacy-invasion has arrived in the guise of "good." This time it's Russia doing the invading. An article in Izvestia notes that the Moscow Metro is planning to install short-range Stingray-esque cell phone tracking to (ostensibly) recover stolen phones and monitor terrorist activity. It's all very legal according to the Metro spokesman, who says law enforcement is allowed to track SIM cards without a warrant or additional measures, as the card falls under the category of "company property."
Andrey Mokhov, the operations chief of the Moscow Metro system’s police department, said that the system will have a range of five meters (16 feet). “If the [SIM] card is wanted, the system automatically creates a route of its movement and passes that information to the station attendant,” Mokhov said.Much like so-called "just metadata," accessing a SIM card via this sort of device opens up the cell phone user to all sorts of dubious surveillance. And, much like US law enforcement claiming license plates only represent a car (not a person), Russian law enforcement is claiming it only tracks "SIM cards," not individuals.
Many outside experts, both in and outside Russia, though, believe that what local authorities are actually deploying is a “stingray,” or “IMSI catcher”—a device that can fool a phone and SIM into reading from a fake mobile phone tower. (IMSI, or an International Mobile Subscriber Identity number, is a 15-digit unique number that sits on every SIM card.) Such devices can be used as a simple way to see what phone numbers are being used in a given area or even to intercept the audio of voice calls.
Keir Giles, of the Conflict Studies Research Centre, an Oxford-based Russian think tank, told Ars that Russian authorities are claiming a legal technicality.This is the way it goes these days, even in the US, which has supposedly held itself to a higher standard when it comes to respecting its citizens' privacy. Any loophole will do. License plates are not people. Metadata isn't specific. Long-term tracking isn't a search or an invasion of privacy. Cell phone tower spoofing equipment and surveillance drones are utilized with little oversight and fewer ground rules, presumably under the assumption that it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission. Warrants and other protections are now extraneous niceties.
"They are claiming that although they are legally prohibited from indiscriminate surveillance of people, the fact that they are following SIM cards which are the property of the mobile phone operators rather than the individuals carrying those SIM cards makes the tracking plans perfectly legal," he said, adding that this reasoning is "weaselly and ridiculous."
Of course, Russia has never held itself up a paragon of civil liberties, but critics still find this particular move surprising.
“Many surveillance technologies are created and deployed with legitimate aims in mind, however the deploying of IMSI catchers sniffing mobile phones en masse is neither proportionate nor necessary for the stated aims of identifying stolen phones,” Eric King of Privacy International told Ars.Like any other broad surveillance effort, no one believes it will be limited to the stated aims. Another point lending credence to the feeling that Russian law enforcement has more than "stolen phones" in mind concerns the logistics: with a range of only 16 feet, a device will need to be placed roughly every 32 feet to be effective, a cost that certainly outweighs the value of the equipment recovered. Of course, as we've seen in the past, no one seems able to put a price tag on "preventing terrorism," and presumably Russia feels the same way. If catching cell phones thieves doesn't make fiscal sense, fighting an unwinnable war will put the balance sheet back in the black.
“Likewise the legal loophole they claim to be using to legitimize the practice—distinguishing between tracking a person from a SIM card—is nonsensical and unjustifiable. It's surprising it's being discussed so openly, given in many countries like the United Kingdom, they refuse to even acknowledge the existence of IMSI catchers, and any government use of the technology is strictly national security exempted.”