by Mike Masnick
Thu, Feb 28th 2013 5:37am
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Feb 4th 2013 9:46am
from the that-test-you-got-a-C-on?-school's-copyright dept
The school board claims it's doing this to keep up with the times -- especially the growing use of things like electronic curricula created by teachers, but obviously the policy goes way beyond that. Of course, we've seen other schools get greedy and seek to copyright and sell off curricula created by teachers. And that's already a crazy idea. But to have students' work included as well is (rightfully) angering a number of people.
Either way, this is yet another example of the insanity created by "ownership society," in which people are being fed the ridiculous line that all ideas and information can and should be "owned" thanks to things like copyright and patents. Is it any wonder that now our public schools even going down to elementary schools, are seeking the "rights" to student creations in order to create for profit ventures? This is a public school system, a place in which knowledge is supposed to be shared for the sake of learning. And the lesson they're sending is that information is to be hoarded by powerful entities for the sake of profits. Shameful.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jun 4th 2012 6:45am
AOL Threatens Blogger With Copyright Infringement Charge... For Doing The Exact Same Thing AOL Has Done On A Large Scale
from the shameful dept
Enter, Maryland Juice. A local Maryland blog, which recently had a post about some happenings in Montgomery County, which included relatively large excerpts of parts of an article from Patch, another property owned by AOL. It also included an image from the article. The Maryland Juice article included a significant amount of commentary about the article and, in particular, the photo, which was used to illustrate the point (that it was not a representative sample of county residents at the local meeting). And, yet... AOL lawyers sent a cease and desist letter:
As owner of the Content, AOL has the obligation to prevent the improper use of its proprietary material. Before pursuing any additional avenues to remove the Infringing Content, we are demanding that MarylandJuice.com take immediate steps to remove Patch’s image and either 1) display no more than a 1-2 sentence snippet of this Content, with credit explicitly given as well as a link back to the full article available at http://wheatonmd. patch.com/articles/proposed-rule-change-for-accessory-apartments-meets-opposition ; or 2) remove and disable access to all Infringing Content, and agree to never repost or use the Infringing Content or any other AOL Content, absent compliance with the third-party use guidelines identified above.David, the Maryland Juice blogger, explains how excerpting, discussing and linking is all part of being neighborly online, and tells AOL to shove off, claiming fair use. Of course, you know who should know an awful lot about this kind of thing? Yeah, AOL and HuffPo. You see, a few years ago, when HuffPo tried to do its own "hyper local site," it was accused of doing more or less the exact same thing (but with less commentary, and more copying):
But, apparently, when someone does it to AOL, it's no longer okay? Now that's hypocritical.
And seeding HuffPo Chicago is a scheme whereby the publication takes some — in many cases all — of the content from another site, with a link back to the original.
The result is quick and easy traffic for the new Chicago edition, since the publication ends up catching some Google searches for keywords contained in the (Chicago-related) articles it takes. HuffPo already has good Google PageRank, so its own version of the content floats to the top of the results, even though it was not the original source.
HuffPo's justification, at least when the publication was pulling this crap with us, taking the entirety of our RSS feeds, was that the reprinted posts were good promotion, since they included (a totally buried) backlink to the original content on our site.
by Leigh Beadon
Mon, May 14th 2012 12:26pm
from the maryland-versus-china dept
Recently, I responded to an editorial by CISPA author Mike Rogers in the Detroit News, wherein he took some blatant China fearmongering and targeted it at Michigan's specific industry concerns to rouse the local rabble in CISPA's favor. Now Rep. Ruppersberger—the other driving force behind the bill—is applying the same tactic in Maryland, with an editorial in the Baltimore Sun that focuses on the supposed cyber-threat to the life sciences industry:
Here in Maryland, for example, our growing life sciences sector has generated one-third of all job gains over the last 10 years. It's now supporting more than $9.6 billion in salaries for Maryland families and contributes nearly $500 million to incomes and sales tax revenues each year.
The 500 bioscience companies in Maryland are developing ground-breaking therapies for diseases like muscular dystrophy, inventing state-of-the-art medical devices and testing cutting-edge vaccines. These innovations are valuable and worth protecting. Indeed, just like designer handbags or secret family recipes, many want to imitate — and even duplicate — such successes.
For decades, countries like China have been using every means possible to steal the ideas of American corporations. Today, thousands of highly trained Chinese, Russian and Iranian hackers are pilfering our trade secrets by breaking into the computer networks of U.S. corporations. And we're leaving the door unlocked for them.
Something seems off about comparing the desire to copy new disease therapies with the desire to make knockoff handbags, but I guess that was just meant to clarify things for anyone who didn't understand why ground-breaking medical research is valuable. Of more concern is his statement that the door is left "unlocked"—a blatant exaggeration that makes it sound like CISPA's data-sharing provisions are the difference between airtight security and no security at all, even though security experts question whether CISPA would have any real impact. He then goes on to do exactly what I criticized Rogers for doing, by focusing in on the one (supposedly) useful and genuine cybersecurity aspect of the bill while ignoring the rest:
Currently, the U.S government can identify malicious computer code that could be an incoming cyber attack on a government or corporate network. But the law won't allow us to share this information with private companies so that they can protect themselves.
That's why House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican, and I have crafted the Cyber Intelligence and Sharing Protection Act (H.R. 3523), which the House overwhelmingly passed this month in a bipartisan vote. This common-sense bill will simply allow the federal government and American companies to share suspicious computer code. Despite recent media reports, the bill does not authorize the government to monitor your computer use or read your email, Tweets or Facebook posts. Nor does it authorize the government to shut down websites or require companies to turn over personal information.
This is just a bunch of half-truths, semantics and disingenuous statements. Firstly, while there may be some data sharing the government wants to do that is currently blocked by the law, there are also existing mechanisms that allow some sharing to happen. Rather than carve out specific exceptions to the specific laws that are getting in the way, CISPA creates broad immunity provisions that wipe out all existing privacy concerns.
Secondly, the bill does not "simply" allow what Ruppersberger says it allows. CISPA's definition of the information that can be shared allows for much more than just "suspicious computer code," instead potentially including all sorts of tangential data related to a network attack—which, yes, could include lots of personal information. CISPA also does not limit the government to using this information for merely technical purposes related to cybersecurity—it permits them to dig through whatever data they collect for evidence of certain types of crime. You'll notice that investigating violent crime and child exploitation (both specifically listed in the text of CISPA) are not mentioned anywhere in this editorial.
Thirdly, while both of Ruppersberger's assertions about what the bill "does not authorize" the government to do are technically accurate, only the latter is giving the full story. It's true that CISPA does not permit the government to shut down websites or require information from companies—but as for monitoring people and reading their communications, as I just described, it's a bit more complicated. No, CISPA does not allow the government to go out and monitor whoever they wish, but it does allow them to thoroughly mine whatever data is given to them—data that will undoubtedly include private information.
For good measure, Ruppersberger throws in some more fearmongering about terrorist hackers taking down power grids (even though CISPA doesn't include anything that would let the government put a common sense regulation in place, like, say, don't connect power grids to the internet) before circling back to the talking-point of Maryland's valuable medical research. Like Rogers, he plays up the imminence of the threat, claiming "it wouldn't take years from China to steal it all from us" and in fact "it could happen in mere keystrokes"—as if at any moment someone could just select "U.S. Economy" and press delete.
I have a feeling this won't be the last of these locally-focused editorials from the pro-CISPA camp. I'm rooting for a Las Vegas feature on the need to protect casino secrets, because while it would surely still be inaccurate and misleading, it might at least be interesting.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Aug 22nd 2011 11:23am
from the real-names? dept
However, he recently got into a Twitter discussion in which he defended vaccinations. I recognize this is a touchy subject to some, but only to those who don't pay attention to what the science actually says (or those who ignore that the main report anti-vaccination folks use was later found to be fraudulent). Given the serious health problems created by parents now refusing to vaccinate their children due to clueless anti-scientific fear-mongering, you would think that a government Department of Health would be thrilled that one of its employees was defending vaccinations and talking back to someone who was arguing against vaccines.
Instead, however, it appears that after the guy he was arguing with sent a barrage of emails to higher ups at the agency, Najera was told to stop "all social networking activity related to public health."
I think the bigger issue is that a Department of Health would reprimand him for such actions and tell him to stop speaking about public health issues. Does the Department of Health really prefer that the actual experts stay out of these discussions, leaving them to those who aren't informed?
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Feb 22nd 2011 9:34am
from the privacy? dept
Apparently not everyone in local government was paying attention.
The ACLU is apparently taking on the case of a Maryland man who applied to be "re-certified" for a job with the Maryland Department of Corrections, after he had taken a brief leave. As a part of the interview process, he was required to hand over his Facebook password. Apparently, the Department of Corrections is now requiring all social media account info, including passwords, as a part of their "background check" process. In at least this case, the guy in question was told not to change his password for a few months -- leading to all sorts of questions about what private info state officials might look into while logged into his account. The ACLU sent a letter (pdf) to the Maryland Corrections Dept. noting that it believed the policy was "a frightening and illegal invasion of privacy," and a clear violation of the Stored Communications Act. The ACLU letter also demanded that the Maryland Department of Corrections rescind this policy.
It appears that Maryland's response to all of this has been to totally ignore the letter. The ACLU waited three weeks, and after receiving no response at all, has gone public with the story. I would imagine that a lawsuit will soon follow.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Sep 28th 2010 8:12am
from the good-news dept
Thankfully, in that case in Maryland, a judge has tossed out the wiretapping claims pointing out that there was no expectation of privacy out in public.
"Those of us who are public officials and are entrusted with the power of the state are ultimately accountable to the public," the judge wrote. "When we exercise that power in public fora, we should not expect our actions to be shielded from public observation."This seems so obvious that it's troubling it needed to even go this far.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jul 20th 2010 7:17am
Maryland Judge Declares Pontiac G8 GT's Factory Taillights Illegal; Tells Car Owner To Get A Different Car [Updated: Or Maybe Not...]
from the judge-this dept
Went to court for my clear tail lights on my car and was found guilty!Nice to know that the officer and the judge seem to know better than everyone else, including the Department of Transportation...
The judge actualy told me she didn't care what the manufacturer said, what the federal govt said, what the DOT # stamped onto my taillights said if the officer says my lights aren't legal then they're not legal. I took the G8 sales brochure in along with pics of my car and other G8 GT's and the VIN trace by 3 different dealers saying my lights were factory none of it mattered she found me guilty of failing to display or reflect red light on the rear of the car. Didn't matter the reflecters were in the bumper, didn't matter where the light is has that little red circle, the whole lens isn't red so they're not legal. Also where the back-up and turn signals are should be the reflectors according to the cop so the V6 cars lights aren't legal either.
Judge stupid went on to tell me that maybe I should consider trading in or selling the car since its not legal in MD and that I'm going to continue to get the $60 tickets till I get rid of the car.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jul 19th 2010 9:26pm
from the time-to-fix-it dept
Paul Alan Levy has a discussion about a lawsuit in Maryland where the judge rejected an anti-SLAPP claim. The guy who couldn't get the anti-SLAPP to work is blaming the judge, but as Levy points out, the real problem is with the Maryland anti-SLAPP statute, which can be interpreted incredibly narrowly. It's a reminder of why a federal anti-SLAPP law would be a good thing.
from the that's-not-how-this-is-supposed-to-work dept
"A motorcyclist was showboating and recording himself doing it using a helmet cam. While stopped at a stop light, an off duty police officer stepped out of his (unmarked) car with his gun drawn. The rider received a citation and posted the whole episode on YouTube. 4 days later MD state police seized his computers and helmet cam and threatened to arrest him because it is illegal to record someone without their consent."You can see a long version of the events (without any sound) which shows the 3 minutes leading up to the incident here:
Or if you want to just see the part where the off duty cop pulls the gun (with sound), it's here:
The laws against audibly recording someone without their permission are not designed for situations like this one. They're designed for eavesdropping or things like recording phone calls. Using such a law to crack down on a guy showing an off-duty police officer totally overreacting to a traffic stop by drawing his weapon seems like a clear abuse of this sort of law.
However, now that we're reaching an age when everything anyone sees will soon be able to be recorded -- and for years, various research groups have been working on tools to make that easier -- these kinds of laws may need to be revisited. If many people are wearing devices that record everything they see and hear, suddenly such laws become a bit ridiculous -- even outside of the clear abuse above when such laws are being used to punish a whistleblower.