posted 2 days ago on techdirt
The TSA is disappointed that so few Americans have opted out of its bottle-tossing, package-groping screenings by signing up for its PreCheck program. For a few years now, the TSA has been selling travelers' civil liberties back to them, most recently for $85 a head, but it's now making a serious push to increase participation. The TSA can't do it alone, so it's accepting bids on its PreCheck expansion proposal. (h/t to Amy Alkon) The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is seeking vendors for TSA Pre√® Application Expansion initiative to develop, deliver, and deploy private sector application capabilities expanding the public's enrollment opportunities for TSA Pre✓® through an Other Transactional Agreement (OTA) awarded by TSA. The Government plans to award an OTA to multiple vendors. The Government will evaluate the proposed ready-to-market solutions' application capabilities against this TSA Pre√® Expansion Initiative Solicitation and Statement of Work. This will involve a new pre-screening process to weed out terrorists by looking through a variety of "commercial data" sources. The proposal [pdf link] is very vague on the details of what "commercial data" will be used by these third parties. Contractors may use commercial data to conduct an eligibility evaluation (also known as pre-screening) of potential applicants. The eligibility evaluation shall include, at a minimum, validating identity and performing a criminal history records check to ensure that applicants do not have disqualifying convictions in conjunction with the TSA Pre✓® disqualifying offenses… The proposal goes on to say something that sounds like the TSA safeguarding PreCheck applicants' privacy by standing between them and any crazy ideas third party contractors might have about "commercial data." As a second component to the eligibility evaluation, TSA may also consider approving an option to use additional private sector processes to conduct a provisional risk assessment (based on an algorithm developed by the Contractor) for the purposes of assisting in identifying those individuals believed to pose a low risk to transportation security. TSA must approve any commercial data inputs proposed for use by contractors to include those which validate identity and determine provisional low-risk status. More protections here: Risk assessments may not be based on race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, age, financial status (e.g., credit ratings/scores, liens, bankruptcies, foreclosures, annual income), health records, constitutionally protected activity, or other records reflecting an individual’s socio-economic status. So far, so good. But while the TSA has pointed out a few examples of what won't be permitted to be used to separate the threats from the travelers, it really never goes on to detail what will be permitted… at least not in the proposal itself. Those sources (and there are several) are tucked away inside the agreement boilerplate [pdf link] to be signed by winning contractors. Here's everything that's open to inspection by PreCheck applicant screeners. For purposes of this private sector enrollment initiative for the TSA Pre√® Application Program, “commercial data” includes: public record data, such as criminal history and real estate records produced by federal, state, and local governments; other publicly available information, such as directories, press reports, location data and information that individuals post on blogs and social media sites; and wide ranging data such as purchase information, customer lists from registration websites, and self-reported information provided by consumers that is obtained by commercial data sources such as data brokers. So, the TSA is authorizing contractors to use social media posts in the screening process -- which, yes, are by default public but tend to generate more noise than signal when it comes to spotting the terrorists in PreCheck approval queue. [And I suppose my Facebook page -- containing pictures I added a few months ago -- will put me in the "questionable" group.] The TSA is looking to hire on third-party haystackers in order to pre-profile travelers. There's a lot of "public/commercial data" out there, and very little of it has any relevance to the "threat level" of potential flyers. And the part about "purchase information" is particularly disturbing, considering the DHS would really like to have access to that data. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said his department will be issuing new guidance to retailers this week giving them pointers on how to spot potential terrorists among their customers by looking at what they're buying. While saying the government cannot prohibit sales of some everyday materials, Mr. Johnson said retailers should be trained to look for anyone who buys a lot from what he described as a "long list of materials that could be used as explosive precursors." He said it was an extension of the "If you see something, say something" campaign launched by his predecessor, former Secretary Janet Napolitano, which tries to enlist average Americans to be aware of their immediate environment. Couple Johnson's statements with this proposal sentence (which immediately follows the "Risk assessments may not be based on…" sentence from the paragraph above), and you get an idea where this PreCheck database is headed. Any algorithm used must receive DHS approval, which will be based upon a DHS evaluation requiring testing and review of commercial data inputs during that process. Whatever data the contractors grab will be viewed by the DHS first, before it makes its decision to keep or discard it. And this will be in addition to the huge amount of data these two agencies already dip into to determine how many "S's" to print on your boarding pass. The TSA's role in the PreCheck program will be mainly limited to waving successful applicants through. (Something it has previously done to alleviate congestion with no apparent concern about PreCheck approval and all of its "safeguards".) So, this is really the DHS's program, one that allows it partake of third-party data hoovering and add anything it deems relevant to its databases. That's a lot of info to turn over for shorter waits at the airport. Generally speaking, the government has little interest in your purchases and social media activities, but by applying for PreCheck, you give them the green light to go digging. Sure, most of what's there isn't necessarily private, but it's still information most people wouldn't assume the government would find to be relevant to airport security. Factor in the TSA/DHS's ever-mounting paranoia, and you've got a recipe for a slew of false positives, especially when the latter considers photography of public buildings to be "suspicious activity." Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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The UK legislators, law enforcement agencies and intelligence services looking to expand the government's surveillance programs got a big boost from the attack on Charlie Hebdo. This violent attempt to place extremist religious ideology ahead of free speech was twisted by many into justification for expanded government powers. Prime Minister David Cameron even went so far as to suggest that no citizen's communications should be beyond the government's reach. This unexpected boost has propelled a raft of new amendments to the UK's so-called "Snooper's Charter," a once-rejected bill (Communications Data Bill) that would hand over ISP subscriber data to the goverment without a warrant. The amendments try to paper over the obvious flaws in the proposed legislation, limiting the use of this data to law enforcement and intelligence services only. (The previous version allowed several other government agencies to dip their toes into the data stream.) The privacy protections are still insufficient and the wording is still vague, but those supporting this bill are hoping the recent terrorist attack -- combined with a very short time frame -- will help them guide this past the opposition, as the EFF points out. Directly after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, we cautioned the public and politicians to be "wary of any attempt to rush through new surveillance and law enforcement powers." With depressing predictability, we've already seen that happen across the continent. Nowhere, however, has the attempt to bypass democratic debate been more blatant than in the United Kingdom, where a handful of unelected peers has taken the language of an old and discredited Internet surveillance proposal, and attempted to slam it, at outrageously short notice, into the wording of a near-complete counter-terrorism bill. The result is that, unless you take action to warn Britain's House of Lords in time for the debate on Monday, there is a good chance that Britain will pass the infamous Snooper's Charter into law with barely any oversight. Over the weekend, EFF supporters have taken action, and as the amended snooping bill hits the floor today, hopefully it will be met with increased resistance. But its supporters have done everything they can to prevent any examination of the proposed amendments by dropping the new wording off on Thursday and pushing for a simple "up/down" vote on Monday. This rush job indicates the amended bill won't stand up to scrutiny -- something its supporters are hoping to avoid by giving those voting a brief chance to glance at the new wording before being asked to push the bill forward. The EFF has provided contact information for UK legislators, noting that certain methods may be more effective given the shortened time frame. If you're a British citizen, you need to tell the members of the House of Lords that their right to analyze and discuss this legislation is being bypassed. We've set up an action alert for UK Internet users, so that you can send messages to the Twitter accounts of UK peers (you would be surprised how many British Lords use Twitter). You can also write to members of the House of Lords through the free service WriteToThem.com, but given the time frame, tweeting or phone calls are much better. Twisting an attack on free speech into a call for more surveillance is most governments' standard MO. The UK is no exception. But this is never the right response to terrorist activity, especially when the end result will be a chilling effect on free speech -- making this bill's outcome indistinguishable from the attackers' aims. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 3 days ago on techdirt
The broadband industry isn't opposed to net neutrality — so long as it gets to write the rules itself. This week, companies spoke up in support of their toothless version of net neutrality, prompting one anonymous commenter to give us our most insightful comment of the week: If you are making the industry you are trying to regulate happy, you are not regulating it properly. To balance that short one, we've got an extra long one in second place. After one of our regular critics, himself a paying insider, asserted that it's impossible for filmmakers and other creators to compete without strong copyright enforcement, JP Jones found he couldn't help but laugh... and respond: This comment is hilarious in the context with you being an Insider on Techdirt. So you think that you can't compete with free on a website that offers all of it's content for free that you are currently paying for? What specifics do you need? You're proving he's right every time you pay for his free content. There's so much irony here, but one of the biggest is your misconception that piracy is hard, or even risky. It's not, despite millions upon millions of dollars the MPAA and studios have thrown at it. In other words, Mike's "utopian vision" already exists as far as your complaint is concerned. Here's the thing. A content company isn't competing with pirates. This is a fallacy, and one that even a slight amount of logic utterly destroys. There's only one scenario where piracy even affects a content creator, and that's the scenario where a potential customer would have bought their product, but due to free alternatives, chose not to. Every other scenario is completely irrelevant; maybe the person chose to pirate, but wouldn't have bought the product anyway, or the person didn't pirate, and wouldn't have bought the product ever, or they bought the product. None of those scenarios are slightly affected by piracy, although for some reason everyone gets hung up over the first one. If by some miracle they couldn't pirate your stuff, they still wouldn't buy it, so the end result is the same. The actual problem, where someone could have been a customer but chose to pirate instead, is always fixed by one of two things: either you make the product available at a price they're willing to pay, or you improve your service to a level that they're willing to pay. If you don't fix one of those two things, all you're doing is creating the person who pirates but wouldn't have bought it anyway, by definition. The amusing part is that the person who pirates, but may have become a customer, is actually more likely to increase profits than the opposite. Why? If they considered paying they probably have an interest in your product. By pirating it, they are being exposed to the quality of content you create. If they like it, they are more likely to consider purchasing other products from you in the future. This is known in fancy business terms as "advertising." Companies pay millions of dollars per year in advertising. A 30-second advertisement during the Super Bowl costs around $4 million This works even better for the younger crowd. Kids in high school and college rarely have a ton of expendable income, if any. They aren't going to buy a lot of content because they simply can't afford to. No amount of anti-piracy is going to magically change their income; without access to your content, they simply aren't going to buy it. You know what free access to your stuff causes, though? Interest. Habit. Fandom. Things that, once they do have more expendable income than free time, makes your better service and reasonably priced product more appealing. Studies have shown over and over again that individuals with the highest piracy rates are usually the ones that spend the most money on content. Which is obvious if you think about it; fans want MORE. Do you think HBO subscriptions would have risen as much if Game of Thrones was only available via HBO, and not piracy? Of course not. The only people watching would be those that already had a subscription. People bought it because they wanted to watch the show the second it came out. And they were willing to pay a ton for it (HBO is really expensive, especially if you don't already have cable). So yes, they're supposed to sit back and let other people give their stuff away, like they've effectively been doing for years. All that money going to ineffectual lawyers and lobbying could instead go to making a service so good, with so much content, that people will flock to it, and piracy will die out except for the few diehards that refuse to pay for anything (which, incidentally, will never be your customers). Granted, this sucks for the lawyers and lobbyists making bank on exploiting the content industry, but sorry if I don't really care about the people who are adding nothing to our economy. Which is the whole point of this article, really...the MPAA is made of up lawyers and lobbyists, not content creators. Funny how that works. For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a response to Chris Christie's abuse of E-ZPass metadata, specifically the demand to know why one Senator crossed the Hudson River 284 times in a couple of years. Ninja had the answer: Who cares? Maybe he was dating some chick? Or there's a restaurant he likes to visit there? His old grandma lives there? He appreciates going through the goddamn bridge? You may question the fact that he didn't pay but why he crossed the bridge or where he was going? It's none of your business. And they say metadata is harmless. It's freaking open to interpretation because only the driver knows why he drove to a place and why he used a determined route. With enough imagination and some cross reference from law enforcement you can probably associate anybody with some meth dealer. Next time you hear that ask the idiot proposing it to share the entirety of his metadata. I bet my balls none of the surveillance-happy crew will hand it all. Next, we've got an excellent comment from an astronomer that comes in response to our criticism of the ESA for not releasing high-res photos from a publicly funded mission. It better illuminates the reasoning behind the reticence, and while I don't think it makes the case that such embargoes are a good thing overall, it explains why problems with how we currently fund scientific research have made them an arguable necessity: Being a member of the astronomy community, the idea that the information would become public instantly is slightly terrifying. Mostly because my funding comes from grants, which often rely on past publications. If my group released the photos, and was working on careful science to explain some phenomena, and some other group scooped us with poor quality science but mostly correct ideas, there goes the discovery paper and quite a bit of my oomf for my next grant cycle. It's all about who publishes first, and I feel not having the proprietary period would cause a manic rush to publish that would end up effecting both the science, and probably the sanity of the scientists involved. Boosting the economic return by releasing information right away may be a good thing, but in the end you are going to be hurting the scientists who have made this their life work. Also, linking this to the HGP; astronomy is a very low economic return science, that's part of the problem with funding. We don't often make discoveries that end up making people money. Meaning or main source of income is those grants we have to fight tooth and nail for. The HGP likely has for more economic applications then most astronomy projects do, aside from the money made via PR. It's a very one way science when it comes to costs. While I adore my particular research, I am under no illusions that what I am doing will somehow be able to be economically viable. My research is important for the advancement of my field, but has no economic return. This is of course scary in the US were the government seems to be pushing only for science that boosts the economy. Still, there ARE projects designed for this instant information release. The LSST, which will hopefully be working sometime in the 2020s, will be pushing all its info out as soon as everything has been reduced. The beauty of that particular project is that there is so much information that no one person could scoop all the important discoveries. They will have terabytes of data released every few days, and there will be thousands of important discoveries to be made. Rosetta is a very different mission, in that there is a much more limited data set, and for funding purposes the scientists who run the mission need those discoveries to be made within the science team to validate the mission. (Personally, I'm firmly of the belief that the pursuit of knowledge for knowledge's sake alone is a noble goal that everyone should be proud to contribute to — but the tyranny of "usefulness" seems ascendant at the moment.) Over on the funny side, we've got a one-two punch. After photographer Jerry Fisher discovered a college attempting to claim copyright on a 16th century Michelangelo sculpture, John Fenderson set the sarcasm train in motion and rocketed to first place: If copyright doesn't apply to Michelangelo's sculpture, then there is no incentive for Michelangelo to create more sculptures. Jerry Fisher clearly hates artists. Stepping into second place, an anonymous commenter arrived to bolster the case: Michelangelo is a poor, starving artist. He hasn't made any money or eaten anything in 451 years! For editor's choice on the funny side, we start with a response to the former head of the GCHQ, whose comments about encryption included the notion that, without backdoors into devices, intelligence agencies would need to be even more invasive and unethical. Dfed aint no fool — he read between the lines: All I got was: "It would be a shame if your kneecaps had to be decrypted." That wasn't the only instance of the head of a four-letter acronym making crazy statements this week: MPAA boss Chris Dodd gave a staggeringly ironic interview about the Sony hack and his supposed love of free speech. Baron von Robber captured what it feels like to read his words pretty damn accurately: "If you said to me, what’s the one thing that has been responsible for the 100 years of success of the American film industry, I’d point to one thing — it’s freedom of speech,” said Dodd." [Irony-O-Meter at 300%, cooling system at highest capacity] "We have always been a great advocate for freedom of expression" [Irony-O-Meter at 450%, cooling system failing!] "and speech," [Irony-O-Meter at 550%, cooling system failing, Prenda Buffers overflowing!] "and I don’t represent anybody who doesn’t embrace that value." [BOOOOOM!] Dang it. That's all for this week, folks! Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Five Years Ago This week in 2010 was the beginning of the NY times paywall, sparking off huge amounts of discussion online. We weren't convinced. Ultimately, the paywall didn't seem to hurt the newspaper, but it didn't seem to bring much benefit either (or at least not enough for many other publications to follow in its footsteps). There was a lot of stuff happening overseas five years ago. The UK was hiding ACTA details from MPs, carving out tiny ISP safe harbors for hate speech and, in a high-profile incident, arresting a man for tweeting a joke about blowing up an airport. A Swedish ISP was refusing to give up info under a new law, a proposal in Italy would see all video uploads requiring government approval, and German publishers were (as always) going after Google. In the US, the FBI was caught breaking the law to gather phone call info from telcos, and Obama quietly made it legal. The president also criticized the patent office for its ridiculous workflow. CBS was letting classic Jack Benny footage literally disintegrate instead of letting fans digitize it, the Songwriter's Guild was trashing net neutrality, and then-boss of the MPAA Dan Glickman announced he would be stepping down. Also, the court in the Jammie Thomas-Rasset case realized how crazy a $1.92-million award was and cut it to $2,250 per song (down from $80,000). Ten Years Ago In 2005, plenty of people were freaking out about Wi-Fi security risks. This week, we pointed out that they were probably exaggerating — though we did find at least one reasonable analysis. Remember the short-lived term "picture phone"? Well, it was pretty common at one point — enough so that the owner of picturephone.com thought that he could sell it for a million bucks. A Maryland lawmaker re-floated the idea for a porn TLD (which now exists, and nobody cares about it). Dell CEO Kevin Rollins made the confusing claim that the iPod is a one-hit-wonder just like Sony's Walkman. We were noting that the biggest issue with the iPod was actually the iTunes store and the fact that you didn't really "own" your music. We also had a discussion about the biggest obstacle to device convergence: demands for control in the form of DRM, exclusive formats and other pointless fragmentation of content and devices. Even the Sony chief admitted that DRM can hold up innovation. We knew it would be a big problem as broadcasters created digital stores. Meanwhile, Congress was getting ready to consider more intellectual property law, and then-FCC Chair Michael Powell announced his resignation. Fifteen Years Ago This week in 2000, Transmeta started making processors. Turns out that was the beginning of a sad story of innovation: by 2007, the company had shifted away from semiconductor production and entirely to IP licensing, then in 2009 its patent portfolio was acquired by, wait for it... Intellectual Ventures. Long before the New York Times paywall, the LA Times tried charging 20 cents to email a story (amazingly not still a standard business model). People were experimenting with multimedia, so you got things like the virtual newscaster and the print magazines from dot-coms. Techdirt itself got mentioned in print in Inter@ctive Week. Amidst all this, the challenges of online advertising were already becoming clear. A former Microsoft exec bought a Bowling Association, but if you think that's odd, consider this: in 2000, Microsoft forgot to pay for several domain renewals and let sites like Hotmail lapse. A random guy used his credit card to pay the bill and renew them, and Microsoft gratefully sent him a $500 cheque for his trouble. This week, the guy decided to auction off the cheque. Twenty-Nine Years Ago On January 19th, 1986, the Brain computer virus was released into the wild. It was the first virus targeting IBM PCs running MS-DOS. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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It's 2015 already. Aren't we supposed to have personal robots like Rosie from the Jetsons already? Instead, what do we have? Vacuum cleaners that mosey around the house? For this week's awesome stuff, let's look at three interesting robotics crowdfunding projects: Personal Robot Someone here at work suggested this looks like an iPad stuck to a pole on top of a Roomba, but the Personal Robot from Robotbase seems to be claiming a fairly astounding set of artificial intelligence capabilities -- stuff straight out of the movies, that I'm not sure it can live up to. And, frankly, the video struck me as incredibly creepy. Not in the uncanny valley sort of way, but so much about the video just had me sense that it was foreshadowing for when the robot does something truly messed up. Reading the bedtime story to the kid was the part that put me over the edge. If this actually works the way it's presented in the video, then it does sound fairly amazing, but I have to admit that I'm skeptical. The video is too good to be true. Luna The Luna appears to be targeting a very similar market as the Personal Robot above, but with more realistic seeming claims about its capabilities. It also appears to be much more focused on building an open system with open hardware and software designed to build up a developer community and to allow you to hack your robot directly. The video doesn't have the dystopian feel of the Personal Robot (even though it uses a ton of movie robot clips) and just feels like a much more realistic project. Quirkbot Okay, maybe you're not ready for a dystopian personal servant roomba-ing its way through your house. Instead, you just want to have a bit of fun and build some cool robots using straws. Then the Quirkbot may be more your speed. Built by the same folks who built Strawbees (an Awesome Stuff alum), they've now built little robotic devices that you can use to build all different kinds of robotic toys out of drinking straws. It might not wake you up in the morning and tell you what to wear, or read stories to your kids at night, but it sure looks like fun to play with. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 5 days ago on techdirt
As we've mentioned in the past, every year for over a decade, Andy Baio scours the internet to see what Oscar-nominated movies have been put online (the answer is usually almost all of them). He started this back in 2004, when the MPAA laughably claimed that the very first "screener" copy of a nominated movie had been put online. Baio realized that it was hardly the first and there were many more. His latest analysis is up and it shows that, yet again, nearly all nominated movies are available. He's actually kept the details of every year's search in a big Google spreadsheet. There are some interesting findings in the data, including that screener copies don't matter much any more. For years, the MPAA -- which still can't get over its piracy obsession -- insisted that screener leaks were a huge problem. Back in 2003 the MPAA wanted to ban screener DVDs entirely, which pissed off a bunch of filmmakers who feared that their films wouldn't get voted on for the Oscars. Since then, they've focused on ridiculous proprietary systems that would only play on special DVD players -- which just pissed off viewers. In the last few years, they've just focused on watermarked DVDs, which means that when the videos inevitably leak, they can be tracked back to whose copy leaked -- like Ellen Degeneris' copies last year. But, as Baio notes, in the online release market, screener copies aren't good enough: But here’s the thing: screeners are stuck in the last decade. While we’re all streaming HD movies from iTunes or Netflix, the movie studios almost universally send screeners by mail on DVDs, which is forever stuck in low-resolution standard-definition quality. A small handful are sent in higher-definition Blu-ray. This year, one Academy member received 68 screeners — 59 on DVD and only eight on Blu-ray. Only 13% of screeners were sent to voters in HD quality. As a result, virtually any HD source is more prestigious than a DVD screener. And with the shift to online distribution, there’s an increasing supply of possible HD sources to draw from before screeners are ever sent to voters. And of course, the data also shows that cammed copies (someone sitting in a theater with a camera filming it) are virtually non-existent here. This is another issue that we've covered for years, with the MPAA famously making up numbers out of thin air concerning how big a "problem" it was. But, of course, the quality on those copies suck, and so people focus on HD, which they inevitably get. Of this year’s 36 nominated films, 34 already leaked online in some form — everything except Song of the Sea and Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me. But only 33% of those were leaked from screeners, down from a high of 89% in 2003 and 2004. As he notes, with the MPAA stupidly focused on screeners, they think they're winning the battle, because here's the percentage of actual screeners leaked: So, I'm sure the content protection team at the MPAA are all excited about this. They're vanquishing the screener piracy monster. But as Baio points out, that's bullshit, because just as many films are leaking, but in HD quality from HD sources instead of screeners: While this year's figure is currently 89%, there's a decent chance it will go higher before the Oscars happen. As Baio notes, 44% of the films this year are HD sources, not from screeners or from retail releases. In other words: all this effort from the "content protection" team at the MPAA yields absolutely no benefit at all.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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More than five years ago, we wrote about just how difficult it was to actually put something into the public domain legally. For years, we've said that all of our Techdirt posts (where we have the right to do so) are subject to a public domain dedication, but there's nothing specifically in the law that says how or if you can really put something into the public domain. While you can make a public domain dedication or (more recently) use the Creative Commons CC0 tool to do so, there's no clear way within the law to actually declare something in the public domain. Instead, the public domain declarations are really more of a promise not to make use of the exclusionary rights provided under copyright. On the "public domain day" of Copyright Week, Public Knowledge has pointed out that it's time that it became much easier to put things into the public domain. Specifically, the PK post highlights that thanks to the way copyright termination works, even someone who puts their works into the public domain could pull them back out of the public domain after 35 years. As you may recall, termination rights cannot be signed away, and they were designed to allow copyright holders the ability to take back their work from whomever they licensed it to for the second half of the copyright's term. We've long pointed out why this is a stupid concept (while finding it amusing to see the legacy copyright industry -- mainly in the music space -- desperate to try to pretend that copyright termination doesn't really exist). But they do exist and they make a true public domain declaration effectively impossible: Copyright termination means that any license, including a perpetual public license, can be revoked. This means, for example, that contributors to projects like Wikipedia (where an original contributor continues to own the copyright to her work, but licenses that copyright under a liberal license) can revoke that license. It also means that people who transfer actual ownership of their copyrights to stewards like the Free Software Foundation can claw back that ownership. This might be tricky in practice, particularly when it comes to licenses, since the law requires that the original author give notice to all "grantees." Does that mean everyone who has a copy of the work, and when does the thirty-five year clock start ticking for each of them? This could be very difficult to figure out when it comes to, for example, some popular free software projects. But it introduces an unnecessary degree of uncertainty to FOSS software projects generally, to Creative Commons-style licensed works, and so on, particularly those that use a formal transfer of copyright title, where there is only one grant to terminate, instead of potentially millions. Public Knowledge is suggesting a rather simple fix: simply eliminate termination rights for public domain licenses, and also for other types of royalty free licenses like certain CC licenses or open source licenses: But it would be easy to fix this. One way would be for Congress to eliminate termination for "public domain" licenses, and perhaps also for some kinds of public, royalty-free licenses like the Creative Commons licenses or the GPL. This path, rather than a full-on statutory acknowledgement of copyright abandonment, would allow authors to continue dual licensing while making a public domain license identical to the public domain in all other respects. It thus provides the benefits of a dedication to the public domain without taking away all of the benefits termination is supposed to provide (in the classic case, protecting artists who sign exploitative contracts with companies because they have so little bargaining power). This is a simple fix, and because it's so simple, don't expect it to happen. In the meantime, more and more culture gets locked up, even when people like us try to add to the public domain.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Scams trying to convince people that losing weight is easy are everywhere. Losing weight is not easy. Maybe it is for some lucky people who have incredibly awesome genetics and the metabolism to burn calories like a hummingbird, but for most folks, it's not. It sure would be nice if a doctor or scientist found a simple weight loss solution (that didn't involve exercise or watching what you eat). However, that isn't the case, and there are plenty of examples of remedies that don't work (eg. Hoodia, ephedra, green coffee extract, etc). Audiences would like to be told there's a miracle cure, and some quacks even oblige them. For example, Dr. Mehmet Oz ("Doctor Oz") was scolded by US Senators for promoting unsubstantiated "miracle" dietary supplements. Researchers are actively looking for convenient ways to beat obesity, but before anyone buys some sketchy pills on the internet, wait for the science to demonstrate some effectiveness and safety. Keep on eye on various research projects, but don't get your hopes up. (And exercise in the meantime....) Researchers at the University of Michigan are looking at an off-patent drug that appears to solve the problems of obesity, diabetes and fatty liver in mice. There haven't been any studies on humans for similar results, but amlexanox has been approved for use to treat asthma for decades. [url] Another drug that shows promise in mice is fexaramine (or Fex). However, the media has overblown its effects on mice and also implied effectiveness in humans when studies have not yet been done. [url] The FTC has some advice for people interested in various weight-loss fads and dietary supplements that claim to burn fat in short periods of time. Don't believe every headline you read! [url] If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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If you read Techdirt, hopefully you're also familiar with Fark, the super popular news aggregator that was sort of Digg before Digg, Reddit before Reddit and Hackernews before Hackernews -- but still unique in its own way. It's main claim to fame is the snarky one-line summaries of the various stories that it posts, and it's all around awesome. It's run by a guy named Drew Curtis, who is also pretty awesome, and who has long been engaged on various important issues related to the future of the internet and keeping it viable. Either way, in a bit of a surprise announcement Friday afternoon, he's announced that he's running for governor of Kentucky and his campaign website is like none you've ever seen before. It's not often that a political campaign kicks off with a Douglas Adams quote: “It is a well-known fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it.” – Douglas Adams But Curtis is serious -- and mainly serious about having actual human beings, rather than politicians, be elected to key positions to bring about real change: We have a theory that we’re about to see a huge change in how elections and politics work. Across the country, we have seen regular citizens stepping up and challenging the status quo built by political parties and career politicians. They have been getting closer and closer to victory and, here in Kentucky, we believe we have a chance to win and break the political party stronghold for good. We are not politicians. We are Citizen Candidates. Citizen Candidates evaluate ideas on merit, not on outside influence, campaign contribution sources, or party ideology. They believe a good idea is a good idea, no matter which political party supports it. Citizen Candidates are regular people with common sense. They are capable leaders who would be fantastic elected officials - if they chose to run. Most don’t. And we can’t blame them. The campaign talks about others, like Tim Wu and Zephyr Teachout, who basically came out of nowhere to have a major impact on the governor's race in NY. While it's all too easy to be cynical about politicians and lobbyists and special interests, it's encouraging to see more people pushing back against those things, and actually looking to make a real difference. Whether or not this effort succeeds, we need more efforts like this, and I'm excited to see Curtis take a shot.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Does the government really even need excuses to seize the assets of its citizens, especially for relatively minor crimes? Apparently it does, at least according to the state of Utah. A new law that went into effect on Jan. 1 changes the wording and adds provisions to a law that has been in effect since 2008 allowing officers to impound a vehicle that isn’t insured. The crucial verb that was changed, raising sides between those in favor and those opposed to the revised law, is the shift from the law previously stating that an officer “may” seize a vehicle without warrant if it’s being operated without insurance to the fact that now an officer “shall” seize said vehicle. The wording change makes it mandatory. What was always an option is now expressly a command. The senator behind the new law feels this is necessary despite uninsured drivers really not being much of a problem in his home state. Even though the sponsor of SB 72, Sen. Lyle Hillyard, estimates Utah’s current rate of uninsured drivers at 3 percent, much less than the national average of 12.6 percent, he says it's still enough of a problem to address. No problem is too small. That's your government at work, Utah citizens. Will this new law lead to the sort of abuse witnessed in other areas of the country? Well, maybe. The low uninsured driver rate is one of the few things preventing this from becoming the full-blown, corrupt mess it is in other jurisdictions. The other factor is the restrictive language in the law, which provides for a surprising amount of protections for the public. Officers are supposed to make a "reasonable, independent effort" to verify the vehicle is uninsured before seizing it. This means they can't simply seize it because the driver isn't carrying an insurance card. The claimed insurance company will need to be contacted before the vehicle can be seized, along with the owner of the vehicle (if said owner isn't the one driving). The amendment also authorizes an account for funds to be set aside to repay towing and storage charges incurred for vehicles wrongly impounded. (Of course, this requires the affected person to prove that the vehicle was wrongly impounded, but hey, at least there's some sort of due process, even if it occurs after the vehicle has already been seized.) That's the good news. The bad news is that it gives law enforcement yet another way to take property away from citizens. It encourages trolling for seizures by turning the Uninsured Motorist database into a shopping list. Then there's this. What if the driver's insurance agent isn't available at the time of the incident? Another commenter unhappy with the new law said how she had been pulled over previously and had shown up as being uninsured. Because it was Saturday, the officer couldn’t reach her insurance agent but was kind enough to let her go with a warning. By the new wording in the law, unless there is reason to believe the woman’s safety is in question, the officer “shall seize” her vehicle. There's still no due process involved (pre-seizure) and vehicles are automatically deemed to be "guilty" of being driven without insurance. As far as criminal acts go, driving without insurance is on the low end of the spectrum, but the consequences are on par with drug trafficking or fraud. Sure, every driver should have insurance, but this isn't a perfect world. There are very few good reasons why someone might drive without insurance, but the real world sometimes gets in the way. Payments might be missed and the reinstatement amount might be too high to pay in a lump sum. Some people are simply uninsurable due to their driving record -- or even solely because of their credit record. This law seems about as close to abuse-proof as any asset forfeiture law, but it still has several problems, not the least of which is the demand that vehicles be seized (rather than left to officer discretion) and the reliance on law enforcement to carry through on "reasonable, independent verification." The nod to the "safety" of those whose vehicles can be seized ultimately means nothing. Past incidents have shown officers are more than willing to seize vehicles and leave drivers stranded on the side of the road. "Public safety" is generally invoked to assist in civil liberties violations -- like skirting warrant requirements or seizing recording devices -- not to actually ensure the "public" is any "safer." As with any law that authorizes the seizure of property by the government, there's a potential for abuse. For a state with such a low uninsured driver rate, this law is overkill. UPDATE: Eric Holder recently announced decision to eliminate states' participation in asset forfeiture programs is a move forward -- one that closes a loophole used by law enforcement agencies to bypass states' restrictions on seizures. However, it will have no effect on this program as this doesn't involve federal participation. So, there's still significant room for abuse in many states' programs, ones that will need to be closed at the local level. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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As we've been covering for a while now, the FAA is doing everything it can to delay nearly all commercial use of drones, despite the many possible innovations drones can lead to. Are there some legitimate safety concerns? Absolutely, but the FAA's approach of "ban everything" and then drip out a few exemptions here and there is problematic. Last year, we wrote about a key test case, involving Raphael Pirker, in which a judge declared that the FAA's ban on drones was illegal (mostly for procedural reasons). A few months ago, that got overturned... and now Pirker and the FAA have settled the matter, with Pirker agreeing to pay $1,100 [pdf] while not admitting to any wrong doing: Respondent agrees to pay $1,100.00 (the "settlement proceeds") by January 22, 2015, to the FAA in full and final settlement of this matter. [....] It is understood and agreed that neither the Respondent's execution of this settlement agreement nor payment of the settlement proceeds constitutes Respondent's admission of any of the facts or regulatory violations alleged in the FAA's June 27, 2013 Order of Assessment or the Amended Order of Assessment that will issue pursuant to this settlement agreement. From a financial perspective, I'm sure it makes sense for Pirker to settle this agreement for $1,100, rather than having to pay a lot more to go to court. But for the rest of us, this kind of sucks. It would have been good to have at least been able to test whether or not the FAA's rules are really legal. Or, at the very least, put more pressure on the FAA to stop dragging its feet and to start issuing actual rules that allow drones to be used for commercial purposes. The longer we wait, the more likely it is we cede innovation on this important area to other countries.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Back in the fall, we wrote about how the DEA impersonated a woman on Facebook, even posting photographs of her young children (which they had taken off of her phone), in order to try to track down drug dealers. The woman, Sondra Arquiett, had dated a guy who was convicted of drug dealing, and had herself been charged with letting her boyfriend store some drugs in her apartment, leading to a sentence of probation. DEA agent Timothy Sinnegen then took the photos off of her phone, set up a fake Facebook page pretending to be Arquiett and tried to "friend" people she knew, in trying to track down other drug dealers. Arquiett was totally unaware of this until a friend brought it up, leading her to sue the DEA. A few days ago, the Justice Department agreed to settle the case, paying her $134,000 for her troubles. As with many settlements, this one includes the government insisting that the settlement is not an admission of any guilt for its actions -- though it also leaves open that Arquiett could seek to get some attorneys' fees as well. Both Facebook and Senator Leahy had criticized the government for this action, and the DOJ promised to review this kind of practice -- though that review is still "ongoing." Either way, in this case, the DOJ realized that it was best to just pay up rather than let the case go much further. Even so, the statement from the feds is fairly ridiculous: U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of New York, Richard Hartunian, who previously had defended the agent’s behavior in court filings, issued a statement Tuesday calling the settlement “a fair resolution.” He said it “demonstrates that the government is mindful of its obligation to ensure the rights of third parties are not infringed upon in the course of its efforts to bring those who commit federal crimes to justice.” Sorry, but if the government is actually "mindful of its obligations to ensure the rights of third parties are not infringed upon," then, uh, it shouldn't have impersonated people in the first place. Hopefully this settlement means it will not do so again in the future.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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In their attempts to kill off strong encryption once and for all, top officials of the intelligence services are coming out with increasingly hyperbolic statements about why this should be done. Here's another, this time from a former head of GCHQ, Sir David Omand: Sir David, who was director of GCHQ from 1996-97, said: "One of the results of Snowden is that companies are now heavily encrypting [communications] end to end. "Intelligence agencies are not going to give up trying to get the bad guys. They will have to get closer to the bad guys. I predict we will see more close access work." According to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which reported his words from a talk he gave earlier this week, by this he meant things like physical observation, bugging rooms, and breaking into phones or computers. Omand went on: "You can say that will be more targeted but in terms of intrusion into personal privacy -- collateral intrusion into privacy -- we are likely to end up in an ethically worse position than we were before." That's remarkable for its implied threat: if you don't let us ban or backdoor strong encryption, we're going to start breaking into your homes. And it's striking that Omand regards eavesdropping on all the Internet traffic flowing in to and out of the UK, or collecting thousands of sexually-explicit webcam pictures, as less reprehensible than a tightly-targeted operation against a few suspects. His framing also implies that he thinks those pesky civil liberties groups will protest more about the latter than the former. In fact, what defenders of privacy and liberty generally want is simply a proportionate response with judicial oversight -- something that is straightforward with targeted "close access" work, but impossible with the blanket surveillance currently employed. The good news here is that Omand has indirectly confirmed that the current strategy of rolling out strong encryption as widely as possible is the right one. Provided it is not derailed by any government moves to weaken crypto, it will increase the cost of online surveillance, and force intelligence services to return to targeted spying -- which is what they should have done in the first place. Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+ Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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For many years we've been warning that intellectual property wars over things like music and movies were just a preview to the sort of insanity that would come about when 3D printing goes mainstream. We've seen some copyright takedowns of 3D printed objects in the past, but here's an absolutely crazy one. Jerry Fisher, a photographer in Sioux Falls Idaho, was interested in 3D printing and 3D image capture. So he went and photographed two local bronze casts of Michelangelo statues, one of Moses which is on display at Augustana College and is co-owned by Augustana and the City of Sioux Falls, and another of David, which is in a local city park. He documented his efforts to take the photos and turn them into 3D printer plans. However, the folks at Augustana College demanded that he stop, arguing a bizarre mix of copyright and... "we don't like this." Fisher asked the city of Sioux Falls for its opinion and got back a ridiculous response: Fisher took the fight a bit further to the city, where he was informed that the photos were probably not a problem, but transforming them into models (especially if they were to be sold) could be a copyright violation. Attempting to get the issue of contemporary photogrammetry into the light, Fisher pointed out that the statues are in the public domain — not to mention their age — or true owner of the copyright on them. What is the actual law on what can and cannot be done? After getting nowhere with the entities who started the potential battle, Fisher really had no answers. Even while Fisher seems to recognize that there's no copyright issue here, fearing liability, he apparently still removed his images and plans from the internet. As Public Knowledge's Michael Weinberg explains, there is absolutely no legal basis whatsoever for the demand: Let’s get one thing out of the way right now: Augustana College had no legal right or basis to threaten Fisher with the specter of infringement. There is no copyright protection for a sculpture that was created at the dawn of the 16th century by a sculptor who died 450 years ago. All of Michelangelo’s work is firmly in the public domain. If fact, copyright didn’t even exist during Michelangelo’s lifetime. From the moment he sculpted his Moses anyone could copy, remix, and build upon it for any reason, without having to ask permission. Of course, the sculpture in Sioux Falls is not Michelangelo’s original sculpture. The original Moses is still in Italy. The Sioux Falls sculptures are exact replicas made in the early 1970s - exact replicas, it seems appropriate to mention, that were made without permission of Michelangelo’s estate because the originals are not protected by copyright. There was no copyright on the original sculpture, and there is no copyright in the exact copies of the original sculpture. If Fisher were practicing his 3D scanning on original sculptures made in the early 1970s, the sculptures would likely still be protected by copyright. Fortunately for Fisher and everyone else, the sculpture in question is not an original sculpture – it is a copy. Just as scanning a 16th century map doesn’t give me a new copyright in the scan file, casting a copy of a 16th century sculpture doesn’t give me a new copyright in the cast. Without a copyright in the original sculpture or the reproduction, there is simply no copyright reason that Fisher shouldn’t be able to make as many scans as he likes.  It is irresponsible, and undermines Augustana’s mission to “enrich[] lives by exposure to enduring forms of aesthetic and creative expressions,” for Augustana to suggest otherwise. As Weinberg notes, there was probably nothing nefarious in the minds of whoever at Augustana made the original request. Rather, they took the lazy way out -- and the one that contains a lot less legal risk. If you're unsure, just say, "Hey, you can't do this or you might get in trouble," even if that's not true. And, further, he notes, one of the big problems with copyright law is that its statutory damages encourages much more risk avoidance than normal, and that's a real problem: Many lawyers are cautious by nature, but there are elements of copyright law that give them an extra incentive to be even more cautious than usual.  Specifically, a quirk of copyright law can make monetary damages balloon unusually quickly in infringement cases. In order to get money in most civil cases you need to show your damages.  Get hit by a car? Show the court your medical bills and lost wages.  Painter paint your wall hot pink instead of staid beige?  Show the court how much it cost you to get the work redone. Copyright law is different when it comes to damages.  A copyright holder can sue for actual damages, just like the person hit by a car or with a bad paint job.  But they also have the option to sue for what are called “statutory damages.”  Instead of pointing to the actual cost of infringement (that illegal download of a song deprived the artist of $0.99), a copyright holder can just point to an amount that is written into the text of the law to serve as the value of the damages.  That amount can be in the six figures for a single infringement (that’s how infringing 24 songs can result in a $1.5 million damages award). Among other things, the threat of these statutory damages makes lawyers super cautious around potential copyright infringement claims.  Even if he was infringing, the actual cost of Fisher making unauthorized copies of the sculpture would likely be no more than a few hundred dollars (if that).  Faced with that kind of liability, a lawyer may decide to take a bit of a risk and err on the side of public access.  But in the face of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of liability, a lawyer has to be pretty sure before saying “yes,” even if they start from the assumption that the work is in the public domain.  And getting that sure can take a lot of time. Of course, the other reason crap like this happens is the ridiculous belief -- often driven by propaganda from the legacy copyright industry -- that every bit of cultural content must be owned by someone. The public domain is something to be shunned or denied at every turn. And, as a result you get crazy stories like this one.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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We already wrote about how Senator Richard Burr has demanded that the White House return all copies of the full, unredacted CIA Torture Report, which Senator Dianne Feinstein distributed to various department heads last month. As we noted in our article, this seemed like an effort to stuff the full report down the memory hole to make sure that no one could ever do anything with it at all and to make it more difficult to access in a series of FOIA lawsuits. Those lawsuits are demanding the report, as well as the internal Panetta Review that is supposedly the smoking gun, involving an internal CIA analysis that mostly agrees with the Senate Intelligence Committee's analysis in the full report. Reporter Jason Leopold of Vice News (and one of the people suing the government, under FOIA, for the documents) has some more details about Burr's action, including a copies of the letter [pdf] Burr sent the White House, and the letter that Feinstein sent in reply. As Leopold notes, Burr's decision seems specifically designed to try to do a legal two-step to make the document immune from FOIA lawsuits: By advising the White House to cease entering the full torture report into an executive branch system of records, Burr is saying that the document is a "congressional record," which is exempt from FOIA, as opposed to an "agency record," which is subject to the provisions of the law. Feinstein's response shows that she disagrees, and that the report can properly be handed over to the Executive Branch. The reason for the letter, obviously, is for it to be used in killing off the FOIA attempts, and the DOJ wasted no time in making just that argument: Tonight, the government filed a response in our long-running lawsuit and asked a judge to dismiss our case. A CIA lawyer said in a 31-page declaration that the redactions in the executive summary were justified and the Panetta Review is properly classified and should not be released. The government also responded to the ACLU's FOIA lawsuit for the full torture report. The government said the full torture report is not an agency record subject to FOIA, it is a congressional record. The government cited Burr's letter to support its case. You can see that filing here [pdf], with this being the relevant portion: Congress retains control over the Full Report for at least five reasons. First, the conditions under which the report was created reflect that SSCI as a whole asserted complete control over not only drafts, but also the final product. Second, throughout the years-long process of creating and finalizing the Report, both SSCI and the CIA handled the Report in accordance with SSCI’s instructions and strict limitations on access. Third, SSCI voted, in accordance with Senate Rules, to seek declassification and release only of the Executive Summary, Findings and Conclusions – not the Full Report. The then-SSCI Chairman’s decision to provide the Full Report to certain Executive Branch agencies for nonpublic use does not amount to a Committee decision to seek to declassify and release the Full Report. Fourth, the current Chairman of SSCI has reiterated SSCI’s intent to retain control of the Full Report. Finally, the defendant agencies have treated the Full Report, received in December 2014, as a congressional record, sequestering it in secure storage space appropriate to its classification and carefully limiting its dissemination and use. Because the Full Report remains a congressional record as opposed to an agency record, this Court lacks jurisdiction over plaintiffs’ FOIA claim seeking its release, and plaintiffs’ claim should be dismissed under Rule 12(h)(3) or 12(b)(1).2 This is not all that unexpected, even if it's fairly ridiculous. However, it's possible that the whole thing could backfire badly. Feinstein knew what she was doing in distributing the report to a number of people within the administration. While all of whom have access to it have the proper clearance, at least some have to agree that this report is an important historical document, detailing incredible misdeeds by the CIA -- and some of them may view it as important to have that information shared with the public to make sure such events never happen again. Senator Burr's rather obvious move here to demand all copies be "returned" is seen by many as an attempt to bury the report entirely. As Senator Ron Wyden points out, returning the report would "aid defenders of torture who are seeking to cover up the facts and rewrite the historical record." Given that, it seems more likely that at least someone with access to the document is going to realize that this important review of history is at risk of being shredded. Hopefully there is someone in the government with the courage to stand up and get a copy out to reporters in some manner or another, before Burr has a chance to succeed in wiping it off the face of the earth.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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If you program a bot to autonomously buy things online, and some of those things turn out to be illegal, who's liable? We may be about to have the first such test case in Switzerland, after an autonomous buying bot was "seized" by law enforcement. Two years ago, we wrote about the coming legal questions concerning liability and autonomous vehicles. Those vehicles are going to have some accidents (though, likely fewer than human driven cars) and then there are all sorts of questions about who is liable. Or what if they speed? Who gets the ticket? There are a lot of legal questions raised by autonomous vehicles. But, of course, it's not just autonomous vehicles raising these questions. With high-frequency trading taking over Wall Street, who is responsible if an algorithm goes haywire? This question was raised in a slightly different context last month when some London-based Swiss artists, !Mediengruppe Bitnik, presented an exhibition in Zurich of The Darknet: From Memes to Onionland. Specifically, they had programmed a bot with some Bitcoin to randomly buy $100 worth of things each week via a darknet market, like Silk Road (in this case, it was actually Agora). The artists' focus was more about the nature of dark markets, and whether or not it makes sense to make them illegal: The pair see parallels between copyright law and drug laws: “You can enforce laws, but what does that mean for society? Trading is something people have always done without regulation, but today it is regulated,” says ays Weiskopff. “There have always been darkmarkets in cities, online or offline. These questions need to be explored. But what systems do we have to explore them in? Post Snowden, space for free-thinking online has become limited, and offline is not a lot better.” But the effort also had some interesting findings, including that the dark markets were fairly reliable: “The markets copied procedures from Amazon and eBay – their rating and feedback system is so interesting,” adds Smojlo. “With such simple tools you can gain trust. The service level was impressive – we had 12 items and everything arrived.” “There has been no scam, no rip-off, nothing,” says Weiskopff. “One guy could not deliver a handbag the bot ordered, but he then returned the bitcoins to us.” But, still, the much more interesting question is about liability in this situation. The Guardian reporter who wrote about this in December spoke to Swiss law enforcement, who noted that the situation was "unusual": A spokesman for the National Crime Agency, which incorporates the National Cyber Crime Unit, was less philosophical, acknowledging that the question of criminal culpability in the case of a randomised software agent making a purchase of an illegal drug was “very unusual”. “If the purchase is made in Switzerland, then it’s of course potentially subject to Swiss law, on which we couldn’t comment,” said the NCA. “In the UK, it’s obviously illegal to purchase a prohibited drug (such as ecstasy), but any criminal liability would need to assessed on a case-by-case basis.” Apparently, that assessment has concluded in this case, because right after the exhibit closed in Switzerland, law enforcement showed up to seize stuff: On the morning of January 12, the day after the three-month exhibition was closed, the public prosecutor's office of St. Gallen seized and sealed our work. It seems, the purpose of the confiscation is to impede an endangerment of third parties through the drugs exhibited by destroying them. This is what we know at present. We believe that the confiscation is an unjustified intervention into freedom of art. We'd also like to thank Kunst Halle St. Gallen for their ongoing support and the wonderful collaboration. Furthermore, we are convinced, that it is an objective of art to shed light on the fringes of society and to pose fundamental contemporary questions. It appears possible that, in this case, law enforcement was just looking to seize and destroy the contraband products that were purchased by the bot, and may not then seek further prosecution, but it still does raise some interesting questions. I'm not sure I buy the "unjustified intervention in the freedom of art" argument (though that reminds me of another, unrelated story, of former MIT lecturer Joseph Gibbons, who was recently arrested for robbing banks, but who is arguing that it was all part of an "art project"). Still, these legal questions are not going away and are only going to become more and more pressing as more and more autonomous systems start popping up in different areas of our lives. The number of different court battles, jurisdictional arguments and fights over who's really liable are likely to be very, very messy -- but absolutely fascinating.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Netflix's vocal support of Title II, criticism of usage caps and, most recently, its complaints about the use of interconnection as an anti-competitive weapon have made the company policy enemy number one among the nation's biggest ISPs. As part of an attempt to undermine Netflix, these ISPs (with Comcast leading the charge) have been using their lobbyists, fauxcademics, and various policy folk to try and portray the streaming company as a dirty freeloader and a nasty company that is really the one to blame for most of the Internet's problems. Joining this chorus last month was FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, who in a bizarre letter to Netflix (pdf) tried to paint Netflix as a hypocrite on net neutrality. To accomplish this, Pai pretended (one hopes) he didn't know what a content delivery network (CDN) was, and that Netflix's creation of its own CDN is somehow the same thing as creating Internet "fast lanes." Pai also oddly tried to claim that because Netflix refused to join a new streaming video coalition spearheaded by Netflix critics like Comcast and Charter -- that this was somehow proof positive that Netflix was against "Internet openness." Pai's sudden interest in streaming video fairness was particularly strange coming from a former Verizon regulatory lawyer turned FCC Commissioner who repeatedly turns a blind eye to broadband industry competition and consolidation woes. Still, Netflix played along, and in both a letter and during personal visits explained to Pai that the company's Open Connect CDN isn't a "fast lane," is free to use, and its peering locations, guidelines, hardware design and open source software components are all pretty plainly documented. Trying to get more mileage out of his attack, Pai is now pretending that Netflix "refused" to answer many of his questions. In a press release (pdf) issued by the Commissioner, Pai again insists that Netflix is somehow "undermining the development of open standards for Internet video." His evidence? Again, it's the fact that Netflix runs its own "Open Connect" CDN, and encrypts certain CDN URL structures to help protect consumer streaming behavior from third-party observation. This is, Pai insists, proof positive that Netflix has been incredibly naughty:"In order to test the validity of this assertion, I then asked Netflix to respond to the allegation that it had rolled out its new encryption protocols by first targeting those ISPs that had installed open caching appliances. The company assured me that this was not true and agreed to submit information after our meeting that would disprove this charge. One month later, that commitment remains unfulfilled. When my office reached out to Netflix for the information (in particular, which ISPs were targeted on which dates), the company refused to turn it over. I am disappointed and perplexed by this decision. If Netflix did not target those ISPs using open caching, why would it withhold information that would disprove this allegation? I hope that the company will reconsider its position and supply the facts that would resolve this matter once and for all."Pai forgets to note that Netflix's "Open Connect" CDN is completely free, and benefits both Netflix and ISPs alike by making streaming more efficient. He also somehow omits to mention that incumbent ISPs refused to sign on to this CDN, something Netflix and Level3 have claimed was part of a plan to force Netflix to pay steep new interconnection fees (this is all currently being investigated by Pai's colleagues at the FCC). While I've noted that Netflix absolutely needs to be more transparent regarding the interconnection feud, its transparency practices are a far cry from the kind of obfuscation incumbent ISPs have been engaging in for years (which you'll note Pai has spent the lion's share of his tenure turning a blind eye to). Basically, Pai is conflating a bunch of issues, ignoring a bunch of others, and demanding a response to inquiries that can't really be answered because they don't make any coherent sense. In his closing paragraph, Pai makes it clear he's not looking for anyone to do anything about Netflix's villainy, he just basically wanted to make Netflix look stupid with a "gotcha" that isn't much of a gotcha at all:"To be clear, I do not favor additional FCC regulation in this area. However, if a company asks the FCC to impose public utility-style regulation on every broadband provider in the country in the name of preserving the open Internet but then selectively targets open video standards to secure a competitive advantage over its rivals, it should be called to account."Netflix has since responded stating it answered all of Pai's questions and that Pai "appears to be targeting us because he disagrees with our Open Internet advocacy, not because of our efforts to protect member privacy." Pai apparently hoped that his criticisms would somehow undermine the credibility of a Title II supporter, but in the process he only really succeeds at making a public official look petty, incompetent, or a delicate combination of both.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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As you may recall, about a year ago, President Obama gave a speech pledging some fairly weak NSA reforms in response to the Snowden revelations. There were some good things proposed, but he could have gone much further. One specific promise: the NSA would stop hoarding metadata on every phone call. As he said, it was time to "transition away" from using Section 215 of the Patriot Act to collect all those phone calls for the NSA to snoop through. Of course, he left the details up to Congress. And, Congress, in true Congress-like fashion, completely dropped the ball and failed to approve any of the proposed legislative changes that would have ended the metadata collection program. So, President Obama is giving up. He apparently is breaking his promise to take the metadata away from the NSA: President Barack Obama's administration has quietly abandoned a proposal it had been considering to put raw U.S. telephone call data collected by the National Security Agency under non-governmental control, several U.S. security officials said.... [....] The Obama administration has decided, however, that the option of having a private third party collect and retain the telephone metadata is unworkable for both legal and practical reasons. "I think that's accurate for right now," a senior U.S. security official said. It is neither unworkable for legal nor practical reasons. It's only unworkable because of political reasons in that Congress couldn't get its act together to bar the practice. Furthermore, if President Obama had ever actually been serious about ending the program, he could have easily done it himself. That's because his administration has to go back to the FISA Court every few months to renew the program -- and he could have simply not had them do so. But, instead, the DOJ has just kept on renewing over and over again since then. And thus, the NSA gets to keep on collecting all that metadata -- unless the courts magically put a stop to it or Section 215 isn't renewed by Congress in June of this year...Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Germany has figured on Techdirt on a number of occasions because of the widespread use of warning letters there, sent out in large numbers in connection with alleged copyright infringement, and usually including a demand for money. Back in April 2013, the German digital rights group Digitale Gesellschaft (Digiges) contacted the European Commission in order to draw its attention to the misuse of warning letters, which it said were in contravention of safeguards contained in the relevant European legislation. Here's the background, as explained by the digital rights association EDRi: Digiges pointed out that in Germany, IPRED [the EU's Intellectual Property Enforcement Directive] had led to a situation which allowed rightsholders to acquire personal data of the users directly from the providers. All they needed for that was the IP-address of an alleged infringer and an application to a court that would order the provider to hand over the requested information. While this option was originally meant to facilitate the realisation of damages and injunctive relief, the whole process in fact became more and more automated over time. The requests from rightsholders usually comprised between 15 and 3 500 IP-addresses at a time. In one single case in October 2009, the number even reached a breathtaking 11 000. Given the fact that the court proceedings in these cases are always summary or expedited ones, it becomes clear that there is hardly any chance for a judge to thoroughly check the validity and accuracy of the "evidence" presented by the rightsholder. In its letter, Digiges argued that the situation created by the German implementation of IPRED violates EU law, and asked the European Commission to do something about it. It did: in October 2013, it invited representatives to Brussels to explain their case further. After further correspondence with Digiges, more than one and a half years after the initial letter was sent, the Commission has finally decided to take the first step towards an infringement procedure against Germany: The Commission officially prompted the German government to comment on the German situation around warning letters within ten weeks. Heady stuff. EDRi points out that any practical effect of the Commission taking up this case is likely to be very slow to arrive: The German government is expected to delay their answer to the Commission as long as possible. Once it has arrived, the Commission will have 10 weeks to evaluate the government’s reply. An ensuing judicial infringement procedure might take up to two years and will be repeated if the member state in question fails to comply with the ruling of the court. So, realistically, we are looking at over four years before Germany actually has to do anything serious like changing its law here. But EDRi tries to look on the bright side, concluding its post as follows: it is still unclear if and when Germany will change its laws facilitating the abuse of warning letters. But an important step towards the first infringement procedure with a net-political twist has been taken. That's the spirit. Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+ Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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You may recall that there have been recent trademark issues over the term "12th Man", which Texas A&M insists is its alone to use, even as the Seattle Seahawks perhaps use it most famously in describing their rabid crowds and the deafening noise their home stadium produces. Well, on the eve of the Seahawks returning to the Super Bowl, the trademark lawyers for the team have decided to make a run at getting their own trademark on the number "12" ... and just about everything else they could think of as well. Despite that long history of onomatopoeia in the sport, the Seahawks are now trying to trademark the word “boom” and use it for the team’s own purposes. The effort is part of a quiet legal strategy in which the team has filed some two dozen trademark applications since October 2013 for phrases such as “Go Hawks” and the number “12.” Football and the word “boom” have been married for decades, long before someone nicknamed Seahawks defenders the “Legion of Boom.” Way back in the 1960s, Minnesota Vikings running back Bill Brown was known as “Boom-Boom” for his similarly punishing style. Ex-coach John Madden bellowed “boom” during play-by-play TV broadcasts so often that, by the 1990s, it became his personal catchword, used in commercials featuring the popular pitchman. No matter, apparently, because the attorneys are here to make sure the long history of "boom" and "numbers" in football belong to them for commercial purposes. The idea that a word that describes a sound could be locked up by a team, not to mention a number that describes the fanbase as a part of the team, is absolutely ludicrous. But the flag bearing the number "12" has already been approved for trademark. We'll have to see about the "boom." As for "Go Hawks", good luck to the Seahawks because there are very interested parties lining up to object. The Seahawks’ aggressive quest for new revenue has led both the NBA and NHL to try to slow one of the trademark applications. And while Seattle’s owners were once sued over the use of “12th Man,” the team is now trying to seize control of many other variations of the term. You can bet the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA and the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL will be throwing lawyers at the Seahawks' lame attempt to lock up language. Those two teams alone have an insane amount of merchandise in place bearing the "Go Hawks" language. So why haven't those teams ever tried to trademark the term? Well, because unlike the Seahawks, most professional sports teams are surprisingly lax when it comes to trademarking tangential language. Scott Andresen, a sports entertainment attorney in Chicago, said the Seahawks’ pursuit of so many different trademarks contrasts with conduct by other teams, even those with a national brand such as the Dallas Cowboys. “They’ve always been a little aggressive about securing intellectual property for themselves,” said Andresen, who has worked with other professional franchises. “They’ve really taken the position that the more intellectual property, the better.” Just in the past few months, the Seahawks have petitioned the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a chance to oppose a film company’s application to trademark a geographical name featured in the blockbuster “Hunger Games” books and movies: “District 12.”...While the Seahawks’ team owners have submitted 24 trademark applications in the past 15 months, officials with the Green Bay Packers, last weekend’s opponent, have filed just 36 applications in the past 40 or so years, according to federal records. So the Seahawks are especially insane when it comes to trying to trademark anything and everything. Perhaps they learned this deviant behavior at the hands of Texas A&M, and the cycle simply repeats itself with the victim becoming the perpetrator. Or maybe there's some kind of gas leak in the offices of the team's attorneys. Either way, it's probably time for a well-being check. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Wind power is getting a bit of boost from various new technologies that allow turbines to capture higher altitude wind without building enormous and unsightly towering structures on the ground. There are plenty of airborne wind companies (eg. WindLift, SkySails, Sky Windpower, NTS, etc), as well as smarter ground-based generators that are aiming to provide cheaper and more reliable electricity. Check out a few of these links if you like the idea of the skies filled with drones, blimps, kites and other floating devices. Altaeros Energies has a floating wind turbine that should generate electricity at the cost of $0.18 per kilowatt-hour. The Buoyant Airborne Turbine (BAT) is an inflatable, helium-filled ring with a turbine placed in the center. It has a capacity of 30 kilowatts, and it flies at an altitude of 300 meters. [url] Google's Makani project generates electricity from high flying kites equipped with turbines that can circulate from 80 to 350 meters off the ground. These kites can capture more energy than traditional ground-based turbines, and they can be moved to different locations to maximize their wind collection. [url] Ground-based wind turbine generators haven't changed that much over the last few decades, but they're getting more cost competitive with fossil fuel generators (about $0.065 per kilowatt-hour). With sensors and battery storage systems, traditional generators can provide more consistent and reliable power to the grid. [url] If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Another Supreme Court ruling... and another smackdown of CAFC, the Appeals Court for the Federal Circuit that handles all patent appeals. This regular smackdown of CAFC by the Supreme Court has become such a recurring story that it would almost be surprising if the Supreme Court took a patent case to do anything but smackdown CAFC. The key issue here is that the Supreme Court basically has taken away CAFC's powers to review a patent directly to determine if the patent itself is valid or not. Instead, it can only review the district court's findings, to determine if there was an obvious error by those district courts in handling claim construction. While this takes away power from CAFC, it actually is seen as beneficial to patent trolls, since (especially lately), the now-chastened CAFC has suddenly been rejecting patents left and right. But that might stop now as the CAFC's ability to do that is now greatly limited. The specific case is Teva Pharmaceuticals v. Sandoz, and the 7-2 ruling argues that appeals courts are only supposed to set aside "clearly erroneous" findings of fact by the district court, and that means that the CAFC should not do "de novo" review of a patent (i.e., from scratch): Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 52(a)(6) states that a court of appeals “must not . . . set aside” a district court’s “[f]indings of fact” unless they are “clearly erroneous.” In our view, this rule and the standard it sets forth must apply when a court of appeals reviews a district court’s resolution of subsidiary factual matters made in the course of its construction of a patent claim.... Even if exceptions to the Rule were permissible, we cannot find any convincing ground for creating an exception to that Rule here. The Rules Advisory Committee pointed out that, in general, exceptions “would tend to undermine the legitimacy of the district courts . . . , multiply appeals . . . , and needlessly reallocate judicial authority.” The ruling further notes that the CAFC can still do "de novo review" of the lower court's "ultimate interpretation of the patent claims," but just not the fact finding portion. Still, where this is concerning is that, for all the problems with CAFC judges generally loving patents, district court judges are unlikely to have much understanding of the underlying issues that go into a patent. And thus, the fact finding part of the process will just involve piling on experts, and the side willing to spend more on experts who will claim its interpretation of the claims is right will win, and the CAFC can no longer do much to challenge that. Unlike recent CAFC smackdowns that were of the 9-0 variety, this one had two dissenting Justices: Thomas and Alito. Their dissent is a worthwhile read also. And it focuses on the somewhat fuzzy area in between what is a finding of fact and one of law. And it notes that patents are not that different from laws, and as such the claim construction aspect shouldn't be seen so much as a finding of fact as a finding of law. Specifically, a patent is effectively a law against others being able to use a certain invention. And thus, according to the dissent, it should be treated like a law, subject to specific interpretations that can be reviewed by the appeals court: Because they are governmental dispositions and provide rules that bind the public at large, patent claims resemble statutes. The scope of a patent holder’s monopoly right is defined by claims legally actualized through the procedures established by Congress pursuant to its patent power. Thus, a patent holder’s actual intentions have effect only to the extent that they are expressed in the public record.... Moreover, because the ultimate meaning of a patent claim, like the ultimate meaning of a statute, binds thepublic at large, it should not depend on the specific evidence presented in a particular infringement case. Although the party presentations shape even statutory construction, de novo review on appeal helps to ensure that the construction is not skewed by the specific evidence presented in a given case. Furthermore, the dissent reasonably worries that this will now open up a huge opportunity for patent trolls to argue where the line is between fact and law, creating quite a bit of new litigation: Perhaps the majority is correct that “subsidiary factfinding is unlikely to loom large in the universe of litigated claim construction.” .... But I doubt it. If this case proves anything, it is that the line between fact and law is an uncertain one—made all the more uncertain by the majority’s failure to identify sound principles for the lines it draws. The majority’s rule provides litigants who prevail in district court a significant opportunity and incentive to take advantage of this uncertainty by arguing on appeal that the district court’s claim construction involved subsidiary findings of fact. At best, today’s holding will spawn costly—and, if the majority is correct about the frequency with which these evidentiary determinations make a difference, meritless—collateral litigation over the line between law and fact. We generally avoid any rule of judicial administration that “results in a substantial expenditure of scarce judicial resources on difficult questions that have no effect on the outcome of the case,” ..., and there is no reason to embrace one here. So while it's not surprising that CAFC received another Supreme Court smackdown, it seems like perhaps this time, it may create more problems, rather than cleaning up a mess.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Glyn already covered European Parliament Member (and the EU Parliament's only Pirate Party representative) Julia Reda's report on copyright reform in the EU. However, for Day 3 of Copyright Week -- which is all about transparency, I wanted to focus on the other aspect of Reda's release of her report: just how transparent she's been. When we talk about transparency in copyright law, we're often talking about the lack of such transparency, often via international trade negotiations, like ACTA, TPP and TAFTA/TTIP, in which backroom dealing is done by unelected bureaucrats. The public is kept out of the negotiating process entirely, while lobbyists have full access. Combine that with the revolving door between the negotiators and the lobbyists themselves, and it's a recipe for non-transparent policy-making by which legacy industries get all the "gifts" they want. Reda's approach with her report on copyright shows that it doesn't need to be that way. Along with the report, she detailed all of the 86 meeting requests she received from lobbyists regarding copyright (noting that the number went way up after she was appointed to write this report): She also noted that she really wanted to "balance out the attention paid to various interest groups" and that she really wanted to speak to content creators directly, rather than middlemen: Most requests came from publishers, distributors, collective rights organizations, service providers and intermediaries (57% altogether), while it was more difficult to get directly to the group most often referred to in public debate: The authors. The results of the copyright consultation with many authors’ responses demonstrate that the interests of collecting societies and individual authors can differ significantly. The end result: Meetings requested RightholdersAuthorsAuthoritiesService providersAcademiaUsers Meetings taken She also includes a list of every lobbying meeting request she received on copyright: This is great to see, and it would be nice to see others working on these issues post similar things. A few years ago, I noticed that while the USTR's FOIA website has a page for visitor logs, that page is conveniently left blank: After many months of back and forth, the USTR finally sent me visitor logs in an almost entirely unusable manner. Here's one of the many documents that were sent: DV.load("https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/686130-visitor-log-february-1-to-february-28-2011.js", {width: 560, height: 500, sidebar: false, container: "#viewer-686130-visitor-log-february-1-to-february-28-2011"}); Compare and contrast the two situations. One appears to be representative government. The other seems to be doing everything possible to hide what's really going on when it comes to important things like understanding who's influencing copyright policy.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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The Olympics: an every other year experiment in curtailing the rights of its hosts while draining those hosts of as much money as possible. It's apparently gotten so bad that essentially nobody actually wants to host the olympic games. Those still relentlessly putting in bids to bring on this multi-nation quagmire of garbage probably don't care all that much that the IOC and its smaller sub-parts are money-grubbing, number-trademarking, viewer-hating megalomaniacs that quite possibly lack what we refer to as souls and may or may not be fully-manufactured Hitler-clones. But if they do care about those things, they better not say so, according to what is apparently boiler-plate legal language in Boston's agreement with the USOC. Nobody who lives in Boston actually wants the city to win its bid for the 2024 Olympic games. And yet, in a joinder agreement between the city and the United States Olympic Committee, mayor Marty Walsh has signed a contract that forbids city employees from speaking negatively about the bid, the IOC, or the Olympic games. It's a great day for free speech in the cradle of liberty. Boston, home of the Boston Massacre and the tea party revolt, the city from whence the USS Constitution launched, the home of both President John Adams', has decided to suspend their employees' free speech rights in favor of hosting a corporate sporting event packed with more authoritarian bullshit than your average Middle East dictatorship. Let that sink in for a moment. Or, if you're like Boston's Mayor, Marty Walsh, just dust that crap off your shoulder cuz it's no big deal, yo. "Mayor Walsh is not looking to limit the free speech of his employees and, as residents of Boston, he fully supports them participating in the community process. This was standard boilerplate language for the Joinder Agreement with the USOC that all applicant cities have historically signed. The Mayor looks forward to the first citywide community meeting that will be held next week." The Mayor has also claimed that there would absolutely be no punishment for city workers who decided to express their feelings about the Olympics being a big bucket of money-sucking dogshit, but contracts are contracts, so they may not be inclined to test Walsh's honesty on that point. So I'll do it for them. The Olympics sucks. Just read it in a Boston accent. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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We've written a few times about the ridiculous case against Barrett Brown, a journalist who took a deep interest in Anonymous and various hacking efforts. As we noted, a key part of the initial charges included the fact that Brown had organized an effort to comb through the documents that had been obtained from Stratfor via a hack. The key bit was that Brown had reposted a URL pointing to the documents to share via his "Project PM" -- a setup to crowdsource the analysis of the leaked documents. Some of those documents included credit card info, so he was charged with "trafficking" in that information. Brown didn't help his own cause early on with some immensely foolish actions, like threatening federal agents in a video posted to YouTube, but there were serious concerns about how the government had twisted what Brown had actually done in a way that could be used against all kinds of journalists. While the feds eventually dismissed the key "linking" claim (equating linking to trafficking), they still got Brown to agree to a plea deal on other charges. After many months, he was finally sentenced today to 63 months in prison, more than double the 30 months that his lawyers asked for (30 months being the time he's already served in prison). He also has to pay $890,000 in restitution. For linking to some files he didn't have anything to do with leaking. Before the sentencing, Brown made a statement to the judge that is well worth reading. He admits that the threatening videos were "idiotic" and apologizes for it, but delves more deeply into what's really at stake in his case. Here's just a tiny bit: Every journalist in the United States is put at risk by the novel, and sometimes even radical, claims that the government has introduced in the course of the sentencing process. The government asserts that I am not a journalist and thus unable to claim the First Amendment protections guaranteed to those engaged in information-gathering activities. Your Honor, I’ve been employed as a journalist for much of my adult life, I’ve written for dozens of magazines and newspapers, and I’m the author of two published and critically-acclaimed books of expository non-fiction. Your Honor has received letters from editors who have published my journalistic work, as well as from award-winning journalists such as Glenn Greenwald, who note that they have used that work in their own articles. If I am not a journalist, then there are many, many people out there who are also not journalists, without being aware of it, and who are thus as much at risk as I am. Your Honor, it would be one thing if the government were putting forth some sort of standard by which journalists could be defined. They have not put forth such a standard. Their assertion rests on the fact that despite having referred to myself as a journalist hundreds of times, I at one point rejected that term, much in the same way that someone running for office might reject the term “politician”. Now, if the government is introducing a new standard whereby anyone who once denies being a particular thing is no longer that thing in any legal sense, then that would be at least a firm and knowable criteria. But that’s not what the government is doing in this case. Consider, for instance, that I have denied being a spokesperson for Anonymous hundreds of times, both in public and private, ever since the press began calling me that in the beginning of 2011. So on a couple of occasions when I contacted executives of contracting firms like Booz Allen Hamilton in the wake of revelations that they’d been spying on my associates and me for reasons that we were naturally rather anxious to determine, I did indeed pretend to be such an actual official spokesman for Anonymous, because I wanted to encourage these people to talk to me. Which they did. Of course, I have explained this many, many times, and the government itself knows this, even if they’ve since claimed otherwise. In the September 13th criminal complaint filed against me, the FBI itself acknowledges that I do not claim any official role within Anonymous. Likewise, in last month’s hearing, the prosecutor accidentally slipped and referred to me as a journalist, even after having previously found it necessary to deny me that title. But, there you have it. Deny being a spokesperson for Anonymous hundreds of times, and you’re still a spokesperson for Anonymous. Deny being a journalist once or twice, and you’re not a journalist. What conclusion can one draw from this sort of reasoning other than that you are whatever the FBI finds it convenient for you to be at any given moment. This is not the “rule of law”, Your Honor, it is the “rule of law enforcement”, and it is very dangerous. The judge didn't seem to care, however. Judge Sam Lindsay claimed that Brown was "more involved than he wants the court to believe" despite no such evidence being presented. Furthermore, it appears that even though the charges related to the link sharing were dropped and the plea was over other charges, sharing that link is part of why his sentence was so high. This is a very dangerous ruling for those who believe in freedom of the press. Rulings like this put anyone reporting on any hacked or leaked info at risk. While some don't like it, reporters need to be free to report on things, from the Stratfor documents to the Sony Hack documents to the Snowden revelations. A sentence like this puts a massive chill over journalism and the First Amendment in general.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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