posted 20 days ago on techdirt
Channel your inner tinkerer and take to the skies with your own customizable drone! Compatible with all major toy building blocks, the Force Flyers DIY Building Block Drone pack teaches you key STEM concepts while you build your own flying (or driving) machine. Explore aerodynamics and weight distribution as you engineer the perfect design. Then, get airborne and weave through tight spaces with a 6-axis gyro that makes for even smoother flying. And, don't worry, the drone is engineered with auto-stabilization and crash-resistant plastic, making it perfect for new pilots. There are 4 different themed packs to choose from: space, fire fighter, police and army. Each drone pack is on sale for $43. Note: The Techdirt Deals Store is powered and curated by StackCommerce. A portion of all sales from Techdirt Deals helps support Techdirt. The products featured do not reflect endorsements by our editorial team. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Before FOSTA became law, plenty of experts in the space tried to warn everyone that a bill that was frequently promoted as being necessary to help "save the lives" of vulnerable women involved in sex trafficking, would actually put more lives at risk. And we've already had some evidence to support that this prediction was entirely accurate. Various law enforcement officials have been complaining that it's now more difficult to catch sex traffickers. And, now the Associated Press has a big article looking at the impact of FOSTA and it's not pretty. The closing down of various online forums for sex workers has driven more sex workers into the street, where their lives are at significantly higher risk: Law enforcement in San Antonio arrested 296 people for prostitution between March 21, when the Sex Trafficking Act passed Congress, and Aug. 14, according to a public records request — a 58 percent increase from the same span the year before, when police made 187 arrests. Phoenix police said they experienced a surge in street-prostitution arrests in 2018 but did not provide figures. In Houston, levels have remained constant, but more 14- to 17-year-olds have been working outdoors since May, said James Dale, a police captain. Police in Sacramento, California, noted three street-prostitution arrests between March 21, 2017, and mid-August of that year. During the same period in 2018, they recorded 15. The stories from women who have shifted from using the internet to the streets are pretty harrowing: Kara Alexander, who lives in Florida, advertised her services on Backpage, Craigslist and other sites before April. When media companies closed down sections hosting adult services ads, she said, she started working on the streets. In May, she said, a client raped her and poured alcohol in her body in an attempt to destroy evidence. Alexander, 29, said she had faced violence while working online, but never on this scale. “It’s a different kind of danger,” she said. A sex worker who goes by Quinn and didn’t want her real name used because she feared arrest and other repercussions said that in the age of the trafficking act, she hasn’t been able to rack up enough jobs. Near the end of April, she started selling herself outdoors in Boston for the first time since she was a teenager, she said. “There’s no backup plan for people like us,” said Quinn, who said she was raped and beaten in August but could not afford treatment. There are more stories and information in the full AP piece. And, again, none of this should be a surprise. Before FOSTA became law, we (and many others) pointed to a recent study that showed how adult ads on Craigslist "reduced the female homicide rate by 17.4%" when it was available. And, to put some context on that number, that's the overall female homicide rate, not just "the female homicide rate of sex workers." Forcing more women into the street is, literally, leading to people dying. And it is infuriating that this was done by Representatives like Ann Wagner and Mimi Walters who insisted they were doing it to save women's lives, when the reality is that they have only served to put more women in potentially mortal danger. The AP article also highlights another point that we had mentioned previously: FOSTA is enabling much more trafficking by empowering pimps, while online sites allowed sex workers to avoid needing to use pimps: Alexander said a friend of hers was attacked by pimps who were incensed she was working without them, and Quinn said pimps have become much more aggressive now that they see a market. It would be nice if some reporters actually ask Representatives like Ann Wagner and Mimi Walters, or Senators like Rob Portman and Richard Blumenthal how they feel about the fact that the bad law that they pushed for, claiming it was necessary to save young women, has now created a situation where those women are placed in significantly more danger? In the business world, if you push for a proposal, once it's implemented, people check to see whether what you claimed would happen would -- and if it didn't, you're often asked to explain why not. It's incredible that Congress can pass a law insisting it will do one thing, and when it does the exact opposite, no one seems to care. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 20 days ago on techdirt
With net neutrality on the ropes, major U.S. carriers continue to experiment with new ways to nickel-and-dime their subscribers. One of the cornerstones of this new effort involves erecting arbitrary restrictions, then charging mobile consumers extra money to overcome them. Case in point: Sprint's attempt to charge users more money if they want to avoid arbitrary throttling of games, video, and music. Another example: Verizon's decision to throttle all video on its network to 480p unless you pay the company for a more expensive, not really "unlimited" data plan. While carriers like to insist that they only throttle user wireless connections in cases of network congestion, a recent study explored how that wasn't remotely true. Carriers are increasingly throttling connections just to create arbitrary restrictions, and these restrictions, more often than not, have less and less to do with actual network congestion, and more and more to do with nickel-and-diming subscribers: "There’s no evidence that any of these policies are only happening during network overload. They’re throttling video traffic even when the network doesn’t need to. It happens 24/7, and in every region where we have tests." Another study by Open Signal released last week notes that the United States lags behind dozens of other countries in terms of quality wireless streaming. The report took a closer look at streaming performance across 69 countries, using 90 billion measurements across 8 million devices between May and August of 2018. Countries were then ranked on the quality of their "overall video experience" based on how frequently videos buffered, the resolution of the stream, and overall video load times. The United States didn't fare very well. U.S. video quality ranked 59th in terms of overall video quality, and 34th in terms of average speeds. Not too surprisingly, the combination of slower wireless broadband speeds and arbitrary throttling and deprioritization practices carriers engage in are a major reason for the the U.S.' poor showing: "Video experience can also be heavily impacted by operator policy. Many operators globally use video optimization technologies to restrict the level of video resolution their customers can access on their phones. As our tests sample video at different resolutions, any downgrading of video quality — say from HD to SD — would have an impact on our scores. The U.S. is a prime example of such policies at work." Don't forget that studies show that U.S. consumers pay significantly more money for mobile bandwidth than users in many developed markets, only to have their actual video quality still ranked terribly. For its part, Open Signal leans heavily on the carrier justification for these arbitrary limits, insisting that they're done exclusively to protect the network from congestion: "Depending on the type of video, a 720p stream can consume twice as much or more data than a 480p stream. And as video now accounts for the majority of all mobile internet traffic, a doubling of the gross tonnage of video consumption would have a major impact on any operator's network. More traffic leads to congestion, and congestion not only impacts overall speeds available to consumers but can also lead to inconsistent connections and poorer latencies — all of which have a bearing on video experience." But that brings us back to that recent study by Northeastern, which showed that carrier throttling of video was in no way related to congestion. Yes, carriers may be eager to tightly restrict video to prevent traffic from being greater to save money, but that may not necessarily mean they're responding to congestion. As made clear above, most carriers are very interested in erecting artificial tiers of service, where you have to pay more money for a stream to work as the sender originally intended. That's less to do with congestion, and more to do with trying to make even more money off of American consumers. With net neutrality dead and federal consumer protection taking a nice long vacation, you're going to see a hell of a lot more of that type of behavior if the mega-ISPs and the FCC win the looming lawsuit filed by 23 State Attorneys General. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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The Chinese government is rewriting history in its own distorted self-image. It wants to distance itself from its unseemly past, so it's retconning history through selectively-edited educational material and blatant censorship. Sure, the Chinese government has never been shy about its desire to shut up those that don't agree with it, but a recent "heroes and martyrs" law forbids disparaging long dead political and military figures. The government alone will decide how much praise must be slathered on designated "heroes and martyrs." Criticism has been banned, so citizens are at least clear on that aspect. The law went into effect on May 1st, immediately leading to the ban of a Chinese "rage comic" site. This site is the first to be successfully sued under the new law. The company behind the popular Chinese “rage comics” that were censored earlier this year for defaming a civil war general has been ordered to pay his relatives 100,000 yuan (US$14,500) in compensation. Ye Ting fought for the Communists in the war and was jailed for five years after being captured by the opposition Nationalists. Soon after his release in 1946 he was killed in a plane crash. Seven of Ye’s relatives filed a civil lawsuit for defamation against Xian Momo Information Technology in May, soon after it had been ordered to shut down Baozou Manhua, its online platform for rage comics which at the time was the biggest in the country. Weirdly, the lawsuit centered on a poem written by Ye during his incarceration, which was featured in a video posted to the site spoofing abortion advertisements. According to the court, this "damaged" the reputation of a man who has been dead for 72 years. The law appears to have enacted some sort of hereditary right -- not completely unlike our nation's copyright terms -- which allows surviving family members to be legally offended on behalf of their dead relatives. The court also decided the use of a poem in a spoof ad also harmed society in general, further cementing the ridiculousness of this censorial law and the government enforcing it. Censorship in China is no laughing matter. The efforts are ridiculous, as are the justifications, but the government is dead serious about rehabilitating its image through direct control of the media, rewritten text books, and litigation. The law is likely to remain on the books forever, retroactively assuring the censors and despots of today's government will be shiny, happy heroes of the republic for years to come, forcibly respected by the children and grandchildren of today's silenced critics. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 21 days ago on techdirt
Everyone who knows me knows I love two things more than anything in this world: animals... and puns. And, to my delight, much of the pet industry considers using puns as something of a religion. You've all seen this, with groan-worthy names of pet stores, doggie daycares, and treat makers. And because the world simply can't be a fun place in which to exist, sometimes these punny names cause intellectual property disputes, such as when the Prosecco people managed to oppose a trademark for a pet treat named "Pawsecco", or when a real-life human being hotel called the Chateau Marmont sent a cease and desist notice to the Cateau Marmont, a hotel for, I don't know... raccoons? And now one fashion designer has decided to oppose the trademark for a maker of parody pet clothing, arguing ostensibly that the public both cannot tell the difference between human clothes and pet clothes, as well as that this same public doesn't have a sense of humor. While Demna Gvasalia has been preparing for Balenciaga’s Spring/Summer 2019 runway show, the brand’s legal team has been readying for a fight. Counsel for the Paris-based brand moved to oppose a pending U.S. trademark application for registration this week, taking issue with “Pawlenciaga,” a trademark that is being used by Pawmain Pets, a North Carolina-based company in the business of making what it calls “parody streetwear for your pets.” According to the opposition that Balenciaga filed on Monday, Pawmain Pets’ “Pawlenciaga” trademark – if registered for use on leather goods, as Pawmain has proposed – “will cause confusion, mistake and deception with respect to those goods, by virtue of [Balenciaga’s] prior registration, use and fame of its Balenciaga trademarks, including [on leather goods].” Moreover, Balenciaga alleges that Pawmain’s proposed registration “would substantially harm [Balenciaga]” and “is likely to cause confusion” with Balenciaga’s trademark rights, which date back to at least 1975. It's quite a bold argument for a high-end fashion designer to insist that a puntastic name is all that's needed to confuse the public between its goods and those made for animals. One would think that the quality of the product might do some work to stave off such confusion, but apparently not. Still, the average buyer of pet-goods, particularly such luxury items as pet clothing, will be well-acquainted with the long and glorious tradition of puns and parody in the pet industries. It seems laughably unlikely that anyone is actually going to be confused as to the product source or association. Now, while the USPTO has apparently never upheld a parody defense to a trademark opposition, though that defense has obviously been used a zillion times once lawsuits have been filed, it seems there is already some caselaw on the books that the USPTO might turn to as particularly relevant. The legally-minded amongst us will already be thinking of a similar matter that precedes Balenciaga’s opposition: Louis Vuitton v. Haute Diggity Dog. In that case, Louis Vuitton sued the pets-wear company, alleging that ones of its handbag-shaped dog toys, one that was labeled “Chewy Vuiton” and that was similar in shape, monogram (“CV” vs. “LV”), repetitious design and coloring to a Louis Vuitton Speedy bag, ran afoul of trademark and copyright law. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals handed Haute Diggity Dog a win in 2007, holding that despite Louis Vuitton’s claims of trademark infringement and dilution and copyright infringement, Haute Diggity Dog could continue to make and sell plush dog toys that make use of famous luxury trademarks, as “Haute Diggity Dog’s parody is successful.”   That kind of makes this pretty straightforward, as it's the exact same subject matter and industries participating in this opposition. Whether the USPTO will bother to look to that case to inform its decision is an open question. What isn't an open question is that there was obviously no reason for Balenciaga to do this. There were plenty of other routes to take, including simply ignoring this whole thing while noting that there was little concern for customer confusion. Why it chose to go the bullying route is a question that needs to be put to the designer. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 21 days ago on techdirt
It's pretty difficult to have been on the internet over the past year or so and not come across the distracted boyfriend meme. It has been everywhere. And, unlike many other memes, this one's popularity has shown little sign of waning. If somehow you did miss it, uh, welcome back to the internet after a year away? The meme involves a stock photo of what appears to be a guy checking out a girl who just walked by him, while his somewhat unhappy girlfriend looks angrily at him. Then to make it "meme-like" you put captions over all three characters. Here was one of the early ones that kicked off the meme: There are thousands of other ones, some of which are actually kinda funny. The reason this is in the news again is that the Swedish ISP Banhof attempted to use the meme in an advertisement on Facebook and Instagram: A bunch of people complained that the ad was sexist, and reported it to the Swedish Advertising Ombudsman, who recently agreed that the ad was sexist. "It portrays women as interchangeable objects, and that only their appearance is interesting," wrote the ombudsman, which was unanimous in its decision. It added that there was no link between the services provided by Bahnhof and the objectified image of the women. "According to the committee, the objectification is reinforced by the fact that women are designated as workplace representatives while the man, as the recipient of the advertisement, is being produced as an individual," the judgment said. Some of the reviewers involved in the decision also said that the advert presented "degrading" stereotypical views of both women and men. "It gives the impression that men might change female partners in the same way they change jobs. One notifier pointed out that Bahnhof may put off female applicants with the advertisement," the judgment stated. That feels... like a particularly humorless way to read a meme (it should be noted, FWIW, that the same photographer has a similar stock image with the gender roles reversed). Also, the meme doesn't seem to be commentary about women being interchangeable objects (if anything, it's about what a jackass the guy is), but especially it's use as an ad here seems to be a lot more about playing off the popularity of the meme, and making Banhof seem hip and on top of what all the internet kids are into these days. Amusingly, Banhof noted this in its own statement -- while mocking its own late-to-the-game use of this meme: "Everyone who follows the internet and meme culture knows how the meme is used and interpreted. [Whether someone is a] man, woman or neutral gender is often irrelevant in this context. We are an internet company and are conversant in this, as are those who would look for a job with us, so we turned to that target group," the statement continued. "If we should be punished for anything, it's for using an old and tired meme." It's unclear from the reporting if there's any actual punishment for Banhof, or if it just can't keep using that advertisement (though, given that this has now received a ton of press attention, it probably has given the company a lot more attention). Either way, Sweden's Advertising Ombudsman needs to lighten up a bit and maybe enjoy a meme. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 21 days ago on techdirt
This week, we've got a special cross-post from Rob Reid's excellent After On podcast. After a conversation between Mike and Rob about the possible end of the world, we pivot to the full episode of After On in which Rob talks to neuroscientist David Eagleman about his fascinating work using technology to create new human senses. We hope you enjoy it! Follow the Techdirt Podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe via iTunes or Google Play, or grab the RSS feed. You can also keep up with all the latest episodes right here on Techdirt. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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The only surprise about this is that it took this long to happen. A child abuse investigation unearthed by Forbes includes the first known case in which law enforcement used Apple Face ID facial recognition technology to open a suspect's iPhone. That's by any police agency anywhere in the world, not just in America. It happened on August 10, when the FBI searched the house of 28-year-old Grant Michalski, a Columbus, Ohio, resident who would later that month be charged with receiving and possessing child pornography. With a search warrant in hand, a federal investigator told Michalski to put his face in front of the phone, which he duly did. That allowed the agent to pick through the suspect's online chats, photos and whatever else he deemed worthy of investigation. This won't become a Fifth Amendment test case for several reasons. First, Michalski apparently consented to the search by using his face to unlock the phone. If this was as voluntary as it appears, it pretty much eliminates a Constitutional challenge. Beyond that, it's unlikely a court would find someone's face testimonial. For the most part, courts haven't found fingerprints to be testimonial, even if the application of a fingerprint leads directly to the production of evidence to be used against the phone's owner. The "foregone conclusion" argument would only require law enforcement prove the phone belongs to the person they're asking to unlock it -- information easily acquired with a subpoena from the service provider. Even if all these hurdles could be jumped, actions taken by the investigating agent pretty much eliminated any evidence the defendant might have challenged, as Forbes' Thomas Brewster reports. Whilst Knight may've found some evidence of criminal activity when he manually searched the device, in one respect the forced Face ID unlock of the iPhone X was a failure. It wasn't possible to siphon off all the data within using forensic technologies. That was because the passcode was unknown. In modern iPhones, to hook the cellphone up to a computer and transfer files or data between the two, the passcode is required if the device has been locked for an hour or more. And forensic technologies, which can draw out far more information at speed than can be done manually, need the iPhone to connect to a computer. It appears Knight didn't keep the device open long enough and so couldn't start pulling out data with forensic kits. He admitted he wasn't able to get all the information he wanted, including app use and deleted files. What Knight did get he documented by taking pictures. Michalski's lawyer confirms in a comment to Forbes there's been no evidence produced from the unlocked iPhone, leaving him nothing to challenge in court. Even if this case is a wash in terms of Constitutional challenges, that doesn't mean the status quo will remain unchanged as more phone manufacturers move towards biometric-based security features. Courts may recognize -- as they have with smartphones and cell location data -- that old assumptions about privacy and presumed government access are no longer valid in a world almost wholly reliant on portable devices filled to the brim with personal data and documents. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 21 days ago on techdirt
Let's start with the simple concept that it's not at all clear why intellectual property and intermediary liability issues should even be in various free trade agreements, other than to acknowledge that the legacy copyright industry has spent decades demanding that they be included in those agreements. I've mentioned it many times in the past, but the book Information Feudalism should be required reading on this subject, showing how copyright interests effectively hijacked the international trade agreement process to force through domestic policies they wished to have. The internet community mostly ignored the trade agreement process for years, allowing the RIAAs and MPAAs of the world to run rampant and get more or less whatever they wanted in smokey backrooms, before running home to Congress demanding that we pass new laws to "live up to our international obligations." When NAFTA was originally passed, this practice wasn't as common. Nowadays, it's more or less considered mandatory to include these issues in trade agreements. This is unfortunate for a large number of reasons, but it does mean that if these issues are going to show up in trade agreements, at least they ought to come out in a way that isn't harmful. And that takes us to NAFTA, which our current president demanded be renegotiated for no clear reason other than he was sure it was bad and we were being ripped off. And, voila, we now have a new agreement called the USMCA agreement designed to replace NAFTA (though I agree that we really missed a huge opportunity in not calling it the CAMUS agreement (or at least *something* that is pronounceable). And, because the RIAA and MPAAs of the world forced these issues into trade agreements, this new USMCA has a bunch of issues that have literally zero to do with "trade" but could have pretty widespread impacts on innovation and the internet. Michael Geist has the best overview I've seen of the agreement, highlighting both the good and bad aspects of the agreement. On the bad side of the ledger, it forces Canada to extend its copyright terms from "life plus 50" to "life plus 70." Thankfully, it appears the weird USTR confusion over the earlier idea that it was going to require life plus 75 years is now gone. But requiring life plus 70 is already problematic. It's especially bad for Canada in that it will involve a massive taking of the public domain, and locking it up for two extra decades for no good reason. But it's also bad for the US and Mexico in that it effectively blocks any chance of rolling back copyright terms to more reasonable levels (a proposal that even the US Copyright Office appeared to support in years' past). Also bad: expanding the data protection term of biologics. This is something that the US has pushed for in other agreements over the years and it's really dangerous for basic science and innovation in the drug space. Big pharma companies want it because it allows them to extract monopoly rents, but it harms our ability to actually understand the efficacy of drugs and to make better drugs. We've also discussed how this can lead to real harm in silencing people pointing out health risks of certain drugs. We also remain concerned about the vague "anti-counterfeiting" language that has been used in the past to justify some truly draconian policies that could create huge problems for innovation and privacy. On the more neutral-to-possibly-bad side of the ledger, the agreement does allow Canada to retain its current "notice-and-notice" copyright policy, as opposed to a "notice-and-takedown" policy for copyright infringement that both the US and Mexico have. This is good, because Canada's notice-and-notice policy was the result of many years of difficult negotiations and an attempt to do something not as draconian and problematic on questions of free speech than the notice-and-takedown system that we see abused nearly every day here in the US and elsewhere. Unfortunately, what puts this in the "neutral-to-possibly-bad" category is that Canada is only allowed to keep notice-and-notice because it's effectively grandfathered in. The agreement more or less blocks the US or Mexico from moving to such a system. This is ridiculous. Just as we're getting evidence of how much better a system notice-and-notice is compared to notice-and-takedown, suddenly the US and Mexico will be barred from moving to such a system, even if the evidence shows that it's better for everyone? That makes no sense at all. On the neutral-to-possibly good side of the ledger, despite concerns that it was missing in earlier drafts and reports, the agreement does include a provision on what they refer to as "limitations and exceptions," but which we note are really user rights such as fair use. It's good that this is there. But... it's less good that it uses the traditional "three steps test" found in Berne Convention. That's concerning because at least some interpret the three step test to limit fair use (and some even argue -- incorrectly -- that US fair use is not permitted under the three step test). So, the "good" part is that the agreement includes something on user rights, but the bad part is that it defaults to the three step test which could be used to significantly limit just how fair use is applied. Finally, on the "good" side of the ledger, the USMCA does provide language establishing strong intermediary liability protections: no Party shall adopt or maintain measures that treat a supplier or user of an interactive computer service as an information content provider in determining liability for harms related to information stored, processed, transmitted, distributed, or made available by the service, except to the extent the supplier or user has, in whole or in part, created, or developed the information. This is useful, especially as CDA 230 and DMCA 512 are under attack. Again, I'm disappointed that we should need to use "trade agreements" to argue this point, but since others are trying to undermine intermediary liability through trade agreements, there needs to be some pushback, and this does establish that in a clear manner. Hilariously, a former RIAA exec who was instrumental in getting copyright expansions placed into trade agreements around the globe is now whining about how awful it is that intermediary liability protections are found in this new agreement, citing concerns raised by plenty of people who support these protections, but who in the past protested efforts to expand copyright rules through those trade agreements. What a hypocritical position for him to take. Dude, you were the one who forced these issues into trade agreements: don't freak out and cry about it when you face some level of pushback in the form of policies you dislike. You made your bed. In the end, again, it's disappointing that these issues should be in a trade agreement at all. None of this really has anything to do with "trade" in the traditional sense. But they are in this agreement, and thus we should hope that they get the various issues right. The inclusion of intermediary liability protections is clearly a good result if you must include these kinds of provisions, but the copyright and biologic expansions are still incredibly problematic. Unfortunately, it seems likely that the response from the USTR or anyone else will be "well, you win some, you lose some" rather than fixing the problems. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 21 days ago on techdirt
The Complete Learn To Design Bundle has 8 courses that will teach you how to create stunning digital content. You start with an intro to HTML and CSS, then move on to SVG and WordPress. The next courses cover part of the Adobe Suite of offerings: Illustrator, PhotoShop, and InDesign. You'll finish with learning about Sketch App and building apps in Bootstrap 4. It's on sale for $39. Note: The Techdirt Deals Store is powered and curated by StackCommerce. A portion of all sales from Techdirt Deals helps support Techdirt. The products featured do not reflect endorsements by our editorial team. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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The DOJ is now 0-for-2 in encryption-breaking cases. The DOJ tried to get a judge to turn an All Writs Order into a blank check for broken encryption in the San Bernardino shooting case. Apple pushed back. Hard. So hard the FBI finally turned to an outside vendor to crack the shooter's iPhone -- a vendor the FBI likely knew all along could provide this assistance. But the DOJ wanted the precedent more than it wanted the evidence it thought it would find on the phone. It bet it all on the Writ and lost. Other opportunities have arisen, though. A case involving wiretapping MS-13 gang members resulted in the government seeking more compelled decryption, this time from Facebook. The FBI could intercept text messages sent through Messenger but was unable to eavesdrop on calls made through the application. Facebook claimed it didn't matter what the government wanted. It could not wiretap these calls for the government without significantly redesigning the program. The government thought making Messenger less secure for everyone was an acceptable solution, as long as it gave investigators access to calls involving suspected gang members. The case has proceeded under seal, for the most part, so it's been difficult to determine exactly what solution the government was demanding, but it appears removal of encryption was the preferred solution, which would provide it with future wiretap access if needed. If this request was granted, the government could take its paperwork to other encrypted messaging programs to force them to weaken or destroy protections they offered to users. The ruling in this case is still under seal, but Joseph Menn and Dan Levine of Reuters were able to obtain comments from insiders familiar with the case to determine the outcome. U.S. investigators failed in a recent courtroom effort to force Facebook to wiretap voice calls over its Messenger app in a closely watched test case, according to two people briefed on the sealed ruling. [...] Arguments were heard in a sealed proceeding in a U.S. District Court in Fresno, California weeks before 16 suspected gang members were indicted there, but the judge ruled in Facebook’s favor, the sources said. The DOJ was hoping to have Facebook held in contempt for failing to comply with the decryption order. It appears this isn't going to happen. The government may need to seek outside assistance to intercept Messenger calls. But that's a much more difficult prospect than breaking into an iPhone physically in the possession of the government and it would possibly involve vulnerabilities that might be patched out of existence by developers. The government is presumably hunting down its next test case for encryption-breaking precedent. With the Supreme Court finding for the Fourth Amendment in two recent cellphone-related cases, the chance of obtaining favorable precedent continues to dwindle. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Europe really seems to have it in for the internet these days -- from the GDPR to antitrust actions to the Copyright Directive to the Right to be Forgotten, almost every legal issue popping up in Europe is coming out terribly for innovation and the public's ability to communicate freely with one another. The latest may seem a bit more narrowly focused, but it could be super important. As described on the always wonderful IPKat blog, the Paris Tribunal heard a complaint brought against Twitter by the French Consumers' Association challenging the validity of Twitter's terms of service for a whole long list of reasons. But just to keep this more focused we'll discuss the part that matters to us: the copyright license. We've discussed the "copyright license" terms (that basically every online platform has somewhere in the terms) a few times in the past -- mainly because every so often someone totally misreads or misunderstands it and a huge, viral, and totally misleading freakout occurs. That's because basically any service that hosts user content has some basic term that effectively says "when you're posting something to our site, you are granting us a perpetual license to host it on this and future iterations of our site, and that extends to other sites where our stuff might appear." That's the plain language version of it, but some people act as if it's an outrage that a platform is claiming that it can have such a broad license to include the content on future sites or with partners. Many -- incorrectly -- claim that this means that the sites are planning to "sell" your content to third parties. That's not the case. The clause really just allows for things like "embedding" where the same content will appear on other sites, and that alone shouldn't be seen as an infringement. So you're licensing the content for such uses. But, some people still find this offensive... and apparently that includes the Paris Tribunal. Twitter's terms attempt to explain this situation pretty clearly: You retain your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Services. What’s yours is yours — you own your Content (and your incorporated audio, photos and videos are considered part of the Content). By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed). This license authorizes us to make your Content available to the rest of the world and to let others do the same. The French Consumers Union (Union Federale des Consummateurs -- or UFC) finds this to be somehow misleading, saying that the whole beginning telling users they retain their rights is misleading, given the rest of the explanation saying that you're granting a (non-exclusive) right for Twitter to then make use of it. This is a very confused reading. Again, the necessity of the license is so that you can post something to Twitter without Twitter then having to worry you're going to sue them over the thing that you yourself posted. UFC also complained that the license was somehow "too broad." And the Tribunal bought these arguments: "The aforementioned clause which grants to the service provider the right to use, for free, any content generated by the user, including content which may be protected by authors’ rights, without specifying in enough detail the content concerned, the nature of the rights transferred and the nature of the commercial uses agreed upon, infringes the provisions of Articles L 131-1, L 131-2 and L 131-3 of the Intellectual Property Code" Specifically, the tribunal is basically saying that every copyright license has to be written out specifically around that content, and specify what the content is and what it will be used for: the IPC, Article L 1341-1 prohibits the assignment or licensing of future works: “Total transfer of future works shall be null and void”. The IPC also requires that transfers of rights (assignments or licences) be recorded in writing and be very specific as to their content. It is a legal requirement that each right being ‘transferred’ (i.e. assigned or licensed) be separately mentioned in the contract and that the scope, purpose, place and duration of the exploitation for each of these rights be clearly defined in the agreement for the provision to be valid (see, IPC Article L 131-3). In other words, vague blanket assignments of present or future works are null and void in France. A big part of the problem here -- as highlighted in the IPKat article -- is that France's law apparently doesn't distinguish between assignments of copyrights and licenses. That's... bonkers. The requirements above make a lot more sense when talking about assignments (transferring the actual copyright to someone). But they make zero sense when it comes to mere licensing (basically permission to make use of the work). But, if France is saying that every license must be treated like a full copyright transfer requiring specific contracts, well, there goes all social media and user generated content in France. To put it mildly, this is crazy. It's taking permission culture to new insane levels. It certainly appears that under this ruling, in order to tweet in France, you need to sign a new agreement for each tweet with Twitter before you can post, in which you describe the content of the tweet itself and Twitter promises only very narrow uses. That's... insane. How can you possibly operate any site that allows for any user-generated input under such a standard? This is what happens when you have judicial bodies who clearly don't understand how the internet works. Requiring a new specified agreement to license each individual tweet is fundamentally at odds with how the internet works as a communications mechanism. Conceivably, this could serve to show the ridiculousness of copyright itself -- that it forces such preposterous outcomes -- but remember that no other country seems to interpret terms of service this way. Anyway, it's unclear what Twitter is going to do about this, but it certainly seems like it may be risky to continue even operating in France with such a standard in play. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 21 days ago on techdirt
World governments continue to believe Twitter is the best conduit for oppression. Twitter is the main target of Turkish president Recep Erdogan's loutish attempts to mute dissent and criticism. Other countries find Twitter's speedy delivery of punchy content a constant threat to their power and routinely block their citizens' access to the microblogging site. Twitter is too compliant too often, so the cycle of dissent-crushing continues. Twitter will push back now and then but, like other service providers, often places market share ahead of protecting users from their encroaching governments. Brazil's government was hoping to speak to a more compliant Twitter when complaining about mean tweets, but the call appears to have been answered by the steelier side of its international relations unit. A judge on Brazil’s top electoral court on Friday ordered Twitter to hand over data of 16 users who celebrated via tweets the near-fatal assassination attempt two weeks ago of far-right, poll-leading presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro.' Judge Carlos Horbach rejected an appeal from Twitter regarding the request and gave two days for the company to hand over the data, which was requested by the Bolsonaro campaign. The users could potentially face charges under Brazil’s hate crime laws. Twitter did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the judicial order in its second-biggest market in terms of number of users. Celebrating the stabbing of a presidential candidate may be tasteless and rude, but it shouldn't be a crime. But in Brazil, it's apparently illegal to celebrate the wounding of politicians. This is the danger of hate crime laws -- ones often written with an eye on defending the powerless, but deployed in service of the powerful far more often. Bolsonaro may not be president, but he's ahead in the polls so he's only a vote away from being Brazil's leader. A politician with 30 years of service under his belt is the very definition of "powerful." Twitter is pushing back this time and appears to have some experience challenging government overreach. If it continues to refuse to turn over the data, it will face fines of $12,000/day, presumably in perpetuity. In addition, the Brazilian version of contempt of court charges could result in the arrest of Brazil-based Twitter execs. It's another reminder that it's good to be king -- or at least a step away from the top job. The laws written to serve the public will protect you, even if your personal security team can't. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 22 days ago on techdirt
Back in June, we talked about a fun little bit of trolling that Xbox and Nintendo teamed up for at the expense of Sony and its PlayStation 4. At issue was Sony's longstanding stance against inter-console play for multiplayer games that would otherwise allow for it, whereas Xbox and Nintendo players all over the world were happily playing MineCraft and Fortnite against one another. The end result of Sony's stance has been both a decent level of frustration by gamers that expect modernity in their console's features, and several YouTube videos and Twitter exchanges between Xbox and Nintendo highlighting that their own consoles had inter-console functionality. In that post, we said it was an open suggestion whether or not this public ribbing would change Sony's stance on the subject. Narrator: it changed Sony's stance on the subject. After what it calls "a thorough analysis of the business mechanics required," Sony announced on Wednesday the first crack in the PlayStation Network's walled garden approach to cross-console functionality. Starting today, Fortnite on the PS4 will allow for "cross-platform gameplay, progression, and commerce" with versions on the Nintendo Switch and Xbox One (in addition to the Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac platforms where such support was already integrated). By all accounts, the thorough analysis mostly consisted of high level executives sitting around a table, asking one another if the Playstation should finally support inter-console play, and then sort of staring blankly at one another for days on end until one of them quietly muttered, "Yes?" And this isn't the account of pissed off gamers without an understanding of how this works on the backend. Rather, publishers and developers have basically been screaming at Sony about this for several years now. Sony has kept the PlayStation Network stubbornly closed off from other consoles' online platforms, despite complaints from multiple game developers that Sony's policy was the only thing stopping them from adding such support to their games. Things started coming to a head earlier this year, when Fortnite players found that merely linking their game accounts to the PS4 version of the game locked them out from using that same account on the Nintendo Switch version. More recently, Bethesda issued what it called a "non-negotiable" demand that any pending console version of its Elder Scrolls Legends card game must have full cross-console support. So, while Sony can't credibly take credit for listening to fans, it can be said to have happened indirectly, with developers being the ones wanting to bring these features to their customers, and then pushing and threatening Sony over it. Now, of course, Sony will want platitudes for giving its customers what they've wanted for two or so years, but it likely won't get them. By stubbornly choosing protectionism in the form of a walled garden, Sony has made even its eventual good moves come without reward. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 22 days ago on techdirt
While there has been plenty of attention paid to the BMG v. Cox case, in which Cox was found not to be protected by the DMCA's safe harbors in dealing with repeat infringers, it's increasingly looking like the ruling in that case (which eventually led to a "substantial" settlement) was fairly unique to Cox's situation. Specifically, while much was made of Cox's "13 strikes" repeat infringer policy, in the end the nature of the policy wasn't what sunk Cox: it was the fact that Cox didn't follow its own policy. In other cases, courts seem willing to grant much more latitude to the ISPs to make their own calls. We wrote about the 9th Circuit and its ruling in the Motherless case, which made it clear that a platform gets to set its own policy, and that policy need not be perfect. Meanwhile, down in Texas, there's the UMG v. Grande Communications case, which many had seen as a parallel case to the BMG v. Cox case. This was another case that involved an ISP being bombarded with shakedown (not takedown) notices from Rightscorp, in which Righscorp and its clients felt that ISP was not willing to pass on those notices (thus denying Rightscorp and its clients the ability to collect money in exchange for a promise not to sue). As we noted back in April, while still in the district court, the Grande case wasn't going nearly as smoothly as the Cox case for those wishing to copyright troll. The magistrate judge was quite skeptical, and had tossed out entirely the claims of vicarious infringement (while somewhat skeptically allowing the claims of contributory infringement to move forward). Vicarious and contributory infringement are often lumped together, but they are different. For there to be vicarious infringement, you have to show that the party being sued both had the right and ability to supervise the activity, and that it would directly financially benefit from the infringement. The court rejected that in the case of Grande, noting that just because Grande makes money from its subscribers, that's not enough to show that it was profiting from the infringement. Universal Music tried to amend the complaint to show that it had "more evidence" that Grande and its management company, Patriot, were still vicariously liable -- but the magistrate judge says it's just trying to re-litigate what it lost last time. The recommendation makes fairly quick work of UMG's arguments: The new evidence Plaintiffs rely on is: (1) Grande tracks its infringing customers; (2) these customers are “a la carte” internet customers; (3) Grande’s profit margins on a la carte customers are its highest of any business lines; and (4) Grande never terminated any user regardless of how many notices of infringement it received... Plaintiffs contend that these facts make a difference, and are enough to suggest that Grande’s failure to terminate infringers is a draw.... The Court disagrees. First, the original Complaint alleged essentially the same or similar facts. Second, the new allegations still fail to say anything about the motivations of Grande’s subscribers when they sign up with Grande. That is, Plaintiffs still fail to plead facts showing Grande gained or lost customers because of its failure to terminate infringers. Instead, the proposed amended complaint states that, “the evidence demonstrates that Plaintiffs’ Copyrighted Sound Recordings were a draw to Grande’s infringing customers, including customers Grande had identified as repeat infringers.” ... But as has been noted in prior orders, the means by which Plaintiffs contend the infringing subscribers infringed the Copyrighted Sound Recordings by use of the internet and the BitTorrent protocol, which one can access through any ISP. Again, the draw must be something more than this to state a vicarious infringement claim. The allegedly “new” facts are insufficient to overcome the deficiencies of the original Complaint. This is important. For years, the legacy copyright players have continually tried to expand what third parties could be liable for when it came to infringement. It's always been a stretch to use both vicarious and contributory infringement claims in these ways, and it's good to see courts pushing back (though, in this case, the contributory infringement claims still have a chance...). The court directly pointing out that just because a company makes money from a client, that doesn't mean the money is from infringement is an important point that many among the copyright legacy world would like to ignore. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 22 days ago on techdirt
Going all the way back to 2012, we were highlighting why a copyright "small claims court" might be problematic. It's been in discussion for a long, long time. There are some legitimate complaints from copyright holders that bringing a federal case is kind of expensive. But that's because it should be expensive. When Congress got serious about this issue back in 2016, we wrote about how it would be a huge tool for copyright trolls. Earlier this year lawyer Cathy Gellis explained how the law was a total disaster, in that it was built with the assumption that all copyright claims are legitimate ones. But that's a laughable claim -- as copyright lawsuits (and threats of lawsuits) are quite frequently used either to just shake people down for money or as a way of suppressing free speech. Make it even easier to sue over copyright, and you can bet that it will be used much more often -- meaning with significantly more abuse. We also had a guest post from lawyer Robert S. Schwartz, highlighting a very important point. One of the reasons why, historically, copyright law hasn't been as big of a concern for suppressing free speech was because of copyright toleration. That is, even though basically everyone infringes on many people's copyrights every single day, we've mostly "tolerated" many infringements, because common sense tells us that the law couldn't have been meant for such things. But, as we lower the barriers to filing a copyright lawsuit, we throw this "toleration" out the window, and, with it, we open the floodgates for censorship. Congress is, once again, considering creating a small claims court for copyright, HR 3945, or the CASE Act. The House Judiciary Committee

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posted 22 days ago on techdirt
An NSA employee will be headed to prison for inadvertently exposing the agency's malware stash. Nghia Hoang Pho, 68, of Ellicott City, Maryland, and a naturalized U.S. citizen originally of Vietnam, was sentenced today to 66 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for willful retention of classified national defense information. According to court documents, Pho removed massive troves of highly classified national defense information without authorization and kept it at his home. Pho's leaks were different than other NSA leaks. First reported last year by a couple of press outlets, the NSA TAO (Tailored Access Operations) tools were exposed to the outside world by anti-virus software , which correctly labeled it as malware. These malware samples drew the attention of hackers who then targeted Pho's laptop to exfiltrate NSA hacking tools. The NSA exploits and malware made their way into the public domain, kicking off a crippling wave of ransomware that has since been repurposed to mine for cryptocurrency on infected computers. The DOJ's press release has a lot to say about the seriousness of the offense and the seriousness of the FBI in tracking down government employees who carelessly handle classified code. In particular, it offers up this self-serving garbage to justify locking someone up for taking their work home with them. “Pho’s intentional, reckless and illegal retention of highly classified information over the course of almost five years placed at risk our intelligence community’s capabilities and methods, rendering some of them unusable,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers. “Today’s sentence reaffirms the expectations that the government places on those who have sworn to safeguard our nation’s secrets. I would like to thank the agents, analysts and prosecutors whose hard work brought this result. This sentence does nothing of the sort. To those not closely watching these things (i.e., people who'd never read this press release in the first place), it may seem like the DOJ is serving up justice. But for those of us who've seen certain people -- like General Petraeus -- mishandle classified info in a much more egregious fashion (giving his mistress, and biographer, access to top secret info) and walk away from it pretty much unscathed, this statement from the DOJ is not just hollow. It's hypocritical. Even the judge handling the case saw through the DOJ's double standard. Josh Gerstein of Politico reports the judge had plenty to say about the DOJ's prosecutorial efforts, especially in light of the fact Pho never directly gave anyone else access to the NSA's classified hacking stash. [O]ne of the most striking aspects of Tuesday's sentencing was [Judge George] Russell's lament that top government officials seem to have escaped with little more than a slap on the wrist for engaging in similar behavior. Russell seemed particularly perturbed that former CIA Director David Petraeus managed to get probation after admitting he kept highly classified information in his home without permission, shared it with his girlfriend and lied to investigators. "Did he do one day in prison?" the clearly frustrated judge asked. "Not one day. ... What happened there? I don't know. The powerful win over the powerless? ... The people at the top can, like, do whatever they want to do and walk away." It's nice to hear this from a judge, even if there's nothing the judge can actually do about it. Russell could only sentence Pho, not clawback Petraeus' unearned freedom and post-conviction cakewalk. Judge Russell might be less willing to help the government apply its sentencing double standard in the future, but his statements to the DOJ have probably only assured the agency will try to steer clear of his court in the future. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 22 days ago on techdirt
So let's be clear about something: the Ajit Pai FCC's repeal of net neutrality was already a mammoth fuck you to the American public, open competition, and a healthy internet. The effort to neuter the rules was based on bogus telecom lobbyist data, lots and lots of shady behavior, and oceans of complete nonsense. And while folks like Ajit Pai like to speak loftily about his noble effort to "strip away burdensome regulations," the reality is that killing net neutrality served one real purpose: giving natural telecom monopolies the green light to (ab)use a broken, uncompetitive broadband market to screw consumers and competitors alike. When the FCC killed these overwhelmingly popular consumer protections it wasn't just killing net neutrality, it was killing the federal government's ability to adequately hold lumbering telecom monopolies accountable on the federal level. In addition to neutering the FCC and shoveling any remaining, fleeting oversight to an FTC ill-equipped for the job, ISPs convinced the Trump administration to also try to prevent states from filling the void. As such, both Comcast and Verizon successfully lobbied the FCC to include language in the net neutrality repeal "preempting" (read: banning) states from holding giant ISPs accountable as well. Again the goal here is obvious: to eliminate any meaningful state or federal oversight of natural telecom monopolies, which will now be left unchecked by neither regulatory oversight nor meaningful competition. This little gambit came to a head over the weekend, when California Governor Jerry Brown signed the state's shiny new net neutrality law. That law took an incredible collaborative effort to pass, after ISPs tried to neuter most of the bill's key components via procedural gamesmanship, and even took to lying to senior citizens about the proposal in misleading robocalls. The public backlash to these efforts forced the California Assembly and Senate to pass the law in late August, before Brown (amid some uncertainty) signed the bill yesterday afternoon. Within hours of Brown's signing the bill, the Department of Justice announced it would be suing California, insiting that California's consumer protections were, mystically, somehow "unlawful and anti-consumer": "Under the Constitution, states do not regulate interstate commerce—the federal government does. Once again the California legislature has enacted an extreme and illegal state law attempting to frustrate federal policy. The Justice Department should not have to spend valuable time and resources to file this suit today, but we have a duty to defend the prerogatives of the federal government and protect our Constitutional order. We will do so with vigor. We are confident that we will prevail in this case—because the facts are on our side." You might be shocked to learn that no, the facts are most assuredly not on the Trump administration's side, here. The DOJ's twelve page complaint (pdf) leans heavily on the state-preemption language, insisting that FCC authority preempts any state authority over broadband. As a result, the DOJ argues, states can do nothing but stare dumbly at the problem as the FCC abdicates its authority over broadband consumer protection at the direct behest of lumbering telecom monopolies: "...the 2018 Order expressly “preempt[s] any state or local measure that would effectively impose rules or requirements that [it] ha[s] repealed or decided to refrain from imposing in this order or that would impose more stringent requirements for any aspect of broadband service that [it] address[es] in this order." This includes “any so-called ‘economic’ or ‘public utility-type’ regulations, including common-carriage requirements akin to those found in Title II of the Act and its implementing rules, as well as any other rules or requirements that [the FCC] repeal[ed] or refrain[ed] from imposing” in the 2018 Order." Here's the ironic bit. Legal experts like Ernesto Falcon at the EFF and Stanford Law Professor Barbara Van Schewick have long noted that when the FCC obliterated its authority over ISPs and net neutrality (by rolling back their classification of ISPs as Title II common carriers under the Telecom Act), it also ironically obliterated its authority to tell states what to do. Shorter version: an agency that has abdicated its regulatory authority can't then go and try to utilize this now nonexistent authority to dictate state consumer protection efforts: "While the FCC's 2017 Order explicitly bans states from adopting their own net neutrality laws, that preemption is invalid. According to case law, an agency that does not have the power to regulate does not have the power to preempt. That means the FCC can only prevent the states from adopting net neutrality protections if the FCC has authority to adopt net neutrality protections itself. But by re-classifying ISPs as information services under Title I of the Communications Act and re-interpreting Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act as a mission statement rather than an independent grant of authority, the FCC has deliberately removed all of its sources of authority that would allow it to adopt net neutrality protections. The FCC's Order is explicit on this point. In short, the FCC was a little too clever by half, and managed to shoot itself in the foot. ISPs like Charter Spectrum have already tried to use the FCC's preemption language to skirt state lawsuits over poor service and slow speeds, but the courts so far have shot these efforts down. But the central argument the DOJ is attempting to make here is that the looming DC Circuit case should should be settled and the FCC's preemption language deemed lawful before California's law can take effect. You'll recall that 23 State Attorneys General and companies like Mozilla have sued the FCC claiming it ignored the facts and the public interest in the rushed repeal. Opening arguments for that case should begin in a month or two. Given all of the bizarre nonsense Ajit Pai's FCC was up to during the repeal (making up DDOS attacks, ignoring identity theft and fraud during the comment period), the FCC has a not-insubstantial risk of losing that case and having the original 2015 rules restored. In short, the DOJ is trying to buy some time in the hopes that ISPs and the FCC win the looming appeal in the DC Circuit. And while it's certainly possible that the DOJ could nab a sympathetic Judge that's willing to ignore logic, the facts and recent history aren't on the ISPs' side. There's multiple levels of grotesque here. One, you might recall that Ajit Pai has routinely proclaimed his adoration of "state rights" when states are busy passing terrible protectionist legislation hamstringing broadband competition. You'll notice that this breathless concern over state rights has suddenly gone completely missing when states actually (gasp) try to protect consumers from predatory natural monopolies like Comcast. Two, the DOJ is literally using taxpayer funds to give California voters the middle finger, trample state rights, and ensure that telecom monopolies with two-decades of anti-competitive behavior under their belts can rip off captive, disgruntled customers. Whatever you feel about net neutrality rules, the reality is that it's what the bipartisan majority of Americans wants. Yet here we are, making repeatedly sure that not only are their voices stifled and distorted, but that their votes don't matter. If you ever doubted the telecom lobby's influence on policy, this little stage play should put that to rest very quickly. The irony here remains that the FCC's net neutrality rules weren't even very onerous in the first place. The FCC used forbearance to avoid any real rate regulation, while also providing giant loopholes on stuff like zero rating. All told, they were pretty modest protections by international standards. But because some monopoly companies nobody likes couldn't deal with even modest oversight, they've set off a chain reaction that has now created years of litigation and numerous fractured state-level efforts to protect consumers. As you watch giant ISPs and the politicians who love them lament the rise of "multiple, onerous and discordant" state level protections, it's important to remember that this is entirely their creation. Verizon sued to overturn the FCC's 2010 rules, despite the fact that AT&T and Comcast thought those rules were acceptable. That prompted the FCC to craft tougher rules that could be supported in court, which ISPs then sued over yet again. The reality is they're not interested in any meaningful rules that hamper their ability to abuse the broken broadband market, and all else is pretense. Again, people tend to get fixated on net neutrality "dying" or being "restored" via the passage of net neutrality protections. But the reality is the quest for net neutrality persists so long as the lack of underlying broadband competition continues to exist. And since the same folks trying to kill net neutrality have also made it clear they have zero interest in policy that addresses this lack of competition, this is an idiotic cycle of dysfunction we'll likely be stuck in for some time. At least until America realizes that letting potent and growing monopolies like Comcast dictate federal tech policy is utterly idiotic and patently self-destructive. DV.load("https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4952246-DOJ-CA-NN-Complaint.js", { width: 560, height: 550, sidebar: false, container: "#DV-viewer-4952246-DOJ-CA-NN-Complaint" }); DOJ CA NN Complaint (PDF) DOJ CA NN Complaint (Text) Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 22 days ago on techdirt
They say you should never stop learning, and at Stone River that mantra is a way of life. Through this $59 unlimited lifetime subscription, you'll get full access to 170 courses and 2,000 hours of online learning, covering everything from iOS mobile development to graphic design. Plus, you'll get a range of VIP perks, including unlimited eBooks, personal guidance on what to learn, and even certification exams. With all of this content, you are guaranteed to stay on top of the technology learning curve! Note: The Techdirt Deals Store is powered and curated by StackCommerce. A portion of all sales from Techdirt Deals helps support Techdirt. The products featured do not reflect endorsements by our editorial team. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 22 days ago on techdirt
Well, this is depressing. Back in 2016, we wrote about yet another copyright infringement case where we feared the impact on creativity in music. At issue was whether or not the band Led Zeppelin had infringed on the copyright of Randy Wolfe (aka Randy California) who had written the song Taurus for his band Spirit. Taurus has some similarities to Led Zeppelin's classic "Stairway to Heaven": If you listen to that, you might think that the two songs sound pretty similar at points, and thus perhaps Led Zeppelin copied Taurus, violating the copyright on the song. But things are much more complicated than that. For example, it certainly could be argued that both of those songs actually sound remarkably similar to J.S. Bach's Bouree In E Minor, which is absolutely in the public domain: As that video shows, the same basic melody can be found in a bunch of songs, including Henry Purcell's "Dido's Lament" (which predates even the Bach song), as well as Rogers and Hart's "Funny Valentine," Arthur Hamilton's "Cry Me A River" and a bunch of other songs, which all predate Taurus. This is, of course, the nature of music. There are themes and melodies and concepts and cord structures that get repeated over time, sometimes by accident, sometimes through homage, and sometimes by coincidence. So when it comes to copyright it's important to look at what is actually covered by the copyright, which goes way beyond "hey, do these songs sound similar?" Unfortunately, many courts have messed this up over the years, including a few that came up with a ridiculous "substantial similarity" test, rather than actually comparing the copyright-protected elements of the songs. One such case that got this wrong is the infamous Blurred Lines case, in which even though the copyright-protected elements of two songs were totally different, it was decided that there was copyright infringement. That's why we were pretty stunned, back in the summer of 2016 that a jury sided with Led Zeppelin. Part of the reason why that worked was that the jury was not allowed to just listen to the two songs, because the copyright on the sound recordings was not at issue (indeed, at the time of Taurus, there was no federal copyright to be had on the sound recording). Thus, they had to look at what was actually covered by copyright, which is much more limited. Of course, this is the correct way to do things, because if we're looking for copyright infringement, it seems ridiculously unfair to allow the jury to be influence by content that is not protectable under copyright. So, the end result in the district court was the right one. But... this is the 9th Circuit we're talking about, and when it comes to copyright, it will always figure out how to make things worse. And that's what it's done by vacating the original order and ordering a brand new trial, with conditions that will make life much more difficult for Led Zeppelin (hat tip to Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter for spotting this first). The ruling, by Judge Richard Paez, should be anger-inducing for copyright nerds. It basically picks up on a few earlier cases that make the nonsensical claim that if you have greater "access" to the earlier work, a copyright plaintiff needs to show less similarity to argue copyright infringement: In cases such as this one where there is no direct evidence of copying, the plaintiff “can attempt to prove it circumstantially by showing that the defendant had access to the plaintiff’s work and that the two works share similarities probative of copying.” Rentmeester, 883 F.3d at 1117. “When a high degree of access is shown,” a lower amount of similarity is needed to prove copying. Rice v. Fox Broadcasting Co., 330 F.3d 1170, 1178 (9th Cir. 2003) (citation omitted). “To prove copying, the similarities between the two works need not be extensive, and they need not involve protected elements of the plaintiff’s work. They just need to be similarities one would not expect to arise if the two works had been created independently.” This makes literally no sense under the law. How can anyone say that you "need not involve protected elements of the plaintiff's work." If you're not involving the part actually protected by copyright, how the hell can you claim there's copyright infringement? But, because of 9th Circuit precedents, the court notes that only applies to the so-called "extrinsic" test for infringement, but there must also be an "intrinsic" test, in which we ignore all that and go with our gut feeling on whether or not the songs sound kind of similar. Which, of course, is madness. To prove “unlawful appropriation” a higher showing of substantial similarity is needed. Id. The works must share substantial similarities and those similarities must involve parts of the plaintiff’s work that are original and therefore protected by copyright. Id. To determine whether an allegedly infringing work is substantially similar to the original work, we employ the extrinsic and intrinsic tests. The extrinsic test is an objective comparison of protected areas of a work. This is accomplished by “breaking the works down into their constituent elements, and comparing those elements” to determine whether they are substantially similar. Swirsky v. Carey, 376 F.3d 841, 845 (9th Cir. 2004). Only elements that are protected by copyright are compared under the extrinsic test. Id. The intrinsic test is concerned with a subjective comparison of the works, as it asks “whether the ordinary, reasonable person would find the total concept and feel of the works to be substantially similar.” Three Boys Music Corp. v. Bolton, 212 F.3d 477, 485 (9th Cir. 2000) From there, the court makes a slightly stronger argument, that even if you have non-protectable components, the arrangement itself can be covered by copyright (even if you're arranging public domain music -- so long as it's done in a new and novel manner). And here, the ruling says that the lower court failed to inform the jury that the arrangement alone could be covered by copyright, even if the elements were not: Nowhere did the jury instructions include any statements clarifying that the selection and arrangement of public domain elements could be considered original. Jury Instruction No. 20 compounded the errors of that omission by furthering an impression that public domain elements are not protected by copyright in any circumstances. This is in tension with the principle that an original element of a work need not be new; rather, it need only be created independently and arranged in a creative way. See Feist Publ’ns, 499 U.S. at 345, 349; see also Swirsky, 376 F.3d at 849. Jury Instruction Nos. 16 and 20 in combination likely led the jury to believe that public domain elements—such as a chromatic scale or a series of three notes—were not protectable, even where there was a modification or selection and arrangement that may have rendered them original. While this may seem reasonable on its face, it's complicated greatly by the fact that the court also rules that, unlike in the first trial, the court should allow the actual sound recordings to be played for the jury. While it first notes that (contrary to the plaintiff's wishes), the deposit copy of the song represents the actual copyright covered material rather than the sound recording, the jury should be able to hear the sound recording (which, again, includes plenty of non-copyrightable material). The district court, correctly, worried that the jury would likely not be able to separate out the copyright-protect and non-copyright protected material. But the appeals court doesn't seem to care: The district court excluded the sound recordings under Federal Rule of Evidence 403, finding that “its probative value is substantially outweighed by danger of . . . unfair prejudice, confusing the issues, [or] misleading the jury . . . .” Fed. R. Evid. 403. Here, the district court abused its discretion in finding that it would be unduly prejudicial for the jury to listen to the sound recordings in order to assess Page’s access to “Taurus.” The district court acknowledged that the recordings were relevant to whether Page had access to “Taurus,” as Page would have heard and allegedly copied a recording of “Taurus.” The district court was concerned, however, that allowing the jury to hear the recordings would confuse them. The appeals court decides that it's okay for the jury to hear the recordings... if it's for the purpose of observing Jimmy Page listening to the recordings. Really. Although the jury could still draw conclusions and inferences from Page’s demeanor during his testimony, allowing the jury to observe Page listening to the recordings would have enabled them to evaluate his demeanor while listening to the recordings, as well as when answering questions. Limiting the probative value of observation was not proper here, as the risk of unfair prejudice or jury confusion was relatively small and could have been reduced further with a proper admonition. For example, the district court could have instructed the jury that the recordings were limited to the issue of access and that they were not to be used to judge substantial similarity. Either way, the case is going back to the lower court for a new round, and now that the jury is going to get to hear the songs, all bets are off on how this turns out. One hopes that with strong jury instructions a jury might recognize how limited the actual copyright is on Taurus, but given the results of the Blurred Lines case, that seems like a long shot. Frankly, it wouldn't be that surprising to see this case settle before a new trial actually happens. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 22 days ago on techdirt
The FCC is once again being accused of blindly letting the telecom sector's biggest companies dictate federal policy. The FCC this week voted to move forward (pdf) with a plan that the agency claims will speed up deployment of fifth-generation (5G) wireless. Under this carrier-backed proposal, cities will be limited in terms of how much money they can charge carriers to place cell technology like small cells on government property in public rights of way (traffic lights, utility poles). It also imposes strict new timelines and operational restrictions making it harder for localities to stand up to giant nationwide cellular carriers. On its surface, the FCC is framing these changes as a necessary shift to speed up broadband deployment and eliminate cumbersome bureaucracy as the U.S. engages in a "race to 5G" with other countries. But the upgrading of wireless networks isn't a race, 5G itself has been aggressively over-hyped as a panacea for a broken market, and cities say the FCC's new plan is largely about saving money for wireless carriers, while tying the hands of cities, counties and towns trying to improve connectivity to rural markets. For example, the city of Philadelphia filed a complaint with the FCC (pdf) stating that the new FCC caps barely cover the costs cities incur for doing due diligence on network hardware placement, and clash with the existing, long-established systems of approval already erected on the local level: "(The fees) are simply de minimis when measured against the costs that the City incurs to approve, support and maintain the many small cell and distributed antenna system (DAS) installations in its public rights-of-way. "In order to accommodate and support the numerous Service Providers while ensuring public safety and an environment conducive to all uses of the public rights-of-way, the City incurs significant upfront engineering costs to review and inspect each location, including structural analysis review, geographic information system (GIS) updating, and design review and approval." Those concerns are being echoed by many rural counties (pdf) and consumer groups like Public Knowledge, who say the FCC's order tramples local authority and their ability to extract agreements that actually result in more rural areas (the ones carriers traditionally would rather ignore) from getting next-gen broadband: "While the FCC is correct to take steps to promote broadband deployment (like its recent Order promoting a one-touch-make ready regime for pole attachments), its proposal to limit state and local oversight of wireless deployments on public property is likely to have little success in promoting deployment, and instead is little more than a brazen wealth transfer of $2 billion from state and local taxpayers to the nation’s largest wireless companies." While folks tend to beat around the bush on this subject, that's because Ajit Pai's FCC is effectively mirroring incumbent provider interests on largely every subject that comes across their desks, something that was made abundantly clear during the net neutrality repeal. The idea that the FCC's plan is more about saving carriers money than speeding up broadband deployment is a positiojn also shared by former FCC advisor Blair Levin, who says the FCC's proposal "ignores reality," and argues that the gutting of existing relationships between localities and carriers will do nothing to actually speed up next-gen broadband deployment, and, in fact, will likely do the exact opposite: "The FCC's draft order is based on a fallacy that no credible investor would adopt and no credible economist endorse: that reducing or eliminating costs for small cell mounting on public property in lucrative areas of the country (thus reducing carriers' operating costs), will lead to increased capital expenditures in less-lucrative areas—thus supposedly making investment more attractive in rural areas. "While the FCC may ignore reality, the carriers and Wall Street understand that increasing profitability in Market A will not make Market B more attractive for investment. Market B will still be an area that is unprofitable or otherwise unattractive for investment, and the new requirement that Market A subsidize carriers by reducing fees will not benefit Market B under these circumstances." If you're playing along at home, this is all part of a game that's been played at the FCC for the better part of twenty years. One where the telecom industry prods dutiful government agencies to claim that a mindless deregulation of the telecom sector will result in broadband connectivity and competition magically springing forth from the sidewalks. But time and time again, said competition never arrives, consumer protection suffers, prices rise, and carriers pocket the proceeds of government turning a blind eye to rampant competition and coverage problems under the pretense of "encouraging innovation." You might recall that former FCC boss Mike Powell (now the top lobbyist for the cable industry) used to justify his rampant deregulatory agenda by claiming that things like consumer protections weren't necessary because emerging technologies meant the industry's broadband competition issues would soon be a thing of the past. In his case, Powell was hyping broadband over powerline (BPL), a tech that was interference prone and never suitable for mainstream adoption. Powell's promised broadband competition revolution never arrived, and instead we got giant, even more potent natural monopolies like Comcast. The same thing happened when telcos like AT&T and Verizon jumped into the TV business. The local franchise agreements that had worked for years to force cable broadband into rural, lower ROI markets were vilified and replaced by state-level agreements that were often little more than blind wish lists for entrenched ISPs and cable TV operators. The promise: this "streamlining" would result in a wave of new TV competition and lower prices. The reality: more of the same, with fewer consumer protections to help rein in bad behavior in a traditionally anti-consumer sector, and less local pressure to shore up coverage gaps. Again, deregulation may help already competitive markets by freeing them from nonsensical or unnecessary bureaucracy. But when mindlessly applied to broadband (aka natural monopolies enjoying regulatory capture), it simply makes things worse, and doesn't fix any of the underlying problems. Nothing about this order deals with AT&T and Verizon's monopoly over cell tower backhaul, or the high prices that result. Nor does it address a lack of competition on the retail front, a problem that's about to get worse thanks to the merger between Sprint and T-Mobile. It does continue the longstanding tradition of gutting all local authority over telecom monopolies under the promise that low prices, better coverage and faster service sits just over the horizon (ignoring state and local rights that used to be deemed important in the process). Someday we'll collectively realize we're just playing a glorified version of Charlie Brown and Lucy football with giant natural monopolies and the politicians paid to parrot their positions, but it's pretty clear we're years away from any meaningful realization on that front. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 22 days ago on techdirt
The CBP has drones. How many, it's not really sure. It depends on when you ask. Or how you ask. The EFF's FOIA lawsuit against the agency caused it to suddenly "remember" it had deployed drones 200 more times than it had previously disclosed. The CBP's drones are a lending library for US law enforcement agencies. An audit of the program found the CBP's drones were more often used by others than by the agency owning them, despite this agency being charged with patrolling thousands of miles of US border -- something that might be aided by some additional eyes in the skies. But the eyes were worthless. The Inspector General concluded it was an airborne boondoggle. The CBP wasn't malicious, just inept. As the IG saw it, the half-billion slated for drone use would be better spent on more personnel and ground-based surveillance. Nevertheless, the drones continue to fly. When not straying far from the border to aid inland law enforcement agencies, the agency's unmanned aircraft are still aloft, engaging in surveillance no one can really say for certain is 100% legal. The Inspector General's latest report [PDF] shows the CBP has done very little to ensure its drone deployments are secure or legally-compliant. CBP has not ensured effective safeguards for surveillance information, such as images and video, collected on and transmitted from its UAS. CBP did not perform a PTA [Privacy Threshold Analysis] for ISR Systems [Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance] used in the UAS [Unmanned Aircraft Systems] program to collect data because CBP officials were unaware of the requirement to do so. Failure to include ISR Systems in CBP’s information technology inventory enabled system deployment without CBP Privacy Office oversight. Without a privacy assessment, CBP could not determine whether ISR Systems contained data requiring safeguards per privacy laws, regulations, and DHS policy. This is what's going to have to pass as the "good news" in "good news and bad news." There only appears to be bad news. CBP didn't implement security controls to safeguard its surveillance systems, including a failure to control access to ground control stations housing collected surveillance footage/data. The long string of screw ups listed in this report are the result of serious structural failure. These information security deficiencies occurred because CBP did not establish an effective program structure, including the leadership, expertise, staff, training, and guidance needed to manage ISR Systems effectively. This leaves the CBP's drone program susceptible to threats both external and internal. Additionally, the lack of a privacy assessment means the CBP can't say its surveillance doesn't violate civil liberties or local laws. CBP officials seemed to be entirely unaware of the need to perform an impact assessment prior to deployment. But the officials did agree it was someone else's fault they didn't know how to do their job. The IG saw the buck being passed by everyone it spoke to. The final resting place for the oft-passed buck was the outside contractor who set up the ISR system. When in doubt, blame the civilians -- a strategy that makes no sense when you're discussing the lack of compliance with DHS policy and federal regulations. As the IG sees it, the ISR program operates without authorization or approval. DHS requirements have yet to be met by the CBP, so every one of its hundreds of drone flights have been, at the very least, policy violations. The CBP also could not provide the IG with a security assessment report for its ISR system, suggesting this has never been done in the program's half-decade-plus of existence. Then there are other system-critical odds and ends the CBP can't seem to get a grip on. Unauthorized media devices/USB drives are being plugged into system-critical hardware. Software patches are delivered irregularly and inconsistently. No one appears to be tasked with monitoring system events on ISR systems and a plethora of outdated software is still in use, which means some system-critical software hasn't been patched in months or years and possibly may never receive another update. Also described as "inadequate:" personnel management, physical access controls, staffing levels, and systems training. So far, so government. But this a government agency with access to plenty of funding and advanced tech. It has plenty of tools but uses them poorly. Despite being told its unmanned systems were mostly useless, the CBP continues to pour money on the problems it won't fix, rather than follow the IG's last list of recommendations. It has access to plenty of surveillance tech, but won't provide proper training, perform mandated assessments, or even put together a half-assed organizational chart for its drone operations. The CBP has shown it can't be trusted with the stuff that's given to it to use in its border patrolling efforts. Sadly though, the response from Congress year after year has been to give it more money and stuff to use poorly, unwisely, and possibly illegally. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 23 days ago on techdirt
This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is That One Guy in response to the police actually admitting fault in a SWAT raid on the wrong address, for once: This? Do this more often. Do this ALL the time Well now, if police acted like this all the time I and many others would be much more likely to cut them some slack on a regular basis when they screw up other times. They screwed up and they owned it. No attempt to shift the blame, no attempt to drag the innocent person through the mud and/or try to shift the narrative from 'SWAT team raids wrong house' to 'vile (probable) criminal shoots two cops for what are surely heinous reasons.' While it's unfortunate, as noted in the article, that this isn't the default, and it is therefore a pleasant surprise when police actually show some personal responsibility like this, it is still a pleasant surprise nonetheless. Now if it can start happening with such regularity that it stops being a surprise, and is instead treated as what it should have been, 'just how it works', that'd be great. In second place, we've got ryuugami responding to another situation in which the FBI put US citizens on the no fly list for refusing to become informants: Land of the Free, Home of the Brave. You'd think the people charged with protecting a country and everything it stands for wouldn't keep undermining that country and everything it stands for with their every breath, but here we are. Again. *sigh* For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a response from Gary to Twitter's ongoing moderation woes: Silly But But this is what happens when they are put under pressure to "Do Something" about fake news. "Something" was done. Next, we've got a comment from crade about the infuriating and essentially meaningless "left/right" political dynamic of the content moderation debate: So basically as soon as left leaning people start making companies suddenly the right thinks capitalism doesn't work and the govn't should be controlling how big companies operate because they aren't being "fair" enough to everyone. This is modern conservative thinking? Am I the only one who finds all the whining about being treated unfair by the big internet companies and how we need to "do something about it" extremely... left? Over on the funny side, our first place winner comes after an occasional Techdirt formatting bug struck last week's comment post, resulting in the right hand side of the text being obscured behind the page sidebar. Justok made an excellent joke: Censorship of the RIGHT. In second place, we've got DannyB responding to the should-be-obvious finding that yes, giving cops the finger is protected speech: Some cops need to have their patrol duty restricted to patrolling only safe spaces where they won't be offended. For editor's choice on the funny side, first we've got Baron von Robber with a take on Alex Jones's social media bans: Alex Jones is a crisis actor pretending he got banned. He's really hiding in a pizza parlor basement with some martian kids. And finally, we've got an anonymous response to the invocation of a Kim Dotcom quote in support of the argument for why Google, Twitter, Facebook et al need to be controlled: I too studied under noted US constitutional law professor and justice Kim Dotcom. That's all for this week, folks! Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 24 days ago on techdirt
Five Years Ago This week in 2013 we learned that, despite the White House's denials, the review of NSA surveillance was indeed overseen by James Clapper. The NSA was complaining about how it had to spend time closing leaks while its apologists were out in force, with some trotting out the old "privacy is dead" argument and, of course, incoming FBI director James Comey saying it was all good and legal. The critics were out in greater force, though: the New York Times called for the NSA to be barred from requiring surveillance backdoors, the president of Brazil blasted the US in front of the United Nations, Senator Leahy gave a speech condemning the agency's practices, and a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced comprehensive surveillance reform legislation. Ten Years Ago This week in 2008, while companies were waking up to the absurd trademark restrictions around the Olympics, Major League Baseball surprised us by backing down from a takedown notice in the face of a well-crafted fair use defense. A Spanish court upheld the idea that deep linking is not infringement, a Ugandan composer was suing the government for copyright infringement over the national anthem, and the European Parliament rejected the idea of three strikes laws for file sharing. Back in the US, the judge in the Jammie Thomas case declared a mistrial, the Senate passed the bill creating a copyright czar, and Arts+Labs emerged as a new anti-piracy lobbying supergroup. Fifteen Years Ago This week in 2003, we talked once again about how infringement isn't theft, and also how in fact what the RIAA does is a lot closer to stealing. Of course, studies unsurprisingly showed that file sharing wasn't going away, and smarter upstart record labels were starting to see it as an ally, but the RIAA was still stuck keeping an eye on innocent people. We also took a look at how the MPAA's mistakes were uniquely flavored and different from the RIAA's, but the BSA was taking a direct lesson from the RIAA with its offer of amnesty to confessed pirates (and its doom-and-gloom soothsaying about software piracy). Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 25 days ago on techdirt
This month's stupid patent describes an invention that will be familiar to many readers: a virtual reality (VR) system where participants can interact with a virtual world and each other. US Patent No. 6,409,599 is titled "Interactive virtual reality performance theater entertainment system." Does the '599 patent belong to the true inventors of VR? No. The patent itself acknowledges that VR already existed when the application was filed in mid-1999. Rather, it claims minor tweaks to existing VR systems such as having participants see pre-recorded videos. In our view, these tweaks were not new when the patent application was filed. Even if they were, minor additions to existing technology should not be enough for a patent. The '599 patent is owned by a company called Virtual Immersion Technologies, LLC. This company appears to have no other business except patent assertion. So far, it has filed 21 patent lawsuits, targeting a variety of companies ranging from small VR startups to large defense companies. It has brought infringement claims against VR porn, social VR systems, and VR laboratories. Virtual reality was not new in mid-1999. The only supposedly new features of the '599 patent are providing a live or prerecorded video of a live performer and enabling audio communication between the performer and a participant. Similar technology was infamously predicted in the Star Wars Holiday Special of 1978. In this sense, the patent is reminiscent of patents that take the form: "X, but on the Internet." Here, the patent essentially claims video teleconferencing, but in virtual reality. Claim 1 of the '599 patent is almost 200 words long, but is packed with the kind of mundane details and faux-complexity typical of software patents. For example, the claim runs through various "input devices" and "output devices" assigned to the "performer" and "participant." But any VR system connecting two people will have such things. How else are the users supposed to communicate? Telepathy? Like many software patents, the '599 patent describes the "invention" at an absurdly high, and unhelpful, level of abstraction. Any specific language in the patent is hedged to the point that it becomes meaningless. The "input devices" might be things like a "keypad or cyberglove," but can also be any device that "communicate[s] with the computer through a variety of hardware and software means." In other words, the "input device" can be almost any device at all. The patent suggests that the "underlying control programs and device drivers" can be written in "in many different types of programming languages." Similarly, the "network communication functions" can be accomplished by any "protocols or means which may currently exist or exist in the future." The overall message: build yourself a VR system from scratch and risk infringing. Unified Patents filed an inter partes review petition arguing that claims of the '599 patent were obvious at the time of the application. The petition argues, persuasively in our view, that earlier publications describe the supposed invention claimed by the '599 patent. The inter partes review proceeding has since settled, but any defendant sued by Virtual Immersion Technologies, LLC can raise the same prior art (and more) in their defense. Unfortunately, it is very expensive to defend a patent suit and this means defendants are pressured to settle even when the case is weak. The '599 patent highlights many of the weaknesses of the patent system, especially with respect to software patents. First, the Patent Office failed to find prior art. Second, the patent claims are vague and the patent isn't tied to any concrete implementation. Finally, the patent ended being used to sue real companies that employ people and make things. Republished from the EFF's Stupid Patent of the Month series. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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