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Older News Picks  
  • When you're in a Fourth Estate situation
  • Saturday, August 17 2013 @ 10:15 AM EDT
  • Greenwald raises his own money from readers who support what he does, as he explained in a June 4th column in The Guardian:

    "Ever since I began political writing, I’ve relied on annual reader donations to enable me to do the journalism I want to do: first when I wrote at my own Blogspot page and then at Salon. Far and away, that has been the primary factor enabling me to remain independent – to be unconstrained in what I can say and do – because it means I’m ultimately accountable to my readers, who don’t have an agenda other than demanding that I write what I actually think, that the work I produce be unconstrained by institutional orthodoxies and without fear of negative reaction from anyone. It is also reader support that has directly funded much of the work I do, from being able to have research assistants and other needed resources to avoiding having to do the kind of inconsequential work that distracts from that which I think is most necessary and valuable.

    "For that reason, when I moved my blog from Salon to the Guardian, the Guardian and I agreed that I would continue to rely in part on reader support. Having this be part of the arrangement, rather than exclusively relying on the Guardian paying to publish the column, was vital to me. It’s the model I really believe in."

    This was the last thing he wrote for the Guardian before the Snowden story took over his life, but he dropped a hint of what was coming. “I’ve spent all of this week extensively traveling and working continuously on what will be a huge story: something made possible by being at the Guardian but also by my ability to devote all of my time and efforts to projects like this one.” - Jay Rosen, Pressthink

  • Intellectual Ventures Deploys In-House D.C. Lobbyist
  • Saturday, August 17 2013 @ 10:05 AM EDT
  • Intellectual Ventures Management, which its critics consider one of the largest U.S. "patent trolls," has deployed its first in-house lobbyist in Washington, D.C.

    The Bellevue, Wash.-based patent holding company has sent its chief policy counsel, Russell Merbeth, to the capital to advocate on "[i]ssues related to patent reform, intellectual property rights, taxation of patent royalties, [and] corporate tax reform," according to lobbying registration paperwork filed with Congress Thursday. - The BLT

  • U.S. appeals on cellphone privacy
  • Saturday, August 17 2013 @ 09:47 AM EDT
  • The Obama administration, taking the advice of two judges to rush the issue to the Supreme Court, has moved quickly to ask the Justices to rule that police are free to look through the contents of a private cellphone they take from an individual they arrest, and to do so without a judge’s approval. - Lyle Denniston, SCOTUSblog

  • Remotely Assembled Malware Blows Past Apple’s Screening Process
  • Saturday, August 17 2013 @ 09:40 AM EDT
  • Mystery has long shrouded how Apple vets iPhone, iPad, and iPod apps for safety. Now, researchers who managed to get a malicious app up for sale in the App Store have determined that the company’s review process runs at least some programs for only a few seconds before giving the green light. - David Talbot, MIT Technology Review

  • Google to encrypt Cloud Storage data by default
  • Saturday, August 17 2013 @ 09:37 AM EDT
  • The data and metadata around an object stored in Cloud Storage is encrypted with a unique key using 128-bit Advanced Encryption Standard algorithm, and the "per-object key itself is encrypted with a unique key associated with the object owner," Barth wrote.

    "These keys are additionally encrypted by one of a regularly rotated set of master keys," he wrote. "Of course, if you prefer to manage your own keys then you can still encrypt data yourself prior to writing it to Cloud Storage."...

    A Google spokeswoman said via email the company does not provide encryption keys to any government and provides user data only in accordance with the law.

    [PJ: I take that last to mean that they don't hand over the keys, but they do unencrypt and hand over your data if the government asks for it. That means you need to encrypt it yourself and keep the keys to yourself. Or keep your data locally and skip the cloud. As Eben Moglen has pointed out, the laws are different if you keep things in your own home. They can't just barge in and take it from you without a warrant or do it in secret behind your back. At least that's the construct. If Google has it, their concept is that you don't have 4th Amendment rights any more. But if you keep it in your home, you do. Or put it in Switzerland or some country that has more protection built into the law than the US, if you need a cloud. Or get off the Internet if this mess isn't cleaned up soon. Seriously.] - Jeremy Kirk, ITWorld

  • I figured out a great way...
  • Friday, August 16 2013 @ 09:44 PM EDT
  • I figured out a great way to cut down on NSA abuse. Only intercept data of people who are terrorism suspects, rather than of everyone. - Micah Lee, Twitter

  • Feds Threaten To Arrest Lavabit Founder For Shutting Down His Service
  • Friday, August 16 2013 @ 07:09 PM EDT
  • The saga of Lavabit founder Ladar Levison is getting even more ridiculous, as he explains that the government has threatened him with criminal charges for his decision to shut down the business, rather than agree to some mysterious court order. The feds are apparently arguing that the act of shutting down the business, itself, was a violation of the order:

    ... a source familiar with the matter told NBC News that James Trump, a senior litigation counsel in the U.S. attorney’s office in Alexandria, Va., sent an email to Levison's lawyer last Thursday – the day Lavabit was shuttered -- stating that Levison may have "violated the court order," a statement that was interpreted as a possible threat to charge Levison with contempt of court. - TechDirt

  • Wyden And Udall: Latest Revelations Of Abuses 'Are Just The Tip Of A Larger Iceberg'
  • Friday, August 16 2013 @ 07:04 PM EDT
  • Following the latest revelations of widespread abuses by the NSA, Senators Mark Udall and Ron Wyden -- who had just recently warned that the intelligence community was not being upfront about abuses -- have put out a statement saying that there's still a lot more that hasn't yet been revealed:

    "The executive branch has now confirmed that the rules, regulations and court-imposed standards for protecting the privacy of Americans have been violated thousands of times each year. We have previously said that the violations of these laws and rules were more serious than had been acknowledged, and we believe Americans should know that this confirmation is just the tip of a larger iceberg." - TechDirt

  • PATENT TROLLS A Report on the Litigation Industry’s Intellectual Property Line of Business
  • Friday, August 16 2013 @ 06:54 PM EDT
  • Modern patent trolling is largely focused on the software industry: software patents constitute just 12 percent of all patents issued but 74 percent of the most litigated patents.[27] The problem, at root, is that “[p]atents on computer software [tend] to be the most vague, poorly written, and difficult patents to decipher.”[28] Though software patents have existed since the 1960s, very few were filed before the late 1990s—meaning that the PTO had very little experience with the field and very little “prior art,” i.e., “published evidence that key concepts in a patent application existed before the application was filed.”[29] Many, if not most, of the software patents issued by the PTO, especially in the early years, were so broad that they could conceivably cover almost anything to do with computers or the Internet,[30] and often several patents were being issued for roughly the same thing.[31]

    [27] See Kris Frieswick, The Real Toll of Patent Trolls, Inc. Magazine (Dec. 13, 2012), available at

    [28] Id. at 1.

    [29] Id. at 2.

    [30] See Daniel Nazer, EFF Politely Asks PTO to Stop Issuing So Many Crappy Software Patents, Eff Blog (Apr. 16, 2013), -so-many-crappy-software-patents.

    [31] See Rob Goodier, Patent Trolls: How Bad is the Problem?, Popular Mechanics Blog (October 25, 2011, 4:00 PM), technology/gadgets/news/patent- trolls-how-bad-is-the-problem; see also Masnick, Patent Office Back to Approving Pretty Much Anything, Techdirt Blog (Aug. 20, 2010, 7:49 AM), articles/20100819/12015210689.shtml; see also Eric Goldman, The Problems With Software Patents (Part 1 of 3), Forbes (Nov. 28, 2012), available at ericgoldman/2012/11/28/ the-problems-with-software-patents/. - Manhattan Institute

  • Getty Just Made 4,600 Incredible Images Public Domain
  • Friday, August 16 2013 @ 05:48 PM EDT
  • Much of the world's great artwork is tightly controlled, but the Getty Museum just announced a significant initiative to open things up — its new Open Content Program has made some 4,600 pieces of art from the museum's collection free to use. Users can visit the Getty Search Gateway to browse through the entire collection of high-resolution images, and they can all be used for commercial and non-commercial purposes so long as they're properly attributed to the museum. When downloading an image, the site also asks for you to share why you're using it — information the museum wants to see the many reasons that people have for downloading its content.

    Amongst the many freely available pieces of art released by Getty are a number of quite famous images, including work by Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Leonardo da Vinci. - Nathan Ingraham, The Verge

  • Conservancy Helps Samsung Resolve GPL Compliance Matter Amicably
  • Friday, August 16 2013 @ 03:23 PM EDT
  • Conservancy's GPL Compliance Project for Linux Developers is pleased to announce its role in assisting Samsung in a recent public compliance issue. The compliance issue was brought to Conservancy's attention when source code of an exFAT filesystem driver for Linux was unintentionally released via GitHub, and Conservancy later determined that similar code appeared in binary form only (thus violating GPLv2§3) in a Samsung Linux-based tablet. Samsung has made a source release available on their Open Source Release Center website.

    Conservancy's GPL Compliance Project for Linux Developers worked collaboratively with Ibrahim Haddad, the Group Leader for Open Source at Samsung Research America, and fellow community leaders, throughout the process after this code first appeared on GitHub. Conservancy's primary goal, as always, was to assist and advise toward the best possible resolution to the matter that complied fully with the GPL. Conservancy is delighted that the correct outcome has been reached: a legitimate, full release from Samsung of all relevant source code under the terms of Linux's license, the GPL, version 2. - Software Freedom Conservancy

  • Battle of the Office Suites: Microsoft Office and LibreOffice Compared
  • Thursday, August 15 2013 @ 11:38 PM EDT
  • You might not think it's really fair to compare the free LibreOffice and the paid Microsoft Office, but the two are a lot closer in features than you might think. For one, LibreOffice is compatible with a lot more systems, including Windows, OS X, and Linux, while Microsoft Office's newest version is restricted to just Windows 7 and Windows 8. ...

    After using both for a couple weeks, I didn't notice any major features missing in either. Writer is a capable word processor that does pretty much everything Word can do and more. In fact, we picked Writer as the best word processor for Windows. If a word processor is all you really need, then Writer will do everything Word can do and more. - Thorin Klosowski, LifeHacker

  • Google gets a personal assistant makeover, as voice & Google Now features reach the search b
  • Thursday, August 15 2013 @ 10:59 PM EDT
  • In the days ahead, most U.S. consumers will be able to use the search engine on any device to pull up details about their flights, reservations, appointments and photos from their Gmail, Google Calendar, Google + and Google Drive accounts with simple spoken or typed terms like: “What are my plans for tomorrow?” “Is my flight on time?” or “When will my package arrive?”

    Critically, this means sidestepping the annoying task of digging around for flight numbers and tracking info, and then venturing off to a third party site to check for the latest updates....

    To the degree that these tool reach deeper into our personal data, they will prompt additional concerns about privacy. Google stresses that the information will be encrypted, and that the option to use its new services can be switched off temporarily or permanently in its search settings. - James Temple, S.F. Chronicle

  • Academic Papers and Articles (Standard Essential Patents)
  • Thursday, August 15 2013 @ 10:47 PM EDT
  • Over the last decade, many, many pages have been dedicated to the topic of standard-essential patents in various academic papers and journal articles. This page includes links to a variety of papers that we have found to be interesting or otherwise noteworthy.

    [PJ: Note excerpts from Interpreting the FRAND Commitment in this Groklaw comment.] - Essential Patent Blog

  • White House IP Chief Victoria Espinel Steps Down
  • Thursday, August 15 2013 @ 10:14 PM EDT
  • Espinel could be one of the top candidates to head BSA | The Software Alliance after Robert Holleyman stepped down as its chief executive officer earlier this year, according to news reports ... - BLT

  • NSA broke privacy rules thousands of times per year, audit finds
  • Thursday, August 15 2013 @ 09:44 PM EDT
  • The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, according to an internal audit and other top-secret documents. - Barton Gellman, Washington Post

  • Italian skipper says Cup champ Oracle cheated
  • Thursday, August 15 2013 @ 07:42 PM EDT
  • Skipper Max Sirena of Italy's Luna Rossa is the latest America's Cup competitor to accuse defending champion Oracle Team USA of cheating in what potentially could be one of the biggest scandals in the regatta's 162-year history....

    Oracle last week acknowledged it modified its boats without permission of the Measurement Committee for four America's Cup World Series regattas last year, which were warm-ups to the 34th America's Cup. - AP,

  • Copyright Troll Ran Pirate Bay Honeypot, Comcast Confirms
  • Thursday, August 15 2013 @ 04:06 PM EDT
  • After a judge approved discovery to both parties in the case, defense lawyer Blair Chintella sent out a series of subpoenas hoping to expose the copyright troll’s nefarious tactics. One of the subpoenas covered the Comcast IP-address used by “Sharkmp4,” as can be seen at the bottom of the list of Pirate Bay IPs shown above.

    After a few weeks Comcast returned the subscriber details that matched the IP-address at the time the files were uploaded. As can be seen from their response detailed below, this IP is indeed the Comcast account of Steele Hansmeier PLLC, which is directly connected to Prenda Law. - TorrentFreak

  • Google blocks Microsoft's new YouTube Windows Phone app
  • Thursday, August 15 2013 @ 03:53 PM EDT
  • Microsoft's recently released YouTube application for Windows Phone is being blocked by Google. In a statement issued to The Verge, Google confirms that the application has been blocked for violating the terms of use. Despite the two companies collaborating on an app based on HTML5, Microsoft's app is still breaking YouTube's terms of use. "Microsoft has not made the browser upgrades necessary to enable a fully-featured YouTube experience, and has instead re-released a YouTube app that violates our Terms of Service," says a Google spokesperson. "It has been disabled. We value our broad developer community and therefore ask everyone to adhere to the same guidelines."

    [PJ: What is Microsoft up to? Let's guess. Maybe trying for some helpful headlines to buttress its FairSearch complaint about bundling? Or is a tech company not able to figure out the tech so as to get it right?] - Tom Warren, The Verge

  • Two weeks ahead of Microsoft-Motorola jury trial, summary judgment ruling reduces the issues
  • Wednesday, August 14 2013 @ 11:55 PM EDT
  • Although Judge Robart largely agreed with Motorola that attorneys’ fees were not recoverable in breach of contract cases — and that, under Washington law, Microsoft had not shown that any exceptions to the “American Rule” applied — he still nonetheless denied Motorola’s motion. Judge Robart agreed with Microsoft’s theory that its claim for attorneys’ fees damages is based on an alleged violation of a covenant not to sue — with the modification here that the RAND commitment is generally akin to a covenant not to sue for injunctive relief in violation of the duty of good faith and fair dealing. (While he found that the violation of a covenant not to sue was not an exception previously recognized by Washington courts — it had not been addressed at all — Judge Robart predicted that if a Washington court were to consider this exception, it would recognize it.)

    This means that at trial, Microsoft’s breach of contract theories could essentially be split by the court for liability purposes — attorneys’ fees will only be recoverable as damages if the jury finds specifically that Motorola breached its RAND obligations by wrongfully seeking injunctive relief in bad faith. If the jury finds only that Motorola violated RAND through its entire course of dealing in negotiations (its initial license offers, etc.), Motorola will not have to pay attorneys’ fees as damages. The jury instructions on these issues are going to be quite detailed, one can imagine. - Matt Rizzolo, Essential Patent Blog

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