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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 15 min 5 sec ago

Blockchain Patent Hype Has Been So Extraordinary That There’s Now a Blockchain Defensive Patent License (BDPL)

Sunday 4th of March 2018 07:18:59 PM

Related: Blockchain Becomes the Target Not Only of Financial Institutions With Software Patents But Also Trolls

Another hype loop

Summary: Blockchain patents, which are just software patents (and thus likely invalid under Alice and EPC), continue to be granted and law firms are totally embracing this hype to encourage more of the same (granting of dubious software patents)

THE EPO grants software patents provided they’re clouded by buzzwords, novelty-sounding hype, and words like “device” or terms like “technical effect”. The USPTO has become stricter than before (more on that later today and tomorrow), so buzzwords or media hype get exploited (“AI” has been a popular one lately).

A few days ago someone explained why Europe does not yet grapple much with blockchain patents (at least the appeal boards do not): “Of course, due to the delay of the publication of patent applications by 18 months, today’s statistics reflect the situation of late August 2016, when the blockchain hype was in its early stages…”

He too uses the word “hype”.

“…buzzwords or media hype get exploited (“AI” has been a popular one lately).”They know what it is. To be clear, blockchains are a real thing and not merely a buzzword like “cloud” or “AI”; blockchains have different implementations and uses. They’re just very hot (maybe too hot) in the media these days. Last week there was this article titled “The blockchain market is hot; here’s how to learn the skills for it” and another one titled “Blockchain: Not just for cryptocurrency” (the above person already suggestion it can be used for patent management).

“AI”, “Blockchain” and all that malarkey which makes old staff sound novel and cutting-edge (sickening retreat to buzz and hype) is a subject we wrote about many times before. We hope that examiners at least know what’s going on because perhaps more often than not when confronted with such terms inside applications the intent is to mislead and confuse (to make things sound more complicated than they really are, making examiners feel misinformed/foolish). See this new article titled “What IP Attys Need To Know About Blockchain” because it articulates what we have been saying for a long time. These people are just looking to exploit hype to patent software (the EPO creates hype around “fourth industrial revolution” and “Industry 4.0″ for this purpose).

Always remember that blockchain is software (typically Free/libre Open Source software), so patents don’t really belong in this domain, albeit many still get granted (in the US at least).

“”AI”, “Blockchain” and all that malarkey which makes old staff sound novel and cutting-edge (sickening retreat to buzz and hype) is a subject we wrote about many times before.”Herein we see Paul Haughey, Brian Olion and Thomas Franklin hyping up mass patenting of different aspects of blockchain (just because “blockchain!”) and others in the ‘industry’ they call ‘IP’ suggesting the same for copyrights (“Managing Copyrights on a Blockchain: How Close Are We and What Does It Mean?”).

It’s like a fashion. We’re supposed to think that blockchain is so revolutionary and any patent applications pertaining to blockchain should thus be granted for their novelty unless proven otherwise (there’s no prior art with this particular word, “blockchain”, but many of the concepts are just old things with the term or concept of “blockchain” added to them, much like “on the Internet” or “on a computer/phone/car”).

Here’s Managing IP where Ellie Mertens published “How blockchain will change intellectual property – trade marks and brands” several days ago. This isn’t about applications but about use of blockchains for organising data:

Managing IP is publishing a series of articles that looks at how blockchain technology is changing each area of IP. Here, in the first article, Ellie Mertens analyses its implications for trade marks including improving supply chains, being an alternative source of registration and helping IP offices become more efficient

“Blockchain For Patents – Patents For Blockchain” is another article — this one touching both aspects (managing patents using blockchains and patenting concepts associated with blockchains).

Much has been written and discussed about how blockchain technology would bring about fundamental changes to the financial industry which could actually threaten the very existence of banks as intermediary trust centers. At the latest after the major central banks met about a year ago in Washington at a three-day event, hosted by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the US Federal Reserve, to discuss blockchain and crypto currencies, it probably dawned on a wider public that the hype around blockchain must be more than just that.

In a recent in-depth analysis report, the European Parliamentary Research Service investigated how blockchain technology could change our lives. Indeed, blockchain has potential for application way beyond Fintech – so the current hype may actually be understated.


The application of blockchain is and will not be limited to the financial and legal sectors. With the advent of Internet of Things and cloud-based data processing and their propagation to virtually all kinds of technologies and industries comes a need for logging and registering events and values with critical requirements of reliability, security, and verifiability, qualities which are inherent to blockchain. The application of blockchain in technical fields will spur innovation and with it patent applications. The current numbers of published patent applications related to blockchain are still low, worldwide in the range of about two hundred patent families, primarily from the financial sector. Although there is a blind spot of a year and a half, because patent applications are published as late as eighteen months after their filing, it is evident that the numbers are growing rapidly. In just the last three months, the number of published US patent applications increased from 123 to 225. Worldwide, this rapid growth is indicated by an increase of patent families from 175 to 250, with published patent applications growing from 284 to 425 in the same short period. This tremendous activity is further evidenced by the appearance of new applicants, with top ranking numbers of applications, and a broadening of relevant fields from finances to information and communications technology.

Here’s a new article about the blockchain patent gold rush in China:

Several top-tier public universities in China are stepping up efforts to patent blockchain applications developed on campus.

New data published on Feb. 16 and Feb. 23 by China State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) highlights the efforts by institutions such as Zhejiang University, Shenzhen University and Chinese Academy of Sciences to obtain patents related to the tech. The efforts are a tangible sign of the growing interest – and investment of resources – from China’s government-funded academic institutions in the area of blockchain research and development.

Last but not least, Aaron Van Wirdum and Andrew Nelson wrote about the Defensive Patent License (DPL) in relation to bitcoin patents (naturally, this relates to blockchain):

Bitcoin is considered by many to be the culmination of the decades-old cypherpunk movement, rallied around predominantly anarchist and libertarian ideals regarding freedom of information. The original Bitcoin software, therefore, was released as free and open-source software (FOSS), and operates today under the MIT License known for its permissive nature. Many would agree that its open, permissionless ethos has helped make Bitcoin the success it is today.

Much of this ethos is in stark contrast with international patent law. Where FOSS is fundamentally about free distribution, patents grant individuals or companies exclusive property rights or ownership of an invention. Through the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the patent holder holds those same rights over a patented invention in up to 152 countries (with non-signatories to the treaty being countries with low global economic standing or those with a history of systemic intellectual piracy).


There have been several attempts to resolve the problems that patents pose to the Bitcoin industry. Coinbase, for example, signed a patent pledge. Although not legally binding, this pledge indicates that the company publicly renounces the aggressive use of software patents on startups.

Blockstream went a step further; besides committing to a patent pledge, it also became part of the Defensive Patent License (DPL). By signing the DPL, the blockchain development company promised to share all its patents with other license holders, on condition that those companies share their patents as well.

However, none of these measures are specifically designed for Bitcoin or blockchain technology. Importantly, these agreements have loopholes that could be abused, as a new initiative contends. This new initiative, the Blockchain Defensive Patent License (BDPL), represents an updated version of the DPL.

So they now have something which they call Blockchain Defensive Patent License (BDPL).

“…the only cause for excitement here seems to involve lawyers who found a new buzzword/hype to justify software patents.”We don’t really know how much longer this ‘fashion’ will last, but blockchains aren’t that exciting and the only cause for excitement here seems to involve lawyers who found a new buzzword/hype to justify software patents. They sometimes even brag about it. Alice laughs back at them.

Microsoft Should be Subjected to Antitrust Action For an Extensive Network of Patent Blackmail, But With a Lobbyist in Charge (Trump Appointee) Don’t Hold Your Breath

Sunday 4th of March 2018 04:59:10 PM

Elaborate plot to tax Linux/Android/ChromeOS will continue unabated

Summary: While it seems unlikely that renewed antitrust action will be invoked against Microsoft, there’s ample evidence that Microsoft continues to feed patent trolls while offering ‘protection’ from them (e.g. in the form of “Azure IP Advantage,” which echoes the Microsoft/Novell strategy for collecting what they called “patent royalties” one decade ago)

THE CHANCES of regulation under Trump seem slim. There are many reasons for this, but we would rather focus on patents rather than pure politics.

Makan Delrahim is a lobbyist, yet he is in charge of antitrust now. It’s almost unthinkable, but with Trump in power anything is possible, e.g. people governing or regulating industries which they themselves came from and may go back to (revolving doors). Dennis Crouch’s thoughts on Delrahim were mentioned some days ago in a blog of patent maximalists. To quote a portion:

Makan Delrahim, the leader of the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice of the Trump Administration, has made several interesting comments concerning patents and the antitrust interface. In a recent post on the Patently Obvious Blog, Professor Dennis Crouch discusses some debate concerning Mr. Delrahim’s positions as to when patent holders may create antitrust issues: “[Delrahim] explained that the DOJ’s historic approach has been a “one-sided focus on the hold-up issue” in ways that create a “serious threat to the innovative process.”” Professor Crouch includes links to documents concerning Delrahim’s positions as well as some responses.

Readers of ours have long called for government scrutiny over Microsoft’s patent aggression (and dirty games which often rely on intermediaries). We still see such calls occasionally (they contact the Justice Department).

Remember Intellectual Ventures? The troll Microsoft pretty much created and continues to fund? The troll that passed thousands of patents to another patent troll called Dominion Harbor. Apparently, based on this update from Unified Patents, Dominion Harbor now uses proxies to engage in blackmail. Many of these patents may be worthless, as Unified Patents explained some days ago: “On February 28, 2018, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) instituted trial in an IPR filed by Unified against U.S. Patent 8,082,213 owned and asserted by Smart Authentication IP, LLC. Smart Authentication, a Dominion Harbor subsidiary and a well-known NPE, declined to file a preliminary response in opposition to Unified’s petition. The ’213 patent, directed to a user authentication system, has been asserted against such companies as MongoDB, Slack Technologies, Evernote, Etsy, Discover and USAA.”

We have meanwhile learned from this tweet that Intellectual Ventures (IV) passed some patents to Google. “According to USPTO assignment records,” IAM wrote, “Google has picked up a couple of patents from IV. After recent RPX deal shows growing band of buyers looking at IV assets…”

This patent troll, Intellectual Ventures, attacks Federal Express in the “Rocket Docket” of trolls (EDTX, Judge Gilstrap), based on this new Docket Report about a lawyer falling ill. “The court deferred ruling on defendants’ motion to substitute one of its experts and appointed a special liaison to help determine whether the expert would be able to proceed at trial,” Docket Navigator wrote. What looks like another patent troll now sues Huawei in Texas (the “Rocket Docket”, EDTX again), based on this other new Docket Report:

The court granted defendant’s motion to strike portions of the report of plaintiff’s infringement expert regarding previously undisclosed secondary considerations of nonobviousness.

Another Microsoft-backed troll, Finjan, was mentioned the other day. “News of a big settlement between Finjan and Symantec including a $65m payout to the NPE and a possible additional payment of $45m,” IAM wrote.

Symantec is a Microsoft competitor, one of many that are being targeted by this troll. Does Microsoft expect nobody to notice Finjan's track record? While it’s selling 'protection' from such trolls?

Glyn Moody at Linux Journal has in fact reminded readers what Microsot did a decade ago in an effort to target every GNU/Linux distributor out there. To quote:

Its general strategy was to spread FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt). At every turn, it sought to question the capability and viability of open source. It even tried to convince the world that we no longer needed to talk about free software and open source—anyone remember “mixed source”?

Alongside general mud-flinging, Microsoft’s weapon of choice to undermine and thwart open source was a claim of massive patent infringement across the entire ecosystem. The company asserted that the Linux kernel violated 42 of its patents; free software graphical interfaces another 65; the suite of programs, 45; and assorted other free software 83 more. The strategy was two-fold: first to squeeze licensing fees from companies that were using open source, and second, perhaps even more important, to paint open source as little more than a pale imitation of Microsoft’s original and brilliant ideas.

The patent battle rumbled on for years. And although it did generate considerable revenues for the company, it failed dismally in its aim to discredit free software.

Why was Microsoft never subjected to any antitrust scrutiny over it? Right now Microsoft does pretty much the same things, albeit indirectly. Recall the never-heard-of-before Provenance Asset Group (Microsoft may be in the shadows, as we explained before [1, 2]). It is now distributing/scattering patents from Nokia, whose patents Microsoft already instructed Nokia to pass to patent trolls in the past. “Provenance Asset Group has published details of several lots of Nokia/Alcatel-Lucent patents it’s selling,” wrote a former IAM writer (link to the relevant page). Belatedly, this strange little entity names Dan McCurdy, Timothy Lynch, Linda Biel, and Laura Quatela as staff. Some have background in Alcatel-Lucent. RPX is mentioned there also. Microsoft too was a member of RPX until recently.

A Publicly-Traded Troll, InterDigital, is Trying Hard to Recover Lost Momentum by Adding Tens of Thousands of Technicolor Patents/Applications

Sunday 4th of March 2018 03:49:57 PM

Technicolor lets a professional (publicly-traded) troll do the ‘enforcement’, i.e. trolling

Summary: InterDigital takes 21,000 Technicolor patents (or applications) for just $150m cash upfront; this quite likely means that InterDigital will get a lot more aggressive, whereas Technicolor will belatedly distance itself from its recently-more-apparent trolling tactics

THE litigation ‘climate’ in the US is negative to those whose make their livelihood out of litigation alone. Even more so if they rely on software patents. Their USPTO-granted patents often turn out to be worthless (when asserted in court), resulting in devaluation of their so-called ‘portfolio’. We have given many examples lately. Some patent trolls lost so much value that they turned from actual companies into penny stocks with no products at all. Good riddance. Dumpsters.

“Some patent trolls lost so much value that they turned from actual companies into penny stocks with no products at all.”Just as rumoured (credit to IAM for this), InterDigital is attempting to remains relevant by absorbing patents from a company-turned-troll, Technicolor.

“Still hearing that deal between InterDigital and Technicolor involving the latter’s patent licensing biz is happening,” someone from IAM wrote some days ago. “Will be very interesting to see the price tag and how much is paid upfront…”

Here (later) came the numbers: “InterDigital gets: • 21,000 patents & applications • Technicolor’s licensing & patent staff Technicolor gets: • $150m cash upfront • 42.5% of future licensing cash receipts • Perpetual licence to transacted patents” (based on this press release from the first of the month). Sounds like an awfully low price, akin to a garden sale.

“InterDigital attempts to become more vicious by taking more shoddy patents under its wing.”IAM was then bragging about the ‘scoop’: “You heard it here first, of course!!”

Yes, credit deserved. As we explained several times before, we don’t agree with IAM on a lot of things, but they do tend to get information earlier than most (from sources/contacts they have).

InterDigital attempts to become more vicious by taking more shoddy patents under its wing. We wrote a lot of articles about InterDigital over the years. Remember that French companies and the French patent office aren’t exactly renowned for quality of patents. The latter (INPI) does not even bother with examination.

There’s press coverage about this transaction (but not much). Reuters wrote:

French media and entertainment company Technicolor (TCH.PA) said on Thursday it has agreed to sell its patent licensing business to U.S. wireless technology provider InterDigital (IDCC.O) in a deal valuing the unit at $475 million.

Technicolor, which makes video devices, modems, routers and other products, put the business up for sale in December as it sought to concentrate on its operating business after issuing four profit warnings last year when it was hit by rising memory chip prices.


“The agreement also covers Technicolor’s interest in the joint-licensing program with Sony (6758.T) in the fields of digital TVs and computer display monitors, as well as certain royalty-bearing contracts.”

Mr. Ellis (Former IAM) said: “Technicolor sells (as expected) its patent portfolio & monetization biz to InterDigital for $475m. That’s one of the biggest patent deals in a long time…”

“We expect InterDigital to threaten many companies now; if these threats result in actual lawsuits, then (and only then) the threats will become visible.”“InterDigital’s acquisition of Technicolor’s licensing business gives its patent portfolio a huge boost,” IAM said. The term “portfolio” when used in reference to a troll can be misleading; they’re just stockpiling weapons, much like Intellectual Ventures. IAM soon wrote a blog post about it, in which it stated:

InterDigital confirmed last night that it was buying Technicolor’s licensing business in a transaction valued at $475 million. Once completed the deal will draw a line under the French company’s licensing operation which has long been one of the most prominent in the IP value creation market.

Last year we wrote the following about Technicolor:

It can be said that one troll ‘portfolio’ collapsing onto another isn’t quite as menacing as an actual corporation’s (or university’s) ‘portfolio’ being offloaded for trolls to ‘monetise’.

We expect InterDigital to threaten many companies now; if these threats result in actual lawsuits, then (and only then) the threats will become visible. InterDigital will prey on the weak (those unable to afford legal defense and thus likely to fold quickly and easily). InterDigital is a blood-sucking leech which makes nothing at all, it only negotiates like a Mafia. We have given examples over the years, especially when threats culminated in actual lawsuits.

When Patent Maximalists Openly and Shamelessly Defend a Patent ‘Scam’

Sunday 4th of March 2018 02:47:21 PM

They hate PTAB enough to love a “scam” and a “sham”

Summary: The patent “scammers” (as many have been calling them for months) are appealing the PTAB’s decision and various people, such as Greg Ablavsky (above), unwittingly help those who are attempting to ‘scandalise’ PTAB

TECHRIGHTS has published a lot of articles about the misuse of tribal sovereign immunity to dodge PTAB’s scrutiny. Here’s the latest one. It’s one heck of a “sham” (a Federal judge called it that) if not a “scam” (many people call it that) for a lot of reasons, including the splitting of owner, holder, inventor etc. Can one exploit the special privileges of a tribe while actually operating as a massive, multi-national company? A lot of US politicians have been getting involved. They’re not happy. It also makes tribes in general look bad because in this particular case they’re willing participants in exchange for a “tribe bribe”.

“It also makes tribes in general look bad because in this particular case they’re willing participants in exchange for a “tribe bribe”.”Michael Risch (not the Michael who set up this whole scam) has just given a platform to Professor Greg Ablavsky from Stanford Law School. Ablavsky almost supports a patent scam (by discrediting the decision) that clearly misuses tribal sovereign immunity. In his own words:

Per Lisa’s request, I have returned to offer some thoughts on the PTAB’s tribal sovereign immunity decision (you can find my earlier post here and some additional musings coauthored with Lisa here). I had thought I had retired my role of masquerading as an (entirely unqualified) intellectual property lawyer, but, as the PTAB judges clearly haven’t relinquished their pretensions to be experts in federal Indian law, here we are.

The upshot is that I find the PTAB’s decision highly unpersuasive, for the reasons that follow, and I hope to convince you that, however you feel about the result, the PTAB’s purported rationales should give pause. I should stress at the outset that I have no expertise to assess the PTAB’s conclusion that Allergan is the “true owner” of the patent, which may well be correct. But the fact that this conclusion could have served as entirely independent basis for the judgment makes the slipshod reasoning in the first part of the decision on tribal immunity all the more egregious.

We are actually rather surprised to see any people with self respect publicly supporting this scam, which neither politicians nor judges have been supportive/tolerant of. But the above academic may be the exception; not many academics would wish to associate with this scam. PTAB’s reasoning may seem weak to him; but the resultant decision seems correct. It’s common sense. Later this year in Oil States we expect to see Justices supporting PTAB, maybe unanimously.

Christopher Walker, who recently wrote a paper with Melissa Wasserman (about PTAB; Wasserman recently wrote about the USPTO as well, so she’s an emergent name to keep up with and perhaps the next big influencer), has this new paper about Oil States. Walker called this a short @YaleJREG post on my new paper.

“We are actually rather surprised to see any people with self respect publicly supporting this scam, which neither politicians nor judges have been supportive/tolerant of.”From what we can gather, scholars generally support PTAB, with the typical exceptions (Crouch and few others who revel in the crowd of rabid patent maximalists) and Koch-funded think tanks. Here we have the PTAB-hostile Kevin Noonan (another patent maximalist) who the other day commented on the latest twist when he wrote: “The Tribe and Allergan (and the PTAB) remain under the specter of the rule for completing an IPR within twelve months of institution, which in this case is March 31, 2018. This date is already delayed due to the Board’s decision to consolidate IPRs from different parties and use the consolidation decision date as the date from which the deadline was calculated. The Board has the discretion to extend this date by an addition six months under appropriate circumstances, however. And in many ways it would be appropriate in this case (inter alia, being as the PTAB asserted in its denial decision a question of first impression regarding whether tribal sovereign immunity applies to IPR proceedings). Should the PTAB deign to abide by the March 31st deadline, this Notice could be moot. On the other hand, the Federal Circuit could order the Board to stay proceedings on the merits while it considers this appeal.”

Dugie Standeford from IP Watch (known for his good coverage of EPO scandals) wrote about the panel thwarting the Mohwak patent ploy/scam, calling it a “first-of-its-kind case.”

Native American tribes’ sovereign immunity can’t be used to avoid inter partes review (IPR) of patent validity, the US Patent and Trademark Office Patent and Appeal Board (PTAB) has ruled in a first-of-its-kind case.

We particularly liked the reaction of patent maximalists because they unwittingly reveal themselves as detached from ethics.

“Native American tribe to appeal PTAB ruling against use of sovereign immunity to avoid IPRs,” one of them wrote (Notice of Appeal mentioned as well, along with a link to the PDF), echoing this headline from IAM. IAM waited long enough for a spin/slant on the Mohawk-Allergan patent scam and now it just says they will appeal the decision. Does IAM really want to be seen as supporting a scam? Well, it’s not like there’s a reputation left to lose; they front for trolls.

“Wait and watch how the Federal Circuit, quite frankly as usual, agrees with PTAB and throws this scam out the window.”IAM then added: “St Regis claims PTAB ruling “contradicts other PTAB panels’ decisions from last year holding state sovereigns do enjoy such immunity, as well as longstanding Circuit Court and Supreme Court precedents holding that sovereign immunity does apply to these exact types of proceedings”…”

Lloyd, the author, said: “This is going to be a real humdinger at the Fed Circuit…”

Wait and watch how the Federal Circuit, quite frankly as usual, agrees with PTAB and throws this scam out the window. A Federal judge already called it a “sham” and did exactly that; we wrote about it at the time. To put it crudely, the scammers are just “pissing in the wind” at this point.

China’s Patent System is a Trade Barrier and a Legal Wall Preventing Fair Competition With the Communist Party of China (CPC)

Saturday 3rd of March 2018 09:25:19 PM

Giant Chinese corporations are connected to the government (CPC) and are guarded by patent thickets and platoons of lawyers

Summary: With over 200,000 lawsuits per year (a 40% jump in just one year) and millions of patents of questionable value/validity China is becoming an assembly line of lawsuits that favour large domestic firms which are connected to the government

THE Chinese patent office, SIPO, is harvesting patents for China. Almost all the patents in there are from Chinese firms. So are the lawsuits. Who is targeted by these patents and the lawsuits? Sometimes foreign companies. It seems as though the goal of SIPO is to drive out competition from abroad. The EPO and USPTO are nothing like that. In fact, many patents there are not domestic; the same is true in India.

Danny Friedmann is attempting to make sense of China’s strategy, but it’s behind a paywall (in spite of the .org domain suffix). We too have our theories, which we have put forth over the years. IAM has just said that the “Chinese cabinet body under leadership of President Xi plans major changes to IP litigation: * Higher damages * Reforms to evidence collection regime * More specialist courts * Tech-savvy, “politically determined” (!) judges…”

Maybe politically-motivated is what they meant. It’s all about politics. Pooh the Bear (Xi) and the misguided CPC that kills (e.g. works to death) people under the guise of “People’s [Communist] Republic” (for enrichment of CPC-connected capitalist oligarchs) now realises that its patent strategy is reducible to a legal mess. As IAM noted, litigation has skyrocketed (up 40% in just one year). To quote:

At a press conference on Wednesday, China’s leading IP jurist, Supreme People’s Court vice-president Tao Kaiyuan, announced that 2017 saw a 40% jump in IP-related litigation in the country. The figure for new first-instance cases for all categories of rights nationwide was 213,480. Justice Tao also made the first public comments on a new roadmap for IP reforms unveiled this week by the very highest level of the Chinese state.

Surging past the 200,000 mark for the first time, Chinese IP cases have more than doubled in four years. That is about 18 times greater than the total figure for new patent, trademark and copyright cases in US federal courts during 2017, which according to Lex Machina was 11,602.

“IP suits in China in 2017 came in at over 200,000,” IAM added. “That’s 18 times greater than the total in the US.”

Tian Lu wrote about the opening of another court because China seems to actually believe that more and more patent lawsuits would do its overwhelmingly producing economy any good. “Since 24 February 2018,” Lu wrote, “the Xi’an Intellectual Property (IP) Tribunal has officially come into operation. Located in Xi’an International Trade & Logistics Park, it is the first specialized IP tribunal in Northwest China, and is considered to be a major development in the National IP Strategy, in terms of promoting the judicial system reform, and fully implementing the ongoing Belt and Road Initiative.”

Unsurprisingly, this judicial system reform mostly benefits friends and allies of the government, not ordinary Chinese businesses.

These 200,000+ lawsuits per year are affordable for large companies, not for small ones.

This comes to show how out-of-touch China is. Not the US. If the goal is to become a litigation hub, then they sure are succeeding. IAM is loving it because it fronts for the litigation ‘industry’. A few days earlier IAM attempted to shame Korea into the same thing. “Korea’s IP royalty deficit grew last year,” it said, “thanks largely to big payouts to US companies.”

As if the solution to patents (or patent litigation) is yet more of them. This pure nonsense is promoted by those who fail — or simply refuse — to understand that Korea rejects patent maximalism including patents on software. The US is in fact becoming more like Korea and IAM has just pointed out this amicable resolution. IAM’s Zhao is merely describing how China (with its patent trolls epidemic) hammers away at LG and Samsung — showing, if anything, China’s insanity, not Korea’s weakness. LG has quit China and it’s actually China’s loss. It might result in fewer manufacturing contracts. To quote Zhao: “Although data shows Korea has continued to achieve IP surplus with China, big Korean companies seem to be going through a rough patch in the country. Most recently, this blog reported Huawei’s victories in Chinese IP office and courts against Samsung Electronics, as well as LG Chem’s difficulty in licensing battery to Chinese companies. There are few examples of Korean companies asserting patents in China.”

They would need actual Chinese patents. It’s unfortunate that the general tone at IAM is, “get lots and lots of patents and then file lots and lots of lawsuits.” That makes sense when one considers the firms IAM fronts for. Later this month IAM will attempt to disclose its bias by differentiating “News” and “Analysis”; it will still be lobbying for those who are paying e.g, Battistelli and the lawyers, patent trolls etc.

“Sisvel and Via launch mobile technology patent pools on the same day in anticipation of 5G roll-out,” IAM wrote some days ago regarding this blog post about patent parasites going east (it’s a real problem for China because they prey on Chinese companies).

IAM got some quotes too:

Speaking to the IAM blog Via President Joe Siino commened: “Given the direction of technology in mobile and certain fields like automotive, there’s an increasing need to license multiple standards at the same time and so having a multi-generational option available is very important and that’s only going to increase as 5G rolls out.” As the fifth generation of mobile technology starts to be implemented Via will launch both a standalone pool but also combine the new innovations into its new combined mobile platform.

Sisvel’s move should also help simplify things for the growing band of manufacturers which are including mobile technology in their products. “With the mobile communication program, Sisvel makes the implementation of the enabling technologies simpler, giving implementers yet another level of peace-of-mind,” David Muus, program manager of the new platform commented in the press release Sisvel issued about its launch.

Sisvel’s new press release can be in a patent troll’s site.

“Chinese patent market may not be as unpredictable as you think,” IAM said, “based on findings from new study” it wrote about earlier on. This says China is not the “Wild East many patent owners believe it to be”; they want patent chaos, so some of them relocate. “The research,” IAM said, “finds that although better patent quality generally leads to a higher likelihood of an invention patent sale, both lower and higher quality patents are less likely to be licensed out than medium-quality patents. Meanwhile, quality had no effect on the transaction of utility model patents. It should be noted, though, that quality here is defined broadly, as the study uses the R&D cost of patents reported by companies that have participated in the Chinese Inventor Survey as a proxy.”

China is where patent lawsuits now crush competitors that are small or foreign; the ultimate winners are large firms. Here’s Taiwan’s Foxconn suing smaller firms:

Major Taiwanese liquid crystal display panel maker Innolux is suing two affiliates of its mainland Chinese rival HKC for infringing on 17 of its intellectual property rights.

The move by the subsidiary of Hon Hai Precision Industry, better known as Foxconn, is believed to have been led by its Chairman Terry Gou, who is trying to bolster the group’s display panel business.

Foxconn is a gigantic company; although it is Taiwanese, a lot of its workers and production are in mainland China. It’s not hard to imagine Foxconn getting its way because is has deeper pockets and more patents. The Chinese patent system is now tilted in favour of such corporations.

Just Months After Japan’s Giant Canon Joined a Patent Nonaggression Pact (OIN) It’s Filing Dozens of Patent Lawsuits

Saturday 3rd of March 2018 08:10:52 PM

Summary: The company better known as a victim of patent aggression is now approaching the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) in pursuit of protection money if not injunctions

A FEW months ago Canon joined the Open Invention Network (OIN), but its USPTO-granted patents are still afloat and they are being used offensively, not defensively. To quote Law 360:

Canon filed three dozen suits Wednesday against companies in 15 federal jurisdictions along with a complaint at the U.S. International Trade Commission alleging that the companies are infringing patents that cover its printer toner cartridges.

Japan-based Canon Inc. hit Ink Technologies Printer Supplies LLC, Print After Print Inc., and Billiontree Technology USA Inc. in Ohio, Arizona, and California federal courts and 33 additional companies in various federal district courts with complaints alleging that the companies are infringing up to nine patents that cover its printer toner…

Canon was a victim of Microsoft's patent troll (in spite of paying ‘protection’ money to Microsoft) and it was one of the few firms the EPO discriminated for. Is Canon becoming what it fought?

“Holy cow,” one patent maximalist uttered. “Canon went ham yesterday filing new patent complaints.”

“Is Canon becoming what it fought?”“It is also very unJapanese,” IAM said, “at least traditionally – and very, very unCanon. It would be interesting to know whether this is all about preventing infringement or generating licensing income.”

“Litigation is a common response after strong assets do not sell,” said another person. “They’ve been selling to NPEs [trolls] for a while, without blowback, so…”

These patent trolls are living in a fantasy world. Many of these trolls cease operations and go ‘bankrupt’ nowadays (they’re not real businesses anyway).

“These patent trolls are living in a fantasy world.”“If that is the case,” IAM continues, “it’s a big turnaround as the top IP executives at Canon have always been very sceptical of the benefits of litigation-based monetisation. If Canon is doing it, then we can probably say Japan Inc as a whole is in the process of a big conversion.”

A couple of weeks earlier Bluefin bragged about pursuing another Japanese patent. JPO recently made headlines for softening its stance on patents. Does that explain why Canon ‘exported’ its patents to trolls? Is it that desperate?

In Order to Thwart Patent Reform (AIA) the Patent Microcosm Makes a Caricature of the United States

Saturday 3rd of March 2018 07:43:40 PM

As if patent litigation is the only thing the country has to offer

Summary: There’s a lot more to the US than patents and its issues are vastly different from a growing lack of lawyers and litigation

THE USPTO has improved its reputation among technology firms; it’s only upsetting radical elements of the patent microcosm. So to blame the USPTO for loss of US leadership would be worse than misguided. It’s merely an attempt to shame the Office into changing (in favour of the patent microcosm).

With government shutdowns and maladministration under Trump it’s not exactly surprising that there are bureaucratic difficulties. Carl Oppedahl, a partner in his own law firm, wrote about the Hague Agreement a few days ago [1, 2] and then mentioned claims of a USPTO closure. Some “people are telling me they think the USPTO is actually open today,” he said. “If this is true, then maybe the resetting of response dates to Monday won’t happen after all.”

“With government shutdowns and maladministration under Trump it’s not exactly surprising that there are bureaucratic difficulties.”There are quite a lot of associated tweets, saying that the “USPTO operating status is CLOSED.”

HIGH WINDS? Something else?

Either way, there are accusations now that communications by the USPTO are poor, leaving stakeholders uncertain about its status.

What’s more ludicrous, however, is this rant from 2 days ago. Watchtroll’s Paul Morinville now repeats their infamous lie that patent reform is the cause of “America’s Decline in Global Competitiveness” (in his words). Sometimes they blame the Chinese; they’re just jealous of the litigation climate in China (more on that in a separate post).

“The patent microcosm is deluded beyond belief and it is attempting to spreading this delusion far and wide.”“The U.S. Patent System” is not why the US is declining (in patents it’s improving, namely by improving patent quality). Techrights already wrote many articles debunking this famous new lie (that improving US patent quality — not loss of factories, erosion of education etc. — is to blame for all US troubles). The Watchtroll crowd also does lots of shaming of technology firms. What keeps the US at the forefront in many areas are strong universities and large producing firms, not a bunch of patent trolls and a judge called Rodney Gilstrap*. The patent microcosm is deluded beyond belief and it is attempting to spreading this delusion far and wide. Earlier today Watchtroll was trying to blame US economic woes on patent reform yet again.
* Patent parasites are still trying to drag their victims to courts that are notoriously defendants-hostile. But once again that fails spectacularly:

The court granted one defendant’s motion to transfer for improper venue because defendant lacked a regular and established place of business in the district through its former office that closed shortly before plaintiff filed suit.

EPO Annual Report Will Dominate the News Next Week, Whereas Unitary Patent (UPC) is a Goner

Saturday 3rd of March 2018 06:18:15 PM

UPC fluff and bluff has become the norm, but it’s detached from underlying facts

Summary: The EPO’s fluff will be seeded in news sites next week, distracting from profound declines in quality and the demise of the UPC (a failed gamble of Battistelli)

THERE will be a lot of press coverage about the EPO next week. Plenty of puff pieces about the annual report, parroting the PR people rather than doing journalism with fact-checking and critical thinking. That’s fine, we’ve grown accustomed to it and some of the publications that participate in this PR charade got paid by Battistelli (at the expense of EPO stakeholders).

“They try to trick British politicians.”What we won’t be hearing much about next week is the UPC. Team UPC will get a lot louder again around Easter time. A patent attorney based in Germany (with “a focus in patent infringement and licensing” i.e. enforcement a la UPC) doesn’t accept the death of the UPC; nobody in his position likes to think that Brexit among other things (FCC, EPO scandals etc.) kills the UPC for good. He wrote: “[Theresa] May on #ECJ and #Brexit : ‘the jurisdiction of the ECJ in the UK must end’ vs ‘if we agree that the UK should continue to participate in an EU agency the UK would have to respect the remit of the ECJ in that regard’. what does that mean for #UPC Full text: …”

It’s pretty obvious what it means. He also relayed Mathieu Klos as saying (German users’ tweets in English): “2 days in London with talks tonine patent firms brought no clear picture whether the UK will finalise the remaining steps of #UPC ratification. Range of predictions varies from “it will happen around Easter ” to “totally unpredictable because of cabinet Brexit discussions””

“Without the UPC, there would still be EPO and EPC. There would be Boards of Appeal too, i.e. judges.”That former group would be liars like Bristows and cohorts who fabricate statements and resort to dirty tricks. They try to trick British politicians. Don’t pay much/any attention to them. They just lobby for their financial interests, sometimes anonymously and often while deleting opposing views from sites (they don’t respect freedom of expression in comments).

There’s this new guest post by Matteo Dragoni, a Stanford TTLF Fellow. That covers the UPC and EPC, noting that it didn’t quite work as intended (NPOs are still very much relevant). To quote:

Second, the current EPC system has established a “regional” patent system which is better than the PCT system, but it is still far from having eliminated all the economic/bureaucratic hurdles to patenting. It is true that European patents, once granted, can be validated/extended—and so recognized—in every single EPC country, but such validation/extension process comes at a cost. The patent often needs to be translated, some other taxes must be paid and the help of a local patent attorney is required. Annual patent fees must also be paid or the even the local patent expires. Once the European patent is granted, the patentee usually has 6 months to decide the validation/extension countries.

Since the grant of a European patent usually happens 3-4 years after the patent application has been filed, this means that an entity might not be ready to extend or validate the patent in many other countries, and if it has to drop some countries, it usually does so with less appealing, small, markets, most of which are the accession States considered in Hall and Helmers’s article. Moreover, a European patent usually reduces costs only if the patentee is interested in having patent protection in at least 3-5 EPC Countries (depending on the local costs and fees).

The above also answers a bit to Risch’s concern that a “unified” patent protection might not imply a “strengthening” of IP protection. As the situation is now, the European patent merely grants a bundle of nationally regulated patents that, once validated/extended, are governed by national rules and are subject (for some aspects) to the exclusive jurisdiction of national courts. This makes the patent rights obtained through a European patent costlier but also quite strong: it is not so cheap to obtain and validate/extend a European patent, but it is also quite expensive to invalidate the validated/extended European patent in all the single EPC jurisdictions.

Without the UPC, there would still be EPO and EPC. There would be Boards of Appeal too, i.e. judges. The rush to ratify something like the UPC is nothing but a wet dream of Big Litigation firms, which not only promote UPCA but also wrote a lot of UPCA. It’s a failed coup and this coup has already caused tremendous damage to the EPO.

Next Week’s Annual Report From the EPO Will Say Nothing About Decline in Patent Quality

Saturday 3rd of March 2018 05:44:34 PM

The EPO is going downhill, but its PR people will claim the exact opposite (it’s their job to mislead)

Summary: Decline in patent examination standards for the purpose of ‘faking’ growth (like Battistelli wants) won’t be accounted for in the annual report, nor will attempts to attract more applications/applicants by offering them ‘discounts’

THE management of the EPO will release its annual report in a few days. As we explained some days ago, this report will hide the negatives and accentuate the positives, just like last year. We wrote many articles last year in order to explain how facts had been distorted and poorly presented by the EPO.

“As we explained some days ago, this report will hide the negatives and accentuate the positives, just like last year.”EPO PR people already prepare their rather limited audience (many followers are not real people): “Stay tuned to find out about patenting trends in 2017. We will publish our annual report on 7 March.”

On Friday they also resorted to more greenwashing tweets about patents that typically prevent proliferation of ‘green’ technology, rendering it an overpriced monopoly rather than the Commons.

“We wrote many articles last year in order to explain how facts had been distorted and poorly presented by the EPO.”In the meantime we are assessing the sorts of patents granted by the EPO. Some are more controversial than others, so those subjected to appeals/oppositions are a little more interesting. Well, meanwhile we have been looking into some European Patents (EPs) on algorithms as they do exist.

Patent number/ID EP2179387/EP2179387A4 (publication number 08775543) seems interesting because it’s summarised as follows: “Disclosed is a method and an advertising system for delivering advertisements in a mobile communication network. The method comprises detecting a need to deliver an advertisement, and arranging said delivery such that one or more indicators of advertisement behaviour specific to individual recipients of advertisements and/or to the overall system are taken into account. delivery of advertisements in mobile advertising system.”

No device or anything, just a simple chart. I’ve read it and it seems like a classic software patent. It’s not supposed to have been granted (in my humble assessment), yet law firms are all too eager to see everything patented. Benjamin Henrion, for example, has just highlighed this new blog post from (entitled “Software patenteren vergt creativiteit”). The domain they chose for their firm is interesting because it sounds like EPC in the Netherlands (the EPC denies software patents actually), so the acronym “EPC” got sort of hijacked by software patents proponents.

“In the meantime we are assessing the sorts of patents granted by the EPO.”When the annual report comes out next week remember that this annual report includes no measure of quality and it exploits a depleted pool of pending/queued applications that are assessed and often granted in a rush. This annual report would not account for reduction in fees, which in our assessment may contribute to an artificial surge in number (“discount”/”sale” tactics) without adjusting the numbers accordingly, e.g. total revenue.

Someone has just posted the following comment at IP Kat to say:

But it does put me in mind of the current obsession inside the EPO with the “clarity” of the text of patent specifications. This obsession is absurd, but it does provide a glorious proof of what you write about, that every reader has a different and unique interpretation of any given text.

No patent attorney ever reached 100% “clarity”. For the EPO to refuse a petition from the inventor, applicant or patent owner because its clarity is less than 100% is outrageous. Perfect clarity is something one can approach only asymptotically. The EPO should confine its enquiry to whether the level of clarity is good enough, whether it is “fit for purpose”, and not whether it is 100%

From what we have heard or read, one serious issue at the moment is that many rejections are due to rather superficial things or clerical mistakes (how an application gets filed) rather than underlying technical deficiencies, lack of merit, prior art etc. It’s a lot easier to disqulity an application this way, creating an illusion of high ‘production’ whilst also maintaining similar rejection rates. If anyone inside or outside the EPO has further insight on this, please get in touch. Forums for discussions of EPO matters (e.g. CSC publications, blog comments and so on) are being suppressed these days, impeding free flow of information. EPO management has so much to hide.

Links 2/3/2018: Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Enters Feature Freeze and Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS Released, Wine 3.3 is Out

Saturday 3rd of March 2018 12:35:39 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Google Updates: I/O is go, Linux in Chrome, free apps by the load

      IN A WEEK when so much attention has been focused on Barcelona, there’s a few stories that still managed to sneak in under the radar, Google-wise. For everything we’ve already covered you can go here.

      Firstly, there’s indications that we’re going to start seeing Linux containers that can run in Chrome OS, much as Snaps do for Windows in Linux.

      Its’ been possible through a hack for a while, but this appears to be the real deal, with a “Project Crostini” being the name for the integration.

    • Project Crostini: Chrome OS prepares to support Linux apps

      Similar to Microsoft’s attempts, it’s clear Google believes supporting Linux will ensure developers spend as much time on their respective platforms as possible. While it may seem counterintuitive, it means developers are more likely to make native apps for the platform they’re using in their spare time.

  • Server
    • The Kubernetes Lesson

      When Kubernetes was first announced in 2014, reactions were mixed. Some pointed to its pedigree and that of its creators, Brendan Burns, Craig McLuckie and Joe Beda, as reason enough to pay attention. Others focused on the fact that it was derived from Google’s Borg software but was not itself Borg, dismissing it as “Borg-lite” or little more than an interesting science project. Both camps were forced to acknowledge, however, that it was entering a crowded and fragmented software market. It was one project among a rapidly expanding array of options.

      In this first quarter of 2018, however, Kubernetes is arguably the most visible of core infrastructure projects. Kubernetes has gone from curiosity to mainstream acceptance, crossing any number of chasms in the process. The project has been successful enough that even companies and projects that have competing container implementation strategies have been compelled to adopt it.

  • Kernel Space
    • Intel Titan Ridge Thunderbolt 3 Controller Support Getting Squared Away For Linux

      Back in January was the announcement of Intel’s “Titan Ridge” Thunderbolt 3 controllers that offer DisplayPort 1.4 support and optional USB-C computer port compatibility while retaining backwards compatibility.

      It will still probably be some time before you find a Titan Ridge Thunderbolt controller in your device, but Linux support for these Alpine Ridge successors is getting wrapped up. Mika Westerberg posted the latest set of 18 patches today for adding Intel Titan Ridge support to the Linux kernel’s Thunderbolt driver. With this Titan Ridge support comes a new USB-only security level, a new attribute for indicating whether devices were connected automatically during boot, and a pre-boot ACL for indicating devices that the firmware automatically connects during boot.

    • DTrace on Oracle Linux

      I like to joke that “all performance problems are either trivial or unsolvable”, but that’s really not true. While many performance issues can be diagnosed using standard tools like vmstat, mpstat, iostat, prstat, perf, and so on, sometimes you need to inspect the internal behavior of the system to understand what’s going on. DTrace, the fantastic dynamic tracing tool introduced with Solaris, is ideal for this. While I haven’t focussed on DTrace, I’ve blogged in the past on how I used it to discover interesting things about Oracle VM Server for SPARC live migration and internal workings of the Hercules emulator. In one of those blogs I refer to the ‘*stat’ tools as a stethoscope, while DTrace is the MRI you deploy when needed for deep information.

    • A Guide To Making Use Of The DTrace Basics On Linux

      Oracle is still working on DTrace for the Linux kernel and last year allowed the kernel code to be under the GPLv2+ license. While there are other options these days for dynamic tracing on Linux like SystemTap, eBPF, KTrace, etc, for those wanting to use DTrace, an Oracle developer has posted a new guide for doing so under Linux.

    • Bareflank 2.0 Hypervisor Being Worked On With Better Memory Management, UEFI Support

      The Bareflank Hypervisor is nearly two years old and its version 2.0 release happens to be baking.

      Bareflank is a Linux hypervisor written in C++11/14 with VMM isolation and Windows support as well as other features. Bareflank 2.0 is now stepping closer to release as its next big step forward.

    • Linux Foundation
      • New Linux Video Series from Jack Wallen and Swapnil Bhartiya

        Swapnil and Jack started the video series in order to have a mature conversation about Linux, open source, and related topics. “With so many related topics, we felt it had become a challenge to have or find sensible, immediate, dialog with those involved, as each distinct community had become either too entrenched in their microcosm or disconnected from reality. Hence, ‘Let’s Get Serious,’” Jack said.

      • Linux Foundation continues to help shape telecoms industry

        In its latest move that will have a major impact on the telecoms industry, the Linux Foundation has announced a new open source project that is intended to create an open source software stack to support high-availability cloud services that are optimised for edge computing systems and applications.

        To seed the new project, Akraino Edge Stack, AT&T – the world’s largest telecommunications company – is contributing code designed for carrier-scale edge computing applications running in virtual machines and containers to support reliability and performance requirements.

      • Xen Project Member Spotlight: DornerWorks

        The Xen Project is comprised of a diverse set of member companies and contributors that are committed to the growth and success of the Xen Project Hypervisor. The Xen Project Hypervisor is a staple technology for server and cloud vendors, and is gaining traction in the embedded, security and automotive space. This blog series highlights the companies contributing to the changes and growth being made to the Xen Project, and how the Xen Project technology bolsters their business.

      • EdgeX Foundry Continues Momentum with ‘California Code’ Preview

        EdgeX Foundry is still a few months away from its one-year anniversary. For those unfamiliar, EdgeX Foundry is a vendor-neutral, open source IoT edge computing framework project under The Linux Foundation. At the heart of EdgeX is a microservice architecture which allows the platform to be distributed, updated, replaced, improved and even provided by commercial third parties for additional value add where it makes sense. Its goal is to provide an interoperable platform (hardware and OS agnostic) to accelerate the deployment of industrial IoT solutions.

    • Graphics Stack
      • OpenChrome DRM Still Aiming For Mainline Kernel, But Initially Will Lack 2D Acceleration

        It’s been several months since last hearing anything about OpenChrome as the open-source driver project still working to create a free software driver for VIA’s aging x86 graphics hardware. There remains ambitions for getting this driver to the mainline Linux kernel, but 2D acceleration for now is out, and their DDX driver has been delayed indefinitely.

      • Intel Mesa OpenGL Driver Lands 48-bit Addressing Support, Lets Up To ~256TB Of vRAM

        Intel’s i965 Mesa OpenGL driver now allows for 48-bit addressing, which greatly expands the GPU memory limits.

        Intel developer Kenneth Graunke landed his support in the i965 Mesa driver for 48-bit addressing. 48-bit address space for most GPU objects is allowed with Broadwell “Gen 8″ graphics hardware and newer.

      • DXVK v0.30 Released For Offering Better Direct3D 11 Over Vulkan Experience

        A new release is available of DXVK, the Vulkan-based implementation of Direct3D 11 intended to offer a faster experience for running 3D games/applications under Wine.

      • MSAA Fast Clears Flipped On For Intel ANV Vulkan Driver

        Going back to last November has been MSAA fast-clear patches for the Intel “ANV” Vulkan driver while today they were finally merged.

        The Intel ANV Vulkan driver has already supported fast clears but not when making use of multi-sample anti-aliasing. But that’s now changed as of the latest Git for Mesa 18.1-devel.

      • Using AMD Open Source and the amdgpu-pro OpenCL driver for image processing

        I have a AMD grahpics card and use the great Open Source driver which comes with my Linux distribution. However for image processing I want the OpenCL support of my graphics card. Currently that’s only provided by the amdgpu-pro driver.

      • AMDGPU 18.0 X.Org Driver Released

        It had been a half-year since the release of the last AMDGPU DDX release, xf86-video-amdgpu 1.4.0, but today that has been succeeded by xf86-video-amdgpu 18.0 as they also embark on a year-based versioning scheme.

        xf86-video-amdgpu 18.0.0 was released today as they move to a year-based versioning scheme with X.Org/DDX driver releases becoming less frequent thanks to the maturing xf86-video-modesetting generic driver and also more users moving to Wayland-based Linux desktops.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Kubuntu 16.04.4 LTS Update Available

        The fourth point release update to Kubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) is out now. This contains all the bug-fixes added to 16.04 since its first release in April 2016. Users of 16.04 can run the normal update procedure to get these bug-fixes. In addition, we suggest adding the Backports PPA to update to Plasma 5.8.8.

      • KDiff3 Joining kde
      • KDiff3 Project Revived For Showing File/Folder Differences, Now Part Of KDE

        KDiff3 is a long-time Qt-powered program for showing compares and merges between 2_ text files or directories. It’s basically a nice graphically-driven diff viewer and has automatic merge abilities, Unicode handling, etc.

      • Polishing Gwenview

        Gwenview is a core KDE app, and an important tentpole of the Usability & Productivity initiative.

        However, a few months ago Gwenview had no maintainer and few contributions. It was still a jewel, but was starting to bit-rot. Fast-forward to today: a lively crew of interested contributors are improving it daily, fixing bugs and resolving UI papercuts. Check out the Gwenview Phabricator project; it’s a hotbed of activity!

      • The Blue Blobs Return! Getting into Community Data Analytics

        Anyway, he was doing that for other communities than KDE, but he almost stopped now. For instance, he did it only once for Habitat in all of 2017. Luckily he published the scripts he was using in his git-viz repository so not all the knowledge was lost.

        Earlier this year, I decided to take the torch and try to get into community data analytics myself. I got in touch with Paul to talk a bit about my plans. My first step was to try to modernize his scripts while staying true to his original visualization.

      • Kdepim2017 Activity
      • Kdepim2017 Network
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Recipes hackfest

        The Recipes application started as a celebration of GNOME’s community and history, and it’s grown to be a great showcase for what GNOME is about…

      • Recipes hackfest, day 1

        It has been a bit quiet around GNOME recipes recently, since most of us have other obligations. But this is about to change; we’re currently having a hackfest about GNOME recipes in Jogyakarta, Indonesia, and we’ve already made some interesting plans for for future work in this app.

  • Distributions
    • Reviews
      • Hands-On: Installing five different Linux distributions on my new HP laptop

        I’ve just picked up a new laptop, and I have to say at first glance, it looks like a real beauty. It’s an HP 15-bs166nz, which I got at one of the large electronic chains here in Switzerland for CHF 649.- (approximately £500 / €560 / $685). That’s supposedly half-price, if you believe their list prices. It’s a bit difficult to judge, really, because HP makes so many different models with similar numbers but very different configurations, but after digging around on this one for a while I decided it is a very good price for this configuration.

    • Gentoo Family
      • SystemRescueCd

        If you accidentally delete data or format a disk, good advice can be expensive. Or maybe not: You can undo many data losses with SystemRescueCd.

        The price for mass storage devices of all types has been falling steadily in recent years, with a simultaneous increase in capacity. As a result, users are storing more and more data on local storage media – often without worrying about backing it up. Once the milk has been spilled, the anxious search begins for important photos, videos, correspondence, and spreadsheets. SystemRescueCd can help in these cases by providing a comprehensive toolbox for every computer, with the possibility of restoring lost items.

    • Arch Family
      • Namib Linux Makes Arch Linux a Dream for New Users

        Let’s not mince words here. Arch Linux is a challenge to install. If it weren’t, we wouldn’t have so many distributions, such as Anarchy, which we covered previously, claiming to make Arch accessible for any user. Some of those distributions succeed and some fall flat. But few do as remarkable (albeit someone confusing) of a job as does Namib Linux. Not only does Namib Linux make installing and using Arch Linux as simple as can be, it also offers everything desktop Linux should have…

      • First Arch Linux ISO Snapshot Powered by Linux Kernel 4.15 Is Here, Download Now

        The Arch Linux 2018.03.01 ISO snapshot for March 2018 is here, available for download right now from the official website, and it looks like it’s the first to be powered by the Linux 4.15 kernel by default, which means all new Arch Linux installations will now be powered by Linux kernel 4.15.

        Linux kernel 4.15 was already available in Arch Linux’s repos since last month for existing users who wanted to upgrade and enjoy its new features, such as patches for Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, support for the RISC-V architecture, AMD Secure Encrypted Virtualization support, and much more.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • A site for reviews of Tumbleweed snapshots

        As leading-edge rolling distributions go, OpenSUSE Tumbleweed is relatively stable, but it is still true that some snapshots are better than others. Jimmy Berry has announced the creation of a web site tracking the quality of each day’s snapshot.

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Petter Reinholdtsen: Debian used in the subway info screens in Oslo, Norway

        Today I was pleasantly surprised to discover my operating system of choice, Debian, was used in the info screens on the subway stations. While passing Nydalen subway station in Oslo, Norway, I discovered the info screen booting with some text scrolling.

      • When distributions get it wrong

        So this story starts with Debian removing XChat from its repo on 2016-01-30 which is not terrible in comparison to other distros but the problem arises when on 2017-08-08 it was accepted back into the repository to my surprise. Since then the maintainer has backported a few patches from HexChat including some CVE fixes and making UI changes to the input box totaling up to 44 patches as of today. Since no other upstream exists this project is no longer XChat really it is a Debian specific fork and due to timing this will land in Ubuntu 18.04 meaning this is theoretically “supported” (by the community) until 2023.


        I have no real conclusion for this story as I cannot solve it but I hope users of these distros don’t just accept that software in the repos is maintained or safe and I hope members of the Debian and Ubuntu community can recognize that pulling in completely dead software into their repositories is a bad idea.

      • BOB Konferenz’18 in Berlin

        Recently Pranav Jain and I attended Bob Conference in Berlin, Germany. The conference started with a keynote on a very interesting topic, A language for making movies. Using Non Linear Video Editor for making movies was time consuming, ofcourse. The speaker talked about the struggle of merging presentation, video and high quality sound for conferences. Clearly, Automation was needed here which could be achieved by 1. Making a plugin for non linear VE, 2. Writing a UI automation tool like an operating system macro 3. Using shell scripting. However, dealing shell script for this purpose could be time consuming no matter how great shell scripts are. While the goal to achieve here was to edit videos using a language only and let the language get in the way of solving this. In other words a DSL Domain-Specific Language was required along with Syntax Parse. Video ( a language for making movies which integrated with Racket ecosystem. It combines the power of a traditional video editor with the capabilities of a full programming language.


        This is just a summary of our experiences and what we were able to grasp at the conference and also share our individual experience with Debian on GSoC and Outreachy.

      • trains & snow

        unsurprisingly, my work was mostly focussed on Debian Perl Group stuff. we managed to move our repos from alioth to salsa during the weekend, which involved not only importing ~3500 repositories but also e.g. recreating our .mrconfig setup.

      • February 2018 report: LTS, …

        This is my monthly Debian LTS report. This month was exclusively dedicated to my frontdesk work. I actually forgot to do it the first week and had to play catchup during the weekend, so I brought up a discussion about how to avoid those problems in the future. I proposed an automated reminder system, but it turns out people found this was overkill. Instead, Chris Lamb suggested we simply send a ping to the next person in the list, which has proven useful the next time I was up.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS released

            The Ubuntu team is pleased to announce the release of Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS
            (Long-Term Support) for its Desktop, Server, and Cloud products, as well
            as other flavours of Ubuntu with long-term support.

            Like previous LTS series’, 16.04.4 includes hardware enablement stacks
            for use on newer hardware. This support is offered on all architectures
            except for 32-bit powerpc, and is installed by default when using one of
            the desktop images. Ubuntu Server defaults to installing the GA kernel,
            however you may select the HWE kernel from the installer bootloader.

            As usual, this point release includes many updates, and updated
            installation media has been provided so that fewer updates will need to
            be downloaded after installation. These include security updates and
            corrections for other high-impact bugs, with a focus on maintaining
            stability and compatibility with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.

          • Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS released
          • Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS (Xenial Xerus) Officially Released, Here’s What’s New

            Canonical released today the fourth of fifth maintenance updates to its long-term supported Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system series with new kernel and graphics stacks.

            After it’s been delayed a couple of weeks due to the severe Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities that affect billions of devices, Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS maintenance update is finally here for existing users running Ubuntu 16.04.3 LTS and earlier versions.

            As expected, Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS incorporates refreshed kernel and graphics stacks based on those of the Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) operating system. These include the Linux 4.13 kernel and Mesa 17.2.2 graphics stack for Intel and AMD GPUs.

          • BeagleWire, GitHub DDoS Attack, Open Source Bonus Winners and More

            Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS (Xenial Xerus) was released yesterday. The update includes “security updates and corrections for other high-impact bugs, with a focus on maintaining stability and compatibility with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS”. See the release announcement for more info and links to downloads.

          • Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS Released, Makes Use Of Ubuntu 17.10′s Kernel/Mesa Stack

            After being delayed due to Spectre and Meltdown with the Canonical developers busy mitigating those CPU security vulnerabilities, the Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS release was rolled out a few minutes ago.

            Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS is the latest installment to the Xenial Xerus and the last point release prior to this April’s release of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS “Bionic Beaver.” Ubuntu 16.04.4 offers a new hardware enablement stack of the Linux kernel, Mesa, and other components found within Ubuntu 17.10. This is particularly good news for updated open-source graphics driver support and performance along with the Linux 4.13-based kernel generally working better with more modern PCs.

          • Lubuntu 16.04.4 has been released!

            Thanks to all the hard work from our contributors, we are pleased to announce that Lubuntu 16.04.4 LTS has been released!

          • OpenStack Queens for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS
          • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) Enters Feature Freeze, First Beta Lands March 8

            The feature freeze stage in the development of a Linux-based operating system means that the upcoming release won’t receive any new features or major updated packages except for those that fix critical bugs. As such, the Ubuntu Release Team uploaded all packages to the bionic-proposed repository before the feature freeze deadline on March 1, 2018.

            The problem is, over 800 packages are currently stuck in the bionic-proposed repo. In comparison, there were only 110 packages waiting in the proposed repo at the end of Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark)’s development cycle. As such, Canonical urges all developers and contributors to resolve any issues and free as many packages as possible until next week’s beta release.

          • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Enters Its Feature Freeze
          • Microsoft and Canonical to Offer Enhanced VM Experiences for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS
          • Thread-optimized IoT gateway adds Ubuntu Core support

            Rigado announced that its i.MX6 UL based Vesta IoT Gateway, which offer Ethernet, WiFi, BT, Thread, and optional LTE, LoRa, and PoE, will soon be available with Ubuntu Core and Canonical’s IoT app store.

            Starting this summer, Portland, Oregon-based Rigado will offer its Edge Connectivity gateway solutions with Canonical’s IoT-focused, transactional Ubuntu Core distribution. Rigado is referring to its low-cost, Yocto Project powered Vesta IoT Gateway, which launched in Dec. 2016 without the Vesta name. The new Ubuntu Core support will enable “sophisticated control, monitoring and tracking applications,” as well as “connected guest experiences,” says Canonical in its version of the announcement.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • How to decide if open source or proprietary software solutions are best for your business

    Open source software debuted 20 years ago in February. While arguments attempting to define its actual purpose (free speech versus free beer) sometimes seem perpetual, it has opened up new possibilities for organizations looking for affordable and customizable software code to help run their businesses and drive innovation.

    Initial skepticism regarding free software and questions about the business model (“Why would programmers work for free?”) have led to steadfast enterprise adoption of open source software, with an array of options such as “completely free,” “free to a certain number of users/functions” and “free but with paid support licenses.”

  • 5 open source software tools for supply chain management

    If you manage a business that deals with physical goods, supply chain management is an important part of your business process. Whether you’re running a tiny Etsy store with just a few customers, or a Fortune 500 manufacturer or retailer with thousands of products and millions of customers worldwide, it’s important to have a close understanding of your inventory and the parts and raw materials you need to make your products.

    Keeping track of physical items, suppliers, customers, and all the many moving parts associated with each can greatly benefit from, and in some cases be totally dependent on, specialized software to help manage these workflows. In this article, we’ll take a look at some free and open source software options for supply chain management and some of the features of each.

  • Beyond metrics: How to operate as team on today’s open source project

    How do we traditionally think about community health and vibrancy?

    We might quickly zero in on metrics related primarily to code contributions: How many companies are contributing? How many individuals? How many lines of code? Collectively, these speak to both the level of development activity and the breadth of the contributor base. The former speaks to whether the project continues to be enhanced and expanded; the latter to whether it has attracted a diverse group of developers or is controlled primarily by a single organization.

    The Linux Kernel Development Report tracks these kinds of statistics and, unsurprisingly, it appears extremely healthy on all counts.

  • New OpenStack Queens release provides support for GPUs, containers to meet edge, NFV and machine learning workload demands

    The OpenStack community released on Wednesday Queens, the 17th version of the open source cloud infrastructure software. A packed release resulting from a six-month development cycle, Queens offers advancements benefiting for both enterprises with mission-critical workloads as well as organizations investing in emerging use cases like containers, NFV, edge computing and machine learning. The software now powers 60 public cloud data centers and thousands of private clouds at a scale of more than six million physical cores.

  • OpenStack Queens, RedDrop Android Spyware, Oracle’s VirtualBox and More

    OpenStack Queens was released yesterday. The 17th version of the open-source cloud infrastructure software “offers a packed release with advancements benefiting not only enterprises with mission-critical workloads but also organizations investing in emerging use cases like containers, NFV, edge computing and machine learning”.

  • ​Open-source cloud royalty: OpenStack Queens released

    The cloud is growing faster than ever, and OpenStack, the open-source cloud for the enterprise, is growing with it.

    By next year, 60 percent of enterprise workloads will run in the cloud, according to 451 Research’s Voice of the Enterprise: Cloud Transformation, Workloads and Key Projects survey. While much of that growth is in the public cloud, OpenStack enterprise adoption is expanding, with enterprises in nearly all businesses turning to private and hybrid cloud models for their mission-critical workloads. Indeed, as OpenStack moves toward making more than $6 billion in 2021, OpenStack’s private clouds are expected to deliver more revenue than its public cloud implementations.

  • Events
    • foss-north – the count down

      We are approaching the count down to foss-north 2018 – at least from an organizer perspective. This year we will be at Chalmers Conference Centre, in the centre of Gothenburg – the world’s most sociable, friendliest city. So, save the date – April 23 – and make sure to drop by.

    • 3 Ansible videos from 2018

      The recent conference in Brno, Czechia is a great example of an event by and for developers and open source community members. Hundreds of speakers showed off countless technologies and features advancing the state of open source in Linux and far beyond. One of today’s most popular technologies is Ansible. Here’s a taste of how it was represented among the many excellent sessions at the conference.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla Firefox 59 Web Browser Promises New Privacy and Security Features

        Firefox is known as one of the most secure browsers on the market, but Mozilla wants it to be more privacy-aware and secure than ever before. That’s why it looks like Firefox 59 will be coming with new privacy settings that won’t allow intrusive sites to access your camera, microphone or location, nor to ask you if you want to receive any notifications.

        In Firefox’s Preferences panel, under Privacy & Security, there’s a Permissions section that lets users choose which websites will have access tp location, camera, microphone, and notification and which won’t. These settings are already present in the current stable Firefox version and are essential for protecting your privacy and keep your online presence secure from hackers.

      • Test Pilot No More 404s Graduation Report

        Last winter, some folks from the Test Pilot team got together with some folks from the Internet Archive and hatched a plan. On the Test Pilot side of things, we were busy building our platform and getting experiments out into the wild. Meanwhile, the team at the Internet Archive was prototyping an add-on to help users avoid dead ends on the Web by checking if they had archived versions of sites available in the Wayback Machine for users who encountered 404 errors.

      • Firefox Nightlies
      • Firefox Performance Update #2

        So I’ve had my eyes out, watching for bugfixes that are landing in the Firefox code base that will speed it up for our users.

      • Fun with Themes in Firefox

        Last year, I started work on a new Test Pilot experiment playing with themes in Firefox.

        So far, we’ve been calling it ThemesRFun – though we’re in the process of coming up with an official name.

      • Announcing Rust 1.24.1

        The Rust team is happy to announce a new version of Rust, 1.24.1. Rust is a systems programming language focused on safety, speed, and concurrency.

      • March’s Featured Extensions
      • Things Gateway – Part 5

        In Part 4 of this series, I showed how to link the Things Gateway with a quartet of Philips Hue bulbs via the Hue Bridge. There are advantages and disadvantages to using the Hue Bridge. On the plus side, the Hue Bridge enables the mobile device app, a mature controller for Hue lights with plenty of bells and whistles. On the downside, the Hue Bridge is an Internet capable device, and I’m just not sure I can trust that.

  • SaaS/Back End
    • Why it might be time for Big Cloud to share the wealth with open-source startups

      There’s no longer any point in ignoring the truth: during the age of open-source software, which was supposed to democratize software development and usher in a new era of community-driven advancement, the most powerful companies in technology have consolidated their power and become the most important economic forces on the planet.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • Collabora Online 3.1

      Collabora Productivity, the driving force behind putting LibreOffice in the Cloud, is proud to announce a new release of its flagship enterprise-ready cloud document suite – Collabora Online 3.1, including new features and improvements. This is the first release after the major Collabora Online 3.0 release a few weeks ag

    • TDF Chairwoman and Deputy Chairman announced

      The Board of Directors of The Document Foundation has confirmed Marina Latini in the role of Chairwoman and appointed Bjoern Michaelsen in the role of Deputy Chairman.

      I have used their own words – from the email they have sent to present their candidacy – to describe themselves, although they are both very well know both in the LibreOffice community and in the wider FOSS community.

  • CMS
    • DotCMS Updates, TYPO9 9.1 Released, More Open Source News

      Miami-based dotCMS has rolled out dotCMS 4.3, featuring new Static Publishing features as well the new “Four Eyes” workflow approval.

      DotCMS’ Static Publishing feature — which was released last year — has been updated so users can save comprehensive static HTML versions of their websites in multiple locations, including local folders, AWS S3 buckets, or any external location or cloud service accessible via SCP or SFTP. According to the dotCMS press release, “these new Static Publishing features mean more customers can take advantage of the performance, disaster recovery, compliance, and security benefits that Static Publishing offers.”

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Funding
  • BSD
    • a2k18 Hackathon Report: Ken Westerback on dhclient and more

      Once in Dunedin the hacking commenced. The background was a regular tick of new meltdown diffs to test in addition to whatever work one was actually engaged in. I was lucky (?) in that none of the problems with the various versions cropped up on my laptop.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • New York Genome Center Researchers Create Low-Cost Open Source 3D Printed Device for Single-Cell Analysis

        So many of the benefits of 3D printing—and often all of them—allow for innovative strides to be made in a variety of industries today. Some of the most undeniable and significant impacts are being made in the medical field though, as researchers and manufacturers become more interested in manipulating the 3D realm to bioprint, create laboratory and medical devices, and more. As researchers continue to delve deeper on the cellular level, they also continue to become more successful in improving the quality of lives for patients around the world, including work with microfluidic devices.

  • Programming/Development
    • Qt 3D Studio 1.1 Released

      We are happy to announce that Qt 3D Studio 1.1 has now been released. This release introduces many improvements to the user interface and introduces an improved way to define data driven UI content.

    • Qt 3D Studio 1.1 Brings UI Improvements

      Qt 3D Studio 2.0 is coming this summer, but today marks the Qt 3D Studio 1.1 release as an incremental upgrade for those using this 3D user-interface authoring system that originated out of NVIDIA’s open-source code.

    • The journey back to C
    • RcppArmadillo 0.8.400.0.0

      RcppArmadillo release 0.8.400.0.0, originally prepared and uploaded on February 19, finally hit CRAN today (after having been available via the RcppCore drat repo for a number of days). A corresponding Debian release was prepared and uploaded as well. This RcppArmadillo release contains Armadillo release 8.400.0 with a number of nice changes (see below for details), and continues our normal bi-monthly CRAN release cycle (slight delayes in CRAN processing notwithstanding).

  • Science
    • Why Are There Few Women in Tech? Watch a Recruiting Session

      Tech companies have employed a host of tactics to help lift the scant number of women and minorities who work within their ranks, like anti-bias training, affinity groups, and software that scans job postings for gendered language. Yet the numbers remain dire. Of men with science, technology engineering, or math (STEM) degrees, 40 percent work in technical careers; only 26 percent of women with STEM degrees do. That means that qualified women are turning away from the field before they even get started.


      Similarly, the follow-up question-and-answer periods were often dominated by male students who commandeered the time, using it to show off their own deep technical know-how in a familiar one-upmanship. Rather than acting as a facilitator for these sessions, male presenters were often drawn into a competitive volley. Wynn and Correll describe one session in which men asked 19 questions and women asked none. Of the five presenters, the two men fielded all the questions while the two female engineers spoke very little; finally, a female recruiter jumped in at the end with application instructions. This clearly didn’t entice female attendees. Of the 51 men attending, only one left the room during the q&a. Four of the 15 women left.

  • Hardware
    • Archival Media: Not a Good Business

      Why is this? The upper layers of the hierarchy generate revenue; the archival layer is purely a cost. If the data are still generating revenue, at least one copy is on flash or hard disk. Even if there is a copy in the archive, that one isn’t generating revenue. Facebook expects the typical reason for a read request for data from their Blu-Ray cold storage will be a subpoena. Important, but not a revenue generator. So archival media are a market where customers are reluctant to spend, because there is no return on the investment.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Medicines Vastly Overpriced, Generics Too: Discussion At WTO-WIPO-WHO Symposium

      The price of hepatitis C medicine marked a turning point in the discussion on access to medicines, with developed countries suddenly confronted to prices they could not afford. This week, a symposium jointly organised by the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization, and the World Intellectual Property Organization explored the question of the pricing of medicines. A number of suggestions were made to alleviate the issue, such as ensuring wide use of generic medicines, encouraging competition, and alerting countries about the cost of medicine production so they negotiate better with pharmaceutical companies.

    • WHO Joint Tropical Disease Program Issues Report On Research Fairness

      The World Health Organisation’s Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) has published the first report on research fairness under a new initiative. The report includes an analysis of how TDR manages intellectual property rights in a positive way.

      The Research Fairness Initiative (RFI) was developed by the Council on Health Research for Development (COHRED). It is a “first attempt at creating a systematic global evidence-based assessment of fairness in the field of global health.”

    • Pfizer liable for £500 million NHS damages if court bid is unsuccessful, says study

      There could be more at stake for Pfizer in its UK Supreme Court pregabalin patent dispute than was previously thought. A recently-released study argues that if the pharma company loses the case, it will be liable to pay the National Health Service (NHS) £502 million in compensation.

      The study highlights a danger for pharma innovators: if they are unsuccessful in seeking to maintain or enforce patents, they could be sued by third-party healthcare providers seeking to recoup excess prescribing costs. Such an approach is already established government policy in Australia; and, if it were to become more common in other markets, such as the UK, it would create new enforcement headaches for Pfizer and other innovators.

    • Your Daily Reminder That It’s Not Just Flint

      I sure am glad it’s Infrastructure Week again because, as we regularly note here in the shebeen, the country’s water systems are pretty much shot to hell. For example, in Kentucky, there’s one small county that simply doesn’t have any that’s fit to drink

    • The water runs milky and can feel like fire. In this impoverished county, Trump’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan may not help

      As residents in this sparsely populated pocket of Appalachia struggled — some boiling rainwater to bathe and melting snow to flush toilets — local schools canceled classes for three days and volunteers fanned out to deliver bottled water to the sick and elderly.

    • EU citizens reject Bayer-Monsanto merger, says new polling

      New polling shows citizens are against the planned merger of agribusiness giants Bayer and Monsanto, with a majority (54%) thinking it is “very” or “fairly important” that the European Commission blocks it – more than three times the number who think it would be unimportant [1].

    • Video Gaming Industry Issues Attack On WHO’s Proposed Gaming Disorder Classification

      Teens’ (and others’) life-altering obsession with video gaming is well-known to almost any parent in most countries around the world, and the World Health Organization recently identified it as an addiction called “gaming disorder.” Today, the self-acclaimed $36 billion video gaming industry hit back with a statement about a new paper from “preeminent researchers and scientists” that it says casts doubt on the WHO’s efforts.

    • Cutting Down Prior Appropriation: How Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Water Knife Warns Us About Water Rights in the West

      Paolo Bacigalupi’s novel The Water Knife depicts the American Southwest in the not-so-distant future. Climate change has exacerbated an already scarce water supply, corporate interests have severely weakened the federal government, and states fight for water rights in ways that put Don Corleone to shame. State water agencies send employees to engage in guerrilla warfare-style tactics, like blowing up water-treatment plants and bombing dams, to make sure their territories come out on top. The places that do not manage to secure enough precious water rights, like Arizona, house masses of refugees desperate to escape to water-wealthy havens.


      A book like The Water Knife that highlights the dangers of the Western water rights system and water insecurity in general makes an approach like the one advocated for by Larson more salient, and it sends a clear warning about what the future could hold. Whether the United States heeds that warning remains to be seen.

    • Study: TRIPS Flexibilities Widely Used By Countries, Contrary To Reports

      The study titled “Medicine procurement and the use of flexibilities in the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights [TRIPS], 2001-2016,” [pdf] was published in the latest Bulletin of the World Health Organization and authored by Ellen ‘t Hoen, Jacquelyn Veraldi, Brigit Toebes, and Hans Hogerzeil.

      The study is highlighted by an editorial [pdf] in the same edition of the WHO Bulletin, written by Prof. Carlos Correa of the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina.


      The study found 176 instances of possible use of TRIPS flexibilities by 89 countries between 2001 to 2016, 100 of which involved compulsory licences or public non-commercial use licences, and 40 involving the least-developed countries pharmaceutical transition measure. One of those instances was parallel importation, three were research exceptions, and 32 were non-patent related measures.

      Some 152 out of 176 of those instances were implemented, the study says, adding that out of the 100 instances of compulsory licencing, 81 were implemented, but 19 were not because of different factor. These included: the patent holder offered a price reduction or donation; the patent holder agreed to a voluntary licence allowing the purchase of a generic medicine; no relevant patent existed that warranted the pursuit of the measure; and the application was rejected on legal or procedural grounds.

  • Security
    • Security updates for Thursday
    • [Older] Balancing security and innovation in open source
    • New PS4 Jailbreak Hits Firmware 4.55, Excites the Masses

      A few pieces of exciting news in the space of a few hours have many PlayStation 4 owners hot under the collar today. Following yesterday’s release of a kernel exploit for firmware v4.55 by developer ‘Qwertyoruiop’, a few hours ago a full implementation of the exploit landed on Github courtesy of SpecterDev. On top, there’s news of an interesting ‘payload’ quietly circulating.

    • ‘Chafer’ Uses Open Source Tools to Target Iran’s Enemies

      Iran’s hacking activity has increased against targets in its geographical neighborhood and one group has taken aim at commercial air travel and transport in the region.

      Symantec says the group, which it calls Chafer, has increased both its level of activity and the number of tools used against organizations in the Middle East.

    • Security updates for Friday
    • [Slackware] Security updates for OpenJDK 7 and 8
    • The Linux Kernel Prepares To Be Further Locked Down When Under UEFI Secure Boot

      For more than the past year we have reported on kernel work to further lock down the Linux kernel with UEFI Secure Boot and it’s looking now like that work may finally be close to being mainlined.

      Among the further restrictions that would be placed on the Linux kernel when running with UEFI Secure Boot enabled is blocking access to kernel module parameters that end up dealing with hardware settings, blocking access to some areas of /dev that could manipulate the kernel or hardware state, etc.

    • ​Memcached DDoS: The biggest, baddest denial of service attacker yet

      We’ve been seeing a rise of ever bigger Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks for years now. But, now a new attack method, Memcrashed, can blast your site with over a terabyte of traffic. Good luck standing up to that volume of abuse!

      Memcrashed works by exploiting the memcached program. Memcached is an open-source, high-performance, distributed, object-caching system. It’s commonly used by social networks such as Facebook and its creator LiveJournal as an in-memory key-value store for small chunks of arbitrary data. It’s the program that enables them to handle their massive data I/O. It’s also used by many to cache their web-server-session data to speed up their sites — and that’s where the trouble starts.

    • Security in the Modern Data Center
    • One in Eight Open Source Components Contain Flaws [Ed: What about proprietary software? Not worth ever debating in the media? Phil Muncaster uses dramatic headline as a form of marketing for Sonatype.]

      For example, 145,000 downloads of vulnerable versions of Apache Commons Collections were recorded in the UK in 2017 – vulnerabilities connected to ransomware attacks in the wild.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Trump Stuns Lawmakers With Seeming Embrace of Comprehensive Gun Control
    • New resolution would pull U.S. support from Saudis in Yemen war

      A bipartisan resolution was introduced in Congress on Thursday by Sens. Bernie Sanders, Chris Murphy, and Mike Lee, to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition in the war in Yemen.

      Why it matters: Yemen has been completely torn apart by the conflict between the Houthi rebel forces and the Saudi-led coalition which supports President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. The U.S. military has been supporting the Saudi coalition since the Obama administraiton. Sanders, Lee, and Murphy argue that Congress did not approve involvement, and therefore the U.S. should not be involved “beyond providing desperately needed humanitarian aid.”

    • It’s Very Easy to Bypass Google Shopping’s Block on Guns

      The ease of access to weapons is back in the spotlight after the recent Parkland school shooting. Naturally, one way potential gun owners may try to source a weapon is on the internet, and Google has, for years, blocked its shopping results from displaying results for searches of firearms.

      Turns out that block is trivial to circumvent, however, simply by misspelling the word ‘gun’.

    • Polish gov’t adopts bill to demote communist-era army officers

      The Polish government on Thursday adopted a bill that could see top communist-era military officers posthumously stripped of their rank.

    • North Korea, Iran and U.S. Intelligence that Neither Hears Nor Sees

      On North Korea, for example, the agencies that hear everything cannot seem to hear anything North Korea has said; on Iran, the agencies that see everything cannot seem to see what they have long known.

      The Worldwide Threat Assessment is a regular ritual of the intelligence community in which it shares a declassified summary of threats to U.S. national security with Congress. The current assessment is published under the name of Daniel R. Coats, Director of National Intelligence. In theory, the assessment is the result of input from all of America’s sixteen intelligence agencies.

    • First Responders in Florida Aren’t Covered for PTSD. That May Change After Parkland.

      A Florida bill to assist first responders suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder has found new life in the aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

      At least three first responders to the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, which killed 49 people, have publicly disclosed that they have a PTSD diagnosis, and advocates have been trying to expand workers’ compensation coverage in Florida since then. A bill to address that failed in Florida’s Republican-dominated Legislature last year, and a similar measure’s prospects were uncertain this year.

      After the Feb. 14 high school shooting in Parkland, in which 17 people died, the bill gained momentum, though only a few days are left in the legislative session. On Monday, the measure unanimously cleared its final committee hearing in the Florida House, the last step before a floor vote. Today, it passed its final Senate committee.

    • State Department Likely to Extend Cuts to U.S. Embassy in Cuba

      The Trump administration is poised to permanently extend the drastic cuts it made to the United States diplomatic staff in Cuba last fall after mysterious incidents in which 24 Americans were injured there, State Department officials said.

      The staff reductions would have a major impact on U.S. diplomacy toward Cuba, the officials said, obscuring Washington’s view of a historic political transition on the island and limiting the contacts of American diplomats with Cuban officials, political dissidents and others. U.S. officials said the State Department has already informed the Castro government that it will likely not meet its annual commitment to admit at least 20,000 Cubans under a 1994 migration agreement. That deal was meant to discourage Cubans from trying to reach the United States aboard homemade rafts and boats.

    • Over 80,000 stolen guns worsen crime in Florida

      Over the last ten years, more than 82,000 guns stolen in Florida remain missing, Laura Morel reported in November 2017 in joint reports for the Tampa Bay Times and the Center for Investigative Journalism’s program, Reveal. The study, based on a ten-month investigation of “thousands of law enforcement records,” found that in Tampa Bay alone at least 9,000 stolen guns are missing. In one recent year, 2016, on average at least one gun was reported stolen every hour.

      Those guns turn up in the hands of drug dealers and felons, Morel wrote, and some wind up killing people.

    • ‘The NRA Has Basically Become Part of the Republican Party’

      Mass shootings, like the February 14 killing of 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida, are actually a small fraction of gun deaths in the United States, but they hold a particular horror. And their wake, in which politicians and pundits tangle themselves in knots, arguing about the real cause and why other people’s ideas for responses won’t work, generates an enervating sense of frustration with the political process.

      The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are looking to break the stasis around gun restrictions, planning walkouts and demonstrations. They don’t look like fading soon. Our guest suggests that’s one of the elements that might allow this mass shooting to actually spur substantive change.

    • Teen Who Made A Dumb School Shooting Joke On Snapchat Ordered By Judge To Not Play Violent Video Games

      As predictable as the sun rising in the east, whenever a tragedy occurs, such as the recent school shooting in Florida, entirely too many people trot out their favorite whipping posts and put on a public show. One of those whipping posts is violent media, with video games for some reason taking on a particularly large portion of the backlash. We’ve already seen grandstanding politicians jump into this fray, all the way up to America’s current Dear Leader, but it isn’t only at the highest levels that this occurs. In the suburbs of Chicago, a 16 year old recently made a dumb comment in the wake of local threats of a school shooting that was essentially him being exasperated about all the commentary on his preferred social media channels.

    • ‘Annoyed’ sophomore charged with threat against Lake Park High School in Roselle

      In response to the talk about the closing, the youth posted a clip on Snapchat of himself playing a violent video game and wrote, “Y’all need to shut up about school shootings or I’ll do one.”

      On Monday morning, one of the Roselle Police Department’s school resource officers “learned of a (Lake Park) student who made specific threats” against the school, according to a post on the department’s Facebook page. Police and school officials “acted quickly to curtail any chance of danger to our kids,” the department wrote in the post.

      The youth appeared Tuesday afternoon in DuPage County juvenile court, where he is charged with felony disorderly conduct.

    • For Both Mainstream Camps in the Gun Debate, Violence Is Good for Fundraising

      One thing is certain about the gun debate: Americans are willing to spend a lot of money on it. What they get in return is a different story, one that is contoured by the raw emotions, partisan politics and brutal realities of gun violence that make the debate so frustrating and polarizing to begin with.

      Major gun control organizations bring in millions of dollars in donations a year, and they typically see a surge in donations and new memberships in the wake of well-publicized tragedies such as the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida that left 17 people dead.

      Everytown for Gun Safety, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s gun control group that funds Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, brought in $48 million in donations during 2015 fiscal year and easily exceeded $52 million in 2016, according to available tax filings. The well-established Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and its advocacy center in Washington, DC, brought in more than $8 million in 2015.

    • Missile-gate: U.S. Intel Misses Russia’s Big Advances in Nuclear Parity

      Putin’s address was a “shock and awe” event. I leave to others, more competent than I in military technology to comment on the specific capabilities of the various systems rolled out yesterday. Whether short range or unlimited range, whether ground launched or air launched, whether ballistic missiles or cruise missiles, whether flying through the atmosphere or navigating silently and at high speed the very depths of the oceans, these various systems are said to be invincible to any known or prospective air defense such as the United States has invested in heavily since it unilaterally left the ABM Treaty and set out on a course that would upend strategic parity.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Bureau Of Land Management Decides It’s Going To Be A Lot Less Receptive To FOIA Requests

      The new administration’s plan to undo everything Obama ever did (along with lots of stuff other presidents put in place) continues. Fighting leakers and multiple investigations, the Trump administration is steamrolling regulation by slashing through red tape and common sense with equal aplomb. This administration may have a reputation for inadvertent openness, but its new directives aren’t so much draining the swamp as building a swamp in its own image.

      The Bureau of Land Management is apparently viewed as the Fed version of Greenpeace. Previously-protected federal lands are being opened up for business, starting with the removal of environmental impact reviews. This should speed up the return of the government’s land to certain people — mining companies, the CBP’s inland expeditions, wall builders, etc. This affects nearly 950 million acres of federal land. A raft of exclusions would make it easier for the Bureau of Land Management to manage land however it sees fit.

    • Government Says FISA Court Should Stop Wasting Time Considering The ACLU’s Request For Greater Transparency
    • Displacing Wikileaks: Is Securedrop a Government Leak Graveyard?

      A concerted effort is being put forth to discredit Wikileaks and its founder as a reliable option for whistleblowers. But as Whitney Webb reveals, the alternatives being put forth are leaving leakers vulnerable.

    • Assange still has the power to affect world politics from his computer

      When Wikileaks published the Iraq War Logs, Afghan War Diaries, and in particular the Collateral Murder video, Laura immediately wanted to make a film about the people who were doing this kind of journalism that we weren’t getting but we needed, especially in the US. She saw those wars, she had been to Iraq and filmed a documentary, My Country, My Country. When WikiLeaks published Collateral Murder, Laura was immediately drawn to them. In 2011 she started filming with Assange and Wikileaks, and only later did Snowden contact her.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Obama tried to close a big pollution loophole. Trump wants to keep it.

      The mix-and-match trucks end up polluting 40 to 55 times more than new trucks, releasing compounds like soot and nitrogen dioxide that cause smog and hurt breathing. Since gliders contain refurbished engines, they aren’t held to the same pollution control standards as new trucks with new motors.

    • High levels of microplastics found in Northwest Atlantic fish

      The team found a wide array of microplastics in the fish stomachs—with a whopping 73% of the fish having ingested the pollutants. “We recorded one of the highest frequencies of microplastics among fish species globally,” says Wieczorek. “In particular, we found high levels of plastic fibers such as those used in textiles.”

    • South Dakota Keystone Pipeline spill cleanup is on schedule, TransCanada says

      Last November, the pipeline leaked 210,000 gallons of crude oil onto agricultural land in Marshall County, one of the largest on-shore oil spills in the U.S. since 2010.

    • High Tide Bulletin: Spring 2018

      The rising and falling of the sea is a phenomenon upon which we can always depend. Tides are the regular rise and fall of the sea surface caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and sun and their position relative to the earth.There are some factors that cause the tides to be higher than what is “normally” seen from day to day. This bulletin tells you when you may experience higher than normal high tides for the period of time between March and May 2018.

    • Months away from Malaysian election, EU’s move stirs discontent in palm groves

      Around 10 per cent of Malaysia’s 30 million people belong to families who own smallholdings dedicated to harvesting palm oil, and they account for the majority of voters in nearly a quarter of the national assembly’s 222 seats.

    • Orangutan numbers in Borneo plummet by more than 100,000 in just 16 years

      About half of the orangutans on the island of Borneo were either killed or removed between 1999 and 2015, according to new research.

  • Finance
    • Top NYT Editor: ‘We Are Pro-Capitalism, the Times Is in Favor of Capitalism’

      Media criticism is, more often than not, a practice of inference: seeing patterns and inferring from those patterns the political make-up of media. Occasionally, however, decision-makers from major media outlets come right out and openly declare their ideology. This is what New York Times editorial page editor James Bennet—likely the most influential gatekeeper in all of media—did when he told Times staffers in a closed-door meeting last December that the paper of record was “pro-capitalism.”


      The most pernicious ideology of our media class, as FAIR has noted time and again, is the belief they don’t have an ideology; the belief that the American ruling class and its media auxiliaries have reached the End of History, that capitalism is a non-negotiable good, and the job of media curators is to manage how best to implement this good. That there could be another way of looking at things, or that these assumptions should be challenged on a fundamental level, is tantamount to Flat-Eartherism or Holocaust denial.


      Instead, as FAIR (4/20/17, 6/20/17) noted of the New York Times last year, the so-called liberal media drifts further and further right even as the Democratic Party base grows more and more progressive. On the dubious altar of “ideological diversity,” the Times seeks out right-wing provocateurs like Bret Stephens and Bari Weiss—those who have mastered the careerist trick of being offensive without ever being subversive—but Bennet mysteriously can’t find anyone further left than anti-Sanders partisan Paul Krugman.

      “Ideological diversity” at the Times has time and again meant augmenting their pro-Israel, pro-capitalist, pro-bombing liberals with pro-Israel, pro-capitalism, pro-bombing conservatives. This is the scope of discourse at the paper of record, and one now openly acknowledged by its top opinion shaper.

    • Brexit and the contest between process and publicity

      When historians one day seek to make sense of Brexit what will be the most useful documents for them to look at so as to understand the respective approaches of the UK and the EU?

      For the EU, it will be straight-forward.

      To understand how the EU approached the UK’s departure from the EU, the historian will be able to look at position papers and other official documents.

      Of course, these documents will need to be supplemented by other evidence not in the public domain. But there has been a remarkable consistency between what the EU has said about Brexit and what has done. One set of public statements has led to another.

      For example, you can trace most parts of the draft Withdrawal Agreement back to the December joint report, and then in turn back to the position papers from the negotiation.

    • Blockchain: 3 things people get wrong

      Blockchain has been all the rage as a trend for the past couple of years. It’s widely viewed as an important technological development – and I agree with that view. But that doesn’t mean we should all give ourselves over to the hype and think blockchain is going to be the answer for everything. (CIOs, displaying their skeptical side, already see this trend a bit differently than analysts do, according to several recent data points.)

    • How Senior Daddies — Like Donald Trump — Are Eligible For a Social Security Bonus

      Would you believe that President Donald Trump is eligible for an extra Social Security benefit of around $15,000 a year because of his 11-year-old son, Barron Trump? Well, you should believe it, because it’s true.

      How can this be? Because under Social Security’s rules, anyone like Trump who is old enough to get retirement benefits and still has a child under 18 can get this supplement — without having paid an extra dime in Social Security taxes for it.

      The White House declined to tell us whether Trump is taking Social Security benefits, which by our estimate would range from about $47,100 a year (including the Barron bucks) if he began taking them at age 66, to $58,300 if he began at 70, the age at which benefits reach their maximum.

    • The blockchain market is hot; here’s how to learn the skills for it

      The job of developing blockchain distributed ledgers for businesses was recently ranked second among the top 20 fastest-growing job skills, and postings for workers with those skills grew more than 200% last year.

      Salaries for blockchain developer or “engineer” positions are accordingly high, with median salaries in the U.S. hovering around $130,000 a year; that compares to general software developers, whose annual median pay is $105,000, according to Matt Sigelman, CEO of job data analytics firm Burning Glass Technologies.

    • When You Can’t Afford to Go Bankrupt

      A ritual of spring in America is about to begin. Tens of thousands of people will soon get their tax refunds, and when they do, they will finally be able to afford the thing they’ve thought about for months, if not years: bankruptcy.

    • This Bitcoin-Trading Family Man Faced Years in Prison. Now He’s Telling His Story

      Referenced in court documents only as “Undercover Agent #1,” the guy seemed normal enough at first, Klein says: He presented himself as a business person, someone fascinated with bitcoin and wanting to learn more. They met at an Einstein Bros. Bagels shop and Klein sold him $1,000 worth of bitcoin, making his usual commission of about 10%. Then the guy asked if he could bring in a business partner who also wanted to understand what this bitcoin business was all about. “Unbeknownst to me,” Klein says, that person was Undercover Agent #2.


      During one meeting these contacts suggested they would use the bitcoin to buy “Girl Scout cookies,” a reference to drugs that Klein says he didn’t understand at the time. Then, one day in late 2015, he met them to do a trade and afterward the pair outright said they were going to use the digital tokens to buy cocaine, suggesting they were drug dealers.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Dianne Feinstein Isn’t Too Old—but She Is Too Out of Touch

      Dianne Feinstein is the oldest sitting senator in America. She entered Congress in 1992 (when I was 4 years old). Today, at age 84, she is running for a fifth term in office, and a lot of people in the Golden State are unhappy about it—enough to deny Feinstein the state Democratic Party endorsement at this past Saturday’s convention.

      Feinstein spent a great deal of that convention serving scrambled eggs to the delegates and giving speeches about her decades of legislative experience—which suggests that she still doesn’t get why her reelection bid hasn’t been embraced by all. Her primary opponent, State Senate President Kevin de León, put it bluntly during the convention when he proclaimed that “it’s time for a new generation to lead.”

      He’s right.

    • Nota bene: The arbitrage that won the 2016 election

      The arbitrage was recently revealed by Antonio García Martínez, the first product manager for Facebook’s Custom Audiences. Underlying the trade is an inversion of what used to be considered a timeless, universal truth: that direct marketing would always cost more than brand advertising, on a per-person-reached basis. That wasn’t true, in 2016. The result was that Donald Trump got millions and possibly billions of dollars’ worth of brand advertising from Facebook for free, while Hillary Clinton was largely left out in the cold.

    • Kobach’s Proof-of-Citizenship Law Heads to Trial

      Kansans will have their day in court to challenge Kobach’s law that blocked more than 35,000 voter registrations.

    • An Industry Group Says the Trump Administration Is Run “Like a Bad Family Owned Small Business” — And They Love It

      What does American business really think of President Donald Trump?

      One candid glimpse emerges in a pair of PowerPoint presentations delivered last year by top executives of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), one of the construction industry’s national trade groups.

    • Trump administration hired more than 75 lawyers with ties to agencies they oversee

      More than 75 Trump administration lawyers either represented clients in the industries they regulate or had clients with business before the government, according to a report released Thursday by the liberal watchdog group Public Citizen.

      The group looked at the background of 127 senior attorneys in the executive branch and found that 76 had connections to their agencies in the private sector. The analysis excluded lawyers from independent agencies like the Federal Communications Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    • How Big Law Has Captured the Trump Administration

      Big Law is a scourge of modern politics we don’t often hear about—-the collection of 200 or so giant law firms, populated with hundreds of partners, that jostle for prominence in Washington and the nation. Firms like Kirkland & Ellis and Jones Day have become a way station between government and business where partners can advocate for corporate clients while awaiting appointment to Executive Branch offices. Once inside government, they push to collaborate with corporate power rather than offer resistance. In many cases they oversee the same industries they once worked for. We elect politicians and then we get corporate-approved policies churned out by Big Law; it’s a kind of policy deep state. Big Law provides the oil that makes the revolving door spin.

      This cozy relationship knows no one party; Covington & Burling famously held open a corner office for Eric Holder while he negotiated settlements with many of their banking clients. But the Trump administration has taken merging with Big Law to new heights. A new report from Public Citizen, provided first to The Nation, “Big Law, Big Conflicts,” identifies 76 different lawyers working or nominated to work at cabinet agencies or inside the White House who either worked for Big Law firms or directly in the legal departments of corporations. These lawyers, seeded across the government, “either previously represented companies with business before the government, or worked in the same field they now oversee,” writes report author Alan Zibel.

    • When fighting fake news aids censorship

      Many media analysts have rightly identified the dangers posed by “fake news,” but often overlook what the phenomenon means for journalists themselves. Not only has the term become a shorthand way to malign an entire industry; autocrats are invoking it as an excuse to jail reporters and justify censorship, often on trumped-up charges of supporting terrorism.

      Around the world, the number of honest journalists jailed for publishing fake or fictitious news is at an all-time high of at least 21. As non-democratic leaders increasingly use the “fake news” backlash to clamp down on independent media, that number is likely to climb.

      The US, once a world leader in defending free speech, has retreated from this role. President Donald Trump’s Twitter tirades about “fake news” have given autocratic regimes an example by which to justify their own media crackdowns. In December, China’s state-run People’s Daily newspaper posted tweets and a Facebook post welcoming Trump’s fake news mantra, noting that it “speaks to a larger truth about Western media.” This followed the Egyptian government’s praise for the Trump administration in February 2017, when the country’s foreign ministry criticized Western journalists for their coverage of global terrorism.

    • MSNBC’s Big Names Completely Ignore West Virginia Teachers Strike

      Eight days into the first wildcat strike by West Virginia teachers in 27 years—organized by rank-and-file union members in all 55 West Virginia counties—America’s largest liberal cable network, MSNBC, is a virtual no-show in reporting on the momentous labor unrest.

      Save for one two-minute throwaway report from daytime show Velshi and Ruhle (2/27/18), MSNBC hasn’t dedicated a single segment to the strike—despite the strike’s unprecedented size and scope, which garnered major coverage from major outlets like CNN (3/1/18), the New York Times (3/1/18), Washington Post (3/2/18), Vox (2/24/18) and dozens of others.

      The most glaring omission is from the three highly paid primetime hosts: Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell and former In These Times and Nation writer Chris Hayes. None of the three big hosts have tweeted about it, much less mentioned the subject on air.

    • Italy’s Choice: Shock or Stagnation

      In 2017, populist sentiment helped outsiders increase their support in Holland, France, Germany and Austria, although none of them won any elections outright. This led European elites to breath a major sigh of relief, in the hope that the nationalist and populist broadsides against neoliberal E.U. economic policies and tensions around undocumented immigration, would not force an actual change in the institutions.

      Geert Wilder’s Freedom Party in Holland came in a distant second, and Marine Le Pen of the National Front in France was soundly defeated in a run-off election with Emmanuel Macron. Yet the effects of the voters’ revolt that emerged forcefully in the 2016 Brexit vote and the U.S. Presidential elections were subsequently felt in two more unexpected locations: Germany and Austria.

      In Germany the largest two parties, the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats both lost a considerable number of votes. This drop, coupled with the rise of the anti-E.U. Alternative for Deutschland (Afd), had major repercussions, forcing Chancellor Angela Merkel to engage in months of talks for a new Grand Coalition with the Social Democrats. Before the election, almost all commentators had predicted an easy win for Merkel.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Judge Tells Prosecutors They Need To Prove Contractor Knew He Had Classified Docs In His 50-Terabyte Stash

      The federal judge presiding over the prosecution of a government contractor who took home 50 terabytes of sensitive national security documents home with him has sent a message. And the message is this: collect it all.

      Harold Martin did what surveillance agencies do best. He built himself a haystack of government documents, some of them designated “top secret.” The prosecution is counting on this haystack to put Harold Martin in prison on espionage charges. But the judge has just ordered prosecutors to prove the few “top secret” needles justify a conviction for the entire haystack. Josh Gerstein at Politico has the details.

    • Mother of Accused NSA Leaker Reality Winner: My Daughter Wasn’t Read Her Miranda Rights

      On Tuesday, former U.S. intelligence contractor Reality Leigh Winner appeared in court in Augusta, Georgia, where her lawyers asked the judge to exclude her statements to FBI agents on the day she was arrested, arguing she was denied her Miranda rights. Winner is a former National Security Agency contractor who has pleaded not guilty to charges she leaked a top-secret document to The Intercept about Russian interference in the 2016 election. She is facing up to 10 years in prison on charges she violated the Espionage Act. For more, we speak with two guests. In Chicago, we’re joined by Kevin Gosztola, a journalist and managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He was in the courtroom in Augusta on Tuesday, and his recent article is titled “In Reality Winner’s Case, Defense Seizes Upon FBI Testimony to Bolster Motion to Suppress Statements.” And in Augusta, Georgia, we speak with by Reality Winner’s mother, Billie Winner-Davis. She’s joining us from her daughter’s house, where Reality Winner was questioned and arrested by FBI agents on June 3.

    • Australian Government Continues To Push Encryption Backdoors It Refuses To Call Encryption Backdoors

      The Australian government has decided it can beat math at its own game. The laws of math will be defeated by the laws of Australia, the government declared last year. In an effort to tackle something this article calls “terror encryption,” the Home Office says laws punching holes in encryption for government access are just around the corner.

      Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull may not understand the laws of mathematics or how signing a bunch of words into law doesn’t actually suspend them, but he does know tech companies are going to figure it out for him. Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton agrees: the government just needs to mandate broken encryption and the tech companies will handle the rest. It’s for the good of the country, if not the world.

    • Prosecution of NSA Whistleblower Reality Winner Hinges on FBI Interrogation

      The case against ex-NSA employee Reality Winner, accused of leaking intelligence documents, hinges on a defense motion to suppress statements she made to FBI agents where she admitted being responsible for the leak. Winner’s lawyers have argued her comments shouldn’t be admitted as evidence against her, as she was not under arrest at the time.

    • Facebook’s creepy file on EVERY internet user – how YOU can find yours
    • The weird and surprising things I found in the file Facebook has on me

      Since the moment I, and everyone else signed up, the social media service has been collecting and keeping everything — I seriously mean everything — we have ever done on the site. All the conversations, videos, pictures and documents we have shared or have had sent to us are all held on a server somewhere with space specially dedicated to each of us.

    • How London’s 7/7 Bombings Led to “Unprecedented” Surveillance Tactics

      It was early-morning rush hour in London on Thursday, July 7, 2005, when a series of explosions shut down the city’s transport network. At first, the authorities suspected an electricity fault was to blame. But it soon emerged that four Islamist suicide attackers had detonated bombs on three underground trains and a bus, killing 52 people and injuring more than 700.

    • Norway Used NSA Technology for Potentially Illegal Spying

      Behind an abandoned military facility 40 miles northwest of Oslo, Norway built a surveillance base in close collaboration with the National Security Agency. Its bright, white satellite dishes, some of them 60 feet in diameter, stand out against the backdrop of pine-covered hills and red-roofed buildings that scatter the area.

      Classified documents describe the facility as “state-of-the-art,” with capabilities “previously not released outside of NSA.” Despite a hefty price tag of more than $33 million paid by Norwegian taxpayers, the Norwegian Intelligence Service has kept the operations at the site beyond public scrutiny.


      Norwegian intelligence sent employees on multiple trips to receive training and test equipment at the NSA, and a delegation from a now-defunct NSA Yakima facility in Washington state traveled to Norway. Meanwhile, NSA employees based in Oslo took delivery of more than 90 containers crammed with electronic equipment, which were sent by boat and airplane, according to an October 2005 article in SIDtoday, an internal NSA newsletter. Two months later, on December 15, 2005, the Norwegian Intelligence Service’s director, Torgeir Hagen, declared VICTORYGARDEN operational. An NSA article describing the base’s opening ceremony concluded: “We have only begun to see future possibilities to benefit both our nations and the free world.”

    • The Powerful Global Spy Alliance You Never Knew Existed

      It is one of the world’s most powerful alliances. And yet most people have probably never heard of it, because its existence is a closely guarded government secret.

      The “SIGINT Seniors” is a spy agency coalition that meets annually to collaborate on global security issues. It has two divisions, each focusing on different parts of the world: SIGINT Seniors Europe and SIGINT Seniors Pacific. Both are led by the U.S. National Security Agency, and together they include representatives from at least 17 other countries. Members of the group are from spy agencies that eavesdrop on communications – a practice known as “signals intelligence,” or SIGINT.

      Details about the meetings of the SIGINT Seniors are disclosed in a batch of classified documents from the NSA’s internal newsletter SIDToday, provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden and published today by The Intercept. The documents shine light on the secret history of the coalition, the issues that the participating agencies have focused on in recent years, and the systems that allow allied countries to share sensitive surveillance data with each other.

    • ‘NSA-proof’ Tor actually funded by US govt agency, works with BBG, FBI & DOJ – FOIA docs

      The Tor Project, hailed as a bulwark against the encroaching surveillance state, has received funding from US government agency the BBG and cooperates with intelligence agencies, newly released documents reveal.

      Tor, free software which enables anonymous communication over the internet, is a “privatized extension of the very same government that it claimed to be fighting,” claims journalist Yasha Levine, who obtained 2,500 pages of correspondence about the project via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

    • Privacy project Tor claimed to be in US Government’s pocket

      In an explosive revelation, the Tor Project, which produces a browser said to be the gold standard for privacy, is being funded by the US Government agency BBG and co-operates with American intelligence agencies, a report claims.

    • Tor Project “Almost 100% Funded By The US Government”: FOIA

      The FOIA documents also suggest that Tor’s ability to shield users from government spying may be nothing more than hot air. While no evidence of a “backdoor” exists, the documents obtained by Levine reveal that Tor has “no qualms with privately tipping off the federal government to security vulnerabilities before alerting the public, a move that would give the feds an opportunity to exploit the security weakness long before informing Tor users.”

    • Man involved in shooting cop and was found via stingray given 20 years

      On Wednesday afternoon, US District Judge Phyllis Hamilton ordered the lead defendant, Purvis Ellis, to 20 years in prison. Ars chronicled the Ellis case more than two years ago in a lengthy feature and described how Ellis was located via the use of cell-site simulators. These devices, which spoof ordinary cell towers, are often used by police to locate criminal suspects. However, in recent years, judges nationwide have increasingly scrutinized use of the surveillance tool.

    • Detroit Police Are Playing ‘Big Brother’ at Local Businesses

      If you’ve been to Detroit recently, you may have seen flashing green lights outside liquor stores, gas stations, and other businesses. The lights, according to police, are supposed to act as a deterrent, warning criminals that cameras are present, streaming real-time images of everyone entering or leaving the premises straight into police headquarters. This is the Motor City’s two-year-old surveillance program, Project Green Light, which its evangelists argue reduces crime at minimal expense to the city’s taxpayers.

      The problem with that optimistic prediction is that study after study has shown that there is little evidence, if any, that programs like this work. But there is something we do know for sure: Programs like these violate our constitutional right to privacy by allowing police to peer into our lives without having to bother to get a search warrant.

      Constant video streaming to the authorities amounts to an open-ended warrant without probable cause, enabling Detroit police as well as state and federal law enforcement agencies — including the FBI; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and Immigration and Customs Enforcement — to view and record the comings and goings of innocent Americans. This means that even when not open to the public, cameras would capture the inside and outside of restaurants, book stores, and coffee shops, which are common meeting places for many organizations, such as unions, immigrant rights advocates, and religious congregations.

    • 22 illegal immigrants hiding in truck discovered by infrared photographs

      The thermography images show how the immigrants were captured in the Emirate of Sharjah, in the north east of the United Arab Emirates.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Radical Islamic cleric charged with inciting terror attacks

      Radical Islamic cleric Aman Abdurrahman faces the death penalty after being charged yesterday with inciting others to commit various terror attacks in Indonesia, including an attack in Jakarta in 2016 that left four bystanders dead.

    • Fighting sexism, India’s police ask: When is ‘women only’ good for women?

      Jaipur’s 28 all-female units, among the first in India, are just one manifestation of a deep national soul-searching over the scourges of sexual harassment and gender-based violence – and police’s role in fighting them. Along with all-female police stations, they’re meant to encourage more women to come forward and report abuse. But the question for many women’s groups is whether such “all women” initiatives can change the underlying attitudes that so often allow it to go unchecked. Many argue they are little more than window dressing, letting top brass contend they are addressing women’s safety while in fact shunting it aside.

    • Woman injured in #NoDAPL clash sues federal government for evidence

      “On information and belief, over the past fourteen months, the government has not issued any indictments or made a single arrest related to Sophia’s injury,” the complaint states. “Wayne has repeatedly requested that the government honor its agreement and return Sophia’s possessions, or at least make them available to Sophia’s forensic chemist for nondestructive analysis. The government continues to refuse to do so.”

    • Injured DAPL protest files suit for clothing, shrapnel

      Attorneys for 22-year-old Sophia Wilansky, of New York, filed the lawsuit Friday, Feb. 2, alleging unlawful deprivation of property, lack of due process and unreasonable seizure.


      Wilansky has undergone numerous surgeries to her left forearm from the explosion, which left her “permanently disfigured and disabled.”

    • NSA Used Porn to “Break Down Detainees” in Iraq — and Other Revelations From 297 Snowden Documents

      He was an NSA staffer but also a volunteer, having signed up to provide technical expertise for a wide-ranging, joint CIA mission in Iraq. He did not know what he was getting himself into.

      After arriving in Baghdad “grungy and tired,” the staffer would later write, he discovered that the CIA and its partner, the Defense Intelligence Agency, had moved beyond talking to locals and were now intent on looking through their computer files. Marines would bring the NSA man “laptops, hard drives, CDs, phones and radios.” Sometimes the devices were covered in blood — and quite often they contained pornography, deemed “extremely useful” in humiliating and “breaking down” for interrogation the people who owned them.

    • Time has come to save mentally ill inmates from solitary confinement

      The first thing that hits you is the smell—an acrid stench that knocks you back a few paces.

      When you see inside the cells, you understand. Men, often nude, are covered in filth. Their cell floors are littered with rancid milk cartons and food containers. Their stopped-up toilets overflow with waste.

      These are the living conditions that prisoners with acute mental illness endure in the Maricopa County Jail’s Special Management Unit (SMU) in downtown Phoenix. In my 23 years of visiting prisons and jails nationwide, it is the single worst unit I have ever seen.

    • Five Years After His Arrest, Prosecutors Try To Push Back Justin Carter’s ‘Terroristic Threat’ Trial

      Way back in the summer of 2013, Justin Carter, a teen living in Texas, made a joke on Facebook while chatting with other League of Legends players. Responding to facetious comments he was insane, Carter sarcastically agreed, using a very regrettable choice of words.

    • Shock as Islamic Fundamentalist Gets Green Light to Start School in Sweden

      Behind the divisive initiative is Conservative MP Abdirizak Waberi, who notoriously called for banning music and dancing, prohibiting boys and girls from socializing and allowing men to beat their four wives with sticks when they became disobedient.

      After protracted deliberations, the Islamic School Foundation has been ultimately granted the right to open a contested Muslim “free school” in the city of Borås, the newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported. The Borås municipality has long fought to stop the school that, it contended, would impede the integration process and cement segregation.

    • Old Speech, Photo Used In False FBI Muslim Crackdown Story

      A story that falsely reports President Donald Trump ordered the FBI in all 50 U.S. states to take action immediately against Muslim people is based largely on a speech 10 months ago by the then-head of the Department of Homeland Security, and also misquotes that speech.

    • Al-Ain’s Caio becomes latest UAE league player to receive fine for ‘unethical haircut’

      The Brazilian midfielder, who joined the UAE side in 2016, was fined AED1,000 ($272) by the UAE FA’s disciplinary committee for the haircut.

      It comes just a week after the federation punished Moroccan Murad Batna of Al Wahda with a similar fine for exactly the same offense.

    • She Owed $102,158.40 in Unpaid Tickets, but She’s Not in the Story

      At first, we thought it was a typo, a misplaced decimal. Bankruptcy records showed that a woman from Chicago’s South Side owed the city $102,158.40 for unpaid tickets. Could one person really rack up that much ticket debt?

      “Nobody will believe me,” she later told me. “But every single year, they send me 30 pages in an envelope with all the tickets. I just throw it away. I don’t look at it. It’s really stressful. You don’t understand how stressful it is to be in debt.”

      I’ve spent the past five months going down one avenue after another to figure out why thousands of Chicago drivers turn to Chapter 13 bankruptcy to cope with debt stemming from parking and traffic camera tickets. We published our story this week in partnership with Mother Jones.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Telecom Sector Can’t Stop Falsely Claiming That Net Neutrality Will Harm The Sick, Derail Smart Cars

      If you’ve paid attention to the net neutrality debate, you’ll recall that large ISPs routinely threaten to hold back on network investment if governments pass rules protecting an open, healthy internet. They also routinely try to claim that the passage of such protections cause a massive slowdown in overall sector investment, something that simply isn’t supported by actual facts (remember them?). Such rhetoric is fear mongering designed to scare regulators away from imposing “job killing regulations,” even if those regulations make sense for a telecom market where limited competition fails to keep bad actors in check.

      This hollow fear mongering has played a starring role as carriers worldwide begin to deploy faster fifth-generation wireless (5G) networks. You’ll recall that both American and European telcos have routinely tried to claim that the deployment of these faster, more efficient wireless networks will be derailed by net neutrality.

      Usually, this rhetoric is accompanied by claims that 5G will be the centerpiece of the smart cities of tomorrow, and that net neutrality rules will prevent ISPs from using these networks to provide prioritized connectivity for health and other related services. Ignored is the fact that this has never been a problem, since any well-crafted net neutrality rules carve out massive loopholes for all manner of essential services, especially on the medical front. Of course that doesn’t stop ISPs from routinely claiming that net neutrality hurts sick people all the same.

    • Sprint’s CEO Thinks This Whole Killing Net Neutrality Thing Is Pretty Nifty

      So when the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality rules were passed, we warned how the agency’s failure to include zero rating (exempting an ISP’s own content or the content of a deep-pocketed partner) was going to let ISPs creatively engage in anti-competitive behavior. And sure enough, companies like Verizon and AT&T began exempting their own content from usage caps, giving them a leg up in the market. Carriers like Sprint similarly began to fracture the internet experience, at one point charging users more money if they wanted to enjoy music, video and games without having their connection throttled.

      T-Mobile pushed these creative barriers further with its Binge On offering, which exempted only the biggest and most popular video services from the company’s usage caps. This automatically put thousands of smaller video providers, non-profits, educational institutions and startups at a notable market disadvantage, but by and large nobody outside of the EFF and academia gave much of a damn because a) ill-informed consumers are happy laboring under the illusion that they’re getting something for free and b) the public (and by proxy media) was lazy and tired of debating net neutrality.

    • Washington State Laughs In The Face Of FCC Attempts To Ban States From Protecting Net Neutrality

      In the wake of the FCC’s net neutrality repeal, nearly half the states in the union are now in the process of passing new net neutrality rules. Some states are pushing for legislation that mirrors the discarded FCC rules, while others (including Montana) have signed executive orders banning states from doing business with ISPs that engage in anti-competitive net neutrality violations.

      Of course incumbent ISPs saw this coming, which is why both Verizon and Comcast successfully lobbied the FCC to include language in its repeal that tries to “preempt” state authority over ISPs entirely. But this effort to ban states from protecting consumers (not just from net neutrality violations) rests on untested legal ground, which is why some ISPs are also pushing for fake net neutrality laws they hope will preempt these state efforts.

    • Defying Pai’s FCC, Washington state passes law protecting net neutrality

      The bill comes in response to the Federal Communications Commission decision in December 2017 to scrap federal net neutrality rules. The state bill still needs the signature of Governor Jay Inslee, who previously pledged to enforce net neutrality “under our own authority and under our own laws,” calling it “a free speech issue as well as a business development issue.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • Fair Use Protects So Much More Than Many Realize

        With copyright being abused to shut down innovation and speech, and copyright terms lasting for generations, fair use is more important than ever. Without fair use, we’d see less creativity. We’d see less news reporting and commentary. And we’d see far less innovation.

        Fair use allows people to use copyrighted materials for certain purposes without payment or permission. If something is fair use, it is not infringing on a copyright.

        A video remix or a story that critiques culture by incorporating famous characters and giving them new meaning or context is an example of fair use in action. Culture grows because creators are constantly reworking what’s in it. If Superman is portrayed as someone other than a white man, that is a clearly a commentary on the symbol of “truth, justice, and the American way.”

        Commentary also relies on fair use. Criticism is made stronger when the material being interrogated can be included in the critique. It is difficult to show why someone was wrong or add context to someone else’s report without including at least part of it. We recently wrote about the Second Circuit’s decision that part of the service offered by TVEyes, a subscription company that provides searchable transcripts and video archives of television and radio, was not fair use. In particular, the court seemed to say that what makes TVEyes so objectionable was that it made material available without Fox News’ permission. One of the reasons fair use is so important to the First Amendment is because it doesn’t require permission. Who would let researchers, academics, and journalists get access to their material for the purpose of saying if and how they’re wrong?

        The ways fair use improves our creative culture and our commentary are apparent every time we see fan art on the Internet or watch news commentary. The ways fair use protects innovation can be more subtle.

      • The Post-TPP Future of Digital Trade in Asia

        On March 8, trade representatives from eleven Pacific rim countries including Canada, Mexico, Japan, and Australia are expected to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership, now known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The agreement has been slimmed down both in its content—22 items in the text have been suspended, including the bulk of the intellectual property chapter—and also in its membership, with the exclusion of the United States which had been the driver of those suspended provisions.

        What remains in the CPTPP is the agreement’s Electronic Commerce (also called digital trade) chapter, which will set new, flawed rules for the region on topics such as the free flow of electronic data, access to software source code, and even rules applicable to domain name privacy and dispute resolution. But it’s not the only Asian trade agreement seeking to set such rules. There’s another lesser-known but equally important agreement under negotiation by sixteen countries, called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP).

        Like CPTPP, RCEP would cover issues that are critical to the digital economy such as custom duties on electronic products, supply of cross-border services, paperless trading, telecommunications, intellectual property, source code disclosure, privacy and cross-border data flows. But unlike CPTPP, RCEP includes the giants of China and India, meaning that the agreement would represent a massive 28.5 percent of global trade. While India’s commitment to the deal has become somewhat equivocal, RCEP holds an important place in China’s ambitions to consolidate its leadership role in the region.

      • The 2nd Circuit Contributes To Fair Use Week With An Odd And Problematic Ruling On TVEyes

        For years, we’ve quoted a copyright lawyer/law professor who once noted that the standards for fair use are an almost total crapshoot: nearly any case can have almost any result, depending on the judge (and sometimes jury) in the case. Even though there are “four factors” that must be evaluated, judges will often bend over backwards to twist those four factors to get to their desired result. Some might argue that this is a good thing in giving judges discretion in coming up with the “right” solution. But, it also means that there’s little real “guidance” on fair use for people who wish to make use of it. And that’s a huge problem, as it discourages and suppresses many innovations that might otherwise be quite useful.

        Case in point: earlier this week the 2nd Circuit rejected a lower court decision in the Fox News v. TVEyes case. If you don’t recall, TVEyes provides a useful media monitoring service that records basically all TV and radio, and makes the collections searchable and accessible. It’s a useful tool for other media companies (which want to use clips), for large PR firms tracking mentions, and for a variety of other uses as well. The initial ruling was a big win for fair use (even when done for profit) and against Fox News’ assertion of the obsolete doctrine of “Hot News” misappropriation. That was good. However, that initial ruling only covered some aspects of TVEyes’ operations — mainly the searching and indexing. A second ruling was more of a mixed bag, saying that archiving the content was fair use, but allowing downloading the content and “date and time search” (as opposed to content search) was not fair use.

      • EU Commission Proposes Measures Against Illegal Online Content Including IP Infringement

        The European Commission today recommended a set of operational measures against a wide range of online content considered illegal, lumping intellectual property rights-infringing material in with that of terrorists, child sexual abusers, hate speech, and commercial scams.

      • Dotcom: Obama Admitted “Mistakes Were Made” in Megaupload Case

        Kim Dotcom is claiming that an associate was able to hire a friend of the Obamas to ask about the Megaupload case. “Mistakes were made. It hasn’t gone well. It’s a problem. I’ll see to it after the election,” Barack Obama reportedly said. With Obama due to land in New Zealand next month, Dotcom says he’ll have a court subpoena waiting for the former president.

      • Switzerland Hopes New Law Will Keep it Off U.S. ‘Pirate Watchlist’

        Switzerland hopes that its newly proposed copyright law will be enough to keep the country off the United States’ Special 301 Report watchlist. The Swiss Government notes that the law addresses two of the main piracy concerns previously identified by the US.

Battistelli’s Last Four Months: Peak Censorship at the European Patent Office (EPO)

Friday 2nd of March 2018 07:02:44 PM

…and then the person who Battistelli lobbied for (to prevent an ICC judge becoming EPO President) takes over the Office

Summary: Voices against UPC and EPO management are being muzzled in blogs/sites with connections to both; but sadly for Team UPC and EPO management, facts remain facts and there’s no justice at the EPO (only illusion thereof)

NOW THAT EPO management is censoring staff that says the truth (or expresses an opinion) we expect to see an abundance of lies coming out.

Battistelli has always sought a monopoly on information; this is why he spent a vast amount of money (not his, the EPO’s) paying the media, paying academia, and paying for bogus ‘studies’ with predefined outcomes. As we showed yesterday, there’s another one in the making. The EPO announced it this week.

Staff is not happy. This kind of behaviour typically results in even more leaking. The article we saw last night in Cambodian media now has this new comment in it. “We are impressed,” it says. “The Sun King or Putin, Battistelli, as his own staff calls him, extends the “value” of patents that he had actively contributed to render worthless to Cambodia. What a gorgeous present!!! What comes next? An extension to St Marteen or Vanatu, maybe?”

“Battistelli has always sought a monopoly on information; this is why he spent a vast amount of money (not his, the EPO’s) paying the media, paying academia, and paying for bogus ‘studies’ with predefined outcomes.”There’s now more censorship of comments at IP Kat and Kluwer Patent Blog (it got worse/escalated recently, using bogus pretexts), but that too cannot silence staff. They’ll just reach out to other avenues in which their voices can be heard. Less than a day ago Kluwer Patent Blog again published yet another UPC propaganda piece. These people are terrible. The blog interviewed Luke McDonagh (likely by Bristows masquerading as "Kluwer Patent blogger"). “There is scepticism whether the Unified Patent Court will ever be set up,” says the headline (not too provocative although it’s realism rather than scepticism, which is an understatement).

A few hours ago IP Kat was pushing the EPO's buzzword (or buzz term) that's used to disguise illegal software patents. Funny how IP Kat no longer covers EPO scandals but finds plenty of time/space to serve Team Battistelli.

Days ago there was a Bristows-posted ad for the EPO. It was misleading.

“There’s now more censorship of comments at IP Kat and Kluwer Patent Blog (it got worse/escalated recently, using bogus pretexts), but that too cannot silence staff.”“Appeal boards now advertise lawyer job as permanent,” one person told us. “But it is not. Five years.”

Bristows put out a false job ad, just like it was pushing out false job ads (jobs that will never exist) for UPC judges. If the President of the Appeal Boards (BoA) decides on promotions, appointments, if you have job, etc. can you make independent decisions? So say some readers of ours. The whole thing is farcical.

Curiously, as of a few hours ago, there was this new comment (posted yesterday, but only approved today) showing that the EPO’s BoA is a sham and not representative of member states (neither EPO-wide nor EU-wide) under Battistelli. Read this:

The offer seems prima facie only interesting for people having a safety net, for instance, having the possibility to go back to a national civil service from which they were detached to perform their duties at the EPO.

This may explain why most of the new recruits to the legal board appear to have been German judges.

In October 2016, the percentage of German legal members on the Legal Board was already 43%, and following further appointments in October 2016 it has risen to nearly 47% (15 out of 32). In other words nearly every second legal member is German.

The inordinately high percentage of German members causes difficulties in distributing business to the technical boards of appeal, because on boards with a German chairman (currently five), the goal is to avoid panels composed entirely of members with the same nationality. This leaves less room when assigning legal members to individual technical boards, and when composing panels to hear individual cases.

The present situation also gives rise to other problems: the legal members of the Enlarged Board are appointed exclusively from the Legal Board of Appeal. Due to provisions regarding nationality which exist for proceedings under Article 112 EPC and Article 23(1) EPC, such a high percentage of one nationality in the Legal Board leads to problems when constituting the Enlarged Board and composing its panels to hear individual cases.

As always, comments in IP Kat and Kluwer Patent Blog are a lot more informative than articles (many of which are written by Bristows, sometimes anonymously, especially when they intentionally lie).

“The EPO will try hard to create or maintain a perception of judges being independent and free to judge as they see fit (based on underlying law, not desires or objectives of Battistelli and his pick, Campinos).”A few hours ago the EPO wrote: “We look forward to receiving your comments on the proposed changes to our appeal procedure.”

“You won’t mind these comments,” I responded. “It’s posturing at best. You try to pretend that users are listened to and justice is still functional…”

Suffice to say, this reality means that UPC will never happen. The German FCC (not to be mistaken/confused with the US FCC) is looking into all this. The EPO will try hard to create or maintain a perception of judges being independent and free to judge as they see fit (based on underlying law, not desires or objectives of Battistelli and his pick, Campinos).

Élodie Bergot Meets Barbra Streisand: Here is the Letter the EPO’s Bergot is Trying Really Hard to Hide/Censor

Friday 2nd of March 2018 05:12:38 PM

This is the CSC letter which triggered the threatening letter of Bergot

Summary: The brain drain at the EPO is a serious problem which harms not only staff but also EPO stakeholders (past and present); EPO management now fights a battle it cannot win, namely a war on truth itself

THE management of the EPO has sunk to a level of censorship never seen before.

Last night we wrote about the censorship of the EPO's staff representatives (yet again, this is at least the third time this year and we covered this pattern each time it happened). There’s now some press coverage about that, namely:

The European Patent Office (EPO) has stopped the internal publication of a Central Staff Committee (CSC) article that criticises the office for alleged misconduct towards its staff.

In a letter to the chairman of the CSC Joachim Michels, director of human resources at the EPO Elodie Bergot, suggested that the CSC should “review the content of the proposed publication and delete or modify the parts that are offensive to individuals”.

According to the CSC publication: “Colleagues in human resources behaved ethically correctly in the past. Nowadays they are discouraged. Existing competence and constructive criticism are suppressed. Instead, networks of compliant followers are being built to ruthlessly implement policies that take no account of corporate social responsibility.”

The ‘offensive’ letter can be seen at the top. It’s not unreasonable. Truth itself scares Bergot.

Bergot is in denial. She is lying to staff about the brain drain she is responsible for. It’s worrying that there may soon be not much of an ‘asset’ in the Office; the asset was always the staff’s experience and knowledge. That’s what made the EPO so competitive and the price associated with European Patents a lot higher.

“How to lose your best staff in 5 points,” as a reader told us today, seems relevant to all this. It’s this article at LinkedIn (Microsoft). “It seems to me that Battistelli thoroughly followed the instructions of this guide on “how to get rid of your best staff”,” our reader said.

Stakeholders too would walk away, in due course. Patent quality is slipping. Like we said a few weeks ago, Battistelli now openly promotes software patents and so does the Office, which yesterday wrote this tweet. “That is what EPO calls software patents now,” I told them, “knowing that software patents are not permitted” (as if rules matter to Battistelli).

Speaking of LinkedIn (Microsoft), remember that Microsoft and the EPO are promoting software patents and based on this EPO tweet from yesterday, the EPO now uses Microsoft to manage EPO budget (sort of). “We publish all available tenders with the EPO on the following LinkedIn page,” they wrote. “Follow us there to stay up to date with business opportunities with the EPO…”

To do so they need to give their personal details to Microsoft. What a sham. As if the EPO does not have its own site in which to advertise such information (rather than some for-profit site from another continent).

But worry not, there’s a contigency in another continent. Bergot and Battistelli may be driving away staff and stakeholders, but they will always have Cambodia (with zero patents at the EPO) to fall back on. The latest EPO “news” item is all about Cambodia and last night the Cambodian press said

The validation agreement between the European Patent Organization and Cambodia, a pact envisioned to protect European patents in the kingdom, entered into force yesterday.

To mark the event, the ministry held a ceremony yesterday presided over by Cham Prasidh, the Minister of Industry and Handicraft.

Oum Sotha, spokesman at the ministry, said the accord is meant to protect the interests of EU investors in Cambodia.

Battistelli’s sham “pact” in a county with zero European Patents (EPs) is more of a testament to the infamous French connections (Cambodia is a former French colony). How many EPO stakeholders even care about this? Can today’s EPO charm anyone other than press and politicians that it is literally paying (at stakeholders’ expense)?

European Patent Office (EPO) in Chaos and Attempting to Silence the Staff Would Only Exacerbate Matters

Thursday 1st of March 2018 09:51:11 PM

Censorship in such circumstances/scenarios almost always backfires

Summary: As the EPO becomes ever more oppressive it makes the mistake of attempting to control communication and transparency, which means that anonymous whistleblowing becomes the last resort to many

THE situation at the EPO has gotten so bad that staff representatives are no longer permitted to talk either to the Council or to the people whom they represent. It’s just so surreal. Earlier today we published this letter and now we see an accompanying message that says “EPO [management] is currently censoring the publication on the Intranet of a CSC communication.”

So basically the management just wants everyone to stay pretty much silent and not disseminate any information because information may then be labeled “defamatory” (that’s how they attempted to justify censorship of Techrights).

The EPO has just hired a firm (warning: link) to produce for it some more propaganda and without a shadow of a doubt claim — as usual — the very opposite of the truth. The EPO did this many times before and there were many debunkings.

“To ensure anonymity,” the EPO wrote, “an external contractor, BERENT Deutschland GmbH, will conduct the surveys on behalf of the EPO.”

Seriously, anonymity? And they’re on the EPO’s payroll, so how independent can that really be?

Anyway, information is being disseminated by the media right now. Not the German or Swiss or even French media (albeit some Dutch journalists do mention Techrights today).

Following coverage of the USF letter at SUEPO and elsewhere IPPro Patents wrote this article which says:

Union Syndicale Fédérale (USF) has penned a letter to senior European Patent Office (EPO) officials highlighting what it calls the “extreme” situation and “shocking events” taking place at the office.

In its letter, addressed to current EPO president Benoît Battistelli, president elect António Campinos and all 38 Delegations of the EPO’s Administrative Council, among others, USF said it had been following the situation with “great concern”.


USF concluded: “Beyond the mere application of article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (access of individual workers to an independent and impartial court) the issues of the European Social Charter as a universal source of social rights, the locus standi of union and the creation of appellate judicial bodies are now being raised.”

“USF considers that the various organs of the Council of Europe deserve to conduct their discussions and develop their conclusions with an adequate degree of autonomy, but any support or encouragement your institution of government may convey to the current debates at the Council of Europe would help re-establishing decent working conditions, transparency and a positive perception of the EPO by the public.”

The Register too wrote about it this morning and the article alludes to the “Unitary [sic] Patent Court (UPC)” towards the end (should be Unified). To quote some portions:

Pressure is continuing to build on the European Patent Office (EPO) over its treatment of staff and continued refusal to accept the results of an independent tribunal.

This week, Europe’s largest trade union, the Union Syndicale Fédérale (USF) wrote to all 38 members of the EPO’s Administrative Council noting its “great concern” at recent “extreme” EPO management actions that point to “fundamental flaws in the institutional setup of the EPO.”

The letter [PDF] notes that the situation at the EPO – where staff have been hounded and fired and then been ignored when they have taken their cases to an independent tribunal and won – is now being actively discussed in other European institutions, including the Council of Europe.

“USF wishes to draw your attention to an important ongoing debate between organs of the Council of Europe,” the letter notes. “The debates in Strasbourg focused on the issues of strengthening the legal system of international organizations and of the strict limitation of activities covered by their immunity of jurisdiction.”


That complaint argues that the long-planned Unitary Patent Court (UPC) is not legal because the EPO – which approves patents – has insufficient governance mechanisms. It will be heard later this year.

The situation has grown so dire that the Council of Europe has started looking into making high-level changes to prevent international organizations from going awol – and the initial recommendations are referenced in USF’s letter to the EPO’s Administrative Council.

There are mostly off-topic comments, but one person said about Battistelli: “He’s still there! It’s like trying to get rid of a stubborn stain. I doubt if he’ll pay much attention to them or anybody.”

It’s not just Battistelli anymore but also many of the toxic people he brought after him. Campinos too was his pick, so don’t expect much to change in 4 months when Battistelli leaves.

The Latest Bristows Spin Distracts From the Fact that Britain Has No Intention of Ratifying UPC and Brexit Agreement Altogether Omits It

Thursday 1st of March 2018 08:58:25 PM

Summary: In an effort to distract (quite frankly as usual) from another UPC setback in the UK, Bristows LLP speaks about an irrelevant (to the UPC) Luxembourg and attempts to make a draft of the Brexit Agreement seem as though it backs the UPC (it doesn’t)

THIS AFTERNOON we published a long post about the latest UPC deception and we predicted that Bristows would soon spread/seed similar deception in Kluwer Patent Blog. Seems as though our prediction was correct. The EPO hasn’t said anything about the UPC lately (not directly anyway). But Bristows is a loose cannon. The lies just ooze out…

Nobody but those people of Bristows would be crazy enough to insinuate that the future of UPC depends on tiny Luxembourg (its role in the UPC is cursory at best and it barely has any European Patents), but here they are getting so desperate for any positive news. Brian Cordery certainly knows that without France, Germany and the UK ratifying there will never be any UPC at all. Only France ratified.

“Brian Cordery certainly knows that without France, Germany and the UK ratifying there will never be any UPC at all. Only France ratified.”But Cordery’s nonsense/distraction wasn’t the worst. The worst was this ramble about “IP rights” from Kluwer Patent blogger (Bristows publishing anonymously because it knows it’s deceiving/lying).

Like we said aerlier today, the Brexit Agreement does not say a single word about the UPC (this is not a priority at all), but of course Bristows is trying to spin all that and saying the opposite of what is true. They try to make it sound like UPC ratification is imminent or inevitable. Bristows, these greedy liars, are dominant in Kluwer today (on same day, earlier today, Bristows’ Dominic Adair did their usual SPC lobbying/marketing, which his colleague typically does at IP Kat).

“We certainly hope that FCC in Germany is watching this. Any perception (illusion) of justice at the EPO is coincidental.”And speaking of which, Kluwer is not only dominating this UPC-centric blog these days (almost like it does IP Kat); it also does the same at IP Kat, where jobs ads from Bristows reappeared some hours ago. To quote: “The European Patent Office is looking to appoint new legally qualified members of the Boards of Appeal in Munich, see EPO looking for new legally qualified members of the Boards of Appeal for more details.” (composed by Bristows staff, which wants to promote the illusion of effective justice at the EPO)

It would be odd if the Office rather than the Council (or Organisstion) was to appoint members for the Boards of Appeal, but actually that’s not an error because in many ways the Office already controls everything, including the Council. Battistelli gets to choose (or have a say on) President of Boards of Appeal as well as deputies and BOAC.

We certainly hope that FCC in Germany is watching this. Any perception (illusion) of justice at the EPO is coincidental.

Élodie Bergot Threatens Staff Representatives Who Spread Information About the EPO

Thursday 1st of March 2018 07:43:50 PM

Recent releases of old material:

Élodie Bergot’s HR Roadmap Explained by EPO Staff Representatives

Raw: Battistelli, Topić and Bergot Are Stonewalling Until Staff Representatives Speak to EPO Staff

Raw: Battistelli’s Circle (Topić and Bergot) Undermines Justice at the European Patent Office

Battistelli, Topić and Bergot

Summary: Team Battistelli (the wife of Battistelli’s old colleague in this case) again reprimands elected staff representatives for doing their job, which is representing and informing EPO staff

WE recently wrote about how EPO management was silencing staff representatives like it had silenced the union (not quite the same thing). With rumours about layoffs the censorship at the EPO appears to have escalated even further.

We now have better understanding of how the latest censorship came about. It’s evident based on the letter below:

Mr Joachim Michels
Chairman of the Central Staff Committee

By email:


European Patent Office
80298 Munich

PD 4.3
Human Resources

Elodie Berget
Principal Director

Tel. +49 (0)89 2399 • 4300

Date: 21.02.2018

Your request dated 19 February 2018 to upload an article on the CSC intranet page

Dear Mr Michels,

Reference is made to your request dated 19 February 2018 to upload an article on the CSC intranet page entitled “Human resources Management – new(s)”. I note that copies of the document in question have already been distributed following the LSC General Assembly in The Hague.

First, I would like to recall that the Office expressly acknowledges the large freedom of expression the staff representatives enjoy. Staff representatives might comment, question and criticize reforms, reorganisations and social policies. It is however noted that the proposed publication contains not only inaccurate but also offensive and if not defamatory statements against managers and colleagues. The strong accusations related notably to a supposed lack of ethics, bias, arbitrariness, violation of duty of care, undue pressure and lack of humanity cannot be accepted and are considered to be unfair attacks against the professionalism and the dignity of individuals. Additionally, despite a previous reminder, the CSC is again relaying information to all staff concerning an employee’s personal situation, which should, as such, be treated with confidentiality.

In this respect, it is recalled that according to the rules, staff representatives shall represent the interests of all staff and maintain suitable contacts with the Administration. It shall also contribute to the smooth running of the service by providing a channel for the expression of opinion.

However, far from defending the interest of the staff, this kind of publication coupled with the anonymous report circulated by staff representatives regarding the working group on modernisation of the employment framework generate suspicion and unjustified disquiet among staff. This is even more so regrettable that, in fact, the discussions within the Working Group were quite constructive and allowed a serious exchange of views.

Consequently, and in view of the above, you might wish to review the content of the proposed publication and delete or modify the parts that are offensive to individuals. Please inform accordingly Internal communication services. Finally, EPO management and myself remain willing to discuss the content of this communication with staff representation. In the meantime, however, the CSC is requested to abstain from spreading this communication further within other fora (internal and external).

Yours sincerely,

Elodie Bergot
Principal Director Human Resources

Long story short, Team Battistelli wants to control all staff communications and thus also know who says what, in order to facilitate retribution at times when layoffs are the ‘canteen gossip’. This is a form of McCarthyism and it makes the EPO look worse than we already know it is. Years ago the EPO blocked access to Techrights (using the same pretexts as above) and we certainly hope that European authorities pay attention to this unprecedented crackdown not only on labour rights but human rights too.

Links 1/3/2018: X.Org Server 1.20 RC1, Qt 5.11 Beta

Thursday 1st of March 2018 04:49:07 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • OpenStack ‘Queens’ Release Expands Support for GPUs and Containers to Meet Edge, NFV and Machine Learning Workload Demands
  • OpenStack gets support for virtual GPUs and new container features
  • OpenStack’s Latest Release: All Hail to Queens
  • OpenStack Queens Accelerates Open-Source Cloud With New Capabilities

    The OpenStack Queens platform was officially released on Feb. 28, marking the 17th release of the open-source cloud platform, originally started by NASA and Rackspace in 2010. OpenStack today is widely used by large organizations, including Walmart, as well as serving as the underlying infrastructure for multiple cloud providers, including platforms from IBM and Oracle, among others.

    Multiple new and enhanced capabilities have landed in the OpenStack Queens release, including virtual GPU (vGPU) support and improved container integration. Several new projects also have made an appearance in the OpenStack Queens milestone, including Cyborg, which provides a framework for managing hardware and software acceleration resources.

  • Openstack community releases Queens with support for vGPUs

    The latest – and 17th – version of open source infrastructure software Openstack, named Queens, is now available.

    Six months on from the previous release, among the new features in Queens is full support for virtual graphic processing units (vGPUs) in the Nova provisioning component, so if a user is running Nova cloud or has physical servers with GPUs in them, those can now be tracked or provisioned out.

  • Coding Freedom

    Subtitled The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking, Coding Freedom is a rare beast in my personal reading: an academic anthropological study of a fairly new virtual community. It’s possible that many books of this type are being written, but they’re not within my normal reading focus. It’s also a bit of an awkward review, since the community discussed here is (one of) mine. I’m going to have an insider’s nitpicks and “well, but” reactions to the anthropology, which is a valid reaction but not necessarily the intended audience.

    I’m also coming to this book about four years after everyone finished talking about it, and even longer after Coleman’s field work in support of the book. I think Coding Freedom suffers from that lack of currency. If this book were written today, I suspect its focus would change, at least in part. More on that in a moment.

  • Sprint’s Open Source Strategy Is an Evolution

    Sprint is gradually incorporating open source into its network. Like most service providers, the company sees the value of moving to a more open source model, but it also has a limited amount of resources — both people and money — that it can devote to open source projects.

    “We don’t have all the resources as some of our competitors so we have to approach it in a targeted manner,” said Ron Marquardt, vice president of technology at Sprint, in an interview with SDxCentral here at the Mobile World Congress 2018 conference. “We don’t just want to contribute for the sake of it. We want to contribute to things that will be a differentiator for us or something that we want to influence.”

  • Elastic to Release Source Code for X-Pack

    Elastic customers who pay for high-end enterprise features like machine learning in the X-Pack extension will no longer be relegated to a “second-class citizen” experience when working with the vendor to track down bugs or other issues. That’s because the source code for commercial software that Elastic developed to extend the stack will soon be opened, CEO Shay Banon announced yesterday.

    “This is a big change for us,” Banon said during his keynote address before an announced crowd of 2,500 attendees at the company’s ElasticON conference in San Francisco. “I’m super excited about it. I can’t begin to explain how simple this will make things for us.”

  • Release notes for the Genode OS Framework 18.02

    After being developed for over a decade, Genode remained a mystery for many people who looked at the project from a distance as it does not seem to fit any established category of software. In 2018 – declared as the Year of Sculpt on our roadmap – this will hopefully change. Genode 18.02 features the first revision of Sculpt, which is a Genode-based operating system for general-purpose computing. After being used as day-to-day OS by the entire team of Genode Labs for several months, we feel that the time is right to share the system with a broader audience (Section Sculpt for Early Adopters).

    One fundamental feature of Sculpt is the ability to install and deploy software from within the running operating system, which is universally expected from any modern general-purpose OS. Section On-target package installation and deployment presents Genode’s unique take on the topic of software installation and deployment.

    Besides Sculpt, the current release has no shortage of other improvements. Genode’s growing arsenal of 3rd-party software received profound updates and additions, including VirtualBox, Muen, seL4, several GNU packages, and libraries. Also the user-level networking stack – including the Linux-based LxIP stack and our custom NIC-router component – received a lot of attention. Thanks to the added network driver for i.MX-based hardware, this networking infrastructure becomes usable on embedded platforms based on this SoC. Furthermore, the current release continues the cultivation of the Nim programming language for Genode components.

  • Sculpt Aims To Be A General-Purpose OS Built Atop Genode

    The Sculpt operating system that aims for day-to-day / general purpose use-cases and built atop the Genode OS Framework is now available.

    Sculpt is a Genode-powered operating system for general purpose computing. At this stage it’s quite rudimentary but they are working towards making it resemble a traditional operating system, ready-to-use ISO images will come in the future, they are still to develop their interactive GUI, and further down the road — possibly by the end of 2018 — they hope it will be ready for a community experience.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Analysis of the Alexa Top 1M Sites

        Prior to the release of the Mozilla Observatory in June of 2016, I ran a scan of the Alexa Top 1M websites. Despite being available for years, the usage rates of modern defensive security technologies was frustratingly low. A lack of tooling combined with poor and scattered documentation had led to minimal awareness around countermeasures such as Content Security Policy (CSP), HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS), and Subresource Integrity (SRI).

      • Things Gateway, Part 4
      • Discontinuing support for beta versions (AMO) has supported a way for developers to upload beta versions of their add-ons. This allowed power users to test upcoming features and fixes before they are published to all users. It has been a useful feature to have for some developers.

      • Dear Mick Mulvaney: Don’t Let Equifax Off Easy

        Today, Mozilla is visiting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in Washington, D.C. with 27,052 signatures and a loud message: “Mick Mulvaney, don’t let Equifax off easy.”

        Last year’s Equifax data breach was a seismic event: Tens of millions of Americans had their personal information — from Social Security numbers to home addresses — pilfered by hackers, exposing them to fraud and identity theft. Equifax customers in other countries, like the UK and Canada, were also affected.

        Then, earlier this month, we learned the breach may have been worse than expected, with Americans’ tax IDs and driver’s license numbers swept up in the hack, too.

        This bad news broke just days after an astonishing development: The CFPB is not pursuing an investigation into the 2017 breach.

      • The 5 Stages of Experiment Analysis

        I’ve been thinking about experimentation a lot recently. Our team is spending a lot of effort trying to make Firefox experimentation feel easy. But what happens after the experiment’s been run? There’s not a clear process for taking experimental data and turning it into a decision.

        I noted the importance of Decision Reports in Desirable features for experimentation tools. This post outlines the process needed to get to a solid decision report. I’m hoping that outlining this process will help us disambiguate what our tools are meant to do and identify gaps in our tooling.

      • How to Try Firefox CSD on Linux, Right Now

        Firefox support for client-side decorations (better known as CSD) is coming to its Linux app — but if you can’t live without it, we’re gonna show you how to enable it.

        As we’ve mentioned before, a CSD toggle is present in nightly builds of the browser. When enabled on GTK3 desktop it merges the title bar and tab bar into one unified bar.

        This gives the browser a neat, compact look, and is in keeping with other GTK3 apps that use header bars (like, basically, all of them).

      • Firefox Media Playback Team Review Policy

        Reviews form a central part of how we at Mozilla ensure engineering diligence. Prompt, yet thorough, reviews are also a critical component in maintaining team velocity and productivity. Reviews are also one of the primary ways that a distributed organization like Mozilla does its mentoring and development of team members.

        So given how important reviews are, it pays to be deliberate about what you’re aiming for.

        The senior members of the Firefox Media Playback team met in Auckland in August 2016 to codify the roadmap, vision, and policy for the team, and and one of the things we agreed upon was our review policy.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • LibreOffice 6.0 – Goodness, Gracious, Great Fonts of Fire!

      LibreOffice 6.0 is a phenomenal release. Pro-am if you will. The very first version that can proudly wear its laurels. It’s almost a completely different product. More elegant, more efficient, with better and smarter layout and work logic, improved functionality with pretty much everything. Most importantly, Microsoft Office supports is very good. It was also stable and fast.

      Technically, LibreOffice is playing catchup with Microsoft Office. We probably may never achieve parity, as office suites take millions of dollars to develop and maintain. But still, in this game of hare and armadillo, the open-source beastling is making great strides forward. LibreOffice 6.0 has an expensive, elegant, refreshing feel to it. An office suite reborn. Official release notes are often three quarters hyperbole and one quarter nonsense, but in this case, it’s all awesome stuff. I am extremely happy, and I urge you to install and test LibreOffice 6.0. There are few free products that warrant this much joy. 10/10. Font away.

    • Oracle Adds Support for Linux Kernel 4.15 to Its Latest VirtualBox Release

      VirtualBox 5.2.8 is now available to download, finally bringing support for the latest Linux 4.15 kernel series for Linux-based guest operating systems you might want to run on your virtual machines. Also, this means that various of VirtualBox’s modules can now be compiled against Linux kernel 4.15.

      Also, VirtualBox 5.2.8 finally addresses that annoying black screen issue that occurred when 3D was enabled in some Linux guests, and adds support for suppressing setuid and setgid in shared folders. For Windows guests, the update fixes an incorrect function error that occurred when using shared folders with certain apps.

    • VirtualBox 5.2.8 Released With Linux 4.15 Kernel Support, PCID For Guests

      For those of you making use of Oracle VM VirtualBox, the 5.2.8 point release is now available as a rather large point release.

      While this is just another VirtualBox point release, VirtualBox 5.2.8 is larger than their usual point releases from Oracle. Besides adding support for the latest stable kernel (Linux 4.15) and other fixes, there are some more prominent changes too.

    • VirtualBox 5.2.8 Released with Support for Linux 4.15

      A new version of VirtualBox is available to now download. VirtualBox 5.2.8 supports the latest Linux kernel 4.15 in Linux guest machines, making it perfect for those looking to try the latest Bionic Beaver daily builds.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
    • Free Software Foundation releases FY2016 Annual Report

      The Annual Report reviews the Foundation’s activities, accomplishments, and financial picture from October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016. It is the result of a full external financial audit, along with a focused study of program results. It examines the impact of the FSF’s programs, and FY2016′s major events, including LibrePlanet, the creation of ethical criteria for code-hosting repositories, and the expansion of the Respects Your Freedom computer hardware product certification program.

      “More people and businesses are using free software than ever before,” said FSF executive director John Sullivan in his introduction to the FY2016 report. “That’s big news, but our most important measure of success is the support for the ideals. In that area, we have momentum on our side.”

      As with all of the Foundation’s activities, the Annual Report was made using free software, including Inkscape, GIMP, and PDFsam, along with freely licensed fonts and images.

    • Fun with gcc plugins
  • Public Services/Government
    • Disruptive by Design: Invigorating Government Open Source Contributions

      The U.S. government is likely the largest combined producer and consumer of software in the world. The code to build that software is volatile, expensive and oftentimes completely hidden from view. Most people only see the end result: the compiled and packaged application or website. However, a massive worldwide community, the Open Source Initiative, centers on the exact opposite.

      Open source enables a development method for software that harnesses the power of distributed peer review and transparency of process. Although open source technology is not new, its effects can still be disruptive in many ways. The government has only recently been serious about contributing to this initiative, a nonprofit formed in 1998 as an educational, advocacy and stewardship organization. The Department of Defense has traditionally treated the majority of source code as sensitive, nonexportable information. This attitude has placed most open projects behind heavy use restrictions and government-access-only barriers.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Keyboardio Hits a High Point in Open Hardware

        My expectations for Keyboardio’s Model 01 were high. I pre-ordered the keyboard during its 2015 crowdfunding campaign, and waited for over two years with increasing frustration as one delay in manufacturing followed another. Then, in 2017, the first Model 01s shipped — but not mine. By the time mine arrived in February 2018, my expectations were so high that I was sure that the reality could not possibly match my expectations.

        I was dead right.

        Reality exceeded my expectations, and by more than I could possibly imagine. The Model 01 is not the first programmable keyboard. Nor is it the first open source keyboard, the first keyboard with mechanical switches, or the first ergonomic keyboard. However, so far as I’m aware, no other keyboard has combined all these features at once. Combining aesthetics, ergonomics, hardware customization, and software customization, Keyboardio’s Model 01 is a keyboard in a class of its own.

      • Trinamic Licenses Codasip’s Bk3 RISC-V Processor for Next Generation Motion Control Applications

        Brno, Czech Republic and Hamburg, Germany, 28th February 2018. – Codasip, the leading supplier of RISC-V® embedded processor IP, announced today that Trinamic, the global leader in embedded motor and motion control ICs and microsystems, has selected Codasip’s Bk3 processor for its next-generation family of products.

      • GreenWaves Puts Another Spin on IoT Chips

        Rather than using the ubiquitous Arm Cortex-A or -M cores, GreenWaves relies on the potentially ubiquitous RISC-V design. The benefits here are twofold: RISC-V is free (as in free beer), and RISC-V permits user-defined extensions. GreenWaves took advantage of both characteristics to build itself a complex multicore MCU that’s tweaked for image, audio, and sensor processing. The idea is to make the edge-node processor smart enough that it doesn’t have to upload raw data to a smarter device upstream. Do your data-capture, analysis, filtering, and massaging right at the point of collection and you’ll save yourself time, money, and power.

        GAP8 has nine identical RISC-V cores: one for overall housekeeping and eight for massaging incoming data. The housekeeping side looks like a very traditional MCU, with a UART, SPI and I2C interfaces,

  • Programming/Development
    • Why Python devs should use Pipenv
    • #17: Dependencies.

      As R users, we are spoiled. Early in the history of R, Kurt Hornik and Friedrich Leisch built support for packages right into R, and started the Comprehensive R Archive Network (CRAN). And R and CRAN had a fantastic run with. Roughly twenty years later, we are looking at over 12,000 packages which can (generally) be installed with absolute ease and no suprises. No other (relevant) open source language has anything of comparable rigour and quality. This is a big deal.

    • On the unoptimalities of language specific build systems

      A fairly big recent trend has been the emergence of new programming languages that are meant to be compiled into machine code. The silent (and sometimes not so silent) goal of these languages has been to replace C and C++ as the dominant systems programming language.

      All of these languages come with their own build system and dependency management optimised for that particular language. This makes sense as having a good developer experience is important and not having 20-30 years of legacy to carry with you means you can design and develop slick systems relatively easily. But, as always, there is a downside. Perhaps the main issue comes up pretty quickly when trying to combine said code with projects in other languages.

      A common approach is for the programming language in question to bundle up all its dependencies as source in a big clump. Then the advocates will say that “it’s simple, just call our build system from yours and it gets built”. This seems simple but it uses the weasieliest of all weasel words: just. Whenever someone tells you to “just” do something, what they almost always do is trying to trivialise away the hardest part of the entire operation. So it is here as well.

    • How to hire the right DevOps talent

      DevOps culture is quickly gaining ground, and demand for top-notch DevOps talent is greater than ever at companies all over the world. With the annual base salary for a junior DevOps engineer now topping $100,000, IT professionals are hurrying to make the transition into DevOps.

    • Eclipse Open J9 – an Open Source Java Virtual Machine Based on the Eclipse OMR Project

      IBM has been working hard on their own flavor of the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) — J9 JVM — since 1997. J9 was built as a closed source (proprietary) independent implementation of the JVM whose class libraries were based on the licensed Sun (now OpenJDK) implementation. J9 has many enhancements and flag-bearing optimizations including: tiered compilation; shared classes; escape analysis; hardware specific optimizations, such as selecting the correct large page size; soft real-time garbage collector; API optimizations via Apache Harmony, dynamic ahead-of-time (AOT) compilation; several object locking specific optimizations; and more.

    • J2EE and JavaEE are Gone. Enterprise Java is Now Called Jakarta EE

      The popular enterprise application framework now has a new name – and a new direction.

      In the world of enterprise applications, few (if any) frameworks have ever been as widely adopted and deployed as Java and specifically enterprise flavors of Java.

      The first big incarnation of enterprise Java was known as J2EE. In 2006, Sun rebranded J2EE as JavaEE. Now in 2018, enterprise Java is being re-branded again, though this time it’s losing the Java name.

    • On well executed releases and remote teams

      After some blood, sweat and tears, we finally brought Stacksmith into the world, yay!

      It’s been a lengthy and intense process that started with putting together a team to be able to build the product in the first place, and taking Bitnami’s experience and some existing tooling to make the cloud more accessible to everyone. It’s been a good week.

      However, I learnt something I didn’t quite grasp before: if you find really good people, focus on the right things, scope projects to an achievable goal and execute well, releases lack a certain explosion of emotions that are associated with big milestones. Compounded with the fact that the team that built the product are all working remotely, launch day was pretty much uneventful.

  • Norbert Preining: Ten Mincho – Great font and ugly Adobe

    I recently stumbled upon a very interesting article by Ken Lunde (well known from CJKV Information Processing book) on a new typeface for Japanese called Ten Mincho, designed by Ryoko Nishizuka and Robert Slimbach. Reading that the Kanji and Roman part is well balanced, and the later one designed by Robert Slimbach, I was very tempted to get these fonts for my own publications and reports.

  • Science
    • Evidence of quantum state in spin cluster chain predicted by Nobel Prize recipient found in magnetic mineral

      Nuclear techniques at ANSTO have helped to confirm a quantum spin phenomena, a Haldane phase, in a magnetic material, that has potential to be used as a measurement model for quantum computation.

      Although there has been experimental evidence of the Haldane phase in other types of one dimensional antiferromagnetic materials, it is believed to be the first evidence in a cluster-based material.

    • Scientists discover how to distinguish beams of entangled photons

      A team from the Faculty of Physics, MSU, has developed a method for creating two beams of entangled photons to measure the delay between them. In the future the results of the study may be used in high-precision measurements, material studies, and informational technologies. The article was published in Optics Letters journal.


      Thus, the scientists managed to experimentally register the smallest possible shift between twin beams of entangled photons that may be observed by measurement devices. According to the team, it is possible to further reduce this value, but to do so, the scheme of the experiment would be more complex. “Right now, 90 femtoseconds is a record-setting value, but it can be reduced, and we know how,” explained Prudkovskii. He says that the wave period of laser emission is only several femtoseconds, so it is possible to reduce the length of such a delay down to a dozen or so.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • AI Beats Dermatologists in Diagnosing Nail Fungus

      It’s still relatively rare for artificial intelligence to deliver a crushing victory over human physicians in a head-to-head test of medical expertise. But a deep neural network approach managed to beat 42 dermatology experts in diagnosing a common nail fungus that affects about 35 million Americans each year.

      The latest successful demonstration of AI’s capabilities in the medical field relied heavily upon a team of South Korean researchers putting together a huge dataset of almost 50,000 images of toenails and fingernails. That large amount of data used to train the deep neural networks on recognizing cases of onychomycosis—a common fungal infection that can make nails discolored and brittle—provided the crucial edge that enabled deep learning to outperform medical experts.

  • Security
    • “Medjacked”: Could Hackers Take Control of Pacemakers and Defibrillators—or Their Data?

      Are high-tech medical devices vulnerable to hacks? Hackers have targeted them for years, according to a new article in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. But Dr. Dhanunjaya Lakkireddy, senior author of the paper, says hackers have harmed no one so far.

    • Exploding e-Cigarettes Are a Growing Danger to Public Health

      Whatever their physiological effects, the most immediate threat of these nicotine-delivery devices comes from a battery problem called thermal runaway


      Exploding cigarettes sound like a party joke, but today’s version isn’t funny at all. In fact, they are a growing danger to public health. Aside from mobile phones, no other electrical device is so commonly carried close to the body. And, like cellphones, e-cigarettes pack substantial battery power. So far, most of the safety concerns regarding this device have centered on the physiological effects of nicotine and of the other heated, aerosolized constituents of the vapor that carries nicotine into the lungs. That focus now needs to be widened to include the threat of thermal runaway in the batteries, especially the lithium-ion variety.

    • Uh, oh! Linux confuses Bleeping Computer again

      The tech website Bleeping Computer, which carries news about security and malware, has once again demonstrated that when it comes to Linux, its understanding of security is somewhat lacking.

      What makes the current case surprising is the fact that the so-called security issue which the website chose to write about had already been ripped to pieces by senior tech writer Stephen Vaughan-Nicholls four days earlier.

      Called Chaos, the vulnerability was touted by a firm known as GoSecure as one that would allow a backdoor into Linux servers through SSH.

    • Are Mac and Linux users safe from ransomware?

      Ransomware is currently not much of a problem for Linux systems. A pest discovered by security researchers is a Linux variant of the Windows malware ‘KillDisk’. However, this malware has been noted as being very specific; attacking high profile financial institutions and also critical infrastructure in Ukraine. Another problem here is that the decryption key that is generated by the program to unlock the data is not stored anywhere, which means that any encrypted data cannot be unlocked, whether the ransom is paid or not. Data can still sometimes be recovered by experts like Ontrack, however timescales, difficulty and success rates depend on the exact situation and strain of ransomware.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 85 – NPM ate my files
    • Protecting Code Integrity with PGP — Part 3: Generating PGP Subkeys
    • From DevOps to DevSecOps: Structuring Communication for Better Security [Ed: From one buzzword to another buzzword]

      Security has long been considered an afterthought in the software development process, with ad hoc measures typically tacked on just before release. This approach is no longer adequate in sustaining today’s expectations for rapid and reliable service.

    • How to build a business case for DevOps transformation [Ed: How to build a business case for buzzwords]
    • “Nobody cared about security”

      In the long run, however, the more significant reason why the ARPAnet and early Internet lacked security was not that it wasn’t needed, nor that it would have made development of the network harder, it was that implementing security either at the network or the application level would have required implementing cryptography. At the time, cryptography was classified as a munition. Software containing cryptography, or even just the hooks allowing cryptography to be added, could only be exported from the US with a specific license. Obtaining a license involved case-by-case negotiation with the State Department. In effect, had security been a feature of the ARPAnet or the early Internet, the network would have to have been US-only. Note that the first international ARPAnet nodes came up in 1973, in Norway and the UK.

    • ​The 10 best ways to secure your Android phone

      The most secure smartphones are Android smartphones. Don’t buy that? Apple’s latest version of iOS 11 was cracked a day — a day! — after it was released.

      So Android is perfect? Heck no!

      Android is under constant attack and older versions are far more vulnerable than new ones. Way too many smartphone vendors still don’t issue Google’s monthly Android security patches in a timely fashion, or at all. And, zero-day attacks still pop up.

    • Not Getting Android OS Updates? Here’s How Google Is Updating Your Device Anyway

      Android updates are a still a point of contention among die-hard fans, because most manufacturers don’t keep updated with the latest offerings from Google. But just because your phone isn’t getting full OS updates doesn’t mean it’s totally out of date.

      While some major features still require full version updates, Google has a system in place that keeps many handsets at least somewhat relevant with Google Play Services. The company can squash certain bugs and even introduce new features just by updating Play Services.

    • Intel Finally Releases Spectre Patches for Broadwell and Haswell Processors
    • How to Defend Servers Against Cryptojacking

      Cryptojacking has become one of the most active and pervasive threats in recent years. In a cryptojacking attack, a cryptocurrency mining script is injected into a server or a webpage to take advantage of the victim system’s CPU power.

    • 8 Startups Raise Money to Secure Everything From ICS to Home Networks
    • Sonatype Makes Nexus Firewall Available to 10 Million Developers
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Guns and Liberty

      The proliferation of guns in American society is not only profitable for gun manufacturers, it fools the disempowered into fetishizing weapons as a guarantor of political agency. Guns buttress the myth of a rugged individualism that atomizes Americans, disdains organization and obliterates community, compounding powerlessness. Gun ownership in the United States, largely criminalized for poor people of color, is a potent tool of oppression. It does not protect us from tyranny. It is an instrument of tyranny.

      “Second Amendment cultists truly believe that guns are political power,” writes Mark Ames, the author of “Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine and Beyond.” “[They believe that] guns in fact are the only source of political power. That’s why, despite loving guns, and despite being so right-wing, they betray such a paranoid fear and hatred of armed agents of the government (minus Border Guards, they all tend to love our Border Guards). If you think guns, rather than concentrated wealth, equals political power, then you’d resent government power far more than you’d resent billionaires’ power or corporations’ hyper-concentrated wealth/power, because government will always have more and bigger guns. In fact you’d see pro-gun, anti-government billionaires like the Kochs as your natural political allies in your gun-centric notion of political struggle against the concentrated gun power of government.”

    • Resisting Calls to ‘Do Something’ About Syria

      A common refrain is that the West must “do something” to help Syria, but this is like arguing that the gasoline that was used to start a fire can also be used to extinguish it, explains Caitlin Johnstone.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Report: Roger Stone communicated with WikiLeaks during 2016 campaign [Ed: No, Wikileaks told Stone to STOP claiming that he had communicated]

      Conservative provocateur and on-again-off-again Trump adviser Roger Stone was reportedly in communication with WikiLeaks during the 2016 election.

    • Report: Roger Stone communicated directly with Wikileaks, despite denials
    • Assange continues attack on UK judiciary, citing report where Judges bemoan ‘inappropriate pressure’

      Julian Assange has questioned the impartiality of the UK’s judicial system. The Wikileaks founder cited an EU study wherein 43% of UK judges state that the government has not respected their independence in the last two years.

      The 2016-2017 European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ) report, entitled Independence, Accountability and Quality of the Judiciary, details that some 43% of judges in the UK felt the government failed to respect their judicial independence. 29% said they felt their independence was disrespected by parliament.

      Assange pointed out that the study further reports that 5% of UK judges say that, over the past two years, they have been under “inappropriate pressure” to decide a particular case in a specific way.

    • Wikileaks cable reveals U. N. looked into Georgia prison torture allegations

      Cries of brutal torture in Georgia prisons have prompted one man to file more than 40 lawsuits against Georgia Department of Corrections Correctional Emergency Response Team (CERT) members.

      The claims not only piqued the attention of local advocates, but compelled the United Nations to get involved.

      Georgia attorney McNeill Stokes said he believes he put a stop to torture in Georgia prisons or at least curbed it substantially.

      Stokes filed lawsuits about incidents that inmates said occurred between 2003 and 2008. Similar cases were still navigating the Georgia court system as recently as three years ago.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Arctic temperatures are so high they’re shocking scientists

      The Arctic winter lasts from October to March and leaves much of the region in almost permanent darkness. During that time, the average temperature hovers around minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit. But so far in 2018, the Cape Morris Jesup meteorological site, at the northern tip of Greenland, has seen a record-breaking 61 hours of temperatures above freezing.

  • Finance
    • Tencent Is Said to Lead $115 Million Deal in India’s Gaana

      The investment in Gamma Gaana Ltd. totals $115 million, and Times Internet Ltd., the Indian media and technology company that started the business, will also participate, said the person, who wasn’t authorized to discuss the information publicly and asked not to be identified. Tencent and Gaana confirmed the deal was taking place in an emailed statement Wednesday.

    • India-based music streaming service Gaana raises $115M led by Tencent

      Chinese internet giant Tencent is continuing to put its money in India and in music streaming services after it agreed to lead a $115 million investment in India’s Gaana.

      Gaana is a music streaming service that was started by Times Media, the company behind the Times of India newspaper and tech incubator Times Internet among other things, seven years ago. Gaana didn’t reveal its user metrics, but CEO Prashan Agarwal said the company is “only 10 percent of the way towards building a business useful for 500 million Indians.”

    • Tech companies should stop pretending AI won’t destroy jobs [Ed: He means "computers", not "AI". Why is AI trending all of a sudden? Who/what triggered it?]

      I took an Uber to an artificial-­intelligence conference at MIT one recent morning, and the driver asked me how long it would take for autonomous vehicles to take away his job. I told him it would happen in about 15 to 20 years. He breathed a sigh of relief. “Well, I’ll be retired by then,” he said.

      Good thing we weren’t in China. If a driver there had asked, I would have had to tell him he’d lose his job in about 10 years—maybe 15 if he was lucky.

    • Advice to Washington from Ancient China

      What preserves a state is humaneness and rightness. If a state lacks rightness, even if it is large, it will certainly perish.

    • Cryptocurrency and the IRS

      My parting advice is please take taxes seriously—especially this year. The IRS has been working hard to get information from companies like Coinbase regarding taxpayer’s gains/losses. In fact, Coinbase was required to give the IRS financial records on 14,355 of its users. Granted, those accounts are only people who have more than $20,000 worth of transactions, but it’s just the first step. Reporting things properly now will make life far less stressful down the road. And remember, if you have a ton of taxes to pay for your cryptocurrency, that means you made even more money in profit. It doesn’t make paying the IRS any more fun, but it helps make the sore spot in your wallet hurt a little less.

    • EU targets US web giants with digital sales tax

      European finance ministers are fed up with companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter. The US internet giants are making more and more money from their European customers’ data, but none of it finds its way into government coffers. Because the web firms have no headquarters in the EU, local tax authorities don’t get a look in.

      But now the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, wants to change this and force web-based companies with global sales of €750 million ($916 million) or more to pay a digital sales tax. In an analysis of “taxation of digital activities in the single market,” dated February 26 and seen by Handelsblatt, it says all transactions generated by the “exploitation of user data” should be taxed. This includes revenues from the sale of data such as personal details and the provision of advertising space in social networks or search engines. The revenues of online marketplaces such as Uber or Airbnb should also be subject to the tax, the document adds.

    • Exclusive: Public wants Big Tech regulated

      That’s a seismic shift in the public’s perception of Silicon Valley over a short period of time. It shows how worried Americans are about Russian meddling in the 2016 election, but it also reflects a growing anxiety about the potentially addictive nature of some of the tech companies’ products, as well as the relentless spread of fake news on their platforms.

    • Media Parroting ‘$1000 Bonus!’ Stories Helped Give Trump’s Tax Cuts Majority Support

      A New York Times/Survey Monkey poll last week revealed that, for the first time, a slim majority of Americans support last December’s Republican tax cuts—cuts that disproportionately benefit the rich, redistributing money from the poor to the wealthiest Americans.

      How was the impressive feat of reality-inversion achieved? How did a tax cut that, once it’s all said and done, mainly benefits a small group of top earners become broadly popular? One reason is the nonstop deluge of stories over the past two months, cheerleading alleged “tax cut bonuses” from large corporations.

      Democratic-leaning cable network MSNBC and its colleagues NBC, it should be noted, have mostly been the exception, avoiding the talking point for the most part. But Fox News, CNBC, Fox Business, CNN and dozens of local media outlets joined the messaging charge, singing the bill’s money-saving praises.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • What Facebook Isn’t Saying About Trump and Clinton’s Campaign Ads

      While this chart does show that the Trump campaign paid higher rates overall than the Clinton campaign did—and that how competitive the ad market gets as the election approaches—it doesn’t tell the full story. Much of the public outcry centered around the idea that Facebook’s system prioritizes more provocative or outrageous political ads. That, in turn, has stoked fears about whether Facebook’s ad algorithms reward mudslinging and fear-mongering. The chart Bosworth shared sheds no light on this question, because it contains no information about the content of the ads on any given day.

    • Facebook’s algorithm has wiped out a once flourishing digital publisher

      The media industry’s worst fears about Facebook’s huge algorithm tweak are coming true.

      The women-focused publisher LittleThings is shutting its doors, in large part because of Facebook’s recent move, the company’s CEO, Joe Speiser, told Business Insider.

    • More Russiagate Rubbish

      An RT interview about the over-reaction around the head of the CIA, Mike Pompeo, meeting his Russian counter-part…

    • ‘Trump, Inc.’ Podcast: David Fahrenthold and the Mysterious Loan Trump Made to Himself

      Listeners have been sending us lots of questions about President Donald Trump and his businesses. So we sat down with one of the best in the business to answer them. The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold has been digging into Trump for nearly two years. And he’s involved readers from the get-go.

      Among the questions Fahrenthold takes on: How much money has the government spent on Trump properties? How much does it cost taxpayers and does Trump profit when he visits Mar-a-Lago? And who is Trump literally indebted to?

    • California Dems Withhold Endorsement of Sen. Feinstein

      This passed weekend, California democrats refused to endorse Senator Feinstein, in a major rebuke of California’s senior senator, opening the door wide for de León to run.

      According to the Sacramento Bee, “As a child, de León spent time on both sides of the border, in Tijuana, Baja California, and Logan Heights in San Diego and identifies strongly with Mexican culture, though he doesn’t know where his grandparents are from.”

      Senator de León recently led a coalition to sponsor legislation “that addresses lapses in our justice and labor systems creating serious challenges for the California’s immigrant community, including stronger wage theft laws, securing u-visas from law enforcement, and providing healthcare for undocumented children.”

    • NSA Head: Trump Has Not Directed Him to Counter Russian Election Meddling

      The outgoing head of the NSA, Michael Rogers, says the Trump administration has not directed him to try to counter Russian election meddling. This is Rogers answering questions by Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed.

    • Did Turnbull Ask Trump About the Elephant in The Room?

      A gushing sycophantic Australian press pack has hailed Malcolm Turnbull’s visit with Donald Trump as a “great diplomatic success.”

      I’m not quite sure how they arrive at that conclusion.

      Yes, Trump rolled out the red carpet and treated Malcolm like a good little lackey, and Malcolm will undoubtedly return with some crumbs and even some sort of hope that he might yet convince Trump to join the TPP(If you can call that an achievement). But, in all honesty, these “visits” are not diplomatic, they are exercises in pledging loyalty and fealty to the great power that the United States is.

      When Malcolm left Trump’s presence, you can bet that Trump’s mind would have switched to other more pressing matters and the box marked obligatory glad handing of vassal was ticked off.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Google breaks down data on the 2.4 million right to be forgotten requests it’s received

      Google’s latest reports show it has actioned 43.3 per cent of all the requests it has received to date. The search giant noted that less than half of the right to be forgotten requests are actioned due to some requests being overridden by public interest and other information factors.

    • How Employers Already Compel Speech From Workers

      The US Supreme Court heard arguments this week in Janus v. AFSCME, and most observers believe the justices are prepared to strike down agency fees for government employees—that is, the mandatory dues that public-sector workers pay to the unions that represent them. The implications of this decision could be staggering: Recent research suggests that “right-to-work laws” (which prevent agency fees from being imposed on all workers) dramatically reduce Democratic vote share, shift policy to the right, and reduce working-class representation in legislatures.

    • House passes online sex trafficking bill

      The main concern for groups like Engine, a trade association for internet startups, is that the bill will hamper innovation by forcing smaller web companies to devote too many resources to monitoring content for which they should not be held liable. They also worry that the measure will not do enough to actually crack down on online sex trafficking.

    • Controversial sex-trafficking bill passes the House of Representatives
    • House passes anti-online sex trafficking bill, allows targeting of websites like

      The bill now goes to the Senate, which already has passed a similar version out of committee. If approved, it would go to the White House, where supporters are hopeful that President Trump will sign it. His daughter, Ivanka Trump, tweeted her approval of the legislation on Tuesday.


      The final vote in the House was 388-25.

    • Goodlatte Statement on FOSTA Passage

      Creates a New Federal Crime: websites that have the intent to promote or facilitate illegal prostitution can be prosecuted under the new 18 U.S.C 2421A created by the bill

    • China’s web censors go into overdrive as President Xi Jinping consolidates power

      China’s web scrubbers have been busy banning a collection of terms and dropping the hammer on user accounts after the Xi Jinping, the country’s premier, got the all-clear to become ‘President For Life’ after the Communist Party moved to amend the constitution to remove an article that limits Presidential terms to two five-year terms.

      Limits were introduced more than 30 years ago ostensibly to prevent a repeat of the Mao dictatorship. The proposed removal understandably stoked anger among many Chinese internet users, who have already voiced concern at Xi’s rise and his moves to quash free speech online in China.

    • Sensitive Words: Emperor Xi Jinping to Ascend His Throne

      Following state media’s announcement, censorship authorities began work to limit online discussion. CDT Chinese editors found the following terms blocked from being posted on Weibo: [...]

    • China censors social media responses to proposal to abolish presidential terms

      Negative social media reactions in China toward the government’s interest in abolishing presidential term limits have sparked a crackdown on memes since Sunday evening. China’s constitution currently restricts the president and vice-president to 10 years of leadership, meaning that President Xi Jinping would have been out of power by 2023.

    • China drowns out critics of lifetime Xi presidency

      China’s propaganda machine kicked into overdrive on Tuesday to defend the Communist Party’s move to lift term limits for President Xi Jinping as criticism persisted on social media in defiance of censorship.

    • China’s war on words: Anything — be it a phrase or picture — that can be used to insult Xi has been banned

      Since claiming the eternal throne of an Emperor earlier this week, he’s clamped down — hard — on any hint of dissent.

    • Ce*sored! China bans letter N (briefly) from internet as Xi Jinping extends grip on power

      It is the 14th letter in the English alphabet and, in Scrabble, the springboard for more than 600 8-letter words.

    • China Bans ‘Re-Election,’ ‘I Don’t Agree’ from Social Media Following Xi Term Limit Repeal

      Freedom of speech is tenuous at best in China, but censors are cracking down especially hard on criticism of President Xi Jinping’s consolidation of power, particularly his effort to remove term limits so he can rule indefinitely.

    • Now It’s The Turn Of Mercedes-Benz To Grovel Before China, Over An Instagram Post Quoting The Dalai Lama

      A couple of weeks ago, Techdirt wrote about Marriott International kowtowing to China because of a drop-down menu that dared to suggest that Tibet might be a country. We noted that a newly-confident and increasingly aggressive China might well start finding more of these alleged “insults” to use as pretexts for asserting itself internationally. And sure enough, that’s already happened again, this time with Mercedes-Benz. As a New York Times story explains, the German car maker posted an image of a white car parked on a beach, along with a quotation popularly ascribed to the Dalai Lama — “Look at the situations from all angles, and you will become more open. #MondayMotivation” — to its official Instagram account.

    • UK’s New ‘Extremist Content’ Filter Will Probably Just End Up Clogged With Innocuous Content

      For now, it’s a one-way ride. Content deemed “extremist” vanishes and users have no vehicle for recourse. Even if one were made available, how often would it be used? Given that this is a government process, rather than a private one, wrongful takedowns will likely remain permanent. As Killock points out, no one wants to risk being branded as a terrorist sympathizer for fighting back against government censorship. Nor do third parties using these platforms necessarily have the funds to back a formal legal complaint against the government.

      No filtering system is going to be perfect, but the UK’s new toy isn’t any better than anything already out there. At least in the case of the social media giants, takedowns can be contested without having to face down the government. It’s users against the system — something that rarely works well, but at least doesn’t add the possibility of being added to a “let’s keep an eye on this one” list.

      And if it’s a system, it will be gamed. Terrorists will figure out how to sneak stuff past the filters while innocent users pay the price for algorithmic proxy censorship. Savvy non-terrorist users will also game the system, flagging content they don’t like as questionable, possibly resulting in even more non-extremist content being removed from platforms.

      The UK government isn’t wrong to try to do something about recruitment efforts and terrorist propaganda. But they’re placing far too much faith in a system that will generate false positives nearly as frequently as it will block extremist content.

    • State Lawmakers Want to Block Pornography at the Expense of Your Free Speech, Privacy, and Hard-Earned Cash

      More than 15 state legislatures are considering the “Human Trafficking Prevention Act” (HTPA). But don’t let the name fool you: this bill would do nothing to address human trafficking. Instead, it would only threaten your free speech and privacy in a misguided attempt to block and tax online pornography.

      EFF opposed versions of this bill in over a dozen states last year, and the bill failed in all of them. Now HTPA is back, and we have written in opposition against the bill again to urge lawmakers to oppose it this year.

      The gist of the model legislation is this: Device manufacturers would be forced to install “obscenity filters” on cell phones, tablets, computers, and any other Internet-connected devices. Those filters could only be removed if consumers pay a $20 fee. In addition to violating the First Amendment and burdening consumers and businesses, this would allow the government to intrude into consumers’ private lives and restrict their control over their own devices.

      On top of that, the story of this bill’s provenance is bizarre and highly recommended reading for any lawmakers considering it. In short, the HTPA is part of a multi-state effort coordinated by the same person behind a bill to delegitimize same-sex marriages as “parody marriages.” In this post, however, we’ll be focusing on the policy itself.

      Read EFF’s opposition letter against HB 2422, Missouri’s iteration of the Human Trafficking Prevention Act.

    • The End of American Film Censorship

      When the Oscars began in 1929, the Supreme Court didn’t even consider movies art.

      Fourteen years earlier, in 1915, the Court ruled that film was not entitled to legal protection as free speech. The state of Ohio had passed an ordinance authorizing a censorship board that could approve or reject any film seeking to be shown in the state. Mutual Film Corporation, a movie distributor, sued, claiming that the Ohio law violated the First Amendment.

      The Supreme Court held that movies were “business, pure and simple,” no different from the pharmaceutical or banking industry, both of which were subject to federal regulation. This Supreme Court ruling, Mutual Film Corp. v. Industrial Commission of Ohio, helped place movies under the thumb of local, state, and in-house censors for decades. The decision finally was reversed in 1952, when a short, “sacrilegious” Italian drama earned Hollywood its First Amendment rights.

    • News Corp executive chairman warns on censorship [Ed: News Corp writing about a News Corp head complaining about censorship as a third person. News Corp must be assuming people don't keep track of how many networks and sites News Corp owns entirely or partially.]
    • Is Facebook nude-shaming the Venus of Willendorf?
    • The Online Censorship of a 30,000-Year-Old Statuette
    • Facebook Censored a Stone Age Nude Sculpture, Venus of Willendorf
    • DC Appeals Court Tosses Silly Lawsuit Woman Filed Against Google Because Someone With A Blog Said Mean Things

      In late 2016, we wrote about the positively silly case that lawyer Harry Jordan filed on behalf of his client, Dawn Bennett, in which she sued Google because a guy she had once hired to do some search engine optimization work for her, and with whom there was a falling out, later wrote a mean blog about her and her company. As we noted, Bennett did not sue that person — Scott Pierson. Instead, she and Harry Jordan went the Steve Dallas lawsuit way of filing against some tangential third party company, because that company is big and has lots of money. In this case, it meant suing Google, because Pierson’s blog was hosted by Google.

      As we noted, this would be an easy CDA 230 win, because Google is not at all liable for what bloggers using its blog hosting do (we also noted that the lawsuit botched the legal meaning of “defamation” — which is generally not a good thing to do in a defamation lawsuit). And thus it was of little surprise to see the lawsuit dismissed last summer. It was an easy ruling to make given the status of CDA 230 (which, yes, is now under threat). But, Bennett appealed. And… the results of the appeal are exactly the same as the results in the district court. Case dismissed, quick and easy (in just 10 pages), because CDA 230 makes it obvious that Google is not liable.

    • Appeals Court Affirms Dismissal Of Frank Sivero’s Publicity Rights Suit Against ‘The Simpsons’

      You may recall that in 2014, bit-actor Frank Sivero of Goodfellas semi-fame sued Fox over a recurring character that appeared on The Simpsons. Sivero says several writers for the show were living next door to him just before Goodfellas began filming, at a time he says he was creating the character of Frankie Carbone. He then claims that the writers for The Simpsons were aware of this work and pilfered it to create the character Louie, who is one of Fat Tony’s henchmen. Because of this, he claimed that the show had appropriated his likeness, the character he was creating, and decided he was owed $250 million from Fox for all of this. For its part, folks from The Simpsons claimed that Louie is an amalgam of stereotypical mobster characters and a clear parody of those characters.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Brit spooks slammed over ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ with telcos to get mass comms data

      Privacy International has slammed the UK’s spy agencies for failing to keep a proper paper trail over what data telcos were asked to provide under snooping laws, following its first ever cross-examination of a GCHQ witness.

      The campaign group was granted the right to grill GCHQ’s star witness after he made a series of errors in previous statements submitted to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT). The evidence was part of a long-running challenge over the spy agency’s collection of bulk communications and personal data.

      Although the witness’s most recent errors related to submissions made at an October 2017 hearing about how much access IT contractors employed by GCHQ have to data, much of the cross-examination aimed to unpick GCHQ’s role in choosing what information telcos hand over.

    • How To Delete Your Facebook Account Permanently
    • Israeli Tech Company Says It Can Crack Any Apple Smartphone

      Big, if true, but not exactly the answer Wray, and others like him, are seeking. Cellebrite claims it can crack any Apple device, including Apple’s latest iPhone. This is a boon for law enforcement, as long as they have the money to spend on it and the time to send the device to Cellebrite to crack it.

      It won’t scale because it can’t. The FBI claims it has thousands of locked devices — not all of them Apple products — and no one from Cellebrite is promising fast turnaround times. Even if it was low-cost and relatively scalable, it’s unlikely to keep Wray from pushing for a government mandate. Whatever flaw in the architecture is being exploited by Cellebrite is likely to be patched up by Apple as soon as it can figure out the company’s attack vector. And, ultimately, the fact that it doesn’t scale isn’t something to worry about (though the FBI doubtless will). No one said investigating criminal activity was supposed to easy and, in fact, a handful of Constitutional amendments are in place to slow law enforcement’s roll to prevent the steamrolling of US citizens.

    • Huawei CEO Fights Back Over Trust in China’s Tech Companies [Ed: NSA does not worry about phones because they lack security but because they have 'too much' security i.e. no back doors for NSA to use]

      Concerns about the security of Huawei Technologies Co.’s handsets and network equipment are “groundless” and are part of a broader unfair view that Chinese companies can’t be trusted, Chief Executive Officer Ken Hu said.

      The U.S. relationship with Huawei has been fraught. Carrier Verizon Communications Inc. last month dropped plans to sell Huawei phones under pressure from the U.S. government, according to people familiar with the matter.

    • Defense wants alleged NSA leaker’s confession thrown out of evidence

      Reality Winner threw up a peace sign to the Channel 2 Action News camera following her latest courtroom appearance Tuesday.

      The 26-year-old was halfway grinning in the back seat of an escort car that was transporting her from the federal courthouse in downtown Augusta back to the Lincoln County Jail.

    • NSA chief: no orders to counter Russia cyber threat
    • In re Silver — Texas Supreme Court Recognizes Patent Agent Privilege

      In reversing an appellate court decision that had caused concerns throughout the patent world, the Texas Supreme Court recognized that communications between patent agents and clients could be covered by the attorney-client privilege.[1] In Patent Office proceedings and patent litigation, patent agent-client communications could already be protected; in non-patent litigation, however, it is far less clear — and the prior Texas appellate court decision suggested such communications could be revealed in discovery. By reversing the appellate court decision, the Texas Supreme Court should have patent agents feeling more confident that their representation of clients in patent prosecution is no different than that provided by patent attorneys . . . and their clients breathing a sigh of belief.

    • Texas patent-agent privilege ruling could have wider impact

      The Texas Supreme Court has recognised patent-agent privilege as a form of attorney-client privilege, in a ruling that has the potential to influence court cases in the 24 other US states with the same privilege rule

      The Texas Supreme Court has recognised patent-agent privilege as a form of attorney-client privilege. This reverses the appellate court decision that had concerned patent practitioners because it suggested communications in non-patent litigation could be revealed in discovery.

    • Sexting is on the rise among teens: ~27% get nudes, other racy messages

      Sexting has “a unique ability to catalyze adult anxiety when children and adolescents engage in it,” psychologists Elizabeth Englander and Meghan McCoy from Bridgewater State University wrote in an accompanying editorial. “Yet there is not a great deal of research examining sexting, its prevalence, its causes, and its repercussions,” they note.

    • One in seven teens are “sexting,” says new research

      Sexting is known as the sharing of sexually explicit images and videos through the internet or via electronic devices such as smartphones.

      One in seven teens report that they are sending sexts, and one in four are receiving sexts, according to our study of over 110,000 teens from around the world published today, Monday Feb. 26, in JAMA Pediatrics.

    • Facebook silently enables facial recognition abilities for users outside EU and Canada
    • Social media privacy argument tenuous in court

      Earlier this month, New York’s highest court ruled against Forman, requiring her to disclose all photos she posted to Facebook. The key point for the court was that she claimed she could no longer engage in the activities she previously enjoyed and had difficulty using a computer. It was reasonable, the court concluded, to suppose her Facebook feed might contain a record of her activities while also revealing her skill with the computer. Therefore, Henkin was entitled to poke around her account for evidence to use against her. If you’re ever involved in litigation and tempted to post to social media, remember Kelly Forman and think twice.

    • In a continent dominated by WhatsApp, Ethiopia prefers Telegram

      Given that, the economics of downloading and using Telegram (49 megabits) versus WhatsApp (103 MBs) or Messenger (125 MBs) is part of what makes Telegram attractive in Ethiopia, says Moses Karanja, a doctoral candidate at University of Toronto and researcher at the Citizen Lab. In his research, he says, Ethiopians have told him how “frequent updates were too expensive” and that “[I]nternet bundles consumption is lighter and hence cheaper” with Telegram.


      Ethiopia is highly restrictive of the [I]nternet and regularly blocks social media outlets. Recent research has also shown officials using commercial spyware to target dissidents abroad who have been supporting anti-government protests.

    • Microsoft doesn’t want to turn over foreign server data, SCOTUS to weigh in [Ed: Microsoft already gives the US government access to everything, so this will be a show trial or publicity stunt, framing the biggest privacy violator as “fighting for privacy”]

      It is not publicly known what the government hopes would be revealed by acquiring the email, which was sought as part of a drug investigation. The authorities have also not revealed whether the email account owner is American or if that person has been charged with a crime.

    • Facebook rolls out job posts to become the blue-collar LinkedIn

      LinkedIn wasn’t built for low-skilled job seekers, so Facebook is barging in. Today Facebook is rolling out job posts to 40 more countries to make itself more meaningful to people’s lives while laying the foundation for a lucrative business.

    • Facebook to target people with adverts based on their religion

      The changes will allow businesses to target – or block – groups of individuals based on the faith or sexuality they identify with in their profile, along posts they have liked and groups they are members of.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Helsinki court rules police search of journalist’s home was lawful

      On Tuesday the Helsinki District Court overruled a Helsingin Sanomat journalist who challenged the legality of a search of her home following the publication of an article on military intelligence that she had written.

      The court rejected the journalist’s motion and declared the search fulfilled the requirements of the Coercive Measures Act. The National Bureau of Investigation said that it conducted the home search because it had reason to suspect that the reporter had destroyed material relating to reporting by the daily Helsingin Sanomat on the activities of the Defence Forces’ Intelligence Research Centre.

    • Palantir has secretly been using New Orleans to test its predictive policing technology

      The program began in 2012 as a partnership between New Orleans Police and Palantir Technologies, a data-mining firm founded with seed money from the CIA’s venture capital firm. According to interviews and documents obtained by The Verge, the initiative was essentially a predictive policing program, similar to the “heat list” in Chicago that purports to predict which people are likely drivers or victims of violence.

      The partnership has been extended three times, with the third extension scheduled to expire on February 21st, 2018. The city of New Orleans and Palantir have not responded to questions about the program’s current status.

    • Trump’s Push for Involuntary Commitment Won’t Stop Gun Violence

      President Trump believes reopening mental institutions is an answer to mass shootings, but the facts say otherwise.

      One of the proudest moments of the disability rights movement came on Sept. 17, 1987. After over a decade of scandals, exposés, and advocacy, the state of New York finally closed down Willowbrook State School. As the last of the people with disabilities who suffered under Willowbrook’s horrific conditions left for life in the community, many saw an opportunity to plan for a brighter future.

    • Chicago Media Help Sheriff Exploit Post-Parkland Gun Fears to Expand Pretrial Punishment

      Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is stoking public fear over local efforts to decrease the use of money bail and reduce the jail population, arguing that these measures allow gun “offenders” to go free and therefore pose a threat to public safety. Despite the fact that Dart has presented zero evidence to substantiate his fearmongering, Chicago’s largest press outlets are dutifully reporting his claims as fact, inserting them into the public conversation following the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting that left 17 dead. Reporters are going well beyond stenography to pad the sheriff’s arguments, including dredging up sympathetic quotes from a dead police officer.

      The stakes are not academic: Pretrial detention is a major driver of mass incarceration in the United States. Roughly two-thirds of local jail populations at any given time are incarcerated before trial or conviction, with those incarcerated in local jails accounting for roughly a quarter of the total population behind bars in the country. Just a few days in jail can cause people to lose their homes, jobs, custody of children and even lives. By demagoguing the movement against cash bail, the Chicago press is helping to build the case for condemning thousands to preemptive punishment before they face a jury, much less are found guilty.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • AT&T Fails In Bid To Kill FTC Authority Over Broadband Monopolies

      It can’t be overstated that the broadband industry isn’t just trying to kill net neutrality, it’s trying to gut most meaningful federal and state oversight of entrenched telecom monopolies. While Ajit Pai dismantled consumer protections at the FCC, his “Restoring Internet Freedom” order also ironically attempts to ban states from holding ISPs accountable for privacy, net neutrality, or other anti-competitive behavior. With neither adult regulatory supervision or healthy organic competition in place to keep bad actors in line, the end result will likely be even worse behavior than the kind of Comcast shitshows we’ve grow used to.

    • AT&T Continues Its Bullshit Sales Pitch For A Fake Net Neutrality Law

      While Verizon, Comcast and AT&T may have convinced the FCC to repeal net neutrality, they’ve still got a steep, uphill climb before they can be comfortable that the repeal is on solid footing, meaning we still have some time before they begin taking full anti-competitive advantage. The FCC’s repeal still needs to survive a wall of legal challenges from consumer groups, Mozilla, and nearly half the states in the union. From there, ISPs need to ensure that a future FCC or Congress doesn’t just pass new, tougher rules all over again.

      That’s why Verizon, Comcast and AT&T are all now pushing for a new “net neutrality law” in name only. While the same ISPs that gutted these popular consumer protections insist they’re just interested in “putting this contentious issue to bed,” the reality is they want a law that pre-empts any future federal or state attempts to protect consumers. As usual, they’ve managed to get industry marionettes like Martha Blackburn behind the legislative push. Since they’ve long since demolished any credibility on this subject, there’s been little traction in these legislative efforts so far.

    • Democrats Officially Introduce Bills to Restore Net Neutrality

      Standing in the sunshine outside the Capitol, Democratic Congressional leaders bantered, laughed, and made impassioned speeches Tuesday after formally introducing two bills to restore net neutrality.

      “This is a road to digital serfdom and we are going to block it,” said Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) during the rally. “We intend to keep fighting until real net neutrality is the law of the land.”

      This move has been long-promised by Democrats, but couldn’t take place until the Federal Communications Commission officially published its net neutrality repeal. The FCC did this last week, opening the door for action both politically and legally. Once published, Congress has 60 days to introduce a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act. This would, if successful, overturn the FCC’s decision to scrap federal net neutrality rules.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Do patents and literature have something in common?

      That said, it is interesting to note that recently each side seems to be showing an inclination to be influenced by the other’s tradition. Thus, the US has moved to a first-to-file system, while the EPO has issued the G1/15 and the Bundesgerichtshof overturned the very strict Kunststoffrohrteil decision in the Pemetrexed case. However, the different approaches, i.e., romantic author-centred US-tradition on the one hand, text-based European/Asian tradition, on the other, are still discernible and even somewhat striking. This might be another reason to explain the sometimes cosmic dissatisfaction that US patent scholars and professionals have with the rest of the world and vice versa – they simply emerge from very different traditions.

    • Copyrights
      • Playboy Drops Misguided Copyright Case Against Boing Boing

        In a victory for journalism and fair use, Playboy Entertainment has given up on its lawsuit against Happy Mutants, LLC, the company behind Boing Boing. Earlier this month, a federal court dismissed Playboy’s claims but gave Playboy permission to try again with a new complaint, if it could dig up some new facts. The deadline for filing that new complaint passed this week, and today Playboy released a statement suggesting that it is standing down. That means both Boing Boing and Playboy can go back to doing what they do best: producing and reporting on culture and technology.

        This case began when Playboy filed suit accusing Boing Boing of copyright infringement for reporting on a historical collection of Playboy centerfolds and linking to a third-party site. The post in question, from February 2016, reported that someone had uploaded scans of the photos, and noted they were “an amazing collection” reflecting changing standards of what is considered sexy. The post contained links to an page and YouTube video—neither of which were created by Boing Boing.

      • Section 1201 Rulemaking – The Process Is Moving Along

        Section 1201 is a curious little section of the US Copyright Act, added by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998. But the matter covered in that section is of great importance in our digital age and, due to its triennial rulemaking requirement, ‘1201’ exceptions are a topic of considerable discussion every few years. As it turns out, 2018 is one of those years.

      • Authors’ Group Study: Copyright Safe Harbour Provisions Distort Market [Ed: CISAC is not authors but a front group representing those who exploit authors]

        The study, “Economic Analysis of Safe Harbour Provisions,” by Prof. Stan Liebowitz of the University of Texas at Dallas, assesses how “safe harbour” rules in copyright law, “drawn up a quarter of a century ago to help nurture early online commerce,” have damaged copyright owners.

      • Hollywood Commissioned Tough Jail Sentences for Online Piracy, ISP Says

        The owner of ISP Bahnhof has criticized new proposals currently under consideration by the Swedish government. The new rules, which envision copyright infringers going to prison for up to six years, are said to be needed to bring Sweden into line with other EU countries. However, according to Bahnhof chief Jon Karlung, the extended tariffs have been commissioned by Hollywood

      • Pirate Site Operators’ Jail Sentences Overturned By Court of Appeal

        Four men sentenced last year for their part in running several pirate sites have been told they will no longer have to spend time behind bars. After being ordered to spend up to ten months in prison, the court of appeal has now decided that for their activities on Dreamfilm, TFplay, Tankafetast and PirateHub, the men should walk free but pay increased damages to the entertainment industries.

The UPC is Dead, But Team UPC is Lying to British Politicians in an Effort to Trick Them

Thursday 1st of March 2018 01:34:51 PM

Summary: The Big Litigation lobby is attempting to bamboozle British politicians into thinking that Brits are eager to see the Unified Patent Court Agreement ratified; the exact opposite is true however

THE LITIGATION ‘industry’ that’s based in Europe (or has branches in Europe) is keen to destroy science and technology in Europe. Guess whose side Battistelli’s EPO management is taking. Considering Battistelli’s professional background, this isn’t exactly surprising and his successor is a banker/lawyer (son of a politician like Battistelli), which means not much prospect for hope. Forget about scientists like Alain Pompidou, who have reason and some compassion. Like Battistelli and Campinos he is French, but at least he’s also a renowned scientist in his discipline.

The EPO nearly had a judge as its next President, but Battistelli lobbied against him. Battistelli virtually ‘installed’ Campinos. Battistelli strives to control every single thing at the Organisation, not just the Office. It’s perverse.

“The EPO nearly had a judge as its next President, but Battistelli lobbied against him. Battistelli virtually ‘installed’ Campinos.”Troubling times are ahead because other than rumours of layoffs at the EPO (up to 15% of staff) judges say that they lost their independence. Battistelli and the law firms can simply manipulate them, e.g. impact their judgment by threat of contract being terminated (or not renewed). Those same issues were recently brought/raised against the UPC in a Constitutional complaint, which is to be dealt with at a high German court (FCC). Yes, by actual judges, not clumsy politicians who sign ‘encyclopedias’ of papers they never even bothered reading (that’s what UPCA is).

It’s very disturbing to see how UPCA got as far as it has. With a 2AM vote by 5% of politicians. It’s an insult to European democracy and it damages the reputation of the European Union. Citizens weren’t being consulted, many warnings were nonchalantly ignored, and lawyers basically wrote the laws from which they sought to benefit financially. Separation of authority/power was rendered totally farcical. It’s like letting oil companies, not just their lobbyists, literally write the regulatory laws governing and administring pollution. There should have been protests in streets all across Europe (over the UPCA), but because Team UPC kept much of it cryptic, told lies about it and heavily relied on the public’s lack of comprehension of patent matters, this did not happen.

“It’s very disturbing to see how UPCA got as far as it has.”“How come UPC is dead,” someone asked me today. “Brexit or Court reasons?

I said “both, plus EPO scandals…”

The most relevant EPO scandal is a strand of issues pertaining to independence of judges.

Team UPC is not giving up just yet. We did not expect it to, having witnessed its sheer dishonesty for over half a decade.

“Just accept that UPC is dead and the Tories won’t say it out loud,” I told one of them, as the Tories (Conservative Party in the UK) “just drop clues and cancel sessions about Unitary Patent” (they have repeatedly done so and Team UPC just chose to hide it).

“Little surprisingly,” said this person from Team UPC. “the Draft Withdrawal Agrmt presented by the EC today does not contain a single reference to patents, let alone the UPC. Other IPRs dealt w in Artt. 50 et seq. …”

“The most relevant EPO scandal is a strand of issues pertaining to independence of judges.”Yes, so?

Is anyone surprised?

Alan Johnson (no connection to Jo or Boris Johnson) from Bristows (the most prolific/chronic liars among Team UPC) has started to really nag/pressure Sam Gyimah, successor of Jo Johnson, Boris Johnson’s brother. In spite of actual British businesses opposing the UPC (because Unitary Patent is just a litigation mess lawyers and patent trolls expect to profit from), he goes ahead with the misleading headline “UK industry urges government to ratify UPC Agreement” (false, they’re not what he claims them to be).

Ignore them. They’re a malicious bunch and they keep disseminating lies. The body does not match the headline, either.

To quote Alan Johnson: “The IP Federation (which represents the views of UK industry in IP matters) has reported here that its President, James Horgan, wrote to Sam Gyimah MP, the UK minister for intellectual property, yesterday about the UK’s ratification of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Agreement. ”

“Team UPC is not giving up just yet.”See how he constructed fake news right there? IP Federation is a front group for patents, so in the body he said “views of UK industry in IP matters” (also false) and then in the headline just “UK industry” — a fake claim then repeated in Twitter. This is typical Bristows. And later they wonder why they receive so much flak?

This is a lie from Alan Johnson because actual UK industry opposes UPC. Lying lawyers pretend to be speaking ‘for’ such industry and they’re bringing these lies to MP Gyimah, who might actually fall for these lies because he’s new on the job. “UK industry urges government to ratify UPC Agreement,” they wrote in Twitter. “The IP Federation reports that its President wrote to Sam Gyimah MP…”

Calling “IP Federation” the “UK industry” is like calling B52 bombers “the peace council”.

“Calling “IP Federation” the “UK industry” is like calling B52 bombers “the peace council”.”“Watch out,” I told Gyimah, as Team UPC “is lying to you, as usual. They themselves wrote the ‘law’ which they now lie to politicians about. Huge scam.”

Dimitris Xenos‏, who is familiar with these things, also spotted the lie from Bristows and wrote: “Re: ‘UK industry’ term – the list of IP fed members is short and, clearly, Siemens, Pfizer, IBM, Ford, ExxonMobil, Uniliver, Nokia, Merk, Ericson, Eli Lilly, cannot be classified as ‘UK industry’. That’s why you have @schestowitz complaining frequently about your #upc propaganda…”

Those are primarily non-European companies and what many have in common is that they sue a lot. They sue internationally.

What do they have in common here? Lawyers. And Bristows (the worst of liars, with a long track record at that) try to paint them as “UK industry”. These people have no sense of shame whatsoever.

“Those are primarily non-European companies and what many have in common is that they sue a lot. They sue internationally.”Max Walters wrote: “Interesting development in efforts to get #UPC approved. Understand @ipfederation has also made similar request.”

Similar to this one which he wrote about.

IP Federation isn’t joined by actual UK industry but by a patent court’s president. So what we see here is lobbying for litigation by patent courts and lawyers who want to make Britain a litigation nightmare for them to profit from. British businesses oppose this of course, but they aren’t being listened to. Here is what Walters wrote:

The president of The Law Society has today urged the government to ratify the EU-focussed Unified Patent Court (UPC) agreement by the end of next month before ‘transitional arrangements’ for Brexit are finalised.

In a letter to intellectual property minister Sam Gyimah, Joe Egan said that if ratification is not completed by 23 March there is a risk that other EU member states will implement the UPC without the UK.

Edward Nodder is the latest from Brisrows to amplify these villainous front group of lawyers who distort facts about the UPC. How long before this UPC spin gets posted by them anonymously in Kluwer Patent Blog and IP Kat too? It probably won’t take long.

“How long before this UPC spin gets posted by them anonymously in Kluwer Patent Blog and IP Kat too?”Max Walters has meanwhile noted this new article titled “Government cannot accept Brexit deal that keeps UK under jurisdiction of European Court of Justice, warns Boris Johnson” (from the ToryGraph, a Tories-leaning British newspaper).

Walters then asked a somewhat rhetorical question: “Percentage chance of Boris signing off formal approval of the UPC agreement?”

“It’s just what we expect to hear from a group that labels UPC opponents “idiots” and “trolls”.”Watch the spin from Team UPC, e.g. [1, 2]. It’s just what we expect to hear from a group that labels UPC opponents "idiots" and "trolls". The rational people, the sceptics, are being insulted, whereas the extremists who are motivated purely by profit think so very highly of themselves. It’s a very small group which does not like what Johnson is saying and not because he’s wrong or anything but because it affects them financially (personally)

Max Walters is the latest journalist to write an article about the German Constitutional complaint, but it understates the trouble/abyss to which UPC has sunk and quotes a liar from a liars firm known as Bristows (they try to attract business using these lies). Bristows is proud to have interjected its staff into this article. To quote:

Germany’s federal constitutional court, the Bundesverfassungsgericht (BverfG), said last week that it will decide on a challenge to the proposed Unified Patent Court (UPC) this year. However, the BverfG has not provided a firm time frame for hearing the case. The news puts the UPC project in doubt, as German and UK ratification is required before the agreement can be formally implemented.

The bottom line is, expect UPC to perish. Everything points towards failure in more than one nation (all key countries except France).

Does the failure of the UPC mean damage to Europe? Or to the European Union? No.

The EPO already exists (albeit in a dire state due to UPC fanatics; it has become a hellhole due to bad management) and litigation can be done in different nations separately in their native language (this is one of the issues brought forth in the Constitutional complaint).

“Court rulings in a language the defendant does not even comprehend have highly questionable legitimacy if any legitimacy at all.”William New wrote about ALLEA yesterday. He said: “A high-level group of academic experts in intellectual property rights and innovation in the European Union has released a statement highlighting the rise in inventions due to international research and development and says EU regulations on inventorship, assignment and patent filing should be assessed for harmonisation and reducing complexity.”

Assignment and filing, not litigation. Court rulings in a language the defendant does not even comprehend have highly questionable legitimacy if any legitimacy at all. It’s one among many reasons the UPC will soon be forgotten about and buried even by Team UPC.

USF Warns Campinos (EPO President in 4 Months) of “Extreme” Situation at the EPO

Thursday 1st of March 2018 12:26:35 PM

Summary: A federation of unions is once again speaking out against the EPO’s abuses, this time addressing the man who will become the EPO’s leader in exactly four months

THE STAFF UNION of the EPO, SUEPO in abbreviation/short, has uploaded a copy of this letter (as image, not text, see above). SUEPO has just quoted from it: “USF is the largest Federation of unions in the European international public service and has been following with great concern the situation at the European Patent Office (EPO) which deserves to be labelled as extreme. A number of shocking events around social policy and rule of law issues at the EPO were reported upon in various media over the last few years. These reports also reveal fundamental flaws in the institutional setup of the EPO taken in combination with its assigned jurisdiction, the ILOAT.”

The EPO has basically become a disgrace to Europe and a stain on Europe’s reputation in sciences and technology. The other major disgrace is Team UPC, whose latest lies and mischief we shall deal with in our next post.

The European Patent Office (EPO) Should Lead the Way in Combating Patents on Nature and on Life

Thursday 1st of March 2018 12:03:01 PM

Summary: As the Office (EPO) grapples with patents on life, there are indications that these are anything but over

EARLIER this year the EPO (Office, not Organisation) said “no” to a CRISPR patent, i.e. to a patent on genome. This, by extension/extrapolation, may have meant the end of all such patents. We wrote about half a dozen posts about that alone because it was a major/historic decision. A year earlier the Organisation also said “no” to patents on plants and seeds. It was about time. The USPTO, for instance, mostly rejects CRISPR patents, which is just common sense.

Do humans now claim to have invented life and genetics? Is it actually an invention when artificially manipulated a little? Do we want to go down the route of monopolies on ‘code’ of life? Australia, according to this new report, has just decided that “gene patent claims remain patent eligible” (perhaps not too shocking given the incredible power CSIRO wields there).

“Claims directed to the correlation of gene sequences to a particular trait in cattle remain patent eligible subject matter,” said the above, “according to a ruling that has implications for the Sequenom/Ariosa case in Australia and also suggests a widening dichotomy between Australia and the US on gene-based patent eligible subject matter” (the US does this the right way).

If that wasn’t bad enough, a day or two ago we also saw CRISPR patents making a little rebound. This account said that the “European Patent Office Grants 2nd CharpentierDoudna Patent Covering CRISPRCas9 Gene Regulation Applications – CRISPRiCRISPRa Techniques Covered by the Patent are Quickly Being Adopted in Drug Discovery and nonTherapeutic R&D ERS Genomics,” linking to this statement we had spotted a day earlier or the night before [1, 2].

The EPO may have once again granted a patent on life. No opposition? We didn’t know that humans ‘invented’ genetics. From the press release: “ERS Genomics announced today that the European Patent Office (EPO) has granted Dr. Emmanuelle Charpentier, ERS Genomics’ co-founder, together with the University of California and University of Vienna, its second EU patent with very broad claims covering the use of CRISPR-Cas9 technology for gene regulation. The claims are directed to compositions and uses of a chimeric version of the Cas9 protein, most often associated with use in regulation of gene expression as opposed to direct editing of the genetic code itself. The patent covers uses in both cellular and non-cellular settings, including use in bacteria, plants, animals, and cells from vertebrate animals such as humans.”

Do we really wish to allow this in Europe?

Then came some more bad news. Life Sciences Intellectual Property Review (LSIPR) wrote the headline “EPO gears up to hear EpiPen patent opposition” — the outcome of which we have not yet seen.

For those who don’t know, EpiPen is now a truly evil ripoff (huge controversy around it in the US). Will the examiners realise the impact of their decision? It’s a matter of life and death (the latter for poor people mostly). These patents let them ban competition and then hike the prices as much as they wish (several orders of magnitude above production costs). According to LSIPR, a decision will have come by month’s end:

The European Patent Office (EPO) will hear an opposition against a patent covering Mylan’s EpiPen (epinephrine) at the end of March.

ALK-Abello, a Denmark-based pharmaceutical company that makes the Jext injector, opposed European patent number EP1,786,491 B, along with Merck, in November 2016.

Tim Powell, partner at Potter Clarkson, explained that claim 1 of the patent defines a number of “relatively conventional features” of an injection device, and a needle cover that is moveable between a retracted position (in which the needle is exposed for injecting) and an extended position in which the needle is shielded.

The Opposition/s Division ought to read up about the EpiPen controversy. There are many legitimate ethical matters associated with these patents.

And speaking of these sorts of patents, Novagraaf has just published “Can you protect dosage regimes in France?”

This too is about the EPO, at least partly:

The judgment of the Court of Cassation of 6 December 2017, in the case between TEVA and MERCK (patent owner), is the outcome of a long and complex affair concerning the nullity of the French part of the European Patent (EP) n°0724444 describing a dosage regime.


Since the decision of the Enlarged Board of Appeal G0002/08 of 19 February 2010, the European Patent Office (EPO) has admitted the patentability of so-called dosage regime claims: “Such patenting is […] not excluded where a dosage regime is the only feature claimed which is not comprised in the state of the art.”

Yesterday, as in most days, we heard from insiders who are concerned about decline of patent quality at the EPO. It’s now even lower than the USPTO’s..

Two days ago a site of patent maximalists, Watchtroll, wrote about § 103 in the US, alluding to patenting antibodies. To quote:

Under 35 U.S.C. § 103, a claim is not patentable if the “differences between the claimed invention and prior art are such that the claimed invention as a whole would have been obvious” to a person of ordinary skill in the art, before the effective filing date of the claimed invention. The U.S. Supreme Court set forth half a century ago a four-prong test to determine obviousness: (i) the scope and content of prior art, (ii) differences between claimed subject matter and prior art, (iii) the level of ordinary skill in the art, and (iv) objective evidence of nonobviousness, such as long-felt but unsolved need, failure of others, commercial success, unexpected results, and skepticism. Graham v. John Deere Co., 383 U.S. 1, 17–18 (1966).

The USPTO will likely deny patents on antibodies (better known as immunoglobulin), but at the EPO nowadays it seems like nearly anything goes. Even naturally-recurring things like antibodies.

Similar Scandal at the USPTO (to Battistelli’s Nepotism) and Upcoming Lies About ‘Results’ (in Annual Report, Out Next Week)

Thursday 1st of March 2018 11:18:09 AM

Summary: Similarities between appointments at the EPO and the USPTO; it’s also time to prepare for a lot of EPO lies next week (about the performance of the Office in 2017)

THE PRESIDENT of the EPO has been almost invisible lately (recent weeks). The new Director of the USPTO has said barely a word before and after taking Office. Both are scheduled to appear in some distant IAM event, but that’s about it.

The USPTO, according to rumours we heard before, has an EPO-type scandal. It may be part of several, but we never managed to attract hard evidence of it (like evidence we have about the EPO).

“The USPTO, according to rumours we heard before, has an EPO-type scandal.”A couple of years ago and again a couple of months ago we wrote about the CIO of the EPO [1, 2] in addition to the connection to Battistelli.

Two days ago a Twitter account called CIO_Watchdog (“USPTO CIO Watchdog”) wrote: “PTO CIO management is hot water again as rumors, stating Pam Isom allegedly, hired her nephew by marriage? We have received countless communication on this subject, and hopefully the new Dir will resolve as it effects morale. You might recall the Chiles saga. PTO has a history…”

Just to be clear, this is not a prank account as some people close to the USPTO are retweeting it. They know the above-mentioned names. It may be like a whistleblower (insider) account.

“Last year the EPO intentionally omitted all the negatives (we wrote many articles about that) and concealed that fact that EPO patent applications had overall declined in number.”This may get interesting in the near future. We heard similar things before (about USPTO irregularities and also nepotism), but there have been no whistleblowers. If some whistleblowers out there wish to send us information and material, we’re all ears. We have never compromised a source since we started 12 years ago.

As a side note about the EPO, its Twitter account says almost nothing of interest. It’s mostly repeating old tweets (like they’re shelved templates reused). But yesterday it wrote :”What was 2017 like for patents and the EPO? Find out in one week when we publish our annual report!”

We are ready to have a closer look at it when it’s out. Last year the EPO intentionally omitted all the negatives (we wrote many articles about that) and concealed that fact that EPO patent applications had overall declined in number.

“Backlog is drying up fast, rendering them redundant.”Several months ago Battistelli lowered some fees and repeatedly advertised this ‘discount’, hoping perhaps to hide the decline in patent applications. So we’re ready to take that into account (one can measure patent applications in terms of revenue rather than number).

Last night the EPO did something rather amusing. It published this news item (warning: link) titled “Validation agreement with Cambodia enters into force” and we’re pretty certain that the many EPO stakeholders in Cambodia were truly excited. All zero of them! Cambodia has ZERO European Patents (EPs) [1, 2], so the EPO under Battistelli has truly become self-satirising.

“European patents granted by the EPO and validated in Cambodia will have the same legal effects as a corresponding Cambodian patent and will be subject to Cambodian patent law,” says last night’s statement.

Cambodia is a former colony of France and a cheap publicity stunt for the disgraced Frenchman who is leaving the Office in exactly 4 months from now. The cronies whom he brought to the Office will get to keep their jobs, whereas hard-working staff whom he mentally tortured is said to be on the way out. The “thank-you” or the reward for all the hard work (rigging the annual reports with low-quality patents) will be sacking. Backlog is drying up fast, rendering them redundant.

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