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Slashback: Disney Copyright, Alaa Freed, Kelo Repealed 260

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the more-bad-news dept.
Slashback tonight brings some clarifications and updates to previous Slashdot stories including: Egyptian blogger Alaa freed from jail, Executive order repeals Kelo decision, Disney's trouble with Pooh bear, NASA engineer fired for opposing shuttle launch, Swedish pirates provide RIAA insurance, open source Java months away, and the net neutrality amendment defeated in committee -- Read on for details.

Egyptian blogger Alaa freed from jail. FleaPlus writes "Egyptian blogger, open source advocate, and Slashdot interviewee Alaa Abd El-Fatah has been released from jail. He had been imprisoned for 45 days after being arrested (along with several others) for taking part in a pro-democracy election reform rally, on charges which included "insulting the Egyptian president." In a blog post Alaa describes the conditions he was subjected to in the jail, as well as his worry about the hundreds of other activists who are still in prison."

Executive order defuses Kelo decision. physicsphairy writes "President Bush has issued an executive order whose effect is to undo the previous Kelo decision of the Supreme Court. From the article: 'It is the policy of the United States to protect the rights of Americans to their private property, including by limiting the taking of private property by the Federal Government to situations in which the taking is for public use, with just compensation, and for the purpose of benefiting the general public and not merely for the purpose of advancing the economic interest of private parties to be given ownership or use of the property taken.' The downside is that what was once affirmed consitutionally is now affirmed only in federal law."

Disney's trouble with Pooh bear. bbernard writes "It seems that the same laws that allow the Mouse to continue generating money for Disney have prevented Disney from taking control of Winny the Pooh. The Supreme Court has denied Clare Milne's bid to get the rights back for Pooh and his buddies. Clare is A.A. Milne's granddaughter, and her court battle was funded by Disney, as she was going to reassign the rights to them. Interesting to see a company foiled by the laws they insisted on in the first place, isn't it?"

NASA engineer fired for opposing shuttle launch. quad4b writes to tell us The New York Daily News reports that Charlie Camarda was has been removed from his post at NASA for questioning the safety of this Saturday's launch. From the article: "Camarda's removal heightened the turmoil over NASA Administrator Michael Griffin's decision to take the 'acceptable risk' of launching the Discovery orbiter despite warnings of potentially fatal blastoff debris. Camarda, who flew aboard the troubled flight of Discovery last July, told colleagues in an e-mail that he was fired from his post as chief engineer at Houston's Johnson Space Center and given another NASA engineering job."

Swedish pirates provide RIAA insurance. An anonymous reader writes "A new insurance company in Sweden is offering a new policy to protect you from the RIAA [Swedish]. For a mere 140 SEK ($19 USD) per year, they will pay all your fines and give you a t-shirt if you get convicted for file sharing. Interesting development in Sweden indeed."

Open source Java months away? bl8n8r writes "A Sun Microsystems Inc. executive said Tuesday said the company is "months" away from releasing its trademark Java programming language under an open-source license. Simon Phipps, chief open-source officer for Sun, said the company is ruminating over two major issues: how to keep Java compatible and ensure no particular company uses market forces as muscle for its own implementation, a move that would threaten Java's "write once, run anywhere" mantra."

Net neutrality amendment defeated in committee. DeathPooky writes "While not the end of the road for net neutrality, the latest vote isn't a good sign. From the article: 'The Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday rejected a network neutrality amendment, handing cable and phone broadband access providers yet another victory over a coalition that has demanded the application of strict nondiscrimination standards against entities that control access to millions of Internet users. The panel voted 11 to 11 to defeat an amendment sponsored by Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), who had backing from Google, Yahoo!, eBay, Amazon, Microsoft and other firms that deliver voice, video, and information services and applications.' All 10 Democrats on the committee, as well as Republican co-sponsor Sen. Snowe, voted for the amendment. The other 11 Republicans voted against."

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Slashback: Disney Copyright, Alaa Freed, Kelo Repealed

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  • by John Courtland (585609) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @08:08PM (#15625002)
    ... so that I can personally add the 'unsigned' keyword.
  • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @08:13PM (#15625023)

    Sorry to disappoint you, but it's entirely possible (and reasonable!) to open-source an implementation without letting people mess with the standard too.

  • by Alaren (682568) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @08:13PM (#15625026)

    Lesson #1 on why politics is a completely different thing than ideology: Network Neutrality failing slowly, but the Broadcast Flag gradually gaining steam.

    Are Republicans for or against regulation? The answer is "yes." Regulation is a bad thing, if their current "donors" say so. It's also a good thing, for the very same reasons. We need look no further than these two similar issues to see that what congress is really about is doing good for big business, and failing to protect the consumer. Any "ideology" they spout while debating this stuff is a means to an end, nothing more.

    I know none of this comes as a shock to anyone reading /. but when will it escape being a truism and start being a concern for voters!? This isn't limited to technology, either. Think about Federalism... Federalism is the flag flown by the minority party. It used to be a Republican mantra, until they managed to win power, now suddenly old "tax-and-spend" liberals are thinking federalism isn't such a bad idea.

    I don't want to be the old codger leaning back and saying how "ideology used to mean something, now it's all just politics" when in fact politicians are about as beholden to money as ever they were... but I know that we've had some bright spots in our 200+ years of history. I sure would like to see those come along more often. Or indeed, ever again...

  • by John Courtland (585609) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @08:29PM (#15625087)
    Tell these guys that too: =4504839 []
    Working on unsigned data coming in from another source is VERY bug prone in Java. Writing file format readers in Java is a nightmare.
  • by LordLucless (582312) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @09:15PM (#15625228)
    Why do you have to feel sorry for Milne? Because she can't freeload off work her grandmother did a century ago?
  • Re:Kelo Untouched (Score:5, Insightful)

    by M0b1u5 (569472) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @09:26PM (#15625261) Homepage
    "Eminent Domain" - LOL - what bullshit. It sounds like a boy band.

    What you really mean is "Compulsory Purchase".

    Never trust lawyers to name ANYTHING!
  • by Bob of Dole (453013) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @09:37PM (#15625293) Journal
    Exactly. What did she do for that money?
    She had ancestors who created marketable characters. Well, great for her.
    You can use that fact to make small talk about yourself, but make your own damn money.
  • Now, as a precedent, Kelo is undeniably dangerous. I'm not arguing that. I'm saying that in the particular case of New London, it was the right choice to make.

    Since New London was foolishly permitted to make that choice, a multitude stand to lose homes, property, and businesses anytime bigger fish feel like greasing palms. Expediency for New London is no excuse for what is going to happen now.

  • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @09:53PM (#15625348) Homepage Journal
    If, after two shuttle disasters, you overrule your safety chief and your chief engineer to proceed with a launch, and you punish someone for giving you advice contrary to what you want, you're incurable. No shock, no external event can overcome the rot.

    This incident should put an end to the allegations that engineers with decades of experience were just engaged in CYA when they warned about safety problems. This is a guy who's had his A handed to him for speaking up. A bureaucrat would have gone along: he was willing to lose his job rather than toe the line(*).

    Unless the reporting on this was seriously wrong then it is time to scrap NASA and start over.

    (*)Sorry, forgot where I was. Make that "loose his job rather than tow the line".
  • by bobbuck (675253) on Wednesday June 28, 2006 @09:53PM (#15625350)
    Well nothing will help property values like having a nationwide reputation for government that doesn't respect property rights. You got Pfizer, you'll lose all else. Would you put a business there, knowing that someone with better connections could take your land once you get on your feet?
  • The Constitution (Article I, Section 1) states that only congress has the power to make laws. The executive branch and the judicial branch have no legislative powers, whatsoever. And Congress does not have the constitutional authority to delegate its legislative power to institutions that are beyond electoral accountability to the American people.

    So why is there never a word said about the fourth branch of the federal government: the unconstitutional and entirely illegal regulatory branch?

    What are the alphabet agencies -- FDA, EPA, OSHA, and so on -- doing when they pass laws? And, while these laws are called regulations, so as not to upset anyone who might actually read the Constitution, the Webster's dictionary defines regulation as a rule, ordinance or law.

    If America is ever to return to its constitutionally limited government, these illegal federal agencies must be abolished. If laws are needed in certain areas they must be passed by Congress. If laws are unpopular, the citizens should be able to vote out the lawmakers that enacted them. This is not possible in the regulatory branch of the government, the majority of whom are not elected nor held accountable to the people.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 29, 2006 @12:57AM (#15625901)
    And Congress does not have the constitutional authority to delegate its legislative power to institutions that are beyond electoral accountability to the American people.

    Not quite. Congress cannot delegate "its legislative power" to an administrative agency (neither, at the risk of parsing your statement too finely, can it delegate "its legislative power" to an agency). That would be too broad a delegation, which the Supreme Court has found unconstitutional. That is, Congress could not say to the Securities & Exchange Commission, for example, "here, you guys go make the laws for a while."

    but your main concern is well founded. In finding certain (sweeping) delegations of legislative power to agencies unconstitutional in the 1930s, the Supreme Court made the constitutional question turn on whether an act of delegation is too broad rather than whether it is a delegation of legislative power. [In all fairness to the Supreme Court, though, it is impossible to take a purely "functionalist" perspective of separation of powers. Any "rule" that either requires people (or any legal entity) to do something or forbids them from doing something can be said to be "legislative" in nature. But this can be indistinguishable from an act executive power. For example, to enforce a law forbidding certain accounting practices, an agency may require companies to submit or retain certain documents.]

    In making it a matter of how broad a congressional delegation can be -- whether Congress has delegated its "essential legislative function" -- the door was thrown open to very wide delegations of law-making power that are (ostensibly) pursuant to very vague congressional standards (i.e. "intelligible principles" of Hampton v. US). Thus Congress has delegated to (unelected) agency heads the power to do such things as set "just and reasonable" rates that firms in various industries can charge, to "prohibit unfair trade practices", etc.

    So I very much appreciate your point: Congress has delegated to unelected, and largely unaccountable, agencies a vast amount of power to make laws, within their regulatory scope or jurisdiction, usually subject only to highly vague "standards". While Congress may not be able to legislate down to the finest details, to me that's rather the point: government that does not encroach personal freedom any more than necessary to accomplish certain, limited purposes does not need to regulate the fine details!

  • Re:Kelo Untouched (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 29, 2006 @02:02AM (#15626059)
    And if your house is in the way of a new and much-needed interplanet^K^K^K^K^K^K^K^K^K^K^K metropolitan highway, then it really sucks to be...
    ...the general public, because they have no right to take your private property. Of course, that also means they get their *own* property protected.

    When it comes to the disposition of private property, only the people who own it should get votes. After all, it sounds nice to take someone *else's* private property for your use, but not so nice to take *yours*. Eminent domain often offers prices in excess of fair market value, but sellers have every right to demand arbitrarily more than fair market value. If your family has lived on the same plot of land for 150 years, you have every right to refuse to sell, and you also have every right to ask ten, a hundred, or a thousand times the fair market value before you'd even consider parting with it.

    In other words, if the government wants to run a highway, they should have to factor in the *sellers'* prices for the land through each possible route.
  • by lostchicken (226656) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @02:19AM (#15626119)
    The problem with these sort of things is that NASA is placed in an absolutely impossible situation if someone cries wolf to the press, and there isn't a wolf to be found. The same sort of thing happened with the A380 [].

    This engineer felt that there was a fundamental design issue with an IC used in the pressurization system of an airliner. His bosses and fellow engineers, all the way up the chain felt otherwise. This has been an absolute nightmare for Airbus, and even if we assume that the directors have no sense of morals and are just looking at the bottom line, it would likely have been cheaper just to fix whatever problem was there than deal with the aftermath of some engineer writing to any newspaper that'll print him, so they looked. And, in the opinion of all the other engineers in the program, there wasn't a problem. Now what? You either keep him on and let this guy spout off forever about how dangerous your product is, likely causing the shareholders to demand a vendor switch even with nothing at all wrong just because it will look bad for the airframe, a hugely expensive gamble for the Airbus group, or you fire him and try to shut him up, and now everybody screams cover-up.

    I'm not necessarily saying this is an analogous situation. I don't know what went on in the meetings where he got transferred, or what he said to piss people off. I am saying that it's not always as simple as people think.
  • by cei (107343) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @02:46AM (#15626197) Homepage Journal
    Paramount Wins 'The War of the World' Rights
    Fri Apr 19, 2002, 7:41 PM ET

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - The grandchildren of author H.G. Wells lost their bid to control "The War of the Worlds" when Paramount Pictures was granted exclusive television rights to the science fiction novel in a ruling made public on Friday.

    Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Ira Gammerman, in a six-page decision, said the Wells grandchildren, who filed a suit against Paramount nearly 18 months ago, "are unable to sell the right to produce and distribute a television motion picture/miniseries based on the novel to Hallmark Cards Entertainment Productions LLC."

    The novel earned a place in pop culture after actor Orson Welles set off a nationwide panic with his famed radio broadcast of "War of the Worlds" in 1938.

    When H.G. Wells died in 1946, he left all his rights and interests in the novel to his son, Frank. After his death, Frank Wells' children, Martin and Robin Wells as trustees of their father's estate, began negotiations with Hallmark to produce and distribute a TV miniseries based on the novel.

    When Paramount learned of the negotiations in 1988, it asserted exclusive ownership of the television rights, based on a 1951 contract signed by Frank Wells.

    The grandchildren and Hallmark as plaintiffs in the action had argued that while the 1951 contract gave Paramount "extensive motion picture rights" this was "not television rights."

    But the judge ruled that "any motion pictures that Paramount has the right to produce, it also has the right to televise."

    The grandchildren in their suit had attempted to draw a distinction between "motion pictures" and "television miniseries."

    "Such a distinction is untenable," the judge wrote.

    Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.
    WotW was first published in 1898. Wells died in 1946. His heirs signed a contract in 1951. Is contract law trumping copyright law now? Shouldn't WotW be in the public domain, and thus allowing anyone to make derivative works regardless of medium?
  • by antic (29198) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @02:50AM (#15626206)

    New RIAA scheme:

    1. Start RIAA insurance company
    2. Wait for P2P-using "pirates" to sign up
    3. Send each of them a settlement offer for $2k ;)
  • by Cederic (9623) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @03:37AM (#15626313) Journal

    wtf does her medical condition have to do with it?

    It's still wrong that people have an expectation that they can freeload off their ancestors.

  • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Thursday June 29, 2006 @08:46AM (#15627093)
    Which says it only applies in Sweden and will not accept members from other countries. Which only makes sense. The cost of litigation is far higher here.

    Oh, in that case it really is like "volcano insurance" since there'd be no grounds for the RIAA to sue anyone in Sweden to begin with -- it's $19/year to protect from nothing.

  • No it wasn't.
    Displacing people for a private company is wrong no matter how much money it brings into the community. Of course, I doubt they (pfizer) will be paying that much in taxes, so the tax will be generated by taxing the goods the workers purchase. Now, how to you garantee all those purchases happen in new London?
  • Re:Kelo Untouched (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ncc74656 (45571) * <> on Thursday June 29, 2006 @12:38PM (#15628596) Homepage Journal
    When it comes to the disposition of private property, only the people who own it should get votes. After all, it sounds nice to take someone *else's* private property for your use, but not so nice to take *yours*.

    Right. And since we'd need the unanimous consent of about 500 homeowners in order to build any freeway, we can count on never again building a municipal highway in America.

    And yet, highways must be built.

    Nothing in this executive order (or in state and local laws that are being enacted all over the place) would stop eminent domain for needful public works. If your community needs a new freeway, school, or firehouse, eminent domain is still an option (preferably the option of last resort). What is being stopped is the abuse of eminent domain, such as wiping out a residential neighborhood so that a strip mall can be built in its place that'll pay more in taxes.

For every bloke who makes his mark, there's half a dozen waiting to rub it out. -- Andy Capp