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The Courts

RIAA Loses Case Against Launch Media 86

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The RIAA's claim that personalized internet radio stations were 'interactive services' was flatly rejected 'as a matter of law' by the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in Arista Records v. Launch Media. In affirming the jury's verdict in favor of the defendant, Launch Media — acquired during the lawsuit by Yahoo! — the Court said it did not even need to concern itself with possible errors in the jury instructions, since the trial judge should have directed a verdict for defendant 'as a matter of law' on the question of whether the radio stations were 'interactive services.' At pages 23-42 of its 42-page opinion (PDF), the appeals court carefully analyzed how Launch Media's personalized internet radio stations worked, and noted that the users could neither obtain and play on demand a particular song, nor obtain the transmission of a particular program, thus rendering the RIAA's claim of 'interactivity' meritless."
Role Playing (Games)

Submission + - New Dungeons & Dragons Declares War On Open Ga

mxyzplk writes: "Dungeons & Dragons publisher Wizards of the Coast shocked the role-playing game industry today by announcing that anyone wanting to publish material for the new Fourth Edition of D&D, expected out in June of this year, must forgo open licensing entirely as part of their new Game System License.

With the launch of the third edition of the popular game eight years ago, Wizards had sponsored an open licensing scheme. This license, called the Open Gaming License, or OGL, was a kind of open source license designed for game publishers. The result was an explosion of third party game companies supporting D&D and establishing their own game lines. Many of these companies became quite large and successful, notably Paizo Publishing, Green Ronin Publishing, and others.

Now, however, Wizards has stated that any company hoping to publish products for their new edition must agree to discontinue any currently open licensed products and produce no further open products at all — Dungeons & Dragons related or not. A number of companies had leveraged the OGL for their indepedent games, for example the pulp game Spirit of the Century.

In response to questions about this policy, Scott Rouse, D&D Brand Manager for Wizards of the Coast, says that "We have invested multiple 7 figures in the development of 4e so can you tell me why we would want publishers to support a system that we have moved away from?"

It seems to me that this is the equivalent of Microsoft telling people "If you want to make and sell software for Windows Vista, you can't make and sell any Linux/open source software!" Since this is a small niche market without the visibility of a Microsoft, this play to muscle out competition by making them choose "between us and open licensing" will probably succeed. Some other game companies are rebelling; Paizo Publsihing, for example, has declared their intent to move forward with the open-licensed previous version, essentially 'forking' the Dungeons & Dragons code base. But small gaming companies are small indeed, and Wizards of the Coast is owned by Hasbro (a recent development likely not unrelated to this change of heart)."

Submission + - None more black 2

toxcspdrmn writes: Bad news for Spinal Tap fans. The BBC reports that researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, have produced the darkest known material by manufacturing "forests" of carbon nanotubes. This forms a surface that absorbs or scatters 99.9% of all incident light.

Submission + - Student charged for bringing tool into high school 8

sm62704 (mcgrew) writes: "The Chicago Tribune (bugmenot required) and Belleville News Democrat are reporting on the plight of Christopher Berger, an honor student at Grayslake Central High School, a choir singer, as well as a former football player who spends half the day training to be a firefighter.

He was arrested for "reckless conduct" for bringing a tool to school; a Totes outdoor multi-tool flashlight, which has (gasp) a two inch blade.

What would they do to a kid who brought a balloon full of hydrogen to school, like I did when I was in the 7th grade? I'm sure glad I'm a geezer!"
Hardware Hacking

Submission + - Western Digital Sells DRM'ed External Hard Drive (

wanderingknight writes:
Western Digital's 1TB MyBook external hard drives won't share media files over network connections (UPDATE: Don't install the "required" client software! See workaround below). From the product page: "Due to unverifiable media license authentication, the most common audio and video file types cannot be shared with different users using WD Anywhere Access." It doesn't matter what the files are: If you try to share these formats over a network, Western Digital assumes not just that you're a criminal, but that it is its job to police users. Workarounds: The manual's appendix and online support site provide setup instructions for SAMBA, allowing access over IP instead of with the DRM-infested and poorly-reviewed client app, elsewhere claimed to be "required. Samba not enough? Gut the firmware and install made-to-measure Linux: An entire community of folks is here to help you hack your MyBook:

"Everybody is talking about the weather but nobody does anything about it." -- Mark Twain