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The Courts

Judge Rejects RIAA 'Making Available' Theory 353

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "A federal judge in Connecticut has rejected the RIAA's 'making available' theory, which is the basis of all of the RIAA's peer to peer file sharing cases. In Atlantic v. Brennan, in a 9-page opinion [PDF], Judge Janet Bond Arterton held that the RIAA needs to prove 'actual distribution of copies', and cannot rely — as it was permitted to do in Capitol v. Thomas — upon the mere fact that there are song files on the defendant's computer and that they were 'available'. This is the same issue that has been the subject of extensive briefing in two contested cases in New York, Elektra v. Barker and Warner v. Cassin. Judge Arterton also held that the defendant had other possible defenses, such as the unconstitutionality of the RIAA's damages theory and possible copyright misuse flowing from the record companies' anticompetitive behavior."
Privacy

Germany Searches Credit Cards For Child Porn Payments 283

narramissic writes "According to an ITworld article, police in the German state of Sachsen-Anhalt have teamed with credit card companies to sift through the transactions of over 22 million customers looking for those who may have purchased child pornography online. To date they have identified 322 suspects." From the article: "German data privacy laws allow police to ask financial institutions to provide data about individuals but only if the investigators meet certain conditions, including a concrete suspicion of illegal behavior and narrowly defined search criteria, according to Johann Bizer, deputy director of the Independent Center for Privacy Protection... In the case under investigation, police were aware of a child pornography Web site outside of Germany that was attracting users inside the country. And they asked the credit-card companies to conduct a database search narrowed to three criteria: a specific amount of money, a specific time period and a specific receiver account."
The Internet

Bad Web Sites Can Cause "Mouse Rage" 267

alphadogg writes "Badly designed Web sites may have negative effects on a user's immune, cardiovascular, and nervous systems, a study says. The study of 2,500 users was commissioned by Rackspace Managed Hosting and published by the UK's Social Issues Research Centre. It found that five technology flaws in Web sites may have deleterious effects." How long before the first class action suit in the U.S. over bad Web site design?

The True Cost of One Laptop Per Child 356

An anonymous reader writes "The '$100 laptop' Negroponte is hoping to put in the hands of millions of kids in developing nations may actually be more like the '$900 laptop.' From the article, 'Jon Camfield says...once maintenance, training, Internet connectivity, and other factors are taken into account, the actual cost of each laptop rises to more than $970. This, he says, doesn't even take in to account the additional costs associated with theft, loss, or accidental damage. Camfield contends that such an expensive undertaking should at least be field-tested in pilot programs designed to establish the viability of the project before asking countries to invest millions, or perhaps billions, of dollars.'" Newsforge and Slashdot are both owned by OSTG.

Microsoft To Announce Linux Partnership 534

Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "Microsoft is entering into an unusual partnership with Novell that gives a boost to Linux, people familiar with the companies tell WSJ.com. From the article: 'Under the pact, which isn't final, Microsoft will offer sales support of Suse Linux, a version of the operating system sold by Novell. The two companies have also agreed to develop technologies to make it easier for users to run both Suse Linux and Microsoft's Windows on their computers. The two companies are expected to announce details of their plan today at a press conference in San Francisco. In addition, Microsoft won't assert rights over patents over software technology that may be incorporated into Suse Linux, the people said. Businesses that use Linux have long worried that Microsoft would one day file patent infringement suits against sellers of the rival software.'"

Netflix Prize Competitor Already Beats Netflix 174

Baldrson writes "Within the first week of the announcement of The Netflix Prize a team has already beaten Netflix's own movie recommendation algorithm. This is pretty impressive given the previously quoted researcher who said: 'You're competing with 15 years of really smart people banging away at the problem.' The team is WXYZConsulting.com apparently registered by a data mining professor named Yi Zhang. Congratulations are in order for Netflix and Prof. Zhang's team who are demonstrating, yet again, the power of prizes to accelerate progress."

64% of Online Gamers Are Female 187

According to a report discussed on 1up, a new study by the Nielsen folks finds that more than half of the 117 Million U.S. online gamers are women. From the article: "The study's announcement release doesn't break down what games they're playing, though we expect sites like pogo.com, which feature a multitude of Flash-based games are rather high on the list. Even more surprising is how many older gamers are playing. While the teenage market dominates in numbers, the study says more than 15 million gamers, about 8%, are actually at least 45 years old."

Firefox Zero-Day Code Execution Hoax? 215

Akon writes, "eWeek is running a follow-up story on the claim by two hackers that Firefox's implementation of JavaScript is critically flawed and could result in code-execution attacks. Turns out this is a possible hoax that was overblown for laughs." Mozilla's engineers say the risk is limited to a denial-of-service issue. From the article: "'As part of our talk we mentioned that there was a previously known Firefox vulnerability that could result in a stack overflow ending up in remote code execution. However, the code we presented did not in fact do this, and I personally have not gotten it to result in code execution, nor do I know of anyone who has... I have not succeeded in making this code do anything more than cause a crash and eat up system resources, and I certainly haven't used it to take over anyone else's computer and execute arbitrary code,' Spiegelmock said." Spiegelmock also stated that the claim that there were 30 other undisclosed exploits was made solely by his co-presenter, Andrew Wbeelsoi.

UK's Biggest Supermarket Challenges Microsoft 356

An anonymous reader writes "The UK's equivalent of Walmart is taking on Microsoft in the software game. Tesco is famous for it's cheap 'value' food, but it's now offering 'value' alternatives to Microsoft's biggest products. From the article: 'Now, when you traverse the aisles in search of baked beans, sanitary towels and two-for-one packs of raw mince (hamburger), you can grab yourself a copy of Tesco Office (£20) — an alternative to the almost de-facto standard that is Microsoft Office — or Tesco Antivirus (£10), which is designed to keep your PC free of malware.' Tesco apparently 'takes one in every eight pounds spent in the UK'."

Citizen Journalism Expert Jay Rosen Answers Your Questions 42

We posted Jay Rosen's Call for Questions on September 25. Here are his answers, into which he's obviously put plenty of time and thought. This is a "must read" for anyone interested in the growing "citizen journalism" movement either as a writer/editor or as an audience member -- and please note that Rosen and many others say, over and over, that one of the major shifts in the news media, especially online, is that there is no longer any need to be one or the other instead of both.

Nokia's Wibree Takes on Bluetooth 120

narramissic writes "Nokia has developed a new, short-range wireless technology, called Wibree, that it says is a lot more power efficient than Bluetooth, which means it could be used in smaller and less costly devices. It can also use the same radio and antenna components as Bluetooth, helping keep costs down further. Wibree could compete with Bluetooth in the workplace as a way to link keyboards and other peripherals to computers. But it could also have more interesting applications for consumers, in devices such as wrist watches, toys and sports equipment." What does this say about Bluetooth, considering Nokia is a member of the Bluetooth Promoters group?

Suit Blames Videogames for Homicides 623

An anonymous reader writes "Family members of three victims of a shooting by a 14-year-old have filed a $600 million lawsuit against the makers of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. From the article: 'The $600 million lawsuit names several companies and Cody Posey, who it alleges played the game ''obsessively'' for several months before he shot his father, stepmother and stepsister in July 2004 ... The plaintiffs accuse the corporate defendants -- Sony Corporation of America, Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. and its subsidiary, Rockstar Games -- of a civil conspiracy, saying they should have foreseen their entertainment would spawn such copycat violence.'" It may or may not be a coincidence that Jack Thompson is the plaintiff's attorney.

Paypal Agrees to Consumer Protections 136

davidwr writes "Paypal settled a suit with Maryland and 27 states. Among other things, they'll conspicuously advertise a contact phone number and staff it 14 hours a day and be much more forthcoming about when they will debit your bank account. For those of you who think Paypal Sucks, well, starting soon it sucks just a little less."

Power Suit Promises Super-Human Strength 230

anthemaniac writes "LiveScience is reporting out of NextFest on a Japanese-built power suit that amplifies the strength of its wearer. The onboard computer is hooked up to sensors that monitor natural movements, then it inflates cuffs to boost lifting power. The Power Assist Suit could be used by hospital workers to move heavy patients, the researchers say."

Computers are useless. They can only give you answers. -- Pablo Picasso

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