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+ - US-EU Trade Agreement Gains Exaggerated, Say 41 Consumer Groups, Economist

Submitted by Glyn Moody
Glyn Moody (946055) writes "The main claims about likely economic gains from concluding the US-EU trade agreement TAFTA/TTIP, billed as a "once-in-a-generation prize", are increasingly under attack. BEUC, representing 41 consumer organizations from 31 European countries, has written a letter to the EU Trade Commissioner responsible for the negotiations, Karel De Gucht, complaining about his "exaggeration of the effects of the TTIP", and "use of unsubstantiated figures regarding the job creation potential". In a blog post entitled "Why Is It So Acceptable to Lie to Promote Trade Deals?", Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, has even harsher words: "Implying that a deal that raises GDP by 0.4 or 0.5 percent 13 years out means 'job-creating opportunities for workers on both continents' is just dishonest. The increment to annual growth is on the order of 0.03 percentage points. Good luck finding that in the data." If the best-case outcome is just 0.03% extra growth per year, is TAFTA/TTIP worth the massive upheavals it will require to both US and EU regulatory systems to achieve that?"

+ - Water Cannons Used Against Peaceful Anti-TTIP Protestors: The Next ACTA Revolt?->

Submitted by Glyn Moody
Glyn Moody (946055) writes "The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), potentially the world's biggest trade agreement, has been negotiated behind closed doors for nearly a year now. Apart from what we learn from a few official releases — and an increasing number of leaks — we still don't really know what is being agreed in the name of 800 million people in the US and EU. When a peaceful anti-TTIP protest was held outside yet another closed-doors meeting in Belgium, the local police sent in the water cannons and arrested nearly 300 people in what seems an extreme over-reaction. Will TTIP turn into the next ACTA revolt?"
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+ - Why are Facebook, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle Backing a Fight Against the Blind?-> 1

Submitted by Glyn Moody
Glyn Moody (946055) writes "The world's blind have been trying to obtain the right to access books in other formats like Braille for 30 years, but the publishers have been fighting hard to stop that happening, claiming that copyright would be harmed if exceptions were made. Last month, the MPAA joined in, seeking to weaken even further the text of a proposed UN treaty on copyright exceptions for persons who are blind or have other disabilities. Now it seems it's the turn of computer companies to attack the blind. A Brussels-based corporate lobby group known as Business Europe has sent a letter to the European Commission opposing the treaty. What's interesting is some of the well-known computer companies in the Business Europe's Corporate Advisory and Support Group: Facebook, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle. So the question is: do they support Business Europe and its attempt to block copyright exceptions for the blind? If they don't, they need to speak up against the move; if they do, we will know how much weight to put on future claims that they are compassionate, caring organisations..."
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China

+ - Pro-ACTA Site Says "Get The Facts"->

Submitted by
Glyn Moody
Glyn Moody writes "We hear a lot about politicians and countries rejecting ACTA, but not so much from the treaty's supporters. Here's a new site, called "ACTA Facts", which invites Europeans to "get the facts" on how wonderful ACTA really is. Judging by its content, this one will be about as successful as Microsoft's "Get the Facts" campaign a few years ago, which tried to dissuade people from using GNU/Linux. For example, a new report linked to by the site claims that ACTA could "boost European output by a total of €50 billion, and create as many as 960,000 new jobs." Unfortunately, that's based on numerous flawed assumptions, including the idea that countries like China and India are going to rush to join ACTA, when the treaty is actually designed as a weapon against them, as they have already noticed."
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Microsoft

+ - Microsoft Tried to Buy Netscape: Suppose They Had?->

Submitted by
Glyn Moody
Glyn Moody writes "In an interview, Brendan Eich, the creator of JavaScript and currently CIO at Mozilla, reveals that Microsoft tried to buy Netscape at the end of 1994. They were turned down because the offer was too low, but imagine if Netscape had accepted: no browser wars, no open Web standards, no Mozilla, no Firefox. How might the Web — and the world — have looked today if that had happened?"
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Open Source

+ - UK: Open Standards Must be RF, not FRAND->

Submitted by
Glyn Moody
Glyn Moody writes "There has been a big battle in the UK over whether open standards should be Restriction/Royalty-Free (RF) or Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND). That matters, because open source can't in general implement FRAND standards (there are legal hacks that can be applied in a few special circumstances.) First it seemed that RF had the upper hand [.pdf], but later comments from officials cast doubt on that. Now we have the definitive answer from the UK Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude: "The Government require that their ICT should be built on open standards, wherever possible, to improve competition and avoid lock-in to a particular technology or supplier. Fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) specifications may present some difficulties for the open source software development model in terms of patents and royalties. To deliver a level playing field for both open source and proprietary software, open standards are needed." Will UK government use of open source finally take off, or is this a hollow victory?"
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Linux

+ - Linus' Other Great Gift to the World->

Submitted by
Glyn Moody
Glyn Moody writes "Linus is widely recognised for initiating two major developments: Linux and Git (it's an interesting discussion which of the two in the long term will be regarded as more important). But there's a third, which people tend to overlook: he also pioneered the key ideas behind what later came to be called open innovation. As more and more companies open up to embrace customer-generated ideas, and the idea spreads to other areas like open government, perhaps it's time to add open innovation to the list of Linus' achievements."
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Music

+ - Will Apple Redeem Piracy? ->

Submitted by
Glyn Moody
Glyn Moody writes "As rumours about Apple's imminent cloud-based music service "iCloud" continue to swirl, here's an interesting possibility: "Users will be able to store their entire music collections in the cloud—even if they obtained some songs illegally." That could be a real breakthrough, because it would mean that the recorded music industry would finally have a way to make money from piracy, which becomes a kind of marketing for services like Apple's. The War on Sharing might not be over, but could we at least see a ceasefire?"
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Piracy

+ - BSA 2010 Piracy Report: Big Numbers, Big Flaws->

Submitted by
Glyn Moody
Glyn Moody writes "The annual BSA report on software piracy is out, with even bigger numbers: "The commercial value of software piracy grew 14 percent globally last year to a record total of $58.8 billion." Yes, they're using the old "commercial value" trick: "The commercial value of pirated software is the value of unlicensed software installed in a given year, as if it had been sold in the market." Except, of course, that the main reason users in developing countries — the main focus of the report — resort to piracy is because they can't afford Western-style pricing. It's also fun to see the BSA trotting out the old "reducing piracy would generate lots of new jobs and taxes for local governments" — except that it doesn't, because the money not paid for software licences does not disappear, but is just spent elsewhere in the local economy."
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+ - Portugal to Make CC Licences Illegal? -> 2

Submitted by
Glyn Moody
Glyn Moody writes "A proposal for a worrying new law is being discussed in Portugal that seems to make Creative Commons licences illegal: "The equitable compensation of authors, artists, interpreters or executives is inalienable and non-renunciable, being null any other contractual clause in contrary." The view here seems to be that of Bill Gates when he asked: "Who can afford to do professional work for nothing?" But where would this leave CC-licensed projects like Wikipedia in Portugal?"
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Censorship

+ - The Great Firewall of Europe->

Submitted by
Glyn Moody
Glyn Moody writes "The Presidency of the EU's Law Enforcement Working Party wants to create [pdf] "a single secure European cyberspace with a certain "virtual Schengen border" and "virtual access points" whereby the Internet Service Providers (ISP) would block illicit contents on the basis of the EU "black-list"." Leaving aside the fact that this won't work for lots of reasons, how seriously can you take anyone talking about "cyberspace" in 2011?"
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Apple

+ - iPad-like Tablet from 1994 - Should Apple Sue?->

Submitted by
Glyn Moody
Glyn Moody writes "Back in 1994, Knight Ridder put together an amazingly prescient video about a tablet device for reading the news. Interestingly, it is rectangular, with rounded corners and has a black border — all elements that Apple is claiming Samsung’s Galaxy Tab "slavishly copies" from the iPad. Perhaps Apple should sue Knight Ridder retrospectively..."
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+ - How Can Your Content Live After You Die? -> 1

Submitted by
Glyn Moody
Glyn Moody writes "We live in an age of unparalleled online creativity. Most of that user-generated content (UGC) is being produced by young-ish people: the last thing they want to think about is their own mortality. But here's the problem: that means few are thinking about what happens to all their content when they die. Who's going to look after it? Your heirs? Companies offering "digital eternity"? National repositories? Or will the risk of storing "infringing" material — and the threat of crippling lawsuits — ensure that no one dares do anything, and we lose most of this unparalleled global explosion of human creativity for ever?"
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Google

+ - Why Google Should Buy the Music Industry ->

Submitted by
Glyn Moody
Glyn Moody writes "According to this story about Google's attempts to launch its own music service, "the search giant is “disgusted” with the labels, so much so that they are seriously considering following Amazon’s lead and launching their music could service without label licenses." So here's a simple solution: Google should just buy the major record labels — all of them. It could afford them — people tend to forget that the music industry is actually relatively small in economic terms, but wields a disproportionate influence with policy makers. Buying them would solve that problem too."
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Linux

+ - Putin Orders Russian Move to GNU/Linux -> 2

Submitted by Glyn Moody
Glyn Moody (946055) writes "Vladimir Putin has signed an order calling for Russian federal authorities to move to GNU/Linux, and for the creation of "a single repository of free software used in the federal bodies of executive power". There have been a number of Russian projects to roll out free software, notably in the educational sector, but none so far has really taken off. With the backing of Putin, could this be the breakthrough free software has been waiting for?"
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