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Comment: You keep using that word.... (Score 1) 264

I'm going to go out on a limb and point out that neither Samsung, Apple, nor Google would give a rip if they DID get the rep for slowing down obsolete stuff intentionally. Each one has a long history of engaging in planned obsolescence activities and spiking performance metrics anyways, so doing a combination of the two isn't exactly something to be avoided by them. As for liabiliy? They've gotten away with Planned Obsolescence unscathed so far, what is this liabiliy you speak of?

Comment: Don't get too happy (Score 1) 77

by cpt kangarooski (#47537873) Attached to: Compromise Struck On Cellphone Unlocking Bill

This bill actually does very little. The DMCA is written very broadly, and has been commonly interpreted as to prohibit cell phone unlocking. Because Congress, in the 90s, when they enacted the stupid thing, was aware that the DMCA could go too far, but didn't want to be cautious or have to keep reexamining the law itself, they gave authority to the Library of Congress to add exceptions to it in specific cases. The process for these exceptions is that every three years, anyone who wants an exception has to plead their case. If found worthy, they get an exception. But the exception only lasts until the next rule making session, three years hence. Then it has to be reargued from scratch or lost.

Two rule making sessions ago, the Library of Congress found that cellphone unlocking was worthy of an exception. But in the most recent rule making session, they did not find it worthy, and the exception was lost; it went back to its default state of being illegal.

This law could have amended the DMCA to permanently allow cellphone unlocking. Or it could've directed the Library of Congress to always find that cellphone unlocking is allowed. But it does neither of these.

Instead it only reinstates the rule from two sessions ago for the remainder of the current session. Next year it will have to be argued again, from scratch, to the Library of Congress, or lost, again. And even if argued, it can be rejected, again.

This is less than useless. It's only a temporary patch, it doesn't even have an iota of long term effect (the rules don't take precedent into account, and this doesn't change it), and we've wasted all this effort getting it instead of something worthwhile.

Comment: Re:Well, sort of. (Score 1) 109

by waddgodd (#47386043) Attached to: Can the NSA Really Track You Through Power Lines?

Wow, lots of flapping e-peens here. Please note I specificaly mentioned at the SUBSTATION for a reason. Anyone that thinks that a substation has anything at all to do with generation, please go away: while there CAN be generators at substations, if one's in use at the substation, the chances of there being enough current to do a TV interview anywhere within the substation's reach are vanishingly small, they typically call times when substation generators are active "brownouts". One of the bits of equipment at a substation, however, IS an isolation transformer, specificaly designed so asynchronicities induced downstream of the substation don't propagate back up the line to the generators and blow them out, even if an embedded signal had to be such a gross change that it affected the base 60 Hz signal (if you're dealing with 50 Hz power, again, go away, because all 50 Hz operators also have their own intelligence agencies that are decidedly NOT the NSA). Typically, you won't see even a need for that with embedded signals that are extreme-order harmonics of the base 60 Hz (6 kHz is an off-the-cuff example), which is what the entire point of an embedded signal IS: a signal that doesn't effect the existing signal in any negative fashion (you're still going to want the embedded signal to not travel upstream though, so you can actually use differing embeded signals for different substations, or the whole "locate the mook" thing falls prety flat, you already know to within a 20-block area if you can figure out which specific substation to inject the signal to)

I should apologize for one bit here: I really should have inserted a paragraph break before the "As for the hum..", apparently many of the flapping e-peens thought that TEMPEST was somehow interconnected with the inserted signal (it's not). There's an entire career path in the US Navy dedicated to the fact that individual electronic devices react in increasingly individual ways to data (EWs, if you must know) as they get older, and with multiple devices in the area to get signatures from, you can easily determine which devices are being used and from that and a general knowledge of where the devices may be, you can get a location on them. In fact, NCIS ACTUALLY PORTRAYS AN EW SPECIALIST, it's literally on your TV every week. So while TEMPEST can't really be used in real-time (well, it can, but a SLQ-25 isn't really manportable), it can certainly tell you if you have the right spot

Comment: Well, sort of. (Score 1, Informative) 109

by waddgodd (#47380625) Attached to: Can the NSA Really Track You Through Power Lines?

Tracking someone through landlines has been a Thing for many years now. Ever hear of a "lock and trace"? You can SORT OF do the same thing for power, by embedding a signal in a given substation. It's nontrivial, and it's horribly complicated, but it IS feasable. As for the "hum" thing, that's just standard TEMPEST, been a Thing now for going on thirty years, where you can fingerprint electronics via EM signatures and you can read those EM signatures via physical phenomena including audio hums and induced currents in surrounding circuits. This is why the LASER mike was actually developed, not for actual sounds (standard shotgun mikes do wonders there, because the glass reresonates sound just fine), but to get a good frequency signature on TEMPEST EM leakage. So, in sum, they're not specifically taking a van out and following lines to see what location an interviewee is at, but a lot of that is that they don't really need to because they can get all the information they need through older technologies that approximate the capabilities

Comment: Re:The key distinction in the ruling (Score 1) 484

by cpt kangarooski (#47316847) Attached to: Supreme Court Rules Against Aereo Streaming Service

So basically, if they just shift from LIVE to a TIME DELAYED model, they could go right on transmitting and not be considered "performing" under the current act.

As J. Scalia points out, the 'standard' the Court has chosen is unclear. Maybe that would be legal, maybe it wouldn't be. We'll never know until either 1) Congress amends the law to be clear about that; 2) Someone tries it and the Court reverses this opinion in a useful way; or 3) Someone tries it and the Court rules squarely on that in light of this opinion.

One thing is for sure: Only someone with lots of resources and a lot of daring will even attempt to find out by actually trying it.

Comment: The key distinction in the ruling (Score 5, Informative) 484

by cpt kangarooski (#47315793) Attached to: Supreme Court Rules Against Aereo Streaming Service

This case boiled down to one major issue: Whether the allegedly infringing conduct in this case was engaged in by either Aereo, or by its users. Don't get hung up on the public performance v. private performance issue; it was really certain that if Aereo was liable, that the performance was public; if it were the users, it would be private.

J. Scalia's dissent does a good job of explaining the issue:

There are two types of liability for copyright infringement: direct and secondary. As its name suggests, the former applies when an actor personally engages in infringing conduct. Secondary liability, by contrast, is a means of holding defendants responsible for infringement by third parties, even when the defendants âoehave not themselves engaged in the infringing activity.â It applies when a defendant âoeintentionally induc[es] or encourag[es]â infringing acts by others or profits from such acts âoewhile declining to exer- cise a right to stop or limit [them].â

Most suits against equipment manufacturers and service providers involve secondary-liability claims. For example, when movie studios sued to block the sale of Sonyâ(TM)s Betamax videocassette recorder (VCR), they argued that Sony was liable because its customers were making unauthorized copies. Record labels and movie studios relied on a similar theory when they sued Grokster and StreamCast, two providers of peer-to-peer file-sharing software.

This suit, or rather the portion of it before us here, is fundamentally different. The Networks claim that Aereo directly infringes their public-performance right. Accordingly, the Networks must prove that Aereo âoeperform[s]â copyrighted works, Â106(4), when its subscribers log in, select a channel, and push the âoewatchâ button. That process undoubtedly results in a performance; the question is who does the performing. If Aereoâ(TM)s subscribers perform but Aereo does not, the claim necessarily fails.
The Networksâ(TM) claim is governed by a simple but profoundly important rule: A defendant may be held directly liable only if it has engaged in volitional conduct that violates the Act. ...

A comparison between copy shops and video-on-demand services illustrates the point. A copy shop rents out photocopiers on a per-use basis. One customer might copy his 10-year-oldâ(TM)s drawingsâ"a perfectly lawful thing to doâ" while another might duplicate a famous artistâ(TM)s copyrighted photographsâ"a use clearly prohibited by Â106(1). Either way, the customer chooses the content and activates the copying function; the photocopier does nothing except in response to the customerâ(TM)s commands. Because the shop plays no role in selecting the content, it cannot be held directly liable when a customer makes an infringing copy.

Video-on-demand services, like photocopiers, respond automatically to user input, but they differ in one crucial respect: They choose the content. When a user signs in to Netflix, for example, âoethousands of . . . movies [and] TV episodesâ carefully curated by Netflix are âoeavailable to watch instantly.â That selection and arrangement by the service provider constitutes a volitional act directed to specific copyrighted works and thus serves as a basis for direct liability.

The distinction between direct and secondary liability would collapse if there were not a clear rule for determining whether the defendant committed the infringing act. The volitional-conduct requirement supplies that rule; its purpose is not to excuse defendants from accountability, but to channel the claims against them into the correct analytical track. Thus, in the example given above, the fact that the copy shop does not choose the content simply means that its culpability will be assessed using secondary-liability rules rather than direct-liability rules.

So which is Aereo: the copy shop or the video-on-demand service? In truth, it is neither. Rather, it is akin to a copy shop that provides its patrons with a library card. Aereo offers access to an automated system consisting of routers, servers, transcoders, and dime-sized antennae. Like a photocopier or VCR, that system lies dormant until a subscriber activates it. When a subscriber selects a pro- gram, Aereoâ(TM)s system picks up the relevant broadcast signal, translates its audio and video components into digital data, stores the data in a user-specific file, and transmits that fileâ(TM)s contents to the subscriber via the Internetâ"at which point the subscriberâ(TM)s laptop, tablet, or other device displays the broadcast just as an ordinary television would. ...

The only question is whether those performances are the product of Aereoâ(TM)s volitional conduct.

They are not. Unlike video-on-demand services, Aereo does not provide a prearranged assortment of movies and television shows. Rather, it assigns each subscriber an antenna thatâ"like a library cardâ"can be used to obtain whatever broadcasts are freely available. Some of those broadcasts are copyrighted; others are in the public do- main. The key point is that subscribers call all the shots: Aereoâ(TM)s automated system does not relay any program, copyrighted or not, until a subscriber selects the program and tells Aereo to relay it. Aereoâ(TM)s operation of that system is a volitional act and a but-for cause of the resulting performances, but, as in the case of the copy shop, that degree of involvement is not enough for direct liability.

In sum, Aereo does not âoeperformâ for the sole and simple reason that it does not make the choice of content. And because Aereo does not perform, it cannot be held directly liable for infringing the Networksâ(TM) public-performance right.

However, that's not the decision that the Court reached. Instead, J. Scalia describes the Court's opinion as:

The Courtâ(TM)s conclusion that Aereo performs boils down to the following syllogism: (1) Congress amended the Act to overrule our decisions holding that cable systems do not perform when they retransmit over-the-air broadcasts;4 (2) Aereo looks a lot like a cable system; therefore (3) Aereo performs. ...

Making matters worse, the Court provides no criteria for determining when its cable-TV-lookalike rule applies. Must a defendant offer access to live television to qualify? If similarity to cable-television service is the measure, then the answer must be yes. But consider the implications of that answer: Aereo would be free to do exactly what it is doing right now so long as it built mandatory time shifting into its âoewatchâ function. Aereo would not be providing live television if it made subscribers wait to tune in until after a showâ(TM)s live broadcast ended. A subscriber could watch the 7 p.m. airing of a 1-hour program any time after 8 p.m. Assuming the Court does not intend to adopt such a do-nothing rule (though it very well may), there must be some other means of identifying who is and is not subject to its guilt-by-resemblance regime.

Two other criteria come to mind. One would cover any automated service that captures and stores live television broadcasts at a userâ(TM)s direction. That canâ(TM)t be right, since it is exactly what remote storage digital video recorders (RSâ"DVRs) do, and the Court insists that its âoelimited holdingâ does not decide the fate of those devices. The other potential benchmark is the one offered by the Gov- ernment: The cable-TV-lookalike rule embraces any entity that âoeoperates an integrated system, substantially dependent on physical equipment that is used in common by [its] subscribers.â The Court sensibly avoids that approach because it would sweep in Internet service providers and a host of other entities that quite obviously do not perform.
That leaves as the criterion of cable-TV-resemblance nothing but thâ(TM)olâ(TM) totality-of-the-circumstances test (which is not a test at all but merely assertion of an intent to perform test-free, ad hoc, case-by-case evaluation). It will take years, perhaps decades, to determine which automated systems now in existence are governed by the traditional volitional-conduct test and which get the Aereo treatment. (And automated systems now in contemplation will have to take their chances.)

The Court's opinion states that it doesn't have an effect beyond Aereo and Aereo-like services:

Aereo and many of its supporting amici argue that to apply the Transmit Clause to Aereoâ(TM)s conduct will impose copyright liability on other technologies, including new technologies, that Congress could not possibly have wanted to reach. We agree that Congress, while intending the Transmit Clause to apply broadly to cable companies and their equivalents, did not intend to discourage or to control the emergence or use of different kinds of technologies. But we do not believe that our limited holding today will have that effect.

For one thing, the history of cable broadcast transmis- sions that led to the enactment of the Transmit Clause informs our conclusion that Aereo âoeperform[s],â but it does not determine whether different kinds of providers in different contexts also âoeperform.â For another, an entity only transmits a performance when it communicates contemporaneously perceptible images and sounds of a work. ...

And we have not considered whether the public performance right is infringed when the user of a service pays primarily for something other than the transmission of copyrighted works, such as the remote storage of content.

But, as J. Scalia points out:

The Court vows that its ruling will not affect cloud-storage providers and cable- television systems, but it cannot deliver on that promise given the imprecision of its result-driven rule.

Comment: Where's the guns to their heads? (Score 1) 281

by waddgodd (#47243751) Attached to: Bitcoin Security Endangered By Powerful Mining Pool

One would assume that the thousands of other miners, if it was really that important to them, could easily step up their collective games and provide more hashing power than ghash can, even if ghash is actually claiming their entire rented-out customer base as their own (a rough equivalence of this would be if, say, Hertz was claimed to control more than half the roads because the cars on it are Hertz rent-a-cars).

Programmers do it bit by bit.

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