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Submission + - SCOTUS denies Google's request to appeal Oracle API (c) case

Neil_Brown writes: The Supreme Court of the United States has today denied Google's request to appeal against the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit's ruling (PDF) that the structure, sequence and organization of 37 of Oracle's APIs (application program interfaces) was capable of copyright protection. The case is not over, as Google can now seek to argue that, despite the APIs being restricted by copyright, its handling amounts to "fair use".

Professor Pamela Samuelson has previously commented (PDF) on the implications if SCOTUS declined to hear the appeal.

More details at The Verge.

Comment Re:Why are they trying to get sites blocked? (Score 1) 96

Popcorn Time ... no more or less legal than utorrent or any other bittorrent client

The court here came up with a slightly different perspective:

  • - even though the claimants did not argue this, the court commented that the developers of Popcorn Time probably authorise copyright infringement (Paragraph 48)
  • The Popcorn Time application is a means necessarily used for users to infringe the copyright in many senses. It is the means by which they find what content they want, it is the means by which they access and collect the pieces of the content files using the BitTorrent protocol and it is the media player on which the user actually watches the protected work. Infringement of copyright is inevitable when Popcorn Time is used. That is what it is for. Moreover it is not a tool like a twin tape recorder which could in principle be used by a user for any work (infringing or not). The Popcorn Time application accesses content using its index and that index is controlled by the suppliers. Each Popcorn Time application connects to SUI websites for updates of various sorts and by that means the suppliers of the Popcorn Time application retain control over its use. Whether the suppliers could turn off a user's Popcorn Time application is not clear but in any event they determine what appears in the index.

  • - the suppliers of Popcorn Time (as opposed to the code itself, since code can't (yet) commit copyright infringement) had a "common design" with the operators of the websites in question, thereby infringing copyright (Paragraph 55)
  • The issue I have to decide is whether the suppliers of the Popcorn Time applications are jointly liable with the operators of the host websites. In my judgment they are. The Popcorn Time application is the key means which procures and induces the user to access the host website and therefore causes the infringing communications to occur. The suppliers of Popcorn Time plainly know and intend that to be the case. They provide the software and provide the information to keep the indexes up to date. I find that the suppliers of Popcorn Time have a common design with the operators of the host websites to secure the communication to the public of the claimants' protected works, thereby infringing copyright.

Comment Re:Someone going to link one here? (Score 2) 96

does a service that is used to enhance privacy and block spying have enough non-copyright-infringing uses to make a block disproportionate.

Until such a case goes to court, it's anyone's guess, really. Where the service encourages infringement, or "authorises" it, I suspect that it would be easier to make a case for blocking than if it were entirely neutral, even if it was used for entirely lawful activities too.

Comment Re:Someone going to link one here? (Score 2) 96

The VPN provider is based in another European country, so presumably this legislation would be unable to force them to block any sites.

This can perhaps be unpacked a little:

  • Does the UK legislation permit a court to injunct a VPN provider?
  • If so, could an injunction be obtained in the UK against a provider based overseas?
  • Does the UK legislation permit a court to injuct a UK-based ISP (Virgin Media) to block access to a VPN endpoint?

My gut feeling would be that, yes, a VPN provider would probably be a "service provider" for the purposes of s97A. Could an injunction be obtained in the UK against a provider overseas? Not my area of expertise, but I suspect that the copyright industry would attempt to claim that the infringement takes place in the UK, and you connect to the VPN from the UK, so the UK does have jurisdiction. I don't know whether that would succeed and, even an injunction were granted, whether it would be easy to actually enforce it before the courts of whatever country from which your VPN service is provided — although, noting that it's "another European country", that would probably be easier than if it were somewhere remote.

Could VM be ordered to block access to a particular VPN service? In principle, yes, as the use of a VPN or not would seem to be irrelevant to the test:

The High Court ... shall have power to grant an injunction against a service provider, where that service provider has actual knowledge of another person using their service to infringe copyright.

If the "actual knowledge" requirement can be made out in respect of one connection, routing the same data via a different path once it exits the ISP's service would not seem to make a difference. However, an injunction against a VPN provider where there is clear non-infringing use would seem disproportionate — which probably means that a mainstream VPN service, used by corporates, is more likely to survive than a service named "usethisvpntoinfringecopyright" or the like.

But I could be wrong, of course.

Comment Re:Someone going to link one here? (Score 3, Interesting) 96

Facebook - Twitter - Tumblr... and see if the ISPs dare to block these

It would be interesting to see what would happen. Injunctions under s97A can be imposed on "service providers", which is defined very broadly, as " any person providing an information society service", so not just telcos.

My feeling is that the copyright industry would attempt to secure injunctions against Facebook, Twitter and so on, if they had entities in the jurisdiction. Both Twitter and Facebook do, as both have offices in London. However, they are not the entities providing the services, so it would be interesting to see how a court might rule — if the European Court's approach of Google Spain was followed, their proximity to the service provision might be sufficient to bring them within scope...

Comment Re:Libel Lawsuit by CCC would get them to do that (Score 3, Informative) 135

The filters have usually been super-secret

In case it might be of interest, in the UK, on mobile networks at least, the existence of filters is not (and, as far as I know, has never been) secret, and the categories of content which are likely to render a site being blocked are published too. I appreciate that this is, of course, not the same as a "what's blocked and what's not list".)

The UK's infrastructure mobile operators published the "Code of practice for the self-regulation of new forms of content on mobiles" in January 2004, with the filters being implemented about a year later in early 2005. The code was updated in 2009, and is accessible here. The code still references the Independent Mobile Classification Body, but this is no longer the right place: the IMCB's role has been replaced by the British Board of Film Classification, which also administers the age ratings for films for the UK.

The BBFC documents its approach to mobile content classification on its website, here, including setting out the type of content which the BBFC considers suitable for "adults only", the details of mobile operator contact points in the event that a site operator considers that their site is incorrectly classified, and an appeals procedure against decisions taken by the BBFC.

Whilst there is no published "what's blocked and what's not" list, the mobile operators buy third party services for website classification; most, but not all, buy from Symantec. Symantec has a web interface for its "ratings tool" here, which (after a captcha) lets anyone see how Symantec has classified a particular URL. This is complemented by the Open Rights Group tool (here): the ORG tool does a real-time check of whether a site is blocked across mobile and fixed networks, and the Symantec tool indicates the classification given to the site by Symantec.

Comment Re:subscription?! (Score 1) 60

Are there any mature open source projects that are trying to make personal cloud storage?

I suspect it depends on what "mature" means to you, but owncloud has been around for a little while now, and seems to be updated reasonably regularly. LDAP integration is beta, so it might not be suited to a corporate environment but, for home use, it has been fine for a while (2? 3? years now.)

There is a plug-in for it, which allows you to encrypt the files at rest within the server, but this did not work so well for me, as it never seemed to finish — I don't think I have a big archive, as it is only about 5GB, but they are mostly small documents (and so a lot of them), rather than images or video. Sync only via https can be forced as an option, which is great, and it works fine with self-generated certificates, after the usual "warning — do you want to trust this" dialogue on setup.

Since it uses a flat file structure on the server, no reason you could not rsync that to your chosen off-site storage as a cron job if you wanted, else there is a backup module which might do that for you anyway.

Comment Re:Basically (Score 3, Informative) 60

Not quite the same as BitTorrent Sync, but I have used owncloud for a while, as I prefer data to be on my infrastructure where possible. It was easy to set up, although was too slow on a Raspberry Pi to be useable, and I have not had much luck using the default sqlite. Now on a Debian VM with MySQL, and it's running just fine.

I would not make it publicly accessible, though, as it's just not worth the risk to me, so it only syncs when I am travelling after I have connected to the VPN. However, if you didn't have a static IP, a dynamic DNS service should do the job just fine of making it easily addressable externally.

Comment Re:Banana Pi, Cubieboard, ODroid, BeagleBone ... (Score 1) 122

consider this if you want to run OwnCloud

Of those listed, the only one with which I have any experience is the Pi and, for OwnCloud, it was pretty awful. It did install, but owncloud ran incredibly slowly — I tried to tune the PHP installation, but I couldn't make enough of a difference to make it usable. I found much the same with wordpress.

A VM Debian image on a more robust server did the trick...

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