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+ - Rolf Harris named over sex abuse allegations->

Submitted by TheGift73
TheGift73 (2427520) writes "Via the BBC:

"Rolf Harris has been questioned by police over historical allegations of sexual offences.

The 83-year-old entertainer and artist was interviewed under caution after attending police premises in south London by appointment in November.

On 28 March, Mr Harris, from Berkshire, was arrested and bailed until May.""

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Google

+ - YouTube-MP3 Fights Google With Lawyers and 220K+ Signature Petition->

Submitted by
TheGift73
TheGift73 writes "Last month YouTube-MP3, one of the web’s largest YouTube conversion sites, was hit with legal threats from Google. Shut down in seven days, its lawyers ordered, or face legal repercussions. Now, after commissioning the legal opinions of two prominent German lawyers, the site’s owner is fighting back, and not without support. A Change.org petition which asks Google to allow conversion tools has already accumulated more than 220,000 signatures.

Mid-June, one of the web’s largest YouTube conversion sites was hit with threats from Google. YouTube-MP3, a site with more than 1.3 million daily visitors, was threatened with legal action over its service that converts YouTube videos into audio downloads.

Google’s lawyers gave YouTube-MP3 seven days to comply, but in the meantime the search giant took technical measures to severely restrict its ability to operate. But weeks on it’s clear that YouTube-MP3 owner Philip Matesanz believes he has a cause worth fighting for.

Philip, a 21-year-old applied computer science student, today gave TorrentFreak details of his structured fightback against the US search giant in the hope that Google will give him the fair hearing that up until now he says he has been denied.

“I have to admit that have previously never sought case studies on Google’s legal position. Until now I thought they would understand that they cannot stop their users from creating recordings of a public video and would simply tolerate it,” Philip told TorrentFreak.

In order to precisely understand the situation, Philip recently sought the opinion of lawyers on the legality of YouTube-MP3 in Germany and its functionality in respect of the YouTube Terms of Service, an agreement Google says YouTube-MP3 breached. Philip spoke with two lawyers – Philipp C. Redlich of HÄRTING Rechtsanwälte and well-known IT lawyer Christian Solmecke from the Wilde Beuger Solmecke law firm.

Solmecke sent TorrentFreak a copy of his report this morning. He is absolutely clear on one of the main points, that YouTube-MP3 does not use the YouTube API. As a result “..YouTube’s API Terms of Service do not apply here, as no contract has been created which would allow for the Terms of Service to come into effect.”

So ToS argument aside, what about the inevitable copyright-related questions?

“The infringement of YouTube’s Terms of Service brings with it no legal consequences for YouTube-MP3.org. YouTube-MP3.org is also not at fault so far as Copyright Law is concerned YouTube-MP3.org undertakes no copyright-relevant action.

“Also, liability of the user’s for copyright infringement is not incurred because their actions are covered by the right to make private copies under paragraph 53 sub-paragraph 1 sentence 1 Copyright Law. The demand for YouTube-MP3.org to bring about a cessation of its service is therefore unfounded,” Solmecke writes."

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Advertising

+ - Search expert Danny Sullivan asks FTC to review Google's new paid ads policies->

Submitted by
TheGift73
TheGift73 writes "Search engine marketing guru Danny Sullivan has asked the FTC to review Google’s treatment of paid results within, next to, or near organic search results.

Remember this? It’s from Google’s 2004 founders’ IPO letter:

"Our search results are the best we know how to produce. They are unbiased and objective, and we do not accept payment for them or for inclusion or more frequent updating."

Google very clearly stated that its search results are not for sale. This was a significant statement to make, because in the early 2000s the integrity of search results as an honest and accurate reflection of what the web actually contained was very much at issue.

Google’s IPO letter also contained this sentence (emphasis added):

"We also display advertising, which we work hard to make relevant, and we label it clearly."

“Clear labelling” is what is most at issue right now. Sullivan has been writing about Google’s changing ad inclusion policies for weeks, focusing on Google’s vertical search engines for hotels and flights.

Google’s challenge is that the role of a search engine is changing from just finding information to enabling actions. This is largely a user experience-driven shift: as a user, your goal is to book a flight. A service that allows you to both find the best flight with the best price and book it immediately is often preferable to one that teasingly reveals the best flight but won’t let you book it. For hotels and flights, Google’s services have evolved to enable just that."

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Science

+ - Evidence of a Past Universe? Circular Patterns in the Cosmic Microwave Backgroun->

Submitted by
TheGift73
TheGift73 writes "Stephen Hawking has said: "We should look for evidence of a collision with another universe in our distant Past." Some experts believe that what we call the universe may only be one of many. Is there any conceivable way that we could ever detect and study other universes if they exist? Is it even falsifiable?

This was a key question Hawking was was asked in an interview with the BBC. "Our best bet for a theory of everything is M-theory --an extension of string theory," Hawking continued. "One prediction of M-theory is that there are many different universes, with different values for the physical constants. This might explain why the physical constants we measure seem fine-tuned to the values required for life to exist."
It is no surprise that we observe the physical constants to be finely-tuned. If they weren't, we wouldn't be here to observe them. One way of testing the theory that we may be one of many universes would be to look for features in the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB) which would indicate the collision of another universe with ours in the distant past.

The circular patterns within the cosmic microwave background shown above suggest that space and time did not come into being at the Big Bang but that our universe in fact continually cycles through a series of "aeons," according to University of Oxford theoretical physicist Roger Penrose, who says that data collected by NASA's WMAP satellite supports his idea of "conformal cyclic cosmology".

Penrose made the sensational claim that he had glimpsed a signal originating from before the Big Bang working with Vahe Gurzadyn of the Yerevan Physics Institute in Armenia. Penrose came to this conclusion after analyzing maps from the Wilkinson Anisotropy Probe.

These maps reveal the cosmic microwave background, believed to have been created just 300,000 years after the Big Bang and offering clues to the conditions at that time. Penrose's finding runs directly counter to the widely accepted inflationary model of cosmology which states that the universe started from a point of infinite density known as the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago, expanded extremely rapidly for a fraction of a second and has continued to expand much more slowly ever since, during which time stars, planets and ultimately humans have emerged."

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Piracy

+ - Game of Thrones Crowned Most Pirated TV-Show of the Season->

Submitted by
TheGift73
TheGift73 writes "With nearly 4 million downloads per episode, the HBO hit series Game of Thrones is the most pirated TV-show of the season. Worldwide hype combined with restricted availability are the key ingredients for the staggering number of unauthorized downloads. How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory complete the top three, albeit with significantly fewer downloads than the chart topper.

As predicted, Game of Thrones has the honor of becoming the most downloaded TV-show of the spring season.

While there are many reasons for people to download TV-shows through BitTorrent, airing delays and HBO’s choice not to make it widely available online are two of the top reasons.

Game of Thrones is particularly popular in Australia, where people have to wait a week after the U.S. release comes out. Nevertheless, even in the U.S. hundreds and thousands are downloading the show for free, although many would love to pay for it if HBO offered a standalone HBO GO subscription."

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Piracy

+ - MPAA: Megaupload Users Can Have Their Files Back, But->

Submitted by
TheGift73
TheGift73 writes "Almost half a year has passed since Megaupload’s servers were raided by the U.S. Government, and still there is no agreement on how former users can retrieve their files. Previously the authorities and MPAA have objected against such a mass retrieval, but in a filing at the court today the movie industry changed its tone. The MPAA states that users can have their files back as long as access to copyrighted files is blocked.

In the wake of the January shutdown of Megaupload, many of the site’s legitimate users complained that their personal files had been lost.

Among these users are many people in the U.S. military who used the site to share pictures and videos with family. Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom previously informed TorrentFreak that least 15,634 soldiers had accounts at Megaupload, between them sharing hundreds of thousands of files.

But as of January those files were rendered inaccessible and attempts by the parties involved to come to a solution have failed miserably.

Last month one of Megaupload’s users, represented by the EFF, filed a motion asking the court to facilitate such a user data retrieval. Today, the MPAA filed a response to this motion in which they appear to be more open to the request.

“The MPAA Members are sympathetic to legitimate users who may have relied on Megaupload to store their legitimately acquired or created data, although the Megaupload terms of use clearly disclaimed any guarantee of continued access to uploaded materials,” MPAA’s lawyers write.

But along with this sympathy comes a caveat. The movie studios don’t want users to have access to copyright-infringing files.

“If the Court is willing to consider allowing access for users such as Mr. Goodwin to allow retrieval of files, it is essential that the mechanism include a procedure that ensures that any materials the users access and copy or download are not files that have been illegally uploaded to their accounts.”

In addition, the MPAA doesn’t want any Megaupload people to have access to the servers.

“In no event should any Megaupload defendants or their representatives who have not generally appeared in this proceeding, and who are not subject to the control and supervision of the Court be allowed to access the Mega Servers under such a mechanism designed for the benefit of third-party Megaupload users.”

Previously the MPAA said it was concerned that Megaupload would relaunch in a “foreign jurisdiction” should they regain access to their data.

Considering the above, one has to wonder whether the MPAA is seriously concerned about returning data to Megaupload users. It is practically impossible to separate copyrighted from non-copyrighted files on the servers, and an administrative nightmare in waiting for anyone tasked with enforcing the MPAA’s wishes.

With all the different states and wishes, there appears to be no other solution than for the court to decide what should happen to the data."

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EU

+ - EU Politicians Snub European Commission: Do Not See IP Protection As Key To Inte->

Submitted by
TheGift73
TheGift73 writes "One of the most dishonest aspects of ACTA was its attempt to equate genuinely dangerous products like fake medicines with totally harmless ones like unauthorized digital copies. Fortunately, that's such an absurd equivalence that more and more people have voiced their concerns over it — including the Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament, who cited it as one reason why they would be voting against ACTA:
ACTA wrongly bundles together too many different types of IPR enforcement under the same umbrella, treating physical goods and digital services in the same way. We believe they should be approached in separate sectoral agreements, and following a comprehensive and democratically debated mandate and impact assessment.
EDRI points out that the European Commission has just suffered a major defeat at the hands of the European Parliament thanks to this lazy kind of coupling in its proposed "Internal Security Strategy" (ISS) for Europe:
In a piece of what the Commission appears to have believed to be a piece of masterful political syllogism, it explained in its Internal Security Strategy (adopted at the end of 2010) that dangerous counterfeit goods are a threat for human health. These counterfeiting offences are infringements of intellectual property rights (IPR). "Piracy" is also an infringement of intellectual proprety rights. Consequently, the fight against "counterfeiting and piracy" must be included in the EU's Internal Security Strategy.

This is part of the wider strategy, as seen in ACTA, to treat all IPR as if it were the same, with dangerous medicines being considered as important as unauthorised downloading and vice versa. The obvious problem, as has become obvious in the ACTA, is that treating serious and trivial infringements as if they were of equal importance will inevitably result in either the serious infringement being treated as if it were trivial or vice versa.
But something that might have been simply waved through before ACTA has now been met with skepticism:
The European Parliament, however, far more sensitive now to the questionable approach of the European Commission to intellectual property rights as a result of the ACTA discussions, recognised this crude attempt to push its so far unsuccessful approach to an even higher level of hysteria. Whatever else one can say about downloading a song without authorisation, the number of deaths that it is likely to cause is, we believe, comparatively low.
As a result, and by a huge majority, the members of the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the ISS that includes the following major slap-down for the European Commission: ...it does not appear fully justified or appropriate to take action in the field of the enforcement of intellectual property rights – a matter which is part of a specific in-depth debate – within the framework of the ISS;
That is a noteworthy refusal, and suggests that ACTA's attempt to lump online sharing with counterfeit medicines, and to make them subject to the same severe civil and even criminal sanctions, has backfired badly. It might be too much to take this ISS snub as an indication of what will happen when the European Parliament votes on ACTA later this summer, but it certainly suggests a new-found wariness in this area."

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The Almighty Buck

+ - Mitt Romney Outlines His Stance on Military Spending & Foreign Policy->

Submitted by
TheGift73
TheGift73 writes "In a Memorial Day speech to honour the veterans of America’s wars, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney stated that, ”The world is not safe”, then going on to say that he means ”to commit to preserve America as the strongest military in the world, second to none, with no comparable power anywhere in the world.”

He then pretty well insulted the US’s allies in Europe and it’s much smaller military and unwise financial decisions by saying:

“We have two courses we can follow: One is to follow the pathway of Europe. To shrink our military smaller and smaller to pay for our social needs. And they of course rely on the strength of America and they hope for the best. Were we to follow that kind of course, there would be no one that could stand to protect us.”

Yeh, Europe would fall if it weren’t for the mighty US.

“The other is to commit to preserve America as the strongest military in the world, second to none, with no comparable power anywhere in the world. We choose that course. We choose that course for America not just so that we can win wars, but so we can prevent wars.”

So basically, under Romney’s America, US social needs aren’t important as being the biggest boy in the playground. Look at what two wars have done to the US thus far, and after his previous comments regarding Russia (Russia is America’s ‘number one geopolitical foe), having someone like him in power would make this a very scary world to live in. Mitt Romney won’t be happy until the US are in complete control of the world or have rekindled the fires of The Cold War.

All of this coming from someone who has never served a day in the armed forces, nor has he sent any of his five sons off to war. I’m not saying that because he has never served in the forces is a bad thing because it’s not; but I do find it disturbing that he seems intent on furthering the US war machine hence placing other people’s sons and daughters in future danger. Here’s a heads up Mitt, your country is currently in a massive financial mess and wanting to increase the military budget even further than the estimated $1.030–$1.415 trillion that you already are expected to spend on your 2012 military budget, isn’t going to improve the situation. Neither is insulting your allies."

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Politics

+ - Protester Bursts Into Leveson Inquiry During Tony Blair Evidence->

Submitted by
TheGift73
TheGift73 writes "A protester burst in on former British Prime Minister Tony Blair as he testified at a UK inquiry into media ethics at London's Royal Courts of Justice on Monday. The protester gained entrance to the court through a secure corridor and shouted "This man should be arrested for war crimes!" before being removed by security. Blair addressed the man's accusations before continuing his testimony to Lord Justice Brian Leveson's inquiry."
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China

+ - Stray dog completes 1700km China race->

Submitted by
TheGift73
TheGift73 writes "A stray dog has completed a 1700km journey across China after joining a cycle race from Sichuan province to Tibet.

The dog, nicknamed "Xiaosa", joined the cyclists after one of them gave him food.

He ran with them for 20 days, covering up to 60km a day, and climbing 12 mountains.

Cyclist Xiao Yong started a blog about Xiaosa's adventures, which had attracted around 40,000 fans by the end of the race.

Yong now hopes to adopt Xiaosa."

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The Internet

+ - Reddit Founder Leads Charge for a "Bat Signal for the Internet"->

Submitted by
TheGift73
TheGift73 writes "Beyond the Blackout

The Internet Defense League takes the tactic that killed SOPA & PIPA and turns it into a permanent force for defending the internet, and making it better. Think of it like the internet's Emergency Broadcast System, or its bat signal!

The Plan

When the internet's in danger and we need millions of people to act, the League will ask its members to broadcast an action. (Say, a prominent message asking everyone to call their elected leaders.) With the combined reach of our websites and social networks, we can be massively more effective than any one organization."

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Google

+ - Copyright Holders Punish Themselves With Crazy DMCA Takedowns->

Submitted by
TheGift73
TheGift73 writes "Yesterday Google kindly published a database of takedown requests sent to the search giant on copyright grounds. The DMCA notices are supposed to help protect legitimate sales but entertainment companies sending them are clearly having problems. Witness some of the world’s biggest music and movie companies taking down everything from news articles promoting their latest releases, to their very own marketing content.

During the last 24 hours Google published an extremely enlightening database listing DMCA takedown notices the company receives from rightsholders. Google calls it their ‘Transparency Report’ and its very publication shows why transparency is absolutely needed in these areas.

Quite simply, rightsholders are having problems getting it right. Check out these ridiculous takedowns from some of the world’s leading entertainment companies against sites that have done nothing wrong.

Warner Brothers: Wrath of the Titans
When a movie’s either just about to come out or already doing the rounds, people want to find out about it. Amazingly, Warner and their anti-piracy partners managed to undermine their own marketing campaign for Wrath of the Titans with DMCAs sent to Google.

Through this DMCA takedown Warner requested the removal of the IMDb listing for their own movie.

But it didn’t stop there. Warner also asked Google to delist the official trailer on Apple along with the ones on Hulu, The Guardian and FilmoFilia. In addition, the studio asked for an article on BBC America to be removed along with a listing on a site that helps people find theaters to watch the movie.

IMDb
As can be seen here, Warner issued a takedown for the IMDb listing for its own movie Happy Feet Two. They were in good company since Paramount Pictures, NBC Universal and other rights holders did the same for IMDb information pages covering their content.

Hulu, Crackle
Hulu has also become an unlikely target. In addition to the Warner takedown mentioned above, UFC owner Zuffa also asked Google to delist its own content on the authorized video site.

Sony-owned Crackle was picked on too, when Warner Bros. asked Google to delist an information page about its movie Hall Pass.

Other news and information sites
Bizarrely, news sites are being hit with takedowns too. In addition to the Warner instance mentioned above, the RIAA asked Google to delist a review of the album Own The Night published on The Guardian. The artist behind the album is Lady Antebellum, signed to RIAA-member Capitol Records.

Even more worrying, the RIAA asked Google to delist Last.fm’s entire Electro Pop section because they thought it carried a pirate copy of All About Tonight by Pixie Lott.

Warner also reappeared later on, asking Google to delist a page on news site NME which lists information on the latest movies, which at the time included information on the movie Hall Pass. The same page on NME was targeted on several other occasions, including by anti-piracy company DtecNet on behalf of Lionsgate, who had info on The Hunger Games delisted.

Hollywood Reporter didn’t fare much better either. Sony Pictures asked Google to swing the banhammer against the popular news site after it published an article called “Trent Reznor Releases Six Free Tracks From ‘Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ Soundtrack” and Sony mistook it for a DVDRIP.

But as soon as Sony’s piracy fears on the first ‘Dragon Tattoo’ movie had subsided they were back as strong as ever with the sequel. This time the sinner was Wikipedia who dared to put up an information page on the movie The Girl Who Played With Fire. Luckily Sony were on hand to ask Google to delist the page.

Although just a tiny percentage of the thousands of correct takedowns issued, the above shows that overbroad filters and poorly considered notices can impact businesses who shouldn’t be affected by them, studios and people who merely report on their content alike.

Fortunately, Google says it does not comply with all takedown requests, rejecting a few percent and reinstating others at later dates, including some of the above."

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+ - FBI Seize Leakster.net For Storing Hacked WHMCS Information->

Submitted by
TheGift73
TheGift73 writes "The FBI have seized the domain of http://leakster.net/ due to an investigation to the site storing leaked files from the UGNazi hacks against Comcast and WHMCS earlier this week.

When attempting to connect to leakster.net, users are automatically re-directed to The FBI website instead.

The attacks on Comcast and WHMCS caused a media frenzy due to the credit card details and other records from 500,000 of their customers were leaked. The card information was salted and hashed, however the decryption key was allegedly stored in plain text giving the hackers easy access to the information. To that end, WHMCS released a notice on their blog. The attack only lasted a few hours, but the damage was done. The hackers tricked WHMCS’s own hosting firm into handing over admin credentials to its servers.

After the attack when WHMCS had regained use of their servers on Monday night, they made the following statement:

"Following an initial investigation I can report that what occurred today was the result of a social engineering attack.

The person was able to impersonate myself with our web hosting company, and provide correct answers to their verification questions. And thereby gain access to our client account with the host, and ultimately change the email and then request a mailing of the access details.

This means that there was no actual hacking of our server. They were ultimately given the access details.

This is obviously a terrible situation, and very unfortunate, but rest assured that this was no issue or vulnerability with the WHMCS software itself.

We are immediately reviewing all of our hosting arrangements, and will be migrating to a new setup at the earliest opportunity.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have sent in messages of support, and offers of help. It has clearly been a very stressful time, and I thank everyone both personally and on behalf of WHMCS for their loyalty and support.

The matter is now in the hands of the FBI.""

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Piracy

+ - UK Publisher's Association Accuses British Library Of 'Tawdry Theft' For Support->

Submitted by
TheGift73
TheGift73 writes "The UK Publisher's Association seems to be making sure it appears as out of touch and obsolete as possible these days. This is the same group that, a few months ago, announced that fair use would put a "chokehold on innovation" despite the fact that we've got plenty of experience with fair use in the US, and see no such chokehold due to it. The latest is that the Publisher's Association has apparently decided to go on the offensive (and I mean that in multiple ways), attacking all who call for more reasonable copyright laws — including the British Library — as defending "tawdry theft":
[PA chief executive Richard Mollet] attacked organisations such as the Open Rights Group, research councils and the British Library, who he said all to varying degrees wish to erode copyright, and the tactics of lobby groups, who have "the temerity to appropriate the language of freedom of expression as a cloak for their tawdry theft". He said it was "a grotesque attempt to draw moral equivalence between stealing someone's work and the struggle for political representation".
That's pretty funny, since it appears that he (and many others on his side) are the ones who are actually "appropriating" language in a ridiculous way — such as referring to things like the public domain, open access and fair use as "stealing" or "tawdry theft." The thing is, Mollet is coming down on the wrong side of history. People are growing up today with the internet understand the importance of unfettered communication and openness, and they don't buy the mythical story that locking up works is good for anyone. All the Publishers' Association is doing here is guaranteeing that they're seen as obsolete and out of touch for the entire next generation.

But, really, when you stoop so low as to accuse the British Library of supporting theft, you would think that someone, somewhere, would point out to Mollet how ridiculous he looks. However, it does reveal the publisher's true belief: things like libraries are apparently evil copyright abusers. Incredible."

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