akahige writes: Apple co-founder Steve Jobs has lost his battle with cancer. The news has only just broken on Apple's home page, along with this brief announcement: "Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple."
akahige writes: The Patent Examiner blog has the incredible story of Innovatio IP, a patent troll that recently acquired a portfolio of patents that its lawyers (what, you think there are any employees?) appear to believe cover pretty much any WiFi implementation. They've been suing coffee shops, grocery stores, restaurants and hotels first — including Caribou Coffee, Cosi, Panera Bread Co, certain Marriotts, Best Westerns, Comfort Inns and more. The lawyer representing the company, Matthew McAndrews, seems to imply that the company believes the patents cover everyone who has a home WiFi setup, but they don't plan to go after such folks right now, for "strategic" reasons. More info at Tech Dirt.
akahige writes: Copyright and fair use both see quite a bit of discussion here, and a news update sparked an interesting thought to which I have no answer — so I thought it would be interesting to see what the Slashdot pundits have to say... The judge in the Associated Press vs. Shepard Fairey copyright infringement suit over the Obama Hope poster today suggested that the parties come to some sort of settlement rather than dragging the issue into court where the AP, according to the judge, is sure to eventually prevail.
Fairey and his lawyers have been arguing fair use — and that seems to be how the media and copyright watchdogs have been treating the dispute, but there's something more interesting, subtle, and insidious going on that no one has touched on. The Fairey poster is not just the photograph with some Photoshop effects applied to it — which would have certainly brought up all manner of fair use issues. It's been demonstrated that the poster image was traced from the photo (no doubt by hand), but that would actually make it an original creation, even when using something else as a jumping off point. Here's the catch: the photo was not a work of art carefully composed in a studio, it was taken at a public event where anyone standing in roughly the same spot could have taken the exact same shot.
Apparently, what the AP is arguing is that no one has the right to make a artistic representation of anything depicted in a photograph to which they hold the rights. This is not a threat to fair use. It's a threat to free speech, and the willful creation of a memory hole.
akahige writes: An Italian scientist says he has reproduced the Shroud of Turin, a feat that he says proves definitively that the linen some Christians revere as Jesus Christ's burial cloth is a medieval fake. Carbon dating tests by laboratories in Oxford, Zurich and Tucson, Arizona in 1988 caused a sensation by dating it from between 1260 and 1390. Sceptics said it was a hoax, possibly made to attract the profitable medieval pilgrimage business. But scientists have thus far been at a loss to explain how the image was left on the cloth. Garlaschelli reproduced the full-sized shroud using materials and techniques that were available in the middle ages.
akahige writes: In what can only be described as a massive turning of the karmic wheel, Darl McBride (SCO), Robert Brazell (founder of Overstock.com), Stephen Norris (an investment capital guy), and Bryan Cave (former Pelican Equity attorney) are all listed as defendants in a lawsuit filed that alleges they conspired to steal trade secrets from Pelican Equity which they used to establish Talos Partners, a stock lending business. Among the charges are fraud, conspiracy, and violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Groklaw posted about this last night and has since pulled the story, though the PDF of the complaint is still available, and there's a summary on Courthouse News Service.
akahige writes: Judge Kimball has finally ruled in the SCO v. Novell case. While he accepted a number of SCO's arguments — such as UnixWare being the latest version of UNIX — the case boiled down to money. SCO has now gone from "accusing Novell for slander of title and asking for millions in damages, to [having to pay] Novell $2,547,817 plus interest probably." As usual, Groklaw has all the skinny, including the order as text.
akahige writes: In hunting down the trailer for Clive Owen's new movie Shoot 'Em Up, I landed on the official website. There's a section of material that is unavailable to minors, however, instead of the usual remedial JS applet to calculate age based on an inputted birthdate, the studio is using a "fraud prevention" service with a Patriot Act-compliant database to crossreference your name and birthdate to the zip code on record with your government issued ID. So if you don't live in the US, or you're over 17 and don't have a driver's license or government issued ID, or maybe you just don't want to be tracked... you're SOL. Just because you wanted to watch a movie trailer. The movie looks like it could be really cool, but this kind of fascist corporate decision is enough to make me avoid anything with New Line's name on it. Anyone else seeing this sort of insidious behavior creeping into our everyday lives?
akahige writes: Monsters & Critics (and other sites) are reporting that hackers used milw0rm exploits to penetrate Bloomsbury Publishing and obtain a digital copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows a month before it is scheduled to hit bookstores. A hacker known as gabriel posted supposed spoilers to the Full Disclosure list. While the veracity of spoilers (or the breach itself) have not been acknowledged by the publishers, fans have expressed great disgust with the reports. Naturally, this raises serious concerns about network security and the fallibility of those both designing and using it — even moreso when the climax of a multi-billion dollar franchise is on the line.
akahige writes: Variety reports that former MPAA chief Jack Valenti has died at the age of 85 after being discharged from Johns Hopkins yesterday following a stroke. Being one of the official trade publications of the entertainment industry, it's interesting to see how Valenti's achievements and lobbying are presented as "Jack vs. movie pirates, the internet, and China, on behalf of the poor defenseless studios" — as opposed to the myriad of stories that have been covered on/. over the years which portray him as a shill for big business with a complete lack of understanding of the technology involved. Perhaps now that he's gone, the MPAA can begin to edge out from under his shadow.
akahige writes: Microsoft has ordered YouTube to remove a pair of faux training videos produced by, and starring, Ricky Gervais, the creator and star of The Office. Appearing at the British offices of Microsoft as Office boss, David Brent (now acting as a consultant), Gervais offers such pearls as "I don't think Bill Gates made his fortune by spending time in meetings with idiots. I bet no one watching this has ever spoken to him. It would be easier to talk to Osama bin Laden." and "Don't stick up for him just because he's the boss." According to the article: "Gervais and Stephen Merchant... agreed to make the films in 2003... on the condition that they were never made public.... The idea was to show 'how not to do it'." Google Video has them here and here, and you can download them by plugging the links in here.