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DoJ Defends $1.92 Million RIAA Verdict 386

Death Metal points out a CNet report saying that the Justice Department has come out in favor of the $1.92 million verdict awarded to the RIAA in the Jammie Thomas-Rasset case. Their support came in the form of a legal brief filed on Friday, which notes, "Congress took into account the need to deter the millions of users of new media from infringing copyrights in an environment where many violators believe that they will go unnoticed." It also says, "The Copyright Act's statutory damages provision serves both to compensate and deter. Congress established a scheme to allow copyright holders to elect to receive statutory damages for copyright infringement instead of actual damages and profits because of the difficulty of calculating and proving actual damages."

Universities Patenting More Student Ideas 383

theodp writes "Working as a NASA intern, grad student Erez Lieberman had a eureka moment, resulting in an algorithm that detects whether a person is standing correctly or is off balance. Unfortunately, MIT liked it so much they decided to patent it. Seeking permission to use his own idea for his iShoe startup, which develops products like insoles to address the problems of seniors, Lieberman was told no problem — as long as he promised a hefty royalty and forked over a $75,000 upfront payment. Whether or not students are aware of it, the NYTimes reports that most universities own inventions created by students that were developed using a 'significant' amount of schools resources. Colleges and universities once obtained fewer than 250 patents a year, but that was before the Bayh-Dole Act gave them ownership of inventions developed through federally financed research. Now they acquire about 3,000 a year, and in 2006 licensing fees and equity in spinoff companies totaled at least $45B — research powerhouses like Stanford and NYU pocketed $61M and $157M, respectively."
The Courts

Oregon Judge Says RIAA Made 'Honest Mistake,' Allows Subpoena 175

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In Arista v. Does 1-17, the RIAA's case targeting students at the University of Oregon, the Oregon Attorney General's motion to quash the RIAA's subpoena — pending for about a year — has reached a perplexing conclusion. The Court agreed with the University that the subpoena, as worded, imposed an undue burden on the University by requiring it to produce 'sufficient information to identify alleged infringers,' which would have required the University to 'conduct an investigation,' but then allowed the RIAA to subpoena the identities of 'persons associated by dorm room occupancy or username with the 17 IP addresses listed' even though those people may be completely innocent. In his 8-page decision (PDF), the Judge also 'presumed' the RIAA lawyers' misrepresentations were an 'honest mistake,' made no reference at all to the fact, pointed out by the Attorney General, that the RIAA investigators (Safenet, formerly MediaSentry) were not licensed, rejected all of the AG's privacy arguments under both state and federal law, and rejected the AG's request for discovery into the RIAA's investigative tactics."

Linux Not Supported For Democratic Convention Video 794

bucketoftruth writes "If you browse to the Democratic Convention website and attempt to check out any of their upcoming streams, you bump into the following limitation: 'We're sorry, but the Democratic Convention video web site isn't compatible with your operating system and/or browser. Please try again on a computer with the following Compatible operating systems: Windows XP SP2, Windows Vista, or a Mac with Tiger (OS 10.4) or Leopard (OS 10.5). Compatible browsers: Internet Explorer (version 6 or later), Firefox (version 2), or, if you are on a Mac, Safari (version 3.1) also works.'"
The Almighty Buck

EU Proposes Retroactive Copyright Extension 514

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevy has unveiled a plan to retroactively extend musical copyrights by 45 years, which would make EU musical copyrights last 95 years total. Why? They're worried that musicians won't continue to collect royalties when they retire and this will give them an additional 45 years during which they won't have to produce any new music. Perhaps the only good point is that the retroactive extensions won't take effect for any works which aren't marketed in the first year after the extension. Additionally, while there are many non-musical retirees wishing they could get paid for 95 years after they finish working, McCreevy has not announced any new plans to help them."

ISO Recommends Denying OOXML Appeals 203

An anonymous reader passes along word that ISO has responded to the four appeals filed against the approval of OOXML as a standard. To no one's surprise, ISO says that there was nothing wrong with the process. Groklaw's coverage is (as usual) the most comprehensive. Andy Updegrove summarizes ISO's position this way: "1. All judgments made during the course of the process were appropriately made under the applicable Directives. 2. The fact that the BRM voted on all proposed resolutions in some fashion satisfies the requirements of the Directives. 3. The fact that a sufficient percentage of National Bodies (NBs) ultimately voted to approve DIS 29500 ratifies the process and any flaws in that process. 4. Many objections, regardless of their merits, are irrelevant to the appeals process."

Ecma Receives 3,522 Comments on Open XML Standards 182

Bergkamp10 writes "Microsoft's Office Open XML document format attracted 3,522 comments from the national standards bodies that participated last summer in balloting that has so far derailed the effort to certify the format as an ISO standard. Brian Jones, an Office program manager at Microsoft and the sole Microsoft employee on the Ecma Technical Committee, revealed the total number of comments that had been received in a blog posting this week. Ecma International is a Swiss standards body that already ratified Open XML and is guiding the format through the ISO. According to Jones many of the 3,500-plus comments, consisting mainly of objections and suggested changes to Ecma's standards proposal, overlap with one another. "When you group them into similar buckets, it narrows down pretty quickly into a more manageable list," he said. Still, he apparently acknowledged that the number of comments was "still pretty impressive." Open XML just missed out on a fast-track to approval as an ISO standard in the initial balloting that concluded in early September. Ecma's proposal won a majority of the votes that were cast but not enough to meet the requirements for approval. Ecma has until January 14 to provide responses and rebuttals to the comments submitted by the national standards bodies. The issues raised will then be debated at a so-called ballot resolution meeting that ISO will hold starting February 25, after which the various national standards bodies will have a chance to amend their vote — the last chance for Open XML to be approved."

Microsoft Denies Sabotaging Mandriva Linux PC Deal 161

An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft has denied sabotaging Mandriva's deal with the Nigerian government to supply Classmate PCs from Intel along with a customized Mandriva Linux operating system. 'From Microsoft's perspective it's a matter of choice. In the statement sent to, Microsoft said it believes individuals, governments and other organizations should be free to choose the software and other technologies that best meet their needs. "We are seeing strong market demand for Windows on low-cost devices to help governments in the areas of education, local innovation, and jobs and opportunity," the Microsoft spokesperson said in the statement.' The company's denial is in response to Mandriva's CEO Francois Bancilhon expression of disappointment with Microsoft."

Format Standards Committee "Grinds To a Halt" 271

Andy Updegrove writes "Microsoft's OOXML did not get enough votes to be approved the first time around in ISO/IEC — notwithstanding the fact that many countries joined the Document Format and Languages committee in the months before voting closed, almost all of them voting to approve OOXML. Unfortunately, many of these countries also traded up to 'P' level membership at the last minute to gain more influence. Now the collateral damage is setting in. At least 50% of P members must vote (up, down, or abstain) on every standard at each ballot — and none of the new members are bothering to vote, despite repeated pleas from the committee chair. Not a single ballot has passed since the OOXML vote closed. In the chairman's words, the committee has 'ground to a halt.' Sad to say, there's no end in sight for this (formerly) very busy and influential standards committee."

Never say you know a man until you have divided an inheritance with him.