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Businesses

Apple, Google Go On Trial For Wage Fixing On May 27 148

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-your-tickets-now dept.
theodp writes: "PandoDaily's Mark Ames reports that U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh has denied the final attempt by Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe to have the class action lawsuit over hiring collusion practices tossed. The wage fixing trial is slated to begin on May 27. 'It's clearly in the defendants' interests to have this case shut down before more damaging revelations come out,' writes Ames. (Pixar, Intuit and LucasFilm have already settled.) The wage fixing cartel, which allegedly involved dozens of companies and affected one million employees, also reportedly affected innovation. 'One the most interesting misconceptions I've heard about the "Techtopus" conspiracy,' writes Ames of Google's agreement to cancel plans for an engineering center in Paris after Jobs expressed disapproval, 'is that, while these secret deals to fix recruiting were bad (and illegal), they were also needed to protect innovation by keeping teams together while avoiding spiraling costs.' Ames adds, 'In a field as critical and competitive as smartphones, Google's R&D strategy was being dictated, not by the company's board, or by its shareholders, but by a desire not to anger the CEO of a rival company.'"
United Kingdom

UK To Finally Legalize Ripping CDs and DVDs 92

Posted by Soulskill
from the only-20-years-too-late dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news that the U.K. government will finally legalize the copying of data from CDs, DVDs, and other types of media for personal use. This will allow U.K. citizens to legally make backups and digital copies of their media, which has been forbidden by copyright law previously. The changes will go into effect this June. It also grants permission for people to upload the ripped media to a remote host, though sharing of course remains illegal. "The mismatch between the law and public opinion became apparent through a Government-commissioned survey, which found that 85% of consumers already thought that DVD and CD ripping was legal. More than one-third of all consumers admitted that they’d already made copies of media they purchased. Besides the new private copying rights, the upcoming amendments will also broaden people’s fair use rights. For example, people no longer have to ask permission to quote from or parody the work of others, such as a news report or a book, as long as it’s “fair dealing” and the source is recognized."
Businesses

Charter Challenges Comcast/Time Warner Merger 90

Posted by Soulskill
from the until-they-get-bought-by-comcast-too dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Regional ISP Charter Communications is fighting back against the potential merger between Time Warner Cable and Comcast. Charter had been bidding for TWC before Comcast got involved, and now they're urging shareholders to reject the deal. 'From the regulatory perspective, it is difficult to imagine a transaction that could concentrate the industry more than the proposed Comcast merger,' they said in an SEC filing. James Stewart with the NY Times explains what Comcast would look like if the merger continues — when you add the TWC deal to the NBCUniversal pickup a few years ago, Comcast is starting to resemble a global tech company. He also explains why the deal isn't setting off antitrust alarm bells: 'Time Warner Cable operates in 29 states, but thanks to the old system of regional and municipal cable monopolies, Comcast and Time Warner Cable don't compete anywhere. Justice Department merger guidelines define geographical markets, which is why regulators weighing airline mergers examine competition on individual routes, not national market share. ... Under conventional antitrust standards, it's pretty much an open-and-shut case.'"
News

5.1 Earthquake Hits California 114

Posted by Soulskill
from the shake-rattle-and-roll dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A 5.1 earthquake hit Southern California at 9:09PM local time on Friday. It was preceded by a 3.6 earthquake, then followed by 3.4 and 3.6 quakes, as well as 100+ smaller aftershocks. The United States Geological Survey has a map showing the epicenter. There have been no reported deaths, though roughly 50 people have been displaced from their homes. 'The shake caused a rock slide in Carbon Canyon, causing a car to overturn, according to the Brea Police Department. Fullerton police received reports of water main breaks and windows shattering, but primarily had residents calling about burglar alarms being set off by the quake.'"
Microsoft

Microsoft Promises Not To Snoop Through Email 144

Posted by Soulskill
from the we-apologize-for-getting-caught dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft took some much-deserved flack last week for admitting they examined the emails of a Hotmail user who received some leaked Windows 8 code. The company defended their actions at the time. Now, after hearing the backlash, Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith says they will not do so in the future. Instead, they'll refer it to law enforcement. He wrote, 'It's always uncomfortable to listen to criticism. But if one can step back a bit, it's often thought-provoking and even helpful. That was definitely the case for us over the past week. Although our terms of service, like those of others in our industry, allowed us to access lawfully the account in this case, the circumstances raised legitimate questions about the privacy interests of our customers. ...As a company we've participated actively in the public discussions about the proper balance between the privacy rights of citizens and the powers of government. We've advocated that governments should rely on formal legal processes and the rule of law for surveillance activities. While our own search was clearly within our legal rights, it seems apparent that we should apply a similar principle and rely on formal legal processes for our own investigations involving people who we suspect are stealing from us.'"
Government

CISPA's Author Has Another Privacy-Killing Bill To Pass Before He Retires 138

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-while-the-gettin's-good dept.
Daniel_Stuckey writes: "You might remember House Intelligence Chair Mike Rogers, a Republican from Michigan, from his lovely, universally-hated CISPA cybersecurity bill that would have allowed nearly seamless information sharing between companies and the federal government. You might also remember him from his c'est la vie attitude towards civil liberties in general. Well, we've got some good news and some bad news: Rogers announced today that he won't seek re-election and is instead retiring from politics to start a conservative talk radio show on Cumulus. The bad news? He's got at least one terrible, civil liberties-killing bill to try to push through Congress before he goes. Like CISPA, the newly introduced 'FISA Transparency and Modernization Act,' seeks to make it easier for the federal government to get your information from companies."
Businesses

Exxon Mobile CEO Sues To Stop Fracking Near His Texas Ranch 317

Posted by samzenpus
from the hoisting-with-his-own-petard dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Exxon Mobile's CEO Rex Tillerson's day job is to do all he can to protect and nurture the process of hydraulic fracturing—aka 'fracking'—so that his company can continue to rake in billions via the production and sale of natural gas. 'This type of dysfunctional regulation is holding back the American economic recovery, growth, and global competitiveness,' said Tillerson in 2012 of attempts to increase oversight of drilling operations. But now Rick Unger reports at Forbes that Tillerson has joined a lawsuit seeking to shut down a fracking project near his Texas ranch. Why? Because the 160 foot water tower being built next to Tillerson's house that will supply the water to the near-by fracking site, means the arrival of loud trucks, an ugly tower next door, and the general unpleasantness that will interfere with the quality of his life and the real estate value of his sizeable ranch. The water tower is being built by Cross Timbers Water Supply Corp., a nonprofit utility that has supplied water to the region for half a century. Cross Timbers says that it is required by state law to build enough capacity to serve growing demand. In 2011, Bartonville denied Cross Timbers a permit to build the water tower, saying the location was reserved for residences. The water company sued, arguing that it is exempt from municipal zoning because of its status as a public utility. In May 2012, a state district court judge agreed with Cross Timbers and compelled the town to issue a permit. The utility resumed construction as the town appealed the decision. Later that year, the Tillersons and their co-plaintiffs sued Cross Timbers, saying that the company had promised them it wouldn't build a tower near their properties. An Exxon spokesman said Tillerson declined to comment. The company 'has no involvement in the legal matter' and its directors weren't told of Mr. Tillerson's participation, the spokesman said."
Businesses

WhatsApp Founder Used Unchangable Airline Ticket To Pressure Facebook 144

Posted by timothy
from the they-knew-what-they-were-getting-into dept.
McGruber writes "In a post on the Flyertalk website, WhatsApp founder Jan Koum provides another interesting detail about how he steered WhatsApp into a $16 billion deal with Facebook: 'we announced the deal with Facebook on wednesday after the market closed. during the process, we realized there was a chance we might not be able to get the deal wrapped up and signed on wednesday and it could delay. when the risk of the delay became real, i said: "if we don't get it done on wednesday, it probably wont get done. i have tickets on thursday to fly out to Barcelona which i bought with miles and they are not easily refundable or even possible to change. this has to be done by wednesday or else!!!"...and so one of the biggest deals in tech history had to be scheduled around my M&M award ticket."
The Media

Netflix Blinks, Will Pay Comcast For Network Access 520

Posted by timothy
from the who-pays-whom-for-what dept.
We've mentioned several times the tension between giant streaming sources (especially Netflix), and ISPs (especially Comcast, especially given that it may merge with Time-Warner). Now, Marketwatch reports that Netflix has agreed to pay Comcast (amount undisclosed) for continued smooth access to Comcast's network customers, "a landmark agreement that could set a precedent for Netflix's dealings with other broadband providers, people familiar with the situation said." From the article: "In exchange for payment, Netflix will get direct access to Comcast's broadband network, the people said. The multiyear deal comes just 10 days after Comcast agreed to buy Time Warner Cable TWC -0.79% Inc., which if approved would establish Comcast as by far the dominant provider of broadband in the U.S., serving 30 million households" I wonder how soon until ISPs' tiered pricing packages will become indistinguishable from those for cable TV, with grouped together services that vary not just in throughput or quality guarantees, but in what sites you can reach at each service level, or which sports teams are subject to a local blackout order.
Chrome

Chrome 33 Nixes Option To Fall Back To Old 'New Tab' Page 125

Posted by timothy
from the put-it-on-my-ta-hey-waittaminute dept.
An anonymous reader writes "On Friday, Chrome 33 was shipped out the everyone on the stable channel. Among other things, it removes the developer flag to disable the "Instant Extended API", which powers an updated New Tab page. The new New Tab page receieved a large amount of backlash from users, particularly due to strange behavior when Google wasn't set as the default search engine. It also moves the apps section to a separate page and puts the button to reopen recently closed tabs in the Chrome menu. With the option to disable this change removed, there has been tremendous backlash on Google Chrome's official forum. The official suggestion from Google as well as OMG! Chrome is to try some New Tab page changing extensions, such as Replace New Tab, Modern New Tab Page, or iChrome."
Communications

Steve Jobs To Appear On US Postage Stamp 184

Posted by timothy
from the ship-that-turns-on-a-dime dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Steven Musil writes at Cnet that the US Postal Service hopes Steve Jobs can do for it what he once did for Apple as the late Apple co-founder will be featured on a commemorative US postage stamp along with Johnny Carson, Ingrid Bergman, Elvis Presley, and James Brown. The former Apple CEO's stamp is still in the design stages and will be released at some point in 2015. Jobs, who passed away in 2011 after a battle with pancreatic cancer, has also been posthumously honored for his visionary achievements with a special Grammy Merit Award and a Disney Legends Award. Jobs was also inducted into the Bay Area Business Hall of Fame, has had a building at Pixar named after him, and was featured in an exhibit at the US Patent Office Museum. "The profitable first class mail business has been decimated by email over the past decade, thanks in no small part to the contributions of Steve Jobs and Apple," writes Derek Kessler. "It's no small feat to be so impactful that the USPS feels compelled to honor you despite the fact that the work that you've done is dismantling the core of their business.""
The Almighty Buck

Amazon Coins and How the Definition of 'Crypto-Currency' Is Getting Too Loose 115

Posted by samzenpus
from the call-it-money dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Amazon has expanded support for its Amazon Coins from Kindle Fire tablets to Google Android mobile devices.In its press release, Amazon positioned its e-currency as the ultimate in convenience for customers who don't want their credit-card statements riddled with lots of micro-purchases from Amazon's App Store. Expanding the currency's reach is also a potential win for Amazon, which wants to create an end-to-end ecosystem for app developers. But Amazon Coins' existence could alienate the same demographic that made Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies such a hit. The company tethers the Coins to a user identity, and likely keeps significant records on its crypto-currency ecosystem: who buys what when. That concept is anathema to those online denizens who embraced Bitcoin as a way to make purchases without needing to reveal a real-world identity, or deal with a currency tethered to a central repository; genuine crypto-currency can be used to purchase pretty much anything from a purveyor willing to take it, including—in the case of Silk Road and other online bazaars—drugs and weapons. Indeed, Amazon Coins has more to do with a corporate 'currency' like the now-defunct Microsoft Points than an actual crypto-currency like Bitcoin. But that hasn't stopped some people from getting confused about it."

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