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Government

Ireland's Blasphemy Law Goes Into Effect 845

stereoroid writes "As of January 1, it is a crime in Ireland to commit Blasphemy. The law was changed in July 2009 to fill a gap in the Irish Constitution, which states that it is a crime but does not define what it is, an omission highlighted in a Supreme Court decision in 1999. To mark the occasion, Atheist Ireland published a list of 25 blasphemous quotations on the blasphemy.ie website, from such controversial figures as Bjork, Frank Zappa, Richard Dawkins, Randy Newman, and Pope Benedict XVI. (The last-mentioned was quoting a 14th Century Byzantine Emperor, but that's no excuse.)"
Nintendo

Nintendo Shuts Down Fan-Made Zelda Movie 222

Andorin writes "An independently filmed adaptation of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, called The Hero Of Time, has been taken offline by Nintendo as of the end of December. The film's producers write: 'We came to an agreement with Nintendo earlier this month to stop distributing the film... We understand Nintendo's right to protect its characters and trademarks and understand how in order to keep their property unspoiled by fan's interpretation of the franchise, Nintendo needs to protect itself — even from fan-works with good intentions.' Filming for the feature-length, non-profit film began in August 2004 and the movie was completed in 2008. It premiered in various theaters worldwide, including in New York and Los Angeles, and then became available online in the middle of December, before it was targeted by Nintendo's legal team. As both an avid Zelda fan and an appreciator of independent works, I was extremely disappointed in Nintendo's strong-arming of a noncommercial adaptation to the Game of the Year for 1999."
Books

DRM and the Destruction of the Book 419

Hugh Pickens writes "EFF reports that Cory Doctorow spoke to a crowd of about a hundred librarians, educators, publishers, authors, and students at the National Reading Summit on How to Destroy the Book and said that 'anyone who claims that readers can’t and won’t and shouldn’t own their books are bent on the destruction of the book, the destruction of publishing, and the destruction of authorship itself.' Doctorow says that for centuries, copyright has acknowledged that sacred connection between readers and their books and that when you own a book 'it’s yours to give away, yours to keep, yours to license or to borrow, to inherit or to be included in your safe for your children' and that 'the most important part of the experience of a book is knowing that it can be owned.'"
Image

USPTO Awards LOL Patent To IBM 274

theodp writes "Among the last batch of patents granted in 2009 was one for IBM's Resolution of Abbreviated Text in an Electronic Communications System. The invention of four IBMers addresses the hitherto unsolvable problem of translating abbreviations to their full meaning — e.g., 'IMHO' means 'In My Humble Opinion' — and vice versa. From the patent: 'One particularly useful application of the invention is to interpret the meaning of shorthand terms ... For example, one database may define the shorthand term "LOL" to mean "laughing out loud."' USPTO records indicate the patent filing was made more than a year after Big Blue called on the industry to stop what it called 'bad behavior' by companies who seek patents for unoriginal work. Yet another example of what USPTO Chief David Kappos called IBM's apparent schizophrenia on patent policy back when he managed Big Blue's IP portfolio."
Earth

Geoengineering a Snow-Free Winter Fails In Moscow 202

dinoyum writes "Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov's promise of a winter without snow in the capital city has fallen short. While cloud seeding is not a new concept for Russia, often used on major holidays, geoengineering snow has never been done to that magnitude. Carrying off the $6 million procedure required jets to spray silver iodide into coming clouds, ensuring that all precipitation fell before it reached the capital. However a combination of disrupted radar, wind control, and faulty weathermen have been blamed by Luzhkov for his failed attempt at playing with mother nature. For now, Russia can go back to enjoying snow."
Censorship

Canadian Censorship Takes Down 4500 Sites 227

uncadonna writes "According to activist group The Yes Men, the government of Canada has shut down two parody websites criticizing Canada's poor environmental policy. The article goes on to claim that 'In response to Environment Canada's request, Serverloft immediately turned off a whole block of IP addresses, knocking out more than 4500 websites that had nothing to do with the parody sites or the activists who created them. Serverloft was shown no warrant, and never called the web hosting company about the shutdown.'"
Censorship

Court Orders Shutdown of H-1B Critics' Websites 605

theodp writes "Computerworld reports that a NJ Superior Court Judge ordered hosting firms to shut down three Web sites that oppose the H-1B visa program and seeks information about the identity of anonymous posters. GoDaddy, Network Solutions, Comcast and DiscountASP.Net were ordered to disable ITgrunt.com, Endh1b.com, and Guestworkerfraud.com. Facebook Inc. was also ordered to disable ITgrunt's Facebook page. The judge's order was made in response to a libel lawsuit filed by Apex Technology Group Inc., which is citing its copyright ownership as it seeks the identity of the poster of a since-removed Apex employment agreement on Docstoc.com, which drew critical comments on US and India websites."
Google

The Need For Search Neutrality 203

wilsone8 writes "The New York Times includes an op-ed today arguing for Search Neutrality: 'Today, search engines like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft's new Bing have become the Internet's gatekeepers, and the crucial role they play in directing users to Web sites means they are now as essential a component of its infrastructure as the physical network itself. The F.C.C. needs to look beyond network neutrality and include search neutrality: the principle that search engines should have no editorial policies other than that their results be comprehensive, impartial and based solely on relevance.'"
Image

Escaped Convict Continues To Update Facebook 125

Craig "Lazie" Lynch has been on the run from a U.K. prison since September. However, he continues to taunt police by updating his Facebook status. Now he is threatening to quit. From the article: "It seems, though, that late Sunday, Lynch began experiencing a little emotional pain. In what must have been an almost teary update, he posted: 'right I'm coming off this page as I have better things to do.' Who might have imagined that, in his mysterious hideaway, Lynch had something better to do than continue his run as a Facebook attraction?"
Cellphones

Consumerist Says AT&T Site Won't Sell iPhone In NYC, Citing Network 420

cowp writes "A Consumerist tipster couldn't get AT&T's website to sell him an iPhone when he shopped using an NYC ZIP code, but could when he tried other cities' ZIPs. Consumerist asked an AT&T CSR and seems to have gotten confirmation that this is carrier policy: 'Yes, this is correct the phone is not offered to you because New York is not ready for the iPhone. You don't have enough towers to handle the phone.' Considering Apple's gadget is currently the most popular handset in the US, its exclusive carrier's inability/unwillingness to support the device in the country's largest market is pretty huge news. If this proves true, I'd expect curtains for AT&T's exclusivity deal when it comes up for renewal." If you're in NYC, can you confirm or deny this outlandish-sounding claim? Updated 20091227 1:03 GMT by timothy: Headline, now corrected, inaccurately named Apple rather than AT&T. Mea culpa.
News

IsoHunt Guilty of Inducing Infringement 243

roju writes "The MPAA has won a summary judgment against torrent indexing site isoHunt for inducing copyright infringement. Michael Geist notes that '[t]he judge ruled that the isoHunt case is little different from other US cases such as Napster and Grokster, therefore concluding that there is no need to proceed to a full trial and granting Columbia Pictures request for summary judgment.' Attorney Ben Sheffner, who worked on the case for Fox, explains some of the implications, noting that 'the most significant ruling in the opinion was the court's holding that the DMCA's safe harbors are simply not available where inducement has been established.' This case could have implications on other indexing sites, and creates a gap in the DMCA safe harbor provisions that could have far-reaching implications on other sites."
Encryption

Amazon Kindle Proprietary Format Broken 203

An anonymous reader writes "The Register reports that the proprietary document format used by the Amazon online store and Amazon's Kindle has been successfully reverse engineered, allowing these DRM-protected documents to be converted into the open MOBI format. Users of alternative e-book readers rejoice." Here are the hacker's notes on the program he is calling "Unswindle," and here is the (translated) forum where the Kindle challenge was posed and answered.
Censorship

Florida Congressman Wants Blogging Critic Fined, Jailed 549

vvaduva writes "Florida Rep. Alan Grayson wants to see one of his critics go directly to jail, all over her use of the word 'my' on her blog. In a four-page letter sent to [US Attorney General Eric] Holder, Grayson accuses blogger Angie Langley of lying to federal elections officials and requests that she be fined and imprisoned for five years. Her lie, according to Grayson, is that she claims to be one of his constituents. Langley, Grayson says, is misrepresenting herself by using the term 'my' in the Web site's name."
Books

Alternative 2009 Copyright Expirations 427

jrincayc writes "It's nearly the end of 2009. If the 1790 copyright maximum term of 28 years was still in effect, everything that had been published by 1981 would be now be in the public domain — like the original Ultima and God Emperor of Dune — and would be available for remixing and mashing up. If the 1909 copyright maximum term of 56 years (if renewed) were still in force, everything published by 1953 would now be in the public domain, freeing The City and the Stars and Forbidden Planet. If the 1976 copyright act term of 75* years (* it's complicated) still applied, everything published by 1934 would now be in the public domain, including Murder on the Orient Express. But thanks to the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, nothing in the US will go free until 2018, when 1923 works expire." Assuming Congress doesn't step in with a Copyright Extension Act of 2017. What are the odds?

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