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The Almighty Buck

EU Fines Microsoft $1.3 Billion 699

jd writes "The EU has slammed Microsoft with a fine of €899 million ($1.337 billion at current exchange rates) for perpetuating violations of the 2004 antitrust ruling.The fine is the sum of daily fines running from June 21, 2006 to October 21, 2007. It is the first company ever to be fined for non-compliance. The amazing thing is that the EU now expects Microsoft to comply and 'close a dark chapter' in their history. The EU has opened new investigations into Microsoft's practices and gave a lukewarm response to the company's turning over yet another new leaf last week."
The Courts

RIAA Expert Witness Called "Borderline Incompetent" 170

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Prof. Johan Pouwelse of Delft University — one of the world's foremost experts on the science of P2P file sharing and the very same Prof. Pouwelse who stopped the RIAA's Netherlands counterpart in its tracks back in 2005 — has submitted an expert witness report characterizing the work of the RIAA's expert, Dr. Doug Jacobson, as 'borderline incompetence.' The report (PDF), filed in UMG v. Lindor, pointed out, among other things, that the steps needed to be taken in a copyright infringement investigation were not taken, that Jacobson's work lacked 'in-depth analysis' and 'proper scientific scrutiny,' that Jacobson's reports were 'factually erroneous,' and that they were contradicted by his own deposition testimony. This is the first expert witness report of which we are aware since the Free Software Foundation announced that it would be coming to the aid of RIAA defendants."
Medicine

Antidepressants Work No Better Than a Placebo 674

Matthew Whalley writes "Researchers got hold of published and unpublished data from drug companies regarding the effectiveness of the most common antidepressant drugs. Previously, when meta-analyses have been conducted on only the published data, the drugs were shown to have a clinically significant effect. However, when the unpublished data is taken into account the difference between the effects of drug and placebo becomes clinically meaningless — just a 1 or 2 point difference on a 30-point depression rating scale — except for the most severely depressed patients. Doctors do not recommend that patients come off antidepressant drugs without support, but this study is likely to lead to a rethink regarding how the drugs are licensed and prescribed."
Government

What Will Come of the FCC Comcast Hearing 86

The FCC held its hearing on network neutrality and Comcast today at Harvard. One commentator not afraid to predict what will come of it is O'Reilly's Andy Orem, who writes: "The mere announcement of an FCC hearing on 'broadband network management practices' was a notch in the gun of network neutrality advocates. Yet to a large extent, the panelists and speakers were like petitioners who are denied access to the king and can only bring their complaints to the gardeners who decorate the paths outside his gate. What we'll end up getting is a formal endorsement of non-discrimination as a policy that Internet providers must follow, leading to continual FCC review of current practices by telecom and cable companies."
Wii

Wii Homebrew Takes Several Leaps Forward 275

Croakyvoice writes "Fans of Homebrew on the Nintendo Wii can celebrate with an explosion of releases today, in just a few hours there has been a release of a proof of concept version of Linux for the Wii, an MP3 Player, the Super Nintendo emulator Snes9X has been ported and a converter that converts Gamecube Dol files into Elf for usage on the Wii (Which opens up a multitude of emulators and homebrew games and applications). A tutorial on how to get homebrew working with the Twilight Hack will help those interested."
Patents

Judge Makes Lawyers Pay For Frivolous Patent Suit 263

Gallenod writes "The Denver Post is reporting that the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the decision of a Federal judge who threw out and reversed a jury decision in favor of a patent infringement claim and ordered the plaintiff's lawyers to pay the defendants' court costs. U.S. District Senior Judge Richard P. Matsch sanctioned the plaintiff's attorneys for 'cavalier and abusive' misconduct and for having a 'what can I get away with?' attitude during a 13-day patent infringement trial in Denver. With the Appeals Court in agreement, could this case be the 'shot heard round the world' in the revolution against patent trolls?"
Censorship

A Comparative Study of Internet Censorship 195

An anonymous reader suggests we visit the home of the watchdog group Global Integrity for a breakdown of online censorship: "Using data from the Global Integrity Index, we put a US court's recent order to block access to anti-corruption site Wikileaks.org into context. In summary: This is unheard of in the West, and has only been seen in a handful of the most repressive regimes. Good thing it doesn't work very well... The whole event seems to encapsulate the constant criticism of governance in the United States: that the government has been captured by corporate interests, and that the world-leading rule of law and technocratic mechanisms in place can be hijacked to serve as tools for narrow, wealthy interests."
Government

Competitors Ally With Comcast In FCC P2P Filings 220

crocoduck writes "Right before the deadline passed for filing comments in the FCC investigation of Comcast's traffic-management practices, telecoms and other cable companies submitted a slew of comments defending Comcast's actions to the FCC. 'Just about every big phone company has filed a statement challenging the FCC's authority to deal with this problem. AT&T, Verizon, and Qwest all submitted lengthy remarks on February 13th, the last day for comments on the proceeding (parties can still reply to comments through the 28th). "The Internet marketplace remains fundamentally healthy, and the purported 'cure' could only make it sick," AT&T's filing declared. "At best, the network-management restrictions proposed by Free Press and others would inflict wasteful costs on broadband providers in the form of expensive and needless capacity upgrades — costs that would ultimately be passed through to end users, raise broadband prices across the board, and force ordinary broadband consumers to subsidize the bandwidth-hogging activities of a few."' P2P fans have also weighed in."
Censorship

Scientology Given Direct Access To eBay Database 684

An anonymous reader writes "The Church of Scientology can delete auctions from eBay with no supervision under the VeRO program, and has used this to delete all resale of the e-meters Scientologists use. This is to stop members from buying used units from ex-members instead of buying from the official (and very expensive) source. Given Scientology's record of fraud and abuse, should eBay give them this level of trust? Will this set a precedent for other companies that want to stop the aftermarket resale of their products?"
Government

Fidel Castro Resigns 728

Smordnys s'regrepsA writes "Fidel Castro, the leader of the island nation of Cuba has declined the possibility of keeping his seat as President, after the February 24th National Assembly election. "I neither will aspire to nor will I accept — I repeat — I neither will aspire to nor will I accept, the position of president of the council of state and commander in chief," Castro wrote almost 19 months after a severe illness caused him to hand power temporarily to his brother Raul."
Security

'Friendly' Worms Could Spread Software Fixes 306

An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft researchers are working out the perfect strategies for worms to spread through networks. Their goal is to distribute software patches and other friendly information via virus, reducing load on servers. This raises the prospect of worm races — deploying a whitehat worm to spread a fix faster than a new attacking worm can reach vulnerable machines."
Space

US To Shoot Down Dying Satellite 429

A user writes "US officials say that the Pentagon is planning to shoot down a broken spy satellite expected to hit the Earth in early March. We discussed the device's decaying orbit late last month. The Associated Press has learned that the option preferred by the Bush administration will be to fire a missile from a U.S. Navy cruiser, and shoot down the satellite before it enters Earth's atmosphere. 'A key concern ... was the debris created by Chinese satellite's destruction -- and that will also be a focus now, as the U.S. determines exactly when and under what circumstances to shoot down its errant satellite. The military will have to choose a time and a location that will avoid to the greatest degree any damage to other satellites in the sky. Also, there is the possibility that large pieces could remain, and either stay in orbit where they can collide with other satellites or possibly fall to Earth.'"
Music

EU Commissioner Proposes 95 year Copyright 591

Albanach writes "The European Union Commissioner for the Internal Market has today proposed extending the copyright term for musical recordings to 95 years. He also wishes to investigate options for new levies on blank discs, data storage and music and video players to compensate artists and copyright holders for 'legal copying when listeners burn an extra version of an album to play one at home and one in the car ... People are living longer and 50 years of copyright protection no longer give lifetime income to artists who recorded hits in their late teens or early twenties, he said.'"

The Shadow Space Race 192

vm writes "NOVA's recent documentary, "Astrospies," was written and co-produced by journalist and NSA expert, James Bamford. It details the U.S. Air Force's orbiting spy station program begun in the 1960s, the Manned Orbital Laboratory. Designed from a heavily modified Gemini 2 capsule and launched from a Titan III booster rocket, MOL was basically intended to be a Hubble telescope pointed at Earth with the sole intention of collecting photo intelligence on the Soviets using an impressive array of optics and gyro balanced cameras operated onboard by specially trained astronauts. The lab was never launched, however, due to the competing Corona unmanned spy satellite program funded by NASA and the National Reconnaissance Office. Partly spurred by the success of the Apollo missions, the Soviets, meanwhile, sent cosmonauts to its own succesfully launched spy platform, the Almaz. In addition to an onboard film lab and a space-to-ground image relay system, it included an alarming first in manned space exploration; a 23mm aircraft cannon — which is rather ironic in light of Russia and China's recent attempts to ban space weaponry. At a time when we're still unearthing details about the post 9/11 domestic spying debacle, it's a fascinating look at the history of technology used to look over our neighbors' fences." There is more to the story but what these sorts of stories always make me wonder, is since this was the 60s, what are they doing NOW!
Government

US Group Calls Canada a Top Copyright Violator 293

eldurbarn tips a CBC story reporting that the US-based International Intellectual Property Alliance claims Canada has joined Russia and China among the biggest violators of US copyright law. Quoting: "The group's report is the latest to urge the US government into pressuring Ottawa to reform copyright laws." As we have previously discussed here, the current Conservative government had planned to introduce a new copyright law, but dissent from the privacy commissioner and a groundswell of public protest delayed that action. eldurbarn adds, "What makes this story so important now is that this pressure is being applied at a time and in a manner that may cause the Canadian government to fall, forcing an election." Meanwhile, on the other side of the rapidly heating debate, Michael Geist blogs about the forces arrayed against a Canadian DMCA. The Business Coalition for Balanced Copyright, which includes a who's who of the telecom, Internet, retail, and broadcast communities, has outlined a list of its copyright reform demands.

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