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Government

Russian President: Time To Reform Copyright 293

An anonymous reader writes "While most of the rest of the world keeps ratcheting up copyright laws by increasing enforcement and terms, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev appears to be going in the other direction. He's now proposing that Russia build Creative Commons-style open and free licenses directly into Russian copyright law. This comes just a few days after he also chided other G8 leaders for their antiquated views on copyright."
The Internet

European Court of Justice To Outlaw Net Filtering 171

jrepin writes "Today, the European Court of Justice gave a preliminary opinion that will have far-reaching implications in the fight against overaggressive copyright monopoly abusers. It is not a final verdict, but the advocate general's position; the Court generally follows this. The Advocate Generals says that no ISP can be required to filter the Internet, and particularly not to enforce the copyright monopoly."
The Courts

Judge Berates Prosecutors In Xbox Modding Trial 285

mrbongo writes with this excerpt from Wired: "Opening statements in the first-of-its-kind Xbox 360 criminal hacking trial were delayed here Wednesday after a federal judge unleashed a 30-minute tirade at prosecutors in open court, saying he had 'serious concerns about the government's case.' ... Gutierrez slammed the prosecution over everything from alleged unlawful behavior by government witnesses, to proposed jury instructions harmful to the defense. When the verbal assault finally subsided, federal prosecutors asked for a recess to determine whether they would offer the defendant a deal, dismiss or move forward with the case that was slated to become the first jury trial of its type. A jury was seated Tuesday."
Piracy

Sometimes It's OK To Steal My Games 438

spidweb writes "One Indie developer has written a nuanced article on a how software piracy affects him, approaching the issue from the opposite direction. He lists the ways in which the widespread piracy of PC games helps him. From the article: 'You don't get everything you want in this world. You can get piles of cool stuff for free. Or you can be an honorable, ethical being. You don't get both. Most of the time. Because, when I'm being honest with myself, which happens sometimes, I have to admit that piracy is not an absolute evil. That I do get things out of it, even when I'm the one being ripped off.' The article also tries to find a middle ground between the Piracy-Is-Always-Bad and Piracy-Is-Just-Fine sides of the argument that might enable single-player PC games to continue to exist."
Music

Don't Stop File-Sharing, Says Former Pink Floyd Manager 243

Barence writes "The former manager of Pink Floyd has labelled attempts to clamp down on music file-sharing as a 'waste of time.' 'Not only are they a waste of time, they make the law offensive. They are comparable to prohibition in the US in the 1920s,' said Peter Jenner, who's now the emeritus president of the International Music Managers' Forum. 'It's absurd to expect ordinary members of the public to think about what they're allowed to do [with CDs, digital downloads, etc]... and then ask themselves whether it's legal or not.' The comments come as Britain's biggest ISP, BT, said it was confident that Britain's Digital Economy Act — which could result in file-sharers losing their internet connection — would be overturned in the courts, because it doesn't comply with European laws on privacy."
Government

Brazil Forbids DRM On the Public Domain 258

nunojsilva writes "Cory Doctorow reports that the Brazilian equivalent of DMCA explicitly forbids using DRM-like techniques on works in the public domain. 'Brazil has just created the best-ever implementation of WCT [WIPO Copyright Treaty]. In Brazil's version of the law, you can break DRM without breaking the law, provided you're not also committing a copyright violation.' This means that, unlike the US, where it is illegal to break DRM, in Brazil it is illegal to break the public domain."
Democrats

House Proposes Legalizing, Taxing Online Gambling 473

eldavojohn writes "Passed in 2006, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act is set to go into effect June 1. New efforts by Democrats in the House of Representatives aim not only to stop that but to legalize and tax Internet gambling. Jim McDermott (D-WA), said, 'This is a huge boon to the state governments. If you look across the country you're seeing programs cut. In Arizona, they just cut out a program for children's health for 40,000 kids. Here's a source of money.' Basically, the bill proposes that for each state, a 6% cut would be taken from all wagers and go to the state in which the bet was made online, while federal would get 2%. They estimate in the next decade this would amount to $30 billion for state and tribal governments and $42 billion for the federal government in new taxes. Banks and casinos appear to be very much on board, while the usual crowd (Republicans, Focus on the Family, Think of the Children) gathered in opposition to the move."
Education

New Plan Lets Top HS Students Graduate 2 Years Early 425

Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that education commissioners in Connecticut, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont have pledged to sign up 10 to 20 schools each for a pilot project that would allow 10th graders who pass a battery of tests to get a diploma two years early and immediately enroll in community college. The new system of high school coursework with the accompanying board examinations is modeled largely on systems in high-performing nations including Denmark, England, Finland, France and Singapore. 'We've looked at schools all over the world, and if you walk into a high school in the countries that use these board exams, you'll see kids working hard, whether they want to be a carpenter or a brain surgeon.' says Marc S. Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy. Kentucky's commissioner of education, Terry Holliday, says high school graduation requirements have long been based on having students accumulate enough course credits to graduate. 'We've been tied to seat time for 100 years. This would allow an approach based on subject mastery — a system based around move-on-when-ready,' says Holliday. However some school officials are concerned about the social and emotional implications of 16-year-olds going off to college. 'That's far too young to be thrown into an environment with college students who are about 18 to 23 years old. ... Most of them are just not mature enough to handle that,' says Mary Anderson, headmaster of Pinkerton Academy."
Hardware Hacking

DS Flash Carts Deemed Legal By French Court 267

Hatta writes with a snippet from MaxConsole: "Nintendo has today lost a major court case against the Divineo group in the main court of Paris. Nintendo originally took the group to court over DS flash carts, however the judge today has ruled against Nintendo and suggested that they are purposely locking out developers from their consoles and things should be more like Windows where ANYONE can develop any application if they wish to."
The Courts

WIPO Committee Presentations Show Nuanced View of Copyright 84

AtomicJake writes "As the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is known for a very rigid course combating counterfeiting and piracy in general, it comes as a surprise that during a meeting of the WIPO Advisory Committee on Enforcement, several presenters have shown nuanced views on the economics of enforcing intellectual property rights. Combating clothing piracy might not be beneficial for the welfare of a developing country. Most surprising is the presentation of WIPO Chief Economist (PDF) Carsten Fink, which says that illegal copies of software may actually be beneficial even for consumers of the original goods. Also the piracy of audio-visual goods creates not only losses but also benefits for e.g. hardware manufacturers. Maybe this is because Mr. Fink wrote the presentation before joining WIPO?"
Privacy

New "JUSTICE" Act Could Roll Back Telecom Immunity 263

Asmodae writes to tell us about a bill proposed in Congress that could roll back telecom retroactive immunity along with adding other privacy safeguards. The "Judicious Use of Surveillance Tools in Counter-Terrorism Efforts" (JUSTICE) Act advocates the "least intrusive means" of information collection and imposes many limitations on the process. "One of the most significant aspects of the JUSTICE Act is that it will remove the retroactive immunity grants that were given to the telecom companies that participated in the NSA warrantless surveillance program. The companies that cooperated with the surveillance program likely violated several laws, including section 222 of the Communications Act, which prohibits disclosure of network customer information. The immunity grants have prevented the telecommunications companies that voluntarily participated in this program from being held accountable in court."
Power

US House May Pass "Cap & Trade" Bill 874

jamie found this roundup on the status of the Waxman-Markey climate change bill, which is about to be voted on by the US House of Representatives. (The article notes that if the majority Democrats can't see the 218 votes needed for passage, they will probably put off the vote.) The AP has put together a FAQ that says, "[The bill, if passed,] fundamentally will change how we use, produce and consume energy, ending the country's love affair with big gas-guzzling cars and its insatiable appetite for cheap electricity. This bill will put smaller, more efficient cars on the road, swap smokestacks for windmills and solar panels, and transform the appliances you can buy for your home." The odds-makers are giving the bill a marginal chance of passing in the House, with tougher going expected in the Senate.
Businesses

A Push To End the Online Gambling Ban 205

Hugh Pickens writes "Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts has introduced legislation that would roll back a ban on Internet gambling enacted when Republicans led Congress. The legislation would allow the Treasury Department to license and regulate online gambling companies that serve American customers. Frank's bill has roughly two dozen co-sponsors and the backing of the The Poker Players Alliance, with over a million members. But opponents are mobilizing to defeat the bill including social conservatives and professional and amateur sports organizations, which say more gambling opportunities could threaten the integrity of their competition. 'Illegal offshore Internet gambling sites are a criminal enterprise, and allowing them to operate unfettered in the United States would present a clear danger to our youth, who are subject to becoming addicted to gambling at an early age,' says Representative Spencer Bachus, Republican of Alabama and the ranking member on the House Financial Services Committee. Another powerful roadblock could be the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada. 'Gaming is an important industry to the state, and anything that affects it will be reviewed carefully,' says Reid's spokesman."

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