Mr_Blank writes: Automakers are supporting provisions in copyright law that could prohibit home mechanics and car enthusiasts from repairing and modifying their own vehicles. In comments filed with a federal agency that will determine whether tinkering with a car constitutes a copyright violation, OEMs and their main lobbying organization say cars have become too complex and dangerous for consumers and third parties to handle. The dispute arises from a section of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that no one thought could apply to vehicles when it was signed into law in 1998. But now, in an era where cars are rolling computing platforms, the U.S. Copyright Office is examining whether provisions of the law that protect intellectual property should prohibit people from modifying and tuning their cars.
Mr_Blank writes: We all know — because we are being constantly reminded — that we are getting fat. Americans are at the forefront of the trend, but it is a transnational one. Apparently, it is also trans-species: Over the past 20 years, as the American people were getting fatter, so were America’s laboratory macaques, chimpanzees, vervet monkeys and mice, as well as domestic dogs, domestic cats, and domestic and feral rats from both rural and urban areas. Researchers examined records on those eight species and found that average weight for every one had increased. The marmosets gained an average of 9% per decade. Lab mice gained about 11% per decade. Chimps are doing especially badly: their average body weight had risen 35% per decade. What is causing the obesity era? Everything.
Mr_Blank writes: Organizations like the EFF and ACLU have been raising the alarm over increased government surveillance of US citizens. Legislators haven't been quick to respond to concerns of government spying on citizens. But Texas legislators are apparently quite concerned that private citizens operating hobby drones might spot environmental violations by businesses. Representative Lance Gooden has introduced HB912 which proposes: "A person commits an offense if the person uses or authorizes the use of an unmanned vehicle or aircraft to capture an image without the express consent of the person who owns or lawfully occupies the real property captured in the image. ('Image' is defined as including any type of recorded telemetry from sensors that measure sound waves, thermal, infrared, ultraviolet, visible light, or other electromagnetic waves, odor, or other conditions.)" Can you foresee any unintended consequences if this proposal becomes law?
Mr_Blank writes: A federal judge has ruled that Batmobile replicas built by Mark Towle, of Gotham Garage infringe on copyrights and trademarks held by Warner Bros. Towle's attorney argued that US copyright law doesn't allow "useful articles" to be copyrighted. Zerner, in court documents, insisted that Warner Brothers' lawsuit claimed the entire Batmobile was protected including doors, seats and tires. The judge agreed, but then ruled the law does allow copyrighting of unique design elements of useful articles. The judge said, "Defendant did not copy the design of a mere car; he copied the Batmobile character. The fact that the unauthorized Batmoble replicas that Defendant manufactured – which are derivative works – may be 'useful articles' is irrelevant. A derivative work can still infringe the underlying copyrighted work even if the derivative work is not independently entitled to copyright protection." Expect other car manufacturers to put their cars into copyrighted works soon!
Mr_Blank writes: After more than 250,000 votes, Consumerist readers ultimately decided that the type of greed exhibited by EA is worse than Bank of America's avarice. Game-players have voted to send a message to Electronic Arts and the gaming business as a whole: Stop treating your loyal customers like crap... There have even been numerous accusations that EA and its ilk deliberately hold back game content with the sole intent of charging a fee for it at a later date. It's one thing to support a game with new content that is worth the price. It's another to put out an inferior — and occasionally broken — product...
Mr_Blank writes: "Cameras at UK petrol stations will automatically stop uninsured or untaxed vehicles from being filled with fuel, under new government plans. Downing Street officials hope the hi-tech system will crack down on the 1.4million motorists who drive without insurance. Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras are already fitted in thousands of petrol station forecourts. Drivers can only fill their cars with fuel once the camera has captured and logged the vehicle’s number plate. Currently the system is designed to deter motorists from driving off without paying for petrol. But under the new plans, the cameras will automatically cross-refererence with the DVLA’s huge database."
Mr_Blank writes: Videos of police brutality at Occupy Oakland are all over the Internet.
A few local law enforcement agencies would like to get the videos off of YouTube, going so far as to submit a request.
The Internet giant refused.
Here's what Google said in a blog post explaining the decision:
We received a request from a local law enforcement agency to remove YouTube videos of police brutality, which we did not remove. Separately, we received requests from a different local law enforcement agency for removal of videos allegedly defaming law enforcement officials. We did not comply with those requests, which we have categorized in this Report as defamation requests.
Mr_Blank writes: You might recall the tale of the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice being sued earlier this year for wrecking a Ferrari F50. The F50 was stolen from its owner in 2003. The feds then recovered the stolen scarlet screamer during a sting operation and held it in FBI custody in Kentucky. At some point, it needed to be moved out of its impound garage, but instead of making it safely to another garage, it got wrapped around a tree, with an FBI agent at the wheel. The insurance company that paid-out for the stolen vehicle sued the FBI. The judge has ruled against Motors Insurance, saying that law enforcement has immunity when it comes to property in its possession, and that even though "the object was to control and preserve relevant evidence," it apparently doesn't matter what happens to that evidence nor for what reason. This is bad news if your private property is taken by the DHS. Who is responsible when something goes wrong?
Mr_Blank writes: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made it clear that he wants to see more traffic light cameras in the Big Apple, saying that he'd have the devices on every street corner if possible. According to The New York Daily News, the city brought in $52 million in fines generated by red light cameras last year alone. Bloomberg doesn't just want a jump in the number of cameras, however. He also wants to publish the names of those who blow through the stop lights in local papers to help shame wrongdoers into changing their ways. What's more, the mayor wants to look into the possibility of adding speed cameras to the mix. Big brother is coming to NYC.
Mr_Blank writes: Now there is a reason for 3d TV sales to take off... From the article: "Blue creatures in 3-D can't quite keep up with a 3-D blue movie at the box office in Hong Kong, apparently.3D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy, the porn film that Eyder wrote about earlier this month, "earned 17 million Hong Kong dollars ($2.2 million) as of Tuesday since opening last week on 73 screens" in Hong Kong, The Associated Press reports. And according to the BBC, on its first day the movie brought in 2.78 million Hong Kong dollars — more than the previous first-day Hong Kong record of 2.63 million, set by Avatar."
Mr_Blank writes: "Samsung just unveiled an amazing new solar-powered LCD television that can operate completely free from the power grid. The 46 prototype TV, shown at CeBit in Germany, includes solar panels that produce energy from the ambient light in a room – because it was engineered to use very little energy, no additional power sources are needed. Another major breakthrough behind the concept is that the thin screen can display images and information while allowing objects behind it to be visible – this means that it has applications ranging from car windshield HUDs to storefront displays and digital window blinds."
Mr_Blank writes: From Technology Review: The ability to predict the stock market is, as any Wall Street quantitative trader (or quant) will tell you, a license to print money. So it should be of no small interest to anyone who likes money that a new system that works in a radically different way than previous automated trading schemes appears to be able to beat Wall Street's best quantitative mutual funds at their own game. It's called the Arizona Financial Text system, or AZFinText, and it works by ingesting large quantities of financial news stories (in initial tests, from Yahoo Finance) along with minute-by-minute stock price data, and then using the former to figure out how to predict the latter. Then it buys, or shorts, every stock it believes will move more than 1% of its current price in the next 20 minutes — and it never holds a stock for longer.
Mr_Blank writes: CNN reports: "Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina finally made it official Wednesday: She's running for Senate in California. The first woman to lead a Fortune 500 company made the announcement at an event in conservative Orange County, pledging that her focus will be on economic recovery and fiscal accountability." After a history of off-shoring jobs, stepping down from HP with some controversy, and being a Fox pundit, will Fiorina help or hurt technology issues in California and the USA?
Mr_Blank writes: The L.A. Times reports: The nation's largest business lobby wants to put the science of global warming on trial. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, trying to ward off potentially sweeping federal emissions regulations, is pushing the Environmental Protection Agency to hold a rare public hearing on the scientific evidence for man-made climate change. Chamber officials say it would be "the Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century" — complete with witnesses, cross-examinations and a judge who would rule, essentially, on whether humans are warming the planet to dangerous effect.