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Role Playing (Games)

Submission + - New Dungeons & Dragons Declares War On Open Ga

mxyzplk writes: "Dungeons & Dragons publisher Wizards of the Coast shocked the role-playing game industry today by announcing that anyone wanting to publish material for the new Fourth Edition of D&D, expected out in June of this year, must forgo open licensing entirely as part of their new Game System License.

With the launch of the third edition of the popular game eight years ago, Wizards had sponsored an open licensing scheme. This license, called the Open Gaming License, or OGL, was a kind of open source license designed for game publishers. The result was an explosion of third party game companies supporting D&D and establishing their own game lines. Many of these companies became quite large and successful, notably Paizo Publishing, Green Ronin Publishing, and others.

Now, however, Wizards has stated that any company hoping to publish products for their new edition must agree to discontinue any currently open licensed products and produce no further open products at all — Dungeons & Dragons related or not. A number of companies had leveraged the OGL for their indepedent games, for example the pulp game Spirit of the Century.

In response to questions about this policy, Scott Rouse, D&D Brand Manager for Wizards of the Coast, says that "We have invested multiple 7 figures in the development of 4e so can you tell me why we would want publishers to support a system that we have moved away from?"

It seems to me that this is the equivalent of Microsoft telling people "If you want to make and sell software for Windows Vista, you can't make and sell any Linux/open source software!" Since this is a small niche market without the visibility of a Microsoft, this play to muscle out competition by making them choose "between us and open licensing" will probably succeed. Some other game companies are rebelling; Paizo Publsihing, for example, has declared their intent to move forward with the open-licensed previous version, essentially 'forking' the Dungeons & Dragons code base. But small gaming companies are small indeed, and Wizards of the Coast is owned by Hasbro (a recent development likely not unrelated to this change of heart)."
Privacy

Submission + - Privacy rights loss alarms Canada's civil libertar (canada.com)

king-manic writes: "Canada opens up consultations on privacy policies concern ISP's releasing personal information without warrants. Previously they held private consultations with concerned groups without notification to the public that this was going on. In fact many privacy groups were entirely unaware that the Canadian government was discussing this matter.

The Public Safety and Industry Departments have been conducting a limited consultation, which was scheduled to end Sept. 25, on potential changes that would make it easier for police to get customers' personal information from Internet providers without a court order or other legal justification. Those invited to participate in the consultation process received a letter and no information was made public on any government website.
This about face comes due to a large number of privacy groups raising the alarm."

Math

Submission + - Kilogram reference losing weight (cnn.com)

doubleacr writes: "Ran across a story on CNN that says the "118-year-old cylinder that is the international prototype for the metric mass, kept tightly under lock and key outside Paris, is mysteriously losing weight — if ever so slightly. Physicist Richard Davis of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in Sevres, southwest of Paris, says the reference kilo appears to have lost 50 micrograms compared with the average of dozens of copies.""
Censorship

Submission + - False DMCA Claims by Creationists Stifle Critics

Bueller_007 writes: Creation Science Evangelism, an creationist organization owned by convicted felon Kent Hovind has been filing false DMCA claims to stifle their rivals on YouTube. Although CSE's videos are not copyrighted (according to their official website and the videos themselves), within the past 72 hours, they have had approximately 20 videos removed at their request, and at least two popular users have had their accounts disabled.

All of the videos that have been removed were critical remixes of Hovind's original videos, interspersed with rebuttals and likely to have fallen under fair use. Exact duplicates of Hovind's videos — seen as supportive — were not removed. Further, CSE has also filed false DMCA claims to have others' completely original content removed, as well as public-domain phone calls Hovind made from prison.

Feed Engadget: Senators Wyden and Brownback promise to push Internet Radio Equality Act (engadget.com)

Filed under: Home Entertainment, Portable Audio

Things haven't looked great for internet radio stations for a while now, and though SoundExchange has put a pause on the rate hikes while it's in talks with the webcasters, not much progress has been made, and US Senators Ron Wyden (D) and Sam Brownback (R) have decided to do something about it. They're promising to push forward their co-sponsored "Internet Radio Equality Act," which hopes to chuck the new extravagant rates decided upon by the Copyright Royalty Board and return to a flat percentage-of-revenue model. Wyden and Brownback also decry the recording industry's use of a minimum per-station fee to leverage broadcasters into DRM, which "fails to respect the established principles of fair use and consumer rights." While they do support a negotiated solution, the Senators promise to takes steps toward passage of the IREA if there's no progress in negotiations by Labor Day. To throw your weight in behind the movement, check out the read link.

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United States

Submission + - Forensics Expert says Al-Qaeda Images Altered

WerewolfOfVulcan writes: Wired reports that researcher Neal Krawetz revealed some veeeeeery interesting things about the Al-Qaeda images that our government loves to show off.

From the article: "Krawetz was also able to determine that the writing on the banner behind al-Zawahiri's head was added to the image afterward. In the second picture above showing the results of the error level analysis, the light clusters on the image indicate areas of the image that were added or changed. The subtitles and logos in the upper right and lower left corners (IntelCenter is an organization that monitors terrorist activity and As-Sahab is the video production branch of al Qaeda) were all added at the same time, while the banner writing was added at a different time, likely around the same time that al-Zawahiri was added, Krawetz says." Why would Al-Qaeda add an IntelCenter logo to their video? Why would IntelCenter add an Al-Qaeda logo? Methinks we have bigger fish to fry than Gonzo and his fired attorneys... }:-) The article contains links to Krawetz's presentation and the source code he used to analyze the photos.

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