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Comment "Fair Use" in Germany? (Score 1) 301

Since the daughter of Hitler's finance minister is suing the publishers in Germany, it's German law that matters.

IANAL, but... While the EU copyright directive allows states to legislate for Fair Use, it seems that German statute law does not include such a provision. However, German courts have in the past relied on provisions in the German Constitution which state that Art and Research are free, to allow some reuse of portions of a work (see paper). However it's not necessarily clear how the court might rule in this case. And besides, there is the issue of the publisher having previously agreed to pay, and then deciding not to. There could be questions of the validity and enforceability of such an agreement. And there is the question of whether the lady concerned is in fact the copyright owner.

So there is plenty for lawyers to fight over.

But I find it quite distasteful that research could be blocked, or charged for in this way. That's why much of the world DOES have [fairly] clear "Fair Use" or "Fair Dealing" exceptions in copyright law.

Comment But it will be a felony to hack the features (Score 1) 437

I don't agree - stupid consumers will get screwed, and unlocking features that were not licensed off the factory will be a new hack-athon...

Like with DRM, it will be a felony to bypass the feature locking mechanism in the USA (and most of the rest of the world, thanks to lobbyists and policy laundering. All consumers will get "screwed".

Hope you DIY enthusiasts aren't living in a state with mandatory life sentences for your third "felony"!

Comment low cunning, not clever (Score 5, Insightful) 229

It's just a repackaging of the old net-discrimination ideas that provoked the Net Neutrality debate.

Make data allowances artificially low, and charge content providers to "ensure" they are not throttled. It's not in the interests of consumers, and it's not in the interests of content providers.

I can see why AT&T might like it though...

Comment Actually pretty clever partial solution! (Score 3, Insightful) 165

Because, of course, it contributes NO greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

We're some way off global, carbon-free energy production, as you point out. But that's not the problem this is solving.

Of course energy from garbage contributes greenhouse gases. But this is not displacing greenhouse-gas-free nuclear or wave power generation - it is reducing the dependency on high-running-cost, greenhouse-gas-producing oil / gas / coal power. So it increases sustainability to that extent. That is a good thing. And less landfill is also a good thing.

It's not about "shiny", so much as improving things where and when we can. But we need to increase reuse and recycling (in that order), and reduce waste caused by built-in obsolescence, excess packaging, and excessive consumption too.

Comment early days... nip it in the bud? (Score 4, Insightful) 150

It sounds troubling, but it's hardly even a Government proposal for legislation, never mind a Bill being laid before parliament. And the decision to withhold the draft may still be appealed.

This seems to be an early draft (a bit like the ACTA negotiations, perhaps) since the grounds for withholding are:

  • the material is still in draft form
  • the material has not gone through the necessary whole-of-government review and approval processes; and
  • to release such material at this stage would, in [the bureaucrat's] view, prejudice the current negotiations and decision making processes which are in train

So the Department concerned is probably committed to something like the draft, and they are trying to work out what is feasible, but the rest of the government has not yet had a chance to comment.

The appropriate response at this stage is probably (1) appeal, (2) contact representatives in government and opposition who may oppose any provisions that threaten civil liberties, and (3) use the media (and slashdot) to raise awareness that something is coming in the future.

But it is not normal to release early drafts (that have not yet been thought through properly) to the public - at that stage you could not possibly have a workable policy, and people may get very worked up about errors that the government themselves will address. Surely the time for public scrutiny is when concrete proposals are made?

Though crowdsourcing of bills might be interesting... it worked for the constitution in Iceland, didn't it?

Comment How do you review this sort of thing (Score 1) 110

TFA is a bit light. I'm wondering how you review a score? Was it "muse score software didn't display this note properly", or "the music would sound better if you went up instead of down here, or repeated a theme differently"?

Open source music, now there's an idea. Could be like composing by committee...


Submission + - Jobs promised to 'destroy' Android with 'thermonuc (

An anonymous reader writes: Leaked comments from Steve Jobs upcoming book reveal that the Apple co-founder vowed to 'destroy' Android because he felt it was a copied product. He remarked that he will go to 'thermonuclear war' on this and allegedly claimed he will spend all of Apple's capital to put an end to it if he had to.

Submission + - Google Chrome pkcs11.txt File Planting (

An anonymous reader writes: Thirty days ago ACROS Security notified Google about a peculiar behavior of Chrome browser that can be exploited for execution of remote code outside Chrome sandbox under specific conditions. It is another case of file planting, where an application loads a data file from the current working directory. Chrome loads a data file, namely pkcs11.txt, from the root of the current working directory and in case the file exists, parses and processes its content.

Submission + - Sceptics prove Climate change is really happening (

An anonymous reader writes: The Berkeley Earth Project which was established as an independent group to investigate climate change, funded by a number of climate sceptics including the Koch brothers has 'confirmed' the existence of global warming. Lead by professor Richard Muller, the team used historical temperature data from weather stations around the world to investigate global trends.

"Our biggest surprise was that the new results agreed so closely with the warming values published previously by other teams in the US and the UK," said Professor Muller (source: BBC).

So now we all agree, we can get on with finding ways to live on Earth without destroying it/us.

Submission + - Gmail New version: Coming Soon (

webstar Technology writes: "The new version of Gmail featuring a revamped look, redesigned conversation threads and improved search is slated for pending released, according to an official video that was mistakenly posted to Google’s YouTube channel.
Jason Cornwell, user experience designer for Gmail, unveils the new version in the video. The Google Operating System blog spotted the video and it has since been made private — but not before YouTube user crlsndrsjmnzhad time to repost it."

Comment Re:info about what's bad about it? (Score 1) 213

As I said in an earlier post, the" MAY" clauses are a problem, because the governments / lobbyists who write the legislation required by the treaty will include them! Good luck with teh line-by-line scrutiny of the bills as they pass through your legislatures.

> The parts the EFF seems worried about are, in RFC terms, MAY clauses, not MUST or even SHOULD clauses.

Comment Re:What's the problem? (Score 2) 213

The problem?
The ACTA treaty confers powers with dangerously broad and ambiguous language - an example is language to ban:

a device or product, including computer programs, or provision of a service that... has only a limited commercially significant purpose other than circumventing an effective technological measure.

So legitimate purposes that are significant, but can be made out not to be commercially significant, won't protect you. Education and research purposes, and fair use gone, at one stroke!

The international coordination is all about the interests of "intellectual property" owners (mostly distributors, in the content industries), and not about consumers or the broader creative economy. The only stakeholders explicitly mentioned are "rights holders" - if we're lucky, the rest of the world may sneak in as "other relevant
stakeholders" - but don't hold your breath - it hasn't happened yet, and isn't happening in the shady negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. And the only measurement or analysis to be done is about how well they tackle the nut of infringement, with no examination of the sledgehammer of social and economic costs of the enforcement regime ACTA requires.

Then there are the optional extras such as:

A Party may exclude from the application of this Section small quantities of goods of a non-commercial nature contained in travellers’ personal luggage. [a Good Thing]


A Party may provide for the remedies described in this Article to be carried out at the infringer’s expense. [not necessarily A Good Thing]

A good government would implement the protections ACTA says they MAY do, and omit some of the more onerous and opressive powers the lobbyists got into ACTA as optional extras.

Our governments, on the other hand, will use draft legislation written by the same content industry lobbyists who wrote the original ACTA policy shopping list, and will try to omit every inconvenient consumer protection measure some ACTA negotiaters insisted on, and include each of the overreaching powers the negotiators reduced from MUST to MAY in ACTA.

Or we can just stop worrying and hope that the law-faries will bring us cuddly, fair and reasonable legislation that servers the public interest, instead.

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