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Submission + - Intellectual Ventures' patent protection racket (

David Gerard writes: "Nathan Myhrvold's Intellectual Ventures doesn't sue people over patents, because that would be patent trolling! No, instead they just threaten to sell the patent to a known litigous patent troll. So that's all right then. Timothy Lee details how using patents to crush profitable innovation works in practice, and concludes: 'In thinking about how to reform the patent system, a good yardstick would be to look for policy changes that would tend to put Myhrvold and his firm out of business.'"

Submission + - NYT claims Wikipedia steals its content (

David Gerard writes: "Noam Cohen of the New York Times, who regularly covers the Wikipedia beat, writing about Wikipedia links in Google News results, slips in a note from his employer: "So, in essence, many Wikipedia articles are another way that the work of news publications is quickly condensed and reused without compensation." I do press for Wikipedia in the UK, and every journalist I've spoken to in the past four years uses Wikipedia as their handy universal backgrounder. But there's a curious lack of donations from the NYT to Wikimedia for their use of Wikipedia. And look at the Maurice Jarre example. So what does the NYT expect to gain from this? Sympathy? Buckets of cash? A large bill from WMF?"

Submission + - Google trying to make <video> H.264 only? (

David Gerard writes: "Google Chrome includes Ogg support for the <video> element. It also includes support for the hideously encumbered H.264 format. Nice as an extra, but ... they're also testing HTML5 YouTube only for H.264 — meaning the largest video provider on the Net will make H.264 the primary codec and relegate the equally good open format Ogg Theora firmly to the sidelines. Mike Shaver from Mozilla has fairly unambiguously asked Chris diBona from Google what the heck Google thinks it's doing. We all eagerly await the answer to the question: "WTF?""

Ballmer Admits Google Apps Are Biting Into MS Office 293

twitter points out coverage of a discussion between Steve Ballmer and two Gartner analysts in which the Microsoft CEO admits that Google Apps is enjoying an advantage over Office by users who want to share their documents. He points to Office Live as their response to Google, and adds, "Google has the lead, but, if we're good at advertising, we'll compete with them in the consumer business." Whether or not they're good at advertising is still in question, if their recent attempts are any indication. Ballmer also made statements indicating some sort of arrangement with Yahoo! could still be in the works, but Microsoft was quick to step on that idea. Regarding Windows Vista, he said Microsoft was prepared for people to skip it altogether, and that Microsoft would be "ready" when it was time to deploy Windows 7.

Tool To Allow ISPs To Scan Every File You Transmit 370

timdogg writes "Brilliant Digital Entertainment, an Australian software company, has grabbed the attention of the NY attorney general's office with a tool they have designed that can scan every file that passes between an ISP and its customers. The tool can 'check every file passing through an Internet provider's network — every image, every movie, every document attached to an e-mail or found in a Web search — to see if it matches a list of illegal images.' As with the removal of the alt.binary newgroups, this is being promoted under the guise of preventing child porn. The privacy implications of this tool are staggering."
Linux Business

Submission + - Why Mono and Samba Are Patently Different (

An anonymous reader writes: Why are people nasty to Mono, but nice to Samba? Samba played a crucial role in liberating the protocols it uses to ensure that there is no knock-on effect for users in terms of intellectual monopolies. The Mono project, however, propagates Microsoft's software patent claims even wider.

Anti-Terrorist Data Mining Doesn't Work Very Well 163

Presto Vivace and others sent us this CNet report on a just-released NRC report coming to the conclusion, which will surprise no one here, that data mining doesn't work very well. It's all those darn false positives. The submitter adds, "Any chance we could go back to probable cause?" "A report scheduled to be released on Tuesday by the National Research Council, which has been years in the making, concludes that automated identification of terrorists through data mining or any other mechanism 'is neither feasible as an objective nor desirable as a goal of technology development efforts.' Inevitable false positives will result in 'ordinary, law-abiding citizens and businesses' being incorrectly flagged as suspects. The whopping 352-page report, called 'Protecting Individual Privacy in the Struggle Against Terrorists,' amounts to [be] at least a partial repudiation of the Defense Department's controversial data-mining program called Total Information Awareness, which was limited by Congress in 2003."

Submission + - SPAM: Debt and Hiring Freeze, M$ is Burning Down.

westbake writes: The company we all love to hate may finally be on it's death bed. Many have questioned the company's place in the world, and no one loves their new OS or Office. Fewer and fewer companies are getting by trusting them and developers wer all gone seven years ago. M$ executive have been leaving like rats from a sinking ship. Losses have been massive, the company is going into debt buying their own stock but the price is still where it was ten years ago. For the first time in 30 years, they have a hiring freeze. Good riddance!
The Courts

Gov't Database Errors Leading To Unconstitutional Searches? 272

Wired is running a story about a case the Supreme Court will be hearing on Tuesday that relates to searches based on erroneous information in government databases. In the case of Herring vs. US 07-513, the defendant was followed and pulled over based on a records indicating he had a warrant out for his arrest. Upon further review, the local county clerk found the records were in error, and the warrant notification should have been removed months prior. Unfortunately for Herring, he had already been arrested and his car searched. Police found a small amount of drugs and a firearm, for which Herring was subsequently prosecuted. Several friend-of-the-court briefs have been filed to argue this case, some calling for "an accuracy obligation on law enforcement agents [PDF] who rely on criminal justice information systems," and others defending such searches as good-faith exceptions [PDF].

An Open Source Legal Breakthrough 292

jammag writes "Open source advocate Bruce Perens writes in Datamation about a major court victory for open source: 'An appeals court has erased most of the doubt around Open Source licensing, permanently, in a decision that was extremely favorable toward projects like GNU, Creative Commons, Wikipedia, and Linux.' The case, Jacobsen v. Katzer, revolved around free software coded by Bob Jacobsen that Katzer used in a proprietary application and then patented. When Katzer started sending invoices to Jacobsen (for what was essentially Jacobsen's own work), Jacobsen took the case to court and scored a victory that — for the first time — lays down a legal foundation for the protection of open source developers. The case hasn't generated as many headlines as it should."

Comment There are many kinds of bananas (Score 5, Interesting) 519

more genetic variation means more resistance to the weakness of monoculture

I live in Brazil where there are many types of bananas available. Any supermarket has at least three different types. Just off my head, I can name at least six types of Brazilian bananas: Ouro ("gold"), Prata ("silver"), d'Agua ("water"), Maçã ("apple"), Nanica ("dwarf"), da Terra ("earth").

India Third to Appeal ISO's OOXML Approval 99

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "India is now the third country to appeal the ISO's approval of OOXML, with their appeal arriving just before the deadline last night. According to PC World, this makes OOXML the first BRM process under ISO/JTC 1 to be appealed, which leaves us in uncharted territory. Although there was substantial confusion in the comments on yesterday's story, Brazil is really appealing, not merely disapproving, of OOXML, having sent a letter that begins with 'The Associação Brasileira de Normas Técnicas (ABNT), as a P member of ISO/IEC/JTC1/SC34, would like to present, to ISO/IEC/JTC1 and ISO/IEC/JTC1/SC34, this appeal for reconsideration of the ISO/IEC DIS 29500 final result.' Groklaw speculates that this may have something to do with Microsoft hedging their bets by supporting ODF 1.1 in Office 2007, though we probably won't see any more countries appeal now that the deadline has passed."

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