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October 2017
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Energy Group Labels Creators Of Video Game As 'Eco-Terrorists'

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The fever-pitch from those that claim that violent video games lead to real-life malicious activity is such that it produces some truly dumb diatribes and soundbites. Despite vast evidence that human beings are at least intelligent enough to separate digital violence from real-world violence, and given how rife with error and purposeful obfuscation the opposing research has been, we still get the silliness. Dr. Oz spouts off about the harm video games do to teenagers, forgetting to back it up with anything resembling evidence for his position. Dan Brown was sure video games lead to real-life violence, forgetting apparently that his own novels are stuffed with violent episodes. And Pat Robertson told his addled audiences that killing in a game is no different at all than killing someone in real life, indicating that we are a nation chock full of mass murderers that will be judged harshly by the Lord his god.But it's something of a new low to see oil-business advocacy group Energy Builders attempt to label the creator of a video game an "eco-terrorist" because the game includes some mild violence against oil pipelines.

“Thunderbird Strike” is a Windows PC game that allows players to take the form of a thunderbird. The mythological creature, rooted in indigenous culture, flies from the Alberta’s tar sands to the Great Lakes, where environmentalists are currently challenging Enbridge’s Line 5, a 645-mile-long crude oil pipeline. Players use lightning strikes to gain points by destroying pipeline equipment, but they can also revive animal skeletons.The game sends an obvious message in support of political activism, offering advice on its website for users who want to take action against fossil fuel extraction. That’s not pipeline-advocate Energy Builders’ apparent problem, though. Its issue it has is with users blowing up pipelines, according to a press release. Energy Builders considers this signature move “an act of domestic terrorism.”
First off, it's been quite nice to not hear form Energy Builders on all the other violent video games out there that allow you to perform actions much more insidious compared with fantasy-striking an oil pipeline with a lightning-bird. I guess all the fictional and virtual murder out there that got Pat Robertson's sin-detector humming is of no concern to Energy Builders, whereas virtual violence against some metal and plastic is a bridge too far. It's tempting to wave off these comments as simple oil industry silliness, except that calls for anything resembling eco-activism as terrorism have become a kind of sport for the industry, often with dire consequences at the federal level.
Linking environmentalists with terrorism is becoming a popular way of attacking activists. In Congress, 84 members (including four Texas Democrats) sent Attorney General Jeff Sessions a letter Monday asking him to label environmental activists as terrorists.They don't use the term explicitly, but mention 18 U.S. Code 2331, which is all about defining international and domestic terrorism.
It's quite easy to see how an innocent game-maker might be "accidentally" lumped in with groups far more extreme in their actions. That's the real danger with an energy group happily throwing around words it knows are irresponsible.Meanwhile, I imagine the game's creator might want to send a fruit basket to Energy Builders for propelling the game into the public consciousness with all of this silliness. This kind of Streisand Effect is almost classic in nature, with news coverage of the game so hated by Energy Builder supercharging the attention it is receiving.

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posted at: 12:00am on 31-Oct-2017
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Move By Top Chinese University Could Mean Journal Impact Factors Begin To Lose Their Influence

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The so-called "impact factors" of journals play a major role in the academic world. And yet people have been warning about their deep flaws for many years. Here, for example, is Professor Stephen Curry, a leading advocate of open access, writing on the topic back in 2012:

I am sick of impact factors and so is science.The impact factor might have started out as a good idea, but its time has come and gone. Conceived by Eugene Garfield in the 1970s as a useful tool for research libraries to judge the relative merits of journals when allocating their subscription budgets, the impact factor is calculated annually as the mean number of citations to articles published in any given journal in the two preceding years.
The rest of that article and the 233 comments that follow it explain in detail why impact factors are a problem, and why they need to be discarded. The hard part is coming up with other ways of gauging the influence of people who write in high-profile publications -- one of the main reasons why many academics cling to the impact factor system. A story in Nature reports on a bold idea from a top Chinese university in this area:
One of China's most prestigious universities plans to give some articles in newspapers and posts on major social-media outlets the same weight as peer-reviewed publications when it evaluates researchers.
It will work like this:
articles have to be original, written by the researcher and at least 1,000 words long; they need to be picked up by major news outlets and widely disseminated through social media; and they need to have been seen by a large number of people. The policy requires an article to be viewed more than 100,000 times on WeChat, China's most popular instant-messaging service, or 400,000 times on news aggregators such as Toutiao. Articles that meet the criteria will be considered publications, alongside papers in peer-reviewed journals.The university has also established a publication hierarchy, with official media outlets such as the People's Daily considered most important, regional newspapers and magazines occupying a second tier, and online news sites such as Sina, NetEase or Sohu ranking third./blockquote>
One of the advantages of this idea is that it recognizes that publishing in non-academic titles can be just as valid as appearing in conventional peer-reviewed journals. It also has the big benefit of encouraging academics to communicate with the public -- something that happens too rarely at the moment. That, in its turn, might help experts learn how to explain their often complex work in simple terms. At the same time, it would allow non-experts to hear about exciting new ideas straight from the top people in the field, rather than mediated through journalists, who may misunderstand or distort various aspects.However, there are clear risks, too. For example, there is a danger that newspapers and magazines will be unwilling to accept articles about difficult work, or from controversial academics. Equally, mediocre researchers that hew to the government line may benefit from increased exposure, even resulting in them being promoted ahead of other, more independent-minded academics. Those are certainly issues. But what's interesting here is not just the details of the policy itself, but the fact that it was devised and is being tried in China. That's another sign that the country is increasingly a leader in many areas, and no longer a follower.Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

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posted at: 12:00am on 31-Oct-2017
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This Week In Techdirt History: October 22nd - 28th

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Five Years AgoThis week in 2012, we noted that the US was remaining steadfast in its opposition to a treaty promoting access to creative works for the disabled, and it was beginning to become clear that negotiators were holding it hostage in order to demand a new ACTA or SOPA-like regime. Meanwhile, the Librarian of Copyright announced the new anti-circumvention exceptions... and denied DVD ripping rights, and knocked phone unlocking off the list. Aereo was pointing out that it was being accused of infringement specifically because it closely followed the law, while the infamous John Steele was giving extremely stupid justifications for his copyright trolling activities. Also, this was the week that some Italian scientists were (shockingly and unbelievably) convicted of manslaughter for failing to predict an earthquake.Ten Years AgoThis week in 2007, the UK made the highly questionable move of arresting the operator of TVLinks for "facilitating infringement", right as the IFPI was celebrating its whac-a-mole success of shutting down the OiNK torrent tracker — and, seemingly high off these "victories", the UK parliament started mulling over the idea of forcing ISPs to block file sharing. (Sadly all this anti-filesharing sentiment seemed to be succeeding in making everyone forget that P2P is a powerful concept with all sorts of applications).Fifteen Years AgoSpeaking of P2P, this week in 2002 it appeared that the pushback against the horrible "Hollywood Hacking" bill was having at least some impact, even as movie studios and the RIAA were going around trying to warn everyone they could about the dangers of file sharing — though they apparently were successfully confusing everyone, what with some writers thinking that any act of burning a CD must be music piracy and eBay blocking a musician from selling his own music under the assumption it was infringing. The copyright fight was so annoying it was even slowing down broadband growth, so amidst all this it was nice to see at least one person fighting the good fight, with Lawrence Lessig doing everything possible to spread a better understanding of intellectual property.

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posted at: 12:00am on 29-Oct-2017
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NY Times Uncritically Says Fake News Debate Supports Chinese Style Censorship

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It used to be a laughable claim: that the US should emulate the Great Firewall of China and support much greater internet censorship. Sure, you'd have people like the MPAA's Chris Dodd or U2 frontman Bono cheer on Chinese censorship as a good example of how to censor the internet (in their cases, to block infringing content), but most people still remained rightly horrified by the idea that the answer to "bad" content online is a massive censorship regime. But, apparently, that may be changing.Last year, right after the election, we directly warned that everyone freaking out about "fake news" on Facebook would eventually lead to calls to censor the internet a la China. And, now the NY Times has taken a big step in that direction, by posting a ridiculous article talking about how China has been "vindicated" by its approach to censoring the internet:

For years, the United States and others saw this sort of heavy-handed censorship as a sign of political vulnerability and a barrier to China's economic development. But as countries in the West discuss potential internet restrictions and wring their hands over fake news, hacking and foreign meddling, some in China see a powerful affirmation of the country's vision for the internet.This kind of thing would not happen here, Mr. Zhao said of the controversy over Russia's influence in the American presidential election last year.
Of course, as Ben Thompson pointed out, the reason it won't happen in China is because there are no Presidential elections in China:
While the NY Times does attempt to present some "balance" in the form of "concerns" from human rights activists, it also celebrates some of the internet's censors in China, and says that the success of Chinese internet companies is proof that censorship doesn't appear to harm innovation. The article closes on a chilling example of a "volunteer" spying on fellow internet users, and handing them happily over to the police -- and suggesting that this is a good way to stop bad people online:
In a restaurant called Europa, Mr. Zhao who declined to disclose details of where and how he works described China's system not as Big Brother so much as a younger brother, which he is, protecting children, like those of his sister, from harmful material.Even though the internet is virtual, it is still part of society, he added. So in any space I feel no one should create pornographic, illegal or violent posts.In his new capacity, he scours Weibo in search of the lurid and illicit. Some posts, he explained, are thinly veiled solicitations for pornography or prostitution, including one message he reported to the police the other day for using what he said was a euphemism for selling sex.When he reports abuse, it is the police who follow up. He excitedly displayed his smartphone to show the latest of his more than 3,000 followers on Weibo: the division of the Beijing police that monitors the internet.Normally, if you don't do bad things, you don't get followed by the police, he said. I think this for someone who has been online for so many years is really special.
Those paragraphs should be chilling for those who believe in free speech or who have even the slightest knowledge of the history of authoritarianism and how governments -- including China's -- stamp out alternative and reformist viewpoints with an iron fist. It should be antithetical to how we operate here, and to have the NY Times post a pretty glowing profile of the Great Firewall of China is downright frightening.

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posted at: 12:00am on 28-Oct-2017
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How Microsoft Delayed A Wildly Popular Xbox Feature To Clean Up Its Wildly Unpopular Always Online Plans

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The Xbox One has been back in the news recently as Microsoft has rolled out an update that makes the system backwards compatible with some original Xbox games. Much as with the backwards compatibility roll out for Xbox 360 games that Microsoft performed in 2015, fans of the system have been cheering this on. It's something a no-brainer, with this functionality making the system all the more appealing and increasing brand loyalty for the console as gamers will be conditioned to expect that the investments they've made in gaming titles won't go to waste once the shelf-life of a particular generation of systems runs its course.Which raises the obvious question: why in the world did Microsoft wait until 2015 to put backwards compatibility in place? The answer, it seems, is that Microsoft suddenly became too busy cleaning up after the backlash to its always-online plans for the Xbox One to roll it out.

That nugget comes from a wide-ranging behind-the-scenes look at Microsoft's backward compatibility efforts posted on IGN this morning. Amid quotes from an array of Microsoft employees involved in the backward-compatibility development and rollout, writer Ryan McCaffrey includes this tidbit (emphasis added):The fan-first feature has evolved from an experiment conducted by two separate Microsoft Research teams into a service planned for Xbox One's launch—complete with hardware hooks baked into the Durango silicon—until the well-publicized changes to the Xbox One policies (namely, stripping out the always-online requirement for the console) forced it to be pushed to the back burner.
Another way to put this would be: Microsoft had to spend so much time disabling a "feature" in its console that it should have known pretty much everyone would hate that it delayed enabling a feature it knew everyone would love. If that isn't a lesson in why companies should put their customer desires first and foremost in their minds, I don't what is.If you don't remember what the console wars of 2013 were like, they were pure pandemonium for the Xbox. The always-online requirement was the headliner for this whole fiasco, but there were also questions about whether or not the Xbox One would allow used games to be played on it at all. Sony, meanwhile, took happy delight in reminding the public that its Playstation console had none of these questions attached to it. The result was a predictable loss for Xbox from a sales perspective, even as Microsoft then had to spend time and money to remove the always-online requirement.
And earlier this year, former Xbox Chief Marketing Officer Yusuf Mehdi reflected in a LinkedIn posthow "it required great technical work" to change course and reverse "a few key decisions regarding connectivity requirements and how games would be purchased that didn't land well with fans."That kind of "great technical work" isn't free in terms of time or worker attention, and IGN's reporting suggests that Xbox 360 backward compatibility was an initial victim of that change in focus.
Maybe next time give your customers what they want rather than telling them what they want?

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posted at: 12:00am on 28-Oct-2017
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The Evolution of TV and Video Ad Measurement

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The post The Evolution of TV and Video Ad Measurement appeared first on Adotas.

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posted at: 12:00am on 27-Oct-2017
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Getting Social: Do you have an affinity for it?

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Adotas talks with Sree Nagarajan, CEO of AffinityAnswers (pictured left), about social affinity. Q: Lots of marketers use social actions such as Facebook “likes” as a show of interest in brands. How does social “affinity” differ? A: Social affinity is designed to predict and quantify audiences that are in the ‘pre-intent’ phase – that place […]The post Getting Social: Do you have an affinity for it? appeared first on Adotas.

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posted at: 12:00am on 27-Oct-2017
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Russian Site-Blocking Operation Embroiled In Corruption Scandal

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Rozcomnadzor has been featured in our pages often as of late. The Russian agency tasked with censoring the internet for any number of reasons including copyright, discussions about illicit behavior, and supposed security risks from anonymous speech, has actually proven itself to be far better at sweeping up innocent sites in its efforts in the kind of collateral damage normally reserved for cluster bombs. This was always going to be the case with a censorship operation such as this, with the only real question being whether it would be corruption or ineptitude that would take center stage.Thus far, ineptitude has been the order of the day. But that seems to be changing, with several people at the top of Rozcomnadzor coming under investigation for what would amount to fairly blatant corruption.

News that something was potentially amiss began leaking out two weeks ago, when Russian publication Vedomosti reported on a court process in which the initials of the defendants appeared to coincide with officials at Rozcomnadzor. The publication suspected that three men were involved; Roskomnadzor spokesman Vadim Ampelonsky, head of the legal department Boris Yedidin, and Alexander Veselchakov, who acts as an advisor to the head of the department monitoring radio frequencies.The prosecution’s case indicated that the defendants were involved in “fraud committed by an organized group either on an especially large scale or entailing the deprivation of citizen’s rights.” Indeed, no further details were made available, with the head of Rozcomnadzor Alexander Zharov claiming he knew nothing about a criminal case and refusing to answer questions.
You might be suspecting that the sort of corruption alleged here involves how the agency is whitelisting or blacklisting sites in its censorship duties. It's actually corruption in the opposite direction, however. The Russian government is alleging that these three agency executives created fake employees for the organization and then siphoned the government money for their salaries into their own pockets. Government corruption being something of a Russian national pastime, you would be forgiven for thinking this would induce nothing more than shrugs from the Russian government. Still, it appears you would be very, very wrong about that.Four employees of the agency ended up being charged with fraud after what looks to be a fairly deep investigation by Russian FSB.
It’s reported that FSB officers have been spying on Rozcomnadzor officials for six months, listening to their phone conversations, monitoring their bank accounts, and even watching the ATM machines they used.Local media reports indicate that the illegal salary scheme ran from 2012 until February 2017 and involved some 20 million rubles ($347,000) of illegal payments. These were allegedly used to retain ‘valuable’ employees when their regular salaries were not lucrative enough to keep them at the site-blocking body.
The obvious question should be this: if a censorship agency like Rozcomnadzor is willing to put these kinds of corrupt practices in place up the chain to the higher levels of government, is there any doubt at all that it would behave equally or more corrupt down the chain to those under its responsibilities?

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posted at: 12:00am on 27-Oct-2017
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San Francisco, Seattle Tire of Comcast, Mull Building Citywide Fiber Networks

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It probably goes without saying that while improving in spots, American broadband isn't much to write home about. Americans pay more money for slower service and worse customer support than a long list of developed countries. Some of that's thanks to geography, but more of it's due to a lack of competition. That lack of competition is, by proxy, thanks to our refusal to address the stranglehold these giant companies have over our federal and state regulators and lawmakers. Instead of fixing this problem, current regulators seem more interested in weakening deployment definitions to help industry pretend the problem doesn't exist.In a growing number of towns and cities, residents have increasingly pushed to either build their own broadband networks, or strike public/private partnerships to help improve service quality and availability. Instead of trying to make these efforts irrelevant by offering better service at lower rates, incumbent ISPs have focused on paying often clueless lawmakers to help pass protectionist bills restricting what locals can and can't do with their own local infrastructure and taxpayer dollars. More than twenty states have now passed laws to this effect quite literally written by ISP lobbyists.Both San Francisco and Seattle have considered building their own broadband networks in a quest to end this duopoly logjam. In Seattle, Mayoral Candidate Cary Moon is promising to build a citywide fiber network if elected, something lobbying spending indicates is making regional ISPs Comcast and CenturyLink nervous. And in San Francisco, the city is now promising to build the biggest municipal broadband network yet, with a new report (pdf) indicating the cost to connect every home and business in the city would be somewhere around $1.9 billion.Unlike some projects where the city owns both the network and the service provided on top, San Francisco's model would be open access -- meaning any ISP -- small or large -- would be invited in to compete:

"Our approach is to create as much market competition as possible at both the dark fiber and lit services layers. In this approach, the City's concessionaires would not enter the internet business, but rather would enable robust private sector competition."
Back in 2009, an FCC study found that such open access models result in more competition and lower rates (pdf). But, overly-influenced by large ISPs terrified of competition, the FCC promptly put the study in a drawer and forgot about it. Isolated municipal broadband deployments still sometimes embrace the idea, however. Like in Ammon, Idaho, where the municipal network there lets consumers switch between multiple ISPs in a matter of seconds if they're dissatisfied with their carrier. Open access was the model Google Fiber originally promised it would pursue with its own gigabit fiber build before promptly backpedaling.Over at Wired, Harvard Law Professor Susan Crawford argues that the open access model provides a good balance to ISP worries that the government itself would somehow be a competitor incentivized to disadvantage private sector companies:
The city would not be in the business of competing with existing providers in this model, but would, instead, be providing basic infrastructure that any company could usethe connectivity equivalent of a city street grid. The cost to the public of borrowing the money to build this basic networkestimated at about $1.5 billion by CTCwould be significantly lowered by leasing revenue from advance arrangements with operators. The city would subsidize low-income residents wishing to subscribe for fiber services from those private operators. CTC sets forth a detailed timeline for getting all of this done.What's great about this suggestion is that it removes any political argument that the city is somehow undermining the private market for internet access services. At the same time, a dark fiber public-private partnership would dramatically lower the cost for the private market to do what it does best: directly serve customers in a competitive environment that, on its own, produces low costs and innovation.
Over the years big ISPs and their policy armies have worked tirelessly to demonize municipal broadband as inevitable taxpayer disasters. But again, municipal broadband isn't a panacea; like any business plan it depends on the proposal and implementation. But neither is municipal broadband an automatic boondoggle, and those that adhere to this over-simplistic absolutist thinking often like to ignore a few things.Like the fact that many of these networks struggle or fail because they're immediately met with either lawsuits or massive disinformation efforts bankrolled by ISPs, designed to kill many of these efforts before they've even gotten their footing. Also ignored is the fact that taxpayers have already spent billions upon billions on incumbent ISPs that consistently engage in outright fraud and waste, leaving citizens on the financial hook for fiber upgrades promised but never deployed. Most ignored however is the fact that these towns and cities wouldn't be considering such drastic measures if they were happy with existing broadband services.Again, none of this is to say municipal broadband is a silver bullet, either. But it should be clear to anybody that has spent more than ten seconds dealing with Comcast or their local telco that the industry is broken, and it's going to take some creativity to fix it. And whether to build and run a local broadband network should be left up to local residents, not ISP lobbyists and policy wonks, living half a world away, whose entire goal is simply to keep the dysfunctional but hugely profitable status quo intact.

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posted at: 12:00am on 27-Oct-2017
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Gab Drops Its Lawsuit Against Google; Considers Trying Its Hand At Lobbying

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It seems like barely enough time has passed for the filing fee check to clear, but Twitter-alternative Gab's lawsuit against Google has already been dropped. (h/t SophisticatedJaneDoe)The dismissal [PDF] -- only the second item on the docket -- is as brief as the complaint (which alleged anti-trust violations by Google) was long.

Pursuant to F.R.C.P. 41(a)(1)(A)(i) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the plaintiff GAB AI, INC. and or their counsel, hereby give notice that the above-captioned action is voluntarily dismissed, without prejudice against the defendant.
Gab alleged Google's booting of its app from the Play store amounted to a anti-competitive action in service of its "partnership" with Twitter. Twitter had given Google access to its fire hose for its search engine. Google's booting of Gab, however, appeared to amount to little more than an inconsistent application of Play Store standards. This made Google look bad, but didn't seem to back up claims of a Google-Twitter conspiracy to keep Gab's app out of the public's hands. (Adding to this lack of evidence was the fact Twitter was never listed as a defendant.)There's nothing to be gleaned from the voluntary dismissal -- one that would allow Gab to refile in the future if it again feels this is the best route to take. Gab has released a statement shedding some light on the subject, however. The platform's reps feel Gab's time and energy may be better spent pursuing other options.
In light of antitrust attorney Joseph Simons being nominated to lead the FTC, Gab has decided to withdraw our antitrust case against Google. Gab has been in productive back-channel talks with Google since our initial filing of the case. We were encouraged to resubmit our app before the Android store, as opposed to going forth with continued expensive litigation, of which would have cost the company a great fortune in both time and resources. Google has instead offered Gab an opportunity to resubmit our application for an appeal to be reviewed for placement on their Google Play Store, which we are in the process of doing as we speak.
Gab also appears to be getting into the lobbying business. The post notes it will be focusing its efforts on pushing Congress towards taking action against "monopolized tech giants." Gab is also considering filing a complaint with the FTC and, apparently, expanding its tech business CV by "building a… decentralized internet."While none of these efforts would prevent Gab from suing Google over its ejection of the Gab app, it at least appears the platform's principals have decided there are better ways to be the change they want to see in the tech world.

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posted at: 12:00am on 26-Oct-2017
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Copyright Office Will Renew Previous DMCA Exemptions Without Much Fuss -- But Why Is This Even Necessary?

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For years we've written about the idiocy of the DMCA's 1201 triennial review. If you don't recall, Section 1201 of the DMCA is the "anti-circumvention" part of the law, saying that anything that gets around DRM is, itself, copyright infringement. This was so obviously stupid and counterproductive when it passed, and Congress knew it was so obviously stupid and counterproductive, that it included an even stupider "safety valve" to deal with the obviously bad results of the law. That safety valve, known as the "triennial review" is that every three years, people need to beg and plead with the Copyright Office and the Librarian of Congress to make explicit exemptions from the law, where circumventing DRM won't be considered infringing. Over the years, this lengthy and costly process has at least allowed certain key exemptions for security and academic research. Though, of course, even when exemptions are granted, it's often a hot mess.But, astoundingly, the exemptions only last until the following triennial review, meaning that every few years, everyone has to waste their time and go through the whole damn process again. This blew up in everyone's face in 2012 when the Librarian of Congress rejected an exemption for phone unlocking that had been in place for the previous round. Lots of people got angry, and even the White House weighed in to say it was a mistake that should be fixed. Of course, rather than fixing Section 1201, they just passed a separate law specific to phone unblocking.However, the whole issue got so much attention and so much interest (both from the public and politicians) that I'd be surprised if the Copyright Office ever decided to drop an exemption after it had been issued. And, indeed in the newly released notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on the latest exemptions, the Copyright Office easily renews all of the old exemptions:

As detailed below, after reviewing the petitions for renewal and comments inresponse, the Office concludes that it has received a sufficient petition to renew eachexisting exemption and it does not find any meaningful opposition to renewal. Accordingly, the Register intends to recommend readoption of all existing exemptions intheir current form.
That's great, though it's crazy that this process even needs to happen each year, wasting everyone's time, energy and money.Unfortunately, the Copyright Office had a chance to go further, but declined. In the Notice of Inquiry about this, the Copyright Office asked for input on regulatory language that could ease the situation for renewing existing exemptions, but in a footnote, the Copyright Office declines to make any suggestions:
Although the Office's Notice of Inquiry stated that this NPRM would set forth proposedregulatory language for any existing exemptions the Office intends to recommend for readoption,because many of the new petitions seek to expand existing exemptions, the Office concludes thatproposing regulatory language at this time would be premature; the Register may propose alteringcurrent regulatory language to expand the scope of an existing exemption, where the recordsuggests such a change is appropriate.
Of course, all of this still leaves open the much wider question of why do we need Section 1201 in the first place? If someone infringes on someone's copyright, go after them for that. The whole focus on circumventing DRM is a distraction that has created numerous problems for lots and lots of people -- especially security and academic researchers. 1201 was never useful and it's time to just do away with it entirely.

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posted at: 12:00am on 26-Oct-2017
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A Public Focused Approach To Net Neutrality

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Net neutrality is the idea that Internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all data that travels over their networks fairly, without improper discrimination in favor of particular apps, sites or services. It's a principle that's faced many threats over the years from ISPs and government agencies seeking to exercise control over the free and open Internet.With the roll back of net neutrality protections looming, many people are now asking, "What if there is no net neutrality?"This "what-if" debate is surprising, however, because we have a clear, documented history of the kinds of non-neutral, discriminatory practices that ISPs have actually deployed in recent years. Here are just a few ways ISPs have throttled or blocked content in the past:

  • Packet forgery: In 2007 Comcast was caught interfering with their customers’ use of BitTorrent and other peer-to-peer file sharing
  • Discriminatory traffic shaping that prioritizes some protocols over others: a Canadian ISP slowed down all encrypted file transfers for five years
  • Prohibitions on tethering: the FCC fined Verizon for charging consumers for using their phone as a mobile hotspot
  • Overreaching clauses in ISP terms of service, such as prohibitions on sharing your home Wi-Fi network
  • Hindering innovation with "fast lane" discrimination that allows wireless customers without data plans to access certain sites but not the whole Internet
  • Hijacking and interference with DNS, search engines, HTTP transmission, and other basic Internet functionality to inject ads and raise revenue from affiliate marketing schemes, from companies like Paxfire, FairEagle, and others
Individually and collectively, these practices pose a dire threat to this purely democratic engine of innovation that has allowed hackers, startups, and kids in their college dorm rooms to create the free Internet that we know and love today.Nonetheless, Ajit Pai, the new FCC Chairman backed by many Congressmen and a very powerful lobby, is moving forward to reverse net neutrality protections. At stake are the net neutrality rules that would allow Comcast and other ISPs to once again engage in non-neutral market practices like forging packets and blocking some Internet traffic.Chairman Pai's actions ignore the overwhelming sentiment of over 22 million Internet users who have contacted the FCC in an unprecedented outreach to government to express their views on net neutrality. According to a poll this summer the public support to protect net neutrality is overwhelming. 77 percent of those surveyed support net neutrality protections, as codified in the FCC's 2015 Open Internet order. And support for the FCC's policy is bipartisan, with 73 percent of Republicans, 80 percent of Democrats, and 76 percent of Independents in favor of the rules.It is tempting to reach for easy solutions, but handing the problem over to a government agency with strong industry ties and poor mechanisms for public accountability poses a real danger of creating more problems than we’d solve.One alternative is to foster a genuinely competitive market for Internet access. If subscribers and customers had adequate information about their options and could vote with their feet, ISPs would have strong incentives to treat all network traffic fairly. But the ISP market today is under oligopoly control. Nearly one in three American households have no choice when it comes to their Internet, and for all the other consumers choices are quite limited.Another scenario would be for Congress to step in and pass net neutrality legislation that outlines what the ISPs are not allowed to do. But fighting giant ISP mega-corporations (and their army of lobbyists) in Congress promises to be a tough battle.Yet another option: empower subscribers to not just test their ISP, but challenge it in court if they detect harmful non-neutral practices. That gives all of us the chance to be watchdogs of the public interest, but it too, is likely to face powerful ISP opposition.Net neutrality is a hard problem, and will remain challenging. But one guiding principle to keep in mind is that any effort to defend net neutrality should use the lightest touch possible, encourage a competitive marketplace, and focus on preventing discriminatory conduct by ISPs.Internet freedom means that all Internet traffic should be treated fairly and without gatekeepers to determine winners and losers. Special deals with a few companies will inevitably inhibit competition, thwart innovation and suppress free speech and expression through throttling, packet forgery and paid prioritizations. There is simply no evidence that Internet users can trust the ISP oligopoly, the FCC, or any government agency with open-ended regulatory authority of the Internet. In fact the evidence is clear to the contrary.Free and open access to the Internet is a universal right. Let's seek solutions to protect net neutrality that empower users with free (as in freedom) Internet access. The power of the Internet belongs with the people.John Ottman is Chairman and co-founder of Minds, Inc. a social media network. He is also an enterprise software industry executive, and the author of Save the Database, Save the World, a book on database security.

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Police Camera Study Shows New Tech Having Little Effect On Misconduct And Excessive Force

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The results of another police camera study are in and there's not much good news in them. While cautiously hailed as tools of accountability, body worn cameras so far have proven to be anything but. In the early days of body camera adoption, a study of a pilot program in Rialto, California produced very positive results.

When cops in a Rialto, California were forced to wear cameras, their use of force dropped by over two-thirds. Additionally, the officers who were not made to wear the cameras used force twice as much as those who did. This strongly suggests the majority of the time police use force is unnecessary. In other words, the majority of the time these officers used force they were simply committing acts of violence which they don't feel comfortable committing if it's captured on film...The Rialto study began in February 2012 and will run until this July. The results from the first 12 months are striking. Even with only half of the 54 uniformed patrol officers wearing cameras at any given time, the department over all had an 88 percent decline in the number of complaints filed against officers, compared with the 12 months before the study, to 3 from 24.
The study's length suggested positive long-term results but the small sample size may have skewed the results. Another contributing factor could have been the "newness" of the devices themselves -- something that may have led officers to act with more restraint than usual.But as more and more police departments have deployed body cameras, the results have been less and less positive. A study published last year suggested body worn cameras actually led to an increase in violence -- a 3.64% uptick in fatal shootings by officers. Of course, this increase may have been nothing more than a deviation from the mean. But it still pointed towards cameras being anything but a cheap, scalable fix for officer misconduct.The latest report covers the Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department's body camera pilot program. The data is drawn from 2,000 MPD officers over a period of 18 months. Again, the results suggest body cameras aren't going to change policing for the better. From the report [PDF] (via the New York Times):
We learned that BWCs do not have detectable average effects on documented uses of force or civilian complaints.
More scientifically:
We are unable to reject the null hypotheses that BWCs have no effect on police use of force, citizen complaints, policing activity, or judicial outcomes. Because our study has a large enough sample size to detect small effect sizes, these failures to reject the null are unlikely to be due to insufficient statistical power, at least for uses of force and complaints. (Our estimates of average effects in the judicial outcomes category occasionally have much wider confidence intervals.) We consider here a few possible explanations for our null findings.First and most obviously, it is possible the null finding needs no explanation: the devices, in fact, have no effect on the measured behaviors, and the video footage they produce has no effect on judicial outcomes. Perhaps neither the officer nor citizen involved in an interaction are actually aware of the camera, either due to attention being diverted elsewhere or desensitization over time to the presence of the cameras. Alternately, the officer and citizen may notice the cameras, but other factors in the heat of the moment may override any deterrent effect the cameras may have had.
Cameras do not act as a deterrent for police misconduct, according to these findings. There were case-by-case fluctuations, but the end result remained unchanged.The report doesn't discuss any outside factors possibly contributing to this lack of deterrence. But there are several reasons police behavior may remain unmodified after the deployment of cameras. Restrictive public records policies can insulate officers from accountability, leading to little or no change in police behavior. Fortunately, the Metro PD's BWC footage policy does not automatically exempt it from public records laws, although it does tend to discourage complainants from seeking footage of possible misconduct.
A person alleging non-criminal misconduct related to an interaction with an MPD officer, such as rudeness and unprofessionalism on the part of the officer, shall be able to schedule a time to view unredacted BWC footage of the incident at the police station in the police district where the alleged misconduct occurred…
Another possible contributing factor is the lack of meaningful punishments for officers who fail to activate cameras or tamper with recorded footage. This may not have had much of an effect on this study, as officers knew they were being watched by the group performing the study. The report notes no instances of tampering or questionable camera activation were observed during the 18-month pilot period.But the biggest contributing factor to zero change in officer behavior is police culture itself. The Metro PD has had its problems with misconduct and excessive force. This is from a 2001 DOJ report on the DC police.
Through analysis of a random sample, the DOJ determined that in approximately 15% of the use of force incidents, the force used by MPD officers was excessive, compared to an expected occurrence rate of 1 to 2%. Other DOJ findings included disproportionate incidents of force used by off-duty officers (14% of incidents); subjects being charged with "assault on a police officer" when force was deployed (1/3 of incidents); incidents of a gun not found on the subject, despite officers reporting that subject appeared to be reaching for a weapon (22% of incidents); and excessive incidents of police dog bites (bites occurring in 70% of canine deployments, compared to an expected bite rate of 10%). The DOJ determined that MPD lacked a comprehensive program to minimize the use of excessive force, had an inadequate system for investigating citizen complaints of officer misconduct, and had significant deficiencies in its training program.
Over the past decade, DC Metro Police has paid out $31.6 million in settlements and fielded nearly 175 civil rights lawsuits. And, in general, use of force by MPD officers has remained constant over the same time period, suggesting it takes a bit more to reach the "excessive force" plateau needed to sustain allegations against officers. While the PD has taken a proactive approach to misconduct and excessive force following the 1999 DOJ investigation, follow-up reports show the PD has narrowed its definition of "force" to exclude many forms of force deployment from its mandatory reporting.If the consequences for misconduct are minimal, officers won't change their behavior even if they've got cameras pinned to their chests. Cameras are only a small part of police accountability. The largest contributor to better behavior by officers is the department itself. If it makes de-escalation and respectful behavior a priority -- and follows this up with serious punishments for violations -- cameras will be filled with exonerating footage. If not, force deployments and potential misconduct will remain nearly unchanged as officers have little to fear even if the footage they capture shows them violating rights and deploying excessive force.

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Forensiq Next-Gen Fraud Detection Throws Flag on Sports Bot Biz

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Ad Fraud Prevention Innovator Exposes Sports Bot Using Latest Machine Learning Techniques. Forensiq, an ad fraud detection and prevention company, announced the release of its next generation of botnet detection algorithms, focused on exposing and preventing the latest methodologies to generate sophisticated invalid traffic and steal advertiser dollars. Forensiq’s second generation algorithms introduce dramatic improvements [...]

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Long Trail Brewing Sues East Coast Apparel Company Over 'Take A Hike' T-Shirt

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The last time we checked in with Long Trail Brewing, the Vermont brewery was busy fighting a Minnesota brewer that had dared to put a stick figure of a hiker on its beer can. It seems that rather than basing its trademark legal expeditions on any real or potential customer confusion, Long Trail views trademark law as a vehicle for monopoly and lawsuit-driven income. Long Trail is certainly not alone in this view, unfortunately, but it does have a penchant for taking this sort of thing to ridiculous lengths.Such as going after an apparel company for a simple t-shirt using an incredibly generic phrase, for instance. Long Trail has initiated a trademark lawsuit with a company called Chowdaheadz because the latter dared to make a shirt with the phrase "Take a hike" on it. As the filing explains, Long Trail has trademarked the phrase for its use and has sold apparel with the phrase on it.

8. Long Trail is, and it has been since the 1990's, engaged in the business of selling apparel and other products under the trademark Take a Hike. Since late last century, Long Trail has continuously used the trademark Take a Hike in connection with its apparel, beer and other products.9. Long Trail has expended and continues to expend a substantial amount of resources using, advancing, and promoting its trademark Take a Hike and the products and services with which it uses the trademark.10. Long Trail is engaged in a variety of socially and environmentally conscious efforts in the Vermont community and has used its trademark Take a Hike in support of those efforts.
Apparel is indeed among the trademarks Long Trail has for the phrase. However, on so common a phrase as "Take a hike", one imagines the bar for customer confusion is quite high. That is all the more so when the target for an infringement suit, in this case Chowdaheadz, uses the phrase in a way that calls nothing about Long Trail, or any other beer for that matter, to mind. Long Trail can and does attempt to drive the point that its use of the phrase on a number of mediums has created a public association with the brewery... but that's ridiculous. Nobody traveling to the Chowdaheadz website and perusing the cornucopia of apparel it has there, and then coming across the following t-shirt, is going to somehow conclude that there is any association with Long Trail.

If you can find customer confusion in that t-shirt, you've got a brain malfunction. It's also worth noting that there are roughly a zillion companies out there with "Take a hike" t-shirts, so why Chowdaheadz has been singled out for this legal action is puzzling. For its part, Chowdaheadz says it isn't backing down. In its response to Long Trail's initial threats, its legal team said:
While we appreciate that your client has used “TAKE A HIKE” on clothing and miscellaneous items for many years, we must point out that the phrase itself appears in every English-language dictionary in publication, and has been in widespread public use since at least as early as 1809. It is the epitome of the type of common, generic phrase that should not be monopolized by a single owner.To illustrate this point, representative examples of clothing items for sale with the phrase “Take a Hike” on them are attached to this letter. You will note that Google retrieved listings for 642,000 such items in 0.46 seconds. You may also note that my client’s item appeared as the top search result, while, in contrast, your client did not appear at all.
It's hard to see how a claim of either genericide or that the phrase was generic prior to Long Trail's registration won't be seen to have merit. In other words, Long Trail risks losing its trademark entirely by being the bully. I'm struggling to see how this was anything resembling an intelligent business decision by the brewery.

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How To Avoid Future Krack-Like Failures: Create Well-Maintained 'Fat' Protocols Using Initial Coin Offerings

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It came as something of a shock to learn recently that several hugely-popular security protocols for Wi-Fi, including WPA (Wireless Protected Access) and WPA2, were vulnerable to a key re-installation attack (pdf). A useful introduction from the EFF puts things in context, while more technical details can be found on the krackattacks.com site, and in a great post by Matthew Green. As well as the obvious security implications, there's another angle to the Krack incident that Techdirt readers may find of note. It turns out that one important reason why what is a fairly simple flaw was not spotted earlier is that the main documentation was not easily accessible. As Wired explains:

The WPA2 protocol was developed by the Wi-Fi Alliance and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), which acts as a standards body for numerous technical industries, including wireless security. But unlike, say, Transport Layer Security [TLS], the popular cryptographic protocol used in web encryption, WPA2 doesn't make its specifications widely available. IEEE wireless security standards carry a retail cost of hundreds of dollars to access, and costs to review multiple interoperable standards can quickly add up to thousands of dollars.
The obvious way to avoid this issue is to ensure that key protocols are all freely available so that they can be scrutinized by the greatest number of people. But the Wired article points out that there's a different problem in that situation:
Even open standards like TLS experience major, damaging bugs at times. Open standards have broad community oversight, but don't have the funding for deep, robust maintenance and vetting
It's another well-known concern: just because protocols and software are open doesn't necessarily mean that people will find even obvious bugs. That's because they may not have the time to look for them, which in turn comes down to incentives and rewards. Peer esteem only goes to far, and even hackers have to eat. If they receive no direct reward for spending hours searching through code for bugs, they may not bother.So if we want to avoid major failures like the Krack vulnerability, we need to do two things. First, key protocols and software should be open and freely available. That's the easy part, since openness is now a well-accepted approach in the digital world. Secondly, we need to find a way to reward people for looking at all this stuff. As Krack shows, current incentives aren't working. But there's a new approach that some are touting as the way forward. It involves the fashionable idea of Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) of cryptocurrency tokens. A detailed article on qz.com explains how ICOs can be used to fund new software projects by encouraging people to buy tokens speculatively:
The user would pay for a token upfront, providing funds for coders to develop the promised technology. If the technology works as advertised and gains popularity, it should attract more users, thus increasing demand for the token offered at the start. As the token value increases, those early users who bought tokens will benefit from appreciating token prices.
It's that hope of future investment gains that would encourage people to buy ICO tokens from a risky venture. But it's not just the early users who benefit from a technology that takes off. A key idea of this kind of ICO is that the coders behind the technology would own a sizable proportion of the total token offering; as the technology becomes popular, and tokens gain in value, so does their holding.This novel approach could be applied to protocol development. The hope is that by creating "fat" protocols that can capture more of the value of the ecosystem that is built on top of them, there would be funds available to pay people to look for bugs in the system, which would be totally open. It's an intriguing idea -- one that may be worth trying given the problems with today's approaches.Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

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This Week In Techdirt History: October 15th - 21st

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Five Years AgoThis week in 2012, we saw more copyright nonsense as South Park was sued over a character design and textbook publisher Pearson managed to take down 15-million student and teacher blogs with a single DMCA notice — but of course, being punished for a bad DMCA notice was and is almost impossible. As we approached the 30-year anniversary of the CD, we lamented the lack of music industry innovation, while the numbers continued to show that file sharers are also big media buyers. And Harvey Weinstein made an appearance on Techdirt — over an unhinged rant about piracy.Ten Years AgoThis week in 2007 things weren't much different, though perhaps even sillier, with one law firm trying to use copyright to claim you can't look at its website's source code, a bunch of media companies claiming it's infringement to skip commercials, Congress pushing for anti-P2P laws with claims that P2P promotes identity theft, and the RIAA launching its lawsuit against Usenet.com. Amidst all this, YouTube made a major announcement and ContentID was born.Fifteen Years AgoAnd guess what? More of the same this week in 2002 — but it was a week when more people were noticing the problems. Some were (rightly) worrying about the future of expanding DRM, and talking about copyright law as the new prohibition and a tool that lets corporations destroy America's cultural heritage, and asking if we really want to put the dinosaurs in charge of evolution. Copyright defenders were hitting back weakly, with arguments amounting to "trust me" and "shut up, Gary Shapiro, we don't like you".

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PushSpring Teams Up with Pinsight to Expand Audience Targeting Data

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New Data Offering Includes Carrier-Level Demo, Interest & Intent Data. PushSpring, an independent app-based mobile audience platform, announced a new data offering from Pinsight Media, a first-party mobile data and insights provider and wholly-owned subsidiary of Sprint. Marketers will now be able to leverage Pinsight's carrier-level demographic, interest and intent data via PushSpring's self-serve Audience [...]

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Multiple Titles Using Denuvo Cracked On Release Day As Other Titles Planning To Use It Bail On It Completely

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If you've followed our series of posts about Denuvo, the DRM once claimed to be the end of video game piracy, you may have thought we had reached the end of its saga a couple of weeks ago when Denuvo-"protected" title Total War: Warhammer 2 was cracked and defeated within a day of its release. After all, once a game has been cracked in a time increment that can be measured in hours, you likely thought that was the finish line of Denuvo's lifespan.You were wrong. In the past week or so, multiple games that used Denuvo have been cracked on the same day as their release, with most of them being AAA titles from big publishers.

This week's release of South Park: The Fractured but Whole is the latest to see its protections broken less than 24 hours after its release, but it's not alone. Middle Earth: Shadow of War was broken within a day last week, and last month saw cracks for Total War: Warhammer 2 and FIFA 18the very same day as their public release.Those nearly instant Denuvo cracks follow summer releases like Sonic Mania, Tekken 7, and Prey, all of which saw DRM protection cracked within four to nine days of release. But even that small difference in the "uncracked" protection window can be important for game publishers, who usually see a large proportion of their legitimate sales in those first few days of availability.
With that window shrunk down to roughly zero days of protection for what is now multiple games coming out in a similar time period, it sure seems like the cracking groups have been able to replicate their successes in cracking this DRM with enough speed to make it wholly irrelevant. One imagines the folks behind Denuvo are at this point quite worried. And they should be, because even games that used Denuvo in their early-release versions are beginning to just drop it from their games as useless.
Then there's The Evil Within 2, which reportedly used Denuvo in prerelease review copies but then launched without that protection last week, effectively ceding the game to immediate potential piracy.
Now, the Ars post goes on to state that there have been rumors of a 5th release of Denuvo, with an update that the company hopes will once again render the DRM software something other than completely obsolete. But with publishers now dropping the software from their releases, even when they had fully planned on using Denuvo from the pre-release stage, you have to wonder just how much confidence any game publisher is going to have in release number 5.Given the precipitous fall Denuvo has had over its first four releases, any confidence on display by the publishers or Denuvo itself would certainly raise my eyebrows.

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NYPD Tells Judge Its $25 Million Forfeiture Database Has No Backup

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The NYPD is actively opposed to transparency. It does all it can to thwart outsiders from accessing any info about the department's inner workings. This has led to numerous lawsuits from public records requesters. It has also led to a long-running lawsuit featuring the Bronx Defenders, which has been trying to gain access to civil forfeiture documents for years.The NYPD has repeatedly claimed it simply cannot provide the records the Bronx Defenders (as well as other records requesters) have requested. Not because it doesn't want to, even though it surely doesn't. But because it can't.The department has spent $25 million on a forfeiture tracking system that can't even do the one thing it's supposed to do: track forfeitures. The Property and Evidence Tracking System (PETS) is apparently so complex and so badly constructed, the NYPD can't compile the records being sought.Oddly enough, the Bronx Defenders has pieced together enough data from the NYPD's broken PETS (along with other public records) to at least point out the glaring discrepancy between what the department publicly claims it has in its forfeiture accounts and what the database says it does.

At the hearing, the NYPD claimed that it only legally forfeited $11,653 in currency last year — that is, gone to court and actually made a case as to why the NYPD should be taking this money.[...]In the accounting summaries which the Bronx Defenders submitted as part of its testimony, the NYPD reports that as of December 2013, its property clerk had almost $69 million in seized cash on hand. This amount had been carried over from previous years, showing an annual accumulation of seized cash that has reached an enormous amount. The documents also show that each month, the five property clerk’s offices across the city took in tens of thousands of dollars in cash, ultimately generating over $6 million in revenue for the department.
When pressed in court, NYPD experts claim the NYPD lacks the expertise to extract the sought data from its forfeiture database. These assertions are at odds with the NYPD's self-perception: that it is fastest and smartest law enforcement agency in the US (better than the FBI, in fact) and foreign governments should be grateful its officers and analysts are showing up uninvited at scenes of overseas terrorist attacks.Somehow, these highly-trained officers are unable to extract data from a $25 million database. Maybe it's not the lack of talent. Maybe it's the lack of desire. Maybe the NYPD has zero interest in tracking this data because it doesn't want the public to see how much it has hoovered up or make it any easier for citizens to challenge forfeitures.The lawsuit continues, with the NYPD continuing to top itself with each round of expert testimony. As Adam Klasfield reports for Courthouse News, the NYPD's $25 million database is worth even less than previously assumed.
New York City is one power surge away from losing all of the data police have on millions of dollars in unclaimed forfeitures, a city attorney admitted to a flabbergasted judge on Tuesday.“That’s insane,” Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Arlene Bluth said repeatedly from the bench.
It is insane. There's no way around it. The assumption would be that a $25 million database has built-in redundancy. But of course it wouldn't. Not with the NYPD running it and not with its active disinterest in providing records to records requesters or having any accountability present in its forfeiture system.And why should the NYPD fix it? From its perspective, this is fine. Data goes in and never comes out. If it all disappears because someone trips over the power cord, the NYPD suffers no negative consequences. Everything it has taken over the years defaults to the NYPD until proven otherwise by claimants. And that's going to be a lot tougher to do when the NYPD has no records related to the forfeiture.The court is in no position to do anything about this. It can't order the NYPD to fix its system. All it can do is demand it comply with records requests and pay the legal fees of prevailing parties. But the NYPD can continue to run a useless system for the rest of whatever. The burden of proof in forfeiture cases is already shifted to claimants. A broken system places even more of a burden on those seeking return of their property, thanks to PETS being unable to confirm or deny existence of responsive records. It's GlomarDb and it makes a mockery of public records laws and due process simultaneously.

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How Travel Marketing & Technology are Growing Together

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Since the beginning of modern science fiction, Western culture has been obsessed with the idea of creating a machine that could behave, and even think, like a human without actually being one. From Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics to Arthur C. Clarke's HAL 9000, we imagined a need for rules and protections from what [...]

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Author Who Lost Copyright Case Over The Da Vinci Code In The US In 2007 Looks To Revive It In The UK In 2017

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Author Dan Brown is certainly not a stranger to copyright claims and lawsuits over his bestseller The Da Vinci Code. Not long after publishing the book in 2003 to wide acclaim, several legal actions took place against Brown and his publisher, as well as some action initiated by the publisher to stave off claims of copyright infringement and plagiarism. One such case that we did not cover here was brought by Jack Dunn of Massachusetts, who authored a book called The Vatican Boys, and sued Brown in Massachusetts for copyright infringement over the usual claims: there were claimed similarities in characters, plots, and factual assertions (including some that are erroneous in both). In 2007, Judge Michael Ponsor threw out the case, claiming that all the evidence Dunn's legal team provided amounted to thematic and structural similarities, which are not copyrightable.For the proceeding decade, Dunn simply went away. That is until he found another law firm willing to file another copyright suit against Brown, but this time in the UK. The suit is reportedly being prepped for filing, with Dunn's side making much of the impending legal action.

Dunn has hired London-based media law firm Keystone Law. In a letter to Penguin Random House, Keystone stated they intended to issue proceedings for copyright infringement unless they received a credible explanation from Brown and his researcher wife, Blythe Brown, for what they perceive to be extraordinary similarities in both works.Keystone Law’s letter stated: “There are hundreds of similarities between “The Vatican Boys” and “The Da Vinci Code” which comprise copying portions of TVB [“The Vatican Boys”] in the form of storylines, plots, characters, historical information, scenes, themes and even factual error which have been appropriated from TVB by Mr. and/or Mrs. Brown in writing The TDC [“The Da Vinci Code].”
It seems that the requested explanation from Brown or Penguin Random House will not be coming. In response, the publisher flatly rejected all of Dunn's claims and then helpfully put in written display, something like warning heads on pikes, all of the prior litigation by both Dunn and others that Brown and the publisher have fended off successfully.  There are several factors that should give Dunn and his legal team pause when it comes to actually filing this suit. Much of the reasoning by Dunn for filing this second lawsuit centers around his claim that the US ruling didn't properly evaluate the evidence he presented. That's unlikely to be the case. His reasoning for filing the suit in the UK, on the other hand, is flatly bizarre.
Dunn told MarketWatch he is now finalizing legal evidence in preparation for issuing copyright proceedings against Brown. Dunn, who is from Western Massachusetts, said “The Vatican Boys” was sold around New England upon publication, and he said he suspects Dan Brown read his book while he was living in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in the late 1990s.
Little of which factors at all as a basis for the UK being the proper venue for this lawsuit between two American authors. On top of that, it stretches the mind to believe that it has taken the better part of a decade for an author to come up with all of these dastardly similarities between his own work and one of the most widely read books in modern times. So too does it bend credulity to imagine that these newly discovered similarities are of the sort that are awarded copyright protection. After all, if the new evidence is more explosive than the old evidence, why wasn't it properly presented ten years ago?We'll see if this suit ever gets filed. Given Brown's track record for defeating these sorts of attempts, I know on which party I'd be putting my money.

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A Tale of Two Transparencies: Why The EU And Activists Will Always Disagree Over Trade Deal Negotiations

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Although the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has dropped off the radar completely since Donald Trump's election, for some years it was a key concern of both the US and European governments, and a major theme of Techdirt's posts. One of the key issues was transparency -- or the lack of it. Eventually, the European Commission realized that its refusal to release information about the negotiations was seriously undermining its ability to sell the deal to the EU public, and it began making some changes on this front, as we discussed back in 2015. Since then, transparency has remained a theme of the European Commission's initiatives. Last month, in his annual State of the Union address, President Jean-Claude Juncker unveiled his proposals for trade policy. One of them was all about transparency:

the Commission has decided to publish as of now all its recommendations for negotiating directives for trade agreements (known as negotiating mandates). When they are submitted to the European Parliament and the Council, those documents will in parallel be sent automatically to all national Parliaments and will be made available to the general public. This should allow for a wide and inclusive debate on the planned agreements from the start.
An interesting article on Borderlex explores why moves to open up trade policy by the European Commission did not and probably never will satisfy activists who have been pushing for more transparency, and why in this area there is an unbridgeable gulf between them and the EU politicians. In contrast to Juncker's limited plan to publish negotiating directives in order to allow "a wide and inclusive debate on the planned agreements", this is what activists want, according to the article:
timely release of textual proposals on all negotiating positions, complete lists and minutes of meetings of Commission officials with third parties, consolidated texts, negotiating mandates, and all correspondence between third parties and officials.
Activists are keen to see what is happening in detail throughout the negotiations, not just some top-level view at the start, or the initial textual proposals for each chapter, but nothing afterwards. The article suggests that this is not simply a case of civil society wanting more information for its own sake, but rather reflects completely different conceptions of what transparency means. Transparency is intimately bound up with accountability, which raises the key question of: accountability to whom?
These two different views reflect a seminal academic distinction between 'delegation' and 'participation' models of accountability in international politics. In a 'delegation' model, an organisation (such as the Commission) is accountable to those who have granted it a mandate (in the EU: the Council, the [European Parliament] and national parliaments). Transparency and participation should first and foremost be directed to them. Extending managed transparency to the wider public can be instrumentally used to increase trust.In a 'participation model', in contrast, organisations are accountable to those who bear the burden of the decisions that are taken. If contemporary trade policy impacts people's daily lives, the people -- directly or through civil society organisations that claim to represent them -- should be able to see what is going on, and be able to influence the process. Therefore, there is a presupposition for openness, disclosure, and close participation.
The article's authors suggest that for activists, transparency is a means to an end -- gaining influence through participation -- and it is the European Commission's refusal to allow civil society any meaningful role in trade negotiations that guarantees that token releases of a few policy documents will never be enough.Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

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Industry Panel Highlights Growing Role of Native & Programmatic Advertising to Aid Targeting & Brand Safety

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Ecosystem representatives see advanced data analysis tools, more in-feed inventory as keys to engagement and scale at affordable prices. Advertising industry representatives are increasingly emphasizing native advertising and programmatic buying as pathways to more relevant, engaging and impactful campaigns, according to a series of insider interviews conducted by digital solutions provider Theorem and native advertising [...]

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Adidas Opposes Turner Broadcasting's ELEAGUE Logo Trademark Because Of Lines

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eSports, the once fledgling video game competition industry, has undergone several milestones in rapid succession as it grows into a true entertainment player. Once relegated to online streaming broadcasts, mostly run out of a few Asian and Pacific Island countries, eSports is now regularly broadcast on American television, including by ESPN. From there, it was a fairly natural progression for universities to take notice and begin organizing school eSports teams, as well as offering scholarships for eAthletes.But while these milestones are both important to and positive for the eSports industry, not all milestones will always be so happy. I would argue that it's a milestone of sorts that a real-world athletic apparel company, Adidas, is suing an eSports league over its logo. Turner Broadcasting has invested in a venture called ELEAGUE, which has been broadcasting eSports for the better part of two years. Turner registered several trademarks for ELEAGUE, including the following logo.

Regular Techdirt readers will have already guessed why Adidas has opposed the trademark for the logo. Going back for what feels like time immemorial, Adidas has jealously protected the broad but admittedly iconic three-stripes logo it has cultivated for itself. And while even we skeptics can carve out a space for Adidas to have a valid claim on that sort of mark, it's been Adidas' aggression in going after anyone using anything even remotely similar to three-stripes regardless of shared industries, notable variations in branding, or actual customer confusion.Which doesn't keep the company lawyers from pretending otherwise in oppositions such as this one against ELEAGUE, of course.
The opposition is filed on two counts—confusion and dilution.The first alleges that the similarity between the two logos, that they consist of three broken lines, and "the fact that their respective goods and services overlap or are otherwise closely related" means that the ELEAGUE logo could create the impression that events are sponsored or endorsed by Adidas. While Adidas acknowledges that it does not do business in esports—although it is the shirt sponsor of Counter-Strike team North—esports is "within the natural zone of expansion of adidas’s business and goods and services".On the second count, Adidas contends that the similarity between the brands will dilute the strength of the Adidas logo as a hallmark of authentic Adidas goods. That, Adidas say, would damage their brand.
Again, I suppose it's a milestone of sorts that a big player like Adidas files a trademark opposition under the theory that real-world athletic apparel and eSports broadcasts are in related industries. Still, the claim is an obvious stretch. The actual ELEAGUE logo calls to mind the letter "E", not Adidas' stripes, and the associated branding throughout the rest of the logo act as a clear source identifier. Pained concerns about customer confusion on the part of Adidas would seem to be laughable on their face, nevermind the question as to why it took so long for Adidas to undertake this if there is so much customer confusion and dilution.
Turner Sports first filed the trademark application in June 2016, but it took Adidas until Oct. 10 of this year to file the opposition.
It sure seems like the kind of harm Adidas is claiming would have required hastier action than a year and half's worth of waiting. Hopefully those reviewing the opposition will take that into account and grant ELEAGUE its mark.

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Supreme Court Agrees To Hear Case Involving US Demands For Emails Stored Overseas

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The Supreme Court has granted the government's request for review of Second Circuit Appeals Court's decision finding Microsoft did not have to turn over communications stored overseas in response to US-issued warrants.This is a pretty quick turnaround as far as tech issues go. The Supreme Court is finally willing to take a look at the privacy expectation of third party phone records (specifically: historical cell site location info), following years of courtroom discussion... which follow years of Third Party Doctrine expansion.That being said, a resolving of sorts is needed to clarify the reach of US law enforcement going forward. The Second Circuit twice shut down the DOJ's requests to extend its reach to offshore servers. Even as the Microsoft case was still being litigated, other courts were coming to contrary decisions about data stored overseas.The target in these cases was Google. Google's data-handling processes contributed to the adverse rulings. Unlike Microsoft -- which clearly delineated foreign data storage -- data and communications handled by Google flow through its servers constantly. Nothing truly resides anywhere, a fact the DOJ pressed in its arguments and the one two judges seized on while denying Google's warrant challenges.The Supreme Court's ruling will be needed to tie these disparate decisions up into a cohesive whole.Or not. Rule 41 changes that went into effect at the beginning of this year remove a lot of jurisdictional limitations on search warrants. On top of that, the DOJ has been angling for expanded overseas powers, pushing Congress towards amending the Stored Communications Act.This, of course, is what the Second Circuit Appeals Court told the government to do: take it up with legislators. But if litigation is a slow process, legislation can be just as time-consuming. The DOJ wants permission now and the Supreme Court gives it the best chance of being allowed to grab communications stored outside of the United States using a warrant signed by a magistrate judge anywhere in the US.In the meantime, the DOJ will continue to pursue amendments to the Stored Communications Act -- a law it's already taken advantage of, thanks to it being outdated almost as soon as it was implemented. Further rewriting of the law in the DOJ's favor would allow US law enforcement to become the world's police, serving warrants in the US to gather documents stored around the globe.While this may seem like a boon to law enforcement, it should be approached with extreme caution. If this becomes law (rather than just a precedential court decision) the US government should expect plenty of reciprocal demands from other countries. This would include countries with far worse human rights records and long lists of criminal acts not recognized in the US (insulting the king, anyone?). The US won't be able to take a moral or statutory stand against demands for US-stored communications that may be wielded as weapons of censorship or persecution against citizens in foreign countries. Whoever ends up handing down the final answer -- the Supreme Court or Congress -- should keep these implications in mind.

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Digital Twins & IoT Are the Real Enablers of Smart Products & Smart Services

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A Digital Twin stands for a virtual copy of a physical asset, a digital copy of either a product or a machine. They are deployed in order to configure digitally the asset's qualities. For a product, this might include properties such as shape, colour, design and other physical attributes; for a manufacturing machine it might [...]

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Fired Cop's Attorney Argues His Client Is Being Punished Unfairly Because The Public Got To See His Misconduct

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A little over a month ago, body cam footage of a police officer trying to bully a nurse into breaking the law went viral. Salt Lake City police detective Jeff Payne wrapped up his failed intimidation attempt by arresting nurse Alex Wubbels for following her hospital's policy on blood draws. If there are no exigent circumstances and the person not suspected of criminal activity, police need a warrant to draw blood.None of those factors were present when Detective Payne demanded the hospital draw blood from an accident victim. The victim was, in fact, a reserve police officer from an Idaho law enforcement agency, who had been hit head-on by a fleeing suspect. This officer later died from his injuries. He was in a coma when Detective Payne began demanding the hospital hand over some blood, obviously in no condition to consent to the search.The entire bodycam video of the incident can be seen below.

Payne argued, after being fired for violating department blood draw policies (and for violating a Supreme Court decision, but Payne isn't expected to know the laws directly affecting his position on the PD's blood draw team), he arrested Wubbels because he "didn't want to create a scene" in the emergency room. If he hadn't arrested her, or demanded she violate both the law and hospital policy, there would have been no scene to be concerned about.Instead, Payne thought he could intimidate his way through this. Now he's out of a job and attempting to sue his way back in. (Side note: Payne also lost his moonlighting gig as a paramedic as the body cam footage also caught him saying he would start routing "good patients" to another hospital and bring Wubbels' ER "transients.")His lawyer is making a hell of an argument: Payne was unfairly fired because the public saw him violating department policies.
Attorney Greg Skordas, who represents Payne, said his client plans to appeal a firing he considers unfair and over the top. Skordas said Payne would still be employed if the body camera footage hadn't generated so much attention and blown the events out of proportion.
There are (at least) two ridiculous implications contained in this statement.First is the implication that the only "proper "investigation is one that clears the officer of wrongdoing and/or results in the most minimal of discipline. The second follows the first: Skordas is basically affirming law enforcement agencies rarely hand out proportionate discipline unless forced to by public outcry. Neither are good looks for Skordas, his client, or his former employer.The internal investigation reached the same conclusions anyone would have after viewing the body camera footage: both Payne and his supervisor, Lt. James Tracy, acted in bad faith during the incident, using both intimidation and a profound -- perhaps even deliberate -- misconstruing of applicable laws in hopes of taking blood from an accident victim (and fellow police officer).Beneath Skordas' argument is another ugly assertion: his client feels he's being unfairly treated because a police camera captured him behaving exactly the way he behaved when he arrested a nurse for following hospital policy and a Supreme Court decision. Detective Payne deprived someone of their liberty -- albeit briefly -- for daring to stand up for the rights of her patient. That's about as ugly as it gets.

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New Copyright Trolling Operation Lowers The Settlement Demands And Calls Them Fines To Improve Conversion Rate

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As much more attention has been brought to copyright trolls and the unethical manner in which they operate, it was inevitable that the tactics of the trolls would begin to shift. For some of us, it was immediately obvious what a PR problem these trolling operations faced. It all comes down to the "settlements" offered in a copyright troll's letters. The amounts, while designed to look small compared with the threat of a lawsuit, still tend to be quite high. Certainly the amounts make no sense when compared with the costs of simply viewing a movie or television show, which is the natural standard that lay person is likely to set. For that reason, some trolls, such as RightsCorp, have already started down the path of lowering settlement offers to levels that are more likely to cause the accused to simply pay up. Also, the fact that these letters, with all of their threatening language, even refer to the offers as "settlements" rings much closer to extra-judicial extortion than anything resembling justice.Well, it seems that one copyright troll is attempting to correct against both of these concerns. Rights Enforcement, contracted by the studio behind the movie The Hitman's Bodyguard, is sending out letters to those it claims pirated the film with a much-reduced amount of money requested. And these requests are being called "fines" as opposed to "settlements."

Rights Enforcement sends automated ‘fines’ via DMCA notices, which is cheaper than expensive lawsuits. At the same time, this also makes the settlement process easier to scale, as they can send out tens of thousands of ‘fines’ at once with limited resources, without any oversight from a court.TorrentFreak has seen several notices targeted at The Hitman’s Bodyguard pirates. While the notices themselves don’t list the settlement fee, recipients are referred to a page that does. Those who admit guilt are asked to pay a $300 settlement fee.
Beyond those changes, the letters are classic copyright trolling dreck. The letters are sent out on the basis of an IP address being associated with the torrenting of the film, with threats of a lawsuit still in the text. It then sends the recipient to a site where the accused offender can pay the fine -- although on that site, it refers to the "fine" as a "settlement" -- and also includes a link to where the accused can find legal representation. Legal representation that will, of course, easily cost more than the $300 fine.
The notice also kindly mentions that the recipients can contact an attorney for legal advice. However, after an hour or two a legal bill will have exceeded the proposed settlement amount, so for many this isn’t really an option.It’s quite a clever scheme. Although most people probably won’t be sued for ignoring a notice, there’s always the possibility that they will. Especially since Rights Enforcement is linked to some of the most prolific copyright trolls.
It's not so much a reworking of the copyright troll's business model as much as it is one troll attempting to refine its process and fee structure to maximize its conversion rate. While that sounds like any business, it's worth noting that these letters are ostensibly about a harmed party looking for justice. The threats of lawsuits are, if not entirely empty, certainly not the desired outcome for the trolling operation. Any such lawsuit would cost the rights holder far more than it wants to spend.It's still extra-judicial extortion of a kind, in other words. It's just a cheaper form of it, with a little clever wording thrown in to boot.

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The Big Picture: Online Retail Holiday Traffic

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Hitwise has produced Hourly Peak Week Trends: What to Look Out For on Black Friday & Cyber Monday 2017. You can download the whole report here. A Quick Look To start, let's take a look at total traffic to the Hitwise Retail 500 over the last few holiday seasons. Retailers received 11.7 billion visits during [...]

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Court Tells Sheriff's Dept. Shackling Kids Above The Elbows Is Excessive Force

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You wouldn't think it would take a federal court decision to make this clear, but here we are.

A school resource officer in Kentucky who handcuffed young children acted unreasonably and violated the children's constitutional rights, a federal judge ruled this week.Two children, ages 8 and 9, were handcuffed by Kevin Sumner, a school resource officer with Covington Independent Public Schools. They were cuffed behind their backs, and the cuffs were placed above their elbows because the restraints would have slipped off their wrists. Video of the handcuffing of the 8-year-old went viral after it was made public by the American Civil Liberties Union in 2015
The ruling [PDF] restates common sense, albeit in 33 pages of legalese. It is excessive force to restrain preteens who weigh less than 60 lbs. with handcuffs meant to keep full-grown adults from moving their arms. The procedural history notes school personnel are forbidden from using mechanical restraints on students by state law. This law, however, does not forbid law enforcement officers from using handcuffs on students.In both cases, the students cuffed by a sheriff's deputy had been combative. School personnel turned both students over to the SRO once it became obvious they would not be able to calm the students down. The combativeness didn't stop once the deputy entered the picture. These would appear to be arguments in the deputy's favor but only if other factors weren't considered -- like the students' ages and sizes. Both children also suffered from behavioral disorders.Nonetheless, this is what happened once Deputy Kevin Sumner took control of the situation:
Sumner handcuffed S.R. behind his back, placing the cuffs on S.R.’s biceps above the elbows. The video shows that S.R.’s arms are pulled tightly behind his back with what appears to be only approximately three or four inches between his elbows. Sumner testified that he checked the handcuffs for tightness and that, since the chain connecting the handcuffs was nearly as long as the width of S.R.’s body, he had no reason to believe it would cause him pain. The video clearly demonstrates, however, that the chain is not nearly as wide as S.R.’s body, and that his arms are extremely taut.[...]Sumner pulled L.G. off of Craig and tried to hold her physically for a few minutes, but she continued the same behavior. Sumner told L.G. that if she did not stop, he would handcuff her. L.G. continued to kick and hit, and Sumner placed her in handcuffs, above her elbows behind her back. Assistant Superintendent Wilkerson contacted L.G.’s mother, who came to school to get her. Her mother testified that when she arrived, L.G. was on her knees and Sumner was holding her arms up behind her above her head. Sumner then removed the handcuffs.
Sumner tried to argue the handcuffing was permitted because state law exempted law enforcement officers from the restriction on restraint methods. The court says that's all well and good, but it doesn't change the outcome. No matter which "hat" -- school personnel or law enforcement officer -- Sumner was wearing, the force used was excessive.
Applying the Graham factors, the severity of the “crime” committed by S.R. and L.G. — assault — weighs in their favor. While S.R. kicked a teacher and L.G. tried to and/or did hit a teacher, these are very young children, and their conduct does not call to mind the type of “assault” which would warrant criminal prosecution. Indeed, Sumner testified that “none of what they did was worthy of trying to file a criminal charge.”The second factor, whether the children posed an immediate threat to themselves or others, weighs in S.R.’s favor. At the time he was handcuffed, S.R. had largely calmed down, Sumner had escorted him to the restroom without incident, and they had returned to the office. While Sumner testified that S.R. swung his elbow towards Sumner, such can hardly be considered a serious physical threat from an unarmed, 54-pound eight-year-old child.This factor weighs less in favor of L.G., who was engaging in more physical abuse towards her teachers and Sumner. Nonetheless, the age and stature of these children is highly relevant to this analysis.
Even if the cuffing were deemed appropriate, the method deployed by Sumner was not.
Finally, the method of handcuffing that Sumner employed leads this Court to conclude that his actions were unreasonable and constituted excessive force as a matter of law. The video of S.R. shows that his arms were pulled tightly behind him, with only inches between his elbows. While Sumner testified that the chain between the cuffs was as wide as S.R.’s torso, the video belies that assertion. Where a witness’s version of the facts “cannot be countenanced based upon what the video shows,” the Court must adopt the video as fact.Upon being cuffed in this manner, S.R. cried out, “Ow, that hurts.” It was thus immediately apparent that this method — which, it is undisputed, was the same method by which L.G. was cuffed — was causing pain. S.R. was left in this position to cry and squirm for fifteen minutes.
And there was no one willing to back up Sumner's claims the cuffing method was common or inexcessive -- not even those testifying on behalf of the deputy.
Plaintiff’s handcuffing expert, Robert Rail, testified that he does not know of any police instructor in the United States who would allow the elbow cuffing of children such as was used on S.R. and L.G., nor does he know of any program that teaches that method. (Rail Depo. 109-10).Even defendants’ handcuffing expert, William A. Payne — who has been conducting handcuffing training for law enforcement for over 20 years — testified that he has never trained law enforcement to use handcuffs above the elbow. (Payne Depo. 37, 121). He further testified that he was not aware of any law enforcement agency that trains their officers to use such a technique.
The court finds the cuffing method -- not the cuffing itself -- excessive. Without any prior cases on point, Deputy Sumner is granted qualified immunity because he could not have reasonably known his handcuffing methods were excessive. This is disappointing, but the court has one surprise left. The county that employs Sumner can be held civilly liable for Sumner's actions.
Kenneth Kippenbrock was the SRO Coordinator for the Kenton County Sheriff’s Office at the time of these events. He testified that Sumner’s handcuffing of S.R. and L.G. was consistent with the policy of the sheriff’s department. He also testified that since the SRO program was initiated, more than ten children have been handcuffed by SROs in schools, and it is possible that the number is more than twenty-five.Kenton County Sheriff Korzenborn also testified that Sumner acted in accordance with all applicable Kenton County policies in handcuffing S.R. and L.G. He has never asked Sumner whether Sumner has ever handcuffed other elementary children in the district, and he is not interested in knowing how often his deputies handcuff school children. Handcuffing children above their elbows behind their back is acceptable practice by his deputies.[...]Korzenborn further testified that he was not familiar with the Kentucky Administrative Regulations regarding the use of mechanical restraints in schools.[...]Korzenborn has not implemented any changes in the training of his SROs since these incidents.Given this undisputed testimony, Kenton County is liable as a matter of law for Sumner’s unlawful handcuffing of S.R. and L.J.
School resource officers won't be able to handcuff students the same way in the future and expect to walk away from resulting civil lawsuits. The unanswered question -- is it ever appropriate to handcuff pre-teens on a school campus -- remains open. But the message sent here is pretty straightforward: there's almost zero chance the court will find it acceptable to use adult handcuffs on children, because the only way to keep them on tiny bodies is to deploy them in a fashion that is excessive in nature.

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Neighbor Sues For $2.5 Million After Renovation Looks Too Much Like Their Own House

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Copyright on home design has always been a really sketchy idea. Earlier this year, we wrote about a disturbing trend of housing copyright trolls and have had some other similar stories over time. For reasons that are beyond me, the Berne Convention requires copyright on architecture, and that creates silly situations, such as the one in Australia, where a homeowner was forced to modify their home due to "infringement."And this nonsense has spread to Canada. The Toronto Star has the story of a couple, Jason and Jodi Chapnik, living in Forest Hill, Toronto (one of the "most affluent neighborhoods" in Toronto), who sued their neighbors for $2.5 million for the horrific faux pas of renovating their house to look too much like the Chapniks.

Jason and Jodi Chapnik, who own the home on Strathearn Rd., near Bathurst and Eglinton Sts., alleged that a house on nearby Vesta Dr. was newly renovated to look strikingly similar to theirs including using the same shade of blue and matching grey stonework.The Chapniks filed a lawsuit against neighbour Barbara Ann Kirshenblatt, her builder husband and architect brother-in-law for copyright infringement in federal court, as well as the real estate agent who profited from the house's recent sale and the anonymous contractors who worked on the house. They were seeking $1.5 million in damages, $20,000 in statutory copyright damages, $1 million in punitive damages, and a mandatory injunction on the defendant to change the design of the home.
Of all the things in the world to be concerned about, how totally screwed up must your priorities be to freak out that someone around the corner has a house that looks kinda similar? The story notes that the case went on for 3 years, before recently being settled. As Kirshenblatt noted in filings in the case, nearly all of the so-called copied features appear to be pretty standard features you'd see in nearly any Tudor-style house -- and they pointed to other properties (including a Scottish castle) with similar features that they based their house on.The whole thing is a reminder, yet again, of the ridiculousness of locking up ideas like home design under copyright. No one is inspired to design a house because of the copyright you get. There is no necessary incentive there. People design homes not for the copyright, but for the home. What a complete waste of time.

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This Week In Techdirt History: October 8th - 14th

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Five Years AgoThis week in 2012, while Hollywood was wining and dining New Zealand politicians to help get their copyright demands into the TPP, the similarly bad provisions from the dead ACTA were unsurprisingly appearing in CETA. The RIAA was continuing to share bogus math, this time about the supposed decline in musicians, Microsoft was caught sending an especially amusing takedown to Google over a link to... Bing, and copyright maximalists were celebrating the settlement in the Google Books/Authors Guild lawsuit, even as another judge was ruling that book scanning is obviously fair use.Ten Years AgoThis week in 2007, there was a sea change as more and more artists began to realize that they could try different business models instead of relying on record labels, with bands rushing to embrace free distribution and even some high-profile artists like Madonna taking control of their own business. But for the most part, the recording industry was still trying the same old things, and making incredibly weak attempts to compete with folks like iTunes. Maybe basing your business on copy protection was not such a great idea.Fifteen Years AgoThis week in 2002, as the future of webcasting was unclear at best, Silicon Valley was applauding the growing efforts to fight back against Hollywood, even as the copyright battle was heating up thanks to things like broadband fearmongering and a new lawsuit against Mp3.com from some big names in music — or, most importantly, the beginning of the Eldred vs. Ashcroft case before the Supreme Court (which would sadly go on to uphold the constitutionality of the 1998 copyright extension.)

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Immersive Web Trailblazer, Vizor, Announces Official Launch of New WebVR Editor, Vizor 360

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Off the heels of Oculus Connect 4, Vizor, a WebVR software company, announced the official launch of its editor, Vizor 360. Previously operating in private beta, the editor is now available publicly, allowing users to effortlessly produce interactive and immersive tours, stories and experiences by simply dragging and dropping media components. Built on top of [...]

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Monster Energy Loses Trademark Bid To Push Around Japanese Software Company

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There must be something about using the word "monster" in one's business that turns that business into a true monster from a trademark bully perspective. Readers of this site will be familiar with the two largest offenders along these lines, Monster Cable and Monster Energy Corporation. It's the latter that has continued its prolific trademark bullying ways to date, as recently as earlier this year, when it threatened a root beer company with the word "beast" in its name, claiming that this was too close to "monster" for the purposes of trademark law.Still, as laughable as that spat was, at least it could be said that Monster Energy was going after another beverage company. That isn't the case with Monster Energy's latest failed attempt to block the trademark for a video game company out of Japan.

United States energy drink manufacturer Monster Energy failed to block Japanese mobile-game producer Mixi Inc's move to register its trademark Monster Strike in Singapore for its popular mobile game. A trademark registrar held that Energy's bid to ring-fence the word "monster" for its own use was unjustified as both products operate in different business fields and the marks were more dissimilar than similar."Stripped of its legalese, this dispute is, at heart, about one trader's battle to fence off an ordinary English word - monster - for itself, and to exclude others," said assistant registrar of trade marks Gabriel Ong from the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore in decision grounds last month.
It's worth highlighting that the video game company, Mixi Inc., conducts business well outside the realm of the beverage industry. Monster Strike is a mobile game and Mixi Inc. is in the entertainment gaming business. In other words, far from any serious concern over customer confusion, Monster Energy was essentially asserting it could wall off any prominent use of the word "monster" by other, non-competing businesses. Few if any trademark laws in any country allow for this type of language lock, with most trademark provisions necessitating that the offending entity operate in a related industry to that doing the complaining.Even the complaints about claw marks on some of Mixi's branding failed to persuade, it seems.
Mr Gabriel Ong found both marks to be more dissimilar than similar, noting that the second word in each differentiated the marks. He added that the marks were registered for types of goods that are unlikely to cause confusion among consumers.There is also no risk of misperception of co-branding nor any likelihood of confusion as the public at large recognise Monster Energy drinks not by reference to the words but the accompanying trademarks above the words, including the "claw" graphics. "It is one thing to describe the goods as Monster Energy, but how they are marketed and sold is another matter," added Mr Gabriel Ong, noting that each can of the Monster Energy drink "invariably bears the claw device", although there were minor variations to each product range.In a 48-page judgment, he found that the opposition by Monster Energy to Mixi Inc's application failed on all grounds and ordered costs for the game producer.
It's a good result, but one which begs the question: why does Monster Energy continuing wasting everybody's time and its own money with its bullying behavior?

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Google Fiber Gives Up On Traditional TV, And Won't Be The Last Company To Do So

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While Google Fiber was initially hailed as the be-all-end-all of broadband disruption, the bloom has come off the rose in recent months. Last fall, Google executives began to have doubts about the high cost and slow pace of the project, resulting in a not-yet cooked pivot to wireless and the departure of two CEOs in less than a year. Company PR reps seem unable to answer basic questions about cancelled installations and the unsteady direction of the project, which has also faced more than a few obstacles erected by incumbent ISPs unhappy about the added competition.But Google Fiber has another problem: the slow but steady death of traditional television.We've noted for some time how smaller cable companies are considering getting out of the pay TV business, since they lack the size and leverage to get the same rates enjoyed by sector behemoths like Comcast NBC Universal. Ultimately, you'll see many of these smaller cable companies shift their focus entirely to broadband, while nudging users toward over the top streaming services. As a smaller pay TV provider, Google is no exception, announcing last week that the company would be removing pay TV service from its service bundles moving forward:

"...We're trying something new in our next two Fiber cities. When we begin serving customers in Louisville and San Antonio, we'll focus on providing superfast Internet - and the endless content possibilities that creates - without the traditional TV add on. If you've been reading the business news lately, you know that more and more people are moving away from traditional methods of viewing television content. Customers today want to control what, where, when, and how they get content. They want to do it their way, and we want to help them.
That's a nice way of saying users weren't buying what Google Fiber was selling. The company doesn't reveal subscriber numbers, but while analysts have estimated Google Fiber's broadband subscriber count at somewhere between 500,000 and 1 million, the company's total pay TV subscriber count has long been relatively pathetic, with just 100,000 pay TV customers since the project's 2012 launch. Moving forward, Google Fiber makes it clear the company will stop fighting the current and nudge users to streaming alternatives instead:
Whether it's through YouTube TV, Hulu, Netflix, or more specific targeted services -- there are so many ways to watch what you want, when you want it. And Google Fiber's superfast Internet allows customers to make the most of all these streaming choices by providing the bandwidth to use multiple devices and apps at the same time.
What this means for Google Fiber's existing pay TV customers isn't clear, but it seems likely they'll ultimately lose service and be shoved toward discounted subscriptions for YouTube TV, Google's new live streaming video platform. But Google Fiber won't be the last pay TV provider to give up on traditional TV. We're entering a new era of mindless merger mania where we're intent on ignoring lessons of the past, making it increasingly difficult for smaller companies to gain a foothold in markets dominated by the likes of Comcast NBC Universal, or soon -- AT&T Time Warner.And while Google Fiber hopes to have better luck focusing on broadband and streaming video, that's not an easy path either. These same TV sector giants (AT&T, Comcast) also have a growing stranglehold over streaming video licensing as well as the telecom market. And with the government gutting net neutrality and other protections beneficial to consumers and small businesses, getting a leg up in the broadband sector will soon be even more difficult than ever -- especially for those that lack Alphabet/Google's political power and healthy cash reserves.

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The Impact of Interactive Video Ads Across Tablets, Desktop and Mobile

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Tremor Video DSP, a Taptica company, recently partnered with MAGNA and IPG Media Lab on a scientific media trial examining the impact of interactive video ads across tablets, desktop and mobile. Brands who participated in the trial included Amazon, Arby’s, FCA and MillerCoors.   Their report, The Interactive Effect: A Key to Surviving the Attention Economy [...]

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Real Life Soccer Player Besieged By Requests To Play For Foreign Team Due To Video Game Error

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Video games have been steadily becoming more realistic since their first creation. Conversations about this progress has mostly centered around graphical enhancements and tech such as virtual reality that strive to better immerse the player in the fictional world in which they play. But graphical and visual enhancements aren't the only form of realism in which video games have progressed. More unsung have been the enhancements in pure data and detail in these games. For this type of progress, one need only look to management-style simulations games, such as those of the sports realm. In games centered on managing sports franchises, the depth of detail that has emerged has become somewhat breathtaking. Baseball sims, such as the excellent Out of the Park series, are an example of this as is the equally deep Football Manager series for soccer fans.So real, in fact, have these simulations become, that they can occasionally create real-world mishaps, as happened with a French soccer player named Ruben Aguilar.

As discussed in this inteview with Goal (in French), there's a mistake in last year's version of the life-destroying management game where Aguilar is incorrectly given dual citizenship of both France and Bolivia.With tens of thousands of players in the game, mistakes are bound to happen from time to time, but the difference here is that it's turned into an international thing. Bolivian players of Football Manager noticed his supposed South American heritage last season, but a string of strong performances in the real world (especially against French giants PSG) this year have blown up to such an extent that he made the TV in Bolivia, with the country's national team management contacting him to inquire about the possibility of him playing for them.
The error here was such that it indicated that Aguilar was available for signing to the Bolivian team under the rules of international football. How the error came about is an open question, but the fact is that Aguilar's parents were French and Spanish and he holds no citizenship, or indeed even a passport, for Bolivia. Still, the Bolivian team heeded the calls from its fans to inquire about signing Aguilar, only to learn he was not eligible to play for the team. It's worth repeating that this entire episode came about because of a single error in a single popular sports simulation game. Aguilar himself was forced to respond to all of this on his Facebook page.
For the past few weeks, we have received dozens of messages concerning the nationality of Ruben. On Facebook and Twitter many information also circulate. In order to remove doubts; by this communiqué, we affirm that Ruben was born in Grenoble (France), of Spanish father and French mother. As a result, he does not have a Bolivian passport. In any case, we thank you for all messages of support and the enthusiasm aroused to see him wearing the jersey of ‘La Verde’. ¡Muchas Gracias!
It's a funny little story, with many folks now poking fun at both the Bolivian team for not doing its homework and Football Manager for making the seemingly inconsequential error to begin with. More interesting to me, however, is how this serves as an indication of how far video games have come in terms of the realism we expect from them. So sure was the public, and even a professional soccer team, that the information in the game was accurate that all of the above acted on that information.That's actually kind of cool.

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Internet Archives Liberates Old Books Using Never Used Before Provision Of Copyright Law

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Section 108 of copyright law doesn't get very much attention (though, we did just mention it in regards to an archive of Howard Stern/Donald Trump interviews). It's the part of the law that grants some fairly narrow exceptions to copyright for libraries and archives. In short, it was a recognition that libraries and archives are good and important things, and copyright law under the 1976 Copyright Act would basically make them illegal. Rather than fixing the fact that copyright law was too broad, Section 108 simply carved out a few important exceptions. Many of those exceptions are, unfortunately, under attack from all the usual sources.However Section 108 is important to protect until we fix wider problems with copyright law. Of course, some parts of 108 have rarely, if ever, been tested. The Internet Archive is looking to fix that. It just announced that it is making a bunch of books published between 1923 and 1941 available on the Archive. As you may know from the handy dandy public domain term chart at Cornell, thanks to the 1976 Copyright Act (and various extensions) tons of works that should have been in the public domain long before now have been locked up and unavailable. The key date is 1923. Works before that are clearly in the public domain. After that, it gets... fuzzy.But, Section 108(h) has a neat little exception for libraries and archives:

(1) For purposes of this section, during the last 20 years of any term of copyright of a published work, a library or archives, including a nonprofit educational institution that functions as such, may reproduce, distribute, display, or perform in facsimile or digital form a copy or phonorecord of such work, or portions thereof, for purposes of preservation, scholarship, or research, if such library or archives has first determined, on the basis of a reasonable investigation, that none of the conditions set forth in subparagraphs (A), (B), and (C) of paragraph(2) apply.(2) No reproduction, distribution, display, or performance is authorized under this subsection if
(A) the work is subject to normal commercial exploitation;
(B) a copy or phonorecord of the work can be obtained at a reasonable price; or
(C) the copyright owner or its agent provides notice pursuant to regulations promulgated by the Register of Copyrights that either of the conditions set forth in subparagraphs (A) and (B) applies.
And thus, the Internet Archive believes it's free to make a bunch of out of print books available:
The Internet Archive is now leveraging a little known, and perhaps never used, provision of US copyright law, Section 108h, which allows libraries to scan and make available materials published 1923 to 1941 if they are not being actively sold. Elizabeth Townsend Gard, a copyright scholar at Tulane University calls this Library Public Domain.  She and her students helped bring the first scanned books of this era available online in a collection named for the author of the bill making this necessary: The Sonny Bono Memorial Collection. Thousands more books will be added in the near future as we automate. We hope this will encourage libraries that have been reticent to scan beyond 1923 to start mass scanning their books and other works, at least up to 1942.
As the Internet Archive's Brewster Kahle notes, it's unfortunate and disappointing that it even needs to make use of this clause, because copyright was never supposed to last this long in the first place. The idea that stuff published in 1941 is still under copyright is completely insane.
If the Founding Fathers had their way, almost all works from the 20th century would be public domain by now (14-year copyright term, renewable once if you took extra actions).Some corporations saw adding works to the public domain to be a problem, and when Sonny Bono got elected to the House of Representatives, representing part of Los Angeles, he helped push through a law extending copyright's duration another 20 years to keep things locked-up back to 1923.  This has been called the Mickey Mouse Protection Act due to one of the motivators behind the law, but it was also a result of Europe extending copyright terms an additional twenty years first. If not for this law, works from 1923 and beyond would have been in the public domain decades ago.
Still, the law is the law... and, part of it includes Section 108(h). The Archive has, amusingly, named the collection the Sonny Bono Memorial Collection:
Today we announce the Sonny Bono Memorial Collection containing the first books to be liberated. Anyone can download, read, and enjoy these works that have been long out of print. We will add another 10,000 books and other works in the near future. Working with the Internet Archive has allowed us to do the work to make this part of the law usable, reflected Professor Townsend Gard. Hopefully, this will be the first of many Last Twenty Collections around the country.
Of course, there's more to this as well -- part of the goal is to encourage other libraries and archives to do the same.For many years we've pointed to the research of Paul Heald, who has demonstrated the massive hole in access to important cultural works due to copyright. Specifically, he's found while public domain books have a big market, publishers who hold copyright only keep very recent books on the market. And that creates a massive culture gap in our history:
Perhaps the Sonny Bono Memorial Collection will help fill in just a small bit on the left hand side of that tragic cultural gorge.

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An Adotas Special Feature-Branding A Disease Nobody Has Ever Heard of: Can You Help?

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A call for support and advice, from George H. Simpson. When my daughter Anna (pictured left) was 9 years old she had surgery to lengthen the Achilles tendons on both legs. The only part of the operation she liked was that she got to pick pink for the color of her fiberglass casts. Yet her [...]

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61% of App Developers Say 'Freemium' Model is Best Option to Monetize a Mobile App

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The recommendation comes from a new survey of 102 app developers. The survey, plus interviews with experts from 7 app development firms, is the source for a complete business guide to building a mobile app, from concept to monetization. More than 60% of app developers recommend a freemium model for monetizing a mobile app, according [...]

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New 'Coalition For Responsible Sharing' About To Send Millions Of Take-Down Notices To Stop Researchers Sharing Their Own Papers

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A couple of weeks ago, we wrote about a proposal from the International Association of Scientific Technical and Medical Publishers (STM) to introduce upload filtering on the ResearchGate site in order to stop authors from sharing their own papers without "permission". In its letter to ResearchGate, STM's proposal concluded with a thinly-veiled threat to call in the lawyers if the site refused to implement the upload filters. In the absence of ResearchGate's acquiescence, a newly-formed "Coalition for Responsible Sharing", whose members include the American Chemical Society (ACS), Brill, Elsevier, Wiley and Wolters Kluwer, has issued a statement confirming the move:

Following unsuccessful attempts to jointly find ways for scholarly collaboration network ResearchGate to run its service in a copyright-compliant way, a coalition of information analytics businesses, publishers and societies is now left with no other choice but to take formal steps to remedy the illicit hosting of millions of subscription articles on the ResearchGate site.
Those formal steps include sending "millions of takedown notices for unauthorized content on its site now and in the future." Two Coalition publishers, ACS and Elsevier, have also filed a lawsuit in a German regional court, asking for clarity and judgement on the legality of ResearchGate's activities. Justifying these actions, the Coalition's statement says: "ResearchGate acquires volumes of articles each month in violation of agreements between journals and authors" -- and that, in a nutshell, is the problem.The articles posted on ResearchGate are generally uploaded by the authors; they want them there so that their peers can read them. They also welcome the seamless access to other articles written by their fellow researchers. In other words, academic authors are perfectly happy with ResearchGate and how it uses the papers that they write, because it helps them work better as researchers. A recent post on The Scholarly Kitchen blog noted:
Researchers particularly appreciate ResearchGate because they can easily follow who cites their articles, and they can follow references to find other articles they may find of interest. Researchers do not stop to think about copyright concerns and in fact, the platform encourages them, frequently, to upload their published papers.
The problem lies in the unfair and one-sided contracts academic authors sign with publishers, which often do not allow them to share their own published papers freely. The issues with ResearchGate would disappear if researchers stopped agreeing to these completely unnecessary restrictions -- and if publishers stopped demanding them.The Coalition for Responsible Sharing's statement makes another significant comment about ResearchGate: that it acquires all these articles "without making any contribution to the production or publication of the intellectual work it hosts." But much the same could be said about publishers, which take papers written by publicly-funded academics for free, chosen by academics for free, and reviewed by academics for free, and then add some editorial polish at the end. Despite their minimal contributions, publishers -- and publishers alone -- enjoy the profits that result. The extremely high margins offer incontrovertible proof that ResearchGate and similar scholarly collaboration networks are not a problem for anybody. The growing popularity and importance of unedited preprints confirms that what publishers add is dispensable. That makes the Coalition for Responsible Sharing's criticism of ResearchGate and its business model deeply hypocritical.It is also foolish. By sending millions of take-down notices to ResearchGate -- and thus making it harder for researchers to share their own papers on a site they currently find useful -- the Coalition for Responsible Sharing will inevitably push people to use other alternatives, notably Sci-Hub. Unlike ResearchGate, which largely offers articles uploaded by their own authors, Sci-Hub generally sources its papers without the permission of the academics. So, once more, the clumsy actions of publishers desperate to assert control at all costs make it more likely that unauthorized copies will be downloaded and shared, not less. How responsible is that?Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

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Supreme Court Leaves Troubling CFAA Rulings In Place: Sharing Passwords Can Be Criminal Hacking

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For many, many years now, we've talked about problems with the CFAA -- the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act -- which was passed in Congress in the 1980s in response to the Hollywood movie War Games (seriously). It was a messed up moral panic back then, and over the years it's been abused widely in both civil and criminal cases to define almost anything as hacking. Over the past few years we've been following two cases in particular related to the CFAA: the David Nosal case and the Power.com case. Both involved fairly twisted interpretations of the CFAA -- and, unfortunately, the 9th Circuit found both to be okay. And, unfortunately, this week, the Supreme Court declined to review both cases, meaning they remain good (if stupid) law in the 9th Circuit (which will likely influence cases elsewhere).I won't go into all of the background in both cases, but the super short version is that under the Facebook v. Power ruling, it's a CFAA violation for a service to access a website -- even if at the request of users -- if the website has sent a cease-and-desist. That shouldn't be seen as hacking, but the court said it's "unauthorized access." Power was a service that tried to help consolidate different social networks into a single user interface for users -- and lots of people found that valuable and signed up for the service. But, Facebook didn't like it and sent a cease-and-desist to Power. Power figured that since users were asking it to continue and they were the ones who had the accounts, it was okay to continue. The court, unfortunately, claimed that it was a CFAA violation -- the equivalent of "hacking" into a system (despite having legit credentials) just because of the cease-and-desist.In the Nosal case, the court said that merely sharing your passwords can be a CFAA violation. In that case a guy looking to compete with his old firm had someone still there share a password so he could log in and get customer info. That may be unethical and problematic -- but should it be the equivalent of computer hacking? While the 9th Circuit had rejected an even broader interpretation of the CFAA that would say merely violating a terms of service became "unauthorized access" it said okay to the password sharing one.There was some hope that the Supreme Court would hear these cases and explain that these rulings stretched the CFAA to dangerous degrees. Unfortunately, that's not the case.And so we're back where we've been for a few decades now: talking about why Congress needs to reform the CFAA and fix these problems that leave the law wide open to abuse -- especially in an era where so many people use dozens of services, and sometimes do things like share passwords or ask others to log into sites for them. These should never be seen as "hacking" violations, but in the 9th Circuit, they are.

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Social Advertising: Making creative work across all platforms

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Adotas recently caught up with Nikhil Sethi, co-founder and CEO of Adaptly (pictured left), to discuss the evolving social ad landscape, how advertisers can optimize creative at scale, and the future of marketing. Q: How have you seen the social ad landscape evolve and where are we today? A: We started from a world with [...]

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Three Energy Bills Look To Increase Fourth Amendment Protections For Americans

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Senator Ron Wyden has introduced a trio of energy bills for the Senate's consideration. The three bills each have their own area of focus.One bill [PDF] would direct the Department of Energy -- along with state entities -- to upgrade the flexibility and reliability of energy grids, thus limiting disruption during natural disasters. The second bill [PDF] creates grant programs for consumer-level renewable energy, providing incentives for purchase and deployment of solar panels, electric vehicles, and energy-efficient appliances. The third [PDF] tasks the DOE with leading the way for renewable energy storage R&D in hopes of driving costs down and providing more affordable alternatives to non-renewable energy sources.Beyond their renewable energy focus, these three bills all have one thing in common: law enforcement agencies aren't going to like them. Each bill contains language erecting warrant requirements for law enforcement access of consumer energy usage data.In each bill, under the "Privacy, Security, and Resilience" heading, Wyden has inserted a clause limiting warrantless access to energy customer data to identifying info only

CONSUMER INFORMATION.—A governmental entity may obtain from an electric utility, third party aggregator, or other nongovernmental entity under an administrative subpoena authorized by a Federal or State statute or a Federal or State grand jury or trial subpoena the—(A) name of an electric consumer;(B) address of an electric consumer;(C) length of service (including start date) of, and types of service used by, an electric con sumer; and(D) means and source of payment for such service (including any credit card or bank account number) of an electric consumer.
Everything else would require a warrant.
ELECTRIC USAGE INFORMATION.—A governmental entity may only require the disclosure by an electric utility, third party aggregator, or other nongovernmental entity of information regarding the use of electricity by an electric consumer (including monthly usage data, data at a greater level of detail or specificity, and information about electric use by specific appliances) pursuant to a warrant issued based on probable cause, using the procedures described in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure (or, in the case of a State court, issued using State warrant procedures) by a court of competent jurisdiction.
No more pulling citizens' electric bills without some articulable reason for doing so. The bill would also limit notification delays on these warrants to 180 days (although that period could be extended by a judge) and provides for suppression of evidence derived from warrantless access to energy usage information.This will be a tough sell, considering law enforcement is very used to gathering up everything it can possibly construe as a third party record. Energy customers definitely know the energy they use is being tracked by their service provider. Even so, that knowledge is not the same as making the assumption that anything known by your electric company can also be accessed by law enforcement with almost zero paperwork.A warrant requirement isn't much of a hurdle for law enforcement. What this would do is prevent fishing expeditions utilizing electric bills in hopes of stumbling over someone maintaining a home grow operation. This could mean people who shop for gardening supplies won't be having their electric bills constantly accessed by officers who assume the only hobby gardeners left are those in the marijuana business.Still, it's a good move by Wyden. The bills may not go forward with these clauses intact, but they'll at least get legislators talking about the wealth of personal information law enforcement has warrantless access to.

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Nintendo Nixes Live Streams For Its Own Creators Program For Some Reason

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In 2014, following nearly a full year of waging an intellectual property war on YouTubers doing "let's play" videos with its games, Nintendo unleashed upon the world what would eventually become its "Creators Program". Through the program, YouTubers would be allowed to put videos including Nintendo IP on their channels in exchange for revenue sharing between the creator and Nintendo itself. For a company like Nintendo, which had built a reputation for exerting strict control in this arena, it felt like a huge step forward. It took only a few months before the whole thing began devolving into a bureaucratic mess, with: language in the affiliate agreement clearly geared towards garnering positive coverage from YouTubers; a mishandling of the influx of interest in the program by creators themselves; and a strange whitelist and blacklist of what games could be covered, which hurt channels with extensive back catalogs of content that might need to be deleted. Some high profile YouTubers swore off covering Nintendo games in revolt, while everyone else was left wondering why this had to be handled so badly.It doesn't seem to be getting any better. For some reason, in the past few days, Nintendo suddenly nixed live-streams from channels affiliated with the Creators Program.

As of today, YouTubers who are also registered members of the Nintendo Creators Program are no longer allowed to broadcast content on YouTube Live. Nintendo gives partners two options: they can broadcast content on YouTube Live from a channel that isn't registered to the program, or they can cancel their channel's registration to the program, and instead register their videos to the program separately. The changes were announced in an email sent to content creators yesterday evening, although Nintendo didn't officially publish the changes to the program until today.Some Twitter users have posted the contents of the email, which announces that changes have been made as to how the Nintendo Creators Program will handle revenue generated from live streams. It adds that live streaming falls “outside the scope” of the program.
If that sounds like a confusing mess to you, you aren't alone. YouTubers themselves, who actually have to navigate these waters as professionals, have expressed reactions ranging from outrage to disappointment to downright confusion. Some are calling the move stupid. Others are pointing out that any random person not in the Creators Program is able to live-stream Nintendo games, yet officially sanctioned creators cannot. Most reactions amount to pointing out that this doesn't make any sense. Even those covering the story, such as Kotaku, seem to be at a complete loss.
It's uncertain as to why Nintendo introduced this policy. It's also unclear if Nintendo has similar rules for those live streaming Nintendo-copyrighted content on other sites such as Twitch. Representatives for Nintendo did not respond by press time.
When the two chief reactions to a policy shift from those affected by it amount to anger and confusion as to why the shift was even necessary, that's not a good look. With Nintendo staring blankly at requests for clarification from the press, both YouTubers and the public are left to speculate as they please. Though it seems most are content to rage at Nintendo for this decision.

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Aprimo Announces Enhanced AI & Ecosystem Integrations for DAM Platform

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DAM solution offers enhanced AI-powered auto-tagging, providing marketers instant value and full support in the cloud. Aprimo, a global provider of digital asset management and marketing operations solutions, today announced its category-leading Aprimo Digital Asset Management (ADAM) offers enhanced AI-powered auto-tagging to improve consistency, scalability and ease of use among digital content creation. Content managers [...]

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This Week In Techdirt History: October 1st - 7th

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Five Years AgoThis week in 2012, as copyright trolls continued their war on open wi-fi, rightsholders in the EU sought new storage media levies for the cloud and US ISPs were gearing up to enact their "six strikes" plan, we were trying to kill the myth that the constitution guarantees copyright. Some people at least seemed to get it, with a high-profile EU Parliament Committee proposing the ability to create non-copyrighted content, a DOJ lawyer exploring the fact that copyright needs to change in the internet age, and Psy mega-amplifying his Gangnam Style fame by allowing anyone to use the song and video for anything.Ten Years AgoThis week in 2007, it was expected and then confirmed that the RIAA would win its lawsuit against Jammie Thomas — even as we speculated that investors would soon force the RIAA to abandon its aggressive lawsuit strategy. In that trial, a Sony-BMG exec made some pretty absurd statements, around the same time that Viacom's CEO gave a speech demonstrating that the company is wrong about almost everything related to the internet and modern media, and the president of the ESA was calling for lots more DRM. But at least one group of creators was experimenting: Radiohead announced the pay-what-you-want plans for their album In Rainbows.Fifteen Years AgoEven back in 2001 this week, Hollywood already had its hooks in the government (and was working hard on getting them into colleges too). The music industry was heavily on the offensive and sending misguided musicians to complain to the government about downloading. As Napster creator Shawn Fanning was giving interviews about the service's demise (and even selling life story rights to MTV), the next generation of file sharing tools was starting to wonder if the "Betamax doctrine" would ever prove effective as a defense. Meanwhile, Congress was still considering an onerous and extreme DRM bill (which as we'll see in a few weeks was eventually killed, surprisingly, by.... Senator Patrick Leahy, who is more recently known for introducing a terrible copyright bill).

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MediaMath Bolsters Antifraud Suite with Addition of Ads.Txt

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MediaMath, an independent programmatic company for marketers, reiterated its support for, and announced an aggressive rollout of, the IAB’s “ads.txt” initiative across its entire supply footprint. The rollout is immediate throughout MediaMath’s Curated Marketthe company's guaranteed brand-safe, fraud-free premium media offeringwithin which the company will only buy over authorized paths from publishers who have an [...]

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The Latest On Shiva Ayyadurai's Failed Libel Suit Against Techdirt

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We have a quick update today on the defamation lawsuit that Shiva Ayyadurai filed against us earlier this year. Last month, Judge Dennis Saylor dismissed the lawsuit, pointing out that everything we said concerning Ayyadurai's claim to have invented email (specifically us presenting lots and lots of evidence of email predating Shiva's own work) was clearly protected speech under the First Amendment. Unfortunately, despite us being a California corporation, Judge Saylor did not grant our separate motion to strike under California's anti-SLAPP law -- which would have required Ayyadurai to pay our legal fees.Two weeks ago, Ayyadurai notified the court that he was appealing the dismissal, which we will defend against in court, and we are confident that we will prevail once again. On top of that, today, we've notified the court that we are cross-appealing the decision to reject our motions to strike under California's anti-SLAPP law. We have argued in court that this is an obvious SLAPP lawsuit -- an attempt by the plaintiff, a self-proclaimed public figure, to try to silence detailed, evidence-based criticism of his claims. We believe that the court improperly applied choice of law principles on which state's anti-SLAPP law should apply, and we look forward to making our case before the 1st Circuit appeals court on why California's anti-SLAPP law is the proper law to apply. We'll provide more updates as the appeals progress.

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Sheriff, Deputies Indicted After Subjecting Entire High School To Invasive Pat Downs

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Earlier this year, the Worth County (GA) Sheriff's Department enraged an entire nation by subjecting the entire student body of a local high school to invasive pat downs. The reason for these searches? Sheriff Jeff Hobby believed drugs would be found on campus.

Invasive searches of students at Worth County High School in Sylvester are being investigated by the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights.The Southern Center said Tuesday that hundreds of students at the South Georgia high school were subjected to a search conducted without a warrant. Some of the searches were “highly intrusive” and involved officers touching students’ genitals and breasts.The Southern Center is raising questions about the legality of the search.“The Sheriff’s search of Worth County High School students went far beyond what the law permits,” said SCHR attorney Crystal Redd. “The Sheriff had no authority to subject the entire student population to physical searches of their persons, and certainly none to search students in such an aggressive and inappropriate manner.”
The sheriff brought in drug-sniffing dogs and had his deputies frisk every single attending student. The sheriff claimed the searches were legal. And not just legal, but "necessary." The end result of the multiple invasions of personal privacy? Zero drugs, zero arrests.
No drugs were found in a search of Worth County High School Friday.
Perhaps Sheriff Hobby should have taken the results of a search performed a month earlier as indicative of future results.
The Sylvester Police Department did a search on March 17, and found no drugs.
Despite two negative search results, Sheriff Hobby still expressed a desire to search the school again.
When asked about that previous search that came up dry, Hobby said he didn't think that search was thorough, so he decided to do his own.He said he believes there are drugs at the high school and the middle school, but also said that he will not do another search, due to response from community.
According to school policies, students may be searched if there's reasonable suspicion the student is in possession of an illegal item. The same rules apply to law enforcement, but they were ignored here. Sheriff Hobby claimed he could search any student he wanted to (in this case, all of them) simply because he was accompanied by a school administrator.Hobby was wrong and is now facing some serious legal problems. First off, Hobby has been sued by several of the students frisked by his officers.
A federal civil rights lawsuit filed last week against a south Georgia sheriff offers new details of the bizarre school-wide search of hundreds of students where deputies allegedly touched girls’ breasts, vaginal areas and groped boys in their groins.One of the nine Worth County High School students who filed the lawsuit, identified as K.P., told the AJC that the April 14 search was “very, very scary.” She said the incident was stuck in her memory and it colored the rest of her senior year.
The lawsuit also details how much time the Sheriff's Department wasted violating rights and failing to discover contraband.
[T]he sheriff and his deputies locked the high school down for more than four hours and conducted body searches of close to 800 students present in school that day...
This lawsuit is a problem for Sheriff Hobby, especially as it will be much more difficult for the sheriff and his deputies to avail themselves of immunity. Indictments have that sort of effect on immunity claims. [via Greg Doucette]
A south Georgia grand jury indicted Worth County Sheriff Jeff Hobby on Tuesday for sexual battery, false imprisonment and violation of oath of office after he ordered a school-wide search of hundreds of high school students. Deputies allegedly touched girls vaginas and breasts and groped boys in their groin area during the search at the Worth County High School April 14.Two of Hobby’s deputies were also indicted Tuesday in connection with the case.
Somewhat ironically, the indicted sheriff's attorney is bemoaning the same grand jury system law enforcement loves when it's indicting civilians.
Under Georgia law, a police officer or sheriff accused of a crime related to their official duties can appear before a grand jury to give a statement. Private citizens facing criminal charges do not get this privilege. But the sheriff and his deputies chose not to invoke that privilege. All stayed out of the grand jury room. That’s at least in part due to a new law that curbed some of the unique privileges officers previously had to sway grand jurors.Under a new law that took effect last year, officers would have been subject to cross examination and wouldn’t have been able to rebut statements made by prosecutors during that cross-examination.“It’s not a balanced proceeding,” said Norman Crowe Jr., the sheriff’s attorney.
Well, of course it isn't. That's been obvious for years. But no one on the prosecutorial side has anything bad to say about it until they end up as grist for the grand jury mill.Apparently, Sheriff Hobby is going to claim he's innocent because he didn't personally pat down any of the students. That may save him from the sexual battery charge, but it's not going to help him much with the other two: violation of oath of office and false imprisonment. Without the sheriff giving the orders, it's unlikely his deputies would have locked down a school and patted down 800 students.Hobby's statements made in defense of the search -- all made pre-lawsuit and pre-indictment -- aren't going to help much either. He feels he's completely justified in performing en masse suspicionless searches of US citizens. They may have limited rights as minors and school attendees, but their rights do not vanish entirely once they walk on campus.The whole debacle was an ugly abuse of Hobby's power. Preventing future abuses depends greatly on the judicial system's ability to hold the sheriff accountable for his actions. With Hobby in charge, the Worth County Sheriff's Department is unqualified to police itself. Whether or not he's convicted, he should be removed from office. His post-search comments show he's willing to violate rights of hundreds of people simultaneously to find contraband he swears exists, but has yet to actually discover.

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Hundreds Of Cases Dismissed Thanks To Baltimore PD Misconduct

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After years of listening to tough-on-crime legislators and the tough-on-crime lawmen that love to hear them talk about filthy criminals beating the system by getting off on technicalities, it's somewhat funny to discover lots of what's complained about is nothing more than good old-fashioned due process and/or the collateral damage of crooked, inept, or lazy cops.We've seen a lot of en masse criminal case dismissals recently. Thousands of convictions and charges were dropped in Massachusetts as the result of a state crime lab tech's years of faked drug tests. All over the nation, cops are letting perps walk rather than discuss law enforcement's worst-kept secret: Stingray devices.Add to that list several hundred cases being dropped by prosecutors in Baltimore -- all thanks to officer misconduct. [via Scott Shackford at Reason]

Hundreds of criminal cases are impacted by the questionable conduct of Baltimore police officers, the city's top prosecutor announced in a statement.Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby's office released the updated numbers Wednesday. She said the actions of eight officers indicted for racketeering have affected 295 cases, and three more incidents of questionable use of body-worn cameras have impacted a total of 569 cases. Overall, she said up to 338 cases have been or could be dismissed.
The body camera footage at issue was discussed here earlier. What looked like an officer planting evidence turned out to be an officer performing an improvisational reenactment of "discovering" evidence he had actually discovered earlier (but without his body camera turned on). While less malicious than framing someone, the end result is no less questionable: a cop stuffing drugs into an object for recorded "discovery" later. Either way, it's something no cop should be doing, especially when they're wearing body cameras they can activate at any time.The numbers of dismissals will likely continue to grow. Moby's office counts up to 338 possible dismissals so far, but characterizes these totals as "preliminary." The Baltimore PD, however, is spinning these dismissals in a different -- but wholly expected -- direction. While promising to "work to address the concerns" raised by the racketeering and footage-faking, police spokesman T.J. Smith claims these multiple cases of footage manipulation (there are four in total) are not indicative of larger, unaddressed problems with officer accountability.
Smith pointed out the importance of separating the four incidents, as they are "unique and independent of each other," adding that while eight officers are in federal prison for their criminal conduct, "the cases involving body-worn camera footage is still being investigated and no criminal wrongdoing has been proven."
Well, "unique" and "independent" except for the fact they all involved members of the Baltimore PD. Only a fool (or a police union spokesman) would believe these are the only times Baltimore officers have massaged camera footage and that the hundreds of cases edging towards dismissal will be the end of the prosecutorial bleeding. Misconduct of this type -- especially misuse of recording equipment -- tends to be a department-wide problem, rather than a few "bad apples" rising to the top of the barrel to be plucked and tossed by prosecutors.

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Sex Toys Are Just As Poorly-Secured As The Rest Of The Internet of Broken Things

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At this point we've pretty well documented how the "internet of things" is a privacy and security dumpster fire. Whether it's tea kettles that expose your WiFi credentials or smart fridges that leak your Gmail password, companies were so busy trying to make a buck by embedding network chipsets into everything, they couldn't be bothered to adhere to even the most modest security and privacy guidelines. As a result, billions upon billions of devices are now being connected to the internet with little to no meaningful security and a total disregard to user privacy -- posing a potentially fatal threat to us all.Unsurprisingly, the sex toy division of the internet of broken things is no exception to this rule. One "smart dildo" manufacturer was recently forced to shell out $3.75 million after it was caught collecting, err, "usage habits" of the company's customers. According to the lawsuit, Standard Innovation's We-Vibe vibrator collected sensitive data about customer usage, including "selected vibration settings," the device's battery life, and even the vibrator's "temperature." At no point did the company apparently think it was a good idea to clearly inform users of this data collection.But security is also lacking elsewhere in the world of internet-connected sex toys. Alex Lomas of Pentest Partners recently took a look at the security in many internet-connected sex toys, and walked away arguably unimpressed. Using a Bluetooth "dongle" and antenna, Lomas drove around Berlin looking for openly accessible sex toys (he calls it "screwdriving," in a riff off of wardriving). He subsequently found it's relatively trivial to discover and hijack everything from vibrators to smart butt plugs -- thanks to the way Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connectivity works:

"The only protection you have is that BLE devices will generally only pair with one device at a time, but range is limited and if the user walks out of range of their smartphone or the phone battery dies, the adult toy will become available for others to connect to without any authentication. I should say at this point that this is purely passive reconnaissance based on the BLE advertisements the device sends out - attempting to connect to the device and actually control it without consent is not something I or you should do. But now one could drive the Hush's motor to full speed, and as long as the attacker remains connected over BLE and not the victim, there is no way they can stop the vibrations."
Lomas found that hearing aids that also use the BLE standard are similarly vulnerable, letting an attacker easily disrupt functionality of the devices. He proceeds to note that this could all be prevented via any number of improvements to these devices, including usage of a unique PIN, the need for local physical interaction (like a button push) to connect, or lowering the Bluetooth signal strength.But as we've noted previously, a big part of the security and privacy apathy coming from router and IOT device makers is due to the fact that nobody in these supply chains has the financial incentive to try very hard (if at all), so most will be off hyping the next iteration of their magical, intelligent butt plug -- instead of shoring up the problems with the last generation.

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Why Brands Should Pay Attention to Social Affinity

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Adotas talks with Sree Nagarajan, CEO, AffinityAnswers (pictured left) about how analyzing social behavior predicts brand engagement. Q: You've said that social affinity indicates that there is some kind of relationship between one brand and another. What specifically is behind it? A: It's actually an indication that a relationship is very likely to develop. We [...]

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TVadSync Unveils Real-Time TV Ad Retargeting for Marketers, Enabled by Centro

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TVadSync Determines TV Commercials Seen by Households to Show Related Ads on Viewers' Devices; Centro's Programmatic Ad Platform Synchronizes Marketing Funnel from Traditional to Digital Media. TVadSync, a provider of technology to bridge the advertising gap between television and second screen devices, today announced the expanded availability of its real-time TV re-targeting solution for U.S. [...]

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Dennis Clerke, new CEO of Ad-Juster, Looks at the Company Today and Tomorrow

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This week Dennis Clerke (pictured left) became the new Chief Executive Officer of Ad-Juster (most recently he was president of NetSeer). There is a lot going on at this digital measurement and analytics company with products spanning display, mobile, video, search engine, social media, and rich media advertising. The company has over 150 brand-name publishers, [...]

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As Expected, EU Court Of Justice To Review If Internet Company's Privacy Practices Are Acceptible

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The European Court of Justice is going to look into the acceptability of US internet company's privacy practices under the so-called "Privacy Shield" framework that was put in place last year. As you may recall, for years, the EU and the US had a "safe harbor" agreement, under which tech companies underwent a fairly silly and almost entirely pointless process (I know, because we did it ourselves...) by which the companies effectively promised to live up to the EU's data protection rules, in order to move data from servers in the EU across the Atlantic to the US. It is important that companies be allowed to do this, because without it, the internet doesn't function all that well. But, because of NSA snooping, it became clear that what companies were promising couldn't match what was actually happening. And thus, the EU Court of Justice tossed out the framework, saying that it violated EU data protection rules.After a bit of a scramble, the EU and the US came to an agreement on another framework, called the "Privacy Shield" that both argued was acceptable. It required US companies to do better in handling Europeans' data, to make sure EU residents had redress over data protection and included some transparency requirements regarding US government access to the data. However, as we noted at the time, unless the US was drastically changing how the NSA did surveillance, it seemed nearly impossible for the Privacy Shield to be valid under EU law. And, indeed, Max Schrems, the guy whose lawsuit brought down the original "safe harbor" quickly challenged the Privacy Shield in an Irish court. Over the past few months, we've pointed out that some of Trump's statements on surveillance made it clear that the Privacy Shield was not likely to survive.Earlier this week, the Irish court asked the European Court of Justice to review. The ruling is long (over 150 pages) and pretty detailed. The court clearly recognizes how important this issue is:

The case raises issues of very major, indeed fundamental, concern to millions of people within the European Union and beyond. Firstly, it is relevant to the data protection rights of millions of residents of the European Union. Secondly, it has implications for billions of euros worth of trade between the EU and the US and, potentially, the EU and other non-EU countries. It also has potentially extremely significant implications for the safety and security of residents within the European Union. There is considerable interest in the outcome of these proceedings by any parties having a very real interest in the issues at stake.
The court hasn't yet officially asked the CJEU to weigh in, but rather has said that it will -- but first it wants the parties involved in the case to more or less argue about what exactly should be the questions submitted to the CJEU.Most of the ruling itself is basically around whether or not there's anything to discuss here at all. Facebook -- the service whose privacy practices are at issue in this particular case -- tried to argue that because surveillance issues are "national security" and there's a carve out for national security, there's no issue with the Privacy Shield But the court doesn't buy that. First, it says that the issue under scrutiny is about the relationship between the EU and its member states (and how the data protection rules work) rather than a question about "national security" in the US. Similarly, it points to the original Schrems ruling that got the old safe harbor tossed out and notes that no one had a problem with saying the law applied in that case:
The submission is inconsistent with the ruling of the High Court in Schrems v. The Data Protection Commissioner [2014] 3 I.R. 75 and the CJEU in Schrems where the court proceeded on the basis that it had jurisdiction to rule on the reference. If Facebook's submission in this case is correct, it did not have jurisdiction so to proceed. Eight Member States, the European Parliament, the European Commission and the European Data Protection Supervisor intervened in those proceedings. If Facebook's point was well made, it is remarkable that none of these participants raised this fundamental matter of jurisdiction.
So, there's still time before the CJEU will sort this out, but we stand by our initial statement. Unless the US changes its NSA surveillance practices, it's difficult to see how the Privacy Shield comes to an end any different than the old privacy safe harbors. If the US doesn't want to have the Privacy Shield rejected again, it might want to start by reforming surveillance -- and it can do that right away in refusing to renew Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act without significant reform and modifications.

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Elsevier's Latest Brilliant Idea: Adding Geoblocking To Open Access

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We've just written about a troubling move by Elsevier to create its own, watered-down version of Wikipedia in the field of science. If you are wondering what other plans it has for the academic world, here's a post from Elsevier's Vice President, Policy and Communications, Gemma Hersh, that offers some clues. She's "responsible for developing and refreshing policies in areas related to open access, open data, text mining and others," and in "Working towards a transition to open access", Hersh meditates upon the two main kinds of open access, "gold" and "green". She observes:

While gold open access offers immediate access to the final published article, the trade-off is cost. For those that can't or don't wish to pay the article publishing charge (APC) for gold open access, green open access -- making a version of the subscription article widely available after a time delay or embargo period -- remains a viable alternative to enabling widespread public access.
She has a suggestion for how the transition from green open access to gold open access might be effected:
Europe is a region where a transition to fully gold open access is likely to be most cost-neutral and, perhaps for this reason, where gold OA currently has the highest policy focus. This is in stark contrast to other research-intensive countries such as the US, China and Japan, which on the whole have pursued the subscription/green open access path. Therefore one possible first step for Europe to explore would be to enable European articles to be available gold open access within Europe and green open access outside of Europe.
Blithely ignoring the technical impossibility of enforcing an online geographical gold/green border, Hersh is proposing to add all the horrors of geoblocking -- a long-standing blight on the video world -- to open access. But gold open access papers that aren't fully accessible outside Europe simply aren't open access at all. The whole point of open access is that it makes academic work freely available to everyone, everywhere, without restriction -- unlike today, where only the privileged few can afford wide access to research that is often paid for by the public.It's hard to know why Elsevier is putting forward an idea that is self-evidently preposterous. Perhaps it now feels it has such a stranglehold on the entire academic knowledge production process that it doesn't even need to hide its contempt for open access and those who support it.Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

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Four Questions Marketers Need to Ask When it Comes to Brand Safety and Video

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by Daniel Oakins, Global Director of Publishing, Grapeshot Video is everywhere and is continuing to grow in popularity over text as the preferred way that people consume media. Facebook recently announced a push into video with their latest Watch hub to share content, and Apple with their latest iPhone just increased the size of their [...]

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More Prisons Banning In-Person Visits, Adding To Securus Tech's Pile Of Cash

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Jails and prisons continue to sacrifice what few physical interactions prisoners have with loved ones on the outside to phone service provider Securus. The New Orleans Advocate reports a local jail is the latest in a long line of correctional facilities to ban in-person visits, replacing them with Securus communication software and hardware.

Inmates at the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center in Gretna will no longer be able to receive in-person visits from relatives and friends beginning Oct. 10, when the facility will begin a "video visitation" program similar to one put in place at New Orleans' lockup a couple of years ago.
To jailers, this move just makes sense. It all but eliminates contraband smuggling and allows prisons and jails to allocate fewer staffers to monitoring prisoner visits. But it makes little sense for those stuck inside and even less sense for those on the outside who will be spending a lot more money on visits that used to be free.
The Sheriff's Office said 20-minute sessions will cost nearly $13.
At this per minute rate, it makes no difference visiting hours are being expanded. While it may sometimes be more convenient to Skype prisoners than visit in person, no one's asking for $0.60/minute communications to be their only option.But this is something Securus has pushed for a long time. Back in 2015, Securus finally dropped a clause in its contracts that mandated correctional facilities using its equipment move to video-only visits. But that doesn't mean jails aren't still heavily encouraged to ban in-person visits. The pivot to video doesn't just generate an absurd amount of income for the communications provider. It also pads the pockets of prisons.
Jails stand to make a profit by adopting this type of visitation. If families do a video visit at the jail, it's free, but if they do it from their home computer, it can cost $1 per minute. Securus promised the Cheshire County Jail a 20 percent cut of the thousands of dollars those fees bring in — that cut totaled $2,500 for the jail last year. The county paid $30,000 to install the video system.
This perversity incentivizes prison and jails to further dehumanize inmates by cutting them off from most, if not all, outside human contact while incarcerated. Jails don't have to step up to full-on bans to discourage visits. They can just enact highly-intrusive search policies and shorten visiting hours to achieve the same effect.The push to video further benefits the state by ensuring almost every communication between prisoners and outsiders is recorded. In-person visits may be lightly-surveilled by staff, but calls routed through Securus hardware/software are swept up in their entirety, easily accessed by the government.It's not like prisoners aren't warned that all calls are recorded, but these bans eliminate any possibility of an intimate one-on-one conversation with a loved one or family member.Just as problematic is the government's access to every conversation. While prisoners have an extremely diminished expectation of privacy, the government has repeatedly overstepped the very minimal boundaries remaining to listen in on privileged calls from prisoners to their legal reps.And if the per call price seems high now, it's only going to get worse. Along with attacking net neutrality and loosening regulation of telcos and cable companies, FCC chairman Ajit Pai has made it clear the sky's the limit for prison phone call fees.In the end, very little will be done about it. Convicted prisoners are the least sympathetic group when it comes to pushing new legislation. Very few politicians are willing to go to bat for incarcerated people and even fewer constituents are willing to support candidates who appear the least bit empathetic for those behind bars. Topping it all off is the fact that those affected the most cannot vote, despite being handy sources of federal revenue for states and cities housing inmates.The push will continue to further isolate prisoners, which is only going to serve to reduce the chances of societal reintegration after they've done their time. But that's OK, because the harder it is to return to normal life, the greater the chance released inmates will end up back in prison racking up $15 phone calls that benefit Securus and others willing to shamelessly exploit a very captive audience.

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Known Terrorists Under Witness Protection Roaming The Country Pretty Much Unattended

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The FBI loves its counterterrorism work. Loves it so much, it's pretty much abandoned all pretense of being a law enforcement agency. It acts as though it's somewhere between the NSA and the ATF: interested mostly in picking through surveillance dragnets and running sting operations that turn people who have trouble with basic skills like holding down jobs into national security threats.But it can't score anti-terrorism goals on unguarded nets without a crew of informants. It works with immigration authorities to coerce visiting foreigners into providing the agency with intel. It goes further than that, though. It also operates a witness protection program for informants/witnesses actually involved in actual terrorist activity.Considering the danger inherent to letting these informants run on a long leash, you'd think the FBI would keep close tabs on some of its more dangerous helpers. But that isn't the case. The DOJ's Inspector General has released a heavily-redacted report [PDF] on the government's use of known suspected terrorists (KSTs) as temporary allies in the greater War on Terrorism. These are handled by the US Marshals Service, with the FBI acting as an intermediary. More government agencies are involved as well -- or at least should be. But one of the many problems the OIG found was a lack of communication.

We found several deficiencies in the process OEO [the DOJ's Office of Enforcement Operations] followed in analyzing these case files and in sharing information with the FBI. Specifically, we believe, and the FBI agrees, that OEO should have shared the information with national security stakeholders for all [redacted] individuals identified by the USMS, rather than conducting its own secondary review. If OEO had passed along all of the case file information that the USMS identified from its case file review, the FBI's counterterrorism experts - not just OEO - would have had the opportunity to evaluate whether any of the [redacted] individuals were KSTs. Under the process used, that did not happen for a majority of the individuals. We also found that neither OEO nor the FBI was able to provide evidence of a consistent application of the criteria each used for its reviews, and both lacked adequate support for their respective determinations.In addition, OEO's sharing of information with the FBI was often marked by delay and the FBI's assessments of that information were inadequately documented. Of particular concern, we found that although the USMS began identifying to OEO individuals it believed had a potential nexus to terrorism in November 2013, OEO did not begin sending that information to the FBI for possible watchlisting until March 2014, and we found delays of weeks or months in OEO's handling of many of the individuals the USMS identified in late 2013 and early 2014.
This lack of info sharing combined with the agencies' inadequate documentation to create some horrifying problems. Known suspected terrorists were allowed to board planes on multiple occasions. Some continued to commit criminal acts. And in some cases, no one had any clue where their KST informants had vanished to.
As of November 2016, counting those KSTs identified during our May 2013 report, the FBI, OEO, and USMS have identified [redacted] KSTs who were previously admitted into the WITSEC Program. As of November 2016, the FBI had located [redacted] of these [redacted] KSTs, and were in the process of verifying the location of the remaining [redacted] individuals.
In one case, two KSTs were already watchlisted by the National Joint Terrorism Task Force. Nonetheless, they continued to engage in criminal activities for five months before they were arrested. They weren't the only ones. Other KSTs engaged in criminal activity without being terminated from the WITSEC program.
[D]espite four termination requests in 9 months from the USMS, OEO delayed the termination of a WITSEC Program participant who had allegedly sexually assaulted five individuals in an 8­ year period, including three minors.
Other WITSEC participants used the system's lack of oversight and flawed interagency communications to their own advantage. One KST used both his real identity, along with the new one provided to him in the WITSEC program, to game the system. Once terminated from the program, the KST was asked to return the new-name documents. Apparently, he never did. And no one followed up until the OIG got involved
By retaining these documents, KST 70 was able to use both identities for years. For example, KST 70 was receiving [redacted] benefits in KST 70's new name while receiving [redacted] retirement benefits in KST 70's true name. [...] We also found that KST 70 was able to use KST 70's new name, including a [redacted] driver's license. In fact, KST 70 checked into a hotel the night before the [redacted] with that [redacted] driver's license. We find it very concerning that KST 70 was allowed to use both identities for so long.
The OIG has a long list of recommendations to fix the ongoing KST/WITSEC issues. Unfortunately, you won't be reading them. They're 100% redacted. But we can assume it means a lot of changes in a system of utmost importance -- as is the case with anything national security-related -- that's treated like an afterthought by its many participants.

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Demand Gen Report Unveils Winners Of Inaugural B2B Innovator Awards

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34 B2B Executives Recognized For Their Innovation In ABM, Technology, Content, Buyer Centricity & More Demand Gen Report has announced the winners of its inaugural B2B Innovator Awards, which recognize some of the most forward-thinking practitioners in the B2B industry. Garnering more than 100 nominations from B2B executives across verticals, the Demand Gen Report team [...]

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posted at: 12:00am on 03-Oct-2017
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Denuvo Game Cracked In Mere Hours

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Denuvo DRM has graced our pages many times in the past year or so. The DRM once thought to be unbreakable and heralded as the end of piracy has taken a precipitous downward path in reputation. Games using the DRM slowly began being cracked in months, then weeks. The ability to crack Denuvo then sped up, with cracking times dropping to a week, five days, a couple of days. Through it all, Denuvo worked furiously to patch its software, all while proclaiming that a week or so's protection is worth it to game developers as they protect their games during the all important initial release window.Well, it seems like that ability to make that argument has come to an end, as DRM-"protected" game Total War: Warhammer 2 was cracked in a matter of hours.

Denuvo has suffered its biggest failure yet, with strategy game Total War: Warhammer 2 falling to pirates in less than a day, arguably just a few hours. It was cracked by STEAMPUNKS, a group that’s been dumping cracked games on the Internet at quite a rate for the past few months.The fall of this game in such a short space of time will be of major concern to Denuvo Software Solutions. After Resident Evil 7 was cracked in days earlier this year, Denuvo Marketing Director Thomas Goebl told Eurogamer that some protection was better than nothing.
That argument is now dead, having been beaten behind the woodshed by the same reality that has faced every other DRM maker out there. DRM doesn't work. On a long enough timeline, DRM is always beaten. That those timelines are shortening to this degree should only drive the point home to game developers: DRM is no way to do business. It disrupts legitimate customers and doesn't stop piracy.It's worth noting again that Denuvo has publicly stated in the past that it does not offer refunds to its customers. If anything, that stance should make the choice for game developers as to whether or not to use Denuvo on their products all the more clear. Developers certainly can simply throw money away, with no method for retrieving it, if they wish. But I would think that money could be better spent incorporating business models that actually make money and connect with customers.

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posted at: 12:00am on 03-Oct-2017
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Appeals Court Tells Seattle Cops New Use Of Force Policy Doesn't Violate Their 2nd Amendment Rights

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When the Department of Justice handed down remedies for the Seattle Police Department's excessive use of excessive force, it told officers they would need to dial back their penchant for deadliness. Just prior to the DOJ's civil rights investigation, the PD was responsible for 20% of the city's homicides. The DOJ recommended officers work on their de-escalation tactics, as well as partake in training meant to steer officers away from viewing anything strange (medical conditions, mental health issues, drug impairment, behavioral crises) as something to be shot at or beaten.Seattle PD officials adopted the DOJ recommendations and altered the department's use of force policies. Rather than comply or quit, several police officers decided to file a federal lawsuit against the DOJ. The officers asserted a nonexistent right (the "right" to make it home alive) and hammered an existing right (the 2nd Amendment) to it in hopes of persuading a federal court that using less force less often somehow violated their right to keep and bear arms.The crowdfunded lawsuit didn't get very far. The district court pointed out the 2nd Amendment does not create a "right" to defend yourself, much less attempt to guarantee officers' personal safety. Gun ownership is regulated, not a free pass for cops to violate PD use of force policies as they see fit. It also tossed a variety of other rights violations claims, noting these were even more tenuously connected to the officers' protest of the new use of force policy than the 2nd Amendment claims.The officers appealed this decision because of course they did. Despite raising less than $4,000 of their $100,000 legal defense fund goal, the officers apparently had enough funding to lose twice. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected [PDF] the officers' ridiculous rights violation assertions. (h/t Kevin Gosztola)As the court points out, the use of force policy these officers felt needed to be addressed with a civil rights lawsuit does zero damage to the officers' civil rights.

The UF [Use of Force] Policy explicitly recognizes that Appellants may use their department-issued firearms in self-defense in an encounter with a suspect—including the use of deadly force with a firearm. The UF Policy states that “[d]eadly force may only be used in circumstances where threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others is imminent[,]” and recognizes that “sometimes the use-of-force is unavoidable[.]” As a result, the UF Policy does not impose a substantial burden on Appellants’ right to use a firearm for the purpose of lawful self-defense.
The court goes on to note the restrictions placed on force deployment do not undermine officers' ability to defend themselves if needed.
The UF Policy requires Appellants to employ de-escalation techniques only “[w]hen safe under the totality of the circumstances and time and circumstances permit.” Thus, the UF Policy expressly contemplates that de-escalation techniques will not be feasible in every situation, and even states that “sometimes, the use of force is unavoidable.” The UF Policy also provides that Appellants may use deadly force where an objectively reasonable officer would conclude that the “threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others is imminent.” These provisions ensure that Appellants may use their department-issued firearms to defend themselves and the public.
The court also reminds officers use of force policies are written with more than police officers in mind. Their rights are not more important than the rights of the people they serve.
The UF Policy also requires that Appellants use “[d]e-escalation tactics and techniques . . . when safe and without compromising law enforcement priorities,” and states that Appellants “shall consider whether a subject’s lack of compliance is a deliberate attempt to resist or an inability to comply based on” a variety of factors. Those provisions advance the City of Seattle’s important government interest of ensuring the safety of the public by mandating de-escalation techniques and reducing the likelihood that a firearm will be drawn or used where such force is not “objectively reasonable,” “proportional to the threat or urgency of the situation,” or “necessary to achieve a law-enforcement objective.”
Also struck down is the officers' attempt to restructure the 2nd Amendment to cover their use of deadly force while on the clock. As the court notes, the rights are limited to "defending hearth and home." Nowhere is it written police officers have a right to make it home safely, and there's nothing in the Constitution that allows public employees to unjustifiably take the lives of others in order to ensure officers suffer no harm. That ends this particularly misguided attempt to turn the Constitution into a free pass for excessive force… unless there's still enough left of the $3,730 to crank out a Supreme Court petition.The 123 suing officers represent about a tenth of the Seattle PD's police force. Why this percentage thought the new policy was worth suing over is unclear. The lawsuit was so misguided the Seattle police union didn't offer its endorsement or support, and it's in the business of suing over anything that threatens officer autonomy. The only thing this lawsuit has done is provided a list of 123 officers who would apparently prefer to shoot their way out of any situation, whether or not the use of force is justified.

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posted at: 12:00am on 03-Oct-2017
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This Week In Techdirt History: September 24th - 30th

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Five Years AgoThis week in 2012, the fallout from the farce that was the Megaupload raid — made worse by the revelation that the New Zealand government used illegal wiretaps in the case — the public was starting to realize more about the disasters of copyright overreach. There was no shortage of examples, from copyright trolls and aggressive rights collectives around the world, to terribly onerous laws on the verge of passing in countries like Panama, to insane statements like that of a former Register of Copyrights who thought new technologies should seek prior approval from the government, to absurdities like an author being punished for torrenting his own book.Ten Years AgoThey wouldn't have had any lack of examples this week in 2007, either — though at least there was some pushback from various corners, like the growing number of judges smacking down the RIAA's file sharing lawsuits (you know, the ones that almost certainly accomplished nothing, and one of which was for the first time on its way to be heard by a jury. You might remember it: the defendant was someone by the name of Jammie Thomas...)And just for fun: it was surprising and amusing to see a headline about "fake news" all the way back in 2007, though the context was, as you might imagine, very different from today.Fifteen Years AgoThe main flashpoint of the copyright fight this week in 2002 was still the insane Hollywood hacking bill, which was the subject of fierce debate. While the bill's sponsor defended it with empty statements that belied either ignorance or indifference, Congress was inviting only Hollywood representatives to come whine about piracy and support the bill. Dan Gillmor invited Jack Valenti to share his (unconvincing) side of the story regarding the MPAA's heavy-handed actions, while Gary Shapiro of the CEA was clearly and carefully making more nuanced arguments wherever possible — but of course, the opposition had the potent weapon of recruiting celebrities to the cause.

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