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March 2018
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Adobe & oneAudience: Can they help you understand your mobile audience?

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Ari Saposh, VP of Data at oneAudience, (pictured left) answers questions about focusing on mobile users to gain a market advantage. Q: How are Adobe and oneAudience bridging the current gap in marketers’ understanding of their mobile audience? A:The mobile device has quickly become the most personal, relevant channel in understanding consumers. Unlocking mobile information […]The post Adobe & oneAudience: Can they help you understand your mobile audience? appeared first on Adotas.

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posted at: 12:00am on 31-Mar-2018
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Quixotic Approaches To Circumventing Censorship, Using Books And Music

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The topic of censorship crops up far too much here on Techdirt. Less common are stories about how to circumvent it. The two which follow are great examples of how human ingenuity is able to find unexpected ways to tackle this problem. The first story comes from Spain, and concerns a banned book. As the Guardian reports:

Nacho Carretero's Fariña, an expose of drug trafficking in Galicia, was published in 2015, but publication and sales were halted last month after the former mayor of O Grove in Galicia, Jose Alfredo Bea Gondar, brought legal action against Carretero and his publisher, Libros del KO. Bea Gondar is suing over details in the book about his alleged involvement in drug shipping.
To get around that ban, a new Web site has been created, Finding Fariña, which explains:
A digital tool searches and finds the 80,000 thousand words that make up "Faria" within "Don Quijote", the most universal classic of Spanish literature, and then extracts them, one by one, so that you can read the forbidden story.Because what they will never be able to censor your rights as a reader. Nor words. And least of all, "Don Quijote".
The site sifts through the classic Spanish text to find the words that are then recombined to form the forbidden book. You can click on any word in the book's online text to find the corresponding section of Don Quijote. Since Fariña contains words that did not exist in the early 17th century, when Cervantes wrote his novel, the Web site recreates them from fragments of words that are found within the work. That's quite important, since it means that Don Quijote can potentially be used to reconstitute any book, if necessary breaking down unusual words into fragments or even single letters. Equally, the same approach could be adopted for banned texts in other languages: all that is needed is some well-known public domain work that can be mined in the same way.The other approach comes from Germany, but "The Uncensored Playlist," is being used in China, Egypt, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Vietnam to circumvent censorship in those nations:
While press freedom is not available in the worlds most oppressed societies -- global music streaming sites are.Five acclaimed independent journalists from five countries suffering from strict government censorship teamed up with Musical Director Lucas Mayer to turn 10 articles that had previously been censored into 10 uncensored pop songs. These songs were then uploaded onto freely available music streaming sites. Allowing these stories to be slipped back into the countries where they had once been forbidden.
That is, censored information, written by local journalists, is set to music, and then added to playlists that are available on the main streaming platforms like Spotify, Deezer, and Apple Music. In addition, all the songs are freely available from the project's Web site, in both the original languages and in English.Although neither method represents a foolproof anti-circumvention technique, or a serious challenge to the authorities concerned, they do underline that however bad the censorship, there is always a way around it.Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

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posted at: 12:00am on 31-Mar-2018
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NBA To Experiment With Cheap 4th Quarter Only Streaming Options

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As entertainment streaming has officially become "a thing", one leading to massive change in the entertainment landscape, many eyes still turn towards the professional sports leagues. That's because live professional sports is now one of the last big bulwarks against cord-cutting. With that in mind, it's interesting to watch the major sports leagues experiment in streaming, a process that began roughly five years ago in earnest. While Major League Baseball has long led the way, the other leagues are catching up. The NBA in 2014 negotiated a new broadcast deal with Disney and TNT, one in which the league insisted that streaming options be significantly expanded. In fact, 14% or more NBA games are now nationally televised on those networks, with streaming options that do not require cable.While that sort of deal is to be applauded, it's admittedly fairly vanilla. Put more broadcasts up on streaming services. There's nothing too experimental about that. Especially compared with a new plan the NBA is kicking around for cheap streams of the last quarter of NBA games.

Now the NBA is testing another, obvious-when-you-think-about-it idea: letting fans watch the 4th quarter of a live, in-progress game for just 99 cents.On Twitter, Vasu Kulkarni shared a screenshot of a notification sent by the NBA app. For less than a buck, he could hop in and stream the end of a game between the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder. The Verge has reached out to NBA Digital for more specifics on how many fans are being presented with this option. I haven’t seen other screenshots or instances of it, and it’s very possible that the price could change as the NBA tries to find a sweet spot. 99 cents seems like a good one, though. Presumably the usual annoyances with these things (i.e. blackouts for local teams) also apply here.
If those annoyances are indeed still in place with this option, it would be a massive mistake. The whole value in offering these cheap streaming options for the more thrilling moments of a basketball game -- the end of it -- is the ability to draw in the more casual fan to view more broadcasts. Cutting out the local teams, particularly when what's considered a "local team" is so tortured and laughable for so many markets, undercuts that value at the kneecap. Regardless, it's good to see a league with this much sway experimenting in this way.According to Darren Rovell of ESPN, these experiments are unlikely to end merely with end-of-game sequences.
ESPN reporter Darren Rovell predicts that the NBA could turn micro-transactions into a “significant revenue stream” for fans who want to catch the pivotal ending moments of a game. It’s a tiny, tiny fraction of the price of a full League Pass subscription, so it’s a much easier sell for casual fans who would hesitate to fork out for the big package but have no issue paying 99 cents when they get a push notification about a close, high-stakes game. Silver also mentioned the possibility of these streams being offered when a player has a chance of breaking an all-time record or reaching other notable achievements.
As the Verge post notes, this is somewhat akin to the NFL's RedZone channel, but you pay for what you want and nothing else. Hopefully the antiquated barriers come down along with this experiment and hopefully we'll see more and more creative options put forth by the leagues as well. If nothing else, it should make some large cable providers start quaking, and that's always fun.

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posted at: 12:00am on 31-Mar-2018
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DWA Names North American Programmatic Lead, Krish Sailam

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DWA, a Merkle company, today announces that it has tapped Krish Sailam (pictured left) to serve as its VP of Programmatic. He will be based in the San Francisco office.Krish joins from Cadreon, where he was VP of Programmatic. As more clients are demanding greater efficiencies, brand safety, and transparency in digital advertising, DWA continues […]The post DWA Names North American Programmatic Lead, Krish Sailam appeared first on Adotas.

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posted at: 12:00am on 30-Mar-2018
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Appeals Court Has No Problem With Cops Using E911 Services To Perform Warrantless, Real-Time Tracking

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The Fifth Circuit Appeals Court says it's fine if the government uses mandated emergency services to perform real-time GPS tracking. It doesn't go so far as to affirm the constitutionality of the actions, but it achieves the same ends by voting down the appellant's request for a rehearing.What we can glean about the issue at stake comes from the eight-page dissent [PDF] written by judges James L. Dennis and James E. Graves, two of the seven judges who voted for a rehearing. In this case, the government used the defendant's cellphone provider to engage in real-time tracking. No warrant was obtained despite the government's shoulder-surfing of incoming GPS location data.

Defendant William Wallace contends that the Government violated the Fourth Amendment by ordering his service provider to activate his phone’s “Enhanced 911” capability and to relay his GPS coordinates in real time, including while he was in his home. The panel opinion concludes that, even if the Government’s real-time tracking of Wallace’s GPS coordinates was an unconstitutional search, Wallace cannot benefit from the exclusionary rule suppression of the fruits of that search because law-enforcement officials could have reasonably relied on open-ended language in 18 U.S.C. § 2703(c), a provision of the Stored Communications Act (SCA), as authorizing their actions.
Those are the facts of the case, but as the dissenting judges point out, the SCA clearly did not anticipate this use of the law, much less explicitly approve this GPS warrant end-around utilized by law enforcement. The government relied on good faith exception arguments made in two cases -- Leon and Krull. The latter holds that officers may rely on clear statutory authorization even if the statute is later proven to be unconstitutional. (In the Krull case, the statute was struck down a day after the disputed search took place.) This seems about right as courts hardly expect officers to know the laws they're supposed to enforce, much less the ones they're supposed to follow.But that doesn't hold here. The dissent makes it explicit: the SCA provides no basis for warrantless commandeering of a phone's GPS system to track suspects. This isn't a passive collection of existing records. This turns a phone into a tracking device at the behest of law enforcement, even when the phone's owner may have taken measures to limit the collection of GPS data. There's nothing in the SCA that says any of this is constitutional.
Unlike in Krull, here there is no legislative judgment or dialogue between the courts and the legislature as to the constitutionality of the realtime GPS surveillance at issue. Congress passed the SCA over thirty years ago. At that time there was no E911 requirement, see 61 FED. REG. 40,374, and GPS was still experimental military technology that would not begin to be in widespread civilian use until over a decade later…
Furthermore, there's a Supreme Court decision to be considered -- one that strongly hinted real-time GPS tracking requires warrants (even if the Justices didn't actually go so far as to draw a bright line).
Moreover, as has been expressed by five members of the current Supreme Court and by members of this court, there is grave doubt as to the constitutionality of the kind of warrantless, real-time GPS tracking at issue in this case. See, e.g., United States v. Jones, 565 U.S. 400, 415–18 (2012) (Sotomayor, J. concurring) [...] Thus, both the nature of the statute and the nature of the alleged constitutional violation strongly suggest that Krull does not apply here.
The dissent then returns to the SCA. The government argues the SCA should be read to include real-time GPS tracking as something covered by the "or other information" phrase in the law. Since it's not communications, the government rationalizes, there should be no warrant requirement. The dissent points out the flaw in the government's reasoning by pointing to nothing more than the name of the law invoked to perform the warrantless tracking.
This holding ignores plain language in the SCA suggesting that real-time collection of GPS tracking information is not authorized by this statute. Section 2703(c) is part of the “Stored Communications Act.” (emphasis added). The pertinent section is entitled “Records concerning electronic communication service or remote computing service.” § 2703(c) (emphasis added). GPS coordinates that have not yet been created and would not be created absent the Government’s intervention cannot be called “records” or “stored” communications under any commonsense understanding of those terms.
This does nothing for the appellant or anyone who resides in the district, unfortunately. Law enforcement can still turn phones into tracking devices without warrants, barring any state legislation that provides more privacy protections than this district's interpretation of the Fourth Amendment. With its refusal to rehear this case, the Fifth Circuit has granted the government the luxury of interpreting "or other records" to include compelled real-time GPS tracking.

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posted at: 12:00am on 30-Mar-2018
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China's Tencent Proves You Can Make A Decent Profit From Online Publishing -- If You Have A Platform With A Billion Users

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A constant refrain from the publishing industry is that it's impossible to make a decent profit from online publishing because of all those people downloading and sharing digital stuff for free. An interesting article in Caixin reporting on the Chinese digital giant Tencent offers an interesting perspective on that issue. It provides an update to a story we wrote last year about Tencent moving into online publishing, with evident success:

Net profit for Tencent's online publishing unit China Literature was 15 times greater in 2017 compared to 2016, according to the company's first annual results released after its blockbuster initial public offering (IPO).Revenue grew by 60% to 4.1 billion yuan ($648 million), from 2016's 2.6 billion yuan. Profit attributable to shareholders jumped by a staggering 1,416% from last year's 36.7 million yuan [$5.8 million] to 556.1 million yuan [$88 million] in 2017.
As the article explains, revenues came mostly from payments by readers of the company's online offerings, which cater for a wide range of tastes -- from comics to romance. In total, works are supplied by 6.9 million writers, most of whom are contracted to produce original material for the company. The scale of the operation is similarly large: last year around 11.1 million people paid to use China Literature's services, up from 8.3 million in 2016.Although those are all impressive figures, it's worth noting one of the key factors driving this business. Tencent is the company behind the WeChat messaging app. Last year, there were 963 million users, so it's likely that more a billion people now use WeChat's powerful and wide-ranging platform. That naturally makes selling China Literature's services much easier.Traditional publishers will doubtless claim this means they are unable to compete with this kind of platform power, and that they can never generate significant profits online. Their conclusion seems to be that companies like Google and Facebook should be punished for their success. Indeed, this demand has been crystallized into a slogan -- the so-called "value gap", which supposedly represents the money that publishers would have received had it not been for the online giants.In truth, this "value gap" is more of an "innovation gap": if the publishing companies had embraced the Internet fully in the early days, there is no reason why they could not have turned into Google and Tencent themselves. Instead, publishers have fought the Internet from its first appearance, as they still do. They hanker for the more profitable days of analog publishing, when they were the undisputed gatekeepers. And in their heart of hearts, they secretly hope one day those times might return if only they can persuade politicians to bring in enough retrogressive copyright laws to hobble innovative online companies.Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

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posted at: 12:00am on 30-Mar-2018
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IRIS.TVHires Daniel Harrison as CRO; Jennette MacLachlan New Executive Producer for Big Block

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IRIS.TV, an A.I. video personalization and programming pioneer, today announced the appointment of Daniel Harrison (pictured left) as Chief Revenue Officer. Mr. Harrisonwill lead the global sales, marketing and accounts teams, responsible for driving revenue growth and expanding strategic relationships withdigital and advanced TVpublishers, as well as deepening engagement with brands and agencies. IRIS.TV'srapidly growing […]The post IRIS.TVHires Daniel Harrison as CRO; Jennette MacLachlan New Executive Producer for Big Block appeared first on Adotas.

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posted at: 12:00am on 29-Mar-2018
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Italian Court Rules The Wikimedia Foundation Is Just A Hosting Provider For Wikipedia's Volunteer-Written Articles

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Many of us tend to take the amazing resource of Wikipedia for granted: it's hard to imagine online life without it. But that doesn't mean its position is assured. As well as continuing funding uncertainty, it is also subject to legal attacks that call into question its innovative way of letting anyone create and edit articles. For example, in 2012 a former Italian Minister of Defense sued the Wikimedia Foundation in Italy for hosting a Wikipedia article he alleged contained defamatory information. He had sent a letter demanding that the article in question should be removed, without even specifying the exact page or where the problem lay, and filed the suit when the page was not taken down.In 2013, the Civil Court in Rome ruled that the Wikimedia Foundation, which hosts Wikipedia, cannot be held liable for the content of Wikipedia articles, which it does not control. Unsurprisingly, the former minister appealed, and the Court of Appeals in Rome has just handed down its judgment, which is in favor of the Wikimedia Foundation:

In a ruling that provides strong protection for Wikipedia's community governance model, the Court once again recognized that the Wikimedia Foundation is a hosting provider, and that the volunteer editors and contributors create and control content on the Wikimedia projects. The Court also made clear that a general warning letter, without additional detail about the online location, unlawfulness, or the harmful nature of the content as recognized by a court, does not impose a removal obligation on a hosting provider like the Wikimedia Foundation.
Moreover:
the Court took notice of Wikipedia's unique model of community-based content creation, and the mechanisms by which someone can suggest edits or additions to project content. It found that Wikipedia has a clear community procedure for content modification, which Mr. Previti should have used to address his concerns. He could have reached out to the volunteer editors, provided reliable sources, and suggested amendments to the article, instead of sending a general warning letter to the Foundation.
According to the post on the Wikimedia blog, the article about the former minister will remain online, and Previti will pay the Wikimedia Foundation some of the expenses incurred in defending the lawsuit and appeal. That suggests the matter is now over. The ruling is good news in other ways. As well as recognizing the validity of the the community-based creation model, it also affirms that the Wikimedia Foundation is a hosting provider, not an organization that controls the articles themselves. That's important in the context of the proposed EU Copyright Directive, currently under discussion. Article 13 of the Directive would require upload filters on major sites that are actively involved in the publishing of material. The Italian Appeals Court ruling may help to shield Wikimedia from such an impossible requirement if it is still present in the final version of the EU legislation.Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

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posted at: 12:00am on 29-Mar-2018
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Rhode Island Backs Away From Incomprehensibly Stupid Porn Filter Law

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For years now, a guy by the name of Chris Sevier has been waging a fairly facts-optional war on porn. Sevier first came to fame for trying to marry his computer to protest same sex marriage back in 2016. He also tried to sue Apple after blaming the Cuppertino giant for his own past porn addiction, and has gotten into trouble for allegedly stalking country star John Rich and a 17-year-old girl. Sevier has since been a cornerstone of an effort to pass truly awful porn filter legislation in more than 15 states under the disengenuous guise of combatting human trafficking.Dubbed the "Human Trafficking Prevention Act," all of the incarnations of the law would force ISPs to filter pornography and other "patently offensive material." The legislation would then force state residents interested in viewing porn to pony up a one-time $20 "digital access fee" to whitelist the internet's naughty bits for each internet-connected device in the home. The proposal is patently absurd, technically impossible to implement, and yet somehow these bills continue to get further than they ever should across a huge swath of the boob-phobic country.Rhode Island was the latest state to consider such legislation, their version of the law (pdf) imposing fines up to $500 for each instance of offensive content ISPs failed to filter (costs that would, as always, just be passed on to the end consumer while tech-savvy porn users simply tap-dance around the restrictions). Sevier's garbage legislation saw some success in the state after Sevier randomly affixed kidnapping-victim Elizibeth Smart's name to the proposal to help sell it (her name is referenced on his website), something Smart herself has been none too happy with.Thanks to Smart's recent disgust at having her name hijacked, the original backer of the law in Rhode Island, State Senator Frank Ciccone, has decided to scrap the proposal after learning about its "dubious" origins:

Sen. Frank Ciccone, D-Providence, said he asked that the bill be killed upon learning that Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped as a teenager and whose name was attached to the bill in legislatures across the country, wanted nothing to do with it. “In light of recent nationwide reporting about the dubious origins of this bill, I have requested that the legislation be withdrawn from today’s Judiciary Committee hearing,” Ciccone said in a Tuesday news release. “Also, after learning that Elizabeth Smart was in no way involved with this legislation, and the fact that 18 other state legislatures have received the same erroneous information leading to similar bills being sponsored across the country, I am withdrawing this legislation from the 2018 Senate session."
And while that's great and all, it would have taken Ciccone all of five minutes of internet research to discover the dubious origins of these proposals, since this bullshit has been going on for several years now. Again, none of these proposals should be getting anywhere close to being seriously considered, and the guy crafting them shouldn't be writing commercial jingle ideas on cocktail napkins, much less state law.

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posted at: 12:00am on 29-Mar-2018
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Bazaarvoice Launches New Solution to Make Personalization More Powerful

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Bazaarvoice’s latest innovationdelivers highly relevant product recommendations based on unique shopping data Bazaarvoice, Inc. today announced its latest e-commerce innovation to help brands and retailers deliver personalized shopping experiences for their customers.Effective personalization is essential for brands and retailers to delight and convert shoppers. Bazaarvoice is making personalization solutions smarter and more powerful with unique […]The post Bazaarvoice Launches New Solution to Make Personalization More Powerful appeared first on Adotas.

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posted at: 12:00am on 28-Mar-2018
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Q&A: What You Need to Know About AI-Powered Programmatic Advertising

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SimplaexCo-Founder & CTO Moti Tal (pictured left) helps untangle the benefits of using AI-powered programmatic advertising to increase reach and income. Q: What are the essentials for publishers and advertisers to consider when it comes to Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered programmatic advertising? A:AI-powered programmatic advertising is the real paradigm shift that brings more efficiency to […]The post Q&A: What You Need to Know About AI-Powered Programmatic Advertising appeared first on Adotas.

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posted at: 12:00am on 28-Mar-2018
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Arizona Bans Self-Driving Car Tests; Still Ignores How Many Pedestrians Get Killed

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By now, most folks have read about the fact that Uber (surprise) was responsible for the first ever pedestrian fatality caused by a self-driving car in the United States. Investigators in the case have found plenty of blame to go around, including a pedestrian who didn't cross at a crosswalk, an Uber driver who wasn't paying attention to the road (and therefore didn't take control in time), and Uber self-driving tech that pretty clearly wasn't ready for prime time compared to its competitors:

"Uber's robotic vehicle project was not living up to expectations months before a self-driving car operated by the company struck and killed a woman in Tempe, Ariz.The cars were having trouble driving through construction zones and next to tall vehicles, like big rigs. And Uber's human drivers had to intervene far more frequently than the drivers of competing autonomous car projects."
All of the companies that contribute tech to Uber's test vehicle have been rushing to distance themselves from Uber's failures here. Many of them are laying the blame at the feet of Uber, including one company making it clear that Uber had disabled some standard safety features on the Volvo XC90 test car in question:
"Uber Technologies Inc. disabled the standard collision-avoidance technology in the Volvo SUV that struck and killed a woman in Arizona last week, according to the auto-parts maker that supplied the vehicle's radar and camera.We don't want people to be confused or think it was a failure of the technology that we supply for Volvo, because that's not the case, Zach Peterson, a spokesman for Aptiv Plc, said by phone. The Volvo XC90's standard advanced driver-assistance system has nothing to do with the Uber test vehicle's autonomous driving system, he said."
Mobileye, the company that makes the collision-avoidance technology behind Aptiv's tech, was also quick to pile on, noting that if implemented correctly, their technology should have been able to detect the pedestrian in time:
"Intel Corp.'s Mobileye, which makes chips and sensors used in collision-avoidance systems and is a supplier to Aptiv, said Monday that it tested its own software after the crash by playing a video of the Uber incident on a television monitor. Mobileye said it was able to detect Herzberg one second before impact in its internal tests, despite the poor second-hand quality of the video relative to a direct connection to cameras equipped to the car."
In response to Uber's tragic self-driving face plant, Arizona this week announced that it will be suspending Uber's self-driving testing technology in the state indefinitely:
Plenty have justly pointed out that Arizona also has plenty of culpability here, given the regulatory oversight of Uber's testing was arguably nonexistent. That said, Waymo (considered by most to be way ahead of the curve on self-driving tech) hasn't had similar problems, and there's every indication that a higher quality implementation of self-driving technology (as the various vendors above attest) may have avoided this unnecessary tragedy.Still somehow lost in the finger pointing (including Governor Doug Ducey's "unequivocal commitment to public safety") is the fact that Arizona already had some of the highest pedestrian fatalities in the nation (of the human-caused variety). There were ten other pedestrian fatalities the same week as the Uber accident in the Phoenix area alone, and Arizona had the highest rate of pedestrian fatalities in the nation last year, clearly illustrating that Arizona has some major civil design and engineering questions of its own that need to be answered as the investigation continues.Again, there's plenty of blame to go around here, and hopefully everybody in the chain of dysfunction learns some hard lessons from the experience. But it's still important to remember that human-piloted counterparts cause 33,000 fatalities annually, a number that should be dramatically lower when self-driving car technology is inevitably implemented (correctly).

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posted at: 12:00am on 28-Mar-2018
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Macy's, The Department Store Chain, Forces A Tiny Hair Salon In Scotland To Change Its Name

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Macy's, the enormous retail company famous for its enormous department stores, has been featured in our pages before throwing its weight around over trademark concerns. If you had thought that the company has ceased its trademark-bullying ways, a recent report featuring a tiny hair salon in Scotland named after the founding couple's daughter will disabuse you of this notion.

Jon and Kirsty Nelson named their West Lothian business Macys after their daughter, little imaging they would shortly face the wrath of corporate America. The couple received a letter from a London law firm acting on behalf of Cincinnati-based Macy’s, alleging trademark infringement.Macy’s is worth £6bn, has almost 900 stores, stocks products by Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss, and Calvin Klein, and sells mink fur coats for £8,500. Their Bathgate “rivals”, Macys Lounge, offer female customers a cut and blowdry for £30 while men can get a cut for £9, or £13 if they want a shampoo.
Now, it should be noted that Macy's department stores do include spas that provide hair and beauty services. The company does have valid trademark for these services as well. All that being said, the idea that there would be any true confusion in the marketplace between these department store spas and a tiny storefront salon in Bathgate is plainly absurd. To drive this point home, the nearest Macy's department store is several thousand miles away.But, as we've mentioned many times before, trademark bullying works. The couple behind the salon announced recently that they would change the name of their business. Though, for those that appreciate a dash of trolling in their lives, the change the couple made might not be exactly what Macy's had in mind.
“ We wanted to fight this battle, David and Goliath style, but we did not have the funding or resources available to do so and were somewhat backed into a corner to ‘angrily’ agree to their terms of changing our name.“We give you : MACIZ Lounge.“This will be our new trading name from March 2018 going forward. It is still similar to what we currently use.”
And, so, the full weight of the Macy's legal efforts managed to get a couple of letters changed, and that's about it. The pronunciation for the business remains the same. Most of the name remains. Don't get me wrong, this is a massive pain in the ass that costs very real money, and a situation the couple should never have had to go through, but the results of the trademark bullying are rather beautifully silly.Not that patrons of the salon are laughing.
Social media users wanted to show their support for the salon and were quick to show their outrage at the American outfit.Erin Thomson said: “And here was me thinking you guys were a branch of Macy’s famous NY department store opening in Bathgate and specialising in haircuts. Silly me. Maciz Lounge sounds fab”Helen Wilson posted: “It’s an absolute disgrace a huge organisation can victimise a small family business.”Jamie Cameron commented: “Clearly they know you guys are on the road to world domination and are terrified. Stuff them guys.”
Macy's may not care about these responses, given that, again, these are not even potential customers, since there are no Macy's department stores anywhere nearby. Still, from a branding perspective, this isn't a great way to make the brand friends around the globe.

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posted at: 12:00am on 28-Mar-2018
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Facebook & Publishers: Frenemies Forever?

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With Facebook changing their algorithm and newsfeed, publishers' relationship with the platform is becoming murkier than ever before. Clearly, the way ads and content are distributed by publishers needs to change. But how?David Kashak, CEO and Founder of Connatix,explores the challenges and opportunities in this Adotas Q&A. Q: The relationship between the walled gardens of […]The post Facebook & Publishers: Frenemies Forever? appeared first on Adotas.

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posted at: 12:00am on 27-Mar-2018
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Founder Of Fan-Subtitle Site 'Undertexter' Loses Copyright Infringement Appeal

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Just a quick update on the current craziness going on in the Swedish court system. In the middle of 2017, we wrote about the Swedish authorities raiding the offices of Undertexter, a site that provides fan-created subtitles of movies. Many people were confused by this, but the film industry has long branded fan-made subtitles as contributors to piracy, allowing people in foreign countries to download films and append the subtitles to watch them, rather than buying the localized version. The industry also argues that these subtitles are themselves copyright infringement, as they essentially reproduce the film's script in another language.Founder Eugen Archy was convicted of copyright infringement. Ever the fighter, he appealed, but now we learn that Archy has lost his appeal as well.

On appeal, Archy agreed that he was the person behind Undertexter but disputed that the subtitle files uploaded to his site infringed on the plaintiffs’ copyrights, arguing they were creative works in their own right.While to an extent that may have been the case, the Court found that the translations themselves depended on the rights connected to the original work, which were entirely held by the relevant copyright holders. While paraphrasing and parody might be allowed, pure translations are completely covered by the rights in the original and cannot be seen as new and independent works, the Court found.The Svea Hovrätt also found that Archy acted intentionally, noting that in addition to administering the site and doing some translating work himself, it was “inconceivable” that he did not know that the subtitles made available related to copyrighted dialog found in movies.
Now, the good news is that losing this appeal only results in his original conviction and punishment of probation and a $26,000 fine. All told, that isn't the craziest punishment we've seen for copyright infringement. Those caveats aside, let's all remember that Undertexter gave away the fan-translations it hosted. The site didn't sell them. They were offered for free. And for the crime of providing free translations in markets that are often underserved by Hollywood, he now has a copyright infringement conviction on his record and a five-figure bill to pay.

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posted at: 12:00am on 27-Mar-2018
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New Open Source Standard Hopes To Cure The Internet Of Broken Things Of Some Awful Security Practices

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As we've pretty well documented, the internet of things is a security and privacy shitshow. Millions of poorly-secured internet-connected devices are now being sold annually, introducing massive new attack vectors and vulnerabilities into home and business networks nationwide. Thanks to IOT companies and evangelists that prioritize gee-whizzery and profits over privacy and security, your refrigerator can now leak your gmail credentials, your kids' Barbie doll can now be used as a surveillance tool, and your "smart" tea kettle can now open your wireless network to attack.Security analysts like Bruce Schneier have been warning for a while that the check is about to come due for this mammoth dumpster fire, potentially resulting in human fatalities at scale -- especially if these flaws are allowed to impact integral infrastructure systems. But Schneier has also done a good job noting how nobody in the production or consumer cycle has any incentive to take responsibility for what's happening:

"The market can't fix this because neither the buyer nor the seller cares. Think of all the CCTV cameras and DVRs used in the attack against Brian Krebs. The owners of those devices don't care. Their devices were cheap to buy, they still work, and they don't even know Brian. The sellers of those devices don't care: they're now selling newer and better models, and the original buyers only cared about price and features. There is no market solution because the insecurity is what economists call an externality: it's an effect of the purchasing decision that affects other people. Think of it kind of like invisible pollution."
There's no quick fix for this problem. And as Schneier notes it's going to take the cooperation of companies, governments, consumers and independent groups to craft a solution, something that was already difficult enough during decidedly more sane times.Consumer Reports has been one of the few organizations to try and tackle this problem with plans to incorporate some open source security and privacy testing standards into its product reviews, to name and shame companies that turn a blind eye to this problem. Just about a year ago the organization noted it was working with privacy software firm Disconnect, non-profit privacy research firm Ranking Digital Rights (RDR), and nonprofit software security-testing organization Cyber Independent Testing Lab (CITL) on the new effort, which it acknowledged was early and requires public and expert assistance.This week these groups shed a little more detail on the new effort, which it claims is the first step in reinstilling some degree of trust in the internet of very broken things. The standard is still very much under development, and the groups are looking for your help in spreading the word:
"We are focused on ensuring the Standard's maximum impact by working across many constituencies to use and refine this tool as a metric for evaluating consumer software and hardware. Our goals are to educate companies on how they can use the Standard to improve their products, help consumer and digital rights advocates to leverage the Standard in their advocacy, and solicit feedback from the full range of stakeholders on how the Standard can be improved."
The emerging standard would incorporate 35 different security and privacy testing standards into product reviews, with a heavy emphasis on the obvious need for quality encryption, non-default usernames and passwords, transparency as to what data is collected and who it's being sold to, more easily understood terms of service, and better government mechanisms to handle consumer complaints and enforcement against bad actors.Traditionally, IOT companies have disregarded these issues in both their business models and product design, creating Schneier's unaccountable "invisible pollution" (for example when your cheap ass Chinese security camera gets hacked minutes after being connected online, then contributes to historically massive DDOS attacks without your knowledge or consent). Convincing companies (especially when they're overseas and outside of regulatory authority) that contributing to the greater good benefits everybody in the long run hasn't been easy.As such, the OTI tries to make the case that over the long term, respecting privacy and embracing security standards should save everybody money, noting that firms like the Ponemon Institute have estimated that the average data breach in 2017 cost "responsible" businesses $3.5 million. Not to mention the costs of downtime from massive DDOS attacks like the one that targeted Dyn last year, or the costs of having to deal with regulatory action because of the lack of common security sense we've seen applied to everything from smart TVs to in-car infortainment systems.Still, the temptation to disregard security and privacy and just move on to marketing the next IOT product in the pipeline is a siren song that will be hard to compensate for (especially for overseas Chinese vendors), and it's going to take a massive, collective push to avoid some of the doomsday scenarios many security researchers have been warning about.

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This Week In Techdirt History: March 18th - 24th

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Five Years AgoThis week in 2013, EA/Maxis was dealing with the fallout from its disastrous SimCity launch, which was ruined by always-online DRM (which, it turns out, was also disastrously hackable), by offering up tonedeaf responses while giving away earlier versions of the game as a weak apology. They were drawing ire from other developers, and then things got worse as a security hole was discovered in EA's Origin platform itself. Meanwhile, we were digging in to copyright boss Maria Pallante's call for comprehensive, forward-thinking copyright reform, which included some good ideas like not seeing personal downloading as piracy, but was still largely focused on bad ideas.Ten Years AgoThis week in 2008, the makers of e-voting machines were doing everything they could to avoid scrutiny, so while machines in Ohio were declared a crime scene, Sequoia was trying to keep Ed Felten away from reviewing its machines and succeeded in scaring officials into backing down — all while a new study showed a massive error rate in e-voting.This was also the week that the world lost Arthur C. Clarke.Fifteen Years AgoIt was this week in 2003 that the US invaded Iraq. Though the war didn't dominate our writing on Techdirt, we did take a look at the businesses rapidly moving to explore whether this would help or hurt them, and the discussion around how this was the first true war of the internet era and the implications of that for journalists. And it didn't take long for "war" to oust "sex" and "Britney Spears" as the top internet search.Also this week: the RIAA moved into the suing-companies phase of its anti-file sharing crusade; a Texas congressman wanted to throw college students in jail for file-sharing, though surveys of students showed they had a much more modern understanding of the issues at stake; and MIT's tech review continued sounding the warning bells about America becoming a surveillance nation.

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ADYOULIKE Acquires AI-Powered Video Platform Pulpix; Aprimo Introduces New Abilities; Prosper Group Adds Senior Counselor Rich Jernstedt

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New acquisition to bolster publisher relationships and advance the company's technology; creates the largest video Native Advertising company in the world ADYOULIKE, an in-feed native ad platform and pioneer in native advertising, announced the acquisition of video technology platform Pulpix, a company that helps deliver better engagement for brands combined with a powerful recommendation engine […]The post ADYOULIKE Acquires AI-Powered Video Platform Pulpix; Aprimo Introduces New Abilities; Prosper Group Adds Senior Counselor Rich Jernstedt appeared first on Adotas.

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Best Buy Bans Huawei Phones Despite Zero Public Evidence Company Spies On Americans

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A few years back, you might recall that there was a period of immense government and media hyperventilation over allegations that Chinese hardware vendor Huawei spied on an American consumers. Story after story engaged in hysterical hand-wringing over this threat, most of them ignoring that Chinese gear and components are everywhere, including in American products. So the government conducted an 18 month investigation into those allegations and found that there was no evidence whatsoever to support allegations that Huawei spies on Americans via its products. One anonymous insider put it this way at the time:

"We knew certain parts of government really wanted evidence of active spying, said one of the people, who requested anonymity. We would have found it if it were there."
What inquiries into this subject do tend to find is that U.S. networking companies like Cisco, terrified by the added competition from Chinese network vendors, are really effective at scaremongering gullible and non-tech savvy lawmakers into supporting a protectionist stance against Huawei. The hypocrisy of "protectionism is only bad when somebody else does it" is compounded by the fact that Snowden docs revealed that the NSA hacked into Huawei starting back in 2007 to steal source code and...plant backdoors in Huawei gear to spy on people around the world.In an ideal world, numerous lessons would have been learned from this whole experience.But this is America! Fast forward to the last few months, and the narrative of Huawei as a villainous, unchecked Chinese spying apparatus is once again all the rage, with nobody apparently heeding the lessons from just a few years ago. As we've been noting, both AT&T and Verizon (who not only help the NSA spy on everyone but have been caught giving advice on how to best tapdance around privacy and surveillance laws) were recently pressured to kill looming business deals with Huawei based on unsubstantiated, unpublished and vague allegations of spying.While Huawei has some presence here (they helped Google build the Nexus 6P), they'd been making some solid inroads at AT&T and Verizon on deals that would have let them strike major smartphone partnerships. AT&T was just hours away from announcing one such deal at CES earlier this year, when it suddenly announced it would be scrapping the deal. AT&T didn't say why, but later reports indicated it was because of pressure from a handful of lawmakers on the Senate and House Intelligence Committees (again, AT&T has oodles of NSA contracts it would obviously like to protect).Again though, nobody was able to offer concrete evidence of said spying, nor did anybody seem to remember we just went through this a few years back and found no evidence of Huawei wrongdoing. Fast forward to this week, when Best Buy announced it too would be banning Huawei products from its store shelves (warning: obnoxious autoplay video):
"Best Buy, the nation's largest electronics retailer, has ceased ordering new smartphones from Huawei and will stop selling its products over the next few weeks, according to a person familiar with the situation. Best Buy made the decision to end the relationship, the person said. "We don't comment on specific contracts with vendors, and we make decisions to change what we sell for a variety of reasons," said a Best Buy spokeswoman."
Few news outlets seem to spend too much time worrying about the fact that these decisions are being made completely non-transparently, with no hard evidence being offered to justify them. Again it's not impossible that Huawei helps the government spy, but given the volume and duration of these accusations, you'd think that somebody would be able to drum up a shred of public evidence supporting them. Regardless, protectionism is playing a pretty major role here one way or another, and you'd be hard pressed to find any American tech press coverage that so much as breaches that already documented reality.While it's obvious that China spies on America, it certainly has an ocean of ways to do so outside of Huawai. Chinese hardware is utterly everywhere in America, including inside of most U.S.-made networking gear and smartphone hardware. And Americans also have a voracious appetite for internet of broken things devices, most of which lack even the most rudimentary privacy and security safeguards. Spying on us at scale doesn't really even require Huawei's help. We volunteer ourselves routinely for the duty courtesy of our collective obsession with "smart" televisions and other easily-hacked devices.It's routinely amazing how the same individuals and organizations who preach endlessly about the need for healthy, open competition and malign China endlessly for protectionism, are suddenly OK when we're the ones dressing up protectionism under the thin veneer of national security. Similarly there's an endless roster of individuals engaged in all manner of face-fanning when foreign governments spy on us, but don't so much as blink when it's revealed we illegally hack into companies to plant backdoors or intercept U.S. networking gear deliveries for the same purpose.And again, this hypocrisy is routinely made worse by a U.S. (and Canadian) tech press that's utterly oblivious to how nationalism skews their reporting and allows them to be easily manipulated by companies simply eager to avoid competition. If you're a tech reporter it is, shockingly enough, still your job to provide hard data--even when reporting on murky allegations against "enemies of the state" you may not personally be a fan of.

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New Orleans' Secret Predictive Policing Software Challenged In Court

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Predictive policing software -- developed by Palantir and deployed secretly by the New Orleans Police Department for nearly six years -- is at the center of a criminal prosecution. The Verge first reported the NOPD's secret use of Palantir's software a few weeks ago, something only the department and the mayor knew anything about.

The relationship between New Orleans and Palantir was finalized on February 23rd, 2012, when Mayor Landrieu signed an agreement granting New Orleans free access to the firm’s public sector data integration platform. Licenses and tech support for Palantir’s law enforcement platform can run to millions of dollars annually, according to an audit of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.In January 2013, New Orleans would also allow Palantir to use its law enforcement account for LexisNexis’ Accurint product, which is comprised of millions of searchable public records, court filings, licenses, addresses, phone numbers, and social media data. The firm also got free access to city criminal and non-criminal data in order to train its software for crime forecasting. Neither the residents of New Orleans nor key city council members whose job it is to oversee the use of municipal data were aware of Palantir’s access to reams of their data.
Suspects being tried didn't know anything about it either. While the NOPD turned over 60,000 pages of documents to Evans "Easy" Lewis during his trial for conspiracy and murder charges, not a single one of them referenced the software the police were using to sniff out suspects. This was mainly due to Palantir giving the city the software for free, which allowed both the city and the PD to cut the public out of the equation by eliminating bidding processes and budgetary reporting requirements.The mayor ended the program two weeks after the Verge report, choosing not to continue working with the contractor. It appears this decision was made to limit negative coverage of the secret software deployment, rather than out of any concern for the millions of New Orleans residents swept up in Palantir's dragnet.
Yesterday, outgoing New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s press office told the Times-Picayune that his office would not renew its pro bono contract with Palantir, which has been extended three times since 2012. The remarks were the first from Landrieu’s office concerning Palantir’s work with the NOPD. The mayor did not respond to repeated requests for comment from The Verge for the February 28th article, done in partnership with Investigative Fund, or from local media since news of the partnership broke.
Now that the city's secret is no longer secret, defense attorneys are demanding the NOPD start handing over Palantir-generated evidence. A man challenging his conviction on gang-related charges in New Orleans is asking for everything Palantir has on him, under the theory the dragnet also swept up plenty of exculpatory info.
In the first courtroom challenge to the New Orleans Police Department’s use of sophisticated crime-fighting software, a judge on Wednesday granted a convicted Central City gang lord a chance to try to prove his allegation that a Palantir Technologies program spat out exculpatory information on him that was never revealed to his attorneys.Criminal District Court Judge Camille Buras set an April 3 court date to rule on subpoenas that attorneys for Kentrell "Black" Hickerson will be seeking in order to learn how Palantir's program, called "Gotham," has been used in New Orleans — and particularly in the case against Hickerson and 19 other suspected "3NG" gang members.Buras said that Hickerson's lead attorney, Kevin Vogeltanz, could add the argument to Hickerson's pending motion for a new trial.
Prosecutors are arguing the Palantir documents will add nothing new. They claim the only thing the software does is aggregate info from multiple law enforcement databases to make it easier to search. But that's not how the software is described in the Verge report. It's predictive policing software -- something that turns people into suspects based on their relationships with people in law enforcement databases or their location in the city. That's far more than "aggregation." It creates criminals who haven't committed crimes and encourages officers to view certain areas of the city as inherently suspicious.This dovetails directly into the defense's theory about Palantir's attenuated associations and quasi-geofencing of suspected gang members: what Palantir "sees" isn't necessarily what's actually happening.
Hickerson, 38, was convicted of racketeering and drug conspiracy counts after a 10-day trial in Buras’ courtroom two years ago. Prosecutors and former gang allies said he committed or directed a series of killings in a battle over turf rights around Third and Galvez streets.At the trial and afterward, however, Vogeltanz argued that authorities had created the idea that 3NG was a gang. He pointed to testimony from a key cooperating witness, Tyrone Knockum, who cast doubt on the gang’s cohesiveness.“Is it a bona fide gang, or is it a group of people that grew up around each other and hang around with each other?” Vogeltanz asked.“It’s a group of people that grew up around each other,” Knockum said.
That's what happens when algorithms decide people in the general vicinity of each other must all engage in the same activities. If some of them engage in criminal activities, then everyone the software declares to be risky -- based on law enforcement databases and math companies aren't willing to share with the accused -- faces the possibility of being swept up and charged with conspiracy, if nothing else. And criminal conspiracy charges result in real years in real prisons, based on little more than calculated assumptions about a person's relationship to those around them.

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posted at: 12:01am on 24-Mar-2018
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Famous Billy Goat Tavern Initiates Risky Trademark Dispute With Billy Goat Chip Co.

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Missing from far too many of the stories we post on trademark bullies is anything amounting to blowback. While it happens on occasion, the reason that trademark bullying works is due to the costs for any sort of defense, nevermind the cost that would be required to actually go on the offense against a bully. Still, that isn't to say that when a trademark bully picks a fight that it cannot sometimes lead to a backfire.That appears to be the risk Chicago's famous Billy Goat Tavern now faces after it sued Billy Goat Chip Co., given the countersuit and factual response made by the chip company. Billy Goat Tavern filed suit in 2017, alleging that the St. Louis potato chip maker was infringing on its trademark with its name and logo, which uses the silhouette of a rearing billy goat. For what it's worth, the tavern's logo is completely different and features a fully detailed cartoon head of a goat, not a black outline like the chip company.But based on the information in the countersuit, it seems there is much more factual information the tavern ought to have considered before filing its initial lawsuit.

Attorneys representing the Billy Goat Chip Co. filed a counterclaim this month arguing the chip maker was actually the first to use the “Billy Goat” mark in connection with packaged retail food and beverage products.The suit stated Billy Goat Tavern’s trademark was limited to only “tavern and restaurant services” and was later applied to packaged retail food and beverage products when the tavern started selling items such as frozen burger patties and canned beer through third-party vendors in 2017.
Oops. While the Billy Goat is indeed famous, it is famous for being a tavern. It did not even sell any retail packaged foodstuffs until the past year or so and never had a trademark for those market designations until the same time frame. Billy Goat Chip Co., on the other hand, has been selling its goods for a decade and has the trademark registration to match. In its countersuit, the chip company blasts Billy Goat Tavern for being the trademark bully it is.
To compensate for its tardiness in entering the retail food/beverage products market, Billy Goat IP has undertaken a campaign of deceptive trade practices, false advertising, misusing trademarks, misusing registration symbols, and misusing the Billy Goat Tavern Marks … in an effort to improperly injure and damage Billy Goat Chip Co..
The upshot being that Billy Goat Chips Co. is asking not only for the trademark lawsuit to be dismissed, but is also asking for damages for the tavern's false advertising and deceptive trade practices. Oh, and it is also asking the court to order the tavern to cease using the Billy Goat name for any packaged foods, the exact request the tavern initially sued over.If the chip company wins, it would represent as clean a backfire from trademark bullying as I can remember. It would also be a helpful warning shot to other trademark bullies about what can happen.

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posted at: 12:00am on 23-Mar-2018
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Uber's Video Shows The Arizona Crash Victim Probably Didn't Cause Crash, Human Behind The Wheel Not Paying Attention

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In the wake of a Tempe, Arizona woman being struck and killed by an Uber autonomous vehicle, there has been a flurry of information coming out about the incident. Despite that death being one of eleven in the Phoenix area alone, and the only one involving an AV, the headlines were far closer to the "Killer Car Kills Woman" sort than they should have been. Shortly after the crash, the Tempe Police Chief went on the record suggesting that the victim had at least some culpability in the incident, having walked outside of the designated crosswalk and that the entire thing would have been difficult for either human or AI to avoid.Strangely, now that the video from Uber's onboard cameras have been released, the Tempe police are trying to walk that back and suggest that reports of the Police Chief's comments were taken out of context. That likely is the result of the video footage showing that claims that the victim "darted out" in front of the car are completely incorrect.

Contrary to earlier reports from Tempe’s police chief that Herzberg “abruptly” darted out in front of the car, the video shows her positioned in the middle of the road lane before the crash.Based on the exterior video clip, Herzberg comes into view—walking a bicycle across the two-lane road—at least two seconds before the collision.
Analysis from Bryan Walker Smith, a professor at the University of South Carolina that has studied autonomous vehicle technology indicates that this likely represents a failure of the AVs detection systems and that there may indeed have been enough time for the collision to be avoided, if everything had worked properly.
Walker Smith pointed out that Uber’s LIDAR and radar equipment “absolutely” should’ve detected Herzberg on the road “and classified her as something other than a stationary object.”“If I pay close attention, I notice the victim about 2 seconds before the video stops,” he said. “This is similar to the average reaction time for a driver. That means an alert driver may have at least attempted to swerve or brake.”
The problem, of course, is that AVs are in part attractive because drivers far too often are not alert. They are texting, playing with their phones, fiddling with the radio, or looking around absently. We are human, after all, and we fail to remain attentive with stunning regularaty.So predictable is this failure, in fact, that it shouldn't surprise you all that much that the safety operator behind the wheel of this particular Uber vehicle apparently is shown in the video to have been distracted by any number of things.
A safety operator was behind the wheel, something customary in most self-driving car tests conducted on public roads, in the event the autonomous tech fails. Prior to the crash, footage shows the driver—identified as 44-year-old Rafaela Vasquez—repeatedly glancing downward, and is seen looking away from the road right before the car strikes Herzberg.
So the machine might have failed. The human behind the wheel might have failed. The pedestrian may have been outside the crosswalk. These situations are as messy and complicated as we should all expect them to be. Even if the LIDAR system did not operate as expected, the human driver that critics of AVs want behind the wheel instead was there, and that didn't prevent the unfortunate death of this woman.So, do we have our first pedestrian death by AV? Kinda? Maybe?Should this one incident turn us completely off to AVs in general? Hell no.

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posted at: 12:00am on 23-Mar-2018
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Nielsen Podcasting Insights: A Marketer's Guide to Podcasting-How Avid Podcasters Influence Purchasing Patterns

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CONNECTING ADVERTISING: HOW AVID PODCASTERS INFLUENCE PURCHASING PATTERNS A lot can change in a year, and podcasts are a perfect example of this. The medium saw a significant growth in engagement from 2016 to 2017. As a result, podcasts are becoming a darling of advertisers, as well as a trusted source for brands looking to […]The post Nielsen Podcasting Insights: A Marketer’s Guide to Podcasting–How Avid Podcasters Influence Purchasing Patterns appeared first on Adotas.

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Demand for Volume, Variety and Velocity of Creative Marketing Rises

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Creative Marketing is Measured in Impact, but Businesses are Highly Dependent on Small Teams Answering to Many Stakeholders, Finds Study by InSource and inMotionNow   A study fielded by InSource, the largest professional organization for in-house creative teams, and inMotionNow, a provider of creative workflow solutions found most businesses measure and value creative work based […]The post Demand for Volume, Variety and Velocity of Creative Marketing Rises appeared first on Adotas.

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posted at: 12:00am on 22-Mar-2018
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As Expected Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Unconstitutional SESTA Bill, Putting Lives In Danger

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This was not unexpected, but earlier today the Senate easily passed SESTA/FOSTA (the same version the House passed a few weeks ago) by a 97 to 2 vote -- with only Senators Ron Wyden and Rand Paul voting against it. We've explained in great detail why the bill is bad. We've explained in great detail why the bill won't stop sex trafficking and will actually put sex workers' lives in more danger, while also stomping on free speech and the open internet at the same time (which some see as a feature rather than a bug). The Senate declined to put any fixes in place.Senator Wyden, who had originally offered up an amendment that would have fixed at least one big problem with the bill (clarifying that doing any moderation doesn't subject you to liability for other types of content) pulled the amendment right before the vote, noting that there had been a significant, if dishonest, lobbying effort to kill those amendments, meaning it had no chance. He did note that because of the many problems of the bill, he fully expects that these issues will be revisited shortly.As for the many problems of the bill... well, they are legion, starting with the fact that multiple parts of the bill appear to be unconstitutional. That's most obvious in the "ex post facto" clause that applies the new criminal laws to activities in the past, which is just blatantly unconstitutional. There are some other serious questions about other parts of the bill, including concerns about it violating the First Amendment as well. It seems likely that the law will be challenged in court soon enough.In the meantime, though, the damage here is real. The clearest delineation of the outright harm this bill will cause can be seen in a Twitter thread from a lawyer who represents victims of sex trafficking, who tweeted last night just how much damage this will do. It's a long Twitter thread, but well worth reading. Among other things, she notes that sites like Backpage were actually really useful for finding victims of sex trafficking and in helping them get out of dangerous situations. She talks about how her own clients would disappear, and the only way she could get back in touch with them to help them was often through these platforms. And all that will be gone, meaning that more people will be in danger and it will be that much harder for advocates and law enforcement to help them. She similarly notes that many of the groups supporting SESTA "haven't gotten their hands dirty in the field" and don't really understand what's happening.That's true on the internet side as well. Mike Godwin highlights the history before CDA 230 was law and the kinds of problems that come about when you make platforms liable for the speech of their users.

In Cubby, a federal judge suggested (in a closely reasoned opinion) that the proper First Amendment model was the bookstore - bookstores, under American law, are a constitutionally protected space for hosting other people's expression. But that case was misinterpreted by a later decision (Stratton Oakmont, Inc. v. Prodigy Services Co., 1995), so lawyers and policy advocates pushed to include platform protections in the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that amounted to a statutory equivalent of the Cubby precedent. Those protections, in Section 230, allowed platform providers to engage in certain kinds of editorial intervention and selection without becoming transformed by their actions into publishers of users' content (and thus legally liable for what users say).In short, we at EFF wanted platform providers to be free to create humane digital spaces without necessarily acquiring legal liability for everything their users said and did, and with no legal compulsion to invade users' privacy. We argued from the very beginning, about the need for service providers to be just, to support human rights even when they didn't have to and to provide space and platforms for open creativity. The rules we worked to put into place later gave full bloom to the World Wide Web, to new communities on platforms like Facebook and Twitter and to collaborative collective enterprises like Wikipedia and open-source software.
Meanwhile the Senators who passed the bill will completely forget about all of this by next week, other than to pat themselves on the back and include 3 seconds in their next campaign ad about how they "took on big tech to stop sex trafficking." And, of course, people in Hollywood are laughing at how they pulled a fast one on the internet, and are already strategizing their next attacks on both CDA 230 and DMCA 512 (expect it soon).None of those celebrating realize how much damage they've actually caused. They think they've "won" when they really did astounding levels of damage to both victims of sex trafficking and free speech in the same effort.

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posted at: 12:00am on 22-Mar-2018
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ProPublica's Reporting Error Shows Why The Government Must Declassify Details Of Gina Haspel's Role In CIA Torture

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Last week, we wrote a bit about Donald Trump's nominee to head the CIA, Gina Haspel. That post highlighted a bunch of reporting about Haspel's role in running a CIA blacksite in Thailand that was a key spot in the CIA's torture program. Soon after we published it, ProPublica retracted and corrected an earlier piece -- on which much of the reporting about Haspel's connection to torture relied on. Apparently, ProPublica was wrong on the date at which Haspel started at the site, meaning that she took over soon after the most famous torture victim, Abu Zaubaydah, was no longer being tortured. Thus earlier claims that she oversaw his inhumane, brutal, and war crimes-violating torture were incorrect. To some, this error, has been used to toss out all of the concerns and complaints about Haspel, even though reporters now agree that she did oversee the torture of at least one other prisoner at a time when other CIA employees were seeking to transfer out of the site out of disgust for what the CIA was doing.However, what this incident should do is make it clear that the Senate should not move forward with Haspel's nomination unless the details of her involvement is declassified. As Trevor Timm notes, ProPublica's error was not due to problematic reporting, but was the inevitable result of the CIA hiding important information from the public.

In its report, ProPublica was forced to use a combination of heavily censored CIA and court documents and anonymous sources to piece together what happened over a decade ago in the secret CIA prison Haspel ran. Many of the documents were made public only after years of Freedom of Information Act fights brought by public interest groups, while many other documents on Haspel's CIA tenure remain classified.These types of unintentional mistakes would be almost entirely avoidable if journalists did not have to read between the lines of ridiculous government redactions meant to cover up crimes.The most obvious example of this is the Senate's 500-page summary of the torture report it released in 2014. How many times is Haspel named in the torture report? We have no idea. The redactions on the report completely obscured the names of all participants in the torture program, including the CIA personnel involved, as well as their partners in crime from authoritarian dictatorships like Libya, Egypt, and Syria.At the time of the report's release, advocates proposed that CIA personnel should at least be identified by pseudonyms so that the public could understand how many people were involved and if a particular person was responsible for more than others. That proposal was rejected as well.
Because of that, mistakes like the one ProPublica made are inevitable -- because the CIA (and those involved in declassifying what little was released from the Senate's CIA torture report) made it inevitable. Conveniently, this allows the CIA to discredit journalists who are working to report on these important issues.So this should give even more weight to the demands of various human rights groups to declassify the details of Haspel's involvement. There can be no legitimate national security interest in continuing to keep this information secret. The program was ended long ago. It's been confirmed that Haspel ran the site and was part of the process to destroy the tapes of what happened. But there are more details that must be revealed.Indeed, the Daily Beast claims that it has separate confirmation that Haspel actually was "in a position of responsibility" during the Zubadaydah interrogation, though she wasn't present at the site. So it's possible that even ProPublica's "correction" is at least somewhat misleading. Which, again, is all the more reason to reveal to the public what actual authority and responsibility she had over the torture program.And, as a side note, it's worth remembering that former CIA officer, John Kiriakou, was sent to jail for revealing the existence of the torture program. And now the woman who appears to have had authority over at least some of it (as well as the cover-up) may get to lead the CIA? Shouldn't our Senators at least demand a full public understanding of her role in all of it first?

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posted at: 12:00am on 22-Mar-2018
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Nielsen: As the Media Universe Grows, Ad-Supported Content Remains a Preferred Source

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The growing consumption of media among consumers coupled with the increasing availability of newer platforms is changing the way marketers and advertisers look at and adapt to the industry.Despite these changes over the last 15 years, ad-supported media is still far more dominant and successful than perception may indicate. KEY HIGHLIGHTS The FULL post […]The post Nielsen: As the Media Universe Grows, Ad-Supported Content Remains a Preferred Source appeared first on Adotas.

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Latest Report Finds Mobile Offers Continue to Increase Sales in Growing Convenience Industry

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Mobile Offer Platform Koupon Media Reports Mobile Offers Drove 155 million Store Trips in 2017 Koupon Media, the largest mobile offer platform and promotion network in the convenience store industry, released its 4th annual State of the Industry report. The report comes after another record-setting year for Koupon Media, which delivered over 730 million mobile […]The post Latest Report Finds Mobile Offers Continue to Increase Sales in Growing Convenience Industry appeared first on Adotas.

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Tempe Police Chief Indicates The Uber Self-Driving Car Probably Isn't At Fault In Pedestrian Death

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The internet ink has barely dried on Karl's post about an Uber self-driving vehicle striking and killing a pedestrian in Arizona, and we already have an indication from the authorities that the vehicle probably isn't to blame for the fatality. Because public relations waits for nobody, Uber suspended its autonomous vehicles in the wake of the death of a woman in Tempe, but that didn't keep fairly breathless headlines being painted all across the mainstream media. The stories that accompanied those headlines were more careful to mention that an investigation is required before anyone knows what actually happened, but the buzz created by the headlines wasn't so nuanced. I actually saw this in my own office, where several people could be heard mentioning that autonomous vehicles were now done.But that was always silly. It's an awkward thing to say, but the fact that it took this long for AVs to strike and kill a pedestrian is a triumph of technology, given just how many people we humans kill with our cars. Hell, the Phoenix area itself had 11 pedestrian deaths by car in the last week, with only one of them being this Uber car incident. And now all of that hand-wringing is set to really look silly, as the Tempe police chief is indicating that no driver, human or AI, would likely have been able to prevent this death.

The chief of the Tempe Police has told the San Francisco Chronicle that Uber is likely not responsible for the Sunday evening crash that killed 49-year-old pedestrian Elaine Herzberg.“I suspect preliminarily it appears that the Uber would likely not be at fault in this accident," said Chief Sylvia Moir.Herzberg was "pushing a bicycle laden with plastic shopping bags," according to the Chronicle's Carolyn Said, when she "abruptly walked from a center median into a lane of traffic."After viewing video captured by the Uber vehicle, Moir concluded that “it’s very clear it would have been difficult to avoid this collision in any kind of mode (autonomous or human-driven) based on how she came from the shadows right into the roadway."
So, once again, this tragedy has almost nothing to do with automobile AI and everything to do with human beings being faulty, complicated creatures that make mistakes. We don't need to assign blame or fault to a woman who died to admit to ourselves that not only did the self-driving car do nothing wrong in this instance, but also that it might just be true to say that the car's AI had a far better chance of avoiding a fatality than the average human driver. The car was not speeding. It did not swerve. It did not adjust its speed prior to the collision.This obviously isn't the conclusion of the police's investigation, but when the police chief is already making these sorts of noises early on, it's reasonable to conclude that the visual evidence of what happened is pretty clear. Sadly, all this likely means is that the major media websites of the world will have to bench their misleading headlines until the next death that may or may not be the fault of a self-driving vehicle.

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Photographer Tutorial Company Reacts To Pirates By Screwing With Them Hilariously

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When it comes to content producers reacting to the pirating of their works, we've seen just about every reaction possible. From costly lawsuits and copyright trolling, to attempts to engage with this untapped market, up to and including creatively messing with those that would commit copyright infringement. The last of those options doesn't do a great deal to generate sales revenue, but it can often be seen by the public as both a funny way to jerk around pirates and as a method for educating them on the needs of creators.But Fstoppers, a site that produces high-end tutorials for photographers and sells them for hundreds of dollars each, may have taken the creativity to the next level to mess with those downloading illegitimate copies of their latest work. They decided to release a version of Photographing the World 3 on several torrent sites a few days before it went to retail, but the version they released was much different than the actual product. It was close enough to the real thing that many people were left wondering just what the hell was going on, but ridiculous enough that it's downright funny.

Where Fstoppers normally go to beautiful and exotic international locations, for their fake they decided to go to an Olive Garden in Charleston, South Carolina. Yet despite the clear change of location, they wanted people to believe the tutorial was legitimate.“We wanted to ride this constant line of ‘Is this for real? Could this possibly be real? Is Elia [Locardi] joking right now? I don’t think he’s joking, he’s being totally serious’,” says Lee Morris, one of the co-owners of Fstoppers.People really have to watch the tutorial to see what a fantastic job Fstoppers did in achieving that goal. For anyone unfamiliar with their work, the tutorial is initially hard to spot as a fake and even for veterans the level of ambiguity is really impressive.
Beyond the location choices, there are some dead giveaways hidden in subtle ways within the "tutorial." As an example, here is a scene from the tutorial in which Locardi is demonstrating how to for a 'mask' over one of the photos from Olive Garden.
If that looks like he's drawn a dick and balls over the photo on his computer screen, that's because that is exactly what he's done. The whole thing is a Onion-esque love letter to pirates, screwing with them for downloading the tutorial before the retail version was even available. By uploading this 25GB file to torrent sites, and going so far as to generate positive but fake reviews of the torrent, Fstoppers managed not only to generate hundreds of downloads of the fake tutorial, but its fake actually outpaced torrents of the real product. The whole thing was like a strange, funny honeypot. The fake apparently even resulted in complaints from pirates to Fstoppers about the quality of the fake product.
Also of interest is the feedback Fstoppers got following their special release. Emails flooded in from pirates, some of whom were confused while others were upset at the ‘quality’ of the tutorial.“The whole time we were thinking: ‘This isn’t even on the market yet! You guys are totally stealing this and emailing us and complaining about it,” says Fstoppers co-owner Patrick Hall.
You have to admit, the whole thing is both creative and funny. Still, the obvious question that arises is whether all the time and effort that went into putting this together couldn't have been better spent figuring out a business model and method in which more of these pirates were flipped into paying customers rather than simply screwing with them.

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Smaato Partners With Protected Media to Ensure Quality of Online Advertising and Protect Advertiser Budgets

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Protecting their network of 90,000+ publishers and app developers from in-app and video ad fraud Smaato, a real-time advertising platform for mobile publishers and app developers, announced that it has implementedProtected Media'sin-app and video ad fraud protectiontechnology to protect its network of 90,000+ publishers and app developers, as well as the 10,000+ advertisers on its […]The post Smaato Partners With Protected Media to Ensure Quality of Online Advertising and Protect Advertiser Budgets appeared first on Adotas.

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As Video Games Are In Presidential Crosshairs, New Study Again Shows They Don't Effect Behavior

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Violent video games have once again found themselves in the role of scapegoat after a recent spate of gun violence in America. After the Florida school shooting, and in the extended wake of the massacre in Las Vegas, several government representatives at various levels have leveled their ire at violent games, including Trump, who commissioned an insane sit-down to act as moderator between game company executives and those that blame them for all the world's ills. Amid this deluge of distraction, it would be easy to forget that study after study after study have detailed how bunk the notion is that you can tie real-world violence and violent games is. Not to mention, of course, that there has never been more people playing more violent video games in the history of the world than at this moment right now, and at the same time research shows a declining trend for deviant behavior in teens rather than any sort of upswing.But a recent study conducted by the Max Planck Institute and published in Molecular Psychiatry further demonstrates the point that violence and games are not connected, with a specific methodology that carries a great deal of weight. The purpose of the study was to move beyond measuring behavior effects immediately after short, unsustained bursts of game-playing and into the realm of the effects on sustained, regular consumption of violent video games.

To correct for the "priming" effects inherent in these other studies, researchers had 90 adult participants play either Grand Theft Auto V or The Sims 3 for at least 30 minutes every day over eight weeks (a control group played no games during the testing period). The adults chosen, who ranged from 18 to 45 years old, reported little to no video game play in the previous six months and were screened for pre-existing psychological problems before the tests.The participants were subjected to a wide battery of 52 established questionnaires intended to measure "aggression, sexist attitudes, empathy, and interpersonal competencies, impulsivity-related constructs (such as sensation seeking, boredom proneness, risk taking, delay discounting), mental health (depressivity, anxiety) as well as executive control functions." The tests were administered immediately before and immediately after the two-month gameplay period and also two months afterward, in order to measure potential continuing effects.
Participants in the experimental groups were playing GTA, The Sims, or no games at all, and the before and after tests demonstrated three significant behavior changes among all participants. That equates to less than 10% of the survey results indicating any significant change. As the Ars post points out, you would expect at least 10% to show significant change just by random chance. Going through the data and the near complete dirth of any significant behavior changes, the study fairly boldly concludes that there were "no detrimental effects of violent video game play" among the participants.Were this a fair and just world, this study would be seen as merely confirming what our common sense observations tell us: playing violent games doesn't make someone violent in real life. After all, were that not true, we would see violence rising commensurate with the availability of violent games across a collection of global societies. That simply isn't happening.So, as America tries to work out its mass-shooting problem, one thing should be clear: whatever list you have in your head about what to blame for the violence, we should be taking video games off of that list.

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Crowdfunded OpenSCHUFA Project Wants To Reverse-Engineer Germany's Main Credit-Scoring Algorithm

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We've just written about calls for a key legal communications system to be open-sourced as a way of re-building confidence in a project that has been plagued by problems. In many ways, it's surprising that these moves aren't more common. Without transparency, there can be little trust that a system is working as claimed. In the past this was just about software, but today there's another aspect to the problem. As well as the code itself, there are the increasingly-complex algorithms, which the software implements. There is a growing realization that algorithms are ruling important parts of our lives without any public knowledge of how they work or make decisions about us. In Germany, for example, one of the most important algorithms determines a person's SCHUFA credit rating: the name comes from an abbreviation of its German "Schutzorganisation für Allgemeine Kreditsicherung", which means "Protection Agency for General Credit Security". As a site called Algorithm Watch explains:

SCHUFA holds data on round about 70 million people in Germany. That's nearly everyone in the country aged 18 or older. According to SCHUFA, nearly one in ten of these people living in Germany (some 7 million people) have negative entries in their record. That's a lot!SCHUFA gets its data from some 9,000 partners, such as banks and telecommunication companies. Incredibly, SCHUFA doesn't believe it has a responsibility to check the accuracy of data it receives from its partners.In addition, the algorithm used by SCHUFA to calculate credit scores is protected as a trade secret so no one knows how the algorithm works and whether there are errors or injustices built into the model or the software.So basically, if you are an adult living in Germany, it's a good chance your financial life is affected by a credit score produced by a multimillion euro private company using an automatic process that they do not have to explain and an algorithm based on data that nobody checks for inaccuracies.
A new crowd-sourced project called OpenSCHUFA aims to change that. It's being run by Algorithm Watch and Open Knowledge Foundation Germany (full disclosure: I am an unpaid member of the Open Knowledge International Advisory Council). As well as asking people for monetary support, OpenSCHUFA wants German citizens to request a copy of their credit record, which they can obtain free of charge from SCHUFA. People can then send the main results -- not the full record, and with identifiers removed -- to OpenSCHUFA. The project will use the data to try to understand what real-life variables produce good and bad credit scores when fed into the SCHUFA system. Ultimately, the hope is that it will be possible to model, perhaps even reverse-engineer, the underlying algorithm.This is an important attempt to pry open one of the major black boxes that are starting to rule our lives. Whether or not it manages to understand the SCHUFA algorithm, the exercise will provide useful experience for other projects to build on in the future. And if you are wondering whether it's worth expending all this money and effort, look no further than SCHUFA's response to the initiative, reported here by netzpolitik.org (original in German):
SCHUFA considers the project as clearly directed against the overarching interests of the economy, society and the world of business in Germany.
The fact that SCHUFA apparently doesn't want people to know how its algorithm works is a pretty good reason for trying to find out.Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

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This Week In Techdirt History: March 11th - 17th

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Five Years AgoThis week in 2013, the Prenda situation positively exploded. As we awaited Monday's hearing, we learned more about Allan Mooney and saw Verizon get involved. Then, of course, the Prenda team itself didn't show up in court, meaning they escaped (at great cost) an absolutely crazy hearing with a very unhappy judge (written up for us by Ken White of Popehat fame). The judge ordered a second hearing and made it clear Prenda was expected to actually show up, while transcripts of John Steele's intimidating phone calls to Alan Cooper hit the docket, and Paul Duffy was scrambling to do some too-little-too-late damage control.Ten Years AgoThis week in 2008, following the death of HD-DVD, the next question was whether Blu-Ray would actually catch on in a big way. We now know it did, though early price hikes didn't help. But it certainly had nothing to fear from an ill-advised late entrant into the format wars. Meanwhile, having expressed displeasure with the agency's approach, EMI decided it wouldn't quit the IFPI, but would stop paying so much for its lawsuits against fans, while the IFPI was turning its sites on ISPs instead (and unsurprisingly triggering the Streisand effect when trying to block websites).Fifteen Years AgoThis week in 2003, we watched the steady emergence of video game development courses at colleges, had an early discussion about Americans using the internet to find alternative news sources, and perhaps didn't realize just quite how revolutionary Amazon's focus on web services would be. There were still five big record labels but they were looking to merge (while betting a tad too heavily on enhanced CDs), McDonald's became the second huge chain to start offering free wi-fi, and we looked at the debunking of a hoax story about a cyberwar virus targeting Iraq (though that idea wouldn't seem so crazy seven years later when we all learned about Stuxnet in Iran). Also, Techdirt got chosen by Forbes as one of the five best tech blogs.

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As TV Audiences Decline, What Are Advertisers to Do?

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  Ashwin Navin of Samba TV(pictured left) discussesviewership trends- especially as relates to streaming and live viewing. Q: We've already seen this year tentpole events like the Oscars and Super Bowl experience heavy declines in TV viewership, is there anything TV can do to stop the bleeding? A: There's several factors contributing to decreased tentpole […]The post As TV Audiences Decline, What Are Advertisers to Do? appeared first on Adotas.

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If You Ratify The CETA Trade Deal, You'll Break The Law, Legal Expert Tells EU Member States

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We recently wrote about an important judgment from the EU's top court, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The ruling said that that corporate sovereignty provisions included in trade deals between the EU's member states were illegal. Significantly, the logic behind that decision suggests that any form of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) -- the official name for the corporate sovereignty framework -- even in trade deals involving countries outside the EU, would be forbidden too. Christina Eckes, professor of European law at the University of Amsterdam and director of the Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance, believes that the implications of the CJEU ruling are even broader.Eckes says that in the wake of the judgment, serious doubts hang over the investment chapter in the Canada-EU trade deal, CETA, which has still not been ratified by all EU member states yet -- a process that is necessary before it comes into force definitively. In fact, Belgium has explicitly asked the CJEU to rule on the legality of the Investor Court System (ICS) in CETA, which is the modified version of corporate sovereignty that supposedly addresses its flaws. As a result, a ruling on whether CETA's investment chapter is legal is definitely on its way, and could have major implications for CETA and its ratification. However, Ecke points out that there is something called "EU loyalty", which:

requires that Member States amongst others 'facilitate the achievement of the Union's tasks and refrain from any measure which could jeopardise the attainment of the Union's objectives.' In external relations, they are obliged not to undermine the EU's external actions and ensure unity in international representation. ... Furthermore, EU loyalty covers not just the present state of EU law but also 'the foreseeable future development of EU law' and should hence be interpreted as requiring certain actions or omissions in the present in order to avoid a potential future conflict between international legal obligations and EU law.
What this means in practice, Eckes suggests, is that the EU's member states should not go ahead and ratify CETA without knowing the outcome of the CJEU deliberation on the legality of the ICS. If they were to complete ratification, and the investment chapter were then found inadmissible by the court, this would undermine the authority of the CJEU, since its ruling would be null and void. As a consequence, she says:
In the light of the foreseeable risk that CJEU declares the CETA investment chapter to be capable of undermining the autonomy of the EU legal order, Member States are required by the principle of EU loyalty to halt ratification in order to demonstrate a uniform position as one Party, together with the EU and the other Member States, on the international plane in general and vis-à-vis Canada in particular.
It's an interesting argument, which the European Commission will doubtless do its best to ignore in the hope that it can just steamroller CETA through the ratification process before the CJEU issues its ruling. However, if, as seems likely, CETA's investment chapter is indeed ruled illegal by the top court, this will present a rather thorny problem for the EU. Given the other challenges it faces thanks to rising populism in many EU countries, the Commission could probably do without this kind of constitutional crisis that would undermine further people's support for the European project. That might be a good reason for putting those ratifications on hold for a while.Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

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Leaked Documents Expose NYPD's Long-Running Lack Of Officer Discipline

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Buzzfeed has obtained files the NYPD never wanted the public to see. This isn't the result of a protracted public records battle, but rather the work of an anonymous whistleblower. Presumably, those further up the chain of command are already familiar with the department's disinterest in holding officers accountable, so there's no whistleblowing outlet there. Also, presumably, the Civilian Complaint Review Board's hands are tied and it cannot hand out disciplinary reports for officers never formally disciplined. So, leak it is. And what a leak it is.

Secret files obtained by BuzzFeed News reveal that from 2011 to 2015 at least 319 New York Police Department employees who committed offenses serious enough to merit firing were allowed to keep their jobs.Many of the officers lied, cheated, stole, or assaulted New York City residents. At least fifty employees lied on official reports, under oath, or during an internal affairs investigation. Thirty-eight were found guilty by a police tribunal of excessive force, getting into a fight, or firing their gun unnecessarily. Fifty-seven were guilty of driving under the influence. Seventy-one were guilty of ticket-fixing. One officer, Jarrett Dill, threatened to kill someone. Another, Roberson Tunis, sexually harassed and inappropriately touched a fellow officer. Some were guilty of lesser offenses, like mouthing off to a supervisor.At least two dozen of these employees worked in schools. Andrew Bailey was found guilty of touching a female student on the thigh and kissing her on the cheek while she was sitting in his car. In a school parking lot, while he was supposed to be on duty, Lester Robinson kissed a woman, removed his shirt, and began to remove his pants. And Juan Garcia, while off duty, illegally sold prescription medication to an undercover officer.In every instance, the police commissioner, who has final authority in disciplinary decisions, assigned these officers to “dismissal probation,” a penalty with few practical consequences. The officer continues to do their job at their usual salary. They may get less overtime and won’t be promoted during that period, which usually lasts a year. When the year is over, so is the probation.
There's an NYPD Snowden out there somewhere, exposing the dirty non-secret that is the continued lack of accountability within the largest police force in the nation. New York's Finest, the NYPD calls itself, ignoring the fact that it does almost nothing to ensure it's only staffed with the finest human beings.Sure, 319 out of 40,000 officers is only a small percentage, but there's nothing in Buzzfeed's blockbuster article that indicates what it's seen is all that's available. What it has seen is only a small part of a larger whole. These are the probation files, which don't include officers dismissed. Add that to the mix and the total rises to over 1,400 officers caught breaking laws and policies -- many of which were allowed to resign while charges were still pending, keeping their records clean and their pension plans intact.This exposé of kid glove treatment for repeat offenders contains this PR-friendly statement from the deputy commissioner of the office charged with handling internal disciplinary issues. Kevin Richardson, speaking on behalf of the job he's failing to do, made assertions clearly contradicted by the documents in Buzzfeed's possession.
“The department is not interested in terminating officers that don't need to be terminated. We're interested in keeping employees and making our employees obey the rules and do the right thing,” he told BuzzFeed News. “But where there are failings that we realize this person should be separated from the department, this police commissioner and the prior police commissioner have shown a willingness to do that.”
From what's being reported here, "separating" someone from the department is a last resort. And when it is done, it's often done in a way that allows bad officers to move on to other police departments or sit at home collecting a pension for a job well poorly done. Richardson is in denial, but at least he's a bit more reasonable than the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.
Al O’Leary, a spokesperson for the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the largest police union representing NYPD officers, had a different message: “We’re not going to talk to you about anything negative as far as any of our officers.”
Well, if you won't, others will. Burying your head in the filthy sand doesn't make the problem go away. And it certainly doesn't put an entity willing to stand up for any officer, no matter how egregious their misconduct, in a better light.Case in point: Officer Raymond Marrero. Marrero is still employed by the NYPD despite being named in four serious complaints in his first six years and racking up $900,000 of lawsuit settlements. This colorful story is just one of Marrero's many abusive escapades.
[I]n early 2009, a former police department volunteer named Louis Deluca confronted a man who, Deluca found out, had groped his brother’s 17-year-old girlfriend. The man took off with his friends, just as Marrero was pulling up. “I was telling him, 'There's some guys that groped a family member of mine,’” Deluca said. “‘They're right around the corner.’”Marrero and his partner told Deluca to shut up, Deluca said. Incredulous, Deluca called Marrero a cunt. The officers pushed him to the ground and arrested him, according to a lawsuit Deluca later filed.Back at the precinct, as Deluca was being taken out of the car, Marrero struck him with his police baton, opening up a gash on the top of his head. Another officer said there was so much blood, they had to clean it up with a mop. It took 12 staples at the hospital to close the wound.In a deposition, Deluca said Marrero told him “You can’t disrespect us in the street like that.” Deluca received a $398,000 settlement, of which Marrero was ordered to pay $4,000.
Marrero pled guilty to several internal charges during this six-year period, including deploying excessive force and lying to department investigators. Despite this, Commissioner Ray Kelly felt Marrero still added value to the force. He was placed on probation and lost 45 vacation days, but was never terminated or asked to resign. An outside commission on police corruption reviewed these files and suggested Marrero be fired, as he "lacked the temperament necessary to be a police officer." This suggestion was ignored.There's nothing about local laws or NYPD policies that encourage any sort of positive change. The NYPD says local laws allow it to withhold disciplinary records from the public. Disciplinary trials for officers are open to the public… so to speak. They're held without prior announcement of schedules or locations. They're presided over by a police official appointed by the NYPD Commissioner, rather than a neutral adjudicator. And if a top cop decides an accused cop should be terminated, the Commissioner can overturn the ruling. (And even if the Commissioner allowed the discipline to stay in place, there's a good chance the PBA would get the ruling overturned.)A closed disciplinary does no favors for the public. Unsurprisingly, it does no favors for police officers, either. Bad cops become worse cops as no one's willing to engage in serious deterrence and the system itself is often used to retaliate against good cops who blow the whistle on bad behavior or sue the department for discriminatory practices. Ultimately, no one's accountable to anyone, despite everyone involved being a public servant.This leak will likely provoke some changes within the department, but with zero oversight, the positive changes likely won't last. My money's on an internal investigation into the leak being the largest expenditure of time and effort as a result of this exposé.

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OOYALA Finds More People than Ever Click Play for Mobile Video Reaching 60% of All Views Globally

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  Mobile video plays topped 60% globally for the first time in the fourth quarter of 2017 — garnering a 60.3% share of all video starts - perOoyala'snewly released Q4 2017 Global Video Index Report. Geographically, Europe/Middle East/Africa (EMEA) had the greatest level of engagement at 63.5%. North America lagged most of the rest of […]The post OOYALA Finds More People than Ever Click Play for Mobile Video Reaching 60% of All Views Globally appeared first on Adotas.

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SRAX Announces Alpha Release of Blockchain Technology BIG Platform

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   Limited by-invitation-only, Alpha users are to be the original participants in building the first consumer-powered data marketplace where people will own, verify and sell access to their data. For a complete Whitepaper on the technology and its application,clickhere. Social Reality, Inc.‘s blockchain identification graph platform,BIG, announced the release of the Alpha version of its […]The post SRAX Announces Alpha Release of Blockchain Technology BIG Platform appeared first on Adotas.

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Maryland Court System Arbitrarily Decides Public Should No Longer Have Access To Police Officers' Names

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Supposedly completely of its own volition, Maryland's court system has decided to extend extra rights to law enforcement officers. Going to bat for opacity, the Maryland Judiciary has made it harder for the public to find out what officers are doing (or how often they're being sued). This comes against a backdrop where more sunlight would seem essential, what with several Baltimore police officers facing corruption charges in a wide-ranging investigation that has already netted a handful of convictions and guilty pleas.Citing a favorite cop excuse, the state's courts have decided the public should be less informed.

Maryland’s Judiciary on Friday defended a decision to remove the names of police officers and other law enforcement authorities from the state’s searchable public online court database, saying the change was made in response to “safety concerns raised by law enforcement.”The change took effect Thursday, following a decision by a judicial rules committee last June. Officers’ names no longer appear on cases they were involved with, and searches using an officer’s name cannot be performed.
The Judiciary claims this "balances" public access to court information with its "obligation" to protect officers from "potential misuse." It did not cite any actual misuse in defense of its position. Nor did it cite any support from law enforcement agencies or "safety concerns" raised by them. While the Anne Arundel County police admitted to lobbying for a change, all the department had asked for was the removal of first names, not removal of officers' names entirely.Multiple law enforcement agencies contacted by The Baltimore Sun expressed their concern with the Judiciary's decision.
[T]he Maryland State Police said they had not lobbied for such a change, and the [Baltimore] Police Department said they did not agree with it.A spokesman for Gov. Larry Hogan said: “Public information should be public. End of story.”[...]Baltimore police said they didn’t lobby for a change and “really don’t see why they got rid of what was already publicly available.”“We use it too,” chief spokesman T.J. Smith said of the data.
Even more bizarrely, the Judiciary claims this removal only affects "remote access." Supposedly the names of officers can still be accessed by using local court kiosks. This makes no sense. Why would cops be "safer" if their names can only be accessed inside a local court? Wouldn't that make these (apparently imaginary) threats to officer safety much more proximate to the officers affected?Beyond that, there's the fact that kiosk access is limited. Or, in the case of the Baltimore Circuit Court, kiosks are nonexistent. According to the Sun, the Baltimore court runs searches through an "archaic" computer system (not a kiosk) that does not provide the same search options as its online counterpart.Local public defenders were unaware officer information was being removed, which seems to be a key oversight in the process. Public defenders are very much a part of the judicial process, yet they were never informed information they need on a daily basis would no longer be available. Already overworked, public defenders will now be forced to visit courts to access officer information and hope that court has kiosks that actually provide the search functions they need.The Judiciary claims all of this was done in the open and with the consultation of stakeholders. This can't possibly be true since both law enforcement agencies and defense lawyers were apparently unaware of the change until The Baltimore Sun contacted them. The Judiciary's own paper trail suggests this was done under the radar with zero public debate about the rules change.
The committee’s annual report from last year shows that the change was made by eliminating a clause in the section “Access to Judicial Records,” which said, “Unless shielded by a protective order, the name, office address, office telephone number and office e-mail address, if any, relating to law enforcement officers, other public officials or employees acting in their official capacity, and expert witnesses, may be remotely accessible.”It was unclear whether the change was debated — the rules committee has not posted minutes of its meetings since April 2016.
No one agrees with the Judiciary's change, which is probably why no one was consulted before the change was made. Everyone from city council members to state's attorney candidates to journalists find the change unwarranted, unhelpful, and a serious blow to trust-building efforts between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.This unpopular move from the state judiciary suggests its members will show plenty of deference to law enforcement agencies and officers in the future. And it will continue to do so even when there's plenty of evidence out there showing officers are often untrustworthy, when not completely corrupt. It has a single reason for making this move -- officer safety -- but there's nothing in the judiciary's past that even suggests court records are being used to target police officers. Even local police departments release the names of officers involved in shootings and cases involving apparent excessive force. The Judiciary has decided to roll back transparency at the worst possible time, giving cops extra privileges they weren't even asking for and further damaging the public's trust in their public servants.

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German Lawyers Call For Their Profession's Bug-Ridden, Soon-To-Be Mandatory, Email System To Be Open Sourced

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Given the sensitive nature of their work, lawyers need to take particular care when communicating online. One way to address this -- quite reasonable, in theory -- is to create a dedicated system with strong security built in. That's the route being taken by Germany's Federal Bar Association (Bundesrechtsanwaltskammer -- BRAK) with its "besondere elektronisches Anwaltspostfach" (special electronic mailbox for lawyers, or beA). However, the reality has not matched the theory, and beA has been plagued with serious security problems. As a post on the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) site explains (original in German)

Numerous scandals and a questionable understanding of security characterize the project, which has been in development for several years. Lawyers should have been reachable through this software since January 1, 2018, but numerous known vulnerabilities have prevented the planned start of the service....Although a security audit was commissioned and carried out in 2015, its scope and results have not been published to date; the full extent of the faulty programming became known only at the end of 2017. Thus the project, which has cost lawyers so far about 38 million euros, has already lost people's trust. In view of the numerous errors, the confidentiality of the sent messages can no longer be guaranteed -- and this is for software whose use from 2022 onwards becomes mandatory for all court documentation traffic.
Because of the continuing lack of transparency about the evident problems with the project, a number of German lawyers are supporting a petition that asks for an alternative approach, reported here by the Open Source Observatory:
The petition calls on Germany's Bundesrechtsanwaltskammer (Federal Bar Association, or BRAK) to publish the beA software under a free and open source software licence and open the software development process. "Only in this way can it slowly restore the trust of the users -- all lawyers, authorities and courts," the petition says.
As the petition notes (original in German):
Disclosure of the program code allows independent IT professionals to report potential security vulnerabilities early on so that they can be fixed; it has been shown once more that keeping the source code secret, and carrying out the audits as agreed in the contract [for creating the beA system] does not lead to the desired result. Free software also guarantees much-needed manufacturer independence.
Over and above the increased transparency that open-sourcing the beA code would bring, and the hope that this would allow security issues to be caught earlier, there is another good reason why the German system for lawyers should be released as free software. Since it will perform a key service for the public, it is only right for representatives of the German public to be able to confirm its trustworthiness. This is part of a larger campaign by the FSFE called "Public Money, Public Code", which Techdirt wrote about last year. Unfortunately, what ought to be a pretty uncontroversial idea still has a long way to go, as the painful beA saga demonstrates.Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

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Police Department With Eight Full-Time Officers Acquired 31 Military Vehicles Thru DoD's Surplus Program

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The Defense Department's 1033 program has allowed law enforcement to muddy the water on the distinction between police force and military force. Given the right reasoning (most commonly cited: Wars on Terror/Drugs), police departments are allowed to pick up surplus military gear, often for free (utilizing DHS grants) and start pretending they're an occupying force, rather than public servants.This came to a head following protests in Ferguson, Missouri, where viewers around the world were treated to the sight of local law enforcement rolling up on residents in mine-resistant vehicles while clad in gear that made officers look far more like soldiers than cops. This prompted a rollback of the 1033 program by Obama, limiting the sort of gear police departments could obtain to more innocuous surplus, like computers and furniture.That has since changed. President Trump, showing his support for all things law enforcement, rolled back Obama's rollback, giving police departments access to assault vehicles and military weapons. With this comes a rollback in trust, as it has been shown giving military gear to cops makes them believe they're soldiers in a war zone, rather than public servants in a community.Not everyone abuses this program, but those that do, do so spectacularly. An 11-member police force for a Delaware town with 400 residents has availed itself of more than $3 million in 1033 gear over the last five years. This first came to light late last year when documents obtained by Muckrock prompted town officials to wonder why they hadn't been notified of the department's stockpile.

When asked if the Dewey PD could account for all of the items by providing the physical location of items in their possession and paper trails for items sold, Sgt. Cliff Dempsey said, “We’re not going to comment on that matter at this time.”On the agenda for a Nov. 11 Dewey Beach commissioners’ meeting is the discussion of three options for to the 1033 program:1. require the DBPD to provide complete accounting for property received through any federal or surplus property program,2. accept a recommendation from the town’s audit committee to utilize the town’s auditors, or3. hire an independent consultant to conduct a more comprehensive review.
Some of the military equipment can be located. A recent report by the Milford Beacon contains a photo showing five military trucks and two ATVs parked in the department's storage lot. But that is only a small part of the Dewey PD's total holdings.
[A]mong hundreds of line items turned over between March 2013 and December 2017, the police acquired a total of 12 ATVs, 51 jackets or parkas and 13 space heaters, and 19 trucks of all kinds.Dewey’s department has just eight full-time and three part-time officers, the town population is less than 400 people and the town itself is a just mile long and two blocks wide.
This includes a mine-resistant armored car and an armored Humvee -- all to oversee 400 people residing in a one-mile, two-block stretch. The justifications for even the more innocuous acquisitions are questionable, if not downright laughable. As the Beacon points out, the Dewey PD requested boats for water rescues, something already handled by a separate beach patrol and the Coast Guard. ATVs were supposedly handed to the department for something termed "homeland security patrols."Many items were obtained to support the PD's private shooting range, including multiple tractors to shore up backstop berms and parkas to wear on colder days. The location of the range is kept secret by the department and the town was not (knowingly) involved in financing its construction. This secret range is mentioned more than 50 times in the PD's 1033 requests.Despite this news surfacing last November, town commissioners have yet to receive any answers from the department it apparently can't oversee.
At their Feb. 10 meeting, Commissioner Gary Persinger lamented, “We’re three months down the road and we don’t have information in response to that request.”As of March 1, [Mayor T.J.] Redefer said had not yet been privy to the departmental justifications of need.
On top of this, the department has apparently been selling some of the surplus it has received. Certain sales are permitted by federal law, but there has been no reporting by the police department detailing the amount of money received or what is being done with the funds. The extensive list of items obtained makes it appear the Dewey PD has stocked and furnished its office at federal taxpayers' expense while avoiding any sort of local accountability.All of this is legal under state and federal law. In Delaware, law enforcement agencies aren't required to notify local governments about 1033 acquisitions and sales. And so they don't, apparently, even though it would make more sense in the long run to be upfront about it. When details about acquired military equipment remain solely in the hands of law enforcement recipients, the general assumption is something is being abused. After all, if you've done nothing wrong, you've got nothing to hide, right? But as is so often the case, details are uncovered years after the fact and often by unrelated third parties who apparently care more about police oversight than the local governments charged with overseeing their law enforcement agencies.

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GlobalWide Media Tunes into TUNE Certified Partner Program for Mobile Marketing

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GlobalWide Media(GWM), a data-driven digital marketing company, is thrilled to announced it has joined theTUNE Certified Partner Program. The program, run by TUNE, honors integrated advertising partners who have demonstrated their commitment to upholding unbiased and trustworthy standards in mobile marketing. As a member of theTUNE Certified Partner Program, GWM joins a group of mobile […]The post GlobalWide Media Tunes into TUNE Certified Partner Program for Mobile Marketing appeared first on Adotas.

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Ravinia Festival Bullies Startup Brewery, Leading The Brewery To Shut Down Plans For Opening

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I've had the opportunity to write about many trademark disputes in these pages, but it's been rare for any of them to hit very close to home. That changed this week when we learned that Ravinia Festival in the northern Chicago suburbs, at which I have seen many a concert, has decided to bully a startup brewery over its use of the word "Ravinia" in its name.

A demand for royalties from the Ravinia Festival halted preparations to open a brewpub in Highland Park's Ravinia district in the coming months. The outdoor music festival sent a letter to the Ravinia Brewing Company two weeks ago demanding licensing payments and royalties for the brewery's use of the neighborhood's name, according to the Ravinia Neighbors Association, a local community organization.
These demands simply make no sense. Ravinia Festival is a concert venue. It has trademark rights on the word Ravinia, a historical name for the area in which both businesses reside, for restaurants, catering services, and banquet services. It is not and never has been a brewer of beer, nor does it have a valid trademark for that market. There is no potential for customer confusion, either, as nobody is going to walk into a brewery expecting to see a classical music concert. In other words, this is pure bullying.And, all the more annoying, Ravinia Festival can't even be bothered to be consistent in its bullying.
Between 1985 and 2015, the proposed location of the Ravinia Brewing Company's restaurant at 592 Roger Williams Avenue housed Ravinia BBQ. There is no indication Ravinia Festival ever sought licensing payments from that restaurant during its three decades of operation. In order for the music festival to get its trademark for "restaurant services," it filed a sworn statement alleging there was no other restaurant using the name, despite the existence of the longtime barbecue joint.
To be clear, Ravinia is bullying a brewery over the name of a geographic area using the term in a market in which Ravinia Festival does not operate. Meanwhile, Ravinia Festival likely did infringe on the trademark rights of the barbeque joint located at the exact same address as this new brewery back when it was in operation and lied on its trademark application to get the mark approved. Ravinia Festival also did not object when Ravinia Brewing Company applied for its own trademark back in 2015.Sadly, none of that may matter, because Ravinia Festival has lots of money and the brewery does not.
The brewpub's owners, Highland Park residents Kris Walker, David Place and Brian Taylor, say they will be forced to cancel plans for the business if the music festival doesn't relent.Their proposed pub planned to offer a full menu, but had no intention of hosting musical performances.
It looks like I may have to cross Ravinia Festival off of my list of concert venues in the future, unless there is enough public backlash to correct its behavior.

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Unraveling Digital Ad Mysteries with Sonobi on Ad-Blocking and Unified on Social Media Metrics

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  Justin Kennedy, COO at Sonobi As Chief Operating Officer of Sonobi, Justin is focused on developing and executing the strategic vision of the company, bringing the ideas and innovations of the executive team to reality. With over 10 years of operational management experience, Justin identifies and develops key partnerships and manages the professional development […]The post Unraveling Digital Ad Mysteries with Sonobi on Ad-Blocking and Unified on Social Media Metrics appeared first on Adotas.

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Game Developer Embraces Modding Community So Much They Made Their Work An Official Release

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For game developers and publishers, there are lots of ways to react to the modding community that so often creates new and interesting aspects to their games. Some companies look to shut these modding communities down completely, some threaten them over supposed copyright violations, and some developers choose to embrace the modding community and let mods extend the life of their games to ridiculous lengths.But few studios have gone as far to embrace modders as developer 1C, makers of IL-2 Sturmovik: Cliffs of Dover. The flight-sim game, released way back in 2011, burst onto the gaming market with decidedly luke-warm reviews. Most of the critiques and public commentary surrounding the game could be best summarized as: "meh." But a modding community sprung up around the game, calling itself Team Fusion, and developed a litany of mods for IL-2. Rather than looking at these mods as some sort of threat, 1C instead worked with Team Fusion and developed an official re-release of the game incorporating their work.

IL-2 Sturmovik: Cliffs of Dover BLITZ Edition is the result. Officially sanctioned and released under the banner of original developers 1C, it combines the original game with all the work that the fans at Team Fusion Simulations—now given access to the game’s source code—were able to cook up.This work includes new planes, new graphics options, new damage and weapon modelling updated visual effects.You can buy BLITZ if you’re coming into the game fresh, but if you already owned Cliffs of Dover, BLITZ was added to your Steam library for free late last year.
1C has also gone out of its way to highlight that BLITZ is in part the work of the Team Fusion modders and even announced the new release with comments on how much work the mods do to clean up the serious flaws in the original game. Other studios ought to be paying attention, because this is how it's done. The modding community, far from being a threat to the game developers, both made the title more attractive for purchase by making it better, and extended the life of this title to the point that it is being re-released for sale again. That kind of free labor of love is something you can only get by embracing the modding community.It also serves as a reminder again that the biggest fans of any given content can do much to promote it, if content makers bother to connect with them and treat them well. How anyone could argue that hardline stances against this kind of tinkering is a superior option is a question I cannot answer.

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Research Shows That Published Versions Of Papers In Costly Academic Titles Add Almost Nothing To The Freely-Available Preprints They Are Based On

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The open access movement believes that academic publications should be freely available to all, not least because most of the research is paid for by the public purse. Open access supporters see the high cost of many academic journals, whose subscriptions often run into thousands of dollars per year, as unsustainable for cash-strapped libraries, and unaffordable for researchers in emerging economies. The high profit margins of leading academic publishers -- typically 30-40% -- seem even more outrageous when you take into account the fact that publishers get almost everything done for free. They don't pay the authors of the papers they publish, and rely on the unpaid efforts of public-spirited academics to carry out crucial editorial functions like choosing and reviewing submissions.Academic publishers justify their high prices and fat profit margins by claiming that they "add value" as papers progress through the publication process. Although many have wondered whether that is really true -- does a bit of sub-editing and design really justify the ever-rising subscription costs? -- hard evidence has been lacking that could be used to challenge the publishers' narrative. A paper from researchers at the University of California and Los Alamos Laboratory is particularly relevant here. It appeared first on arXiv.org in 2016 (pdf), but has only just been "officially" published (paywall). It does something really obvious but also extremely valuable: it takes around 12,000 academic papers as they were originally released in their preprint form, and compares them in detail with the final version that appears in the professional journals, sometimes years later, as the paper's own history demonstrates. The results are unequivocal:

We apply five different similarity measures to individual extracted sections from the articles' full text contents and analyze their results. We have shown that, within the boundaries of our corpus, there are no significant differences in aggregate between pre-prints and their corresponding final published versions. In addition, the vast majority of pre-prints (90%-95%) are published by the open access pre-print service first and later by a commercial publisher.
That is, for the papers considered, which were taken from the arXiv.org preprint repository, and compared with the final versions that appeared, mostly in journals published by Elsevier, there were rarely any important additions. That applies to titles, abstracts and the main body of the articles. The five metrics applied looked at letter-by-letter changes between the two versions, as well as more subtle semantic differences. All five agreed that the publishers made almost no changes to the initial preprint, which nearly always appeared before the published version, minimizing the possibility that the preprint merely reflected the edited version.The authors of the paper point out a number of ways in which their research could be improved and extended. For example, the reference section of papers before and after editing was not compared, so it is possible that academic publishers add more value in this section; the researchers plan to investigate this aspect. Similarly, since the arXiv.org papers are heavily slanted towards physics, mathematics, statistics, and computer science, further work will look at articles from other fields, such as economics and biology.Such caveats aside, this is an important result that has not received the attention it deserves. It provides hard evidence of something that many have long felt: that academic publishers add almost nothing during the process of disseminating research in their high-profile products. The implications are that libraries should not be paying for expensive subscriptions to academic journals, but simply providing access to the equivalent preprints, which offer almost identical texts free of charge, and that researchers should concentrate on preprints, and forget about journals. Of course, that means that academic institutions must do the same when it comes to evaluating the publications of scholars applying for posts.If it was felt that more user-friendly formats were needed than the somewhat austere preprints, it would be enough for funding organizations to pay third-party design companies to take the preprint texts as-is, and simply reformat them in a more attractive way. Given the relatively straightforward skills required, the costs of doing so would be far less than paying high page charges, which is the main model used to fund so-called "gold" open access journals, as opposed to the "green" open access based on preprints freely available from repositories.In theory, gold open access offers "better" quality texts than green open access, which supposedly justifies the higher cost of the former. What the research shows is that when it comes to academic publishing, as in many other spheres, all that glitters is not gold: humble preprints turn out to be almost identical to the articles later published in big-name journals, but available sooner, and much more cheaply.Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

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Cop Hits Woman's Car At 94 MPH, Killing Her Infant. Police Arrest Woman For Negligent Homicide.

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This is how things go in the US, where law enforcement is treated like a favored religion and everyone who isn't on the inside is just grist for prosecution mills. Here's the setup, via Matt Pearce.

A Baton Rouge police officer was arrested Friday on a count of negligent homicide, accused of going 94 mph in a Corvette when he caused an off-duty crash on Airline Highway that killed an infant and injured six others.The officer, Christopher Manuel, 28, was driving north in a 2007 Chevrolet Corvette shortly after 8 p.m. Oct. 12 on Airline Highway when it struck a Nissan at the intersection at Florline Boulevard that was occupied by four adults and three children.All of the occupants of the Nissan were taken to the hospital. One of those passengers, a 1-year-old baby, Seyaira Stephens, later died.
The van made a left turn in front of the off-duty officer. Both vehicles had a green light. The speed limit on this road was 50 mph. The speed the officer was traveling was verified by his Corvette's black box. Here's the positive news:
Manuel, of 8508 Greenwell Springs Road, was booked into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on a count of negligent homicide and speeding, Sgt. L'Jean McKneely, police spokesman, said.
The officer was booked and made bond. So far, so good. Here comes the avalanche of bad news.
Manuel, who has been on paid administrative leave since the accident, will remain on paid leave until after an internal investigation is concluded, McKneely said.
Due process, I suppose, even if it was clear the officer was traveling at nearly twice the posted speed limit. Much of the information needed to conclude the investigation was already in his department's hands, thanks to the Corvette's airbag control module, which recorded this data at the time of impact.But if there's going to be any justice done, it's going to be severely delayed.
That investigation will not begin until he recovers from his injuries and is released to work by a doctor.
That's the sort of thing never extended to lowly civilians. No officer has ever told an injured arrestee to heal up before worrying about answering questions. No law enforcement agency has backburnered an investigation simply because its subject can't move around on their own yet.But these investigations took no time to complete. No one at the Baton Rouge PD waited around for victims of the officer's reckless driving to be fully healed before they began their arrests.
Just weeks after a Baton Rouge police officer was arrested on negligent homicide and accused of causing a crash that injured several people and killed a baby, the child's mother was also arrested on the same charge because police said she failed to properly secure the baby's car seat.Brittany Stephens, 20, was arrested Tuesday after police found that her daughter's car seat was not secured and the straps were not adjusted correctly for the child's height, according to her arrest report. Police said the "lack of securing the seat to the vehicle and the loose straps are a contributing factor in the death" of the child and "show gross negligence" on the mother's part.
Ah, the healing power of criminal charges, brought against someone involved in an accident that was no fault of her own. She (and her daughter) were just passengers in the van. Not to worry, the police issued citations to everyone else in the vehicle the officer hit. But the mother of the infant the cop killed is facing the same charges he is. And she's not going to be given a chance to rest up before the police move forward with their investigation. The PD has already wrapped this one up and forwarded charges to the DA's office.
East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III said Tuesday his office has not yet determined whether Stephens or Manuel will face charges, but prosecutors "will review all reports, charges and arrests and make the appropriate decisions based upon facts and law."
There is nothing right about this, not even technically. The reckless driving performed by the officer should nullify the culpability of the people in the car he hit. While Officer Manuel may have had the right of way, his excessive speed changed the contours of the incident. In a case involving law enforcement officers manufacturing a reason to stop a car, a court pointed out unsafe driving by officers nullifies moving violations performed by other drivers.
[T]he Court finds as a matter of fact and law that Defendant did not fail to yield to the cruiser because the cruiser was not proceeding in a lawful manner. Rather, the cruiser was itself speeding on a dark, rainy night at low visibility further compromised by road glare. By proceeding in such a reckless manner – and in violation of both state and local law – Ofc. Davis forfeited the preferential status afforded a lawful driver under the right-of-way statute.
This isn't apples-to-apples (the court making this declaration was in Ohio, not Louisiana, where this accident took place) but it's a good rule of thumb. If someone is driving 44 mph over the speed limit, they've effectively forfeited their right-of-way status. A left turn taken in front of a speeding officer should give the officer zero preferential treatment in the eyes of the law. The officer should be 100% culpable for the damage and loss of life. Arresting a mother who lost her infant to an officer's reckless actions is needlessly cruel and serves zero deterrent purpose. Her daughter can't be killed again.The way the Baton Rouge PD is handling this ensures Officer Manuel's eventual conviction will also have zero deterrent value. It shows officers the PD is willing to arrest victims of their unlawful actions and give them all the time they want -- with pay! -- to heal up before they're forced to confront the results of their recklessness. If the DA is smart, the charges against the mother will vanish and the cop will be rung up for his negligent actions.

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Agenda Updates for PROGRAMMATIC I/O San Francisco

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PROGRAMMATIC I/O San Franciscotakes placeApril 10-11, 2018at the SanFrancisco Marriott Marquis. Day 1 – 9:30 a.m. – Programmatic Essentials Buy-Side Workshops – “Unlocking In-flight Omnichannel Measurement” – Jeremy Gold from Oath and Chris Osner-Hackett from Kellogg explore a new measurement solution. Day 1 – 1:30 p.m. – Ops Talks – How To Leverage Demand Path […]The post Agenda Updates for PROGRAMMATIC I/O San Francisco appeared first on Adotas.

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Russia Censors News Reports About Anti-Putin Ice Graffiti, Leaving Its Contents Entirely Up To Our Collective Imagination

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Readers here will be familiar with the Streisand Effect, by which a topic or information becomes wildly viral due to the very attempts at censoring it. The idea is that by trying to keep Subject X out of the news, the public suddenly is far more exposed to Subject X as a result of news coverage of the cover-up. This story slightly deviates from the Streisand Effect formula, but only in the most hilarious way.People should know by now that Vladimir Putin is a strong-arm "President" that runs the country like a fiefdom. As such, most if not all wings of his government serve him personally far more directly than they do his constituents. Evidence of this is practically everywhere, especially in how his government and non-government organizations in Russia react to his political opponents. Typically, his political rivals are jailed, silenced, or otherwise tamped down viciously in terms of how much exposure they can get to challenge his political position. A recent example of this concerns presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak, whose supporters painted the ice on a frozen river in St. Petersburg with the mildest anti-Putin slogan, reading "Against Putin." As a result, Roskomnadzor, the government agency featured in our pages for its censorship of websites in the name of literally anything it can dream up, ordered news groups to censor the contents of the message-on-ice in any reporting on the incident.

On Monday, the St. Petersburg-based Business News Agency said it was ordered by a local branch of the state media watchdog Roskomnadzor to remove the photograph of the graffiti from the river.“We can’t display the protesters’ slogan at the urgent request of Roskomnadzor,” the agency wrote in a text superimposed on the graffiti while keeping the photo of the frozen Fontanka River intact, as seen in a picture tweeted by local activists.
And here's what the images accompanying the news reports now show.
Here's the thing: the reader is now free to imagine any and all anti-Putin messages scrawled in the ice now that the mild "Against Putin" message has been covered up. In addition to the classic Streisand Effect of the public now being way more aware than they would have been otherwise of the general anti-Putin sentiment that exists with these supporters of Sobchak, creative minds across Russia will fill in the censorious blank as to what the message was. Perhaps it read: "Putin impregnated my cow and smells of last week's borscht"? Perhaps it was just a string of the names of journalists that keep mysteriously dying after criticizing Putin or his government?The beautiful part is: we don't know! And this censorship has freed us to imagine anything and everything that could possibly be contained in that message. And, if this writer is any indication, our imaginations can come up with far more insulting messages than "Against Putin."And, in case the hints here weren't strong enough, I very much encourage you to prove me right in the comments section. Regardless, it's long past time that world leaders learned that these censorship attempts do and will always backfire.

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This Week In Techdirt History: March 4th - 10th

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Five Years AgoThe saga of Prenda Law really jumped into high gear this week in 2013, first with Prenda, John Steel and Paul Duffy all filing astonishing defamation lawsuits against critics. Then, as Brett Gibbs was finally forced to answer a few questions, the judge ordered everyone to show up in court the following Monday. We speculated about what would happen, while John Steele dropped his defamation lawsuit, leaving only the other two to continue. A massive 300-page filing teased at new details, Brett Gibbs objected to pretty much everything, then Paul Duffy doubled down in truly insane fashion by demanding the IP addresses of every visitor to certain blogs in the past two years. And, unsurprisingly, the team tried desperately to get out of having to show up in court on Monday.Ten Years AgoThis week in 2008, the House made the tiny positive move of removing higher copyright fines from the Pro IP bill (without interfering with all the other awful, awful stuff of course), while we asked why we continue to use the term "intellectual property" at all. HBO was still ever-so-gently dipping its toe into online distribution, while Trent Reznor was diving in head-first and swimming strongly. Meanwhile, as audio DRM continued to die at the hands of most major online retailers, a lot of journalists got really confused and thought it meant the death of copyright (if only!)Fifteen Years AgoThis week in 2003, there were rumours about that Apple would launch an online music store — and they'd come true just under two months later. Australia was admitting the failure of its recommended online content filters while China was apparently slowing down access across the country with its surveillance efforts. And in case you forgot just how different the web was in 2003: an investigation discovered the bizarre fact that the RIAA's website was hosted by one man out of his house, reports of which led them to move it to a server run by a small accounting firm. Go figure.

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Court Moves Business Owner One Step Closer To Getting Paid Back For Vehicle DEA Destroyed In A Failed Drug Sting

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Almost seven years ago, DEA agents borrowed a truck (and an employee) from Craig Thomas Expeditors. Craig Patty, proprietor and employer of Lawrence Chapa, had no idea this was happening. The DEA never approached Patty and, for all he knew, Chapa was taking the truck down to Houston for some service. This was all a ruse. The DEA loaded Patty's truck with marijuana (and his driver) and went down to Houston to engage in a drug sting.This wasn't the first sting the DEA had deployed using Patty's truck and his driver. But it was the last. Instead of a controlled purchase followed by several arrests, the DEA ran into an ambush instead. Patty's truck was riddled with bullets, as was Patty's driver. In the middle of it all, a plainclothes cop from one Texas agency was shot by a plainclothes cop employed by another.After this debacle, Patty was finally informed that his truck and employee had been part of a tragic DEA misfire. He was also informed that the federal government would not be shelling out a single cent to repair the $100,000 worth of damage to the truck. (It said even less about the cost of the life it had taken from Patty's driver.) The DEA said it did not have to pay anything for the damage because it occurred during a law enforcement operation. Patty's insurance company said the same thing.Patty sued the DEA. This went nowhere. The government argued -- successfully -- that clandestine operations like drug stings don't require notification of citizens whose private property is put to use. It also argued it was immune from liability because undercover operations are more important than protecting assets owned by law-abiding citizens. The court agreed and tossed Patty's case.This appeared to be the end of it. But I'm happy to report that's not the case. Nearly seven years has elapsed since the DEA destroyed Patty's truck, but a federal judge for the Federal Claims court has said Patty can move ahead with his lawsuit seeking compensation for his "borrowed" truck. (via FourthAmendment.com)The denial of the government's motion to dismiss [PDF] is pretty weedy, but basically comes down to competing interpretations of Patty's allegations. The government argued Patty's complaint alleged illegal actions by the DEA, which would mean this court lacked jurisdiction over the case. The judge points out Patty's complaint doesn't actually do that. What Patty is alleging is something different: a violation of the Takings Clause. The government took property of Patty's without permission and failed to compensate him for the damage done to it.

Defendant relies in part on the fact that plaintiffs assert that the agency’s use of their truck was without permission and an unjustified risk to private property and to the lives of those involved in the LLC. Pls.’ Compl. ¶ ¶ 2, 17, 18, 21. But an assertion of lack of consent to the use is not the same as an assertion of illegality. More importantly, it is not inconsistent with the assertion of a taking. Condemnation actions, whether direct or implied, typically are done over the property owner’s objection.
This changes the legal contours, much to the presumed dismay of the government. It's no longer about apparent theft, but rather the government running roughshod over a citizen's property rights. The government tried to argue it wasn't a taking per se, but rather a form of forfeiture. It didn't say as much in its arguments, but all of its supporting citations dealt with forfeitures in criminal cases or seized evidence. As the court points out, the supporting case law cited by the government does not address the issue at hand.
In each of these cases, the property was evidence in an investigation or the object of the law enforcement action. In none of them did the government simply seize property as a convenience to the government in pursuing unrelated law enforcement.
It then goes on to point out exactly why it won't let the government get away with its false equation.
If defendant’s position is the law, the police power would swallow private property whole. Neither plaintiffs nor their truck were the subject of an investigation, their truck did not belong to a person who was the subject of an investigation, nor was it related, before the fact, to any violation of regulation or statute. Plaintiffs emphasize that neither the LCC nor Mr. Patty had any connection to or dealings with criminal outfits in the state of Texas and that, had it not been for their driver working with the DEA, their truck would have never been involved in the operation. The government instead chose to use plaintiffs’ property as a tool to stage a controlled drug delivery.
Then it goes further, calling out the government for its refusal to admit it screwed a law-abiding citizen out of $100,000+ worth of property -- something the government has done repeatedly in the past and been held accountable for.
Plaintiffs’ claim bears striking similarities to cases in which the government has chosen simply to appropriate private property to secure a benefit for the public. Here, the assertion is that law enforcement officials used private property as a resource for an operation despite lack of consent of the property owner. Using the dichotomy of whether the government action prevented harm to the public or secured a benefit to the public, the government’s action falls within the latter category: it did not seize the truck to prevent a harm to the public caused by or related to the truck or anyone associated with it, but rather the agency chose to use the truck as a resource in ridding the area of controlled substances and criminal activity. It could just as easily have rented a truck and furnished it to Mr. Chapa. Plaintiffs’ truck was not evidence in a criminal prosecution, involved in a police investigation, seized pursuant to criminal laws, or subject to forfeiture proceedings. If what the DEA is alleged to have done here were not compensable, then presumably it could have seized a fleet of trucks or an airplane for the same use.
This moves Patty one step closer for being repaid for the DEA's use of his vehicle. Sure, it's not the DEA's fault its drug sting fell apart and resulted in vehicle damage and the loss of life. But as the court points out, the DEA could have pursued a sting operation without using a private citizen's vehicle. It had plenty of options that wouldn't have put it in the position it's in today. But it chose to do it the easy way, which is now -- seven years after the fact -- turning into the hard way. The DEA worked harder, not smarter. Hopefully, this business owner won't remain screwed for much longer.

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Anura Case Study: Deep Analytics Reporting

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Amobee Launches Custom Bid Algorithms for Marketers

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Solution Delivers Actionable Audience Insights for Campaign Optimization, Driving Performance Lift Across Verticals Amobee, a global digital marketing technology company serving brands and agencies, announced enhancements to its platform that allow buyers to deploy custom data sets into Amobee's bid modeling system. The feature launch empowers advertisers and their agencies to tailor their bid strategies […]The post Amobee Launches Custom Bid Algorithms for Marketers appeared first on Adotas.

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Wikimedia's Transparency Report: Guys, We're A Wiki, Don't Demand We Take Stuff Down

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Wikimedia, like many other internet platform these days releases a transparency report that discusses various efforts to takedown content or identify users. We're now all quite used to what such transparency reports look like. However, Wikimedia's latest is worth reading as a reminder that Wikipedia is a different sort of beast. Not surprisingly, it gets a lot fewer demands, but it also abides by very few of those demands. My favorite is the fact that people demand Wikimedia edit or remove content. It's a wiki. Anyone can edit it. But if your edits suck, you're going to be in trouble. And yet, Wikimedia still receives hundreds of demands. And doesn't comply with any of them. Including ones from governments. Instead, Wikimedia explains to them just how Wikipedia works.

From July to December of 2017, we received 343 requests to alter or remove project content, seven of which came from government entities. Once again, we granted zero of these requests. The Wikimedia projects thrive when the volunteer community is empowered to curate and vet content. When we receive requests to remove or alter that content, our first action is to refer requesters to experienced volunteers who can explain project policies and provide them with assistance.
On the copyright front, they only received 12 requests. I actually would have expected more, but the community is pretty strict about making sure that only content that can be on the site gets there. Only 2 of the 12 takedowns were granted.
Wikimedia projects feature a wide variety of content that is freely licensed or in the public domain. However, we occasionally will receive Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notices asking us to remove content that is allegedly copyrighted. All DMCA requests are reviewed thoroughly to determine if the content is infringing a copyright, and if there are any legal exceptions, such as fair use, that could allow the content to remain on the Wikimedia projects. From July to December of 2017, we received 12 DMCA requests. We granted two of these. This relatively low amount of DMCA takedown requests for an online platform is due in part to the high standards of community copyright policies and the diligence of project contributors.
This is actually really important, especially as folks in the legacy entertainment industry keep pushing for demands that platforms put in place incredibly expensive "filter" systems. Wikipedia is one of the most popular open platforms on the planet. But it would make no sense at all for it to invest millions of dollars in an expensive filtering system. But, since the whining from those legacy industry folks never seems to recognize that there's a world beyond Google and Facebook, they don't much consider how silly it would be to apply those kinds of rules to Wikipedia.Also interesting is that Wikipedia has now been dealing with some "Right to be Forgotten" requests in the EU. It notes that in the six month period covered by the transparency report they received one such request (which was not granted):
rom July to December of 2017, the Wikimedia Foundation received one request for content removal that cited the right to erasure, also known as the right to be forgotten. We did not grant this request. The right to erasure in the European Union was established in 2014 by a decision in the Court of Justice of the European Union. As the law now stands, an individual can request the delisting of certain pages from appearing in search results for their name. The Wikimedia Foundation remains opposed to these delistings, which negatively impact the free exchange of information in the public interest.
I don't envy whatever person eventually tries to go after Wikimedia in court over a Right to be Forgotten claim -- though it feels inevitable.There's more to look at in the report, but it is interesting to look over this and be reminded that not every internet platform is Google or Facebook, and demanding certain types of solutions that would hit all platforms... is pretty silly.

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Preetham Mallikarjuna Rejoins Simulmedia, Inc. as CPO; Aprimo Doubles New Customer Base in 2017; Nielsen Launches Audience-Based Forecasting Solution for Linear Television

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Preetham Mallikarjuna To Direct VAMOS Advanced TV Software Offering;Now Unbundled from Simulmedia’s Audience Network Simulmedia, a company focused on data optimized national TV campaigns that deliver superior performance for major brands, has announced that Preetham Mallikarjuna (pictured left) has rejoined the company in the newly created position of Chief Product Officer. Mr. Mallikarjuna rejoins Simulmedia, […]The post Preetham Mallikarjuna Rejoins Simulmedia, Inc. as CPO; Aprimo Doubles New Customer Base in 2017; Nielsen Launches Audience-Based Forecasting Solution for Linear Television appeared first on Adotas.

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Top Court Throws Out Corporate Sovereignty For All Trade Deals Within EU; Those Involving Other Nations Likely To Suffer Same Fate

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Techdirt has been writing about what the world calls investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) for over five years. But early on, we decided that the harmless-sounding initials "ISDS" didn't really convey the seriousness of what was going on here. Instead, we've been using the phrase "corporate sovereignty", because that is what ISDS is: an assertion that the rights of corporates can trump those of entire countries. That's achieved by means of special tribunals that exist outside national legal systems, and which can effectively over-rule them. Many people think this is a really bad idea, and in an important new ruling, the EU's top court has just agreed (pdf):

the Court concludes that the arbitration clause in the BIT [bilateral investment treaty] has an adverse effect on the autonomy of EU law, and is therefore incompatible with EU law.
The specifics of the case concern a dispute between a Dutch insurance company and the Slovak government:
In 2004 Slovakia opened its sickness insurance market to private investors. Achmea, an undertaking belonging to a Netherlands insurance group, set up a subsidiary in Slovakia with a view to offering private sickness insurance services there. However, in 2006 Slovakia partly reversed the liberalisation of its sickness insurance market, and prohibited in particular the distribution of profits generated by sickness insurance activities.In 2008 Achmea brought arbitration proceedings against Slovakia under the BIT, on the ground that the prohibition was contrary to the agreement and had caused it financial damage. In 2012 the arbitral tribunal found that Slovakia had indeed infringed the BIT, and ordered it to pay Achmea damages in the amount of approximately €22.1 million.
This is a classic case of a government changing its policy, as governments often do, and a company demanding compensation as a result. What this -- and the general theory behind ISDS -- overlooks is that business is by its nature risky; profits are the reward for taking on risks successfully. Corporate sovereignty demands free insurance for foreign investors, guaranteeing that they will not lose out, whatever happens, without actually needing to pay for a formal insurance policy (which is in any case available for those that want such protection). That kind of guarantee is not something that members of the public ever get for free, so it's not clear why corporates should either.In this case, the Slovak government brought an action in a German court asking for the ISDS award to be set aside. The German court recognized that the case raised important general issues, and referred it to the EU's highest court, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), for a ruling on the underlying law. The CJEU confirmed something that Techdirt and many others have pointed out for years -- that the arbitration tribunal was outside the entire EU system of law:
by concluding the BIT, Slovakia and the Netherlands established a mechanism for settling disputes which is not capable of ensuring that those disputes will be decided by a court within the judicial system of the EU, only such a court being able to ensure the full effectiveness of EU law.
As such, it was incompatible with EU law, and therefore not valid. That's great news for the Slovak government, and for other Member States that have been hit or threatened with huge corporate sovereignty penalties because of similar intra-EU BITs. But much more significant than the specific result is the general reasoning of the court. Given that the ISDS tribunal in the dispute between the Slovak government and the Dutch insurance company was outside the EU system of law, and therefore deemed illegal, it would seem that any similar arbitration tribunal considering corporate sovereignty cases would also be illegal under EU law. That would apply not just to those adjudicating disputes between EU countries and EU companies, but also to any trade deal that included ISDS. Potentially, then, the CJEU's ruling means that every corporate sovereignty chapter in every EU trade deal is illegal, and unenforceable.We should find out soon enough. In December last year, Belgium submitted a request to the CJEU asking it to rule on whether the European Union's updated version of ISDS, the Investment Court System (ICS), was compatible with the EU's core treaties. Since the ICS too is outside the EU's main legal system, it's hard to see how the CJEU could rule that it is compatible, assuming it applies the logic of the case discussed above. If the ICS falls, then ISDS will be effectively dead in the EU, and probably dying everywhere else.Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

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Playboy Decides Not To Appeal Silly Boing Boing Lawsuit In The Most Petulant Manner Possible

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Well that all happened remarkably quickly. In November, we wrote about Playboy filing a particularly ridiculous lawsuit against the blog Boing Boing for linking to (but not hosting) an Imgur collection and YouTube video highlighting basically all Playboy centerfold images. Boing Boing explained to the court in January that linking is not infringement and the judge dismissed the case in February. And while the court left it open for Playboy to file an amended complaint, it also made it clear that Playboy had basically no chance of winning the case.So it should be of little surprise that the case is now officially over, with Playboy releasing an impressively silly statement to Cyrus Farivar over at Ars Technica:

Playboy's dispute with Boing Boing is about one party (Boing Boing) willfully profiting from infringement upon the intellectual property of another party (Playboy). This is not David vs. Goliath, it is not about the first amendment and it is not an attack about linking. It is about preventing a party from driving its profits off of piracy.Despite being informed that it was promoting infringement, Boing Boing has left up its post to try to make even more money. It is unfortunate that a site that has at times created original content is fighting so hard for a right to profit from infringing content.Boing Boing has argued to the court that it should not be legally responsible for making money off of content it knows to be infringing as long as Boing Boing is not the original infringer. That is not editorial integrity. It is not ethical journalism. It is supporting and contributing to piracy and content creators should not tolerate it.Although we are not refiling an amended complaint at this time, we will continue to vigorously enforce our intellectual property rights against infringement.John Vlautin / Corporate Communications
Playboy Enterprises
Okay, so notice there's a whole bunch of pure nonsense before admitting the company won't make things worse (and certainly throw away money) on filing an amended complaint. What's quite incredible is just how... wrong nearly everything is that Playboy says. It's fairly obvious that John Vlautin is not a lawyer and basically knows fuck all about copyright or free speech. Indeed, he's basically been an entertainment industry flack for his career, doing PR/communications for record labels and Live Nation, as well as his own firm, which apparently now represents Playboy.Anyway, let's be clear: having an old blog post linking offsite is hardly "willfully profiting from infringement." Indeed, the court ruled that what Boing Boing was doing was not infringement. That Vlautin ignores all that just makes him look like a petulant sore loser. And, yes, sorry John, but suing a website for what it legally posted is very much a First Amendment issue. And, remember, John, you work for a company, Playboy, which has historically been a strong First Amendment supporter. Hell, the Hugh Hefner Foundation still gives out First Amendment Awards each year. And, in the past, those awards have included people like copyright scholar Pam Samuelson and EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow (who was a vocal critic of copyright laws and how they are used to censor speech).Also, it's amusing that Vlautin is mocking Boing Boing's arguments in court (which he totally misrepresents) when Boing Boing won. If the argument was so absurd, why did the court rule against Playboy and why is Playboy not filing an amended complaint? Playboy lost, and the company should know better than to employ a PR flack who doesn't know what he's talking about in sending out petulant statements that reflect exceptionally poorly on the company.

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Kantar Millward Brown AdReaction Study

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  Advertisers that simply repurpose TV ads for social media and online video instead of custom tailoring for each platform are missing a huge opportunity, says Kantar Millward Brown. Kantar Millward Brown AdReaction study shows that video creative that is both integrated and customized for each platform - online or linear TV - fared much […]The post Kantar Millward Brown AdReaction Study appeared first on Adotas.

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Rockerbox Introduces Marketing Platform To Help Marketers Develop Insights from Most Recent Online Activity

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Rockerboxhas launched its Recency Marketing Platform, a technology solution that enables companies to leverage recent user behaviors to improve their customer acquisition and marketing analytics. Rockerbox's platform focuses on the last 60 minutes of a prospect's online activity across all channels and devices, helping marketers to optimize their media spend and increase conversions. Rockerbox clients […]The post Rockerbox Introduces Marketing Platform To Help Marketers Develop Insights from Most Recent Online Activity appeared first on Adotas.

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Rubicon Project Opens Up Its Guaranteed Private Marketplaces to Third-Party DSPs

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Google's DoubleClick Bid Manager Integrates with Rubicon Project for Programmatic Guaranteed Buying Rubicon Project announced it has opened up its exchange to DSPs for programmatic buying in guaranteed private marketplaces. Google's DoubleClick Bid Manager is the first DSP to integrate with Rubicon Project's exchange for programmatic guaranteed buying. Rubicon Project is the only third-party exchange […]The post Rubicon Project Opens Up Its Guaranteed Private Marketplaces to Third-Party DSPs appeared first on Adotas.

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Middle Schoolers Cheer As Oregon Passes A Net Neutrality Law

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More than half of all states are now pushing their own net neutrality rules in the wake of the federal repeal. Some states are pushing for new net neutrality laws that closely mirror the discarded FCC rules, while others are signing executive orders that prohibit states from doing business with ISPs that behave anti-competitively. And while these discordant laws may make doing business from state to state harder on incumbent ISPs, that's probably something they should have thought about before dismantling arguably modest (and hugely popular) federal protections.This week Oregon became the latest state to sign net neutrality protections into law with what was largely bipartisan support. House Bill 4155 largely mirrors the FCC ban on things like paid-prioritization and anti-competitive blocking and throttling, though (also like the discarded FCC rules) it wouldn't address usage caps and overage fees or zero rating, one of the key areas where anti-competitive behavior often takes root. The bill also carves out numerous exemptions for legitimate instances of prioritization (medical care, prioritized VoIP services).The bill also mandates that state and local governments contract only with companies that abide by the principles of net neutrality. Again highlighting the popularity of these efforts, three middle school kids testified before the State Senate in support of the new law:

"Leading up to the bill's passage, three students from Mt. Tabor Middle School testified in support of net neutrality in Salem."It isn't common that kids get very involved in this, and it shows just how important this issue is to us," Luca Larsen-Utsumi, who spoke in front of the House Committee on Rules said."
While these state laws are an organic reaction to the federal government selling out consumers and the health of the internet, they'll only be as good as the people willing to actually enforce them. Many of the laws carve out exceptions for "reasonable network management," language ISP lobbyists have routinely and successfully abused to effectively allow pretty much anything -- at least in states where lawmakers and regulator ethics are malleable via campaign contribution (read: most of them). In other words, passing these rules is only part of the equation.Granted this is the same state that just got done giving Comcast an inadvertent $15 million annual tax break for doing absolutely nothing, so you have to hope they crossed their t's and dotted their i's on this particular legislation, and remain alert to post-passage lobbying efforts to subvert it.States like Oregon also have to contend with likely legal challenges by incumbent ISPs and their BFFs at the FCC.After it was lobbied to do so by Verizon and Comcast, the FCC included language in its net neutrality repeal that attempts to "pre-empt" (read: ban) states from protecting consumers on issues of privacy and net neutrality. But this authority is untested, which could result in some significant and interesting legal battles in the months to come. Again though: this expensive, confusing battle could all have been avoided if the FCC had actually bothered to listen to data, the experts, and the will of the public and kept the FCC rules intact.

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LAPD Finally Starts Fixing Its Awful Body Camera Policy, But It's Not All Good News

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It appears the city of Los Angeles is finally going to revise its terrible police body camera policy. Nearly $60 million was spent outfitting officers with cameras, but the end result provided little value to taxpayers. As it stands now, the only way to access footage is to engage in civil litigation with the police department (over violated rights, not rejected records requests) or be a defendant in a criminal case. Even then, a judge still has to be convinced you have a right to see the footage, even if you're one of the subjects.The proposed law change would flip the situation entirely around, putting the burden on law enforcement to show why footage should remain out of public view.

Under the proposal drafted by Richard Tefank, executive director of the Police Commission, video shot during critical incidents -- which includes shootings, in-custody deaths and other major events -- would be released within 45 days. The new policy would apply to body cameras, in-car video, police facility surveillance video, drones and video, in the department's possession, that was captured by third parties.
That very last bit is concerning as it gives police control of third-party footage, which will incentivize the seizure of bystanders' phones and nearby businesses' surveillance video. This might work if law enforcement only makes copies of this footage, leaving third parties free to release their footage whenever they want.But it would definitely dial back the restraints on police-generated footage. It creates a presumption of release that must face review every 14 days if law enforcement agencies wish to continue withholding footage. Unfortunately, this process will still be mostly an inside job. Review of requested delays will fall on the police chief and two selected commissioners from the LAPD's Board of Police Commissioners. While the Board is composed of five "civilian" commissioners, its independent power will be somewhat weakened by its limited presence during footage release reviews.The single bright note in all of this is that it appears the Board is generally responsive to citizens' concerns and complaints. According to the NBC Los Angeles story, this small step towards openness was prompted by public input on body-worn camera policies.
The commission last year retained the Policing Project at New York University School of Law to gather public input into a new policy regarding the release of body-worn camera video. According to a report it released last September, a majority of members of the general public who responded to a Policing Project survey said video shot during critical incidents should be made publicly within a short period of time.
It's not as good as it could be. And the land grab on third-party video hopefully only limits the release of copies maintained by the LAPD. While it would be all but impossible to make the current situation worse, the hesitant step in right direction shows LAPD officials are starting to realize running a closed shop only further alienates the communities the department serves. Hopefully, additional public input will continue steering the agency towards more openness in the future.

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Trump Announces One-Sided Plan To Meet With Video Game Makers Over Gun Violence

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In the conspiracy against video games that is now in full swing after the school shooting in Florida, it seems that it goes all the way to the top, by which I mean the recent comments by our Dear Leader, Donald Trump. Lower levels of the government have already begun foisting the sins of the shooter on the scapegoat of violent games, with Rhode Island looking for a plainly unconstitutional tax on adult-rated games and the governor of Kentucky trying to blame violent games for the recent shooting, sans evidence. And now it seems that Donald Trump has gotten into the mix, announcing that he will be meeting with "the video game industry" in coming weeks to see how they can stop real-world gun violence.

Presidential Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced at a briefing Thursday that President Trump plans to meet with members of the video game industry next week "to see what they can do" on the issue of gun violence.Details on specific timing and attendance for the meeting weren't immediately available, but Sanders cast the meeting as of a piece with multiple others that have already taken place between the president and "a number of stakeholders" in the gun violence debate.
Except it appears that the reason the timing for those meetings wasn't provided during the White House briefing is almost certainly because nobody in the video game industry has any idea what Trump or Sanders is talking about. The Entertainment Software Association, which represents the larger game studios and publishers, came out with a statement that it has had no plans to meet with Trump, has received no invitations to meet with Trump, and would push back on any responsibility games have for real life violence were such a meeting to occur.
The same video games played in the US are played worldwide; however, the level of gun violence is exponentially higher in the US than in other countries. Numerous authorities have examined the scientific record and found there is no link between media content and real-life violence. The US video game industry has a long history of partnering with parents and more than 20 years of rating video games through the Entertainment Software Rating Board. We take great steps to provide tools to help players and parents make informed entertainment decisions.
It's about as perfect a rebuttal to the violent games argument as there is: other countries have these same games, but not the violence. For its part, the White House clarified later that the invitations to meet with Trump would be going out over the next few days. Still, it probably would have been good for meetings to be scheduled before they were announced to the gaggle from the White House podium.With this being so one-sided, instead, we're left to witness another grandstanding politician with another whipping post talking about protected art and speech being culpable for real-world tragedy.

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CIA Still Arguing Its Official Leaks To Journalists Shouldn't Be Subject To FOIA Requests

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Last week, a federal judge pointed out the obvious to the CIA: release-to-one is release-to-all, no matter how the agency's lawyers spin it. The CIA had emailed classified information to certain journalists. When another journalist sought copies of those emails, the CIA handed him fully-redacted versions. Obviously, they weren't redacted when they were sent to select members of the public. Why would the CIA feel the need to redact the information now when another member of the public asked for it?The CIA argued it had every right to hand out classified info to whoever it saw fit and then turn around and refuse to hand it over when an FOIA requester requested it. It said the classified info it gave to journalists was never published by those journalists, so it was technically not a public release. The judge shot back, stating that the CIA had effectively waived its right to withhold this information by handing it out to journalists in the first place.

CIA voluntarily disclosed to outsiders information that it had a perfect right to keep private. There is absolutely no statutory provision that authorizes limited disclosure of otherwise classified information to anyone, including "trusted reporters," for any purpose, including the protection of CIA sources and methods that might otherwise be outed. The fact that the reporters might not have printed what was disclosed to them has no logical or legal impact on the waiver analysis, because the only fact relevant to waiver analysis is: Did the CIA do something that worked a waiver of a right it otherwise had? The answer: CIA voluntarily disclosed what it had no obligation to disclose (and, indeed, had a statutory obligation not to disclose). In the real world, disclosure to some who are unauthorized operates as a waiver of the right to keep information private as to anyone else.
The FAS Secrecy News blog brings us the news that the CIA has already issued a response [PDF] containing new arguments about why it should be able to engage in selective disclosure of classified info to members of the public.
CIA argued that the court is wrong to think that limited, selective disclosures of classified information are prohibited or unauthorized by law. The National Security Act only requires protection of intelligence sources and methods from "unauthorized" disclosure, not from authorized disclosure. And because the disclosures at issue were actually intended to protect intelligence sources and methods, they were fully authorized, CIA said. "The CIA properly exercised its broad discretion to provide certain limited information to the three reporters.""The Court's supposition that a limited disclosure of information to three journalists necessarily equates to a disclosure to the public at large is legally and factually mistaken," the CIA response stated. "The record demonstrates beyond dispute that the classified and statutorily protected information withheld from the emails has not entered the public domain. For these reasons, the limited disclosures here did not effect any waiver of FOIA's exemptions."
So, technically, it's not a new argument, just a reiteration of the CIA's stance on classification waivers it would rather believe aren't waivers of classification. In essence, the CIA would like to be able to selectively leak classified information while retaining the privilege of denying every other member of the public access to these leaks. If the selected journalists choose to publish classified info handed to them by the CIA, only then does it enter the public domain, according to the the CIA. Otherwise, the CIA will decide what's classified and withholdable, not judges or logic or common sense.Apparently, this is standard operating procedure for the agency. MuckRock's stash of CIA documents contains official instructions for CIA leaks to the press, including a checklist for post-leak damage control.
The form for reporting the leaks... was fairly comprehensive. In addition to any supplemental materials, which were be attached to the leak reports, the form was two pages long. In addition to requesting the time, date, publication author and how the sourcing was attributed, the form requested notes about the subject matter, the geography associated with it and the dissemination of the information. After asking what, if anything, the information had compromised, the form asked about the accuracy of the information.The form also requested information about whether the leak was authorized or not, and who had authorized it. Tellingly, it requested information about which government organizations were criticized in the leak, but didn’t feel the need to ask who or what had been praised.
The tradition -- started during the Nixon administration in response to his call to root out leakers -- continues to this day. The CIA will make snap decisions on declassification, hand out info to reporters it feels it can trust, and possibly report the leaks to intelligence oversight. It happened often enough a computerized system was built to track the agency's official leaks. Nearly fifty years later, the CIA's official leak program is being challenged in court, and the CIA wants everything to be the way it was during the glory days of the Nixon presidency.The CIA's hypocritical arguments are symptomatic of a hypocritical system. The intelligence community hates leakers, unless it's the agencies themselves doing the leaking. And it definitely doesn't trust journalists… unless it needs them to help control the narrative. The judge in this case is punching holes in government tradition. Hopefully, this will end with the CIA handing over the info it already handed over to other people, free and clear of redactions.

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Datagran Declares Ad and Media Agencies Are Obsolete. They may actually have a point.

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Datagran stakes $17,000 in Cryptocurrency and Prizes on its Claim that No One Can Deliver a More Effective Marketing Campaign Than Datagran’s Platform Today, Datagran, a company that claims to be reinventing the digital advertising model worldwide through a combination of artificial intelligence and human ingenuity, announced its further expansion into the U.S. market via […]The post Datagran Declares Ad and Media Agencies Are Obsolete. They may actually have a point. appeared first on Adotas.

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MPAA Opposes Several Filmmaker Associations Request For Expanded Circumvention Exemptions

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Over the past few weeks, we've mentioned in a couple of posts that the Copyright Office is currently taking public commentary for changes to the DMCA's anti-circumvention exemptions provisions. While we've thus far limited our posts to the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment's bid to have those exemptions extended to preserving online video games and the ESA's nonsensical rebuttal, that isn't the only request for expanded exemptions being logged. A group of filmmaker associations put in a request last year for anti-circumvention exemptions to be extended to filmmakers so that they can break the DRM on Blu-ray films in order to make use of clips in new works. At issue is the fact that these filmmakers are able to make use of clips in these new works thanks to fair use but cannot readily get at them due to the DRM on the films themselves.

This is confusing and creates uncertainty, according to the International Documentary Association, Kartemquin Films, Independent Filmmaker Project, University of Film and Video Association, and several other organizations. Late last year they penned a submission to the Copyright Office, which is currently considering updates to the exemptions, where they argued that all filmmakers should be allowed by break DRM and rip Blu-rays. The documentary exemptions have been in place for years now and haven’t harmed rightsholders in any way, they said.“There is no reason this would change if the ‘documentary’ limitation were removed. All filmmakers regularly need access to footage on DVDs and without an exemption to DVDs, many non-infringing uses simply cannot be made,” the groups noted.
So, there are several groups that lobby for documentarians going to bat for the larger filmmaking world, having seen just how beneficial the exemptions they enjoy have been to the documentary craft. Frankly, it's nice to see associations such as these not simply staying in their own lane and instead advocating for their larger craft as a whole. Unlike, say, the MPAA which leapt to respond with claims of how awful all of this would be.
A group of “joint creators and copyright owners” which includes Hollywood’s MPAA, the RIAA, and ESA informs the Copyright Office that such an exemption is too broad and a threat to the interests of the major movie studios.The MPAA and the other groups point out that the exemption could be used by filmmakers to avoid paying licensing fees, which can be quite expensive.
Which, of course, is precisely the point of these exemptions. An end-around of fair use by locking up content behind DRM in order to extract licensing fees from those that legally would otherwise not have to pay them is a special kind of perversion of the DMCA. Not to mention copyright law as a whole, actually. Recall that the entire purpose of copyright law in America is to promote the creation of more works for public consumption. What the MPAA is arguing is that these exemptions, which would do much to promote new work, should be cast aside in favor of a system in which those new works live at the pleasure of the licensing schemes of the major movie studios. Unlike the group petitioning for the exemptions, the MPAA isn't even bothering to hide who's interests it cares about.
If the filmmakers don’t have enough budget to license a video, they should look for alternatives. Simply taking it without paying would hurt the bottom line of movie studios, the filing suggests.“Many filmmakers work licensing fees into their budgets. There is clearly a market for licensing footage from motion pictures, and it is clear that unlicensed uses harm that market.“MPAA members actively exploit the market for licensing film clips for these types of uses. Each year, MPAA member companies license, collectively, thousands of clips for use in a variety of works,” the group writes.The Copyright Office has limited the exemption to the documentary genre for a good reason, the creators argue, since non-documentaries are less likely to warrant a finding of fair use.
Except, thanks to the silliness of reserving fair use as an affirmative defense rather than a clearly defined statute, whether a use qualifies as fair use or not is a question to be answered after the use, not before. And that question isn't a valid reason to lock up content behind DRM from filmmakers that could make fair use of it.The MPAA goes on to suggest that if the Copyright Office and the Librarian of Congress were to allow these exemptions, it would lead to "widespread hacking" that would ultimately defeat the DRM in Blu-ray discs entirely. Limiting the exemption to documentaries has kept this from happening because the documentary market is smaller. None of that, however, serves as a true copyright argument and instead is, again, all about the licensing fees Hollywood is able to extract by locking up content on discs behind DRM.It is nice of the MPAA to lay its loyalties bare for all to see, however -- major movie studios and nobody else, it seems.

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Analysis Finds TISA's Benefits Are 'Insignificant', Points Out That Costs Of Deregulation Are Completely Ignored

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Back in 2014, Techdirt first wrote about TISA, the Trade in Services Agreement, another massive international trade deal that was being negotiated behind closed doors with no public scrutiny. Its central aim was to establish a common regulatory framework for services globally. But in doing so, it would circumscribe the ability of governments to bring in their own national laws, since many options would be forbidden by the agreement. For key areas, then, TISA would impose globally-agreed standards for services, with little freedom to diverge, whatever the local populace or democratically-elected politicians might think or want.During 21 rounds of talks, good progress was made on agreeing what should be in TISA, and it seemed that a final text was quite near. But with the election of Donald Trump, everything went quiet, as TISA negotiators waited to find out what his views on the deal would be. Since then, not much has happened, although TISA's supporters are doubtless hoping that negotiations can be picked up again at some point.As part of its participation in TISA, the European Commission is obliged to undertake a trade sustainability impact assessment of the likely effects. In this case, the analysis was carried out by the Dutch consultancy ECORYS and the London-based CEPR, both familiar names in this context. The final report was submitted in July 2017, which has given others a chance to examine what benefits the EU expects TISA to bring with it, and the assumptions that lie behind those predictions. The Chamber of Labour, Vienna, commissioned the Austrian Foundation for Development Research (OFSE in German) to produce a report on the report, and this has now been published. Drawing on the sustainability impact assessment's own predictions, the OFSE underlines that TISA is really pretty pointless from an economic point of view:

The economic effects of TiSA according to the SIA study are positive, but insignificant: The economic effects reported are miniscule and do not make for a convincing casefor concluding TiSA. EU GDP is expected to increase by 0.1%, exports by 0.2%.
For the US, the figures are 0% for GDP and 0.6% -- in other words, exports rise slightly, but for no overall economic benefit. The average increase for all 23 participating countries is 0.05% for GDP and 0.4% for exports. As the report puts it: "This magnitude of effects is close to statistical insignificance."These figures taken from the report commissioned by the EU are likely to err on the side of optimism in order to support the European Commission's view that TISA is a Good Thing. But as the Austrian Foundation for Development Research points out, there is a huge flaw in the published analysis. The figures quoted above are the predicted benefits to flow from bringing regulatory systems into alignment. That is typically achieved not by levelling standards up, which would be an acceptable way of accomplishing harmonization, but by levelling down through the removal of stricter regulations. As the OFSE explain:
the benefits of regulation accrue to society at large, insofar as they help to forestall harm from society, for instance by restricting the use of toxic chemicals, or directly confer a benefit, e.g. by increasing the quality of a product or service. Typically, the positive externalities generated by regulation greatly exceed their economic cost. These insights notwithstanding, the empirical trade literature has considered the cost side of regulation only, by conceptualizing regulation as a non-tariff barrier to trade.
As with other trade deals, such as TPP and TTIP, regulations are seen in a purely negative light, as costs borne by businesses, which should be removed for that reason. No account is taken of the fact that they have important benefits for the public -- for example, in terms of protecting their health, and the environment. The Austrian Foundation for Development Research rightly notes that the costs of deregulation must be included alongside the economic benefits in order to arrive at a fair picture of whether trade deals like TISA are worth pursuing. The organization also makes some suggestions for improving TISA and other future trade deals:
Include legal remedies for safeguarding the public interest in EU trade agreements that (i) maintain the right to withdraw commitments in cases of extreme changes in economic conditions, e.g. during a severe economic crisis, or a change in collective preferences due to democratically legitimate regime changes; (ii) reserve the right to impose trade sanctions, e.g. withdrawal of liberalization commitments, for severe breaches of internationally agreed standards and fundamental rights, e.g. with respect to [International Labour Organization] Core Labor Standards or international environmental agreements; and (iii) facilitate access to legal remedies for affected communities and individuals in partner countries, e.g. in cases where the economic activities of EU companies or local companies de-facto controlled by EU companies are in breach of international law or EU legislation.
Although some may see these ideas as evidence that the OFSE espouses a particular political viewpoint, which is probably true, it's larger point about the need to include all the costs and benefits when assessing whether to proceed with TISA is inarguable. No responsible management about to embark on a course of action in a company -- no matter how small -- would consider only the benefits of doing so, without examining the costs and the risks too. Given the far greater economic and social impact of globe-spanning trade deals, the same balanced approach must surely apply to TISA and any future trade agreements.Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

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This Week In Techdirt History: February 25th - March 3rd

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Five Years AgoThis week in 2013, we saw plenty of copyright fails, like NASCAR trying to get rid of videos of a crash at Daytona, and a company trying to hide a recording of its exec cursing an analyst, and sheet metal and air conditioning contractors trying to prevent the publication of federal standards, and even one of the companies in charge of administering the new six-strikes program misidentifying content. Speaking of the six strikes program, it was starting to look weird and ugly — although anyone looking at other countries saw that coming.Ten Years AgoThis week in 2008, while one court was dismissing racketeering charges against the RIAA, another was rejecting the RIAA's own claims about "making available" being infringement, and some musicians were wondering if they should take the RIAA to court to find out where all that settlement money was going. Meanwhile, a Canadian politician pushing for a Canadian DMCA was caught violating copyright himself, and Pakistan joined the list of countries to attempt to censor YouTube with disastrous results leading it to quickly reverse course.Fifteen Years AgoThis week in 2003, while Roxio was trying to resurrect Napster by hiring Shawn Fanning, it was becoming more common to see predictions of the death of the CD. People were starting to notice the feds seizing domain names, while congress decided it was time to target P2P sharing on college campuses. Netflix signed up its millionth customer, and lots of people were starting to see the profit potential of eBay — from businesses realizing it could be their sole distribution channel to a California airport using it to sell confiscated goods.

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Transparency at IAB Annual Leadership Meeting: Three Ways the Ad Industry is Improving

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At IAB's Annual Leadership Meeting, Unilever's Keith Weed reiterated the importance of trust in digital advertising. Brands are demanding more openness and accountability. Fraud, viewability and brand safety are just a few of the concerns that have driven the desire for greater transparency in the ecosystem. The industry still has ways to go in delivering […]The post Transparency at IAB Annual Leadership Meeting: Three Ways the Ad Industry is Improving appeared first on Adotas.

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Slowing Down Driverless Cars Would Be A Fatal Mistake

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Unsubstantiated driverless car hype may be annoying, but that shouldn't blind us to the real cost of unnecessarily delaying autonomous vehicle (AV) deployment.Last week, after exploring new data from the California AV disengagement reports, Ross Marchand of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance argued that we should "put driverless cars back in the slow lane." California requires AV companies testing in the state to report each time a human operator takes over for a driverless car — an event otherwise known as a "disengagement." Marchand offers some interesting analysis, but ultimately reads far too much into a limited dataset and pushes for a restrictive policy prescription that would undermine public safety. The discussion is worth fleshing out because it reveals important limits to the "precautionary principle" mindset that is so common in AV discussions.In 2017, Waymo — the self-driving car project formerly belonging to Google — reported driving over 350,000 miles on California roads with 63 total disengagements. Marchand claimed that, based on these data, Waymo's test vehicles are still not as safe as human drivers and that they are improving at a slower rate than those hyping AVs would have us believe. Further, he argued that until driverless cars can prove they are safer than human operators, we should keep them off public roads — and instead test them on expensive private tracks.There are a few glaring issues with this argument. First, it overestimates how applicable and reliable the California disengagement data really are. As many commentators have pointed out, disengagement data are a poor measure of AV progress. Not only are disengagement reports an apples-to-oranges comparison across vehicle manufacturers who use different definitions, strategies and road conditions for testing, but Marchand drills down by comparing particular disengagement subcategories, leaving him with sample sizes of less than 20 — several orders-of-magnitude too small to make meaningful comparisons. Furthermore, comparing disengagements to would-be fatalities is problematic given that a safety driver's presence enables testing in regions that the vehicle is still learning to handle.Marchand also left aside the successful testing and deployment of Waymo's fully driverless cars in Arizona. Since November 2017, hundreds of AVs have been providing free taxi services in the suburbs of Phoenix without any safety driver in the front seat. To date, there have been no reported accidents or fatalities. This suggests what we've known all along: these companies already face a host of legal, political, economic, regulatory and publicity pressures that incentivize them to prioritize safety in AV deployment. They know that every bump, scrape and crash will make headlines (regardless of who is at fault) and will slow or — if it's serious enough — completely derail their path to market. Waymo obviously feels confident enough to take its hands off the wheel, and so far has been right. Why rip AVs off the roads when no one has been harmed?Marchand's larger argument against AV testing on public roads provided a textbook example of the precautionary principle in practice. Simply put, the precautionary principle requires innovators to prove that their new technology will not harm society, rather than placing the onus on regulators and litigators to demonstrate that an innovation actually causes harm.And to that point, Marchand fails to specify what exactly the harm of public testing has been. Public testing has not unleashed mass fatalities on society, or even mass fender-benders. Rather, it appears to be speeding up the feedback loop of better data and more-rigorous test environments, leading to faster improvements in autonomous technology.As a society, we can't afford to wait until we are 100-percent certain that driverless cars are statistically safer than humans before letting them on the roads. As a report from RAND highlighted, it could take several decades to accumulate enough miles on private test courses to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that AVs are safer than their human counterparts. Relying on Marchand's precautionary principle approach would mean waiting decades while nearly 40,000 people die on our roads every year. Regulatory delay of this magnitude could, conservatively-speaking, cost tens of thousands of lives.That's not to say private test courses don't have a role to play in AV development. Indeed, Waymo already operates an extensive test track in Arizona where operators take real-world scenarios and experiment with hundreds of possible variations. This hybrid approach combines the advantages of real-world testing and private test courses. But forcing all AV testing onto private test tracks cuts off the real-world data necessary for this complementary approach and substantially raises the barrier to entry for new competitors.To be clear, we should avoid over-hyping the progress made in AV development. Carefully taking into account the safety data will be a key part of this effort. But halting all real-world AV deployment is a heavy-handed "solution" desperately in search of a problem.Caleb Watney (@calebwatney) is a technology policy associate at the R Street Institute. Marc Scribner (@marcscribner) is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

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California Court Dismisses Copyright Suit Against BBC Over Cosby Documentary Over Lack Of Jurisdiction

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Late last year, we covered a very odd lawsuit brought against the BBC by the production team for The Cosby Show centering around a BBC documentary covering Bill Cosby's fall from grace in America. Bill Cosby: Fall of an American Icon used several short clips from The Cosby Show, altogether totaling less than four minutes of run-time, and all of them used to provide context to Cosby's once-held status as an American public figure in good standing. Despite the BBC distributing the documentary exclusively overseas, production company Casey-Werner filed its suit in California. Whatever the geography around the legal action, we argued at the time that the BBC's actions were as clear a case of fair use as we'd ever seen.It seems that legal argument will not be answered in this suit, however, as the court has decided instead to simply dismiss over a lack of jurisdiction. While the BBC's filings had indeed hinted at a forthcoming fair use defense, it also argued that the California court had no business adjudicating this matter to begin with.

BBC argued no actionable infringement could possibly have taken place within a California federal court's jurisdiction because the documentary was only broadcast in the U.K., and while Fall of an American Icon was later available via the BBC’s iPlayer, "geoblocking" prevented it from being seen in the United States absent use of virtual private networks or proxy servers to evade restrictions.
In response, Casey-Werner argued essentially that everyone knows that geo-blocking doesn't work and is easily defeated by the use of a VPN or DNS proxy. And, hey, that's true, except that the failures of geo-blocking technology doesn't give rise to jurisdiction by a California court. Only the BBC's direct action in getting this content stateside would do that and the BBC clearly took steps specifically to avoid that happening. From Judge Percy Anderson's ruling:
That some California individuals may have viewed the Program does not establish that Defendants directed their conduct toward California, particularly because any viewership in California occurred despite Defendants’ intentions and their efforts to prevent it. Unauthorized viewers outside of the United Kingdom do not provide a basis for personal jurisdiction; rather, Defendants’ relationship with California must arise out of contacts that they themselves created with the state. … Moreover, Plaintiff neither alleges nor offers actual evidence of the extent of viewership of the Program in California.
And so the court never takes on the question of whether this is fair use or not, which it most certainly is. That we never got to that stage says a great deal more about the quality of Casey-Werner's legal team than it does about the protections the BBC sit comfortably behind. The case was dismissed without prejudice, and Casey-Werner could always try to file another lawsuit in the U.K., but it would do well to drop this whole thing and lick its wounds instead.

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Court Says Arizona Residents Hassled By CBP Encroachment Can Move Forward With Their First Amendment Lawsuit

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About a half-decade ago, Customs and Border Patrol turned roads in and out of a small Arizona town into East Germany. Now, the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court has ruled residents of Arivaca, Arizona can move forward with the civil rights lawsuit against several federal government agencies, including the DHS and CBP.The backstory to the lawsuit is stunning, in a "surely this can't be happening in America" sort of way. The New York Times covered the misery of Arivaca residents back in 2014. It shows what can happen when the federal government is allowed to turn large swathes of American soil into a proto-DMZ with armed guards and "papers, please" checkpoints.

Every time Jack Driscoll drives the 32 miles from this remote outpost in southeastern Arizona to the closest supermarket, or to doctor’s appointments, or to a pharmacy to fill his prescriptions, he must stop at a Border Patrol checkpoint and answer the same question: “Are you a U.S. citizen?”Sometimes, Border Patrol agents ask where he is going or coming from, the type of car he is driving, what is in that bag on the back seat or what brings him to these parts, even though he has lived here for more than a year.[...]He is not the only one in this community of 800 whose anger is boiling over. Although checkpoints are a fact of life here — the tollbooth-like way stations are part of the routine for anyone driving the highways near the border — citizens like Mr. Driscoll are now starting to raise questions about whether the familiar but irritating routine violates their constitutional rights, which include protections against arbitrary stops and searches.
Most residents of Arivaca have to leave town to do anything. The small town has few services, forcing residents to deal with the CBP every time they travel anywhere else. Surrounded by three roads with three checkpoints, residents have no option but to subject themselves to unneeded scrutiny, apparently in perpetuity. Despite the CBP's stranglehold on this particular border-adjacent area, no one who's dealt with CBP hassle for years has seen much in the way of border protection. And they would know, because they've been watching.
This year, volunteers organized, gathering hundreds of signatures and picketing outside the Border Patrol offices in Tucson to try to get the checkpoints removed, to no avail. For several months, small groups monitored the busiest of the area’s checkpoints, on Arivaca Road, noting things like the length of the stops, the questions asked and the number of drivers pulled aside for a search of their vehicle and belongings.“We didn’t see any arrests,” said one of the volunteers, Peter Ragan, 52, a landscaper who has lived in Arivaca for 12 years. “There were no undocumented people apprehended at the checkpoint, no drugs interdicted, no murderers, rapists or terrorists we were defended against, as far as we could see.”
To be clear, none of these residents ever leave the country. All of this activity -- this constant monitoring of 800 residents of a small Arizona town -- targets US citizens going from place to place entirely within US borders. The pushback by residents was limited to monitoring CBP operations from public roads. No one interfered with the work being done by officers. All they did was watch, record, and protest the CBP activities.The CBP didn't like this. It couldn't just tell residents to leave, however. That would have been too obvious of a Constitutional violation. Instead, the CBP did everything it could to deter citizens from documenting the agency's activities. From the appeals court decision [PDF]:
Some of them, as part of an organization called People Helping People (PHP), held a protest near the checkpoint area on December 8, 2013. The protest was spurred by community complaints that BP agents racially profiled, unlawfully searched, and used excessive force on people stopped at the checkpoint. The BP agent in charge of the checkpoint area learned of the planned protest and decided to suspend checkpoint operations during the protest, allegedly for the safety of all involved, which permitted cars to pass uninspected. On February 26, 2014, the Appellants and others returned to the checkpoint area to protest and to monitor activities within the checkpoint area. The protesters stood first on the south side of Arivaca Road, and later on the north side of the road, in each case approximately 100 feet east of the portable office. After the protesters refused to move further away from the checkpoint area, BP agents erected a yellow tape barrier across the north and south shoulders of Arivaca Road approximately 150 feet east of the portable office unit, and required the protesters to relocate behind those barriers.
First, there was the arbitrary decision by the CBP that moved protesters and observers back 50 feet, as though 100 feet wasn't far enough away for the CBP to do its work without interference. Anyone crossing the tape barrier was threatened with arrest.Then there's the fact that the CBP only enforced this ad hoc barrier against protesters and observers.
Several incidents led Appellants to believe that the enforcement zone policy was selectively enforced against them. The agents in charge stated in an email to Appellants and at a public presentation that agents on the scene are the ones who determine “who can enter into the perimeter” and “where [Appellants] can and can’t be.” On April 3, 2014, one of the Appellants saw a local resident arrive at the checkpoint area, park inside the enforcement zone, and remain inside the barrier for approximately 40 minutes. The local resident’s wife also arrived and parked inside the barrier. The local resident, who was known to be a supporter of the BP and an opponent of PHP, questioned and harassed the PHP protesters. BP agents did not ask the local resident to leave the enforcement area. As he departed, he shouted “Well, we had our fun today” to the BP agents on duty, who smiled and laughed. When the Appellants asked an agent at the checkpoint area if they had given the local residents permission to be in the enforcement zone, the agent replied, “It’s a free country.”
Is it? Sure doesn't seem like it when you're being asked about your citizenship several times a week and forced to stand behind an arbitrary barrier to even look at a CBP checkpoint.Sometimes the tape barrier wasn't enough for the CBP. It also engaged in activities clearly aimed at preventing observation from behind the barriers.
On another occasion, BP agents allowed reporters and pedestrians to walk along the north side of the road through the enforcement zone during a PHP rally; but, on the same day, agents parked their vehicles so as to impede the PHP monitors from even viewing, much less entering, the enforcement zone.
The residents sued (with the assistance of the ACLU), alleging First Amendment violations. The district court ruled in favor of the CBP, granting summary judgment before any discovery had occurred. It called the three CBP checkpoints (which were supposed to be temporary) "nonpublic forums" where citizens could be removed without violating their rights.The Appeals Court calls this decision premature, stating that the plaintiffs have raised several issues which require discovery to proceed before they can be ruled on.
The panel held that appellants identified several areas where discovery was relevant to critical matters at issue in the summary judgment motion. First, information regarding law enforcement uses of the checkpoint area encompassed within the enforcement zone was relevant to the determination of whether the enforcement zone was a public or a nonpublic forum. Second, information about who had been allowed into the enforcement zone could reveal whether the enforcement zone has been applied selectively based on viewpoint. Finally, information regarding traffic stops at the checkpoint was relevant to determine the accuracy of data gathered by appellants and their alternative opportunities for observation, as would be required to justify their exclusion from a public forum.
This decision allows the residents of Arivaca to move forward with their lawsuit and start demanding records from the CBP. The first point of attack against the "nonpublic forum" argument begins with the CBP's own antagonistic actions. As the court notes, the inconsistent approach taken by the CBP in regards to its makeshift protester barriers raises a lot of questions about the supposed "neutral viewpoint" of the CBP's enforcement.
The government’s stated policy is that “pedestrians are allowed inside the checkpoint only for official purposes,” but without the benefit of discovery Appellants have already adduced evidence that calls that policy into question. While BP has consistently excluded Appellants and other protesters from the enforcement zone, the record shows that other visitors who were not protesting have been allowed inside. Whether the enforcement zone is a public or a nonpublic forum, evidence that civilians friendly or neutral to BP have been permitted into the enforcement zone while other civilians with a hostile message have been excluded—beyond the incidents already in the record—would tend to create a genuine issue of material fact as to the viewpoint neutrality of the government’s policy.
Hopefully, this will result in a win for the plaintiffs. Their protests and documentation are the only way they can fight back against the CBP's inland encroachment. The continued observation will likely show the only purpose these checkpoints serve is to disrupt the lives of American citizens traveling entirely within the borders of the United States.

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Bureau Of Land Management Decides It's Going To Be A Lot Less Receptive To FOIA Requests

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The new administration's plan to undo everything Obama ever did (along with lots of stuff other presidents put in place) continues. Fighting leakers and multiple investigations, the Trump administration is steamrolling regulation by slashing through red tape and common sense with equal aplomb. This administration may have a reputation for inadvertent openness, but its new directives aren't so much draining the swamp as building a swamp in its own image.The Bureau of Land Management is apparently viewed as the Fed version of Greenpeace. Previously-protected federal lands are being opened up for business, starting with the removal of environmental impact reviews. This should speed up the return of the government's land to certain people -- mining companies, the CBP's inland expeditions, wall builders, etc. This affects nearly 950 million acres of federal land. A raft of exclusions would make it easier for the Bureau of Land Management to manage land however it sees fit.

The package, which includes policy changes with immediate impact as well as regulatory and legislative proposals that would take more time to execute, would eliminate lengthy federal reviews in many instances through “categorical exclusions” if officials determine the activities have no environmental impact.Such exclusions would cover everything from the BLM’s coal leases to efforts to euthanize wild horses and burros. Such an exclusion also would be pursued for “oil and gas wells that run horizontally from private wells into adjacent federal minerals,” according to the document.
But that's not the only thing the BLM is doing. As its power expands, it's working to scale back its transparency and accountability. J. Pat Brown of MuckRock noticed something else in the BLM's report on its post-Trump plans: an attempt to recraft existing FOIA law to deter records requests.
According to records obtained by the Washington Post, the Bureau of Land Management is recommending new legislation that would limit the number of FOIA requests individuals and agencies could file with the agency, create stricter criteria for fee waivers, as well as increased fees for “search and redaction.”
The BLM says it just doesn't have the budget for handling FOIA requests at the speed it used to. But that's obviously a huge misrepresentation of the facts. The BLM spent 0.2% of its $1.3 billion annual budget handling records requests, which is hardly an onerous amount. This is nothing more than an attempt to bypass its accountability to the public under the guise of federal agency belt-tightening. It claims answering requests "diverts resources" and hampers "decision-making processes," as though an integral part of government accountability were nothing more than a timesinking pain in the ass.Capping requests from any entity or group is going to harm journalists and the downstream beneficiaries (the general public) of their reporting. This hard cap will probably affect corporations the most, as J. Pat Brown points out, but it's not as though the damage will be limited to well-funded participants in the FOIA process.Federal agencies were never friendly to FOIA requesters under President Obama. But under Trump, they've become downright hostile. Granted, agencies like the DHS, FBI, and CIA were already openly hostile, but with Trump's revamp of multiple agencies, they've been joined by more generally-docile entities like the BLM and EPA. The more things are disrupted in DC, the more likely it is that federal agencies will circle the wagons. And it will be the taxpayers who are locked out, but still expected to foot the bill for antagonistic policies aimed at them.

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Where's Ad Tech Headed in 2018? Five Things Marketers Need to Know

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  This is not another ad tech prediction article declaring the year of mobile (every year is the year of mobile now) or the year that the entire industry transacts on viewable impressions (2014-2017). This is also not the year the block chain fixes the fraud problems in digital marketing (sorry). But like every other […]The post Where’s Ad Tech Headed in 2018? Five Things Marketers Need to Know appeared first on Adotas.

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Appeals Court Affirms Dismissal Of Frank Sivero's Publicity Rights Suit Against 'The Simpsons'

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You may recall that in 2014, bit-actor Frank Sivero of Goodfellas semi-fame sued Fox over a recurring character that appeared on The Simpsons. Sivero says several writers for the show were living next door to him just before Goodfellas began filming, at a time he says he was creating the character of Frankie Carbone. He then claims that the writers for The Simpsons were aware of this work and pilfered it to create the character Louie, who is one of Fat Tony's henchmen. Because of this, he claimed that the show had appropriated his likeness, the character he was creating, and decided he was owed $250 million from Fox for all of this. For its part, folks from The Simpsons claimed that Louie is an amalgam of stereotypical mobster characters and a clear parody of those characters.In response, Fox asked a Los Angeles Superior Court to strike the complaint on anti-SLAPP grounds. In 2015, the court agreed, the ruling resulting from such memorable exchanges as:

"If I was a teenage girl and I had a crush on your client, would I be satisfied with a pin-up of the character Louie?" [Judge Rita Miller] asked."Probably," replied Sivero's attorney Alex Herrera. He argued the character's similarity to Sivero constituted a factual question fit for a jury. Judge Miller found her own evaluation of the character's similarity to Sivero relevant to whether the claims could withstand the SLAPP motion. She decided they could not.
Sivero and his legal team apparently didn't get the hint and appealed. This past week saw the California appeals court affirm the original ruling and rejecting the lawsuit on the same anti-SLAPP grounds. This ruling too includes memorable statements, such as the court specifically stating that being "Simponized" is transformative.
Sivero acknowledges his likeness has been 'Simpsonized,'. To be 'Simpsonized' is to be transformed by the creative and artistic expressions distinctive to The Simpsons. This is precisely what the California Supreme Court meant in Comedy III when it said: 'an artist depicting a celebrity must contribute something more than a merely trivial variation, [but must create] something recognizably his own, in order to qualify for legal protection.' Contrary to Sivero’s argument, the fact other cartoon characters in The Simpsons share some of the same physical characteristics does not detract from the point these physical characteristics are transformative. Indeed, Sivero’s observation highlights the very point that the creative elements predominate in the work.
Between the transformative nature of the depiction, the clear differences between the character and Sivero, and the parody nature of the character in general, this was a case that was always doomed for failure. It should also serve as a welcome relief for the entertainment industry that has spent the past few years looking down the barrel of the publicity rights gun. For these kinds of depictions to violate anyone's publicity rights would serve as a detriment to the creative industries, particularly those that rely on humor and parody.Thankfully, several courts have now seen through this clear attempt at a money-grab.

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Sublime Skinz Launches High-Performing Mobile Ad Formats

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  Sublime Skinz, a company devoted to high-impact, non-intrusive digital advertising, has announced it will launch two new interactive mobile ad formats - The Capsule and The Video - at this year's Mobile World Congress. These innovative, premium formats provide a variety of features to enhance the user experience. Created for mobile web campaigns, the […]The post Sublime Skinz Launches High-Performing Mobile Ad Formats appeared first on Adotas.

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Stupid Patent Of The Month: Buying A Bundle Of Diamonds

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This month's Stupid Patent shows what happens when the patent system strays outside its proper boundaries. US Patent No. 8,706,513 describes a "fungible basket of investment grade gems" for use in "financial instruments." In other words, it's a rating and trading system that attempts to turn diamonds into a tradeable commodity like oil, gold, or corn.Of course, creating new types of investment vehicles isn't really an invention. And patents on newfangled financial techniques like this were generally barred following Bilski v. Kappos, a 2008 Supreme Court case that prevents the patenting of purely financial instruments. Since then, the law has become even less favorable to abstract business method patents like this one. In our view, the '513 patent would not survive a challenge under Bilski or the Supreme Court's 2014 decision in Alice v. CLS Bank.Despite its clear problems, the '513 patent is being asserted in courtand one of the people best placed to testify against the patent may not be allowed to.The public's right to challenge a patent in court is a critical part of the US patent system, that has always balanced the exclusive power of a patent. It's especially important since patents are often granted by overworked examiners who get an average of 18 hours to review applications. But there are two types of persons that, increasingly, aren't allowed to challenge problematic patents: inventors of patents, and even partial owners of patents. Under a doctrine known as "assignor estoppel," the Federal Circuit has barred inventors from challenging patents that they acquired for a former employer. Assignor estoppel was originally meant to cover a narrow set of circumstancesinventors who engaged in fraud or bad dealing, for instancebut the nation's top patent court now routinely applies it to prevent inventors from challenging patents.Patent scholar Mark Lemley flagged this problem in a 2016 paper, noting assignor estoppel could be used to control the free movement of employees or quash a legitimate competitor. "Inventors as a class are put under burdens that we apply to no other employee," he wrote. "If they start a company, or even go to work for an existing company in the same field, they will not be able to defend a patent suit from their old employer."In this case, the Federal Circuit's expansive view of assignor estoppel may prevent a person who owned just a fraction of a patent from fighting back when that patent gets used in an attempt to quash a competing business.Despite the fact that this gemological trading system should never have been granted a patent, so far, it's being successfully used by its owner to beat up on a competitorand the competitor could be barred from even challenging the patent by assignor estoppel.

Competing Diamond Companies

GemShares was created in 2008 to market "diamond investment products." The original partners were joined in business by a man named Arthur Lipton, who bought 20% of GemShares in 2013. He struck a deal not to compete with GemShares.GemShares says [PDF] Lipton broke that deal in 2014, when he started working on his own project, a "secure diamond smart card," and filed for patents related to it. But in addition to breach of contract, GemShares sued for patent infringement. They said Lipton's new business violated the '513 patent.The litigation also involves breach of contract claims, and allegations of fraud from Lipton's former partner. Without getting into the weeds on all that, the defendant in this case may not even be allowed to argue that the "gem financial product" patent is invalid. Earlier this month, the judge overseeing the case issued an order [PDF] noting that "the Federal Circuit has upheld the doctrine of assignor estoppel, which precludes an inventor-assignor of a patent sued for infringement from arguing the patent's invalidity."The Federal Circuit has made assignor estoppel so powerful, in fact, that Lipton's 20% ownership contract with GemShares may be enough to stop him and his lawyers from mounting an invalidity defense.It's bad policy to stop the public from challenging bad patents, and assignor estoppel should only be used in narrow cases, like outright fraud. As it's been applied by the Federal Circuit, it's destined to be used in exactly the way that Lemley warned it wouldas an anticompetitive cudgel.We agree with the brief signed by Lemley and more than two dozen other law professors [PDF] in EVE-USA, Inc. v. Mentor Graphics Corp., arguing that the Supreme Court should take up this issue and keep assignor estoppel within the narrow limits it originally intended.Reposted from EFF's Stupid Patent of the Month series.

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IPG Mediabrands and Nielsen Expand Data Relationship to Enhance Buyer-Based Marketplace

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Nielsen has announced a first-of-its-kind data and technology agreement with IPG Mediabrands, the media management and data arm of Interpublic Group, that will greatly enhance the company's audience discovery, activation and measurement abilities. The integration will match millions of IPG Mediabrands' consumer ids, housed within its Audience Management Platform (AMP), with Nielsen's extensive TV viewing […]The post IPG Mediabrands and Nielsen Expand Data Relationship to Enhance Buyer-Based Marketplace appeared first on Adotas.

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