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March 2019
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Long-Term Strategies to Improve Your Online Brand Reputation

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It is becoming more and more apparent that your brand online reputation plays a significant role in the overall success of your business. According to a Harvard Business School Working Paper, “every additional one-star Yelp rating causes an increase in the business's revenue as high as 9%.” There is no possible way to make your […]The post Long-Term Strategies to Improve Your Online Brand Reputation appeared first on Adotas.

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posted at: 12:00am on 23-Mar-2019
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Sites Warn EU Users Of Just How Bad Article 13 Will Be

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As we mentioned, a bunch of websites started protesting yesterday in the lead up to next week's vote on Article 11 and Article 13 that will fundamentally change the nature of the internet. The main ones were various European Wikipedia editions, which completely blacked out and posted a warning message. Here's the one in Germany (with automatic browser translation -- the original, obviously, is in German):

Different sites are doing different things -- and for some it depends on whether you're visiting from the EU or not, but it's good to see so many sites coming together on this. Reddit, as explained in a blog post on its site, are telling any EU Redditor who tries to post something new that it's blocked:
Lots of others have stepped up as well. The ever popular online streaming site Twitch is warning people in a variety of ways, including creating a video about its concerns:
And has also put the message all over its social media:
Patreon, the very popular website for helping creators get paid has warned its creators that under Article 13, it may need to block their content:
Others who have spoken up include Creative Commons and the Internet Archive:
Another site that joined in -- which we'll refrain from screenshotting -- is the most popular porn site on the internet, Pornhub.Between all of this, the question now remains: will the EU Parliament ignore all of these voices? Ignore all of the over 5 million people who signed a Petition against Article 13? Will it ignore all the companies who have said that Article 13 will put them at a disadvantage compared to Google? Will it ignore of the content creators who rely on platforms like Twitch and Patreon?

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posted at: 12:00am on 23-Mar-2019
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FBI's 'Clothing Match' Expert Changed Testimony To Better Serve Prosecutors, Co-Chairs Nat'l Forensic Committee

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A little more than a month ago, we covered the ultra-weird offshoot of FBI forensics spearheaded by Richard Vorder Bruegge. Vorder Bruegge claimed mass-produced clothing like jeans were as unique as fingerprints and DNA. According to his forensic "expertise," a match could be made using only low-res CCTV screengrabs and whole lot of arrows.

This peculiar strand of FBI forensics is still in use. Vorder Bruegge, rather than being laughed out of the FBI forensic lab, has risen to a position where he can pass on his dubious expertise to others. ProPublica continues to dig into the FBI's questionable forensic programs and has found that Vorder Bruegge is now sitting near the top of the nation's forensic organizational chart.
Today, Vorder Bruegge is one of the nation’s most influential crime lab scientists. He serves on the Forensic Science Standards Board, which sets rules for every field, from DNA to fingerprints. He’s a co-chair organizing the American Academy of Forensic Sciences meeting this week in Baltimore, a gathering of thousands of crime lab professionals, researchers, lawyers and judges.
This has happened due to Vorder Bruegge's testimonial quantity, not quality. ProPublica quotes a 2013 law review article that refers to him as the "most ubiquitous" expert witness. A quality job it isn't. But given enough opportunities, Vorder Bruegge has managed to turn unproven claims about the uniqueness of clothing into years in prison for people he's testified against. His track record shows he's willing to change his expert opinion if it better serves the prosecution.
In his report, Vorder Bruegge wrote that John Henry Stroman and the robber had similar “overall shape of the face, nose, mouth, chin, and ears.” But Vorder Bruegge stopped short of declaring a match, saying the video and pictures were too low resolution for that.Nevertheless, prosecutors said in court filings that if Vorder Bruegge took the stand, he would testify that “the photograph is of sufficient resolution to definitively state that the robber is John Henry Stroman.”[...]It wasn’t the first time, nor the last, Vorder Bruegge’s lab results said one thing and the courts were told something different. Court records and FBI Lab files show statements by prosecutors or Vorder Bruegge veered from his original conclusions in at least three cases.
This is what happens when you care about convictions but not all that much about science. Vorder Bruegge's background as a geologist certainly didn't prepare him for a future of staring at grainy photos of shirts worn by suspects. But none of that mattered to the FBI which found him to be a useful champion of pseudoscience who could be used to lock people up.The entire report is a fascinating, if disheartening, read. Jurors and judges are easily swayed by FBI experts, even after cross examination exposes mathematically-impossible levels of certainty or, in at least one case, Vorder Brugge's admission he worked backward from the conclusion prosecutors wanted him to reach.Work like Vorder Bruegge's is exactly why a prominent federal judge resigned from a forensic committee in 2015. Judge Jed Rakoff recognized the DOJ did not want to fix its forensic problems. It only wanted to give the appearance it cared for as long as it took to sweep the embarrassment under the rug. The DOJ has too much invested in half-baked science and self-made experts to actually clean house and add more actual science to its forensic methods.

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posted at: 12:00am on 23-Mar-2019
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Appeals Court Overturns 47-Year-Old Murder Conviction Predicated On Faulty FBI Hair Analysis Evidence

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For years, FBI forensic experts have been overstating their certainty about… well, everything. Every piece of forensic evidence -- the stuff eventually proven to be junk science bolstered by junk stats -- was given the official "Thumbs Up of Absolute Certainty" during testimony.Eventually (very eventually), it was exposed for the courtroom snake oil it actually was. The FBI, duly chastened, promised to keep doing the same damn thing in perpetuity no matter what actual scientists using actual scientific methods had to say.For decades, this was standard operating procedure. A study by The Innocence Project found FBI forensic experts had been overstating their findings in court, resulting in a large number of potentially bogus convictions. The DOJ also admitted this error, but chose only to inform prosecutors of its findings, leaving it up to them to erase their own wins from the board.One of these dubious "hair match" cases has finally made its way to the appellate level. John Ausby, convicted of rape and murder in 1972, is challenging his conviction based on the prosecution's reliance on FBI experts' overstatements. Thanks to the DOJ's admission this expert testimony was likely flawed, Ausby can actually pursue this so long after the fact.Unfortunately, the lower court claimed the hair match testimony wasn't instrumental to the guilty verdict. It maintained the verdict would have been reached without the FBI forensic expert's assertions of certainty and the prosecution's reliance on this key -- but ultimately bogus -- piece of evidence.The DC Circuit Appeals Court disagrees [PDF]. As it points out, the situation isn't as simple as the lower court makes it appear. There was additional evidence used to convict Ausby, but the record shows the prosecution relied on the expert's statement that the hairs from the murder scene were an "exact match" -- something it reiterated during closing arguments.Given the combination of evidence used to convict Ausby, the court finds this overstatement of certainty was instrumental in his conviction.

Agent Neill’s testimony was neither the sole piece of evidence on which the prosecution hung its case nor redundant or irrelevant. We ultimately conclude, however, that Agent Neill’s testimony falls on the material side of the spectrum. Agent Neill’s testimony was the primary evidence that directly contradicted Ausby’s defense theory—that Ausby had been in Noel’s apartment during her two-week absence but not on the day of her rape and murder.
As the court notes, other evidence somewhat supported Ausby's alibi, but it was seemingly shut down by the prosecution's insistence that the hair recovered from the scene could only have come from Ausby.
That Agent Neill’s testimony played a key role in debunking Ausby’s defense is borne out by the prosecution’s emphasis in its closing rebuttal that Agent Neill’s microscopic hair-comparison analysis “is not a positive means of identification but it amounts to a positive means here.” Thus, without Agent Neill’s hair-comparison testimony, there is a reasonable likelihood that the jury could have accepted Ausby’s defense theory.
Forty-seven years later, Ausby's conviction is being vacated. If it hadn't take the DOJ forty years to realize it had a forensic evidence problem, this injustice could have been undone decades sooner.

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posted at: 12:00am on 22-Mar-2019
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Tips to Increase Website Traffic in 2019

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ByAmit Kothiyal At times it seems extremely challenging to get those first 100 visitors to your site and it can be very frustrating. This is especially true when you don't know if the path chosen is correct or wrong, since you are new to the world of Digital Marketing. Don't be overwhelmed as you are […]The post Tips to Increase Website Traffic in 2019 appeared first on Adotas.

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posted at: 12:00am on 22-Mar-2019
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Fifth Circuit Affirms Springboards To Education's Loss Against Houston School In Trademark Case Appeal

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Way back in 2016, we discussed one company's quest to sue a bunch of librararies and schools for infringing on its program to promote reading to young schoolchildren. If that seems positively evil, then, yes, you indeed have a soul, so congratulations. If you're wondering how such a thing could have legal standing, it all centers around Springboards to Education having created the reading program with rewards that included children entering the "Millionaire Reading Club" for getting through a certain amount of books, the handing out of fake reward money, and other prizes. A bunch of libraries and schools independently setup their own reading clubs with similarly named rewards, thus leading to Springboards filing suit.One of those school districts in Houston defended itself by pointing out that it was not engaged in commerce, meaning that its use was plainly Fair Use. The school won its case.

Springboards sued HISD for trademark infringement, counterfeiting, false designation of origin and dilution. After HISD and Springboards filed cross-motions for summary judgment, the district court granted HISD’s motion on the ground that Springboards could not show that HISD had used the mark in commerce. Springboards appealed.
Amazingly, Springboards appealed that decision, sending the case to the Fifth Circuit. Not surprisingly, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the ruling, pointing out that not only did it not have any opinion that would overrule the lower court's contention that the school district was not engaged in commerce, but also adding that there was no likelihood of confusion in the use, thus rendering this not trademark infringement.
Springboards to Education, Inc., sued Houston Independent School District under the Lanham Act for using its marks in the course of operating a summer-reading program. The district court disposed of Springboards’ claims on summary judgment because it concluded that a reasonable jury could not find that the allegedly infringing use of Springboards’ marks was commercial in nature. We AFFIRM, albeit on alternative grounds: as explained herein, a reasonable jury could not find that the allegedly infringing use of the marks created a likelihood of confusion.
The court goes on through a long, detailed explanation to Springboards as to what confusion actually is and who's confusion is actually relevant to a discussion over trademark infringement. Springboards had attempted, for instance, to suggest that parents and children themselves might be confused, thinking they were part of a Springboards program rather than one created by the school. The court points out that, even if that weren't the case, the children and their parents aren't a purchaser in any of this.
Springboards suggests HISD’s students and their parents might have been confused into thinking that HISD was using Springboards’ program instead of its own. Regardless of whether that might have been the case, HISD’s students and their parents are not the appropriate focus of the likelihood-of-confusion analysis. Although the ultimate recipients of HISD’s services and products, the students and their parents were not purchasers in any ordinary sense.3 They are better characterized as the “users” of the allegedly infringing products and services.
And, since HISD wasn't attempting to compete with Springboards' program elsewhere, no relevant confusion could be found.One would hope this would be the end of this stupid saga and everyone could just get back to encouraging children to read books in their own specific ways. Whether Springboards will finally take the hint is the worst kind of cliffhanger.

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posted at: 12:00am on 22-Mar-2019
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Rethinking the in-store customer approach: focus on a data-driven customer experience

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By Alex Timlin, VP, Retail & E-Commerce, Emarsys Despite the seismic shift in the retail industry towards online shopping, brick-and-mortar stores still remain relevant. However, there's an underlying problem that many of these stores are ill-equipped to handle the multifaceted nature of today's multichannel, connected consumer. In order to address this issue, brands need to […]The post Rethinking the in-store customer approach: focus on a data-driven customer experience appeared first on Adotas.

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posted at: 12:00am on 21-Mar-2019
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Using Networks To Govern Network Problems

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Today, botnets and the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks that can accompany them, are considered among “the most severe cybersecurity threats.” Botnets have caused extensive economic harm to businesses, banks, hospitals, and government agencies around the world. Furthermore, botnets are used to spread political propaganda aimed at distorting democratic elections. In fact, U.S. government officials concluded that the Russian propaganda campaign has not stopped since the 2016 election and the magnitude of the issue is expected to grow. Yet, a time-tested framework for addressing the problem already exists. Governing complex internet-based problems is best accomplished by a network of stakeholders similar to the way the internet is currently governed.In her Nobel Lecture, Elinor Ostrom emphasized the necessity to study human economic behavior in any complex system. She added that no “one size fits all” policy solution would work for a highly complex socio-economic issue, but approaches created by a disperse, spontaneously self-organized group are far more innovative. This is the essence of polycentric order as defined by Elinor and Vincent Ostrom. A polycentric order has multiple overlapping decision-making centers comprised of individuals equipped with necessary knowledge and expertise to create better outcomes for issues of high complexity.In the case of cybersecurity, where dynamic response is critical - distributed network actors are best suited to govern complex cyber problems. While policymakers are one such group in this governance network, the efforts of other stakeholders are critical to maintaining flexibility and adaptability to emerging threats. The role of policymakers is to facilitating the emergence of multiple decision-making centers, which is key for resolving botnet issues.In his book Networks and States, Milton Mueller offers a comprehensive analysis of network actors outside of the nation-state system as well as their effectiveness in addressing cybersecurity issues. Mueller outlines distinct challenges of cybercrime such as its globalized scope, boundless scale, and its decentralized and distributed nature. He argues that efficient institutions and new organizational forms are in a continuous process of emerging out of the interactions between public and private actors.Mueller asserts that meaningful solutions to cybersecurity issues are only possible at the trans-national level. Such large international organizations as Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and Internet Governance Forum (IGF) among others, provide governance at the international internet governance. Mueller highlights that an effective global internet security policy will recognize the interdependence of markets, nation-state specific property rights protections, and shared information and communication resources. He proposes that a “denationalized liberal approach” would be effective in resolving this dilemma. Moreover, he concludes that a true denationalized liberal governance will emerge out of the interactions of globally networked communities. His conclusions regarding internet security governance are, therefore, aligned with the Ostromian approach.There have been some promising developments in collaboration between private and public sectors. In 2018, USTelecom and ITI announced the creation of the Council to Secure the Digital Economy. The Council brings together the leaders from the Information and Communication Technology sector to create a more resilient digital ecosystem. For example, they produced the botnet guide, a compilation of best practices by large scale enterprises that can be implemented in a variety of industries to mitigate the threats of the distributed denial of service attacks. Additionally, the Federal Trade Commission has been facilitating meetings between stakeholders.Past and future administrations can learn from the Clinton Administration’s Framework for Global Electronic Commerce that made space for stakeholders to be involved in governing the internet and maximized cooperation between public and private initiatives for cyber-security. Indeed, the Obama administration’s cybersecurity plan included a call for technology companies to fight botnets collectively. The Trump administration declared its commitment to giving the Federal agencies legal authority to combat botnets.Government should not be the only source of governance in addressing cybersecurity problems. Botnets are best combated by a multistakeholder effort between public and private entities. The tenants of “polycentricity” and “decentralized liberalism” capture the wisdom of a more distributed governance approach.Anne Hobson is a program manager at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Yuliya Yatsyshina is an MA Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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posted at: 12:00am on 21-Mar-2019
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Unknown Nintendo Game Gets Digitized With Museum's Help, Showing The Importance Of Copyright Exceptions

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Roughly a year ago, we wrote about how museums were requesting an exception to the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions in order to preserve online games. While the Librarian of Congress has already allowed for exceptions for preserving non-online games, the request led to pushback by the Entertainment Software Association, which indicated preserving online games would be copyright infringement. Nintendo is a member of the ESA and the gaming giant was at the same time going around to ROMs sites all over the internet and either threatening them with legal action or scaring them into shutting down. This happened all while Nintendo also released several retro consoles, essentially cashing in on the nostalgia that the emulation sites had kept alive for the past decade or so.All of which is to say this: Nintendo is not generally friendly to the idea of preserving Nintendo games via digitization that it does not control itself. Standing in contrast to that is the recent discovery of an otherwise essentially unknown Nintendo game from 30 years ago that, upon discovery, was swiftly digitized for posterity.

When UWC—a NES game that had been hidden from the world for 30 years—was uncovered last week, one of the first orders of business was getting the game off a cartridge and into the digital realm so that it could be properly preserved.  The new owner of the game, Stephan Reese, aka Archon 1981, said as much last week, and that job has now been completed thanks to the efforts of the Video Game History Foundation.Saying “we were more than happy to lend our expertise and digitize the game for its owner”, the VGHF haven’t just ripped the game, but also went and finished it (as in, played to the end, not finished development), uploading gameplay footage to YouTube so we can all see some more of UWC in action.
Were it not for the exceptions that allowed the VGHF to have helped Reese out, the game could quite easily have been lost to history. Perhaps more importantly, if the general posture of companies like Nintendo led someone like Reese to believe the illegality of this wasn't even worth questioning, the world may never have seen this game at all. And, whatever you think of the importance of gaming to our culture, it cannot be argued that this would have been a cultural loss concerning the history of a popular entertainment medium.These exceptions to copyright law are very, very important. This is just one of many examples as to why and yet another reminder that the pervasive culture of ownership and restriction carries with it a danger to literally everyone else who is living or will live. That danger is the potential to lose parts of our culture and history.

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posted at: 12:00am on 21-Mar-2019
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Pros and Cons of in-app advertisement for money making

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By, Amalia Khokhar Money making has become a common phenomenon through in-app advertising. The method is quite simple, advertisers pay you for marketing their product or services. Apart from in-app advertising, most of the mobile apps generate money from Pay per download, subscriptions, e-commerce sale (physical and digital), contract work and CPI programs. According to […]The post Pros and Cons of in-app advertisement for money making appeared first on Adotas.

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posted at: 12:00am on 20-Mar-2019
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Internet Blackout Coming To Show The EU Parliament It's Not Just 'Bots' Concerned About Article 13

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Last week Glyn mentioned that the German Wikipedia had announced plans to "go dark" this Thursday to protest Articles 11 and 13 of the EU Copyright Directive. And now it appears that a whole bunch of other websites will join in the protest (including us). While we won't go completely dark, we'll be putting up a banner in support of the many websites that do plan to go dark -- and we've heard that an awful lot of websites will be joining in. Supporters keep trying to dismiss these complaints as just being "bots" or the big internet companies, but lots of others will be showing that this is about the broader internet this Thursday. This is just one of many protests happening this week, with in-person protests happening all through the EU this coming weekend as well. Meanwhile there are lots of efforts to get MEPs to pledge to vote against Article 13 that has been gaining momentum as well. I have no idea if these kinds of protests will be as effective as the blackday back during the SOPA fight, but I can say that Article 13 will be way worse for the internet than SOPA ever would have been.

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posted at: 12:00am on 20-Mar-2019
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Report: In Bollywood, Movie Piracy Is Largely Carried Out By Rival Publishing Houses

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To hear it from the film industry writ large, a certain picture is painted in one's head when film piracy is discussed. That image is of a person, typically young, perhaps living in Mom and Dad's basement and covered in Cheetos dust, illicitly downloading film after film for their personal enjoyment, cackling evilly all the while. And, hey, personal downloading that amounts to infringement is certainly a thing.But it's not the only thing. In India, where Bollywood has often put out the same old story about the evils of piracy, and where the government recently ramped up criminal penalties for recording or transmitting films and audio, one newspaper has comments from within the industry that suggest much of the film piracy in question is specifically enabled by rival publishing houses.

According to a Tamil cinema DVD seller, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, piracy is mostly an inside job. The source explains that movie companies are leaking each other’s films, as a competitive move.“People from rival production companies or those from the creative department secretly release the movie online or circulate it as DVDs to hit the collection at the box office,” the source said.This sounds like a Wild West story, but the allegations don’t stop there. Another source said that the local censor board and distribution houses are also on the piracy bandwagon.“Another industry source said insiders in the censor board and distribution houses sell these copies for up to `5 lakh. The copies are uploaded on private portals that have dedicated passkeys,” the Times of India reports.
None of this specifically excuses downloading a film illicitly, of course. However, it most certainly does call into question the industry claims that piracy is by and large harming the wider film industry. If that were true, then these industry insiders uploading cam-footage and other films of recent releases would be committing self-inflicted wounds. Doing so would make little sense, were the larger claims of the industry true.Amazingly, this goes even further down the chain, supposedly. These insiders work with theater owners to get these recordings, rather than movie-going citizens.
When it comes to recording video and audio at movie theaters, it is believed that some movie industry insiders work in tandem with theater owners to leak high profile films. As a result, some films appear online just hours after their official premiere.
So we have multiple layers of India's film industry facilitating the infringement of that industry's films to harm the competition, all while the studio heads and government say that it really hurts the entire film industry. If all of this is true -- and it's definitely an "if" --, it would appear that Bollywood is very busy harming itself for reasons that can't be explained.Other than to say that the industry's hand-wringing is overblown, of course.

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posted at: 12:00am on 20-Mar-2019
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Website spelling and grammar mistakes cost U.S. businesses millions in lost customers

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Websites with typos have an 85% higher 'bounce' or leave rate Web visitors are 70% less likely to click on an ad with a typo or grammatical error Poor grammar in Google Ads also costs US firms 72% more per click US businesses with bad grammar and spelling mistakes on their websites will lose almost […]The post Website spelling and grammar mistakes cost U.S. businesses millions in lost customers appeared first on Adotas.

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posted at: 12:00am on 20-Mar-2019
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6 Good Reasons to Invest in Social Media Marketing in 2019

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By Diana Smith If you want your business to succeed, promoting your product or service is a must. However, no longer do you have to rely on TV commercials and newspaper ads. We now live in the age of social media and platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are a perfect place for marketing your […]The post 6 Good Reasons to Invest in Social Media Marketing in 2019 appeared first on Adotas.

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posted at: 12:00am on 19-Mar-2019
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Survey Finds B2B Brands are Not Prepared for Today's High-Stakes Issues

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86% of business leaders take values into account when making important buying or partner organization decisions 80% of business leaders and 70% of senior marketers would terminate a business relationship with a supplier based on a failure to address a high-stakes communications issue 82% of consumers say they would consider ditching a brand if they […]The post Survey Finds B2B Brands are Not Prepared for Today’s High-Stakes Issues appeared first on Adotas.

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posted at: 12:00am on 19-Mar-2019
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Monster Energy Loses Trademark Opposition As UK IPO Mentions That The Letter 'M' Isn't Distinctive

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Monster Energy: is there no trademark opposition they can't lose? The drink company, which might be more well known at this point for its trademark bullying than its beverages, has been handed loss after loss after loss after loss in trademark oppositions to everything from industrial paint manufacturers to the NBA and on to other beverage companies. Why the company spends so much time opposing trademarks is literally anyone's guess, but the losses all amount to the complete lack of potential confusion in the disputed trademark applications, as well as Monster Energy believing it can control words and images that it most certainly cannot.The latest of these, in yet another opposition Monster Energy lost, has the UK's IPO explaining to Monster Energy that it cannot prevent other companies from using the letter "M" prominently in their logos.

In a decision on Wednesday, March 6, the UK IP Office ruled that Monster Energy could not stop Robert Marchington from registering a trademark, finding there was no likelihood of confusion.In its opposition, Monster relied on its earlier registered marks (EU numbers 2439068; 3227041; 12924973 and 14226765) which depict animal or monster scratch marks that create the letter ‘M’. The mark was for a pair of legs which took the shape of the letter ‘M’ and seemed to be taking a step forward.In its decision the IPO said Marchington’s applied-for mark and Monster’s trademarks were visually similar only to a low degree. It said that the presence of the letter ‘M’ in both parties’ marks “does not convey any particular meaning”.
The fact that Monster Energy needed to be told as much serves as a wonderful barometer for how ridiculous Monster Energy trademark oppositions generally are. Again, when it comes to trademark law, the entire point is to prevent public confusion as to the source of goods. Monster Energy's logo is indeed distinctive, as it makes the letter "M" out of claw marks. This does not somehow grant exclusivity to the letter "M" to Monster Energy, however. Legs and clawmarks, in other words, are different.As are the markets of soft drinks and alcohol, according to the IPO.
“Whilst soft drinks and alcoholic drinks are similar in nature in that they are both liquids for consumption, consumers will consider them to be different categories of goods,” the IPO said.Additionally, it said that “syrups and preparations”, covered by Machington’s mark, cannot be considered a finish drink product, and therefore will not be in competition with Monster’s beverages.
I continue to be baffled as to how paying all of these billable hours, or the salaries and benefits for the in-house legal team, just to handle the load of trademark oppositions that routinely end up as losses, makes any financial sense.

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posted at: 12:00am on 19-Mar-2019
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Federal Court Blocks Washington State's Unconstitutional Cyberstalking Law

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When legislators craft unconstitutional laws, it's a safe bet the first people to abuse them will be members of the government. We've seen this happen with outdated criminal defamation laws and the new wave of "Blue Lives Matter" legislation. Attempts to curb online evils like cyberbullying and revenge porn tend to disregard the First Amendment. If they're not challenged, they go on to be tools deployed by government officials to silence critics.That's what happened in the state of Washington. A vociferous government critic found himself targeted by a displeased politician who used the state's cyberstalking law to obtain a very restrictive protective order to silence his online nemesis. As the federal court notes in its decision [PDF], the speech the critic engaged in is the very reason for the First Amendment's existence. (via Courthouse News)

Rynearson is an online author and activist who regularly writes online posts and comments to the public related to civil liberties, including about police abuse and the expansion of executive power in the wake of September 11. Rynearson’s writings are often critical—and sometimes harshly so—of local public figures and government officials. These writings are well within the traditions of independent American political discourse, and are intended both to raise the awareness of other citizens regarding the civil-liberties issues that Rynearson writes about, and to hold civic and political leaders accountable to the community through pointed criticism. This sort of expression is at the very heart of political speech which the First Amendment most strongly protects.
Rynearson's online posts were highly critical of politicians he felt didn't condemn the indefinite imprisonment of foreigners, something authorized by the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act). One politician he felt was too enthralled with indefinite detention was Clarence Moriwaki.
[I]n February 2017, Rynearson wrote a series of public posts on Facebook criticizing Clarence Moriwaki, the founder of the Bainbridge Island Japanese-American Exclusion Memorial (“Memorial”), for failing to criticize Governor Inslee and President Obama for voting for/signing the NDAA. The thrust of Rynearson’s posts was that Moriwaki should be removed from his role as board member and de facto spokesperson for the Memorial because Moriwaki used the lessons of the internment, and his role with the Memorial, to criticize Republican politicians (chiefly, President Trump) in many media articles or appearances related to the Memorial, but failed to criticize Democratic politicians.
As the court notes, Rynearson used "invective" and "ridicule" to make his points. Moriwaki reported this ridicule (which, as the court points out, did not contain obscenity or threats) to local law enforcement. This did not result in an arrest, but Rynearson received a letter from the prosecutor notifying him she would "revisit" the possibility of prosecuting him if he didn't shut the hell up.This also resulted in Moriwaki obtaining a protective order against Rynearson -- one that decided the First Amendment simply didn't exist.
For a period of time, from March 2017 to January 2018, Rynearson was also subject to a civil protection order imposed by the Bainbridge Island Municipal Court based on posts critical of Moriwaki. Moriwaki v. Rynearson, No. 17-2-01463-1, 2018 WL 733811, at *12 (Wash. Sup. Ct. Jan. 10, 2018). The cyberstalking statute was one of the statutes invoked by the Municipal Court in imposing the protection order. Moriwaki, 2018 WL 733811, at *5. The order imposed sharp limits on Rynearson’s speech, such as barring the use of Moriwaki’s name in the titles or domain names of webpages.
This order was vacated by the same court after Rynearson's Constitutional challenge. Now, Rynearson is challenging the law itself, pointing out (very reasonably) that the law's unconstitutional restrictions could see him on the receiving end of future protective orders or criminal charges.The federal court says Washington's law is unconstitutionally overbroad, threatening a whole lot of protected speech.
Section 9.61.260(1)(b)’s breadth—by the plain meaning of its words—includes protected speech that is not exempted from protection by any of the recognized areas just described. Section 9.61.260(1)(b) criminalizes a large range of non-obscene, non-threatening speech, based only on (1) purportedly bad intent and (2) repetition or anonymity.
The state couldn't come up with much to defend its bad law -- just a couple of unpublished opinions that don't say quite what the state imagines they say. The federal court offers its rebuttal, which only cites the highest court in the land.
[T]he Supreme Court has consistently classified emotionally distressing or outrageous speech as protected, especially where that speech touches on matters of political, religious or public concern. This is because “in public debate our own citizens must tolerate insulting, and even outrageous, speech in order to provide ‘adequate breathing space’ to the freedoms protected by the First Amendment.”
With that, the federal court declares the law unconstitutional, handing Rynearson an injunction preventing the state of Washington from using the law against him.
Based on the record before the Court it is highly likely that in the final analysis the Court will declare the provision is unconstitutional and therefore unenforceable. Anonymous speech uttered or typed with the intent to embarrass a person as here, is protected speech. The plain meaning of the italicized words render 9.61.260(1)(b) unconstitutional.For the reasons given here, this Court concludes that RCW 9.61.260(1)(b) is facially unconstitutional.
The law is effectively dead. The only thing surprising about this is that the law has survived so long without being struck down. For 15 years, it's been illegal to "embarrass" people online. It took a politician abusing the law to silence a critic to finally get it struck down.

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To Market Digitally, You Need to Be a Digital Consumer

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ByDrew McLellan When you work in digital marketing, perusing (and gleaning inspiration from) social platforms comes with the territory. But when evena tech columnist for the New York Timesadmits he needs a break from his phone and from social media in general participating online can suddenly feel like a draining experience. Some marketers […]The post To Market Digitally, You Need to Be a Digital Consumer appeared first on Adotas.

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The Future of Mobile Commerce

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What is mobile commerce? Mobile Commerce was a term first coined in 1997, and it has come a long way since then with the invention of high tech smartphones. Some people abbreviate the term to m-commerce. In short, m-commerce is the browsing, buying and selling of products and services through mobile devices. With almost everybody […]The post The Future of Mobile Commerce appeared first on Adotas.

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Game Jam Winner Spotlight: Chimneys And Tulips

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In our public domain game jam, Gaming Like It's 1923, we had a tie in one of our prize categories, with two entries winning Best Visuals. This week, we're putting the winner spotlight on the first of those two games: Chimneys and Tulips by litrouke.Graphics are famously among the most labor- and resource-intensive parts of the game development process, so in a 30-day game jam, achieving something visually noteworthy isn't easy. It takes ingenuity and inspiration, and that's exactly what this game has, even if it's a little lacking on the gameplay side. Chimneys and Tulips is a creative presentation of four poems by E. E. Cummings as short interactive design experiences, with a focus on typography. Each one has a different style, and aims to harmonize its graphical and interactive elements with the meaning of the poem.The first poem, gee i like to think of dead, is presented as a fairly simple linear story, interspersed with illustrative icons, that reveals itself one piece at a time. All in green went my love riding is more intricate, using a "swapping" mechanic for the opening words and offering more and more colorful typography as it progresses. Picasso you give us uses some additional graphics and a simple but captivating animation trick, and is the most visually elaborate of the four. And why did you go little fourpaws deconstructs itself as the user clicks on various words, all the while slowly fading from view.

Though simple, the visuals in Chimneys and Tulips were more closely and thoughtfully united with the game's purpose and content than just about any other entry, which earned it a win for the category alongside another game that we'll feature next week. You can play Chimneys and Tulips in your browser from its page on Itch, and don't forget to check out our other winners as well as the many great entries that didn't quite make the cut.

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How To Boost Current Social Media Traffic To Your Site

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By Kristen Smith Previously, there was only one way to grow blog traffic. It all started with blogging on a daily basis. You need to create an audience through consistency and then trying to capture people's attention through RSS subscriptions and emails. Then you need to work hard in increasing the stickiness of posts by […]The post How To Boost Current Social Media Traffic To Your Site appeared first on Adotas.

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Ninth Circuit Tells Online Services: Section 230 Isn't For You

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Last year we wrote about Homeaway and Airbnb's challenge to an ordinance in Santa Monica that would force them to monitor their Santa Monica listings to ensure they were legally compliant. The Santa Monica ordinance, like an increasing number of ordinances around the country, requires landlords wanting to list their properties on these services to register with the city and meet various other requirements. That part of the ordinance is not what causes concern, however. It may or may not be good local policy, but it in no way undermines Section 230's crucial statutory protection for platforms for Santa Monica officials to attempt to hold their landlord users liable if they go online to say they have a non-compliant rental listing.The problem with the ordinance is that it does not just impose liability on landlords. It also imposes liability on the platforms hosting their listings. The only way for them to avoid that liability is to engage in the onerous, if not outright impossible, task of scrutinizing whether or not the listings on their platforms are legal. Which is exactly what Section 230 exists to prevent: forcing platforms to monitor their users' speech for legality, because if they had to police them, they would end up facilitating a lot less legitimate speech.Yet that's what the Ninth Circuit decided to let Santa Monica do - force platforms to monitor their user-generated speech - in a decision earlier this week upholding the district court's refusal to enjoin the ordinance.Of course, that's not how the court saw it, however. To the court, platforms weren't being forced to police the speech they hosted. They were merely obligated to police the rental transactions they facilitated.

[T]he Ordinance does not require the Platforms to monitor third-party content and thus falls outside of the CDA's immunity [T]he only monitoring that appears necessary in order to comply with the Ordinance relates to incoming requests to complete a booking transactioncontent that, while resulting from the third party listings, is distinct, internal, and nonpublic. [p. 13-14]
However this is a distinction without a difference.As we pointed out in the amicus brief the Copia Institute filed in support of Homeaway and Airbnb, these listings are indeed user-generated speech. It may be speech that's extremely limited in scope, little more than "I have housing to rent," but it is still user speech that, per the ordinance, may not always be legal to say. The problem is that this ordinance in effect is all about passing on liability to the platform if they allow this speech to be illegally said, which is no different than trying to pass on liability to a platform for any other speech its users may illegally say.Yet in its decision the court insisted that platform liability attaches to something entirely apart from its role as a platform facilitating user speech:
Similarly, here, the Ordinance is plainly a housing and rental regulation. The inevitable effect of the [Ordinance] on its face is to regulate nonexpressive conductnamely, booking transactionsnot speech. [p. 19-20]
It went on to declare that the ordinance in no way forces platforms to monitor user content:
Contrary to the Platforms' claim, the Ordinance does not require that they monitor or screen [listings]. It instead leaves them to decide how best to comply with the prohibition on booking unlawful transactions. [p. 20]
At every step in its reasoning it kept treating the ordinance as something wholly apart from an ordinance impacting speech:
Nor can the Platforms rely on the Ordinance's stated purpose to argue that it intends to regulate speech. The Ordinance itself makes clear that the City's central and significant goal . . . is preservation of its housing stock and preserving the quality and nature of residential neighborhoods. As such, with respect to the Platforms, the only inevitable effect, and the stated purpose, of the Ordinance is to prohibit them from completing booking transactions for unlawful rentals. [p. 20]
But no amount of handwaving by the court to try to focus on the financial transaction between landlord and renter, or insistence that this ordinance doesn't force platforms to monitor user-generated speech, will change the basic reality that it does indeed force platforms to do exactly that: police user speech for legality in order to avoid liability arising from that speech. It is exactly the sort of situation Section 230 was intended to forestall because of the inevitable chilling effect fear-driven platform monitoring obligations have on online speech and innovation.The court seemed to try to justify its contorted reasoning by noting that because "brick and mortar" businesses have to comply with all sorts of local regulations, Internet businesses also should have to.
We have consistently eschewed an expansive reading of the statute that would render unlawful conduct magically . . . lawful when [conducted] online, and therefore giv[ing] online businesses an unfair advantage over their real-world counterparts. For the same reasons, while we acknowledge the Platforms' concerns about the difficulties of complying with numerous state and local regulations, the CDA does not provide internet companies with a one-size-fits-all body of law. Like their brick-and-mortar counterparts, internet companies must also comply with any number of local regulations concerning, for example, employment, tax, or zoning. [p. 16]
But this thinking fails to recognize the unique differences between brick and mortar businesses and Internet business, differences that help explain why it is so important to give Internet businesses this vital protection. After all, a brick and mortar store only has to comply with the laws of the jurisdiction where the store is located - as Internet platforms also need to, in the finite number of places where they have a physical or corporate presence. But when it comes to their online presence, an Internet business is everywhere and thus theoretically exposed to the laws of every single jurisdiction, no matter how onerous these laws are, or how much they may conflict with any other's.Because while perhaps the Santa Monica ordinance may not be too onerous for the platforms to comply with in and of itself, Santa Monica is but one city, yet the Ninth Circuit has now given the green light to every other city in every other state to come up with their own ordinances that will similarly force platforms to monitor user content. As Congress feared in 1996 when it passed Section 230, this decision now invites platforms to divert resources better spent elsewhere, overly censor user speech, withdraw from entire markets - even those that might prefer to have these services available - or risk being bankrupted by an infinite number of local jurisdictions pulling them in every possible direction.This result is chilling not just to these platforms but to any other innovative service, especially if the service has any effect in the offline world, as so many do, or facilitates economic transactions between users, as so many also do. If bearing these indicia are enough to cause a platform to lose its Section 230 protection, then few will be able to retain it.

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The 2012 Web Blackout Helped Stop SOPA/PIPA And Then ACTA; Here Comes The 2019 Version To Stop Article 13

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Remember SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act)? Back in 2012, they threatened to cause widespread damage to the online world by bringing in yet more extreme and unbalanced measures against alleged copyright infringement. Things looked pretty bad until a day of massive online protest was organized on January 18, 2012, with thousands of sites partially or totally blacked out. Politicians were taken aback by the unexpected scale of the anger, and their support for SOPA and PIPA crumbled quickly. That success fuelled protests in Europe against ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement), which also sought to bring in harsh measures against online infringement. After tens of thousands of people took part in street demonstrations across Europe, many politicians wanted nothing to do with the by-now toxic proposal, and it was voted down in the European Parliament in July 2012.As Techdirt pointed out last year, the proposed EU Copyright Directive is even worse than ACTA. As such it clearly merits serious, large-scale action of the kind that stopped SOPA/PIPA and ACTA. And it's happening. The German-language version of Wikipedia, the second-largest by number of articles, has announced the following (original in German):

On Thursday, March 21, the German-language edition of the online encyclopedia will be shut down completely for 24 hours. In this way, Wikipedia activists want to send a signal, in particular against the introduction of the controversial Articles 11 and 13 in the [EU's] copyright reform.
It is expected that a number of other major sites will be joining in the protest. Meanwhile, another German organization is campaigning against Article 13. In an open letter to MEPs, its supporters write:
We are the operators and administrators of more than 400 German-language discussion forums with more than 18 million members. We are united by the great concern that the EU Copyright Directive will endanger the existence of our forums and thus the discussion culture on the Internet.The public discussion on the EU Copyright Directive revolves almost exclusively around YouTube and other large US platforms. In doing so, we lose sight of the fact that discussion forums of all sizes will also be affected by the new directive.
That's an important point. Supporters of Article 13 try to give the impression that only deep-pocketed companies like Google will be hit by the new law. As the discussion forum operators point out, their organizations will not be exempt from the requirements of the EU Copyright Directive. Its effects will be devastating:
Because of these uncertainties and the legal and financial liability risk, many discussion forums will close, as small associations or voluntary operators cannot bear this situation.Commercial operators are also endangered in their existence if they have to conclude fee-based licenses and are obliged to install expensive upload filters.Uncertain regulations for us means years of legal uncertainty, legal risk and potential legal costs, which no operator can afford in the long run as forums usually do not generate a large amount of revenue.As a result, the discussion culture on the European Internet will be severely impaired, and many citizens will lose their digital home in discussion forums.
Internet startups in the EU will face the same insurmountable problems thanks to Article 13's impossible demands. Many will be forced to shut down. It's an irony that many have already pointed out. A law that supporters claim is designed to tackle the disproportionate power of companies like Google and Facebook will end up entrenching them more deeply, and wiping out much of the EU's own digital ecosystem. Let's hope 2019's big blackout grabs people's attention as the one in 2012 did, and that MEPs drop Article 13 just as they dropped ACTA.Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

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Q&A: In-housing and brand attribution

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Ray Kingman, CEO and founder of Semcasting, shares his insights on the growing trend of in-housing and how brands can take the power of attribution into their own hands and the important elements they need to keep in mind as they do. What do you think led to the growing trend of brands bringing advertising […]The post Q&A: In-housing and brand attribution appeared first on Adotas.

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MediaRadar Study: eBay, Walmart, and Spotify Among Top 10 Companies with Most Brand Safe Behavior

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One-third of major digital advertisers reduced programmatic ad spend in 2018 MediaRadar, a leading advertising intelligence and sales enablement platform, released an analysis yesterday of the top 10 brands exhibiting brand safe behavior.Comparing 2018 to 2017, these 10brandsexperienced a significant decrease in programmatic digital spend, while increasing direct digital spend considerably. Programmatic has been a […]The post MediaRadar Study: eBay, Walmart, and Spotify Among Top 10 Companies with Most Brand Safe Behavior appeared first on Adotas.

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Arkansas Senate Unanimously Approves A Conviction Requirement For Asset Forfeiture

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Some more good news about asset forfeiture comes our way, courtesy of Lauren Krisai. It appears the Arkansas senate overwhelmingly agrees the abusive state of forfeiture it oversees cannot continue. The state senate unanimously passed an asset forfeiture reform bill that would institute a conviction requirement for seized assets, preventing law enforcement from policing for profit.The bill would basically outlaw civil asset forfeiture in its current form, replacing it with criminal asset forfeiture. And it would prevent cops from using rinky-dink criminal charges to take property away from state residents.

There shall be no civil judgment under this subchapter and no property shall be forfeited unless the person from whom the property is seized is convicted of a felony offense that related to the property being seized and that permits the forfeiture of the property.
Unfortunately, it does contain a couple of loopholes. First, law enforcement can convert this back to civil asset forfeiture if it can show the person never responded to the civil complaint against their property. Tying this to a conviction requirement should make this tougher to exploit, seeing as a person dealing with a criminal complaint will probably be apprised of the state's desire to take their property.Second, it still allows local law enforcement to take advantage of the federal government's equitable sharing program to bypass the new restrictions. The Tenth Amendment Center points out the state took a shot at closing this loophole with an earlier law. This is what the state's partially-closed loophole looks like:
(1) No state or local law enforcement agency may transfer any property seized by the state or local agency to any federal entity for forfeiture under federal law unless the circuit court having jurisdiction over the property enters an order, upon petition by the prosecuting attorney, authorizing the property to be transferred to the federal entity.(2) The transfer shall not be approved unless it reasonably appears that the activity giving rise to the investigation or seizure involves more than one (1) state or the nature of the investigation or seizure would be better pursued under federal law.
Given that most seizures are performed by "drug interdiction units" or whatever, exploiting the federal loophole is as easy as claiming the property seized is part of a larger drug cartel's operations. Almost every state drug charge has a federal equivalent, so if local cops don't want to pursue a conviction, they can give the feds a cut of the seizure to bypass any state-level conviction requirements.As the Institute for Justice notes, Arkansas has some of the country's worst forfeiture laws. And this legislative attempt to close the federal loophole has had zero negative effects on local law enforcement's ability to turn vague claims about drugs into cop shop petty cash.
Arkansas law enforcement received $27 million in DOJ equitable sharing proceeds between 2000 and 2013, which equates to roughly $1.9 million each calendar year. And these proceeds have been increasing steadily over the years, from a few hundred thousand dollars a year in the early 2000s to over $3 million in 2013.
If Arkansas legislators really want to end forfeiture abuse, they'll also need to address equitable sharing. Until that loophole undergoes further restrictions, it will be business as usual in the state. Cops would rather have 80% of something than 100% of the nothing they'll get if they feel they can't obtain a felony conviction.

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Japanese Government Puts Restrictive Copyright Amendments On Hold Over 'Internet Atrophy' Worries

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Call me surprised. We have been recently discussing a proposal in Japan to alter copyright law in the country to criminalize every single instance of copyright infringement, rather than saving any of that for the civil courts. The bonkers proposal would take the current law, in which all instances of copyright infringement on movies and music carry criminal penalties and expand that to essentially all copyright infringement everywhere. This would include screenshots, posting lyrics to songs, and the like. Shortly after all of this was announced, a large group of Japanese academics wrote an open statement to the government indicating their concern that allowing the new law to move forward would result in an extreme chilling effect on internet usage in the country. At the time, I said it was a litmus test for whether the government would take any objection to the law seriously, tame as it was. It was also likely clear that I wasn't optimistic.Well, surprise, the government has actually put the proposal on hold out of a concern for the very chilling effects those academics raised.

The planned copyright amendments were set to be submitted to the Diet on March 8, 2019 but according to local sources, Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP or Jimint) put the brakes on the proposals the day before they were due to be submitted.Reports suggest that the party had such serious concerns over the scope of the law that its implementation might mean that “use of the Internet would be atrophied.”Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reportedly held a telephone call with Keisya Furuya, the former National Public Safety Commissioner and chairman of the bipartisan MANGA (Manga-Animation-Game) parliamentary group on March 6, 2019. According to AnimeNewsNetwork, this led to the decision to remove the proposals from the agenda.
And so the law now goes back to the Ministry of Culture, Sports, Science and Technology for further discussion. The ultimate fate of the law is yet to be decided, of course, but this should be encouraging for the pessimists among us (Hi!) that tend to believe these restrictive laws in favor of content companies always get railroaded through no matter the people's protest. In this case, at least, it seems that protest worked.Part of that may be because, again, those objecting to the law did so on only the mildest grounds.
Scholars and other experts are suggesting that the best route is to only criminalize actions that cause real financial damage to content owners.The general consensus among the academics is that making infringement criminally punishable may be acceptable, but only when full copyright works – such as movies, music, manga publications, and books – are exploited in their entirety.
Which, you know, okay. That's probably still too onerous, but at least it's a step back from the truly insane route Japan was on.

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New Florida Bill Seeks To Bury Recordings Of Mass Shootings

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Florida legislators are thinking about handing some opacity back to Florida law enforcement agencies in the wake of the Parkland school shooting. The tragedy of the event was compounded by on-site law enforcement's response: that is, there wasn't any. Faced with increased scrutiny over a handful of mass shootings in the state, at least one legislator's response has been to bury the bad news under a new public records exemption. [h/t War on Privacy]

In less than three years, Florida has seen the second-deadliest mass shooting – Pulse nightclub – and the second-deadliest school shooting – Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. One gunman killed five at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Another killed five at a Sebring bank.Yet Senate Bill 186 would create an exemption to the state’s public records law for all photographs and audio and video recordings that relate to the “killing of a victim of mass violence.” The bill defines mass violence as the killing of at least three people, not including the perpetrator. Violation would be a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.
Senator Tom Lee's bill is a gift to the government at large, even if law enforcement agencies and schools will be the most direct recipients of this largesse. If this "privacy protection" had been in place a few years ago, the public would have had no idea how badly the Broward County Sheriff's Department botched its response to the school shooting. Not only would that have kept the BCSD relatively free of criticism, it would have shielded its oversight -- state legislators -- from being asked what they were doing to prevent school shootings and/or ensure better response from those expected to serve and protect the public.Supporters of bills like these claim it's all about protecting the privacy of crime victims and their families. But as the excellent Sun Sentinel op-ed points out, most requests to block release of recordings originates with governments and businesses rather than the victims and their loved ones. These requests have prevented the public from accessing key details in everything from Dale Earnhardt's Daytona crash to an inmate's death at the hands of jailers.The law already blocks the release of recordings containing the death of a law enforcement officer. This addition could be read to cover any deadly incident in which more than one person is killed. Any whistleblower releasing recordings to show the public what really happened -- rather than the official narrative -- will now face felony criminal charges for doing the right thing. This isn't going to restore confidence in government agencies and their response to deadly incidents. All it will do is drive a wedge between them and the people they serve.

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Big Fair Use Win For Mashups: 'Oh, The Places You'll Boldly Go!' Deemed To Be Fair Use

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It's been roughly two years since we last had any update on the lawsuit that was brought by the estate of Dr. Seuss against ComicMix, a group of artists that created a mashup book in the styles of Dr. Seuss and Star Trek. The suit was over trademark and copyright rights, with the court ruling against the estate two years ago on the trademark claim. At the time of the ruling, the court gave the estate two weeks to prove there was any real harm done on the copyright side, after already ruling the trademark uses were fair use. Given the context of the judge's comments in the request, it was clear the Suess Estate had a hell of a hilll to climb.A hill that now, nearly two years on, appears to have been insurmountable, as the firm representing ComicMix has announced that it has prevailed on the fair use copyright claims as well.

On March 12, 2019, after more than two years of litigation, the United States District Court for the Southern District of California (DSE’s home court) gave a learned, thoroughly reasoned decision that strongly affirms the fair use doctrine. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino reaffirmed her earlier findings that Oh, the Places You’ll Boldly Go! is a highly transformative work that takes no more from the Dr. Seuss books than necessary for its purposes. Under those circumstances, she found that DSE could only defeat the fair use defense by demonstrating that publishing the book would be likely to cause market harm to DSE, and she found that it failed to do so, leaving its claims of market harm simply hypothetical.As for the trademark claims, Judge Sammartino had already found that the First Amendment protected the use of the title of Oh, the Places You’ll Go! in the title of the Defendants’ book. At the summary judgment stage, she determined that there is no such thing as a trademark in an artistic style, and that DSE does not have an enforceable trademark in the typeface used for the title, so the use of a Seussian typeface for Oh, the Places You’ll Boldly Go! is not trademark infringement.
The ruling itself is, as the law firm states, thoroughly reasoned. It takes the requests for summary judgement from both parties in turn, before taking on the question of fair use itself. Again, the analysis here is detailed, but the court's central ruling is whether or not Boldly interferes with the Seuss' works marketability:
Further, the Court is not persuaded that Boldly “has the same intrinsic purpose and function as Go!,” i.e., “providing an illustrated book, with the same uplifting message that would appeal to graduating high school and college seniors,” see Pl.’s MSJ at 17, or that Defendants “act[ed] in bad faith.” See id. at 17. While Boldly may be an illustrated book with an uplifting message (something over which Plaintiff cannot exercise a monopoly), it is one tailored to fans of Star Trek’s Original Series. See, e.g., Duvdevani Decl. Ex. 2 at 67:1–68:3. Further, that Defendants discussed the necessity of a license and determined that Boldly was a “fair use parody” without seeking the advice of counsel does not amount to bad faith.
The court then turns to the nature of the use of the original work. The court had originally ruled for ComicMix's motion to dismiss specifically on the question of how Boldly used Seuss' work, noting that the use of the work was both not a complete copying of the original and that it was obviously infused with new meaning. The Seuss Estate then argued that Oracle America Inc. v. Google LLC resolved that mashing two properties together in the way that Boldly does would not result in a work suddenly becoming fair use if the copying of the Seuss work was deemed to be substantial.The court was not impressed.
Examining the cover of each work, for example, Plaintiff may claim copyright protection in the unique, rainbow-colored rings and tower on the cover of Go! Plaintiff, however, cannot claim copyright over any disc-shaped item tilted at a particular angle; to grant Plaintiff such broad protection would foreclose a photographer from taking a photo of the Space Needle just so, a result that is clearly untenable under—and antithetical to—copyright law. But that is essentially what Plaintiff attempts to do here. Instead of replicating Plaintiff’s rainbow-ringed disc, Defendants drew a similarly-shaped but decidedly nonSeussian spacecraft—the USS Enterprise—at the same angle and placed a red-and-pink striped planet where the larger of two background discs appears on the original cover. See Duvdevani Decl. Ex. 31, ECF No. 115-11, at 450. Boldly’s cover also features a figure whose arms and hands are posed similarly to those of Plaintiff’s narrator and who sports a similar nose and eyes, but Boldly’s narrator has clearly been replaced by Captain Kirk, with his light, combed-over hair and gold shirt with black trim, dark trousers, and boots.5 Id. Captain Kirk stands on a small moon or asteroid above the Enterprise and, although the movement of the moon evokes the tower or tube pictured on Go!’s cover, the resemblance is purely geometric. Id. Finally, instead of a Seussian landscape, Boldly’s cover is appropriately set in space, prominently featuring stars and planets. Id. In short, “portions of the old work are incorporated into the new work but emerge imbued with a different character.” See Mattel, Inc. v. Walking Mountain Prods., 353 F.3d 792, 804 (9th Cir. 2003).
It goes on and on, but you get the idea. What this ultimately represents is a fantastic ruling for anyone interested in the flourishing of mashup-style cultural output. The kind of creative output that is Boldly, with its transformative meaning and messaging, but utilizing other original works to drive the point home, is certainly an art form onto itself. A ruling other than this one could have murdered that art form in its infancy.And that isn't the purpose of copyright law, as this court wisely noted.

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Methods For Responsive Website Design

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ByMartha Jameson Web design is crucial as your company develops. Because so many modern industries are digitizing and uploading their company to the internet, responsivity is one of the most critical elements of web design and can significantly impact things like SEO, ranking, and click-through rate. It can be deceptively tricky to master, but with […]The post Methods For Responsive Website Design appeared first on Adotas.

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German Football League To Try Novel Antipiracy Strategy Of Actually Having Legal Alternatives For Its Content

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Of all the antipiracy strategies on offer for the content industries, we've always promoted the having affordable, legal, and convenient alternatives as the best of them. As study after study after study has shown, one of the primary motivators for copyright infringement is a lack of reasonable access to the content legally. Why this is such a hard lesson to learn is anyone's guess.The popular German football league, Bundesliga, recently, and finally, came to the conclusion that the first step in competing with piracy of its games is to, you know, actually compete with it. The post starts off by mentioning how many of the larger football/soccer leagues are looking at site-blocking as the best tool for combating piracy. Bundesliga, however, apparently only recently realized that no legal alternative for many fans exists.

While several big leagues in Europe would also like to have these kinds of blocking tools at their disposal, it’s blatantly obvious that they can’t compete with piracy if they aren’t offering customers what they want legally. It’s a sentiment shared by Arne Rees, executive vice president of strategy for Germany’s powerful Bundesliga.“One of the best defenses against [piracy] is certainly having legal product everywhere,” Rees said, as cited by SportsVideo.org. “If a fan simply can’t get you, their mind-set is, I want to watch it, and, if only a pirated stream is available, they will justify that. At the very least. we have to create an environment where legal product competes with the illegal product. The legal product will always be the better product,” Rees added.
The legal ways for fans to get Bundesliga games today is through a complicated series of streaming services across 200 countries that are rife with blackout restrictions, blackouts of the most important matches, or in some cases full restrictions for accessing any games at all. None of this is convenient or done with ease, making the simple matter of finding an infringing stream of a game the superior option. In cases where literally no option is available for a game, the league isn't competing with piracy at all. It's not even attempting to.It's resulting in sympathy even from some unlikely sources.
A report by Aftenposten last month detailed how fans were shut out of the key match between Everton and Manchester City so turned to pirate streams instead. Sarah Willand, Communications Director at TV 2, said the company understands the dilemma faced by fans.“We would be happy to broadcast all the matches so that people see everything from the Premier League,” Willand said. “I therefore understand people’s frustration, it’s annoying not to be able to watch their favorite team on TV when you have a subscription.”
It should go without saying that sports leagues and their broadcast partners are in the business of serving their customers, not annoying them. All the scare tactics about how dangerous pirate streams are in terms of malware, or pleas centering around their illegality, aren't doing much to deter their use. What certainly would do the trick is making sure fans have affordable and convenient ways to access all the content they want, rather than playing some insane game of streaming russian roulette.
This, of course, is completely illegal and to some extent probably hurts the earning potential of the various leagues around Europe and their broadcasting partners. However, it’s clear that the companies involved have the power – if they so choose – to solve this problem by offering all content, to all people, wherever they are, at a fair price.Given the tangle of licensing agreements across dozens of regions, this is much – much – more easily said than done, few people will argue with that. But the cold, hard truth is that most fans don’t care. If they can’t get matches legally (and particularly if they already have an underperforming subscription service), many will feel justified turning to the high seas.
It's true: fans don't want to hear that offering real alternatives is hard because the tangled web of licensing deals struck with broadcasters makes it so. It's time for leagues like Bundesliga to start serving fans what they want. And it's nice to see they're finally realizing it.

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How to Use AI to Improve your Digital Marketing Strategy?

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By Elaine Bennett Source: Pixabay A few years ago, businesses were still reluctant to integrate artificial intelligence into their marketing strategies. However, it seems that they're starting to familiarize themselves with the implementation of AI and recognize its benefits. According to the ISG study, even though only 16% of business leaders use AI to boost […]The post How to Use AI to Improve your Digital Marketing Strategy? appeared first on Adotas.

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Appeals Court Upholds Dismissal Of Defamation Lawsuit Against Actor James Woods

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James Woods -- saved from a defamation lawsuit by a question mark -- has just had his dismissal affirmed by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Whatever schadenfreude there was to be enjoyed by seeing Woods hoisted on his own litigious petard was swiftly dispelled by the ridiculousness of the lawsuit, which posited that Woods' careless question tying the plaintiff to [gasp!] Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign rose to the level of actual defamation. All we can hope is Woods handles this victory with a bit of grace, rather than gloating over his opponent's death, should she unfortunately precede him to the Great Beyond.The lower court did take a couple of shots at Woods during its dismissal of the suit, pointing out he was as uncooperative as possible when the plaintiff, Portia Boulger, tried to serve him. Boulger was offended by Woods' tweet that portrayed her as a Bernie plant trying to sabotage Trump's impeccable reputation by flinging Nazi salutes during one of his rallies. Here's a quick summary of the supposed defamation, taken from the appeals court decision [PDF]:

On March 12, 2016, Twitter user @voxday posted the Nazi salute photograph, together with a photograph of Portia Boulger and a caption identifying Boulger as an “Organizer (Women for Bernie).” (Def. Mot. for J. on the Pleadings, R. 7, PageID 61.) The two photographs and caption were accompanied by the (false) statement, “The ‘Trump Nazi’ is Portia Boulger, who runs the Women for Bernie Sanders Twitter account. It’s another media plant.” (Id.) Shortly thereafter, Woods tweeted the same two pictures, along with a short biography of Boulger, and added: “So-called #Trump ‘Nazi’ is a #BernieSanders agitator/operative?” (Comp., R. 1, PageID 3.) At the time, Woods had more than 350,000 followers on Twitter.
After being notified by Boulger's lawyer that she was seeking to sue him, Woods issued a retraction and an apology. Boulger argued the damage had already been done. She had been the recipient of several unpleasant communications from Woods' followers, which apparently included death threats.The Appeals Court also takes a shot at Woods for dodging service from Boulger, pointing out the ridiculousness of him attempting to dismiss a lawsuit he claimed he hadn't been properly served with yet.
As the district court noted, although Woods raised the defenses of insufficient service of process and lack of personal jurisdiction in his answer, he immediately filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings in which the defenses were not included. The motion for judgment on the pleadings was filed several months early—because Woods had not yet been served—and necessarily sought a decision on the merits. Woods’s motion was thus “inconsistent with the idea that the district court lacked personal jurisdiction over the defendant[].”[...]The filing of the motion for judgment on the pleadings therefore created a reasonable expectation that Woods would defend the suit on the merits. Any other holding would create a perverse outcome. One can imagine a litigant asking the court to proceed on the merits, and then, only if the court’s decision is unfavorable, seeking to re-assert jurisdictional defenses.
The decision then spends several pages diving into the thick weeds of Ohio defamation law. There's a four-prong test applied at the state level to determine whether or not a question is a "statement of fact." After a lot of discussion, the court finally gets to the point: the question mark -- coupled with the actor's opinionated Twitter feed -- makes it clear Woods was asking followers to make that call themselves, rather than directing them to arrive at a foregone conclusion. That many of them skipped the whole "decide for yourself" stage isn't Woods' fault, nor does it turn a question into a libelous statement of fact.
Here, the tweet at issue is reasonably susceptible to both a defamatory meaning—that Woods was asserting Boulger was the woman giving the Nazi salute—and an innocent meaning—that Woods was merely asking his followers a question. Because Woods’s tweet could reasonably be read to have an innocent meaning, under the innocent construction rule the tweet, as a matter of law, is not actionable.
There's also the matter of context. As the court sees it, the opinionated Woods could get away with posing a question like this. The New York Times perhaps not so much.
A review of Wood’s Twitter feed from March 12, 2016, shows that although he posted news articles, his tweets were frequently accompanied by his own colorful commentary. [...] These tweets illustrate that a reasonable reader of Woods’s tweets on March 12, 2016, likely knew that he made frequent use of sarcasm, exaggeration, and hyperbole—characteristics more likely seen in an opinion, rather than a statement of fact. See Scott, 496 N.E.2d at 708. Thus, the general context could lead a reasonable reader to believe the tweet at issue was not a statement of fact.[...]Twitter is a medium for users to express both opinions and disseminate news. For example, a Twitter user who tweets his or her thoughts on various celebrities is an account that is more analogous to an editorial section of a newspaper. Cf. Vail, 649 N.E.2d at 185–86 (finding that a column that appeared on the Forum page of the newspaper and titled “Commentary” gave a reader the message that the column would convey the personal opinion of the writer, as distinguished from a news story). But the Twitter account of an online news source, such as the New York Times, is not meaningfully distinguishable from a hard copy news story. Consequently, it is clear that Twitter can be used to disseminate both factual accounts and assertions, as well as commentary and opinion.
This breakdown of Twitter seems elementary and even a bit unnecessary, but the court is reminding readers (and plaintiffs) that context matters. It always does. Unfortunately, many plaintiffs in defamation lawsuits want the court to strip commentary of its context to make it easier for them to secure a victory. Fortunately, our courts have generally been very protective of speech and extremely hesitant to hand down rulings that could restrict the free exchange of commentary and opinion. It's unfortunate Woods' followers decided his somewhat disingenuous question granted them permission to harass and threaten Boulger. But those disgusting responses are the responsibility of the disgusting people making them. The court made the right call, ensuring Twitter in all its greatness and awfulness remains a freewheeling, often-horrifying marketplace of ideas.

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New Research from Return Path Demonstrates Link Between Subscriber Engagement and Reduced Spam Placement

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Fourth annual report reveals industry benchmarks for key metrics that impact deliverability Here are some of the key points and trends from the report, The 2019 Hidden Metrics of Deliverability. This study looked at mail from the top webmail providers: Gmail, Microsoft (Hotmail, Outlook.com, etc.) and Verizon (Yahoo, AOL), and the deliverability and engagement metrics […]The post New Research from Return Path Demonstrates Link Between Subscriber Engagement and Reduced Spam Placement appeared first on Adotas.

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You Need These Four Essential Rules for High Traffic Marketing

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By Ajay Gupta,CEO of Stirista Holiday marketing is a year-round sport. The exceedingly profitable shopping rush for Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the holidays spanning from early November to early January is over for now. But it's not like marketers aren't still thinking about actionable next steps to glean from what happened last […]The post You Need These Four Essential Rules for High Traffic Marketing appeared first on Adotas.

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Be Careful What You Wish For: 'Privacy Protection' Now Used As An Excuse To Cut Off Investigative Journalists From Key Database

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We've been explaining for a long time that many people don't really understand "privacy." Privacy is a tradeoff not a "thing." Assuming that privacy is a thing -- and that "it" must be protected -- leads to some bad results. Lexis Nexis has a tool called Trace IQ, that is widely used by investigative journalists to find out information about people -- including their addresses and phone numbers. Some people might argue that just addresses and phone numbers should be kept private, but it really wasn't that long ago that such information wasn't just widely available to the public, but every six months or so a giant yellow-covered book was thrown in front of our doors with listings of everyone's phone number and address in your geographic region. Remember that?However, Lexis Nexis is now cutting investigative journalists off from this service because "privacy."

A Cardiff-based company is banning journalists from accessing a powerful database of names, phones numbers and addresses, in a move the Centre for Investigative Journalism says is symptomatic of the way "popular anxieties about privacy" are gagging investigative reporting.
Lexis Nexis isn't explaining exactly why it's doing this, but various journalism organizations think that it has to do with the new focus on privacy and new laws like the GDPR:
The Director of the Centre for Investigative Journalism, James Harkin, said the industry has come under threat from legislation in recent times, pointing to the Investigatory Powers Act passed in 2016 and the proposed Espionage Act.But Harkin said Lexis Nexis' decision to shut out journalists from Trace IQ shows investigative journalism can also be gagged by the new "popular anxieties about privacy"."In many ways concerns about the Data Protection Act, and concerns about data protection more generally, are more subtle and more insidious, and more directly relevant to the day-to-day work of journalists," Harkin told BuzzFeed News.
Now, I know that some will think that it's no fair that journalists had access to this information in the first place, but those are likely the same people who were just recently complaining in our comments about how awful it is that some in the media publish stories without first talking to everyone involved. One way that you talk to everyone involved is getting the information necessary to talk to them. And things like TraceIQ make that possible. Or did.Meanwhile, it appears that TraceIQ will still exist for other types of users: debt collectors. Apparently, it's fine for them to get access to this information, but it's not okay for reporters doing their jobs. Yes, privacy is important, but we have to learn that "protecting privacy" means recognizing the appropriate situations and cases where information can be accessed and shared, and recognizing what the tradeoffs in those decisions are. It does not mean that we should cut people off entirely from accessing data. Unless they're debt collectors.

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Auto Finance Company Sues Massachusetts City Over Its Unconstitutional Sale Of Seized Vehicles

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An opponent of asset forfeiture has arisen from an unexpected place. Honda's finance division has taken the city of Revere, Massachusetts to court over the seizure and sale of a vehicle it still technically owned.

American Honda Finance Corp., based in California, alleged in its lawsuit filed Feb. 12 in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts that its constitutional rights were violated when a Honda Civic was seized in 2016 by Revere's police department."Plaintiff brings this action to remedy a deprivation of its long-settled and fundamental rights to be free from unreasonable seizures and to due process of law under the United States Constitution," American Honda Finance Corp. said in its 13-page complaint.
The complaint [PDF] makes it clear the company thinks this is some bullshit: seizing and selling a vehicle that still belongs to the company holding the lien. Until the vehicle is paid off, Honda still owns the car. But Massachusetts law enforcement doesn't appear to care who owns the car so long as they get to profit from its sale. The narrative detailed in the lawsuit makes it clear zero effort was made to make the car's real owner aware of the city's plans for the seized car.
On or about November 2, 2016, HONDA obtained a purchase money security interest and lien in The Subject Vehicle.On November 28, 2016, The Subject Vehicle was officially titled in the State of New York with Shanasia Hackworth recorded as the owner and HONDA recorded as the first priority lienholder.On or about December 30, 2016, REVERE took possession and custody of The Subject Vehicle pursuant to REVERE’s police officers acting in the course of their duties as law enforcement officers.On or about December 30, 2016, REVERE, through its police officers acting in the cause of their duties as law enforcement officers, and pursuant to laws enacted to further official state interests, directed Mario’s Service Center, Inc. to tow and detain The Subject Vehicle.On or about December 30, 2016, Mario’s Service Center, Inc. towed The Subject Vehicle and retained The Subject Vehicle on behalf of REVERE as part of an “investigation.”REVERE did not notify HONDA that The Subject Vehicle had been seized.REVERE thereafter concluded its investigation. REVERE did not, thereafter, return The Subject Vehicle to HONDA or anyone else. Instead, REVERE authorized its agent, Mario’s Towing Service Center, Inc., to detain and dispose of the vehicle pursuant to Massachusetts G.L.c. 255, §39A.REVERE did not notify HONDA that after the investigation ended that REVERE authorized Mario’s Towing Service Center, Inc. to detain and dispose of The Subject Vehicle.REVERE did not ensure that its agent, Mario’s Towing Service Center, Inc., notified HONDA that REVERE had authorized detention and disposal of the Subject Vehicle.On or about May 18, 2017, REVERE’s agent, Mario’s Towing Service Center, Inc., sold The Subject Vehicle and The Subject Vehicle was retitled through the Massachusetts Department of Transportation with HONDA’s lien not recorded on said title.Under Massachusetts law the sale pursuant to Massachusetts G.L.c 255, §39A and subsequent retitling extinguished HONDA’s property interest in The Subject Vehicle.At no time prior to the sale or retitling of The Subject Vehicle did REVERE or any person provide any notice to HONDA relating to The Subject Vehicle.
There's a genuine question of property interest in a vehicle whose title still resides with the financing company. This can't be the first time a company has complained about a vehicle of theirs being auctioned off without notice, but this is the first federal complaint I've seen directly challenging a state's seizure of vehicles from drivers who don't actually own the vehicles they're driving.This was filed ten days before the Supreme Court held that certain forms of asset forfeiture violate Constitutional protections against excessive fines. Honda's complaint seems to anticipate the high court's displeasure with abusive forfeitures and pulls no punches in its description of the program the city of Revere participate in. (Emphasis in the original.)
Massachusetts G.L.c. 255, §39A effectuates the Commonwealth’s interest in enforcing traffic laws and in protecting the public from hazardous street conditions. The statute provides a means for the state to compensate private parties who assist the state by towing and storing vehicles at the direction of police. The statute has, however, fallen out of step with modern developments in constitutional law which confirm that a duly perfected security interest and lien in a vehicle is a constitutionally protected property right.
A program that takes property away from the property's true owner -- an entity completely disconnected from the underlying criminal activity/accusations -- appears to be a violation of the company's Constitutional rights, if not the greater protections given to property owners by the state's constitution. The suit alleges a host of violated rights, as well as conversion under state law, arguing the sale of the vehicle without notifying the lien holder is basically theft of Honda's property.Is it going to take the deep pockets of pissed off corporations to finally make a serious dent in abusive forfeiture programs? It might. This case may be more tow-and-sell than most forfeitures, but the principle behind it -- the state depriving companies of their property without notice -- is identical. If this case adds to the judicial dialog on forfeiture programs, I'm all for it.

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Picking Easy Methods For AsiaDatingClub

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Rejection isnt easy to take , but dishing it out is no cakewalk both. Find a common interest. Although you do not have to speak about your political or spiritual beliefs while texting, you need to discover a common interest. Even when it’s only a TELEVISION show or a band, it will AsiaDatingClub allow you […]The post Picking Easy Methods For AsiaDatingClub appeared first on Adotas.

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How to make money with email marketing

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Are you in the field of marketing and looking at some of the best marketing strategies? Or are you an unemployed individual looking out for your options to make some bucks? In both cases, you need to know that email marketing is one of the most effective strategies in the world of marketing. People might […]The post How to make money with email marketing appeared first on Adotas.

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7 Ways to Increase Brand Awareness

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Branding is both an art and a skill. A brand is mostly defined by the image it projects to the minds of the prospects and customers, yet a brand can never thrive unless that image is actually discovered by the prospective customers. That's where brand awareness comes into play. How to increase brand awareness? That […]The post 7 Ways to Increase Brand Awareness appeared first on Adotas.

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Game Jam Winner Spotlight: Not A Fish

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It's time for another spotlight on one of the winners from our public domain game jam, Gaming Like It's 1923. We've already looked at the Best Digital Game and Best Remix, and today we're looking at one of the weirder entries: the winner for Best Deep Cut, Not A Fish by J. Walton.We included the Deep Cut category because we wanted to recognize games that went beyond the "obvious" and well-known candidates from the crop of works that entered the public domain this year, and dig a little deeper into the wealth of 1923 material that doesn't get much attention. And none of the entries dug deeper than Not A Fish, which is based on a pair of science journal articles by one S. F. Light: On Amphioxus and the Discovery of Amphioxus Fisheries in China and Amphioxus Fisheries Near the University of Amoy, China.As you might have guessed, the amphioxus is technically... not a fish. But it is a window into a period of Chinese history, and the social and political implications of colonial scientific practices. The game takes chunks of narrative and information from throughout the scientific papers, weaves them together with elements of traditional Chinese mythology, and turns it all into pieces a free-flowing, exploratory jigsaw puzzle:

There aren't many rules — players are simply instructed to begin laying out the puzzle pieces, and forming connections between keywords, at their leisure. The gameplay arises from the many ways in which the pieces can be put together to form a "map", and the challenge of creating a map full of coherent threads — a task that will never quite be 100% complete. Your efforts will lead you to discover interesting and unexpected connections, and a story much deeper than you might expect from a pair of scientific journals about fisheries.You can grab everything you need to print and play from the game's page on Itch, plus don't forget to check out our other winners as well as the many great entries that didn't quite make the cut. We'll be back next week with another spotlight!

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Does email outshine social media?

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Many email marketers are skeptical about using email marketing in thesocial media age. Marketers are not sure if they should invest in email marketing or focus on building their social media presence. As far as the debate on social media versus email marketing' is concerned, you should certainly continue to use email marketing to build […]The post Does email outshine social media? appeared first on Adotas.

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Millennials More Likely to Advertise on Traditional Mediums Than Older Generations

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Nearly all small businesses (87%) advertise, and 67% plan to experiment with a new advertising medium in 2019. Millennial small business owners and managers value advertising for their businesses more than older generations, according to a new survey from The Manifest, a business news and how-to website. Ninety-five percent (95%) of millennial entrepreneurs advertise for […]The post Millennials More Likely to Advertise on Traditional Mediums Than Older Generations appeared first on Adotas.

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California Supreme Court Rejects Second Attempt By Cops To Jump The Judicial Queue Over Police Misconduct Records

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California cops hoping to hide their past misdeeds from the public are going to have to get by without the help of the state's highest court. A new law went into effect January 1st, opening up police misconduct records to the public for the first time in the state's history.With few exceptions, law enforcement's response has been to pretend the law's reach doesn't extend retroactively. This runs contrary to the intent of the law as clarified directly to the courts and the state attorney general's office by the law's author, Senator Nancy Skinner.Several lawsuits have been filed -- some by records requesters and some by law enforcement agencies. Both are seeking a declaration from the courts that their side is the right side. So far, two state courts have sided with requesters, stating that the law is retroactive.Just after the law took effect, the Sheriff's Employees' Benefit Association petitioned the state supreme court directly, asking for a ruling on the law's reach. This request was denied by the court without comment, suggesting the state's top court was happy to let the lower courts handle this determination.For a second time, the state supreme court has rejected a premature examination of the law. Scott Shackford at Reason has more details:

After a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled against unions for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the Los Angeles Police Department, one union asked the state Supreme Court to weigh in. On Wednesday, the high court declined, leaving in place the lower court's decision.
The court rejected this request without comment, wordlessly reiterating its stance on the issue: let the court system do its work and stop trying to jump the turnstile. The next step for disappointed fans of opacity are the states' appeals courts, not the one at the top of the judicial food chain.From what we've seen so far, it seems unlikely the uniformed anti-transparency activists will prevail. The two courts to return rulings have stated the law affects pre-2019 police misconduct records. The state attorney general's deliberate obtuseness hasn't budged the judicial needle. Eventually -- but hopefully sooner than later -- public records requesters will have a clear answer and complete access to records detailing the impropriety and abuse their tax dollars have paid for.

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Court Says Lawsuit Over Fake Subpoenas Issued By Louisiana DA's Office Can Proceed

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There's a very slim chance some New Orleans prosecutors might have to pay for their threats and lies. But a slim chance is better than none. The Orleans Parish DA's office was caught using fake subpoenas to coerce cooperation from witnesses and victims of crimes -- a practice it had engaged in for decades before being hit with multiple complaints and lawsuits.Prosecutors sent out bogus subpoenas -- all bearing the threats of fines and imprisonment -- to hundreds of witnesses over the past several years. None of these were approved by courts overseeing ongoing prosecutions. None of the subpoenas were issued by the Clerk of Courts. The DA's office was simply cranking out fake subpoenas and hoping recipients would be too intimidated by the threat of jail time to question the veracity of the documents.Lawsuits followed the public exposure of this underhanded tactic. One of the lawsuits, filed by a number of crime victims who'd been served the bogus subpoenas, has received the green light to proceed from a federal court in Louisiana. (h/t CJ Ciaramella)Unfortunately, there's a ton of hurdles that need to be overcome by the plaintiffs. If you think qualified immunity shields too much official wrongdoing, just wait until you run up against absolute immunity, which tends to protect those operating above law enforcement's pay grade: prosecutors and judges.Fortunately for the plaintiffs, the crap the DA's office pulled with its fake subpoenas is shady enough to strip away some of this protective layer. As the court notes in its opinion [PDF], the DA's office has never had the power to issue its own subpoenas. That it has been doing exactly this is a serious problem.

Allegations that the Individual Defendants purported to subpoena witnesses without court approval, therefore, describe more than a mere procedural error or expansion of authority. Rather, they describe the usurpation of the power of another branch of government.
"Ends justifies the means" is rarely a successful defense. But that's what the DA's office has offered. The judge rejects it:
Furthermore, that the alleged activity by the Individual Defendants took place as a means to a prosecutorial end is not dispositive of the issue. Under that logic, virtually all activity engaged in by a prosecutor would be absolutely immune from civil liability.
And with that, one layer of immunity disappears.
This Court finds that granting the Individual Defendants absolute immunity for allegations of systematic fraud that bypassed a court meant to check powerful prosecutors would not protect the proper functioning of a district attorney’s office. It would instead grant prosecutors a license to bypass the most basic legal checks on their authority. The law does not grant prosecutors such a license.
Unfortunately, the prosecutors are covered by absolute immunity for threatening witnesses with arrest to ensure they gave testimony or attended hearings. As screwed up as this sounds, victims of crimes can be thrown in jail to make sure prosecutors can speak to them. Totally legal. All just part of our judicial sympathy for zealous prosecutions. Threatening someone with jail time in person is perfectly fine. It's only the use of fake paperwork -- and bypassing the court system -- that's not protected.
Although the distinction is an admittedly fine one, threatening to imprison a witness to compel cooperation in a criminal prosecution while possessing the lawful means to follow through on that threat is not the same as manufacturing documents in violation of the lawful process for obtaining court-approved subpoenas for witnesses. Threatening witnesses—particularly verbally—with imprisonment to further witness cooperation in an active criminal prosecution seems to this Court to fall into the category of “pursuing a criminal prosecution” as an “advocate for the state.” Holding that such conduct fell outside the protections of absolute immunity would, in fact, potentially subject prosecutors to civil liability for exercising authority they lawfully possess under the law of Louisiana and many other states.
Just as unfortunately, the same behavior the court found couldn't be protected by absolute immunity can be shielded by qualified immunity, at least as far as the plaintiffs' violation of due process claims.
Plaintiffs’ allegations that prosecutors manufactured “subpoenas,” deliberately side-stepping judicial oversight of the subpoena process, appears to this Court to represent a breed of official misconduct. Claims that the practice was not only condoned but directed by top prosecutors and the DA himself only make the allegations more disturbing. This Court believes that Plaintiffs’ claims sufficiently shock the conscience such that they allege a constitutional violation.Nevertheless, the Individual Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity on these claims. Plaintiffs fail to cite to any case law suggesting that the Defendants’ violated a clearly established right of Plaintiffs.
The court clearly thinks the manufacture of subpoenas is reprehensible, but can't find precedent to make it stick. And since it can't craft a bright line itself, prosecutors can continue to abuse subpoenas until a higher court decides enough abuse is enough.A few more claims survive the layers of protective immunity. Four plaintiffs are able to show at this point that the DA's office also fudged the truth on "material witness" warrant affidavits. A few plaintiffs can also move ahead with First Amendment claims -- allegations that the combination of fake subpoenas and actual material witness arrest warrants resulted in compelled speech: testimony extracted by prosecutors using these tools as leverage. Those claims will move forward along with the narrowed allegations of abuse of process the court said can't be shielded by absolute immunity.It's a very limited win for some of the plaintiffs. And it's not even a real victory yet. This opinion allows certain claims to move forward and removes a little immunity. It gives the plaintiffs a small chance to hold some of the Orleans Parish DA's Office personally responsible for abusing the court system and the public's trust for decades.

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TAG Awards 2019 Seal Recertifications To Companies Achieving Rigorous Standards to Protect Digital Ad Industry

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Number of Recertified Companies Nearly Triples from 37 to 102 Over Prior Year, Total Recertified Seals More Than Double from 62 to 139 WASHINGTON, DC - March 7, 2019- TheTrustworthy Accountability Group(TAG), an advertising industry initiativeto fight criminal activity in the digital advertising supply chain, today recognized more than a hundred companies for achieving 2019 […]The post TAG Awards 2019 Seal Recertifications To Companies Achieving Rigorous Standards to Protect Digital Ad Industry appeared first on Adotas.

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Blockchain Has Great Promise, but It's Not the Holy Grail for Fraud Prevention

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By Mark Pearlstein, CRO at DoubleVerify In late 2017, Bitcoin had a moment. The cryptocurrency hit a historic high of$20,000and some were predicting it would keep going to $100,000 or even $1 million. The irony was that the higher Bitcoin's price rose, the less suited it became for its putative mission: to serve as a […]The post Blockchain Has Great Promise, but It's Not the Holy Grail for Fraud Prevention appeared first on Adotas.

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T-Mobile Still Pretending That Staying At Trump's DC Hotel Isn't An Obvious Ploy To Gain Merger Approval

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In a letter responding to Congressional inquiry, T-Mobile has confirmed that the company dramatically ramped up its patronage of Trump's hotel in DC as it sought regulatory approval of its $26 billion merger with Sprint. A copy of the letter, obtained by the Washington Post, makes it clear that the company spent upwards of $195,000 at the property since it originally announced the telecom industry's latest megadeal last April. That was a dramatic shift from the period of time before the deal was announced:

"T-Mobile's patronage of President Trump's Washington hotel increased sharply after the announcement of its merger with its Sprint last April, with executives spending about $195,000 at the property since then, the company told congressional Democrats in a letter last month. Before news of the megadeal between rival companies broke on April 29, 2018, the company said, only two top officials from T-Mobile had ever stayed at Trump's hotel, with one overnight stay each in August 2017.
T-Mobile has also hired former Trump ally Corey Lewandowski and former FCC Commissioners Robert McDowell and Mignon Clyburn to "consult" on the deal and grease the wheels of approval. T-Mobile CEO John Legere has consistently tried to play this obvious attempt at pandering to Trump as just unrelated happenstance:
Amusingly, Legere built his entire brand on being a "no bullshit" alternative to AT&T and Verizon. Yet here we are.As Legere has attempted to sell the press, public, and regulators on the deal, he's adopted many of his competitors' worst habits. It's been clearly documented in countries like Canada or Ireland that when you reduce the total number of major wireless competitors from four to three, it results in dramatically higher rates as the incentive to compete on price is proportionally reduced. Such telecom mergers almost always result in significant layoffs as redundant positions are eliminated. Wall Street predicts T-Mobile's merger will be no different, eliminating anywhere between 10,000 and 30,000 jobs.This is not alien territory. In US telecom, these megadeals almost uniformly make the sector worse, as your wallet can attest. Yet both Sprint and T-Mobile execs have engaged in the same old game of Charlie Brown and Lucy football, breathlessly insisting that this deal will somehow be different. At the same time, execs continue to pretend that kissing Trump's ass by staying at his DC hotel isn't an obvious lobbying strategy for the company:
"While we understand that staying at Trump properties might be viewed positively by some and negatively by others, we are confident that the relevant agencies address the questions before them on the merits," (T-Mobile) wrote.
That makes one of you. The Trump FCC has been a glorified rubber stamp for absolutely every pipe dream telecom lobbyists can cook up, be it killing popular net neutrality rules (something Legere supported) or literally weakening the definition of the word "competitive" to make life easier on the sector's biggest players. While the DOJ is less certain (though still sounding likely from what I've heard), there's zero doubt that the FCC will rubber stamp this merger, likely piggybacking on T-Mobile's (false) tailor-made claims that the deal is essential if the United States doesn't want to "fall behind" in the "race to 5G."Once Legere gets done bullshitting his way to merger approval, he'll have to quickly pivot back again to pretending he's the "no bullshit" alternative to the other major wireless carriers. But of course as just one of three remaining competitors, history has shown us time and time again how T-Mobile will have less incentive than ever to seriously compete on price, and will, sooner or later, come to resemble AT&T and Verizon in all the wrong ways.

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Supreme Court Says Of Course You Need To Register Your Copyright Before You Can Sue; Copyright Trolls & Hollywood Freak Out

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17 USC 411(a) (part of US Copyright law) states the following:

...no civil action for infringement of the copyright in any United States work shall be instituted until preregistration or registration of the copyright claim has been made in accordance with this title.
This is pretty clear. It also becomes important in a surprising number of situations and cases, including quite a few we've discussed just recently, such as the various copyright lawsuits over dances in Fortnite, where it appears that none of the "dances" were actually registered with the Copyright Office. Copyright trolls, also, are somewhat notorious for threatening lawsuits over works without any copyright registration at all.So it's a bit bizarre that the Supreme Court even needed to weigh in on this, but there was a bit of technical confusion between a bunch of circuits as to whether or not you could sue as soon as you submitted a registration application, or if you had to wait until the Copyright Office issues the actual certificate of registration. While getting a registered copyright is mostly (though not entirely) a rubber stamp process by the Copyright Office, it still takes about six to seven months right now, though the Copyright Office has been upgrading its technology (after some earlier hiccups under the previous regime), and insists that before long the timing will be one of weeks, rather than months.In a unanimous ruling, surprisingly written by Justice Ginsburg, the court ruled that the law is pretty clear and you have to wait until registration is complete and the certificate has been issued by the Copyright Office. It comes down to the Justices just reading what the law actually says and saying "um, that's pretty clear." Indeed, the ruling basically says the wording of the law wouldn't make any sense if it meant you just had to submit the application to be able to sue:
If application alone sufficed to ma[ke] registration,§411(a)'s second sentenceallowing suit upon refusal ofregistrationwould be superfluous. What utility wouldthat allowance have if a copyright claimant could sue forinfringement immediately after applying for registrationwithout awaiting the Register's decision on her application? Proponents of the application approach urge that§411(a)'s second sentence serves merely to require a copyright claimant to serve notice [of an infringement suit]. . . on the Register. See Brief for Petitioner 29-32. Thisreading, however, requires the implausible assumptionthat Congress gave registration different meanings inconsecutive, related sentences within a single statutoryprovision. In §411(a)'s first sentence, registration wouldmean the claimant's act of filing an application, while inthe section's second sentence, registration would entailthe Register's review of an application. We resist thisimprobable construction.
As for the claims that by requiring a copyright holder to wait infringement can go on for a while, the Court points out that the law still lets them go after all that past infringement after getting the registration:
If infringement occurs before a copyright owner applies for registration, that owner may eventually recover damages for the past infringement, as wellas the infringer's profits. §504. She must simply apply forregistration and receive the Copyright Office's decision onher application before instituting suit. Once the Registergrants or refuses registration, the copyright owner mayalso seek an injunction barring the infringer from continued violation of her exclusive rights and an order requiring the infringer to destroy infringing materials.
The court also takes a dim view on the idea that it takes too long to get the registration, and this could impact the statute of limitations on suing (three years):
Fourth Estate raises the specter that a copyright ownermay lose the ability to enforce her rights if the CopyrightAct's three-year statute of limitations runs out before theCopyright Office acts on her application for registration.Brief for Petitioner 41. Fourth Estate's fear is overstated,as the average processing time for registration applicationsis currently seven months, leaving ample time to sue afterthe Register's decision, even for infringement that beganbefore submission of an application
Furthermore, Ginsburg notes that even if it's taking the Copyright Office a long time, that's an issue for Congress to deal with rather than the courts:
True, the statutory scheme has not worked as Congresslikely envisioned. Registration processing times haveincreased from one or two weeks in 1956 to many monthstoday. See GAO, Improving Productivity in CopyrightRegistration 3 (GAO-AFMD-83-13 1982); RegistrationProcessing Times. Delays in Copyright Office processingof applications, it appears, are attributable, in largemeasure, to staffing and budgetary shortages that Congress can alleviate, but courts cannot cure.
The surprising aspect of this is that Ginsburg wrote the decision. Historically, Justice Ginsburg has never seen a copyright case where she wouldn't support the more Hollywood-friendly interpretation. Whether you agree with Ginsburg on other issues or not, she's generally... awful on copyright with the infamous Eldred ruling being a key example (if you want to read a good half-book long rant about just how badly Ginsburg messed up nearly every aspect of the Eldred ruling, I highly recommend the book No Law, which has some choice words for that particular decision).Still, this decision was a pretty straightforward reading of the statute, and in some ways builds on the basis that Ginsburg set forth in Eldred, in which she more or less says "hey, Congress can do what Congress wants regarding copyright." And here, Congress has said you need to register to sue.What's amusing, though, is that this fairly minor step has Hollwyood and its friends completely flipping out about how much more difficult it's going to be to stop piracy. But this makes no sense. Once a work is out there, it's out there. It's not like being able to sue a few months earlier is going to stop works from leaking or being available. And suing is usually not the most efficient way to stop the spread of something anyway (the DMCA takedown process still works...).Of course, those who should really be worried are the copyright trolls who got kind of complacent about these things over the past few years. As Fight Copyright Trolls first noticed, prolific copyright trolling operation Malibu Media, has already been hit with an Order to Show Cause in response to this case for suing over works where no registration had been made:
It is hereby ORDERED that Plaintiff show cause in writing by March 12, 2019, why itscomplaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted specifically, for failure to allege that registration or preregistration of the copyright claims at issuehad been made prior to the filing of this action. 17 U.S.C. § 411(a); see Fourth Estate Pub.Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com, LLC, No. 17-571, 2019 WL 1005829 (U.S. Mar. 4, 2019). IfPlaintiff fails to show good cause, or does not file anything by that date, the Court may dismissthis action without further notice to Plaintiff.
Anything that causes more problems for copyright trolls has to be a good thing.

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Facebook's Campaign Budget Optimization Will Be Mandatory, What Marketers Need to Know

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By Brian Bowman, CEO of ConsumerAcquisition.com Facebook initially launched Campaign Budget Optimization (CBO) a year ago with the intent to give marketers the option to allow machine learning to control their budget at the campaign level. When CBO is activated, marketers allow Facebook to automatically move the budget to the most effective ad set in […]The post Facebook's Campaign Budget Optimization Will Be Mandatory, What Marketers Need to Know appeared first on Adotas.

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Swiss Supreme Court Refuses To Order ISPs To Block 'Pirate' Sites

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Site-blocking is now officially a thing in many corners of the world, with rightsholders using the court system to restrict access to sites they complain are "pirate" sites. Between that practice and legislation being introduced by many countries in the full throes of regulatory capture, in which moneyed interests convince politicians to protect their own antiquated modes of business over the interests of the every day citizen, the censoring of the internet and the opening of wide avenues of potential abuse are in full swing.But this isn't the case everywhere. In Switzerland, for instance, some specifics in how that country operates have led its courts to do things differently. For one, Switzerland is not a member state of the EU, and so it is not bound by the same rules as most other European nations. In addition to that, Swiss copyright law is such that personal downloading or streaming of content, even if unauthorized, is not illegal. Both of those specifics came to a head when film company Praesens-Film asked the courts to order Swisscom, an ISP, to block what it said are pirate sites. The court refused. Praesens-Film decided to appeal the decision until it eventually reached the Swiss Supreme Court. That court, too, has now refused to order the blocking of pirate sites.

“In order for Swisscom to be obliged to block the Internet sites in question, it would need to be a participant in a copyright infringement by third parties, by making a legally relevant contribution to it. That’s not the case,” the Court wrote this week.The Court agreed that the operators of the sites in question (and the companies making the movies available via hosting services) are breaking the law, but it refused to connect the ISP to those infringements.“[S]wisscom can not be accused of making a concrete contribution to these copyright infringements. The activity of Swisscom is limited to offering access to the worldwide Internet,” the Court added. “The films are not [released by Swisscom] but released by third parties from unknown locations abroad. These Third parties are neither customers of Swisscom nor are they otherwise in a relationship with them.”
Frankly, this is as it should be. The job of the ISP is to provide internet service. It's right there in the name. It is not the job of the ISP to play copyright police throughout the world and to restrict access to sites based on the claims of an entertainment industry that has showed itself to be wholly inept at determining what is a "pirate" site and what isn't. While the court pointed out that legislators could go ahead and change copyright law in the country, the law as written wouldn't justify this kind of censorship request.
The infringements in such cases are not only carried out by pirate sites, they’re also carried out by the customers of ISPs, who illegally stream or download copyrighted content to their home connections. In Switzerland, however, downloading or streaming content – even when that content is from an unlicensed source – is not illegal.“[T]here is no copyright infringement on the part of the users,” the Court said. “Copyright law allows this use of published works for personal use, regardless of whether the source is lawful or unlawful. Legislators rejected the copyright revision, which would have prohibited the duplication of works from illegal sources for their own use.”
It would be nice if these versions of copyright laws could be exported throughout the world, if only to disrupt the gross censorship of the internet that has already begun and will only get worse now that that door has been cracked open. While the infringement of copyright sucks for the rightsholder, that pain doesn't justify a tidal wave of site-blocking across a public that, by and large, doesn't commit copyright infringement. It appears that understanding that personal downloading and/or streaming is not something worth addressing in the criminal code is at least one antidote to site-blocking.

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California Legislators Want To Make It More Difficult For Records Requesters To Get Documents From The Government

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The California legislature handed the public a win by making police misconduct records obtainable through records requests. The transparency very few law enforcement agencies are welcoming is still being litigated, but going forward it seems clear cops will no longer be able to hide their misconduct behind a wall of government-enabled opacity.I guess California legislators believe some sort of transparency equilibrium must be maintained. They've introduced a bill that will make it more difficult for requesters to obtain documents. (via Dave Maass) The bill amends the state's public records law to create another hoop for requesters to jump through before they can get a hold of documents the law says are rightfully theirs.Here's the key amendment:

Before instituting any proceeding for injunctive or declarative relief or writ of mandate in any court or competent jurisdiction, the person shall meet and confer in good faith with the agency in an attempt to informally resolve each issue. The person or their attorney shall file a declaration stating that this meet and confer process has occurred at the time that proceedings are instituted.
This may seem like a minimal imposition, but it really isn't. Only a small percentage of public records requesters live close to the agencies they're seeking to obtain documents from. Even if they are nearby, the law allows agencies to set the agenda. Agencies take as long as they want to set up a meeting, pushing rejected requests past the law's upper limits for responses.Even if agencies allow these conferences to happen by phone, requesters are still at the mercy of agencies that are in no hurry to return responses. This is just another way for agencies to stonewall requesters in hopes of deterring them from following through on their requests.The litigation option is being delayed for no discernible purpose. Few things motivate recalcitrant government agencies like lawsuits. This is a gift to uncooperative agencies, presented as a common sense solution to the costs of litigation. Sure, in a perfect world, these discussions could head off pricey lawsuits. But the world we actually live in requires litigation a great deal of the time because few government agencies are truly responsive to records requesters.And it's all going to end up in court anyway. The court will now have to rule first on whether a good faith effort was made prior to the filing, which will result in more expenses incurred by both parties as they attempt to persuade a judge an attempt was or wasn't made by one party. There's nothing in the law that punishes agencies for screwing around with requesters and no time limit is placed on the mandated meetings.Hopefully, this new requirement will never make its way into law. If it does, it should be challenged immediately on the grounds that it violates rights guaranteed by the state. If state legislators are truly concerned about the ever-escalating cost of public records litigation, they should focus their time and energy cracking down on agencies with track records of unresponsiveness, rather than just make it more difficult to force records out of these agencies' hands.

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Digital Marketing Trends That Will Define Success of Online Businesses in 2019

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By Erica Sunarjo Digital marketing is changing incredibly fast, making it more difficult for online businesses to create and optimize promotional content that corresponds to the latest industry requirements. The first two months of 2019 showed that some of the digital marketing strategies that were effective last year might not be as good as they […]The post Digital Marketing Trends That Will Define Success of Online Businesses in 2019 appeared first on Adotas.

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The Insider Secrets for Hello World

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The Insider Secrets for Hello World You will carry on to let it operate since you stop by this next report. Nothing might have assisted them longer. Yes, in the event that you should be doing Math. If you should be capable of going into the candidate name in the writing box and vote and […]The post The Insider Secrets for Hello World appeared first on Adotas.

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Marketers Weigh in: Celebrities Are No Longer the Key to a Brand's Success

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By, Kamiu Lee, CEO, ACTIVATE A new era of more thoughtful influencer marketing drives towards a broadening of the industry When influencer marketing first entered the scene as a tool,brands used to build awareness, expand their reach and be associated with a dominant figure, there weren't many pre-existing parameters to guide you. A celebrity with […]The post Marketers Weigh in: Celebrities Are No Longer the Key to a Brand's Success appeared first on Adotas.

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Missouri Law Enforcement Is Dodging State Forfeiture Laws To Screw Schools And Keep Drugs Flowing Into The State

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The journalists at St. Louis Public Radio are the latest to dig into their state's asset forfeiture programs. Despite the state receiving a decent grade from the Institute of Justice for the controls it places on state-level forfeitures, the station found plenty of abuse thanks to the federal loophole, which allows law enforcement to bypass all the built-in protections legislators have enacted.

Missouri law around asset forfeiture contains some fairly strong protections. Civil asset forfeiture can only take place after a conviction or a guilty plea in a criminal case. In addition, the money is set aside for schools. The Institute for Justice, a libertarian-leaning legal advocacy group, gave Missouri a grade of B+, among the best in the country. In the federal system, however, no criminal conviction is required, and police departments can keep up to 80 percent of the money they seize.Prosecutors like Tim Lohmar in St. Charles County make the decision whether to handle potential asset-forfeiture cases with state charges, or at the federal level. The vast majority of the time, Lohmar chooses the federal process.
This has resulted in a windfall of over $1 million for local law enforcement agencies. Thanks to federal adoption, the money train never stops, no matter what state laws require. If the forfeiture is tied to criminal charges, the money goes to local schools. Cops aren't fond of sharing, so only three of the 36 forfeiture cases processed by Lohmar last year included criminal charges for the person the cash was taken from.The preference to grab cash, rather than drugs, has led to some completely nonsensical defenses of civil asset forfeiture.
“When you seize a thousand pounds of marijuana in the St. Louis area, you’re really not hurting the operations of a drug cartel in Mexico, because the cost to produce that thousand pounds is negligible in the grand scheme of things,” [State Rep. Justin] Hill said.
We're expected to believe cultivating and processing drugs is a zero cost effort but lost cash can never be replaced. It stands to reason that the production and sales of drugs aren't going to stop, so the seizure of a few thousand dollars from a random driver is also pretty "negligible in the grand scheme of things."And we know cops don't actually care about stopping the drug flow. They allow the drugs to make their way into St. Louis and camp out on the roads leading away from the city to seize cash they believe resulted from the drug sales they can't be bothered to stop.
[Sgt. Carmello] Crivello, like most highway interdictors, focuses on the westbound lanes of the interstate, targeting cash, rather than drugs, that comes through Missouri in the eastbound lanes.“The westbound, generally speaking, are the profits from the drug sales,” said Crivello in an interview, “... so stopping westbound (is) more likely to hurt drugs … (You) hurt the cartels more than you hit the pocketbooks.”
Repeating the same fallacy doesn't make it true. Law enforcement agencies like cash and the federal loophole that allows them to keep 80% of what they seize. What they don't like is the work that comes with actually dismantling drug cartels which, at some point, has to involve drug seizures and arrests, rather than pocketing cash and sending drivers on their way.The state's law enforcement agencies have a chance to do some truly great things with forfeiture money. As was noted earlier, adding arrests to seizures routes funds to the state's public school system. Rather than be an active contributor to their communities -- both by funding schools and actually taking drug runners off the street -- cops are seizing cash and asking the feds to launder the proceeds so they can bypass local schools and any pretense of stopping the flow of drugs into the state.
Of the $19 million collected in asset forfeitures over the past three years, $340,000 has gone to schools. That’s less than 2 cents on the dollar. Most of the rest of the money went to law-enforcement agencies for new equipment, squad cars, weapons, ammunition and jail cells.
Legislators enacted reforms almost two decades ago. Law enforcement immediately found a way to circumvent these restrictions. For a brief moment a few years ago, the federal government closed the escape hatch. That has been reopened and it certainly won't be closing again while Trump is in office. Fortunately, state legislators are aware of what's happening and are attempting to close this loophole.
Missouri State Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin, has tried unsuccessfully during recent legislative sessions to pass a reform measure that would reduce the number of forfeitures that go the federal Equitable Sharing route and thus circumvent state law. Opposition from law-enforcement groups has kept the proposal bottled up in committee.Dogan is considering two forms of the bill. One would bar officers from sending forfeitures of less than $100,000 to the federal program. An alternative, more palatable to law enforcement, would set the cap at $50,000. In other words, the small seizures would have to comply with state law, while the big seizures could go the federal route.
Doing this would force state cops to play by the rules set up in 1991 -- the ones that gave the state residents some of the best protections in the country. It would make them focus on actually stopping the drug trade, rather than directly profiting from it.

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Judge Refuses To Hand The Government Biker Gang's Trademark

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If we were ever to hand out some kind of award for a trademark dispute due to both its insanity and longevity, surely that award would go the US Government's attempt to strip the Mongols, a motorcycle gang, of its trademark. This whole thing actually started way back in 2008, with the government arresting several Mongols members for all manner of crimes ranging from extortion to murder. On top of prosecuting these cases and the gang, it requested it be allowed to seize the Mongols trademark on its logo, reasoning that this would allow them to simply strip any members of any biker gear that displayed the logo, even though that isn't what trademark allows one to do. This somehow continued several years later, when the remaining members of the gang claimed the group collectively owned the trademark in question, meaning that the government couldn't simply take control of it.And, amazingly, this whole thing continues to today. It looked for all the world that this case was finally going to wrap up with the trademark being handed over to the US Government. In a jury verdict, the jury had ordered exactly that to happen. To the suprise of many, however, the judge overseeing the case stepped in and disregarded that part of the judgement, arguing that it would violate the First Amendment.

Denying Mongol members the ability to display the logo on their leather riding jackets and elsewhere would overstep the right to free expression embedded in the 1st Amendment, as well as the 8th Amendment’s ban on excessive penalties, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter found.“There is a realistic danger that the transfer of the rights associated with the symbol to the government will have a chilling effect,” Carter wrote.
The government's request relied on likening the trademark the Mongols had on its iconography as property of the same kind as its guns and contraband, suggesting that the logo was a chief tool of a criminal enterprise. Forfeiture laws are not typically used in this way, and it was quite clear that the government was attempting to stretch all kinds of definitions as a way to cripple every last bit of a biker gang that is indeed quite infamous. Still, the judge rightly notes that the bar with regard to the First Amendment is quite high, and allowing the government to essentially strip speech in this way would be both unconstitutional and would create a chilling effect on speech more generally.
The judge said 1st Amendment issues were undeniably at play because the type of trademarks the Mongols own, called collective membership marks, don’t serve any commercial purpose but only help members to identify themselves as part of a group.And because the jury had found the logo was tied directly to the conspiracy charge but not the murders and other violent crimes with which the club was accused of participating, Carter concluded forfeiting the trademarks would violate the Constitution’s 8th Amendment, which forbids the government from imposing excessive punishments.Denying members control over the logo would be an “unjustified and grossly disproportionate” punishment, he wrote.
And, so, the gang gets to keep its logo, though the government has announced it may appeal this specific decision. It really shouldn't, though. Already the biker gang has been convicted of multiple crimes, from rackateering to murder. Going after the trademark again, even after all of these years, is pretty clear overreach.

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B2B Website Redesigns and Voice Search: What You Need to Know

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By Patty Parobek More than ever before, customers are doing the work salespeople once did. They search, they seek information they research on their own. Too often, companies make their customers work too hard to find the information they need. Despite the constant chatter about user-friendly content, many websites still aren't set up with […]The post B2B Website Redesigns and Voice Search: What You Need to Know appeared first on Adotas.

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Big Win For Open Access, As University Of California Cancels All Elsevier Subscriptions, Worth $11 Million Dollars A Year

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As Techdirt has reported over the years, the move to open access, whereby anyone can read academic papers for free, is proving a long, hard journey. However, the victories are starting to build up, and here's another one that could have important wider ramifications for open access, especially in the US:

As a leader in the global movement toward open access to publicly funded research, the University of California is taking a firm stand by deciding not to renew its subscriptions with Elsevier. Despite months of contract negotiations, Elsevier was unwilling to meet UC's key goal: securing universal open access to UC research while containing the rapidly escalating costs associated with for-profit journals.In negotiating with Elsevier, UC aimed to accelerate the pace of scientific discovery by ensuring that research produced by UC's 10 campuses -- which accounts for nearly 10 percent of all U.S. publishing output -- would be immediately available to the world, without cost to the reader. Under Elsevier's proposed terms, the publisher would have charged UC authors large publishing fees on top of the university's multi-million dollar subscription, resulting in much greater cost to the university and much higher profits for Elsevier.
The problems faced by the University of California (UC) are the usual ones. The publishing giant Elsevier was willing to move to an open access model -- but only if the University of California paid even more on top of what were already "rapidly escalating costs". To its credit, the institution instead decided to walk, depriving Elsevier of around $11 million a year (pdf).But that's not the most important aspect of this move. After all, $11 million is small change for a company whose operating profit is over a billion dollars per year. What will worry Elsevier more is that the University of California is effectively saying that the company's journals are not so indispensable that it will sign up to a bad deal. It's the academic publishing equivalent of pointing out that the emperor has no clothes.The University of California is not the first academic institution to come to this realization. National library consortiums in Germany, Hungary and Sweden have all made the same decision to cancel their subscriptions with Elsevier. Those were all important moves. But the University of California's high-profile refusal to capitulate to Elsevier is likely to be noted and emulated by other US universities now that the approach has been validated by such a large and influential institution.As to where researchers at the University of California (and in Germany, Hungary and Sweden) will obtain copies of articles published in Elsevier titles that are no longer available to them through subscriptions -- UC retains access to older ones -- there are many other options. For example, preprints are increasingly popular, and circulate freely. Contacting the authors directly usually results in copies being made available, since academics naturally want their papers read as widely as possible.And then, of course, there is Sci-Hub, which now claims to provide access to 70 million articles. Researchers that end up at Sci-Hub in search of a hard-to-find item may well discover how much more convenient it is than the traditional subscription services that impose strict controls on access to publications. The risk for Elsevier is that once researchers get a taste of quick, seamless access to everything, they may never want go back to the old system, however much the company slashes its prices to win back business.Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

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Chicago Tried To Justify Not Informing ACLU Of Social Media Monitoring Partner By Saying ACLU Is Really Mean

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My home city of Chicago has built quite a reputation for itself to date. It wouldn't be entirely unfair to suggest that the city's government is run by very silly people who think its citizens are quite stupid, while also managing to build something of a kleptocracy centered around professional corruption. With any such hilariously corrupt institutions, the corruption itself is only half the frustration. The other half is the way the Chicago government thumbs its nose at virtually everyone, so secure is it in its knowledge that its corruption will never result in any serious penalty.An example of this can be found in the way the city government responded to an ACLU FOIA request to disclose the vendor Chicago is using to monitor the social media accounts of its own citizens. If you're thinking that such a program sounds dystopian, welcome to Chicago. If you're thinking there's no way that the city should be able to hide that information from its citizens and that it was obviously disclosed publicly somewhere, welcome to Chicago. And if you thought that a FOIA request must surely be all that it would take to get this information to the public, well, you know the rest.

The ACLU of Illinois today called for an end to an invasive program that allows Chicago police to monitor the social media accounts of the City’s residents. The call comes after the City finally released records Wednesday revealing the name of the spying software that the Chicago Police Department (CPD) has used to covertly monitor Chicagoans’ social media profiles. The release was through litigation filed by the ACLU last June in Cook County Circuit Court seeking to force the City to produce documents in response to a January 2018 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The ACLU was represented by Louis A. Klapp at Quarles & Brady LLP in this request. Previously, CPD acknowledged that it spends hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on social media monitoring software, but refused to provide the name of the software company.
Now, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a platform to monitor the social media activity of its own citizens is bad enough on its own. After all, this isn't the first go around with Chicago doing this very thing. In 2014, Chicago contracted with a different company, Geofeedia, to do exactly this sort of social media monitoring. After the ACLU learned of that relationship and disclosed that Geofeedia marketing materials targeted "activists" and "unions" as "overt threats" for which its platform should be used for monitoring, the reaction of the public was severe enough that many social media sites simply disallowed Geofeedia access from their platforms, rendering them useless to Chicago government.In fact, it was that very occurrence that Chicago used to justify hiding its vendor relationship from the ACLU currently.
Social media sites then subsequently cut off Geofeedia’s access to their users’ data. The City claimed that this public reaction justified hiding future vendors from public view.
What the ACLU was able to get out of the city is that it used another company, Dunami, for surveillance through 2018. The ACLU has filed another FOIA request to get any information on a current contract, if one exists. Meanwhile, the above reasoning -- that Chicago should shield the vendor it uses to monitor the social media habits of its own citizens because the last time the ACLU got that info people didn't like it -- is the kind of reasoning only the most brazenly corrupt regimes could possibly make.

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posted at: 12:00am on 05-Mar-2019
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Promoting catchy video content in B2B businesses

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By Robert Jordan Video content has long been the center of attraction for the online audience. As a marketer, you would have even promoted much online video content, but the key here is to develop content which can resonate and connect with the audience. With the enormous number of video content available online, audiencesare finding […]The post Promoting catchy video content in B2B businesses appeared first on Adotas.

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3 Tips for Responding to Negative Online Reviews

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By Carol Duke Negative online reviews are a bane in today's e-commerce retailers and business owners. However, just ignoring them is no longer an option. In fact, doing so can only make matters worse for your business. According to a 2018 local consumer review survey, 57% of consumers said that they would only buy from […]The post 3 Tips for Responding to Negative Online Reviews appeared first on Adotas.

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Game Jam Winner Spotlight: Will You Do The Fandango?

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Last week, we took a closer look at the winner of Best Digital Game in our public domain game jam, Gaming Like It's 1923. Today, we continue our winner spotlight series with the game that won Best Remix for its combination of material from multiple sources: Will You Do The Fandango? by Lari Assmuth.Fandango is a tabletop roleplaying game with an overall structure that will be familiar to anyone who's played Dungeons & Dragons or its ilk — but where D&D builds worlds by drawing on material from across the fantasy genre, Fandango uses very different source material: the world of Comedia dell'Arte, starting with the 1923 movie Scaramouche that entered the public domain this year. Instead of grand heroism and the battle between good and evil, Fandango aims to create a story of "swashbuckling romance" and big, bombastic melodrama.In standard fashion, playing requires a Gamemaster and a group of players, each of whom creates a character with an array of stats (Action, Passion and Wit). The setting is revolutionary-era France, the characters are members of a traveling troupe of Comedia dell'Arte players, and the GM leads them on an adventure through towns and cities where civil unrest and class struggle are bubbling up. In each location they will meet notable characters, and get into social conflicts — instead of combat mechanics, the game uses rules and dice for witty repartee and dueling insults. At the end of their time in each location, the players put on a performance, and then deal with the fallout.And one of the most intriguing features? Every character has both a "Personage" (the person they are) and a "Mask" (the role they play in the performances) — and while personage is fixed, masks can be traded throughout the game. Also, they are literal masks:

You can download the rules (and printable masks) for the game from its page on Itch, and all you need to get started is a quick read, a couple dice, a pair of scissors, and a few enthusiastic friends. If you get a game going, we'd love to hear how it plays out, and I suspect the creator would too!Next week, we'll be back with another spotlight on one of our winners — and don't forget to check out the full list of entries to spot some of the hidden gems that didn't quite make the final cut. Happy gaming!

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posted at: 12:00am on 03-Mar-2019
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The Guide to Use Marketing Psychology in Your Email Campaign

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Marketing psychology in your email campaign is a determinant to increase people's engagement and curiosity, make them read and respond to the newsletters they get. In this article, you'll learn about the main keys to your audience's heart that enhance your email marketing tools. When getting a newsletter we usually click to open it but […]The post The Guide to Use Marketing Psychology in Your Email Campaign appeared first on Adotas.

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Advantages And Disadvantages Of Gmail And Outlook: Comparison

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By Amelie Blanche Gmail is one of the most popular email providing services, due to the reputation and possibilities that Google as a company can provide. The powerful Google offers a bunch of different features in the Google account in addition to email. As for email, it is stated to be one of the safest […]The post Advantages And Disadvantages Of Gmail And Outlook: Comparison appeared first on Adotas.

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posted at: 12:00am on 02-Mar-2019
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Why Instagram TV Should Be A Part Of Your Marketing Strategy

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Just recently, Instagram released its latest app, The Instagram TV also known as IGTV. With its vertical format, its aligns for both video creation and consumption for your phone. This move is Instagram’s attempt to dethrone YouTube (that has a large platform in engaging users.) The introduction of IGTV can completely change the social media […]The post Why Instagram TV Should Be A Part Of Your Marketing Strategy appeared first on Adotas.

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NZ Study Yet Again Concludes That Piracy Is A Function Of Price And Ease Of Access

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With rates of copyright infringement fluctuating year by year, and country by country, the end result is a debate that goes on as how to best keep rates trending downward. One side of this argument urges a never ending ratcheting up of enforcement efforts, with penalties and repercussions for infringement becoming more and more severe. The other side of the argument suggests that when content is made available in a way that is both convenient and reasonably priced, piracy rates will drop. A decent number of studies have been done that show the latter is the actual answer in this argument, including a study done last summer, which showed innovative business models fare far better than enforcement efforts.Yet it seems it's going to take a compounding series of these studies to get the point across, so it's worth highlighting yet another study that has come out of New Zealand that concludes that piracy rates are a function of pricing and ease of access to content.

According to a new study commissioned by New Zealand telecoms group Vocus Group NZ and conducted in December 2018, this enhanced availability is having a positive effect.“Legitimate streaming content providers are achieving what was impossible for Hollywood to get right: they are stamping out piracy by making available the shows people want to enjoy at reasonable cost and with maximum convenience,” Vocus announced this morning.The company believes that “piracy is dying a natural death” as more locals choose to access content legitimately, via legal services that are both accessible and easier to use than pirate options.“In short, the reason people are moving away from piracy is that it’s simply more hassle than it’s worth,” says Taryn Hamilton, Consumer General Manager at Vocus Group. “The research confirms something many internet pundits have long instinctively believed to be true: piracy isn’t driven by law-breakers, it’s driven by people who can’t easily or affordably get the content they want.”
We internet pundits have also speculated in past discussions that piracy rates probably have some sort of natural floor to them. In other words, rates aren't going to be 0% and it would be unreasonable both to expect them to be, or to attempt to conjure such fantasy rates into existence through legislative efforts. Instead, content providers need to figure out the sweet spot in pricing and ease of access that reaches or approaches that natural floor. Once they have done so, the job is complete. And, rather than having to worry about which enforcement effort to attempt next, content makers can spend their time instead both creating more content and counting all of their money.And, as Vocus points out, this is already beginning to occur organically.
“The big findings are that whilst about half of people have pirated some content in their lives, the vast majority no longer do so because of the amount of paid streaming sites that they have access to,” Hamilton added in a video interview with NZHerald.Indeed, the company’s study shows that 11% of consumers now obtain copyrighted content via illegal streaming platforms, with around 10% downloading infringing content via torrent and similar services.“Generally the survey has said that the vast minority of people are undertaking piracy – it’s just too hard. People prefer to pay for good quality, cheap, legal content, so we think that’s the best way forward,” Hamilton said.
That convenience is the "RtB" portion of the Cwf+RtB equation. Convenience is worth paying for, as demonstrated by thousands of people that are demonized as just wanting something for free, but who nevertheless subscribe to all kinds of content services and otherwise buy all kinds of content. It's a contradiction worth noticing, assuming that creators want payment above control.Meanwhile, Hollywood's New Zealand representatives instead want to pretend that none of this data even exists.
In January 2018, the Motion Picture Distributors’ Association, which represents the major Hollywood studios in New Zealand, said that “nothing” can be done to tackle piracy in the country other than site-blocking. Vocus, however, is opposed to this type of action.
That's the kind of lazy attitude only government lobbying could allow. In the real world, there is a great deal that Hollywood could do to tackle piracy, if only they were willing to try.

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Stupid Patent Of The Month: Veripath Patents Following Privacy Laws

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What if we allowed some people to patent the law and then demand money from the rest of us just for following it?As anyone with a basic understanding of democratic principles can see, that is a terrible idea. In a democracy, elected representatives write laws that apply to everyone, ideally, based on the public interest. We shouldn't let private parties "own" legal principles or use technical jargon to re-cast those principles as "inventions." But that's exactly what the U.S. Patent Office has allowed two inventors, Nicholas Hall and Steven Eakin, to do. Last September, the government proclaimed that Hall and Eakin are the inventors of "Methods and Systems for User Opt-In to Data Privacy Agreements," U.S. Patent No. 10,075,451. The owner of this patent, a company called "Veripath," is already filing lawsuits against companies that make privacy compliance software. With Congress and many states actively engaged in debates over consumer privacy laws, Veripath might soon be using this patent to extract licensing cash from U.S. companies as well.Privacy-For-Functionality isn't an "Invention," it's a Policy DebateClaim 1 of the '451 patent describes a basic data privacy agreement. An API provides personal information from a software application; then the user is asked for a "required permission" for the use of that information. There's one add-on to the privacy deal: in exchange for the permission, the user gets access to "at least one enhanced function."The next several claims go on to describe minor variations on this theme. Claim 2 specifies that the "enhanced function" won't be available to other users. Claim 3 describes the enhanced function as being fewer advertisements; Claim 4 describes offering the enhanced function in exchange for a monetary payment.To say this "method" is well-known is a major understatement. The idea of exchanging privacy for enhanced functionality or better service is so widespread that it has been codified in law. For example, last year's California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) specifically allows a business to offer "incentives" to a user to collect and sell their data. That includes "financial incentives," or "a different price, rate, level, or quality of goods or services." The fact that state legislators were familiar enough with these concepts to write them into law is a sign of just how ubiquitous and uninventive they are. This is not technology this is policy.(An important aside: EFF strongly opposes pay-for-privacy, and is working to remove it from the CCPA. Pay-for-privacy undermines the law's non-discrimination provisions, and more broadly, creates a world of privacy "haves" and "have-nots." We've long sought this change to the CCPA.) Follow the Law, Infringe this Patent Veripath has already sued two companies that help website owners comply with Europe's General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, saying they infringe its patent. Netherlands-based Faktor was sued [PDF] on Feb. 15, and France-based Didomi was sued [PDF] on Feb. 22Some background: Venpath, Inc., a company with a New York address that appears to be a virtual office, assigned the rights in the '451 patent to VeriPath just days before the patent issued in September last year. As it happens, the FTC began enforcement proceedings against VenPath last September. The FTC's complaint [PDF] alleged that VenPath's website represented that "VenPath participates in and has certified its compliance with the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework." The FTC alleged a count of "privacy misrepresentation." It claimed that VenPath "did not complete the steps necessary to renew its participation in the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield framework after that certification expired in October 2017." The FTC issued a Decision and Order [PDF] requiring VenPath to remove the misrepresentations. An exhibit [PDF] attached to the complaint shows that one of the named inventors on the patent, Nick Hall, contacted Faktor to ask what its prices were. Hall identified himself as the CEO of VenPath. Once Faktor responded, Veripath sued Faktor in federal court in New York.In its lawsuits, Veripath claims that basic warnings about cookies on websites, a now-common method of complying with the GDPR, violate its patent. The lawsuit against Faktor notes that Faktor's own website "might not work properly" unless a user consents to having her browser accept cookies.Veripath and its legal team argue that this simple dealaccepting cookie use, in order to visit websitesis enough to infringe the patent. They also claim that Faktor's Privacy Manager software infringes at least Claim 1 of the patent, and facilitates infringement by others. The '451 patent should never have been granted. In our view, its claims are clearly ineligible for patent protection under Alice v. CLS Bank. In Alice, the Supreme Court held that an abstract idea (like privacy-for-functionality) doesn't become eligible for a patent simply because it is implemented using generic technology. Courts have struck down similar claims, like a patent on the idea of conditioning access to content on viewing ads. Even when a patent is invalid, defendants face pressure to settle. Patent litigation is expensive and it can cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars just to get through the early stages. To really protect innovation we have to ensure that patents like the '451 patent are never issued in the first place. The fact that this patent was granted shows the Patent Office is failing to apply the law.We are currently urging the public to tell the Patent Office to stop issuing abstract software patents. You can use our Action Center to submit comments.Republished from the EFF's Stupid Patent of the Month series.

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Two Months Later, News Orgs Are Finally 'Allowed' To Report On Top Vatican Official's Child Molestation Conviction

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Back in December, we wrote about the insane attack on free speech perpetrated by the Australian court system, barring anyone from reporting on the fact that "third most powerful person in the Vatican," its CFO, George Pell, had been convicted of molesting choir boys in Australia in the 1990s. Only a very small number of news sites reported on this at all, out of fear of the Australian government going after them. Even the NY Times (of all sites) only published the story in its physical paper, and not online, to avoid the possibility that readers down under might see the story. We even got some pushback from some people for publishing the story, with them saying it was necessary to make sure Pell's second trial on similar charges was "fair." Of course, we've handled these issues differently in the US for decades, in a way that seems to work just fine: the press is free to report, but jurors are restricted from researching or reading about the case. That system inconveniences the fewest number of people, retains a system of fairness, and does not stifle a free and open press.Either way, on Tuesday, the Australian court system finally lifted the gag order allowing official reports to finally be written. As for why the gag order was finally lifted? Apparently that all important second trial? It's been called off.The Washington Post story above has many more details about the case that were kept secret, including the fairly graphic and horrifying details of what Pell did to some choir boys in the 1990s. It remains an insult to the work of the media that so many were forced to stay silent over these details. I recognize that not everywhere else has a First Amendment like the US does, and that protections for freedom of expression and freedom of the press vary from country to country, but Australia's press gag here is notable for keeping such important details secret and for scaring the media in other nations, including the US, from publishing their stories as well.

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posted at: 12:00am on 01-Mar-2019
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Choosing a Database for Your Mobile App: Everything You Need to Know

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ByIvan Serrano As the heart of most mobile apps, databases are a critical component to the success of an application. Although there are a multitude of different databases to choose from, they all have the same basic function; to collect data. To limit the need of relying on networks, applications utilize cloud services and databases […]The post Choosing a Database for Your Mobile App: Everything You Need to Know appeared first on Adotas.

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posted at: 12:00am on 01-Mar-2019
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Strike 3's Lawyer Sanctioned By Court, Excuses His Actions By Claiming He Can't Make Technology Work

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When it comes to the art of copyright trolling, part of that art necessarily pretends that all potential victims of the trolling effort are assumed to be masters of both technology and copyright law, such that they are both responsible for what goes on with their internet connections and that no action they take could possibly be a forgivable accident. These assumptions operate across the victim spectrum without regard to the the victim being of advanced age or incredibly young, or even whether the victim is sick or lacks the mental capacity to carry out the supposed infringement. The assumption in just about every case is that the accused is fully responsible.Which is the standard that then should be applied to Strike 3 Holding's lawyer, Lincoln Bandlow, who had to go to court to explain why he and his firm failed to provide a status update on 25 cases, despite the court ordering he do so, and was forced to explain why he thinks the court shouldn't just sanction him. Barlow attempts to explain this all away as a simple matter of he and his firm not being able to make their technology work.

The most recent sanctions hearing in Sacramento came as a result of Bandlow and Strike 3 failing to provide a status report related to at least 15 cases within a 45-day period. On Jan. 2, Magistrate Judge Carolyn Delaney ordered Strike 3 to explain why it shouldn’t be sanctioned $250 for missing those deadlines. At least 25 Strike 3 cases are at issue on Wednesday, according to a search of Strike 3’s court dockets.Bandlow said in court filings that Strike 3 failed to file the status reports because it had “encountered issues with its calendaring procedure” for cases in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. He also said the filing mistakes were in part due to a lack of staff during the holidays and an inability to receive emails from the court.
In a separate interview, Bandlow complained that this whole issue is ridiculous, since he claims that in his copyright trolling cases there would be very little about which to update the court after a mere 45 days. He also blamed the failure to provide these status updates on his firm's spam filter. The claim is, apparently, that the firm's spam filter blocked several emails from this specific court. In addition, he and his firm also had issues using this specific court's docketing software.None of which, mind you, would have been valid excuses were this one of Bandlow's copyright cases. You can practically hear one of Strike 3's victims proclaiming that they weren't sure how to set up proper security on their wireless access point to make sure others couldn't come along and use it to infringe. It's obvious how that argument would play to Bandlow's ears were it to be made.It's also worth noting that this particular lawyer aand this particular law firm are not the typical copyright trolling outfits. Fox Rothschild is an enormous firm, employing more than 900 attorneys. Barlow is a higher-up at the firm. With the resources afforded to this lawyer at this firm, blaming technology for not meeting court-mandated deadlines is laughable. And, yet, here he is blaming his inability to whitelist the court's email server as the reason he should not be sanctioned for not following the court's orders.Well, that and the ridiculous claim by Bandlow that he's already sanctioned himself.
Bandlow voluntarily dismissed the cases in which he missed a deadline and told the court he would not file new cases in the Eastern District of California until he was able to fix the technical problems he was experiencing with the court.“In essence, we’ve sort of sanctioned ourselves in a weird way because that is $400 per filing, and all of that is down the drain,” Bandlow said.
It takes a lot to make me cry and this doesn't quite reach that bar. And it didn't meet the court's bar either, apparently as the decision came down to sanction Barlow despite his excuses and despite the voluntary dismissal of the cases in question.
In light of Mr. Bandlow’s representations at the hearing, the court recognizes that his bad faith is not the most egregious kind. The court believes that Mr. Bandlow’s apologies are sincere. At the same time, the fact remains that Mr. Bandlow delayed and disrupted the litigation here by willfully ignoring, and thereby disobeying, explicit orders and warnings from the court—conduct that is unacceptable from any attorney, let alone one with over twenty-five years of experience. See Chambers, 501 U.S. at 46. Therefore, for the foregoing reasons, the court determines that it is appropriate to impose monetary sanctions on plaintiff’s counsel, Lincoln D. Bandlow, but in a lesser amount than originally contemplated.
The sanctions only amount to $750. Still, this is the first time Barlow has ever been sanctioned by a court and it only happened once he decided to get into the trolling bed with a porn company infamous for copyright trolling. Perhaps that will serve as some kind of a warning for other attorneys out there.

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Things To Consider When Developing Anonymous Social Media Apps

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By Julie J. Neel Anonymity on social media is something of a myth. When social media was just beginning, all users were essentially anonymous. However, as these platforms developed, the identities of users began to be revealed. The de-anonymization is what helped platforms like Facebook take off. However with the rise of the social media […]The post Things To Consider When Developing Anonymous Social Media Apps appeared first on Adotas.

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