DailyDirt: Growing Better Strawberries

van TechDirt - za, 07/12/2014 - 02:00
We've talked about how strawberries are actually not berries and about a few cool tidbits about growing them. If you like strawberries, here are just a few more links for your perusal. If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.

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Even The Onion Is Mocking Big Pharma's Focus On Patents Over All Else

van TechDirt - za, 07/12/2014 - 00:43
For many years, we've been pointing out that the big pharmaceutical industry has become so focused, and so reliant, on patents that they've lost sight of the plot. They don't even consider other potential business models or, you know, keeping people healthy. These days, everything is about getting and extending patents, allowing them to charge exorbitant markup rates on drugs around the globe. It's now reached the point that even The Onion is deftly mocking big pharma's patent focus, with a story titled: "New Pfizer Breakthrough Miraculously Extends Lifespan Of Near-Death Patents." Here's a snippet: “At Pfizer, patents always come first. Our primary goal is, and always will be, keeping them alive and healthy for as long as possible. And that’s why we couldn’t be happier to announce this wonderful development.” Hilty added that nothing causes Pfizer officials more distress than seeing a once robust patent expire at a young age, a “terrible tragedy” that allows dozens of generic manufacturers to copy it and offer pharmaceuticals to customers far more cheaply. It's both funny and depressing at the same time, because it's pretty damn accurate. It's disappointing just how far the pharmaceutical industry has gone over the years. Back in 1929, one of the leaders in the pharmaceutical industry, George Merck, declared: We try never to forget that medicine is for the people. It is not for the profits. The profits follow, and if we have remembered that, they have never failed to appear. The better we have remembered it, the larger they have been. That's a noble position to take. That's not how the pharmaceutical industry acts today. At all.

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Kickstarter, Etsy And Dwolla All Speak Out On Net Neutrality And Why The FCC's Plan Is Dangerous To Innovation

van TechDirt - vr, 07/11/2014 - 23:13
During this open comment period for the FCC's proposed rulemaking on net neutrality, it's been great to see hundreds of thousands of comments go in to the FCC on the matter. It's also been fantastic to see that a number of innovative startups have decided to speak out on how important an open and free internet is for being able to build their businesses, to innovate and to compete on the modern internet. They also point out that the current plan from Commissioner Tom Wheeler would put that all at risk. Here are three interesting ones worth mentioning.

First up, is Kickstarter. CEO/co-founder Yancey Strickler wrote a great opinion piece for the Washington Post along with a blog post highlighting the company's actual FCC filing, which is similar to the WaPo piece. Here's just a bit of it, but gives you a sense of why this is so important: Kickstarter, like Wikipedia, Twitter and every other service on the Web, was built on the foundation of an open Internet. We would not exist without it. The more than 60,000 creative ideas that have been brought to life using Kickstarter �” from new technologies to new restaurants to new symphonies �” also depend on a free and open Internet.

Once a fast lane exists, it will become the de facto standard on the Web. Sites unwilling or unable to pay up will be buffered to death: unloadable, unwatchable and left out in the cold. It won’t be enough anymore to have a great idea and to execute it well. New entrepreneurs will have to pay their ISP tax, too.

Though Kickstarter is the largest and best-known “crowdfunding” platform, there are now dozens of similar sites out there. Competition is good. It inspires a better experience for customers. We’re happy to compete on the basis of our product. Under a paid-prioritization system, however, this kind of competition would end. Sites like ours would succeed or fail not on the basis of their passion or service but on whether they have the resources and desire to pay the big Internet carriers.

This proposed system would incentivize entrepreneurs to divert resources from their customers and staff and into paid deals with ISPs. Trading healthy competition for deep pockets is a terrible way to create an innovative, competitive economy.
That third paragraph is a key point that policy makers often don't get about the startup world. People in the startup world thrive on competition -- and they're happy with an open playing field because they believe in their own ability to out-innovate others. It's that sort of entrepreneurial spirit that makes such wonderful innovations online. The whole idea of putting up roadblocks for competitors is the type of thing that tends to happen later in a company's life, when they're less about innovating and expanding markets, and more about protecting their turf.

The end of net neutrality would make it easier for turf protecting, but make it much harder for the kind of open competition and innovation that drives so many entrepreneurs.

The next company is Etsy, the famed online marketplace, which has a blog post from Althea Erickson (the company's director of public policy) and a link to the company's comment with the FCC from CEO Chad Dickerson. Both are worth reading. Etsy’s continued growth depends on equal access to consumers. Any rule that allows broadband providers to negotiate special deals with some companies would undermine our and our sellers’ ability to compete.

Etsy hosts over 25 million products; yet we are a low-margin business. We made a values-based decision to charge only $0.20 to list an item and 3.5% of every sale, much lower than other e-commerce platforms.

We spend considerable resources ensuring that large, high-resolution photos load quickly and efficiently. We have also considered offering our sellers the ability to create and share videos, which they could use to introduce themselves and the unique process behind their products. But our low margins would not allow us to pay for priority access to ensure our site loaded as quickly as rival sites if the FCC’s proposed rules went into effect.

If a consumer were to click on an Etsy shop and perceive delays in images loading or videos buffering, they would likely click away to another site, and our seller would lose that sale. We can’t predict the future of e-commerce or product innovations, but we want to ensure that Etsy sellers can reach buyers with the same technologies as any other online retailer.

Ultimately, the micro-businesses who sell on Etsy would suffer most if the FCC moves forward with this proposal. Most US Etsy sellers (88%) are women running micro-businesses out of their homes. Taken individually, they may be small, but together they sold over $1.35 billion worth of goods last year. The Internet has democratized access to entrepreneurship for a whole new cohort of Americans, and Chairman Wheeler’s proposal threatens to undermine this progress by creating a pay-to-play environment that gives even greater advantage to entrenched interests.
As with Kickstarter, Etsy is highlighting how the real impact will be on the users of these services, people who have been able to build tons of unique and wonderful businesses that mostly wouldn't have been possible before. They are now -- but they could be at risk if the FCC mucks this up.

The final company is payments company Dwolla, which posted its comment to the FCC from the company's founder and CEO Ben Milne. Here's an excerpt: Dwolla supports an open Internet and we rely on it for the success of our business. Without an open Internet, companies, such as ours, would not be able to achieve the level of innovation made possible today. Technical discrimination and pay-to-play deals may directly harm Dwolla. We are working hard to develop our networks and scale our breakthroughs to the masses. Dwolla does not believe we can sustain our low-cost value proposition should a pay-for-priority come to fruition. We believe that there are legitimate concerns around the payments incumbents’ ability to outbid newer companies, such as ourselves, with existing cash on hand. Should we be negatively affected, Dwolla could be forced to increase transaction rates to our users, which conflicts directly with our low-cost business model. Additionally, Dwolla’s real-time payments service is dependent on the speed and reliability of payments. This impacts both us and our users. First, conducting business outside of the fast-lane would mean slower transactions and an impairment of one of our major competitive advantages; second, our users would not be able to transact amongst themselves with the same ease and assurances.

Government policy should encourage competition and innovation in payments processing, which would result in greater efficiency, speed and low-costs for businesses and consumers across the economy. The FCC should impose a rule against unreasonable discrimination, relying on Title II of the Communications Act. Technical discrimination and pay-for-play arrangements considered by the FCC will only stymie the types of innovation and creative solutions needed to address our country’s financial needs, which we believe the CFPB should encourage for the benefit of all consumers.
While so many like to pit the net neutrality fight as just a battle between internet giants like Netflix against broadband giants like Comcast, it's stories like the three above that show it's about much, much more than that. These three platforms have had tremendous success over the past few years, but in all three cases, the success is driven by the fact that they've enabled people and many thousands of small businesses and entrepreneurs to do things that simply weren't possible before. It's a powerful message that's often lost in this debate.

As a reminder there are just a few days left if you want to add your own comments for the FCC to consider. And, as a further reminder, our crowdfunding campaign for our net neutrality reporting is still ongoing. If you support it, it will allow us to dig deeper and explore how the potential rules might impact companies like those above and many others as well. And, if you pledge now, you'll have double the impact thanks to the matching funds that have been agreed to by some key donors.

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Film Distributor, Copyright Enforcement Company Join Forces To Kick Creative Commons-Licensed Film Off YouTube

van TechDirt - vr, 07/11/2014 - 22:06

Infringement takedown notices: can't live with them, rights holders won't let your service live without them. YouTube once again is the flashpoint, with a Creative Commons-licensed film being taken down in response to a takedown notice. The Aaron Swartz documentary, "The Internet's Own Boy," was briefly knocked offline by a bogus copyright claim (that it was likely an error doesn't make it any less bogus) filed by Remove Your Media, LLC.

Brian Knappenberger, the director and producer of the film (which is also available through paid streaming services, along with other non-paid outlets like the Internet Archive), confirmed that no one on his side of the film had anything to do with it. "It wasn't done by us," Knappenberger told the Daily Dot. "I'm trying to figure out [who issued the claim]." The Daily Dot contacted Remove Your Media, which refused to offer any insight on this bogus copyright claim. A representative for Remove Your Media, Eric Greene, refused to name the client who hired him for the takedown, though he noted it was "a distributor outside the U.S." Greene then deployed the most unfortunate excuse anyone can offer post-World War II. "We were just following orders," Greene said. Apparently, the documentary's foreign distributor confused CC-licensing with regular old copyright, if it even bothered to check on the film's US distribution rights before it issued the notice. (The Internet Archive's upload is one of the few places foreign viewers won't run into a "Sorry, but this content is not available in your country" message.) A representative for one of the film's U.S. distributors attributed the takedown to "miscommunication," and expressed confidence it would be resolved soon. And, what do you know, it actually was. As of this point, the film has already been restored to its fully playable glory, something of an anomaly in an era when even clearly erroneous takedowns take hours or days to be reinstated -- if they ever are.

On one hand, with a platform of YouTube's size, mistakes are inevitable. On the other hand, if the DMCA provided for a notice-and-notice system, minor debacles like this could be easily averted. Instead, it's a notice-and-takedown system that makes it all too easy to pull the trigger and let those at the other end deal with the damage. Companies attempting to protect their content are all too willing to move quickly, rather than move carefully, resulting in a lot of collateral damage -- sometimes including to their own assets.

Fortunately, this was fixed quickly, and even if it wasn't, several viewing options remain. But this is yet another indication that the ease of YouTube's takedown system is only making things progressively worse, rather than reaching some sort of balance between YouTube users and rights holders.

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Kozinski Doubles Down On Ridiculous Garcia Ruling, But Hints At How District Court Could Correct Most Of His Mistakes

van TechDirt - vr, 07/11/2014 - 20:58
Things had been a bit quiet on the Garcia v. Google front for the past few months. As you may recall, this was the ridiculous legal fight, in which an actress, who was in the infamous "Innocence of Muslims" film, sued Google for not taking down the video after she made a copyright claim on it. The district court rightly laughed that argument out of court, noting that as an actress in the film, she had no copyright interest in the film. However, in a move that left nearly everyone in the copyright world scratching their head, on appeal, famed judge Alex Kozinski basically made up an entirely new section of copyright law to say that she did, in fact, have a copyright interest in her role in the film, and that because of that, Google was ordered to remove every copy of the entire film from its sites and that Google couldn't talk about it for a period of time.

Once all this came out there was an immediate uproar and a variety of challenges. Kozinski shot down an emergency motion to stay the ruling, but did amend the original order to admit that copies of the video without the scene including Cindy Lee Garcia could remain up on the site. Still, another judge on the court actually asked the entire court to reconsider, and Google asked the entire court to reconsider the entire case, leading a whole bunch of folks to weigh in -- all on the side of Google. Even we weighed in in a filing written by lawyer Cathy Gellis, highlighting how Congress clearly intended to protect intermediaries from liabilities in situations like this.

Things had been entirely silent on the case for a really long time, but this morning, the court issued "an amended opinion," which appears to be Kozinski both doubling down on his original, ridiculous ruling while at the very same time offering a bunch of outs for the lower court to fix what Kozinski himself totally screwed up. It's the most bizarre type of tap dancing you'll see in a judicial ruling in a long time. Basically, for all of the arguments that show why Kozinski is wrong, he just puts his arms up and says "hey, no one raised that issue, so we ignored it." Nothing we say today precludes the district court from concluding that Garcia doesn’t have a copyrightable interest, or that Google prevails on any of its defenses. We note, for example, that after we first issued our opinion, the United States Copyright Office sent Garcia a letter denying her request to register a copyright in her performance. Because this is not an appeal of the denial of registration, the Copyright Office’s refusal to register doesn’t “preclude[] a determination” that Garcia’s performance “is indeed copyrightable.” .... But the district court may still defer to the Copyright Office’s reasoning, to the extent it is persuasive....

After we first published our opinion, amici raised other issues, such as the applicability of the fair use doctrine..., and section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.... Because these defenses were not raised by the parties, we do not address them. The district court is free to consider them if Google properly raises them
That latter issue, of how Section 230 is relevant here, is the one that we raised in our brief, so it's nice that he "acknowledges" that it exists here, but this is still a pretty weak response.

Later, he does this again with the First Amendment argument. In the original, he totally dismissed any First Amendment questions with a breezy (and misleading) "the First Amendment doesn't protect copyright infringement." Here he tries to "clarify" that by admitting that "oh yeah, there's fair use," but it doesn't matter since Google didn't raise fair use: “First Amendment protections are ‘embodied in the Copyright Act’s distinction between copyrightable expression and uncopyrightable facts and ideas,’ and in the ‘latitude for scholarship and comment’ safeguarded by the fair use defense.” ... Google hasn’t raised fair use as a defense in this appeal, see page 11 supra, so we do not consider it in determining its likelihood of success. This does not, of course, preclude Google from raising the point in the district court, provided it properly preserved the defense in its pleadings. Of course all of this ignores the basic fact that none of those arguments made sense at all because it was absolutely ridiculous to argue that an actress had a copyright interest in a film in the first place. It's long been established that that's simply not true. Furthermore, as the new dissent snarkily points out in a footnote, Kozinski's desire to avoid addressing these rather obvious flaws in his own argument are pretty damning: The majority’s amended opinion also attempts to hedge its conclusion that Garcia has a copyright interest in her acting performance by avoiding counter arguments it failed to address, because they were not raised by the parties. Maj. op. at 11, 19. Yet, the majority could consider these arguments sua sponte “under exceptional circumstances, where substantial public interests are involved, or where to not do so would be unduly harsh to one or both of the parties.” ... The majority’s failure to even engage this inquiry, instead quickly dismissing arguments against its view, confirms its error This amended ruling is a bizarre look into the mind of Judge Kozinski. He seems to recognize that he messed up royally in the original decision... but he's too proud to let it go. So, instead, he's basically doubling down on his original, questionable reasoning, while adding in all these ways that the impact of his own terrible decision might effectively be minimized, if only people raised a variety of defenses that shouldn't have mattered in the first place, if Kozinski hadn't read the law so incredibly wrong. Even if it does go back to the district court, and the court rules correctly under Kozinski's "new" rules, the original precedent would still stand.

Of course, this process isn't even close to over. The ruling notes that the court is still considering an en banc rehearing with a larger panel of judges from the 9th Circuit, who would hopefully overrule Kozinski entirely, and drop this horrible precedent. But, for now, we have to wait, and live with Kozinski's unwillingness to admit to his mistakes.

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Obtained Emails Show NSA Officials Knew In Advance Of GCHQ's Plans To Destroy The Guardian's Computers

van TechDirt - vr, 07/11/2014 - 19:59

Last year, in a move simultaneously symbolic, thuggish and completely futile, GCHQ officials forced The Guardian to destroy computers "containing" Snowden documents. The fact that the documents were also housed elsewhere (including at two American newspapers) mattered little. The point was simple: we can get to you. In the service of "national security," the GCHQ came down on the journalistic entity with something straight out of the Running A Dictatorship For Fun And Profit handbook. Exact words deployed: "You've had your debate. There's no need to write more."

NSA officials notably refused to comment on the GCHQ's actions, perhaps hoping critics would view the silence as disapproval or, at the very least, pointedly not condoning the hardware destruction. The White House publicly condemned the destruction, stating that it was "hard to imagine" this sort of thing happening domestically. That was just the PR front, apparently. Documents obtained by the AP show that NSA officials and administration staff were not only notified in advance of the GCHQ's plans, but also offered their support of this action. General Keith Alexander, the then director of the NSA, was briefed that the Guardian was prepared to make a largely symbolic act of destroying documents from Edward Snowden last July, new documents reveal.

The revelation that Alexander and Obama's director of national intelligence, James Clapper, were advised on the Guardian's destruction of several hard disks and laptops contrasts markedly with public White House statements that distanced the US from the decision. GCHQ's attempted prior restraint found support from the upper levels of the NSA. Presumably, officials knew how empty the effort was (what with documents having been spread to the New York Times, ProPublica and others), but that still didn't stop at least one official from greeting the GCHQ's plans with enthusiasm. An email to Alexander from Rick Ledgett, now deputy director of the NSA, has the subject line "Guardian data being destroyed", and is dated 19 July, a day before the destruction of the files. Most is heavily redacted, but Ledgett remarks: "Good news, at least on this front." Ledgett has a bizarre definition of "good news." All this move did was confirm that the GCHQ cared more about pretending it could somehow regain control of the situation than it did about freedom of the press. These obtained documents show the NSA's top men think the same way. Given these two countries' close surveillance relationship, this news comes as a bit of a surprise (considering earlier administration statements) but certainly not as a shock.

When one "free world" country applauds another's low-rent thug tactics (even in secrecy), the message is clear: the public needs to be taught not to question things above its pay grade.

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After Microsoft Returns All Of No-IP's Seized Domains And Settles Lawsuit, No-IP Is Still Angry

van TechDirt - vr, 07/11/2014 - 18:58
We recently wrote about Microsoft going to court and convincing a judge to (with no adversarial hearing) allow it to seize a bunch of domain names from No-IP, redirecting all traffic to them through Microsoft's own servers. Those servers quickly encountered problems, meaning that many people who relied on No-IP's dynamic DNS system, found that they couldn't access their sites. Microsoft later blamed this on a "technical error" but it still appeared that the seizure effort was a gross abuse of the legal process. Remember, in the lawsuit that allowed Microsoft to seize the domains, it had claimed that No-IP parent Vitalwerks had been breaking the law.

Either way, it appears that Microsoft has now returned all the domains to No-IP and settled the lawsuit. According to a joint statement by the companies: Microsoft has reviewed the evidence provided by Vitalwerks and enters into the settlement confident that Vitalwerks was not knowingly involved with the subdomains used to support malware. Those spreading the malware abused Vitalwerks’ services.

Microsoft identified malware that had escaped Vitalwerks’ detection. Upon notification and review of the evidence, Vitalwerks took immediate corrective action allowing Microsoft to identify victims of this malware. The parties have agreed to permanently disable Vitalwerks subdomains used to control the malware.

In the process of redirecting traffic to its servers for malware detection, Microsoft acknowledges that a number of Vitalwerks customers were impacted by service outages as a result of a technical error. Microsoft regrets any inconvenience these customers may have experienced.
No-IP for its part has also put out a more detailed explanation for how all of this happened. It's worth reading. It also takes apart a number of Microsoft's claims, including the company's claim that, prior to returning the domains, it had "fixed" the problems people were having accessing their sites. No-IP reiterates that if Microsoft had just contacted the company first, it would have taken down the abusive customers. Clearly, even though the situation was settled, No-IP is reasonably upset that it happened in the first place: While we are extremely pleased with the settlement terms, we are outraged by Microsoft’s tactics and that we were not able to completely and immediately restore services to the majority of our valuable customers that had been affected.

At No-IP, we are firm believers that the Internet should be free and open. We will continue to fight for the rights of our users and our business. Moving forward, we have provisioned a solution that will reduce the risk of domain seizures.
Later it notes: We hope that Microsoft learned a lesson from this debacle and that in the future they will not seize other companies domains and will use appropriate channels to report abuse. Wouldn't that be nice.

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[Ticker] Russian proposals left out of joint text on EU-Ukraine treaty

van EU Observer - vr, 07/11/2014 - 18:45
A joint EU-Russian-Ukrainian communique on the EU-Ukraine trade treaty has left out Russian proposals to amend the pact and to delay its implementation if Russia requests so after expert-level talks in July and August. EU commissioner De Gucht declined to say if Ukrainian implementation will be delayed until September, however.

Categorieën: Europees nieuws

EU sees likelihood of Israeli ground attack on Gaza

van EU Observer - vr, 07/11/2014 - 18:32
EU diplomats believe Israel will launch a ground invasion of Gaza the moment that a Hamas rocket kills Israeli citizens.

Categorieën: Europees nieuws

[Ticker] More migrants needed in EU to offset age demographics

van EU Observer - vr, 07/11/2014 - 17:57
The EU needs migrants to offset future age demographic disparities, according to an EU-funded research paper released on Friday. Without migration in the EU, the number of people over 65 are set to increase by 32 million by 2030 while those under 40 are set to drop by 31 million.

Categorieën: Europees nieuws

DOJ Won't Pursue Case Against CIA For Spying On Senate Staffers Or Against Senate Staffers For Handling CIA Documents

van TechDirt - vr, 07/11/2014 - 17:55
As you may recall, a few months back, a big story broke involving the CIA spying on Senate Intelligence Committee staffers who were investigating the CIA's torture program. The details revealed that in the course of their investigation, the CIA had given the staffers an internal document they didn't think they'd given them, which revealed that an internal CIA analysis more or less agreed with the Senate analysis (which has been described as "scathing"). This was a very different position than what the CIA had said publicly. After some in the Senate had asked for the "full report" rather than the draft that the staffers had been given, the CIA believed (incorrectly it appears) that the staffers had gotten access to unauthorized classified materials, and searched the special private network that had been set up just for those staffers. This happened after previous problems with the CIA doing questionable things concerning the Senate staffers network.

In the end, both sides asked the DOJ to investigate the other side. The DOJ has now said that it won't pursue either claim: "The department carefully reviewed the matters referred to us and did not find sufficient evidence to warrant a criminal investigation," said Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr. Perhaps this isn't too surprising. The fact that the CIA itself handed the document to the staffers made that claim a pretty clear dead end. However, the CIA searching through the staffers' computer network always seemed a lot more questionable, but perhaps not criminal. It seems likely that the DOJ realized that to pursue either side in this would create a huge political mess, and it was just easier to let the case go, and let the two sides continue to glare angrily at each other.

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Schenden communicatiegeheim alleen met rechter

van Bits of Freedom - vr, 07/11/2014 - 17:03

Vrijdagmiddag, vier uur. Waar anderen de koelkast openen voor een biertje, opent Bits of Freedom de website van onze overheid. Het is het vaste tijdstip voor nieuwsberichten over de onderwerpen waar we ons druk over maken. Vandaag is niet anders: alle vormen van communicatie gaan grondwettelijk beschermd worden, lezen we, dus ook elektronische. Waarom is dit nieuws voor op de vrijdagmiddag?

Vrijdagmiddag is voor de overheid een ideaal moment om nieuwsberichten te publiceren waarop ze felle kritiek verwacht. Wat dat betreft is het verrassend dat de regering op een vrijdagmiddag meldt dat zij een wetsvoorstel naar de Tweede Kamer stuurt waarmee geregeld wordt dat alle vormen van communicatie grondwettelijk worden beschermd. Toch?

Het addertje zit aan het eind van deze paragraaf:

Dit houdt in dat de overheid niet in de inhoud van communicatie mag kijken, [...]. In een aantal situaties is inzage wél geoorloofd, bijvoorbeeld voor de politie of inlichtingendiensten, maar daar is altijd toestemming van de bevoegde autoriteit voor nodig.

De regering wil daarmee zeggen: het communicatiegeheim is heilig, behalve als wij vinden dat het niet zo is. Want de kans is groot dat de regering met die “bevoegde autoriteit” lang niet altijd een rechter bedoelt. Toen het ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken een concept van deze wet rondstuurde stond daarin:

Ieder heeft recht op vertrouwelijke communicatie. Beperking van dit recht is alleen mogelijk […] of in het belang van de nationale veiligheid door of met machtiging van hen die daartoe bij de wet zijn aangewezen.

En dat laatste kan dus ook zomaar de minister zelf zijn, zoals dat nu ook al geregeld is. Bits of Freedom vindt dat onvoldoende. Dat de regering het communicatiegeheim wil uitbreiden tot alle vormen van communicatie is fantastisch (en dringend nodig). Uitzonderingen zouden echter alleen na een rechterlijke toetsing mogelijk moeten zijn. Ons voorstel:

Het communicatiegeheim is onschendbaar, behalve in de gevallen bij de wet bepaald, op last van de rechter.

We zien hier een mooie en belangrijke taak voor de Tweede Kamer weggelegd.


Categorieën: Technieuws

[Ticker] Slovenian newcomer set to win elections

van EU Observer - vr, 07/11/2014 - 16:58
Opinion polls ahead Slovenia's early parliamentary elections on Sunday show put the party of Miro Cerar, a newcomer to the political scene and son of an Olympic medalist, in first place (30%). The party of former PM Janez Jansa, jailed for corruption, is set to come in second (25%).

Categorieën: Europees nieuws

[Ticker] Merkel to meet Putin in Brazil

van EU Observer - vr, 07/11/2014 - 16:47
German Chancellor Angela Merkel may hold brief talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the World Cup final on Sunday, her spokesman said in a press conference. Merkel is an avid soccer fan, while Putin is going because Russia will host the next World Cup, in 2018.

Categorieën: Europees nieuws

Warner Brothers Pulls Plug On Viral Greenpeace Ad Utilizing 'The Lego Movie' Theme Song (And Legos)

van TechDirt - vr, 07/11/2014 - 16:34
Another clear case of fair use is greeted by a major studio with, "Hey, that's our stuff!" A new campaign from Greenpeace targeting Lego's partnership with Shell has been nuked from orbit by Warner Bros. Entertainment. The short video depicted a stylized, Lego-built Arctic (complete with Eskimos, arctic wolves and Halo's Master Chief) being slowly swallowed by oil to a downtempo cover of The Lego Movie's impossibly catchy theme song "Everything is Awesome."

You used to be able to watch it on YouTube, where it had racked up nearly three million views before this happened.

Apparently, Warner Bros. Entertainment took issue with the use of the theme song and the inclusion of the two Lego Movie characters (seen briefly near the end of the 90-second video) and issued a takedown. Whether or not you agree with Greenpeace's complaint, there's no denying the fact that its use of the theme song and very brief use of these characters is clearly parodic fair use.

Greenpeace has now moved the video to Vimeo, where it will possibly receive a stronger fair use defense from the hosting company, although still in the form of "oblige takedown request first, investigate later." It may work a little harder to defend this one up front, considering all the viewers that were heading to YouTube to catch Greenpeace's new viral video are now landing on its doorstep.

Warner Bros.' action here isn't exactly censorship (as it probably was agnostic about the video's message) but it's not exactly forgivable either. Seeing as this video probably didn't trigger an automated takedown by YouTube's content-matching system, it was most likely the result of an active search for infringement, which means whoever's policing content for WB ignored everything but the song and the brief appearance of its Lego Movie characters. Once again, digital shouts of "MINE!" trump fair use.

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Apparently Not Too Many People In Europe Care About Having Microsoft's Bing 'Forget' Them

van TechDirt - vr, 07/11/2014 - 14:51
It's no secret that Google has a much larger market share than Microsoft's Bing search engine -- especially in Europe where Google has been much more successful than its competitors. However, Bing and other search engines are still subject to the terrible EU Court of Justice ruling on the right to be forgotten, which has resulted in Google removing a bunch of links. As we noted, Google was flooded with requests, and had to set up a process and staff to handle them all -- something it hasn't done a very good job with so far.

So, what's Microsoft doing? Well, it's taking it's time, but is promising to get a request form similar to Google's up. It doesn't sound like it's going to have to hire a very big staff to do so, because it appears that Microsoft's biggest concern in Europe may be more that it's been forgotten by Europeans. Almost no one is asking Bing to forget them: When Google released its web form on May 30, for instance, it received about 12,000 requests within the first 24 hours. Microsoft is thought to have received fewer than 20 requests that day. Ouch. That's almost insulting. Hell, even we received a request under that ruling (though a bogus one).

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