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  • Aereo Files For Bankruptcy

    An anonymous reader writes: After losing its Supreme Court case in June and briefly attempting to transform itself into a cable company, Aereo is now filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy. Their service worked by letting people stream over-the-air television to their internet-connected devices. The content industry pushed back, and though Aereo argued its way through several lower courts, they say, "The U.S. Supreme Court decision effectively changed the laws that had governed Aereo's technology, creating regulatory and legal uncertainty. And while our team has focused its energies on exploring every path forward available to us, without that clarity, the challenges have proven too difficult to overcome."

    107 comments | 4 hours ago

  • Swedish Court Refuses To Revoke Julian Assange's Arrest Warrant

    An anonymous reader writes A Swedish court rejected an appeal by Julian Assange to revoke a detention order issued over allegations of sexual assault. "In the view of the Court of Appeal there is no reason to set aside the detention solely because Julian Assange is in an embassy and the detention order cannot be enforced at present for that reason," the appellate court added. "When it comes to the reasons for and against detention, i.e. the assessment of proportionality that is always made when use is made of a coercive measure such as detention, the Court of Appeal considers that Julian Assange's stay at the embassy shall not count in his favor since he can himself choose to bring his stay there to an end."

    182 comments | 6 hours ago

  • Harvard Students Move Fossil Fuel Stock Fight To Court

    mdsolar writes A group of Harvard students, frustrated by the university's refusal to shed fossil fuel stocks from its investment portfolios, is looking beyond protests and resolutions to a new form of pressure: the courts. The seven law students and undergraduates filed a lawsuit on Wednesday in Suffolk County Superior Court in Massachusetts against the president and fellows of Harvard College, among others, for what they call "mismanagement of charitable funds." The 11-page complaint, with 167 pages of supporting exhibits, asks the court to compel divestment on behalf of the students and "future generations."

    184 comments | yesterday

  • US Gov't Seeks To Keep Megaupload Assets Because Kim Dotcom Is a Fugitive

    mrspoonsi writes with this excerpt from Billboard: 'On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice told a Virginia federal judge that Kim Dotcom and cohorts have no business challenging the seizure of an estimated $67 million in assets because the Megaupload founder is evading prosecution. The government brought criminal charges against Dotcom in early 2012, but he's been holed up in New Zealand awaiting word on whether he'll be extradited. The government got antsy and this past July, brought a civil complaint for forfeiture in rem, a maneuver to firmly establish a hold over money from bank accounts around the world, luxury cars, big televisions, watches, artwork and other property allegedly gained by Megaupload in the course of crimes. Dotcom is fighting the seizures by questioning the government's basis for asserting a crime, saying "there is no such crime as secondary criminal copyright infringement," as well as challenging how the seized assets are tied to the charges against Dotcom. But according to the U.S. government, Dotcom doesn't get the pleasure of even making the arguments. In a motion to strike, the government cites the doctrine of fugitive disentitlement, which bars a person from using the resources of the court if that person is aware of prosecution and is evading it.

    163 comments | yesterday

  • Court Shuts Down Alleged $120M Tech Support Scam

    wiredmikey writes A federal court has temporarily shut down and frozen the assets of two telemarketing operations accused by the FTC of scamming customers out of more than $120 million by deceptively marketing computer software and tech support services. According to complaints filed by the FTC, since at least 2012, the defendants used software designed to trick consumers into believing there were problems with their computers and then hit them with sales pitches for tech support products and services to fix their machines.

    According to the FTC, the scams began with computer software that claimed to improve the security or performance of the customer's computer. Typically, consumers downloaded a free, trial version of the software that would run a computer system scan. The scan always identified numerous errors, whether they existed or not. Consumers were then told that in order to fix the problems they had to purchase the paid version of the software for between $29 and $49. In order to activate the software after the purchase, consumers were then directed to call a toll-free number and connected to telemarketers who tried to sell them unneeded computer repair services and software, according to the FTC complaint. The services could cost as much as $500, the FTC stated.

    119 comments | 2 days ago

  • City of Toronto Files Court Injunction Against Uber

    Sebolains writes: The city of Toronto in Ontario, Canada has filed a court injunction on Uber Canada Inc. today that requests for all operations in the city to cease. Uber has been operating there since 2012 without a license from the city, and so officials are concerned that Uber's operations pose a risk to both drivers and riders. How quickly this will happen, we don't know, but the city has asked the courts to be expedient in hearing this application.

    167 comments | 2 days ago

  • Court Rules Google's Search Results Qualify As Free Speech

    wabrandsma writes with this news from Ars Technica: The regulation of Google's search results has come up from time to time over the past decade, and although the idea has gained some traction in Europe (most recently with "right to be forgotten" laws), courts and regulatory bodies in the U.S. have generally agreed that Google's search results are considered free speech. That consensus was upheld last Thursday, when a San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled in favor of Google's right to order its search results as it sees fit.

    134 comments | 3 days ago

  • Big Talk About Small Samples

    Bennett Haselton writes: My last article garnered some objections from readers saying that the sample sizes were too small to draw meaningful conclusions. (36 out of 47 survey-takers, or 77%, said that a picture of a black woman breast-feeding was inappropriate; while in a different group, 38 out of 54 survey-takers, or 70%, said that a picture of a white woman breast-feeding was inappropriate in the same context.) My conclusion was that, even on the basis of a relatively small sample, the evidence was strongly against a "huge" gap in the rates at which the surveyed population would consider the two pictures to be inappropriate. I stand by that, but it's worth presenting the math to support that conclusion, because I think the surveys are valuable tools when you understand what you can and cannot demonstrate with a small sample. (Basically, a small sample can present only weak evidence as to what the population average is, but you can confidently demonstrate what it is not.) Keep reading to see what Bennett has to say.

    243 comments | 4 days ago

  • Can the US Actually Cultivate Local Competition in Broadband?

    New submitter riskkeyesq writes with a link to a blog post from Dane Jasper, CEO of Sonic.net, about what Jasper sees as the deepest problem in the U.S. broadband market and the Internet in general: "There are a number of threats to the Internet as a system for innovation, commerce and education today. They include net neutrality, the price of Internet access in America, performance, rural availability and privacy. But none of these are the root issue, they're just symptoms. The root cause of all of these symptoms is a disease: a lack of competition for consumer Internet access." Soft landings for former legislators, lobbyists disguised as regulators, hundreds of thousands of miles of fiber sitting unused, the sham that is the internet provider free market is keeping the US in a telecommunications third-world. What, exactly, can American citizens do about it? One upshot, in Jasper's opinion (hardly disinterested, is his role at CEO at an ISP that draws praise from the EFF for its privacy policies) is this: "Today’s FCC should return to the roots of the Telecom Act, and reinforce the unbundling requirements, assuring that they are again technology neutral. This will create an investment ladder to facilities for competitive carriers, opening access to build out and serve areas that are beyond our reach today."

    135 comments | 5 days ago

  • FCC Says Net Neutrality Decision Delay Is About Courts, Not Politics

    blottsie writes with this news from The Daily Dot: "The Federal Communications Commission's seemingly suspicious timing in delaying its net neutrality decision has absolutely nothing to do with recent politics, according to an FCC official. Instead, it's a matter of some people in the agency insisting they be more prepared before going to court to defend their eventual plan. In January, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., ruled in favor of Verizon, which challenged the FCC's 2010 Open Internet rules, striking down the agency's net neutrality protections. The court found that the FCC did not use the proper legal structure to establish its regulatory authority over broadband service—something that many legal experts say would not be the case if the FCC invokes Title II. The FCC's move to delay the net neutrality decision, which followed President Obama's support of Title II reclassification, was just a coincidence, according to the FCC official:" Before the president weighed in, several of our staff felt like the record was a little thin in areas, and the last thing you want when you go to court for the third time is for a court to say the record was too thin, or you didn't give adequate notice. We are going to be so careful this time that we have crossed every T and dotted every I. Some of the staff felt we're not quite there yet."

    60 comments | about a week ago

  • No, You Can't Seize Country TLDs, US Court Rules

    itwbennett writes A U.S. court has quashed an attempt to seize Iran's, Syria's and North Korea's domains as part of a lawsuit against those countries' governments. The plaintiffs in the case wanted to seize the domains after they successfully sued Iran, Syria and North Korea as state sponsors of terrorism. But the court found the domains have the nature of a contractual right, and ruled that rights arising under a contract cannot be seized as part of a judgment.

    118 comments | about a week ago

  • Carmakers Promise Not To Abuse Drivers' Privacy

    schwit1 provides this excerpt from an Associated Press report: "Nineteen automakers accounting for most of the passenger cars and trucks sold in the U.S. have signed onto a set of principles they say will protect motorists' privacy in an era when computerized cars pass along more information about their drivers than many motorists realize. The principles were delivered in a letter Wednesday to the Federal Trade Commission, which has the authority to force corporations to live up to their promises to consumers. Industry officials say they want to assure their customers that the information that their cars stream back to automakers or that is downloaded from the vehicle's computers won't be handed over to authorities without a court order, sold to insurance companies or used to bombard them with ads for pizza parlors, gas stations or other businesses they drive past, without their permission. The principles also commit automakers to 'implement reasonable measures' to protect personal information from unauthorized access." Also at the Detroit News. Adds schwit1: "It's a meaningless gesture without being codified into law. A greedy car manufacturer or NSL trumps any 'set of principles'." The letter itself (PDF) isn't riveting, but it's more readable than some such documents, and all the promises it makes are a good reminder of just how much data modern cars can collect, and all the ways that it can be passed on.

    98 comments | about a week ago

  • Overbilled Customer Sues Time Warner Cable For False Advertising

    An anonymous reader writes According to a lawsuit filed Friday in a New York court, when Jeremy Zielinski signed up for Time Warner Internet service after seeing an ad that it was $34.99 a month, he didn't expect his first bill to be more than $94. He didn't expect he'd have to fight for weeks to resolve it. And he didn't expect that, Time Warner's next step would be to sell him faster speeds, not bother to tell him his modem couldn't handle them, send him a bill anyway, then demand that he drive to the local office at his own expense to get a compatible modem. So he's taking the cable giant to court, accusing it of false advertising and deceptive business practices. While a lone individual fighting in court against the second largest cable company in the world certainly doesn't have the odds in his favor, this could get interesting. According to the complaint, he opted out of TWC's binding arbitration clause a few days after he opened his account, so he might have a shot of keeping this issue in real court. Stay tuned for more.

    223 comments | about a week ago

  • GNOME Project Seeks Donations For Trademark Battle With Groupon

    Drinking Bleach writes Groupon has released a tablet-based point of sale system called Gnome, despite the well-known desktop environment's existence and trademark status. This is also not without Groupon's internal knowledge of the GNOME project; they were contacted about the infringement and flatly refused to change the name of their own product, in addition to filing many new trademark applications for theirs. The GNOME project is seeking donations to help them in a legal battle against these trademark applications, and to get Groupon to stop using their name. They are seeking at least $80,000 to challenge a first set of ten trademark applications from Groupon, out of 28 applications that have been filed.

    268 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Manslaughter Conviction Overturned For Scientists Who Didn't Predict Earthquake

    Jason Koebler writes: Geologists who didn't warn a town about an impending earthquake are not murderers, an Italian appeals court ruled today. A 2012 decision that rocked the scientific world has been overturned, according to Italy's Repubblica newspapers and confirmed by other Italian outlets. In that decision, six prominent geologists and one government worker were convicted of manslaughter for failing to notify the town of L'Aquila of a 2009 earthquake that killed at least 309 people. The scientists were originally sentenced to six years in prison and were to pay more than $10 million in damages.

    139 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Canadian Police Recommend Ending Anonymity On the Internet

    An anonymous reader writes "Michael Geist reports that last week the Ontario Provincial Police, one of Canada's largest police forces, recommended legally ending anonymity on the Internet. Noting the need for drivers licenses to drive or marriage licenses to get married, the police suggested that an Internet license that would reveal all users is needed to address online crime. The Canadian Supreme Court strongly endorsed a right to anonymity earlier this year."

    231 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Washington Dancers Sue To Prevent Identity Disclosure

    An anonymous reader writes with this BBC story about a Washington open-records law that is having some controversial consequences for some unlikely people. "Government open-records requests can be boring. Government open-records requests made by a man who wants to obtain information about 70 licensed strippers in his town so he can 'pray for them', on the other hand... The godly citizen in question is David Allen Van Vleet of Tacoma, Washington. In September he filed court papers to obtain personal information on 70 government-licensed nude dancers at a nightclub in his area — including their full names, addresses, photos and dates of birth. (Yes, Washington requires nude dancers to pay a $75 a year license fee.) The county auditor granted his request under the state's open-records law - although she also notified area dancers and club managers of her action. On 21 October two licensees sued to block the release of the information. Two days later a county judge issued a temporary order blocking the release, with a final decision scheduled for 15 December."

    461 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Computer Scientists Ask Supreme Court To Rule APIs Can't Be Copyrighted

    An anonymous reader writes: The EFF, representing a coalition of computer scientists, filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court yesterday hoping for a ruling that APIs can't be copyrighted. The names backing the brief include Bjarne Stroustrup, Ken Thompson, Guido van Rossum, and many other luminaries. "The brief explains that the freedom to re-implement and extend existing APIs has been the key to competition and progress in both hardware and software development. It made possible the emergence and success of many robust industries we now take for granted—for example, mainframes, PCs, and workstations/servers—by ensuring that competitors could challenge established players and advance the state of the art. The litigation began several years ago when Oracle sued Google over its use of Java APIs in the Android OS. Google wrote its own implementation of the Java APIs, but, in order to allow developers to write their own programs for Android, Google's implementation used the same names, organization, and functionality as the Java APIs."

    254 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Aereo Shutting Down Boston Office

    An anonymous reader writes with news that Aereo is shutting down its Boston office and laying off some NYC staff. "Aereo's bad year just got worse. The company said on Thursday that it will shut down its Boston office and lay off 43 employees, citing yet another adverse court ruling and its trouble obtaining additional investment. According to Virginia Lam, a VP at Aereo, the company is not shutting down entirely: 'In an effort to reduce costs, we made the difficult decision to lay off some of our staff in Boston and New York. We are continuing to conserve resources while we chart our path forward. We are grateful to our employees for their loyalty, hard work and dedication. This was a difficult, but necessary step in order to preserve the company. We decline to comment further,' Lam wrote in an email."

    40 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Undersized Grouper Case Lands In Supreme Court

    An anonymous reader writes The Supremes have decided to hear a case regarding whether groupers are 'tangible articles' under the Sarbanes-Oxley law. The issue is that the crew of the Miss Katie was caught with undersized fish. A marine fisheries officer wrote them a ticket and put the fish in a box that the captain was ordered to turn in when he got ashore. Rather than do this, they threw out the undersized fish and replaced them with bigger ones. Prosecutors, rather than charging them with offenses of catching undersized fish (which would have resulted in a fine and a small jail sentence), went after them under the Sarbanes-Oxley law which forbids the destruction of "any record, document, or tangible object" and which could result in a 20 year prison sentence, though the prosecutor only asked for two years on this one. Lawyers are arguing over whether "tangible object" here is something that could contain records, or whether it's any object whatsoever that might be evidence. So far in comments, many of the conservative justices, including Roberts, Alito and Scalia, have expressed skepticism as to whether this would lead to overcriminalization for petty crimes and would give prosecutors undue leverage given all the things Sarbanes-Oxley can apply to. They also question whether this was intended in the law, given that "tangible object" was listed in a context including documents and records and appears to have been only contemplated in terms of servers, DVDs, or other tangible objects that might contain documents or records. Meanwhile, Kagan and Kennedy appear amenable to a more literal reading of the statute, given that groupers are in fact touchable and that makes them "tangible objects" under the ordinary meaning of those words.

    251 comments | about two weeks ago

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