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British Schizophrenic Jailed for Encryption

Posted by Andrew at 10:24 AM on November 25, 2009

Britain has some of the most draconian security laws of the “free” world.  Many of these laws are brought in under the guise of fighting terrorism and paedophiles (which are always guaranteed vote winners) and of course, if you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to worry about.

Unless you’re an schizophrenic amateur scientist with a distrust of the authorities and you refuse to hand over the encryption keys (passwords) to your USB memory sticks.   That’ll cost you an initial 13 months in jail followed by detention in a secure mental unit at Her Majesty’s pleasure.

Ok, so the case is slightly more complex but the heart of the matter is that this person had done nothing wrong before he was detained by police returning to the UK from France on suspicion of terrorism because he had a model rocket, though the rocket was without its explosive motor.  From that point on, it was a downward spiral.

And how many terrorists and paedophiles have been sent to prison using the same law.  Zero.

The whole sorry tale is at The Register.

Whose Book is it Anyway

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 4:37 PM on July 17, 2009

Have you looked at your  Amazon  Kindle recently, well if you purchased the book 1984 by Orwell on it, it’s no longer there. That is right, Amazon removed it remotely at the bequest of the publisher. This was first reported by David Pogue of the NY Times in his article  Some E-Books Are More Equal Than Others.  This isn’t a book that people downloaded illegally from bittorent, no they purchased it on the Amazon site legally.  It seems that the publisher of the book decided that they didn’t want to be on the Kindle anymore, so Amazon removed all books by that publisher from the Kindle.  Including those that Kindle owners had already purchased.  Amazon did refund the money, but that is really not the point.    If it had happen to me I would feel like I had been violated and my house had been broken into.  I think that Amazon is too willing to give into the publishers, and that this will hurt them in the long run.

The question this brings up is who really owns an electronic book or any book for that matter.   Many authors and publishers would say that they own the rights to their works,  and that they should decide what the consumer can and can’t do with their works.   Most consumer on the other hand believe that once they buy a book it is theirs to do as they please. They can lend it to a friend, sell it at a used book store, give it to charity etc.  However if you brought that same book on a Kindle, there  is no mechanism to lend it to a friend or to sell it. There is certainly no reason technologically speaking that sharing couldn’t be allowed. The reason it is not is that the publisher don’t want it, they are afraid of loosing money and control. Most people accept this as a limitation of the Kindle, and are willing to live with it.  However, I  doubt  that most consumer, think that the publisher’s right should extend to them having the right to remove a book that the consumer brought legally.  Whether the publisher has their work on the Kindle is up to them, just as they have the right choose which brick and mortar bookstore they sell it  at.   Therefore they have the right to remove their books  from the Kindle  store just as they would from a brick and mortar store.   That is where  their rights should end though, they should not have the right to take that book from me once I brought it. Whether I purchased the book electronically or  in the real world.   However, the rights of consumers, publishers, and authors have not been fully determined in the digital age.   It may take years  for the law to catchup with the technology.  In the mean time though it maybe a good idea to keep that real world copy of your favorite book, just in case.  Clearly this will not be the last time a situation like this comes up.

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DVDXCopy – If you can’t Beat Em, Join Em.

Posted by susabelle at 11:20 AM on August 3, 2008

The Software DVDXCopy by 321 Studios was banned in the US 5 years ago after a big battle with Hollywood. 321 studios took on a lawsuit stating that people have a right to backup and archive material they purchased. The movie studios countersued, and in February 2004, it was ruled that DVDXCopy violated Digital Millennium Copyright Act laws and was officially banned in the US.

Well, the website apparently revamped their site from the Sale of the DVDXCopy software to an informational website of the best DVD Copy software. They review 3 different DVD copy programs, but are heavily pushing DVDneXtCopy, which the pro version can allow copying of single, Double sided DVD’s in multiple formats including formats for the iPod and PSP.

The site is not shy on saying that the XCopy version has been banned. But they are also warning people that there are fake versions of the software out there.

Of course we all know that copying movies for redistribution is illegal. However I would like to back up my movies in the case of damage. When I travel I don’t like to take original movies – I like to take copies. That way if something happens, I don’t lose the original.

Then again, with items like Blockbuster and Netflix around, will copying DVDs be as important nowadays?

Shame on You, Apple – Leave Psystar Alone

Posted by susabelle at 11:57 PM on July 15, 2008

*NOTE: I made a couple slight corrections to highlight the points in this article. I am not siding with Apple nor Psystar. I am siding with the consumer for wanting an Apple machine at a decent price.

Apple finally went for the Psystar Jugular as they not only filed a major lawsuit, but also want “All Open Computers Sold” recalled. Therefore if you bought a Psystar with the OSX 10.5 software on it, you would have to return it to Psystar. Good luck in getting a refund or a replacement machine.

Apple is also going for Triple the amount of damages and a permanent injunction of sales. This move could easily wipe out the small Florida based company.

I cannot believe that Apple is this selfish in the game. I cannot believe that Apple is willing to put another company under for giving consumers an alternative and maybe getting them interested in Apple computers.

It seems more and more relevant that Apple is a money grubbing company. How do you expect to get more than 20% marketshare if you deny the consumer market every time? How do you expect to beat the PC if you are not willing to make it affordable?

CNet has already noted that Apple charges almost three times as much for accessories (like Memory) for their machines then a company like Dell. Yes, you can buy a Mac Mini for $600, but what do you really get? For $600 I can get a usable Windows PC or even a good laptop. The Mac Mini has no real upgrade options (video for example), and if you want to upgrade items like memory, well get out that pocketbook. The Mac Mini doesn’t even come with a mouse or keyboard (it’s only a $5-10 addition in production cost).

The only customizable machine is the Mac Pro for $2800. For $2800, I can equip 8 people with decent PC’s. I can equip 2-4 people with high-end machines.

Maybe Psystar shouldn’t be the ones who need to be sued. Don’t get me wrong here – Psystar was wrong for selling the OS and should be penalized.But did their actions really harm Apple enough for them to go for triple the damage? NO. Not even to set an “Example”.

Say what you want about Intel and Microsoft. At least you know where those snakes are. Apple is posing as the “Friendly Snake” that is just gonna bite you in the…. well… derriere. It’s understandable they want to protect their stuff. But is this really necessary? Even if it might mean a five to ten percent Marketshare increase?

Shame on you Apple. SHAME ON YOU.

Is the end of ‘business methods’ patents too much to hope for?

Posted by todd at 6:05 AM on March 8, 2008

It probably is, however there is conjecture that a case up before the federal court of appeals might change the patentability of business methods. Reffered to as Bilski (after the last name of the original filer), the patent was files in 1997 and was one of the first to claim a patent on a business method, and the ruling that upheld it against challenge is considered the validation of business process patents as a concept.

While the case has been heard in appeal before the new look at the facts is expected to overturn the patent. The reality is that it is possible to overturn the patent without changing the nature of methods patents, but given that this case was one of the original citations for precedent it would give a hit to the practice. Unfortunately now, there are so many other cases that could be cited as precedent it could be way too late to shut that gate without lawmakers getting involved.

The idea that a business method represents true innovation that deserves patent protection is not intellectually defenseable, but the nature of the corporate beast is to take whatever advantage they can get. If this is not the end of this sorry saga hopefully it is a nail in its coffin.