Cowardice: Gutless House Republicans retract copyright paper in less than 24 hours

It took less than 24 hours for the entertainment industry's lobbyists to bully the House Republican Study Committee into retracting its eminently sensible copyright position paper. They did it with a mealy-mouthed apology, claiming the paper "was published without adequate review." Here's Mike Masnick on the subject:

The idea that this was published "without adequate review" is silly. Stuff doesn't just randomly appear on the RSC website. Anything being posted there has gone through the same full review process. What happened, instead, was that the entertainment industry's lobbyists went crazy, and some in the GOP folded.

Frankly, if they wanted to win back the youth vote, this was exactly how not to do it. If you just look through the comments on our post on the original, or through the Twitter response to this report, there were tons of people -- many of whom were lifelong Democrats -- claiming that they would switch parties if the GOP stuck with this. Instead, they folded like a cheap card table in less than 24 hours.

Here's a mirror from KEI, and another from the MD Pirate Party.

That Was Fast: Hollywood Already Browbeat The Republicans Into Retracting Report On Copyright Reform

(Image: Chicken., a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from 29278394@N00's photostream) Read the rest

5th Annual Machinima Expo ends tomorrow

The Machinima Expo is a 3-day, virtual film festival devoted to screening and celebrating machinima, a form of 3D animation that grew out of the video game and hacking community back in the late 1990's. This the 5th year of the Expo.

Junkbot clockwork spiders with lightbulbs

JM Gershenson-Gates, a sculptor who makes watch-part jewelry, has produced a few watch-part/light-bulb spiders and other crawlies that are nothing short of amazing. He's sold out, but he says he's making more, which is good news for me.

The spiders were a huge hit! Read the rest

Zombie documentary from "The People v George Lucas" crew needs your support

DOC OF THE DEAD will delve deep into the myriad crevasses of zombie culture to deliver the first-ever in-depth look at a contemporary social pandemic of global proportions.

What do we do about untrustworthy Certificate Authorities?

OpenSSL maintainer and Google cryptographer Ben Laurie and I collaborated on an article for Nature magazine on technical systems for finding untrustworthy Certificate Authorities. We focused on Certificate Transparency, the solution that will shortly be integrated into Chrome, and also discuss Sovereign Keys, a related proposal from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Both make clever use of cryptographic hashes, arranged in Merkle trees, to produce "untrusted, provable logs."

In 2011, a fake Adobe Flash updater was discovered on the Internet. To any user it looked authentic. The software’s crypto­graphic certificates, which securely verify the authenticity and integrity of Internet connections, bore an authorized signature. Internet users who thought they were applying a legitimate patch unwittingly turned their computers into spies. An unknown master had access to all of their data. The keys used to sign the certificates had been stolen from a ‘certificate authority’ (CA), a trusted body (in this case, the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute) whose encrypted signature on a website or piece of software tells a browser program that the destination is bona fide. Until the breach was found and the certificate revoked, the keys could be used to impersonate virtually any site on the Internet.

Secure the Internet (PDF) Read the rest

Clarkesworld is an excellent science fiction pub, its publisher has hit hard times and needs your support

Martin sez, "Neil Clarke over at Clarkesworld SF blog/magazine is ill and just lost his job. John Scalzi has called for uniform support by subscribing to Clarkesworld magazine. It's a highly regarded mag for up and coming sf authors and might need some attention."

I agree with John's assessment. Clarkesworld is a fabulous publication, a labor of love, and something that makes the world a better place. It has been a launching-spot for numerous wonderful writing careers, and deserves your support (and Neil Clarke is a first-class mensch). I just subscribed. You can also donate.

Clarkesworld is an excellent magazine, and it’s also a story market that pays more than the SFWA minimum for professional-level sales, meaning that it’s a good market for writers, too. You can read its content for free on the Web site, but there’s also an option for you to subscribe to the magazine as well, and have it delivered to your e-reader, or to donate to the site to support it.

Today is a Good Day to Subscribe to Clarkesworld Magazine Read the rest

Taliban uses CC instead of BCC, exposes identity of 400+ contacts

A Taliban spokesperson sent out a press-release and used CC instead of BCC, exposing a long list of Taliban press-contacts, as well as several parties friendly to Taliban communiques.

The list, made up of more than 400 recipients, consists mostly of journalists, but also includes an address appearing to belong to a provincial governor, an Afghan legislator, several academics and activists, an l Afghan consultative committee, and a representative of Gulbuddein Hekmatar, an Afghan warlord whose outlawed group Hezb-i-Islami is believed to be behind several attacks against coalition troops.

Taliban Oops Reveals Mailing List IDs [Muhammad Lila, ABC] (via Techdirt) Read the rest

House Republicans release watershed copyright reform paper

Three Myths about Copyright Law and Where to Start to Fix it (PDF) is a position paper just released by House Republicans, advocating for a raft of eminently sensible reforms to copyright law, including expanding and clarifying fair use; reaffirming that copyright's purpose is to serve the public interest (not to enrich investors); to limit statutory damages for copyright infringement; to punish false copyright claims; and to limit copyright terms.

This is pretty close to the full raft of reforms that progressive types on both sides of the US political spectrum have been pushing for. It'll be interesting to see whether the Dems (who have a much closer relationship to Hollywood and rely on it for funding) are able to muster any support for this.

Mike Masnick's got good analysis of this on TechDirt, and notes that this is a huge shift from the House that, 10 months ago, was ready to pass SOPA.

Update: It took less than 24 hours for the entertainment industry's lobbyists to bully the House Republican Study Committee into retracting its eminently sensible copyright position paper. They did it with a mealy-mouthed apology, claiming the paper "was published without adequate review." Here's a mirror from KEI, and another from the MD Pirate Party.

This document really is a watershed moment. Even if it does not lead to any actual legislation, just the fact that some in Congress are discussing how copyright has gone way too far and even looking at suggestions that focus on what benefits the public the most is a huge step forward from what we've come to expect.

Read the rest

Long Now building a new bar/coffee shop, raising money with long booze

Jeffrey 'Toast' McGrew sez, "The ever-amazing Long Now Foundation hired us to help them transform their somewhat-boring bookstore / gallery into an amazing library / event space / coffee & cocktails bar. But the really cool part is that they are selling bottles of fancy spirits to raise the money. Gin made from 5000 year old pine needles, from the clock site itself! Whiskey you'll get to taste over the next 15 years! It's crazy and we're honored to have been part of it, and thought y'all might want to know about it too."

St. George Spirits in Alameda has created two exclusive spirits for Long Now, each truly a distillation of long-term thinking. The first is an aromatic gin made with juniper berries harvested by hand among the 5,000-year-old bristlecones from our site in eastern Nevada.

The other spirit is a whiskey made from a tailored selection of grains, fermented and distilled in such a way that it will be delicious without aging, while growing more intricate and complex every year. We will bottle a small amount each year for the next 15 years, allowing you to taste its annual progression.

We invite you to help The Long Now Foundation build a new salon space... (Thanks, Jeffrey!) Read the rest

Award for radical kids' literature

Letterbox Library and the Alliance of Radical Booksellers announce the Little Rebels Children's Book Award, given for "children's fiction for readers aged 12 and under which promotes social justice." (Thanks, Paul!) Read the rest

Cinema Pirata: Brazilian edition of Pirate Cinema

I've just wrapped up a couple of days at the Fliporto literary festival in Olinda, Brazil, and was delighted to get a copy of the newly published Cinema Pirata, the Brazilian edition of Pirate Cinema, published by the excellent Galera Record. Read the rest