Boing Boing 

Pfizer threatens pharmacists, doctors if they take its name in vain


Pfizer's patent on pregabalin -- an anti-epilepsy med -- expires this year, but there's another patent on using the public domain drug to treat neuropathic pain; in a shocking letter to UK doctors, the pharma giant warns of dire consequences should medical professionals dare to prescribe the generic for the patented use.

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Roca Labs sues unhappy customer who agreed to testify against it


This is the "non-surgical gastric bypass" company whose terms of service forbid complaining, and require you to let them use any kind of success you experience to publicly endorse the company, who are suing pissedconsumer.com for having a message board where its customers are complaining about its product.

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How Microsoft hacked trademark law to let it secretly seize whole businesses

The company expanded the "ex parte temporary restraining order" so it could stage one-sided, sealed proceedings to take away rival businesses' domains, sometimes knocking thousands of legit servers offline.

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Video: Death threats for skeptic who leafleted at Sally Morgan "psychic" show

When Mark Tilbrook politely and peacefully distributed leaflets at venues where "psychic" Sally Morgan was performing, her son and husband threatened to beat him up (and even to have him murdered), uttered homophobic and racist slurs, and, eventually, served him with a legal threat.

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UK "psychic" threatens legal action against sceptic


Mark Tilbrook distributed fliers at three of Sally Morgan's stage-shows, urging the audience to view the alleged psychic's performance through a sceptical lens.

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Weight-loss company sues customer for posting negative review to Better Business Bureau

Roca Labs makes the "Non Surgical Gastric Bypass" (which one expert says is mostly industrial food thickeners) with terms-of-sale that prohibit complaining if you get sick, or don't like the product, or feel like you were ripped off.

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Yet another Ikea fan-site threatened by the company


It's not just Ikeahackers: Ikea has gone all-out war on its web-fans.

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Long term health benefits of bullying

“Our study found that a child’s role in bullying can serve as either a risk or a protective factor for low-grade inflammation,” William E Copeland, one of the researchers and an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University School of Medicine, said in a statement.

Undercover cop tricks autistic teen into buying pot

An undercover cop from the Riverside Sheriff's Department pressured a teen with autism, Tourette Syndrome, and bipolar syndrome to buy a tiny amount of pot for him, then arrested him and got him expelled from school. What a shameful thing to do.

The ordeal began on the first day of school last fall. The family had just moved to a new neighborhood and their son began his senior year at a new school, Chaparral High, in the Temecula Valley Unified School District. Their son rarely socialized, so his mom was thrilled when he announced that he had made a new friend in art class on the first day of school.

"We were so excited. I told him he should ask his friend to come over for pizza and play video games," says Catherine Snodgrass, "but his new friend always had an excuse."

His new friend, who went under the name of Daniel Briggs, was known as "Deputy Dan" to many students because it was so apparent to them that he was an undercover officer. However, to their son, whose disabilities make it hard for him to gauge social cues, Dan was his only real friend.

Dan reportedly sent 60 text messages to their son begging for drugs. According to his parents, the pressure to buy drugs was too much for the autistic teen who began physically harming himself.

Riverside Cop Tricks Autistic Teen into Buying Pot

Technologically illiterate MP who masterminded UK porn blocker gets hacked, threatens reporter for writing about it


Claire Perry is the UK Tory MP who architected David Cameron's idiotic national porno firewall plan. Her website was hacked and defaced with pornographic gross-out/shock images. When Guido Fawkes, a reporter and blogger, wrote about it on his website, Perry took to Twitter to accuse him of "sponsoring" the hack, and publicly announced that she would be speaking to his editor at the Sun (Fawkes has a column with the tabloid) to punish him for writing about her embarrassment.

Perry is so technologically illiterate that she can't tell the difference between writing about someone hacking your website and hacking itself. No wonder she's credulous enough to believe the magic-beans-peddlers who promise her that they'll keep porn off the British Internet -- a feat that neither the Chinese nor the Iranian governments have managed.

There are a couple of very obvious observations to make about this particular exchange beyond the fact that she evidently doesn’t understand the difference between a hyperlink and a screenshot:-

The first is that Perry’s apology to “anyone affected by the hacking of my website sponsored by @GuidoFawkes” is quite clearly defamatory, assuming that Guido didn’t in fact ‘sponsor’ the website hacking – and frankly, I’ve known Guido long enough to know that he’s certainly not dumb enough to get his hands dirty in such a manner.

The second is that, having failed to intimidate Guido into dropping his article, Perry resorts to threatening his paid gig as a columnist at the Sun on Sunday, and whatever you think of his decision to take the Murdoch shilling, the fact remains that threats of this kind are absolutely characteristic of the would-be bully who fails to get their own way on the internet and a key reason why so many bloggers have, over the years, chosen to write under a pseudonym, particularly those of us who write about controversial subjects and issues.

For the record, I'm no fan of Fawkes, and I wouldn't line a birdcage with the Sun. But when a powerful politician threatens to get journalists fired for reporting inconvenient news, she abuses her office and acts as a public bully. Perry is perfectly awful in every single way, and has committed a major ethical breach, as well as likely violating Britain's (ridiculous) libel laws.

Ministry of Truth » Blog Archive » Cameron ‘Porn’ Advisor’s website ‘hacked’ – Threatens/Libels Blogger [Unity/Ministry of Truth]

(via O'Reilly Radar)

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Independent Brewers United says they own sixes and nines


Magic Hat IP, LLC and Independent Brewers United Corporation filed a remarkably spurious trademark lawsuit against West Sixth Brewery in Lexington, KY. Ben sez:

The suit alleges that West Sixth's own logo, which is a "6" within a circle, infringes upon its trademarked "#9" mark and is "directing Defendant West Sixth to account for and to pay over to Magic Hat all profits realized by West Sixth as a result of its use of the 6 Marks, its infringement of MagicHat's trademarks and trade dress, and its acts of unfair competition" as part of the awards it seeks from this suit.

Magic Hat is owned by North American Breweries, a large, multinational corporation that produces and imports several different brands of beer. West Sixth, on the other hand, is a local startup started about a year ago that strives to give back to its own community through financial donations, environmental stewardship, and community activities, many of which are free for attendees.

Brewer Magic Hat files federal lawsuit against West Sixth Brewing

EFF updates the Takedown Hall of Shame

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published its latest "Takedown Hall of Shame" installment, listing three companies that used baseless and stupid legal threats to censor the Internet. The current crop includes Kern's Kitchen in Louisville, which claims a trademark on the common term "Derby Pie" and threatens bloggers who post their family recipes for the classic desert -- they also target WordPress.com for their threats (one victim changed the name of the recipe to "Mean Spirited Censorship Pie").

Another inductee is Time Warner Cable, who went after a critic who put up a site making fun of the company's terrible customer service, trying to get its YouTube, Twitter and other social media sites taken down.

Finally, there's Fox, which earned a place in the Hall of Shame by sending out fraudulent takedown notices over my bestselling novel Homeland, swearing on pain of perjury that it represented me (it doesn't).

Takedown Hall of Shame Inductions, May 2013

Rumored Statue of Liberty face-recognition supplier harasses and threatens journalist

Slate's Ryan Gallagher caught wind of a new face recognition software being rolled out at the Statue of Liberty. He interviewed a rep from Total Recall, who were reported to be representing Cognitec, the German company whose product, FaceVACS was going in on Liberty Island. Halfway through the interview, Total Recall's director of business development Peter Millius terminated the call, saying that the project was on hold, or possibly cancelled, "vetoed" by the Park Police.

Then it got weird. Cognitec and its lawyers began to barrage Gallagher with emails and letters warning him that if he wrote about this, they'd sue him. When he asked Total Recall for clarification, they threatened to sue him, personally, for harassment. The National Park Service didn't have much to say about the bid, saying "I'm not going to show my hand as far as what security technologies we have." Go, security-through-obscurity! Hurrah for spending tax dollars without any transparency!

Gallagher reported the whole story, including the threats. Whatever merits or demerits Total Recall and Cognitec have as companies, turning into weird, opaque legal-threat-generating machines in the middle of an interview and harassing and intimidating journalists sounds like the kind of thing that should disqualify them from getting any of the American public's money.

“We do work with Cognitec, but right now because of what happened with Sandy it put a lot of different pilots that we are doing on hold,” Peter Millius, Total Recall’s director of business development, said in a phone call. “It’s still months away, and the facial recognition right now is not going to be part of this phase.” Then, he put me hold and came back a few minutes later with a different position—insisting that the face-recognition project had in fact been “vetoed” by the Park Police and adding that I was “not authorized” to write about it.

That was weird, but it soon got weirder. About an hour after I spoke with Total Recall, an email from Cognitec landed in my inbox. It was from the company’s marketing manager, Elke Oberg, who had just one day earlier told me in a phone interview that “yes, they are going to try out our technology there” in response to questions about a face-recognition pilot at the statue. Now, Oberg had sent a letter ordering me to “refrain from publishing any information about the use of face recognition at the Statue of Liberty.” It said that I had “false information,” that the project had been “cancelled,” and that if I wrote about it, there would be “legal action.” Total Recall then separately sent me an almost identical letter—warning me not to write “any information about Total Recall and the Statue of Liberty or the use of face recognition at the Statue of Liberty.” Both companies declined further requests for comment, and Millius at Total Recall even threatened to take legal action against me personally if I continued to “harass” him with additional questions.

Lady Liberty’s Watching You (via Reddit)

(Image: Statue of Liberty Paris, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from francehousehunt's photostream)

Transcripts of bullying voicemails left by porno copyright troll to ex-caretaker and alleged identity theft victim

If you've been following the sad saga of the porno copyright trolls Prenda Law, you'll know that Alan Cooper is the former caretaker of John Steele, who is apparently the man behind a spiraling series of ever-scammier attempts to get people to pay money in order to keep their names out of embarrassing court filings over alleged illegal porn downloading. And you'll know that Alan Cooper has says that John Steele stole his identity and put his name down on various corporate and legal filings, identifying the former caretaker as the head honcho of the whole corrupt empire.

Now, a new filing in the court docket includes transcripts of threatening, bullying voicemails that Steele left for his alleged victim, trying to scare him into silence. Here's a taste, courtesy of TechDirt, which has more context:

From second voicemail:

It's like if you refuse to, you know, return my calls or -- or engage in mandatory conference, then I'm going to have to be forced to ask the judge to, you know, force you to do things and it just gets ugly from there.

So if you do decide to get an attorney in either of those matters or in the other cases which we're filing against you in the upcoming weeks, please let them -- have them give me a call. This number's fine. Otherwise, I expect to hear from you shortly.

From third voicemail

Alan, this is John Steele again.

You have not responded or contacted me regarding litigation you're involved in. I know you've been served with a third lawsuit. And there are more coming. Don't worry about that.

Well, obviously, if I don't hear from you, I'm going to start filing for certain default motions and start getting relief that way.

I can assure you that just ignoring legal matters, it's not going to go away. I can guarantee you, I'm not going away.

So I highly recommend you at least, you know, follow the rules.... otherwise your life is going to get really complicated.

I don't know what's more amazing -- the sheer gall of threatening this poor guy, or the sheer stupidity of doing so on a recorded voicemail system.

Transcripts Of John Steele's Phone Calls To Alan Cooper [Techdirt]

To This Day: a video manifesto on childhood bullying, by Shane Koyczan

Don't miss this extraordinary video by Shane Koyczan, part of his "To This Day" project.

"My experiences with violence in schools still echo throughout my life but standing to face the problem has helped me in immeasurable ways," says Shane. "Schools and families are in desperate need of proper tools to confront this problem. This piece is a starting point."

More here.

Montreal comp sci student reports massive bug, is expelled and threatened with arrest for checking to see if it had been fixed

Ahmed Al-Khabaz was a 20-year-old computer science student at Dawson College in Montreal, until he discovered a big, glaring bug in Omnivox, software widely used by Quebec's junior college system. The bug exposed the personal information (social insurance number, home address, class schedule) of its users. When Al-Khabaz reported the bug to François Paradis, his college's Director of Information Services and Technology, he was congratulated. But when he checked a few days later to see if the bug had been fixed, he was threatened with arrest and made to sign a secret gag-order whose existence he wasn't allowed to disclose. Then, he was expelled:

“I was called into a meeting with the co–ordinator of my program, Ken Fogel, and the dean, Dianne Gauvin,” says Mr. Al-Khabaz. “They asked a lot of questions, mostly about who knew about the problems and who I had told. I got the sense that their primary concern was covering up the problem.”

Following this meeting, the fifteen professors in the computer science department were asked to vote on whether to expel Mr. Al-Khabaz, and fourteen voted in favour. Mr. Al-Khabaz argues that the process was flawed because he was never given a chance to explain his side of the story to the faculty. He appealed his expulsion to the academic dean and even director-general Richard Filion. Both denied the appeal, leaving him in academic limbo.

“I was acing all of my classes, but now I have zeros across the board. I can’t get into any other college because of these grades, and my permanent record shows that I was expelled for unprofessional conduct. I really want this degree, and now I won’t be able to get it. My academic career is completely ruined. In the wrong hands, this breach could have caused a disaster. Students could have been stalked, had their identities stolen, their lockers opened and who knows what else. I found a serious problem, and tried to help fix it. For that I was expelled.”

The thing that gets me, as a member of a computer science faculty, is how gutless his instructors were in their treatment of this promising student. They're sending a clear signal that you're better off publicly disclosing bugs without talking to faculty or IT than going through channels, because "responsible disclosure" means that bugs go unpatched, students go unprotected, and your own teachers will never, ever have your back.

Shame on them.

Youth expelled from Montreal college after finding ‘sloppy coding’ that compromised security of 250,000 students personal data [Ethan Cox/National Post]

Cassandra Clare, author and internet-bullying victim, "on hiatuses and hate blogs"

Fantasy author Cassandra Clare, writing about her experience at the receiving end of some fairly serious and organized internet bullying.

These sort of attacks are so shocking/upsetting because they break the social contract we have come to expect decent people to adhere to: that people don’t attack your personal relationships, that they don’t sneer not just at your friends but at the idea that you might have friends, that they don’t attack the way you look or your family or your ethnicity/religion. The thing is, to the hate bloggers, and to the kind of people who send anonymous hateful messages, the object of their hate isn’t a person. To them, I am not a human being. My family are not real people.

Been there. It sucks. (via Maureen Johnson)

TOM THE DANCING BUG: What Mischief Does Li'l Mitt Get Into This Time?

Support Tom the Dancing Bug and receive BENEFITS and PRIVILEGES by joining the INNER HIVE right now!

“My only argument with Ruben B.

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Steve Almond on Mitt Romney and bullying: "To Behave Like The Fallen World"

A powerful piece at The Rumpusby Steve Almond about reports that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was a cruel homophobic bully in high school. "It’s just bullshit, total fucking sociopathic bullshit. And it makes me sad that such an episode comes to light and all Romney can do—a guy who wants to be elected to our highest office—is nervously lie and make excuses, as if this were political problem. It’s not a political problem. It’s a moral problem. It’s a sin he committed for which any believer would seek atonement." [* contains a graphic description of a sexual assault.]

On Tweetbombing and the Ethics of Attention

Something weird happened on Twitter yesterday. It was annoying and upsetting at the time, but now it's meaty fodder for behavioral analysis discussions. Ethan Zuckerman wrote a blog post about it that extracts some of the more interesting questions raised about social media and activism.

* Postscript: I've since traded tweets with the two guys behind the stunt, and we're cool.

Some justice at last, for space-loving teen podcaster paralyzed by bullies

sawyer.jpg

Photo : an iPhone snap I took of Sawyer (L) with space journalist Miles O'Brien (center) and astronaut Leroy Chiao (R) during the STS-135 SpaceFlightNow live launch webcast. This shot was taken minutes before the shuttle took off from launchpad 39A.

Sawyer2-(1).jpg

One of the bright spots in attending NASA shuttle launches last year with Miles O'Brien and the SpaceFlightNow webcasters was meeting a teen space enthusiast named Sawyer Rosenstein (web/Twitter). The 18-year old runs an awesome space podcast, does space education work with children, advocates for science and space awareness, and lots of other cool stuff. We invited him to write a guest feature for Boing Boing, and it is one of my favorite guest posts ever.

Sawyer is physically disabled, as a result of a brutal bullying incident at age 12 that followed many other bullying incidents in school—he reached out to administrators for help early on, and got none.

Today, 6 years after the sucker punch that permanently changed his body, Sawyer received some justice. A $4.2 million settlement with the school district governing the middle school where the attack took place. His family also reached a private settlement with the attacker's family.

That money won't erase the physical challenges. It won't undo the suffering he has endured. It won't make the countless surgeries he's gone through, and may yet again, go away. It won't ensure that the kid who bullied him doesn't harm someone again (the bully received only a few day's suspension after the attack). But as someone who is now personally aware of how much it costs to need ongoing medical care in America, I think it's great that medical bills will at least be less of a problem in his life, even if not fully covered.

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Bully gets cut, rated

The Weinstein Company has caved to the MPAA and edited down the documentary Bully in order to get a PG-13 rating. Unrated, uncut versions of the movie will still be shown in some theaters -- a concession from the MPAA. See more about the story here, and here. (Thanks, Xeni!)

Chick-Fil-A threatens guy who made "Eat More Kale" shirts; he fights back with a Kickstarter documentary

Bo sells a t-shirt that says "Eat More Kale" from his home in rural Vermont. Titanic chicken sandwich chain Chick-Fil-A claims that this shirt infringes on their trademark for the slogan "Eat Mor (sic) Chikin' (sic)." They've demanded that Bo shut down and turn over his website to them. Rather than capitulate, Bo is making a defiant documentary about his refusal, and he's raising funds on Kickstarter.

Of course, I might not win --- the odds are against me. All over the country 'trademark bullies,' large corporations that bully small businesses over alleged claims of trademark infringement, are legally harassing small businesses and wearing them down with repeated lawsuits and appeals. In the face of overwhelming legal bills, most small businesses just give up.

This is more than just plain wrong: it's un-American.

By helping make this documentary I want to shine a light on this issue, my battle, and other trademark bullies, too. If I win, it's a great story; if I lose, it's a sad story. Either way, Jim and I think it's a story worth telling.

It seems to me that there shouldn't be any valid trademark claim here. Leaving aside the spelling issue, the graphic presentation of "Eat More Kale" is very different from "Eat mor chikin." The phrase "Eat more," is pretty generic, and is unlikely to result in confusion. I'm not a lawyer, but I'm inclined to think that if Bo can stay in the fight long enough -- that is, if they don't outspend him into oblivion -- he stands a chance of winning.

A Defiant Dude by James Lantz and Eat More Kale guy — Kickstarter

Canadian censor board gives Bully doc an all-ages PG rating

Last week, I wrote about the controversy entailed by the R-rating the MPAA has given to the documentary Bully, effectively putting it outside the reach of most of the young people it addresses. Now the film censor board in British Columbia has given the film an all-ages PG rating, calling the MPAA's judgment into question.

“Last night, I learned of the B.C. board’s decision to grant Bully a PG-rating. I am thrilled that kids of all ages can now join their parents, teachers, social work advocates and leaders to bring about change for this deeply important cause,” Hirsch said Wednesday in a statement.

'Bully' Doc Gets PG-Rating in Canada, Despite MPAA's R-Rating Stateside (Thanks, Antinous!)

If you are upset about the Bully rating, watch This Film is Not Yet Rated

Bully is a documentary on bullying that follows the lives of bullied teenagers. By all accounts, it is a brilliant and important film, the sort of thing that young people should see. Except that they won't, because the MPAA's secretive, unaccountable ratings board has given it an R rating for "language." Despite widespread calls to reconsider (including 165,000 signatures gathered by a Katy Butler, a 17-year-old Michigan high school student) the MPAA is standing pat.

Redditor awertz23 suggests that people following this should go watch Kirby Dick's funny-but-horrifying documentary This Film is Not Yet Rated, which investigates the MPAA ratings board. Dick hired a private investigator and determined the identities of the MPAA raters (a closely held secret) and discovered that the panel was not composed of parents of young children, frequently rotated through -- rather, it was mostly composed of studio insiders who served extended tenures. Dick documents the complicity between the ratings board and the major studios and the crummy deal that indies get, and the systemic bias towards violence (including sexual violence) and against consensual sex, especially gay sex.

Review of Burzynski Clinic's list of "published research" turns up thin, unconvincing gruel

A followup to Monday's story about a representative from the controversial Burzynski Clinic (a cancer clinic that is presently treating a British girl whose family raised £200,000 for her care) sending threatening letters to bloggers who questioned the science behind Burzynski's therapy:

First, the Burzynski clinic says it has severed its relationship with Marc Stephens, which seems like a good idea. Sending threatening, ungrammatical, frothing emails to scientists and skeptics who raise technical questions about medical therapy makes your therapy look like woo that can only be defended with intimidation rather than science.

Second, the clinic has released a list of Burzynski's "publications" on his therapy, prompting a scientist named Jen McCreight to dig through the list and determine how compelling these publications are.

McCreight's findings aren't good. Burzynski's publications are either review papers (which add no new findings to the literature), publications in zero-impact or low-impact journals (that is, journals that aren't cited by other oncologists), publications in "alternative medicine" journals (McCreight quotes Tim Minchin: "You know what they call alternative medicine that's been proved to work? Medicine."); unreviewed talk-proposals submitted without peer review to reputable journals; or unreviewed conference proceedings.

In McCreight's check of Burzynski's list of publications, not one publication met her standard for real, peer-reviewed, published research in a reputable journal.

The Burzynski clinic is claiming that it’s libelous to say “There are no scientific studies supporting antineoplason treatment since 2006.” But it’s not libelous because it is true. Results that lack peer review cannot be said to support something. Abstracts at conferences are not peer reviewed. Review papers do not include new, peer-reviewed data. The only published paper he has itself states that it is inconclusive without a larger study to confirm the results.

Plus, they don’t even understand what the phrase “since 2006″ means. It means published starting in 2007. From that alone we throw out the first two papers. You’re left with a review paper that cites conference abstracts, and conference abstracts.

So no, Burzynski clinic. There aren’t any scientific studies supporting antineoplason treatment since 2006. But there are plenty falsifying it.

A look at the Burzynski clinic’s publications

More damning revelations about Burzynski’s “research”

Allow me to take this opportunity, once again, to remind the Burzynski clinic of Boing Boing's tradition of vigorously defending ourselves against legal threats, and the frankly titanic sums that our opponents have had to pay to our lawyers when we beat them like tin drums. And allow me to remind them that in US law, recipients of legal threats can ask courts to rule on those threats, even if the person who made the threat withdraws it or fails to bring suit, and that in those cases, courts can award costs to the victors.

Understanding bullying

danah boyd sez, "Alice Marwick and I just crafted an op-ed for the New York Times entitled 'Why Cyberbullying Rhetoric Misses the Mark.' It's based on a new paper that we just released called 'The Drama! Teen Conflict, Gossip, and Bullying in Networked Publics'. This topic is particularly relevant right now given the tragic suicide of Jamey Rodemeyer."
While teenage conflict is nothing new, today's gossip, jokes, and arguments often play out through social media like Formspring, Twitter, and Facebook. Although adults often refer to these practices with the language of 'bullying,' teens are more likely to refer to the resultant skirmishes and their digital traces as 'drama.' Drama is a performative set of actions distinct from bullying, gossip, and relational aggression, incorporating elements of them but also operating quite distinctly. While drama is not particularly new, networked dynamics reconfigure how drama plays out and what it means to teens in new ways. In this paper, we examine how American teens conceptualize drama, its key components, participant motivations for engaging in it, and its relationship to networked technologies. Drawing on six years of ethnographic fieldwork, we examine what drama means to teenagers and its relationship to visibility and privacy. We argue that the emic use of 'drama' allows teens to distance themselves from practices which adults may conceptualize as bullying. As such, they can retain agency - and save face - rather than positioning themselves in a victim narrative. Drama is a gendered process that perpetrates conventional gender norms. It also reflects discourses of celebrity, particularly the mundane interpersonal conflict found on soap operas and reality television. For teens, sites like Facebook allow for similar performances in front of engaged audiences. Understanding how 'drama' operates is necessary to recognize teens' own defenses against the realities of aggression, gossip, and bullying in networked publics.
The Unintended Consequences of Cyberbullying Rhetoric