Legal advice to musicians, after "Blurred Lines": pretend you have no influences

It's been two years since Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke lost a lawsuit brought by Marvin Gaye's descendants, who argued that their song "Blurred Lines" infringed Gay's 1977 song "Got to Give It To You," not because it copied the music per se, but because it copied its "vibe." Read the rest

Investigators into mass murder of Mexican student teachers were attacked with NSO's government spyware

In 2014, 43 students from Mexico's Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers' College went missing in Iguala, in the state of Guerrero: they had been detained by police, who turned them over to a criminal militia, who are presumed to have murdered them. Read the rest

New hedge-fund HQ will have "Champagne" buttons for the traders' desks

Any time a trader at Enstar Capital's new London Soho offices fancies sushi and Champagne delivered to their desk, they can press a dedicated "Champagne" button that's being installed at each workplace, as a kind of grotesque, guillotine-inspiring homage to Amazon's Dash button, which lets mere mortals order laundry detergent. Read the rest

How big is the market for DRM-Free?

It's the Day Against DRM, and EFF is celebrating by publishing the first public look at How Much Do Consumers Value Interoperability? Evidence from the Price of DVD Players, a scholarly economics paper that uses clever techniques to reveal some eye-popping number on the strangled market for DRM-free gadgets. Read the rest

Networks hide badly rated shows by misspelling their names in Nielsen submissions

When a network TV show performs badly, the networks deliberately introduce errors into the episodes' metadata before submitting it to the Nielsen ratings, so that the episode is counted as a separate show and doesn't bring the season's average rating down. Read the rest

Mom feared being beaten by United crew, so she didn't complain when her son's seat was given away

Shirley Yamauchi paid $1,000 for her 27 month old son's United flight from Houston to Boston, in part because the kid is half her size and in part because it's illegal to fly with kids on your lap once they turn two. Read the rest

AT&T: it's not "forced arbitration" because no one forced you to have broadband

AT&T, which has successfully lobbied state governments and the FCC to ban any broadband competition in the markets where it operates, says that its forced arbitration "agreements" aren't really forced, because people in the markets it serves could just not use the internet. Read the rest

Bid on old computers, speakers, radios, and other junk from the bowels of RadioShack

Starting July 10, you can bid on TRS-80 computers, dot matrix printers, Realistic speakers, shortwave receivers, old catalogs, and company "memorabilia" from the bowels of bankrupt RadioShack. From the auction site:

From humble beginnings in Boston in 1921, over the past 95 years RadioShack established itself as a globally recognized leader and the go to retailer for consumer electronics. RadioShack has always been known as the place for answers to the American public's technology and electronics questions. "You've got questions, we've got answers."

Over the years, RadioShack introduced consumers to exciting and affordable gadgets and electronics that have become household items. As we cleaned out our historic archives in Fort Worth, Texas, we uncovered a cache of iconic memorabilia in 12 huge safes, including: unused original TRS-80 Microcomputers, Realistic Transistor Radios, Tandy computer software games, original brick cell phones and so much more. We all remember coming into RadioShack whether it was for the battery-of-the-month, new walkie-talkies, or to check out the newest RC toy cars. Now we reintroduce many of those nostalgic items and more with our rolling online memorabilia auction.

RadioShack Auction #1 (thanks, Charles Platt!)

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EFF trounces Zillow, McMansion Hell will return from copyfraud purgatory

Update: Zillow has dropped all its absurd copyright claims after hearing from EFF and McMansion Hell is coming back!

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published its letter to Zillow, explaining in eye-watering detail how wrong the company was to threaten the McMansion Hell blog over its use of realtors' glam-shots of shitty houses. Read the rest

That "ransomware" attack was really a cyberattack on Ukraine

According to Kaspersky, the Petya ransomware that raced around the world this week wasn't ransomware at all, and there is no way to get back your files after it does its work (that's why it was so easy to shut down the email address the ransomware used to negotiate payments and decryption with victims whose computers had been taken over). Read the rest

Google "respectfully disagrees" with €2.42 billion fine

Google expected to be punished by the European Union for anticompetitive shenanigans, but it didn't expect a slap this hard: €2.42 billion, the largest fine on record. The company says it "respectfully disagrees" with both the ruling and the amount and may appeal.

The commission believes it has struck a blow for consumers and for little firms at a time when online advertising - particularly on mobile phones - is dominated by Google and Facebook.

Google believes the regulator has a weak case and has failed to provide evidence that either consumers or rivals have been harmed.

In essence, it sees this as a political move rather than one based on competition law. You can be pretty confident that the Trump administration will share that view.

There's mounting anxiety in European capitals about something called Gafa - Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon - the four American giants that play such a huge role in all of our lives. That means we can expect further action to try to limit their powers, with the potential for growing political tension between Brussels and Washington.

Google abused its dominance of search to promote its own shopping services, the European Commission wrote, systematically shutting out competitors, distorting the market and hurting local shoppers.

Since the beginning of each abuse, Google's comparison shopping service has increased its traffic 45-fold in the United Kingdom, 35-fold in Germany, 19-fold in France, 29-fold in the Netherlands, 17-fold in Spain and 14-fold in Italy.

Following the demotions applied by Google, traffic to rival comparison shopping services on the other hand dropped significantly.

Read the rest

Desperate Toronto hotelier pays millions to take Trump name off its business

The owners of Toronto's "Trump Hotel" just spent a reported $6M to get out of its deal with Trump and cleanse their property of his hated name; they will probably rebrand it as a "St Regis" hotel instead. Read the rest

Verizon bought Yahoo, so Flickr and Tumblr users with AT&T email addresses are being cut off

Verizon's using its purchase of Yahoo for more than undermining the fight for net neutrality: it's also using its new acquisitions to make anti-competitive moves against its telcoms rivals, deploying the users of Flickr and Tumblr as hostages. Read the rest

America's leading Net Neutrality campaigner is suing NYC to fix its broken internet

More than a quarter of New York City lives without broadband, thanks to the sweetheart deals the city has cut with Verizon and the other big telcos, which chargessome of the highest rates in America for some of the country's worst service. Read the rest

EU fines Google €2.42B for anti-competitive behaviour

The EU had been expected to fine Google a little over €1B for its anti-competitive practice of promoting its own shopping service over competitors' in search results: today's €2.42B comes as a surprise, as does the ongoing fine if it fails to change its behavior within 90 days -- up to €10.6m a day, or 5% of parent company Alphabet's total daily earnings. Read the rest

A Chinese vitamin MLM cult is replacing healthcare for poor Ugandans

Uganda is so poor that few can afford medical care, giving it one of the lowest life-expectancies on the planet -- this toxic combination made the country ripe for infiltration by Tiens, a Chinese Multi-Level-Marketing "nutritional supplements" cult whose members set up fake medical clinics that diagnose fake ailments and proscribe fake medicines, then rope patients into becoming cult recruiters who convince their friends to sign up for the cult. Read the rest

Tumblr is now owned by a phone company, so it's stopped fighting for Network Neutrality

Yahoo's sale to Verizon means that Yahoo's sub-companies -- Flickr, Tumblr and a host of others -- are now divisions of a phone company, and as you might expect, being on the payroll of a notorious neutracidal maniac with a long history of sleazy, invasive, privacy-destroying, monopolistic, deceptive, anti-competitive, scumbag shakedowns has changed the public positions these companies are allowed to take. Read the rest

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