W3C moves to finalize DRM standardization, reclassifies suing security researchers as a feature, not a bug

The World Wide Web Consortium has announced that its members have until April 19 to weigh in on whether the organization should publish Encrypted Media Extensions, its DRM standard for web video, despite the fact that this would give corporations the new right to sue people who engaged in legal activity, from security researchers who revealed defects in browsers to accessibility workers who adapted video for disabled people to scrappy new companies who come up with legal ways to get more use out of your property. Read the rest

How license "agreements" interfere with the right to repair

States across America are considering "Right to Repair" legislation that would guarantee your right to choose who fixes your stuff (or to fix it yourself); but they're fighting stiff headwinds, from the motorcycle makers who claim that fixing your motorcycle should be a crime to Apple, who feel the same way, but about phones. Read the rest

Fair trade ebooks: how authors could double their royalties without costing their publishers a cent

My latest Publishers Weekly column announces the launch-date for my long-planned "Shut Up and Take My Money" ebook platform, which allows traditionally published authors to serve as retailers for their publishers, selling their ebooks direct to their fans and pocketing the 30% that Amazon would usually take, as well as the 25% the publisher gives back to them later in royalties. Read the rest

Mormon church uses bogus copyright claims in attempt to censor Mormonleaks

Mormonleaks is a whistleblower site dedicated to revealing corruption and hypocrisy in the Church of Latter Day Saints; over four months, it has published many documents that did just that, but when it published a leaked Powerpoint revealing the Church's view on "the roots of apostasy, such as pornography, campaigns to ordain women, challenges to church history and general 'lack of righteousness,'" the Church turned to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and a bogus claim of copyright infringement to get the document taken down. Read the rest

Donald Trump, Jr is a patent-troll and his biggest client now does business with the US government

Oklahoma's Anyware Mobile Solutions was founded in 1997 to make PDA software, but after its sales collapsed, it changed its name to Macrosolve and devoted itself to suing people for violating a farcical patent that they said covered filling in questionnaires using an app. Read the rest

Home Cooking is Killing Restaurants and other delightful tees

The perfect complement for your Techdirt I Invented E-Mail tee: a Home Cooking Is Killing Restaurants tee from Techdirt, $20 and up. Read the rest

Porno-copyright troll behind "Prenda Law" pleads guilty to everything

For years, John Steele has been half of a criminal enterprise masquerading as a copyright law firms, "Prenda Law," whose owners, clients and employees were a mix of lies, impersonations, and crumbs of reality. In a guilty plea, John Steele admitted that the whole thing was a con, that they stole $6,000,000 from innocent internet users by threatening them with draconian copyright lawsuits, and then laundered the money. Read the rest

Terms and Conditions: the bloviating cruft of the iTunes EULA combined with extraordinary comic book mashups

Back in 2015, cartoonist Robert Sikoryak started publishing single pages from his upcoming graphic novel Terms and Conditions, in which he would recount every word of the current Apple iTunes Terms and Conditions as a series of mashup pages from various comics old and new, in which Steve Jobsean characters stalked across the panels, declaiming the weird, stilted legalese that "everyone agrees to and no one reads."

We are one RFID away from a dishwasher that rejects third-party dishes on pain of a 5-year prison sentence

Two years ago, I wrote If dishwashers were iPhones, a column in the Guardian that took the form of an open letter from the CEO of a dishwasher company that had deployed DRM to make sure you only used dishes it sold you in "their" dishwashers. Read the rest

The US Patent Office just (in 2017!) awarded IBM a patent over out-of-office email

On January 17, 2017 -- yes, 2017 -- the USPTO granted Patent 9,547,842 to IBM: "Out-of-office electronic mail messaging system." Read the rest

Collapsing "connected toy" company did nothing while hackers stole millions of voice recordings of kids and parents

Spiral Toys -- a division of Mready, a Romanian electronics company that lost more than 99% of its market-cap in 2015 -- makes a line of toys called "Cloudpets," that use an app to allow parents and children to exchange voice-messages with one another. They exposed a database of millions of these messages, along with sensitive private information about children and parents, for years, without even the most basic password protections -- and as the company imploded, they ignored both security researchers and blackmailers who repeatedly contacted them to let them know that all this data was being stolen. Read the rest

Wonderful 30-second Rube Goldberg videos from Japanese children's TV

NHK's children's show Pythagora Switch features fiendishly clever, astoundingly amusing interstitial segments with beautiful little Rube Goldberg machines, possessed of a Miyazakiesque whimsy and a Mujiesque minimalism. These are wonderful -- and at 30 seconds each, you can watch a whole ton of 'em. Read the rest

Scenes from classic westerns featuring genderswapped gunslingers

In Re-Western, painted Felice House reimagines scenes from classic westerns with the likes of James Dean, Clint Eastwood and John Wayne replaced with women in the starring roles. Read the rest

Found at a thrift shop: the last record of a doomed Apple DRM effort from 1979

Redditor Vadermeer was in a local Goodwill Outlet and happened on a trove of files from Apple engineer Jack MacDonald from 1979-80, when he was manager of system software for the Apple II and ///. Read the rest

Let It Go, the Fair Use Week mashup version

Charles Duan from Public Knowledge sends us "a video we put together for Fair Use Week about copyright and fair use, to the tune of 'Let It Go' from Frozen, and full of clips of other fair use videos." Read the rest

A Clinton-era tech law has quietly, profoundly redefined the very nature of property in the IoT age

An excellent excerpt from Aaron Perzanowski and Jason Schultz's The End of Ownership: Personal Property in the Digital Economy on Motherboard explains how Section 1201 of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act -- which bans tampering with or bypassing DRM, even for legal reasons -- has allowed corporations to design their products so that using them in unapproved ways is an actual felony. Read the rest

Bad Android security makes it easy to break into and steal millions of "smart" cars

Securelist's report on the security vulnerabilities in Android-based "connected cars" describes how custom Android apps could be used to find out where the car is, follow it around, unlock its doors, start its engine, and drive it away. Read the rest

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