US government and SCOTUS change cybercrime rules to let cops hack victims' computers

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The Supreme Court -- at the behest of the US government -- has announced changes to "Rule 41," a crucial procedure of the US court system, which will give law enforcement sweeping powers to hack into computers anywhere in the world, including victims' computers, with drastically reduced oversight. Read the rest

French Assembly passes motion to kill the 3-strike Hadopi copyright law

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In 2010, after years of bitter fighting, the French National Assembly passed "Hadopi," the worst copyright law in history, which provided for disconnecting whole families from the Internet if their network connection was implicated in an accusation of copyright infringement. Read the rest

America's surveillance court rubber-stamped every single surveillance warrant in 2015

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The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) is a secret court that hears warrant requests from America's spy agencies when they want to wiretap people in the USA. Read the rest

Society of synthetic linguists explain to court, in Klingon, why Klingon shouldn't be copyrightable

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Last month, I wrote about Paramount's lawsuit against Axanar, a crowdfunded Star Trek fan-film. Read the rest

Can a sexbot be a murderer?

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Paolo Bacigalupi's new short story "Mika Model" is a detective tale about a murdering sexbot. Read the rest

Inside a Supreme Court case on cheerleader uniforms, a profound question about copyright

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Copyright protects creative expression, but not utilitarian forms: that's why the silkscreened art on your t-shirt is copyrightable, but the t-shirt's design itself is not. Read the rest

Kennewick Man was Native American

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After years of speculation and wrangling over his remains, Kennewick Man turns out to be closely related to contemporary, local Native Americans after all.

Discovered near Kennewick, Wash., in 1996, the skeleton ended up in a tug of war between tribes in the pacific northwest who wanted to bury the remains, and scientists who wanted to study them.

Five Pacific Northwest tribes pressed the Army Corps of Engineers, which has jurisdiction over the bones, to hand them over in accordance with a federal law on the repatriation of remains. However, a group of scientists sued to block the handover, arguing that the skeleton was not associated with a present-day tribe.

Federal judges sided with the scientists, and as a result, the corps retained custody of the skeleton and made it available for study. Now that the studies are finished, the 380 bones and bone fragments are locked away in Seattle at the University of Washington’s Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture.

Some scientists suggested that Kennewick Man might have been a visitor from the Far North, Siberia or perhaps someplace even more exotic. But when geneticists compared DNA from a hand bone with a wide range of samples, they found that the closest match came from members of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation.

The burial site will be a secret, so we can have this fight all over again in a few thousand years. Read the rest

Satirical column removed

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Yesterday, Esquire published this satirical column by @ProfJeffJarvis, a Fake Steve-style parody of journalism professor and media visionary Jeff Jarvis. The real Jarvis did what any self-respecting open-culture advocate would: he issued a vague legal threat and got it removed, thereby ensuring that something humorless and obscure was read by a far larger audience than it deserved.

If you think a journalism professor could be more thick-skinned and less eager to abuse the norms that protect his trade, you would not be alone. In his response to the imbroglio Jarvis writes that "They are not free — and it most certainly is not responsible journalism — to try to fool the audience about the source of content and to impugn the reputation of a professional along the way."

Alas, he is mistaken. Popehat's Ken White writes that satire does not require that it be identified as such.

Bradbury's Esquire satire is very clearly protected by the First Amendment. I wrote about a case frighteningly on point. Esquire previously did a satirical article with mock quotes from Joseph Farah of WorldNet Daily and author Jerome Corsi. They sued, claiming defamation. The United States Court of Appeal for the D.C. Circuit crushed their arguments. Remember: only things that could reasonably be understood as provably false statements of fact can be defamatory. Satire is not a statement of fact. In deciding whether something could reasonably be taken as an assertion of fact rather than satire, courts look to what an audience familiar with the publication and players would understand.

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Bill Cosby loses appeal, will face sexual assault charge

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Bill Cosby's attempt to avoid facing a sexual assault charge was ended Monday by a Pennsylvania appeals court. The entertainer, who claimed that an old deal with prosecutors not to charge him in the 2004 case should be honored, will now be criminally prosecuted.

Cosby, 78, is facing trial over a 2004 encounter at his home with a then Temple University employee who says she was drugged and molested by the comedian. Cosby says they engaged in consensual sex acts.

Former prosecutor Bruce Castor has said he promised he would never prosecute Cosby and urged him to testify in the woman’s 2005 civil lawsuit. The release of that testimony last year led a new prosecutor to arrest him. In the lengthy deposition, the long married Cosby acknowledged a series of affairs and said he had gotten quaaludes to give to women he hoped to seduce. Cosby has not yet entered a plea in the criminal case, and remains free on $1m bail posted after his 30 December arrest.

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EFF to FDA: the DMCA turns medical implants into time-bombs

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The Electronic Frontier Foundation just filed comments with the FDA in its embedded device cybersecurity docket, warning the agency that manufacturers have abused the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, threatening security researchers with lawsuits if they came forward with embarrassing news about defects in the manufacturers' products. Read the rest

Zombie company Atari wants exclusive right to make haunted house games

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Atari was once a giant of video game innovation, but now it's a troll -- a company that produces nothing except legal threats -- and its latest project is to get the US Patent and Trademark Office to give it the right to decide who can make haunted house games, and charge the lucky few for the privilege. Read the rest

VW offers to buy back 500K demon-haunted diesels

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Reuters reports that VW is about to tell the federal judge in San Francisco in charge of its case that it will offer to buy back nearly half a million of its diesel vehicles from owners who were deceived about the cars' emission standards and performance when the company engineered its cars so that they would act daemonically, performing differently based on whether they were being tested or not. Read the rest

Printer ink wars may make private property the exclusive domain of corporations

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Printer manufacturer Lexmark hates America, and everything good and right in the world, because we keep stubbornly insisting that if we buy a printer cartridge, we can refill it, because it's ours.

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Chinese opsec funnies: your foreign boyfriend is a western spy!

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In this Chinese government comic book, women are warned that mysterious foreign strangers who pitch woo at them are secretly Western spies trying to get at their government secrets. Read the rest

UK Chancellor exempts families of "Politically Exposed Persons" from money laundering scrutiny

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George Osborne, the Tory chancellor of David Cameron's UK government, has amended the Bank of England and Financial Services Bill to exempt the families of "Politically Exposed Persons" -- Members of Parliament and other elites -- from money laundering investigations. Read the rest

How to vote in the New York Democratic primary (please share!)

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The New York State Democratic primary is a "closed primary" that excludes anyone who isn't a registered Democrat from casting a ballot. Many people say they are registered Democrat but have been purged from the list, or had their affiliations changed to Republican or Independent. Some have posted images of what they say are forged signatures on voter registration cards. Read the rest

Corporate opposition to LGBTQ discrimination laws shows the GOP alliance has shattered

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Since the late 1970s, the American conservative movement has been an uneasy -- and unstoppable -- alliance of big-business-friendly finance boosters and poor, evangelical Christians whose major issues were things like gay marriage, abortion, and forcing women into "traditional" gender roles, not taxation and "small government." Read the rest

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