How a pharma company made billions off mass murder by faking the science on Oxycontin

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When Purdue Pharma's patent on the MS Contin was close to expiry, the Sackler family who owned the company spent millions trying to find a product that could replace the profits they'd lose from generic competition on MS Contin: the result was Oxycontin, a drug that went on to kill Americans at epidemic scale. Read the rest

"Pickup artist" douche uses copyright to sue Youtube critics, fans raise $100K defense fund

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Ewan McGee writes, "Creators of the YouTube channel H3H3 productions are being sued by the creator of the YouTube channel MattHossZone for showing/talking about one of his 'pick up' videos. YouTuber Philip DeFranco talks about the story in his YouTube show, sets up a GoFundMe page for the creators of H3H3 to help them with their legal fees, and donations come pouring in, including support from well-known names like Mark "Markiplier" Fischbach, Markus "Notch" Persson and others. In just 12 hours over 3,000 people have already donated more than $95,000 in total." Read the rest

Students: court orders government agencies to offer educational discount on FOIA requests

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The Freedom of Information Act specifies that government agencies must give a discount to "educational institutions" when they file requests, but for years, agencies led by the Department of Defense have argued that this discount only applies to faculty, not students, who would have to pay full rate even though they generally have less money to begin with. Read the rest

Smart-meter vendor says that if we know how their system works, the terrorists will win

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Phil Mocek filed a public records request to find out how Seattle's new smart meters -- supplied by Landis and Gyr -- will work. As Mocek writes, these meters are based on "unspecified and unverifiable sensors that monitor activity inside of private property and can communicate collected information in real-time to unspecified machines in remote locations, the workings of which are obscured from ratepayers, with interfaces used by [the city] that require specialized equipment and are thus completely unavailable to ratepayers for personal use or monitoring and verification of information communicated, is already shrouded in secrecy and seemingly proceeding despite repeated voicing of public concern and complete lack of public justification of expense." Read the rest

Judge OKs potentially lethal lawsuit against the world's largest banks

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The biggest banks in the world have admitted to rigging LIBOR, a key interest rate that determines the value of trillions of dollars' worth of assets -- they paid billions in fines as a result. Read the rest

Judge handcuffs public defender for speaking out in court

Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Conrad Hafen -- who is fighting a contested election this year -- put deputy public defender Zohra Bakhtary in handcuffs and made her sit with the criminals in the dock while he sentenced her client, who was unrepresented for the duration of the event. Read the rest

JJ Abrams urges Paramount to drop its lawsuit over fan Star Trek movie

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Abrams directed the first two Star Trek reboot movies and is producing the third one for Paramount; he says he convinced the studio to drop its controversial lawsuit against Axanar, a crowdfunded fan-film (a suit that included a dubious claim about the copyrightability of the Klingon language) telling them that the lawsuit "wasn’t an appropriate way to deal with the fans." Read the rest

Elderly man kills wife because they couldn't afford her medicine

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William J. Hager of Port St. Lucie, Florida is a 86 year old man who confessed to shooting his 76 year old wife, Carolyn Hager, in her sleep, because the couple could no longer afford her medications, leaving her in pain and wanting to die. Read the rest

American Youtube musician breaks silence over 100-day detention in Jakarta

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Ewan writes, "In Septempber of last year, American YouTube musician Kina Grannis embarked on a tour of Asia. As usual, her social media presences detailed the process beautifully (I've interviewed Kina myself and have called her the gold standard among YouTube musicians on more than one occasion). Read the rest

Man sues Satan for ruining his life

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Weird Universe alerts us to the curious case of Gerald Mayo, who in 1971 filed a class action lawsuit in the Western District of Pennsylvania against Satan "and his staff."

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"Nerds getting owned by normals" in Oracle v Google

Sarah Jeong's covering the Oracle v. Google trial, whereby the two companies are fighting over Java, copyright and the difficulty of explaining things like APIs to "normals." Most interesting is how the trial reveals not only how completely alien "nerd subculture" is, but that normal people -- judges! juries! -- are surprisingly good at spotting and exposing Silicon Valley's hypocrisy and narcissism.

The nerds struggle to be understood. It doesn’t help that towards the end of his cross-examination by Oracle, Schwartz became snippier and snippier, answering the Oracle lead attorney’s questions with passive-aggressive hostility.

Schwartz seemed less upset about being called one of the worst CEOs in America, and more put off by the sheer indignity of being cross-examined by a man who didn’t know what a blog is—enough that he broke a 10-month long Twitter silence to snark about it.

In public! With billions on the line! During the trial! Shades of Matthew Keys -- an almost supernatural level of arrogance before the people who, literally, are there to judge you. Read the rest

German publishers owe writers €100M in misappropriated royalties

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In Germany, media that can make or store copies (drives, copiers, blank optical discs) is subject to a "private copying levy" that is meant to compensate rightsholders for the works that will be copied to it (in return, the levy confers a limited right to make those copies to the purchaser). Read the rest

Chinese state-backed corporations beat US lawsuits with sovereign immunity

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Sovereign immunity prevents one government from using its courts to attack another, but Chinese state-backed industries are taking it to new places, arguing that sovereign immunity means that the US courts have no jurisdiction over Chinese companies whose products are harmful or whose conduct is negligent -- and US courts are buying that argument. Read the rest

Minnesota lawmakers propose bizarre, dangerous PRINCE law

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Minnesota's SF3609, the Personal Rights in Names Can Endure (PRINCE) Act, is the broadest, most ill-considered publicity rights bill in American history. Read the rest

Germany will end copyright liability for open wifi operators

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Germany's ruling coalition is modifying the country's legal "Störerhaftung" theory, which currently makes people liable for copyright infringement if they operate an open wifi network that someone else uses for copyright infringement, even if the operator didn't and couldn't know about it. Read the rest

America's courts are going dark

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US Federal Magistrate judge Stephen William Smith sounds the alarm about the skyrocketing trend of US courts operating in secret, with their findings (or even the fact that they're hearing a case at all) sealed to scrutiny, and an ever-increasing portion of judicial action taking place in off-record arbitration. Read the rest

Data-driven look at America's brutal, racist debt-collection machine

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In 1996, New Jersey's courts heard 500 debt-collection cases; in 2008, they heard 140,000 cases, almost all against black people, almost all of whom were not represented by lawyers. The cases were filed by vulture capitalists who bought the debt for pennies on the dollar and employed "attorneys" who filed up to 1,000 cases a day, "reviewing" each one for about four seconds. Read the rest

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