TorrentFreak took a close look at the sourcecode for the websites run by the RIAA and its UK equivalent, the BPI, and discovered that they'd made a serious breach of copyright on each. Both sites were using the MIT-licensed JQuery scrips, whose generous MIT license requires only that its users keep its copyright notice intact. The RIAA and BPI (organizations that advocate taking away domains, disconnecting Internet users, and prison sentences for infringement) had both failed to comply with this minimal requirement.
Dan sez, "Hi, I'm one of the organizers for Restore the Fourth (Utah) and we've successfully adopted the highway in front of the NSA spy factory in Bluffdale, Utah. Clean up the NSA!"
Read the rest
Security researcher Brian Krebs has had a look at the contents of "BestRecovery" (now called "PrivateRecovery") a service used by Nigerian 419 scammers to store the keystrokes of victims who have been infected with keyloggers. It appears that many of the scammers -- known locally as "Yahoo Boys" -- also plant keyloggers on each other, and Krebs has been able to get a look at the internal workings of these con artists. He's assembled a slideshow of the scammers' Facebook profiles and other information.
Read the rest
As the UK government continues to roll out the Great Firewall of Cameron (by which ISPs are required to opt their customers into an "adult content filter" that is meant to block sites related to porn, gambling, "esoterica," "forums" and more), an official report reveals that the Houses of Parliament network logged 300,000+ attempts to access online porn last year. However, a Commons spokeswoman says the figure isn't "accurate."
Read the rest
Read the rest
Read the rest
The Hacker Scouts is an organization "that focuses on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) education, skill building and community engagement with the aspiration to help our children develop skills in the areas they are truly interested in, abilities that would allow them to dream big and create big." They filed for a trademark on the name "Hacker Scouts" and got a legal threat from lawyers for the Boy Scouts of America. After a protracted back-and-forth by mail, the Hacker Scouts have gone public, because the BSA won't soften its position: call yourselves the ____________ Scouts, and we'll sue.
Read the rest
Read the rest
The publisher John Wiley has lost a court battle over the copying practices of a patent law-firm that had assembled a private library of copies of scientific articles for the purpose of researching patent applications. Initially, Wiley had sued over the use of copies of scientific articles in patent applications, but the US Patent and Trademark Office pre-empted that suit by issuing a directive declaring such copies to be fair use. Wiley switched its legal theory, suing over the assembly of the library, and US Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Keyes ruled (PDF) that this was also fair use, since the USPTO requires lawyers to consult the literature before filing. It's likely that Wiley will appeal to the district court.
Read the rest
Court finds for man who rewrote the credit-card fine-print to give himself unlimited, interest-free credit
Read the rest
A wily Russian fellow crossed out the fine-print on an unsolicted credit-card application from Tinkoff Credit Systems in 2008 and wrote in his own terms, giving himself unlimited, interest-free credit and exemption from all fees, with a 3MM ruble fee should the bank change the terms and a 1MM ruble fee should they cancel his card. He crossed out the URL giving the terms and conditions and wrote in his own. And a court has ruled that his changes -- which were blindly accepted by the bank -- are binding. He's now suing them for breach of contract, since they refused to pay him the cancellation fee he'd written in -- he's seeking USD727,000.
Read the rest
HackBB is a popular underground BBS for computer criminals; last March it went down after a prominent user and administrator called Boneless stole all the funds in an escrow service used by criminals to pay each other for services; destroyed part of HackBB's database; and sent blackmail notes to many of the site's users. Prior to the theft, Boneless had been a sterling member of the community, posting well-written, useful guides to using stolen credit cards, defrauding online bookmakers, and going underground anonymously. After two years' worth of winning the community's trust, he raided them and took the site down. But it didn't last long -- today, HackBB is back up and running.
Read the rest
Read the rest
Here's Obama the Presidential Candidate debating Obama the Second Term President on surveillance; note how Obama the younger smashes through the cheap "privacy vs security" rhetoric of Obama the elder, showing the man for a thoroughly co-opted cynic who'll let the nation's spooks run wild. Here's Mike Masnick's take:
Not only is there a massive difference in what's being said, but also in how it's being said. The Candidate Obama spoke clearly, directly strongly and without equivocation about protecting civil liberties and not giving up our freedoms. President Obama's speech, on the other hand, sounds weak, vague and unpresidential in comparison.
Today's XKCD, "The Pace of Modern Life," is a lovely collection of 19th century and early 20th century quotations about the hurried pace of modern life, the atomisation and trivialisation of knowledge thanks to modern media, the disobedience of children (again, thanks to modern media) (this topic was a favorite of Socrates's!) and other hand-wringing editorial subjects frequently chosen by modern critics of the Internet age. A great companion piece to Tom Standage's wonderful catalog of moral panics through the ages.
A Spanish town called Brunete used volunteers to covertly identify people who had left their dog's shit on the public sidewalk (the volunteers chatted up the dog owners' about their dogs' breeds, this was cross-referenced against the register of dogs). The volunteers then packaged up the turds in a "lost property" box and returned them to the owners. 20 volunteers delivered 147 crap-o-grams and reported a 70 percent drop in public poop after the program ran (they did not disclose their methodology for calculating this).
On the one hand, this is funny. On the other hand, it's a sobering reminder of how trivially small pieces of seemingly innocuous information can be used to identify people. On the third hand, people who let their dogs crap on the sidewalk and don't pick it up are the worst human beings on Earth, and I join with Mark Thomas in calling for a law that requires people to wear any unclaimed turds as a mustache for a full day.
Remember the gigantic data-center that the NSA is building in Utah in order to (illegally) process the electronic communications of the whole world? Turns out that the state of Utah plans on taxing the titanic amounts of electricity it will consume at 6%. The NSA is pissed.
"We are quite concerned [about] this," Harvey Davis, NSA director of installations and logistics, wrote in the April 26 email, obtained through a Utah open records law request.
In a follow-up email Davis sent 31 minutes later, he explained: "The long and short of it is: Long-term stability in the utility rates was a major factor in Utah being selected as our site for our $1.5 billion construction at Camp Williams. HB325 runs counter to what we expected."
HB325, which Herbert signed into law April 1, benefits the Utah Military Installation Development Authority (MIDA). It allows the entity, which was set up to put select military properties on the public tax rolls, to collect a tax of up to 6 percent on Rocky Mountain Power electricity used by the Utah Data Center.
In surprise to NSA, Utah Data Center may pay tax on electricity [Nate Carlisle/The Salt Lake Tribune]
The Center for Copyright Information -- a company established by the RIAA, MPAA and various ISPs -- to oversee the American six-strikes copyright enforcement status has had its company status revoked and faces fines and other penalties. It appears that they forgot to file their government paperwork and pay their fees; they promise that they'll be back online once it's sorted out.
The revocation means that CCI’s articles of organization are void, most likely because the company forgot to file the proper paperwork or pay its fees.
“If entity’s status is revoked then articles of incorporation / organization shall be void and all powers conferred upon such entity are declared inoperative, and, in the case of a foreign entity, the certificate of foreign registration shall be revoked and all powers conferred hereunder shall be inoperative,” the DCRA explains.
Unfortunately for the CCI, the DCRA doesn’t have a strike based system and the company is now facing civil penalties and fines.
It appears that company status was revoked last year which means that other businesses now have the option to take over the name. That would be quite an embarrassment, to say the least, and also presents an opportunity to scammers.
“When a Washington DC corporation is revoked by the DCRA, its name is reserved and protected until December 31st of the year the corporation is revoked. After December 31st, other business entities may use the corporations name,” the DCRA explains on its website.
“Six Strikes” Anti-Piracy Outfit Loses Company Status, Faces Penalties [Ernesto/TorrentFreak]
(Thanks, That Anonymous Coward)
As you know, Abercrombie and Fitch is a horrible shitshow of a company whose owner refuses to make large sized clothes so that "unattractive people" can't wear them, and who burns surplus clothing rather than donating it to charity to keep their clothes off poor peoples' backs. So Gkarber has set out to make the brand synonymous with homelessness, by clearing out thrift shops' supply of A&F and bringing it to skid row and giving it to homeless people. He'd like you to participate by clearing out your closets and donating any A&F to your local homeless charity..
Canipre, a Canadian company that helps the entertainment industry send legal threats to people alleged to have infringed copyright, has been caught using several infringing images on its website. Included in the art that Canipre appropriated for commercial gain without permission is a CC-licensed photo that they could have used legally simply by crediting the photographer. Canipre blames its web developer.
I ended up getting a flurry of phone calls and e-mails from a guy named Barry Logan.
Logan claimed that the company used a 3rd party vendor to develop their website and that the vendor had purchased the image from an image bank.
I pointed out to Logan that if that was true, he had basically paid his vendor to rip off other people's creative work. Logan told me that he would contact his web provider and have the image removed. He also told me that he would provide me with the name of the website developer and the name of the image bank where they obtained my photo.
I did notice that they took down my photo, but I have not heard back from Logan regarding the name of the developer and where they sourced my image. I plan to contact Logan later today if he doesn't get back to me. [sic]
The best part is that the company claims it is motivated by a higher calling than mere profit: "[We want to] change social attitudes toward downloading. Many people know it is illegal but they continue to do it... Our collective goal is not to sue everybody… but to change the sense of entitlement that people have, regarding Internet-based theft of property."
Last week, Brian Krebs (a respected security researcher and journalist who often publishes details about high-tech crime) was SWATted -- that is, someone defrauded his local police department into sending a SWAT team to his house, resulting in his getting confronted by gun-wielding, hair-trigger cops who had him lie on the ground and cuffed him before it was all sorted out.
Krebs, being a talented investigator, is hot on the trail of the people or person responsible for this. And a variety of sources point to a 20-year-old hacker who goes by "Phobia," and whose real name, according to Krebs, is Ryan Stevenson. Phobia was implicated in the attack on Wired reporter Mat Honan, wherein his laptop drive and online backup were deleted, including irreplaceable photos of his child's first year, and eight years' worth of email.
Krebs phoned "Phobia" up and ended up speaking to Phobia and his father. Phobia denied attacking Krebs and insisted that he had nothing to do with the gamer/fraudster clan behind it (though Krebs pointed out that Phobia can be heard speaking in the group's YouTube videos, which document their attacks), but admitted that he had been the culprit in hacking Honan (his father then came onto the line to deny this). The transcript is the most interesting part of the piece:
BK: Uh huh. And is Honan referring to you in this article?
RS: Uh huh.
BK: Did anything bad ever happen to you because of this?
BK: So, this was your doing with the Mat Honan hack, but you say you would never use a site like a stresser or…
RS: Yeah, I would never do that. That’s stupid.
BK: …or hack a reporter’s account or launch a denial of service attack against a reporter, or SWAT his house….
BK: So what’s the point of hacking a reporter’s iCloud account? Why’d you do that?
RS: Just to prove a point that, like…the security is breachable.
A rich, high-stakes gambler was dragged out of his opulent comp suite at the Crown Towers casino in Melbourne, accused of participating in a $32M scam that made use of the casino's own CCTV cameras to cheat.
The Herald Sun understands remote access to the venue's security system was given to an unauthorised person.
Images relayed from cameras were then used to spy on a top-level gaming area where the high roller was playing.
Signals were given to him on how he should bet based on the advice of someone viewing the camera feeds. Sources said the total stolen was $32 million.
They are capable of transmitting the most intricate detail of goings-on inside the building.
Casinos were the world leaders in CCTV use, and really represent ground zero for the panopticon theory of security. What is rarely mentioned is that "security" measures can be turned against defenders if attackers can hijack them. This is as true when a mugger uses his victim's gun against him as it is when a casino's own CCTVs are used to defeat its own anti-cheating measures. This is the high-stakes gambling version of all those IP-based CCTVs that leak sensitive footage of the inside of peoples' houses onto the public Internet.
Crown casino hi-tech scam nets $32 million [Mark Buttler/Herald Sun]
You may have heard that the private Finnish copyright enforcement agency CIAPC (the same creeps who confiscated a 9 year old girl's Winnie the Pooh laptop because she downloaded a song from an artist whose CD, t-shirt and concert tickets she went on to buy) have ripped off the sourcecode for The Pirate Bay in order to launch a website opposed to The Pirate Bay. In response, The Pirate Bay has reported CIAPC to the economics crimes unit of the Finnish police.
The “parody” defense doesn’t apply under Finnish law, TPB argues, citing a recent case in Finland.
“In a similar case, the prosecution and the Helsinki Court of Appeals have found that a parody site can violate the moral rights of the original author. Changing the logo or making slight edits to the text are not enough to remove this liability,” they informed the police...
“While The Pirate Bay may have a positive view on copying, it will not stand by and watch copyright enforcing organizations disrespect copyright,” Pirate Bay’s Winston says in a comment.
“CIAPC is like an ugly high school bully without friends. It’s time to take a stand. Cyber bullying is a serious matter to us all,” Winston continues.
Should The Pirate Bay be awarded damages they won’t keep that money for themselves. Instead, the money will go to the 9-year old girl who was “harassed” last year.
But, even if they “lose” it wouldn’t be a big deal, as that’s a win for the right to parody.
This right to parody is part of a new copyright law proposal in Finland, crowd-sourced by the public. Besides parody exceptions the Common Sense in Copyright campaign also aims to get rid of harsh punishments for non-commercial file-sharers.
I love that even if they lose, it will establish the case for a parody exception to Finnish copyright law, which The Pirate Bay supports and which CIAPC vehemently opposes.
The Pirate Bay Reports Anti-Piracy Outfit to the Police [TorrentFreak/Ernesto]
TorrentFreak used the ScanEye BitTorrent monitoring service to check what was being downloaded by IP addresses associated with the FBI. There's a lot:
As can be seen above there is a particular interest in movies and TV-show downloads at the FBI’s largest division.
Some of the titles are relevant to the intelligence community such as “Homeland”, “The Girl Who played With Fire”, “The Good Wife” and “Dexter”. Other titles, including the Aussie soap opera Home and Away, are more general entertainment.
The big question is of course why these FBI IP-addresses are showing up in BitTorrent swarms.
The most likely explanation is that employees were downloading these videos for personal entertainment. This wouldn’t be much of a surprise really, as we’ve seen this before at congressional offices the Department of Justice, national parliaments, record labels and movie studios.
FBI Employees Download Pirated Movies and TV-Shows [Ernesto/TorrentFreak]
The WTO agreement is supposed to guarantee level playing fields for its member states, allowing each to sell into the others' markets. But US law bans online gambling, which is the major export from Antigua. Antigua has been going back and forth with the USA in trade court since 2003, and now the WTO has agreed that the US has violated its treaty obligations. By way of reparations, the WTO has given Antigua permission to set up a kind of legal pirate market, where American copyrighted works can be sold without permission or royalties. The initial ruling came in 2007, and was affirmed on Monday. Antigua has announced plans for a site for downloading US software, music and movies.
Antigua’s Finance Minister Harold Lovell said in a comment that the U.S. left his Government no other option than to respond in this manner. Antigua’s gambling industry was devastated by the unfair practices of the U.S. and years of negotiations have offered no compromise.
“These aggressive efforts to shut down the remote gaming industry in Antigua has resulted in the loss of thousands of good paying jobs and seizure by the Americans of billions of dollars belonging to gaming operators and their customers in financial institutions across the world,” Lowell says.
“If the same type of actions, by another nation, caused the people and the economy of the United States to be so significantly impacted, Antigua would without hesitation support their pursuit of justice,” the Finance minister adds.
Jonathan Coulton responds to Fox/Glee's plagiarism of his song by "covering" it and making rival version available for sale
You'll have heard that Jonathan Coulton's iconic cover of Baby's Got Back was plagiarised by the Fox TV show "Glee" (it's not the first time). Coulton's story has been widely reported, but Fox/Glee have remained shameless about this.
Coulton's got a brilliant solution to this: he's released a "cover" of Glee's plagiarized version of his song, put it on Itunes as a rival to the official Fox version, and has announced that the proceeds will go to charity.
Major studios send legal threats to Google demanding removal of links to their own Facebook pages and more
One things the movie studios say in copyright takedown discussions is that they're very careful when they send legal threats to Google demanding removal of links to pirated copies of their work. I mean, maybe some little guys out there play fast and loose, but the Big Five? They're grownups, man.
Then, this happened:
There's lots more. For example, BBC Films sent Google a notice demanding removal of links to its own Facebook page.
On behalf of Lionsgate a DMCA notice was sent to Google, asking the search engine to remove links to infringing copies of the movie “Cabin in the Woods”. The notice in question only lists two dozen URLs, but still manages to include perfectly legal copies of the film on Amazon, iTunes, Blockbuster and Xfinity.
20th Century Fox sent in a DMCA notice to protect the movie “Prometheus”. However, as collateral damage it also took down a link to a legal copy on Verizon on demand, the collection of the Prometheus Watch Company, and a Huffington Post article.
And what about a DMCA takedown request for the Wikipedia entry of “Family Guy” that is supposedly infringing?
Perhaps even more crazy is another request sent on behalf of 20th Century Fox for “How I Met Your Mother”. The DMCA notice lists a CBS URL as the official source of the copyrighted material, but the same URL later appears in the list of infringing links.
TechDirt got a malformed takedown notice from Human Synergistics International, a company they'd previously written up for sending copyright threats to a blogger who quoted four sentences from a "human factors training" exercise. The original TechDirt post quotes the four sentences at issue, and this prompted Human Synergistics' lawyer to send a ham-fisted threat to TechDirt as well.
TechDirt's Mike Masnick proceeded to thoroughly, mercilessly demolish this nonsense, in its every aspect and element, and took care to remind Human Synergistics, and its counsel, of the potential penalties for sending out baseless copyright threats. Masnick, of course, is the man who coined the term "Streisand Effect." You'd think that HS and its lawyer would have had a bit more common sense, but the urge to commit copyfraud is a powerful one.
Finally, the last factor is "the effect of your use upon the potential market for the copyrighted work." It's important to note here, (again referencing back to the Campbell case) that the courts are clear here that they are not addressing whether or not the criticism harms the market, but whether or not the direct use harms the market. We freely admit that our criticism of your despicable copyright practices may lead organizations to think twice about doing business with your company. But, as the Supreme Court noted, while "a scathing theater review kills demand for the original, it does not produce a harm cognizable under the Copyright Act." In our case, the specific use of the text clearly does not harm the potential for your market, because we were not using it in a competitive manner at all. No one would read our post and use that to administer the exercise in question.
It's that last point that is the most bizarre in all of this. The original blog post, by Patti O'Shea, which we were commenting upon, said nothing negative about your organization or the exercise, which she seemed to enjoy. Most reasonable persons would actually have read it as an endorsement of the exercise itself, which would reflect well on you and could lead more people to wish to hire your organization or license the specific exercise details. Thus, the end result of your bizarre copyright extremism is that you caused a blog post that would likely drive more business for you to be disappeared from the internet. In response, you received criticism from us. And, rather than change your ways, you have now dug yourself an even bigger hole by threatening us with what appears to be a clearly bogus threat. So you have gone from one mostly positive blog post to an increasing series of negative blog posts criticizing your activities.
It is unclear how that series of responses from you furthers Human Synergistics' business interests, which must be a part of your job.
Lisa Rein from the Timothy Leary estate writes,
Fifty years after being cut loose by Harvard for being too enthusiastic regarding the successful results of his experiments with psilocybin and LSD, the only complete collection of Timothy Leary's published works, including the papers of the original Harvard psychedelic research, has been acquired by the university that banished him and his partner, Richard Alpert (Ram Dass), in 1963.
The Leary collection is just one of the many jewels in the Ludlow-Santo Domingo Library of Geneva that the prestigious Houghton Library recently acquired on long-term loan. Virtually unknown to the public, it is the greatest library of psychoactive drug history, literature, science and culture on the planet, formed over a decade by a visionary and committed collector, Julio Santo Domingo (1958-2009).
Leary and Alpert took their banishment from Academia in stride, and helped further the budding Psychedelic Revolution, which subsequently was itself banished from western society. So in a sense, Leary is making a comeback, just as psychedelic research appears to be. With all the printed work by and about him in one place, presently being processed and catalogued (it will take a while), students and historians will be able to study the research and truly assess the role of Leary, Alpert, Metzner, and the most famous mind drug in history.
Def Leppard got screwed over by Universal Music on compensation for its digital downloads and refuses to have anything to do with them until they pay the band a fair share of the money from iTunes, the Amazon MP3 store, and other digital distribution systems. In order to cut the label out of its earnings, the band has gone back to the studio to re-record its most popular tunes, producing what it calls "forgeries" -- note for note reproductions of the original studio cuts. The band can do this because of "compulsory licensing," which allows anyone to record and sell any song, on payment of a set royalty. But it's surprisingly hard to reproduce decades-old recordings, as Gary Graff writes for Billboard:
"When you're at loggerheads with an ex-record label who...is not prepared to pay you a fair amount of money and we have the right to say, 'Well, you're not doing it,' that's the way it's going to be," Elliott tells Billboard.com. "Our contract is such that they can't do anything with our music without our permission, not a thing. So we just sent them a letter saying, 'No matter what you want, you are going to get "no" as an answer, so don't ask.' That's the way we've left it. We'll just replace our back catalog with brand new, exact same versions of what we did."
While the business side seems cut and dried, Elliott says the creative part of recreating songs that date back 25 years or more is not. "You just don't go in and say, 'Hey guys, let's record it,' and it's done in three minutes," Elliott notes. "We had to study those songs, I mean down to the umpteenth degree of detail, and make complete forgeries of them. Time-wise it probably took as long to do as the originals, but because of the technology it actually got done quicker as we got going. But trying to find all those sounds...like where am I gonna find a 22-year-old voice? I had to sing myself into a certain throat shape to be able to sing that way again. It was really hard work, but it was challenging, and we did have a good laugh over it here and there."
Marc Jacobs's SoHo boutique was graffitied by Kidult, who painted ART in giant pink letters across the storefront. Jacobs had the graffiti photographed, removed, and printed on a t-shirt, which he offered for sale for $689, or "Signed by the artist, $680."
Earlier this week, on the night of the Met Ball, the Marc Jacobs boutique in SoHo was hit by French graffiti artist Kidult, who has famously vandalized Supreme, Hermes, and Louis Vuitton, among others. The hit? Kidult took a fire extinguisher filled with pink paint, and sprayed the word ART over the front of the store (seen above).
As a crew cleaned it up the next morning and Kidult took to Twitter to brag, Marc Jacobs and his canny reps turned the stunt on its head, capitalizing on the graffiti artist’s own work to the benefit of their own marketing: By Tweeting it out as “Art by Art Jacobs” and Instagramming an ‘artsy’ picture of it. Kidult, clearly on the scene, tried to make his presence known, but it was too late: Jacobs had won that one.