SF Chronicle's paywall comes down after only four months

After less than four months, the San Francisco Chronicle has torn down its paywall, saying little about what led to the decision. I presume that the signup numbers were very very low, and that the drop in ad-views was sufficiently alarming that it made management reconsider.

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Eolas, the grandaddy of patent trolls, has its ass handed to it by a court, finally

After a reign of terror lasting nearly two decades, the patent troll Eolas has been brought low. Its bullshit patent on "interactive features" of the Web -- which was filed six years after Tim Berners-Lee actually invented the stuff it laid claim to -- was used to suck millions out of companies from Microsoft to Yahoo and Amazon. A judge has ruled what everyone knew -- the patents were without merit and the lawsuits were just money-spinners for "inventors" whose only product was litigation. Good riddance, Eolas, and see you in Hell.

Under Doyle's conception of his own invention, practically any modern website owed him royalties. Playing a video online or rotating an image on a shopping website were "interactive" features that infringed his patents.

And unlike many "patent trolls" who simply settle for settlements just under the cost of litigation, Doyle's company had the chops, the lawyers, and the early filing date needed to extract tens of millions of dollars from the accused companies.

Eolas had kept filing lawsuits even after its trial loss, with cases against Disney, ESPN, ABC, Facebook, and Wal-Mart on hold awaiting the outcome of this appeal; those are all but doomed. Those lawsuits had asserted the two invalidated patents as well as two new ones, but the two newer patents both incorporate Eolas' first patent.

The Web’s longest nightmare ends: Eolas patents are dead on appeal [Joe Mullin/Ars Technica]

Six million instantly obsolete Surface tablets poised to flood the retail channel

Yesterday, Microsoft announced a $900 million writedown triggered by the failure of their Surface tablets. According to David Gilbert at the International Business Times, this means there are about six million unsold tablets in inventory, shortly to flood the market at deep discounts. What should we do with these? Jailbreak 'em, install a free/open operating system, and use them as control systems for projects too complex for Raspberry Pi or Arduino? (via /.) Cory 35

Bubblenomics: how the Beanie Babies speculators got it wrong


Buzzfeed's Hunter Schwarz revisits 1998's "Scholastic Beanie Baby Handbook," which predicted values of Beanie Babies in 2008, and compares them to the current-day eBay clearing price for these same speculative items. For example, the Stripes the Dark Tiger doll, which retailed for $5 and traded for $250 in 1998 was predicted to rise to $1,000. Today it can be had on eBay for $9.95. And the $4,000-$5,000 estimated 2008 value for the Violet Teddy was also way off, though Violet is today a $700 item ($700 was also what it traded for in 1998).

How Much Beanie Babies Were Predicted To Be Worth Vs. How Much They’re Really Worth (via Digg)

RIAA losing money, firing employees, giving execs raises


The RIAA has submitted its latest Form 990 tax filing to the IRS, which details the organization's precipitous shelving off in budget and employees (though the execs gave themselves fat raises):

The drop in income can be solely attributed to lower membership dues from the major music labels. Over the past two years label contributions have dropped to $23.6 million, and over a three-year period the labels cut back a total of $30 million, which is more than the RIAA’s total income today.

The cutbacks are not immediately apparent from the salaries paid to the top executives. RIAA Chairman and CEO Cary Sherman, for example, earned $1.46 million compared to $1.37 million the year before. Senior Executive Vice President Mitch Glazier also saw a modest rise in income from $618,946 to $642,591.

...The reduction in legal costs is even more significant, going from to $6.4 million to $1.2 million in two years. In part, this reduction was accomplished by no longer targeting individual file-sharers in copyright infringement lawsuits, which is a losing exercise for the group.

Looking through other income we see that the RIAA received $196,378 in “anti-piracy restitution,” coming from the damages awarded in lawsuits against Limewire and such.

RIAA Makes Drastic Employee Cuts as Revenue Plummets [Ernesto/TorrentFreak]

Associated Press quietly nukes its dumber-than-dumb DRM-for-news system


Do you remember the Associated Press's 2009 announcement that they had discovered a magic-beans technology that would let them stop people from quoting the news unless they paid for license fees (for quotes as short as 12 words, yet!)?

Didn't work.

Since the launch... we heard absolutely nothing about NewsRight. There was a launch, with its newspaper backers claiming it was some huge moment for newspapers, and then nothing.

Well, until now, when we find out that NewsRight quietly shut down. Apparently, among its many problems, many of the big name news organization that owned NewsRight wouldn't even include their own works as part of the "license" because they feared cannibalizing revenue from other sources. So, take legacy companies that are backwards looking, combine it with a licensing scheme based on no legal right, a lack of any actual added value and (finally) mix in players who are scared of cannibalizing some cash cow... and it adds up to an easy failure.

AP's Attempt At DRM'ing The News Shuts Down [Mike Masnick/Techdirt]

(Image: AP: Protect, Point, Pay)

Company that oversees US "six-strikes" copyright shakedown has its company status revoked

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)

How many seconds until Rob Ford is gone?


Now that Toronto's scumbag mayor Rob Ford is out on his ass, the city is celebrating. Here's a countdown calculator that tells you how many more seconds the deplorable oaf has in office before he's banished to the scrapheap of history.

Ford Countdown - Mayor Rob Ford Countdown Clock (Thanks, Dan!)

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford demonstrates his governance style


Toronto mayor Rob Ford is a dick. He rips out bike lanes. Violates municipal conflict of interest rules by participating in votes to censure him for unethical fundraising. Closed a library and threatened others Skips council meetings to coach high school football (to which he diverts city resources), then hijacks a city bus to drive his team around. Calls the cops in a panic when journalists come to his house to ask him questions, and boycotts the most-read paper in the country because of their investigative reporting on him, and freaks out they sent out a reporter to check on reports that he was thinking of annexing some public land near his home.

He's ill-spoken, absurd, and hateful. In short, he is a laughable bumblefuck.

For evidence, I present to you this animated GIF of Mayor Laughable Bumblefuck demonstrating his governance style to the world.

(Thanks to Dave Nickle for fact-checking my ass!)

MPAA budget drops 50% in two years

It's not just the RIAA who've seen its budget slashed over the past two years; the MPAA has also seen a greater than 50% revenue decline over the past two years. But don't worry, the millionaire lobbyists at the top go on earning top dollar. Cory