Every year, NYU's nonprofit, critical activist group AI Now releases a report on the state of AI, with ten recommendations for making machine learning systems equitable, transparent and fail-safe (2016, 2017); this year's report just published, written by a fantastic panel, including Meredith Whittaker (previously -- one of the leaders of the successful googler uprising over the company's contract to supply AI tools to the Pentagon's drone project); Kate Crawford (previously -- one of the most incisive critics of AI); Jason Schultz (previously -- a former EFF attorney now at NYU) and many others.
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Every year, NYU's nonprofit, critical activist group AI Now releases a report on the state of AI, with ten recommendations for making machine learning systems equitable, transparent and fail-safe (2016, 2017); this year's report just published, written by a fantastic panel, including Meredith Whittaker (previously -- one of the leaders of the successful googler uprising over the company's contract to supply AI tools to the Pentagon's drone project); Kate Crawford (previously -- one of the most incisive critics of AI); Jason Schultz (previously -- a former EFF attorney now at NYU) and many others. Read the rest
As part of yesterday's International Day Against DRM, Public Knowledge's John Bergmayer published It’s Always DRM’s Fault, which uses this month's viral story about an Apple user named Anders G da Silva whose movie was deleted from his Itunes because he moved from one country to another. Read the rest
Washington and Lee law professor Joshua Fairfield is the author of a recent book called Owned: Property, Privacy, and the New Digital Serfdom, which takes up the argument that DRM and license agreements mean that we have no real property rights anymore, just a kind of feudal tenancy in which distant aristocrats (corporations) dictate how we may and may not use the things we "buy," backed by the power of the state to fine or jail us if we fail to arrange our affairs to the company's shareholders. Read the rest
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
One year ago today
US vs. Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning: defense rests, Manning won't testify, Wikileaks gets respect: Xen traveled to Ft. Meade, Maryland to observe the trial of Army PFC. Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning. The 25-year-old Oklahoma native has admitted to providing Wikileaks with more than 700,000 leaked documents, which included battle reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, State Department diplomatic cables, and military videos from combat zones.
Five years ago today
Pages Books in Toronto to close: Toronto's Pages bookstore, one of my favorites in the world, is set to close after a rent-hike left it unable to remain in its 30 year Queen Street location.
Ten years ago today DMCA says you can't fix your own tape-drive: My cow-orker Jason Schultz reports on a breaking new DMCA horripilation: a court has ordered a company to stop fixing tape-drives because in so doing, it makes unauthorized access of a copyrighted "Maintenance Code." Read the rest
Broadcast.com founder Mark Cuban and Minecraft creator Markus Persson have donated $500,000 to the Electronic Frontier Foundation to endow the "Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents," which will be occupied by an attorney tasked with hunting down and destroying crappy patents that have been recklessly granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office to unscrupulous "inventors" who claim to have invented things that were obvious and/or already extant; and to pay for activists to fight for substantive patent reform:
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Cuban's $250,000 donation also funds the hire of a new attorney experienced in patent reform and high profile patent litigation: Daniel Nazer, who will join EFF in January as a Staff Attorney. The rest of EFF's seasoned intellectual property team includes Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry, Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl, and Staff Attorney Mitch Stoltz. The team is also assisted by EFF fellows Michael Barclay and Jason Schultz.
Persson's separate donation of $250,000 cements EFF's ability to tackle the systemic problems with software patents. With a blend of lawyers, technologists, and activists, EFF will push for reform in the courts, through activism campaigns, and by educating the public and politicians about what is wrong with software patents and what needs to change.
"Temporary fixes aren't good enough – we need deep and meaningful reform to protect software development and keep it as free and democratic as possible," said Persson, creator of the popular videogame Minecraft. "New games and other technological tools come from improving on old things and making them better – an iterative process that the current patent environment could shut down entirely.
Ars Technica's Jon Brodkin has an in-depth look at the "Defensive Patent License," a kind of judo for the patent system created by my former EFF colleague Jason Schultz (who started EFF's Patent Busting Project) and my former USC colleague Jen Urban (who co-created the ChillingEffects clearinghouse). As you'd expect from two such killer legal freedom fighters, the DPL is audacious, exciting, and wicked cool. It's a license pool that companies opt into, and members of the pool pledge not to sue one another for infringement. If you're ever being sued for patent infringement, you can get an automatic license to a conflicting patent just by throwing your patents into the pool. The more patent trolls threaten people, the more incentive there is to join the league of Internet patent freedom fighters.
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“The idea is if you want to be part of this network of defensive patent people, you are committing that all of your patents, every single thing you’ve done, will be available royalty-free to anyone who wants to take a license, if they commit to only practice defensive patent licensing,” Schultz said today in Boston at the Usenix conference on cyberlaw issues. “As long as they don’t offensively sue anyone else in that network, everything’s cool.”
The commitment is both daunting in that it requires submitting all of a member company’s patents to the pool, and forgiving in that members can still sue the pants off non-members. Schultz said his team thought long and hard about the exact implementation of the Defensive Patent License.
Danah boyd writes, "I'm really excited to share a new study that Eszter Hargittai, Jason Schultz, John Palfrey and I have been working on for the last six months that has serious implications for parenting, education, free speech, and children's rights. While COPPA is meant to protect privacy and empower parents, it is usually implemented by general-purpose websites to simply block children from accessing the sites. Interestingly, many parents appear to respond by helping their children violate the age restrictions, thereby minimizing the protections that COPPA actually provides. Anyhow, as you probably know, COPPA is currently under review and there are pending laws that build on it. With that context in mind, we decided to investigate how effective COPPA is at actually empowering parents. The results of our study are now published."
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Facebook, like many communication services and social media sites, uses its Terms of Service (ToS) to forbid children under the age of 13 from creating an account. Such prohibitions are not uncommon in response to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which seeks to empower parents by requiring commercial Web site operators to obtain parental consent before collecting data from children under 13. Given economic costs, social concerns, and technical issues, most general–purpose sites opt to restrict underage access through their ToS. Yet in spite of such restrictions, research suggests that millions of underage users circumvent this rule and sign up for accounts on Facebook. Given strong evidence of parental concern about children’s online activity, this raises questions of whether or not parents understand ToS restrictions for children, how they view children’s practices of circumventing age restrictions, and how they feel about children’s access being regulated.
Regarding the ongoing internet fun-poking at Miss Teen South Carolina and her love of maps, Jason Schultz says,
In BoingBoing's comment section, reader Tim Howland shared this revelation:
I think that everyone has missed something important here; she's actually been pioneering a new art form- a combination of Hindi Ghazal poetry and blank verse.
Look at the transcription:
I personally believe that us americans are unable to do so because osama.
People out there in our nation don't have that,
And I believe that our education like such as south africa and such as the Iraq.
everywhere "such as".
And I believe our education should help the US should help the south africa and the iraq and the asian countries so we can build up our future.
The themes are clear; she's worried about the way we are reacting to the war on terror, the way Osama Bin Laden still is free, and the way that we are being "educated". The irony is simply dripping from the last stanza.
She was able to deliver this call to revolution absolutely deadpan, cunningly pulling the wool over America's eyes- and people here have the temerity to mock her intellectual accomplishments? She is the latter-day heir to Rosa Luxemborg- only, without the boathook.
Previously on BoingBoing:Tube Map for Miss SC: The Iraqs and Everywhere, Like, Such As. Read the rest
In this photo shot by EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz, EFF legal intern Ruben models the "AT&T Deathstar banner" on a handsome new Apple iPhone "to remind people that AT&T is still evil... Turns out it's a perfect fit for the screen!" (Thanks, Cory!)
The Electronic Frontier Foundation today announced that it is suing Viacom on behalf of MoveOn.org and Brave New Films, over YouTube's takedown of Colbert parody. Here's a snip from the EFF's statement:
The video, called "Stop the Falsiness," was created by MoveOn and Brave New Films as a tongue-in-cheek commentary on Colbert's portrayal of the right-wing media and parodying MoveOn's own reputation for earnest political activism. The short film, uploaded to YouTube in August 2006, includes clips from "The Colbert Report" as well as humorous original interviews about show host Stephen Colbert. In March of this year, Viacom -- the parent company of Comedy Central -- demanded that YouTube take "Stop the Falsiness" down, claiming the video infringed its copyrights.
"Our clients' video is an act of free speech and a fair use of 'Colbert Report' clips," said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "Viacom knows this -- it's the same kind of fair use that 'The Colbert Report' and 'The Daily Show' rely upon every night as they parody other channels' news coverage."
Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), a mere allegation of copyright infringement on the Internet can result in content removal, silencing a creator before any misuse is proven. This "shoot first, ask questions later" system can silence online artists and critics, creating unfair hurdles to free speech.
Previously on BoingBoing:Viacom censors Colbert Report machinima off YouTube YouTube/Google sued by Viacom for a billion bucks Viacom: privacy-hating hypocrites Viacom terrorizes YouTube with bullshit DMCA notices Viacom announces deal with Joost Why was Colbert press corps video removed from YouTube? Read the rest
We accept his apology, we applaud his change of heart, and we welcome him back from the dark side. [Update: Ah, bummer. Spoke too soon. See the comments below for news of Crook's latest evil deeds. Judging from material recently posted on Mr. Crook's various websites, it would appear he remains a racist, a holocaust denier, and an enemy of the same constitutional protections for free speech that allow him to promote homophobia, white supremacy, or any other beliefs others may find objectionable.]
Congratulations and huge respect to Jason Schultz and others at the Electronic Frontier Foundation for their hard work on this case, and for defending the rights of all of us online. Snip from the EFF's announcement:
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Michael Crook, the man behind a string of meritless online copyright complaints, has agreed to withdraw those complaints, take a copyright law course, and apologize for interfering with the free speech rights of his targets.
The agreement settles a lawsuit against Crook filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on behalf of Jeff Diehl, the editor of the Internet magazine 10 Zen Monkeys. Diehl was forced to modify an article posted about Crook's behavior in a fake sex-ad scheme after Crook sent baseless Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notices, claiming to be the copyright holder of an image used in the story. In fact, the image was from a Fox News program and legally used as part of commentary on Crook.
Reader comment: Allygal says,
Hi, I love your blog, and am a very long time reader! I just wanted to comment and suggest an artist, related to your post about the artist Jeffery Scott. There is an amazing artist who I believe to be one of the innovators to this type of digital photography. His name is Symon Chow: Link. And has been doing this form of work for many years. He seems to be quite reclusive and modest. And deserves way more attension that he has gotten. You can see his work with the link provided and a lot of reviews (from other bloggers) of his work can be found by googling his name. Thanks again for wasting all my time at the office ;)
Wow, beautiful stuff (some of it NSFW). Here's one of Symon Chow's images below.
"Assraelis" (nsfw) producer Oren Cohen shot his adult film in Hebrew with an all-Israeli cast. He stuck the the Hebrew letter kof, with a “k” tucked inside, on the cover. Then came the rabbinic nastygram:
“As a leading company in the area of kosher food certification, companies are only contractually authorized to utilize the Kof-K trademark to promote and/or market their food products,” the letter said.
The symbol is the trademarked property of the Kof-K company, which is based in Teaneck, N.J., and certifies food like bread, juice and cookies as abiding by kosher standards. Those who observe Jewish dietary laws consider any food lacking one of a handful of such symbols, known as hechsherim, as treif, or unkosher.
Mr. Cohen, the son of a Moroccan Israeli and the third generation of his family involved in the pornography industry, was a bit perplexed.
“I thought, what – they own a letter?” Mr. Cohen said in an interview.
They do. And they have for more than 30 years, said Rabbi Yehuda Rosenbaum, the administrative director of the company.
Link to New York Times article (1/27). Here's an earlier item at AVN (1/25), and another at TMZ (1/25). Here's the DVD: Link (nsfw) to "Assraelis: never good enough for his mother!" (Thanks, Jason Schultz)
Reader comment: Anonymous says,
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I think there's an important point glossed over in your blog post... "Kof-K" isn't *the* kosher symbol, it's *one company's* kosher symbol. It's not "a letter", as the porn producer indicates; it's a great big Hebrew letter with a tiny little English letter inside it, something that doesn't appear anywhere in any language.