"Open source" companies are playing games with licensing to sneak in proprietary code, freeze out competitors, fight enclosure

Writing new software licenses is a seemingly irresistible vice in the free and open source world, and the decades since the first GPL have been filled with bitter disputes and splits over licensing, with new licenses proliferating for motives both noble and base. Read the rest

Martin Shkreli placed in solitary confinement

Martin Shkreli, infamous for hiking the prices of life-saving drugs and jailed on unrelated fraud charges, is in solitary confinement. The Wall Street Journal reported that he was running businessess from inside using a contraband phone.

One source close to Shkreli’s legal team said the fraudster was in the special housing unit (SHU) a week and a half after the article was published on March 7, but the source had not received an update on his status. But according to Justin Liverman, a fellow inmate and ex-member of notorious hacker crew Crackas With Attitude, Shkreli was indeed put in solitary and was still there as of Sunday. “Martin is in the SHU,” Liverman told Forbes.

According to the Journal, Shkreli was operating his business, Phoenixus AG, via a cellphone. The company appears to be a reincarnation of Turing Pharmaceuticals AG, which jacked up the prices of rare drugs to the fury of patients, doctors and insurers. In one of the worst examples, Turing increased the cost of a pill for patients with HIV/AIDS from $13.50 to $750.

Read the rest

Of $208m in fines leveled against robocallers, the FCC has collected ... $6,790

The Wall Street Journal reports that robocallers go largely unpunished, with all those headline-grabbing fines virtually uncollected.

As syndicated to Fox News:

An FCC spokesman said his agency lacks the authority to enforce the forfeiture orders it issues and has passed all unpaid penalties to the Justice Department, which has the power to collect the fines. Many of the spoofers and robocallers the agency tries to punish are individuals and small operations, he added, which means they are at times unable to pay the full penalties.

“Fines serve to penalize bad conduct and deter future misconduct,” the FCC spokesman said. A spokeswoman for the Justice Department, which can settle or drop cases, declined to comment.

The dearth of financial penalties collected by the U.S. government for violations of telemarketing and auto-dialing rules shows the limits the sister regulators face in putting a stop to illegal robocalls. It also shows why the threat of large fines can fail to deter bad actors.

I'd bet a dollar the only fines ever collected were from a tiny handful of otherwise legitimate callers who made stupid mistakes. Robocalls and the like will account for nearly half of all calls in 2019, according to the FCC.

Correction: FCC, not FTC. Read the rest

Man breaks obscure English laws, tried to get arrested

Lots of crazy fun laws still on the books in Blighty, though I'd hazard a guess that many of them have in fact been formally overturned or superceded.

Some, though, are new enough.

The Salmon Act 1986 is an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom, passed in 1986, which regulates salmon fishery. It is frequently cited in lists of absurd or unusual laws, since it contains a provision making it illegal to "handle salmon in suspicious circumstances". ...

A part of the magic is the English fondness for vaguely- or obscurely-worded laws. Another way of putting it is that the role of law in England is not enforcement but prosecution. Read the rest

Jussie Smollett cleared on all charges after emergency hearing

Prosecutors today dropped all charges against actor Jussie Smollett, who was accused of orchestrating an attack on himself and falsely reporting it to the police.

Smollett, 36, was seen arriving at a Chicago courtroom around 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday for an emergency hearing. Following his court appearance, his attorneys released a statement saying that the actor's "record has been wiped clean of the filing of this tragic complaint against him."

"Jussie was attacked by two people he was unable to identify on January 29th. He was a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator as a result of false and inappropriate remarks made to the public causing an inappropriate rush to judgement," the statement read.

Probably a deferred or non-prosecution agreement, perhaps some police incompetence or misconduct. It'll really annoy the right people, anyway. Read the rest

Grandson of legendary John Deere engineer defends right-to-repair and condemns Big Ag for "taxing customers"

Willie Cade's grandfather Theo Cade was one of John Deere's most storied engineers, with 158 patents to his name; he invented the manure spreader and traveled the country investigating stories of how farmers were using, fixing, modifying and upgrading their equipment; today, Willie Cade is the founder of the Electronics Reuse Conference, having spent a quarter-century repairing electronics, diverting e-waste from landfills and rehabilitating it for use by low-income schools and individuals. Read the rest

California's Right to Repair Bill, killed by Big Ag and Apple, has been reintroduced

Last year, California was one of several states to introduce right to repair legislation that would force companies to end practices that discourage the independent repair sector, creating a requirement to sell replacement parts, provide documentation, and supply codes to bypass DRM systems that locked new parts out of devices until the company activated them. Read the rest

A massive victory for fair use in the longrunning Dr Seuss vs Star Trek parody lawsuit

Back in 2016, the Dr Seuss estate won a preliminary court action against "Oh, The Places You'll Boldly Go!" a crowdfunded parody of Dr Seuss's "Oh the Places You'll Go!" and Star Trek, written by veteran Star Trek creator David "Tribble" Gerrold and illustrated by the comics giant Ty Templeton. Read the rest

Judge tells jury to acquit accused sex trafficker because God said she's innocent

In Comal County, Texas, judge Jack Robison, presiding over the trial of accused sex trafficker Gloria Romero Perez, walked into the jury room after the jurors landed on a guilty verdict and urged them to reverse their decision because God says she's innocent. Unswayed, the jurors stuck to their guilty verdict. Another judge later ruled the case a mistrial while the Texas Judicial Commission let Robison off with a public warning. From My San Antonio:

"The judge later apologized to the jury, and said something to the effect of, 'When God tells me I gotta do something, I gotta do it,'" officials wrote in the report...

In his self-report, Robison told the committee he was experiencing memory lapses at the time and was under extreme stress due to treatment for a medical condition and the death of a close friend.

Robison provided letters from two medical professionals that Robison's outburst was caused by a "temporary, episodic medical condition referred to as a 'delirum.'" The professionals said that the issue appears to be resolved and that Robison is not currently experiencing the same impairment.

Read the rest

It's on: House Democrats introduce their promised Net Neutrality legislation

House Democrats have made good on their promise to introduce the Save the Internet Act, legislation mandating Network Neutrality, which would force the FCC to reinstate the policy that Trump's Chairman Ajit Pai used a string of dirty tricks and illegal maneuvers to destroy. Read the rest

GOP lawmaker driven mad by bill that would decriminalize children who take naked photos of themselves, delivers a frenzied rant about anal sex on legislature's floor

Washington State is contemplating HB 1742, legislation that would end the practice of charging children who exchange consensual sexts with child porn offenses that can lead to prison and a lifetime on the sex-offender registry. Read the rest

A brilliant, simple exercise to teach privacy fundamentals

Kate Klonick, an assistant professor at St John's Law School, teaches an Information Privacy course for second- and third-year law students; she devised a wonderful and simply exercise to teach her students about "anonymous speech, reasonable expectation of privacy, third party doctrine, and privacy by obscurity" over the spring break. Read the rest

Juror's concern that man on trial didn't swear on the bible results in the verdict getting tossed

On Friday, an appeals court judge in Camden County, New Jersey tossed out a verdict against Dr. Abbas Husain who in 2011 a jury found guilty of having sexually harassed an office employee. It came out later that one of the jurors was "very passionate" and concerned that Husain, who is Hindu, hadn't put his hand on the bible when taking the oath to testify. The juror had raised her concern with other jurors. From NJ.com:

“The juror's comment regarding the Bible raises the specter of religious bigotry,” the court’s ruling said.

The decision reversed a Camden County Superior Court judge’s denial of a new trial for Husain in 2016. A jury in 2011 found Husain created a hostile work environment, sexually harassed and retaliated against a then-part time office employee, who was awarded $12,500 in the civil case...

“The Law Division judge said the juror who made the observation was only concerned with Husain's credibility, i.e. that a person who refused to place his hand on the Bible was incapable of taking the oath seriously and was therefore incredible,” the decision said. “He contrasted this with out-and-out religious bigotry. But if he was correct, that too is simply impermissible. The exercise of a person's religion should not make him or her per se incredible.”

“Only a new trial would ensure that the outcome was untainted,” the decision continued. “The possibility that the verdict was a miscarriage of justice is too great for us to decide otherwise.”

Read the rest

Man who yelled "guilty!" to get out of jury duty was promptly arrested

I guess it's kind of like yelling fire in a crowded theater: Jacob Maldonado of Honolulu, Hawaii had been called as a possible juror in a misdemeanor assault trial but really didn't want to serve on the jury. So just before the selection process began, Maldonado yelled “He is guilty! He is guilty!” outside the courtroom. From TheGardenIsland.com:

(Judge Edward) Kubo declared a mistrial, finding the man’s disturbance had affected the 44 other potential jurors, according to the judge’s order.

The judge ordered Maldonado’s arrest on a contempt charge and set a $10,000 cash bail. Maldonado spent the night in jail and appeared before Kubo on Wednesday morning...

(Attorney Jason) Burks told the judge that Maldonado’s father was recently diagnosed with cancer and his wife was also dealing with medical issues...

Maldonado was released without being charged or fined.

image: "An empty jury box at an American courtroom in Pershing County, Nevada" by Ken Lund Read the rest

Help Chelsea Manning pay for lawyers to resist a Grand Jury subpoena

Whistleblower and torture-survivor Chelsea Manning (previously) has been summoned before a Grand Jury, seemingly to testify about her "2010 disclosures of information about the nature of asymmetric warfare to the public." Read the rest

San Francisco Giants CEO filmed manhandling wife in public

Larry Baer, the CEO of the San Francisco Giants, was filmed manhandling his screaming wife in public, prizing away a cellphone from her grasp, and finally dropping her to the ground. He claimed she fell over due to a injured ankle:

Larry Baer spoke with the San Francisco Chronicle after the incident.

"My wife and I had an unfortunate public argument related to a family member, and she had an injured foot and she fell off her chair in the course of the argument," he said. "The matter is resolved. It was a squabble over a cell phone. Obviously, it’s embarrassing."

His wife has apologized for her behavior:

"I took his cellphone. He wanted it back and I did not want to give it back. I started to get up and the chair I was sitting in began to tip. Due to an injury I sustained in my foot three days ago, I lost my balance. I did not sustain any injury based on what happened today. Larryand I always have been and still are happily married.”

If this is what he'll do in broad daylight knowing he'll face no consequences, just imagine what he does behind closed doors knowing he'll face no consequences. Read the rest

Yet another study shows that the most effective "anti-piracy" strategy is good products at a fair price

It's been 20 years since Napster burst on the scene, and after decades of lawsuits, draconian criminal penalties, even no-knock gunpoint search warrants, there remains no evidence that "copyright enforcement" has a measurable impact on copyright infringement -- and at the same time, there's persistent, credible evidence that infringement goes down when product offerings get better and prices get more reasonable. Read the rest

More posts