Jim from the Open Rights Group writes in with the announcement for this year's ORGCon, a brilliant UK digital rights event: Legends of digital rights, Tim Wu and John Perry Barlow, will be leading Open Rights Group's 3rd national conference on June 8th. Join us for ORGCon2013 at the Institute of Engineering and Technology, Savoy Place, London for the UK's biggest digital freedoms event. ORGCon has always been a sell-out event so grab your tickets now before they all go!
This year topics covered include:
Snoopers' Charter: What's the situation now?
Jim Killock and the author's of the Digital Surveillance report on what the Government are planning next after the defeat of the Comms Data Bill.
Lessons from creative citizens: How to win at the Internet
Sci-fi author Diane Duane (Star Trek, Young Wizards), Simon Indelicate (The Indelicates) and bassist Steve Lawson will be talking about the creative ways they have developed successful artistic careers in the digital age.
What exactly is ORG anyway? Who we are and what we do
ORG staff, volunteers, Advisory Council and Board will be sharing their role in ORG and explaining what our work is all about.
Who wins when copyright and free speech clash?
Internet law expert Graham Smith (author of the mighty tome Internet Law and Regulation) and Article 19's legal officer, Gabrielle Guillemin, will be tackling this challenging question and looking at some of the conflicting principles.
How to wiretap the Cloud (without anybody noticing)
Caspar Bowden, privacy expert, will be giving explaining the serious threat to European citizens' rights from the American law, FISAA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act).
The right to be offensive: Free speech online in the UK
Policy Head of Facebook UK, Richard Allan and free speech law expert and Jack of Kent blogger, David Allen Green will be sharing their expertise on the danger from increasing use of Section127, and debate where the UK Government stands on free speech online.
and many many more!
Sign up here: Open Rights Group - Join us at ORGCon2013!
Two minor characters from my novel Makers have apparently come to life and written an article for 3D Printing Industry. These two people are patent lawyers for Finnegan IP law firm, Washington, DC, which I don't recall making up, but this is definitely a pair of Doctorow villains (though, thankfully, I had the good sense not to give them any lines in the book -- they're far too cliched in their anodyne evil for anyone to really believe in).
These patent lawyers are upset because the evil Makers (capital-M and all!) are working with the Electronic Frontier Foundation to examine bad 3D printing patents submitted to the US Patent and Trademark Office. The problem is that 3D printing is 30 years old, so nearly all the stuff that people want to patent and lock up and charge rent on for the next 20 years has already been invented, and the pesky Makers are insisting on pointing out this inconvenient fact to the USPTO.
This breaks the established order, which is much to be preferred: the UPSTO should grant all the bullshit patents that companies apply for. The big companies can pay firms like Finnegan to file patents on every trivial, stale, ancient idea and then cross-license them to each other, but use them to block disruptive new entrants to the marketplace. The old system also has the desirable feature of arming patent trolls with the same kind of bullshit patents so that they can sue giant companies and disruptive startups alike, and Finnegan can be there to soak up the tens of millions of dollars in legal fees generated by all this activity.
Can't these darned Makers understand? The point of a patent isn't to protect novel, useful inventions! It's to put the brakes on out-of-control innovation and to ensure that the children of the partners at Finnegan can go to a good college! What will happen to GDP if we divert money from the honest business of barratry and allow it to be squandered on making and selling stuff that people find useful?
The America Invents Act changed U.S. patent law to allow preissuance submissions, a mechanism by which third parties can submit patents or printed publications to the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) for consideration during patent examination, along with “a concise description of the asserted relevance of each submitted document.” The U.S. Congress intended preissuance submissions to help the USPTO increase the efficiency of examination and the quality of issued patents. Congress did not, however, intend the use of this mechanism to interfere with patent examination. Nor did it intend preissuance submissions to allow for third party protest or preissuance opposition. Yet a segment of the 3D printing (3DP) community, known as Makers, is using preissuance submissions as a sword to oppose 3DP-related patent applications. Perhaps more importantly, they are leveraging the concept of crowdsourcing to do so, potentially creating problems for patent applicants everywhere.
To understand why and how Makers are mobilizing to challenge patents through presissuance submissions, one must first understand what 3DP is, and the composition of the 3DP community. 3D printing—more formally known as additive manufacturing—is a technology that creates three dimensional objects from CAD files. There are many legacy and emerging 3DP technologies. Generally, 3DP works by fusing layer upon layer of materials, such as plastics, powder metals, and ceramics, to build a final, fully formed product, much as Athena sprung full-blown from the head of Zeus. This process requires a digital 3D model of the product, stored in a CAD file, and a 3D printer. Digital product models can be obtained by either (1) designing the product with a CAD program; (2) downloading an existing CAD file from the Internet; or (3) scanning an existing product with a 3D scanner to create a CAD file. Further, almost anyone can buy a 3D printer today; they are sold through Skymall and at Staples. Where 3DP was once cost prohibitive for most, ‘prosumer’ and home printers are now available at reasonable prices.
(via Beyond the Beyond)
(Images: Caricature of William Otto Adolph Julius Danckwerts, Caricature of Charles Russell, Leslie Ward/Vanity Fair/Wikimedia Commons)
Alan Wexelblat comment on the news that Nintendo has claimed "monetization rights" to fan videos on YouTube that feature tips on playing its games. Some of these videos are incredibly popular, and while their use of Nintendo's creations are often fair use, Nintendo gets to use YouTube's monetization system to advertise on all the videos:
The basic idea is that if someone makes a video of themselves playing a Nintendo game and uploads it to YouTube any ads shown with that video will be of Nintendo's choosing and revenue from it will flow to Nintendo. Ads may appear beside the videos or actually be inserted before and after the video when people go to play it.
The problem here is that "Let's Play" style videos are a pervasive form of information and sharing throughout the industry. I did a quick YouTube search for "let's play" for this blog post and got back over 9.1 million hits. People create these videos to show off their skills, to highlight interesting things they've seen such as game "easter eggs", to provide guides or walk-throughs, or just to share a bit of fun with friends. There are a few professional or semi-professional games writers who use this style of video to promote themselves or their channels, but they are a tiny minority of that nine million.
Nintendo has positioned its action as a gentler approach; rather than trying to ban content related to Nintendo games, they just want to make money off it by changing the video that an individual uploaded. Yeah, um, guys that's not a whole lot better. It also comes across as cheap and lazy - rather than creating content for YouTube that fans and players would want to watch, Nintendo is just taking over other peoples' content.
Photography is not a Crime shares the story:
New York City police officers arrested a woman who was video recording them from a public sidewalk as they conducted some type of “vehicle safety checkpoint.”
The officers apparently stole a memory card from a camera, which turned out to be the wrong one, allowing us to view the video.
Marina Litvinenko, widow of Alexander Litvinenko (a British citizen who was assassinated in London by two former KGB agents who poisoned him with radioactive polonium) has accused the British government, Secretary of State William Hague, and PM David Cameron of sabotaging the coroner's inquest into her husband's death. Hague and Cameron intervened in the coroner's hearing to seal key evidence that implicated the Russian government in Litvinenko's killing.
Sir Robert Owen, who is leading the inquest and who has seen the material, characterised it as "documents that examined whether UK officials could have done more to prevent his murder." 's widow says that this is part of "a secret political deal with the Kremlin." This comes against a charm offensive by the UK government to increase Russian investment in Britain.
The former Labour government severed all contacts with Russia's FSB spy agency in 2007 after concluding it had played a leading role in Litvinenko's assassination. Putin is the agency's former chief.
Mrs Litvinenko added: "This is a very sad day, a tragedy for British justice which has until now been respected around the world, and a frightening precedent for all of those who have been trying so hard to expose the crimes committed by a conspiracy of organised criminals who operate inside the Kremlin."
In his ruling (pdf), Owen said the inquest scheduled to take place later this year might now result in an "incomplete, misleading and unfair" verdict.
The coroner said he would consider inviting Theresa May, the home secretary, to hold a public inquiry instead. The inquiry could hear the sensitive evidence buried by Hague in secret sessions.
The battle of the bands, featuring acts from Ireland to Israel, is underway as we speak. Embedded above is Cezar Ouatu's particularly excellent It's my life, this year's Transylvanian entry. Our Europe Correspondent Leigh Alexander will be filing a report, but not until she's had a bit of a lie down.
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!)?
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)
Maker Faire Bay Area is this weekend, in San Mateo, California! Pesco, Mark and I will all be there, and I'm sure many of you reading Boing Boing will be, too. Mark has been posting some great behind-the-scenes snapshots on his Instagram. And of course, the #makerfaire hashtag is a good way to peek at the flood of tweets, videos, and images attendees and organizers will be sharing today.
I will be interviewing National Geographic TV host Sean Riley about the making of his show "World's Toughest Fixes." We will also be talking about the invisible importance of heavy machinery, and of the courage it takes to be a fixer.
Among the most recent video posts you will find on our all-new video archive page:
• Child sneaks camera into school to document gross food.
• The art of brain hacking.
• Grizzly bear eats video camera.
• 11 year old and his 3D printer.
• HOWTO make glowing Converse.
• Monkey shares lollipop with puppy, then beats him with it.
• Woman smacks cop so she can go to jail and quit smoking.
I reviewed Ronald Diebert's new book Black Code in this weekend's edition of the Globe and Mail. Diebert runs the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto and has been instrumental in several high-profile reports that outed government spying (like Chinese hackers who compromised the Dalai Lama's computer and turned it into a covert CCTV) and massive criminal hacks (like the Koobface extortion racket). His book is an amazing account of how cops, spies and crooks all treat the Internet as the same kind of thing: a tool for getting information out of people without their knowledge or consent, and how they end up in a kind of emergent conspiracy to erode the net's security to further their own ends. It's an absolutely brilliant and important book:
Ronald Deibert’s new book, Black Code, is a gripping and absolutely terrifying blow-by-blow account of the way that companies, governments, cops and crooks have entered into an accidental conspiracy to poison our collective digital water supply in ways small and large, treating the Internet as a way to make a quick and dirty buck or as a snoopy spy’s best friend. The book is so thoroughly disheartening for its first 14 chapters that I found myself growing impatient with it, worrying that it was a mere counsel of despair.
But the final chapter of Black Code is an incandescent call to arms demanding that states and their agents cease their depraved indifference to the unintended consequences of their online war games and join with civil society groups that work to make the networked society into a freer, better place than the world it has overwritten.
Deibert is the founder and director of The Citizen Lab, a unique institution at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs. It is one part X-Files hacker clubhouse, one part computer science lab and one part international relations observatory. The Citizen Lab’s researchers have scored a string of international coups: Uncovering GhostNet, the group of Chinese hackers taking over sensitive diplomatic computers around the world and eavesdropping on the private lives of governments; cracking Koobface, a group of Russian petty crooks who extorted millions from random people on the Internet, a few hundred dollars at a time; exposing another Chinese attack directed at the Tibetan government in exile and the Dalai Lama. Each of these exploits is beautifully recounted in Black Code and used to frame a larger, vivid narrative of a network that is global, vital and terribly fragile.
Yes, fragile. The value of the Internet to us as a species is incalculable, but there are plenty of parties for whom the Internet’s value increases when it is selectively broken.
Here's a clip from an upcoming documentary by a fourth grader who snuck a camera into school to document his horrible school lunches and the vast distance between the food that the school claims to serve and food he and his friends end up eating.
Zachary is a fourth grader at a large New York City public elementary school. Each day he reads the Department of Education lunch menu online to see what is being served. The menu describes delicious and nutritious cuisine that reads as if it came from the finest restaurants. However, when Zachary gets to school, he finds a very different reality. Armed with a concealed video camera and a healthy dose of rebellious courage, Zachary embarks on a six month covert mission to collect video footage of his lunch and expose the truth about the City's school food service program.
OMICS Publishing Group, an Indian scholarly publisher has threatened to sue one of its critics, Metadata librarian Jeffrey Beall, for $1 billion, and has threatened him with prison time over posts he made to his prominent Scholarly Open Access site. OMICS cites India's terrible Information Technology Act as the basis for its threats. However, it seems unlikely that Beall would be extradited to India even if OMICS makes good on its threats, and unless he has assets in India, they'll have a hard time collecting on any judgment.
Today The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on a less amusing letter Beall received Tuesday. An Indian intellectual property management firm called IP Markets informed Beall that they would be suing for $1 billion in damages and that he could face up to three years in prison for his "deliberate attempt to defame our client." That client is OMICS Publishing Group, an India-based operation profiled several times on the blog. The group requested that Beall remove the posts and e-mail updates to anyone who published his work, yet IP Markets still intends to go through with the suit either way.
"All the allegation [sic] that you have mentioned in your blog are nothing more than fantastic figment of your imagination by you," the six-page letter reads according to The Chronicle. "Our client perceive the blog as mindless rattle of a incoherent person and please be assured that our client has taken a very serious note of the language, tone, and tenure adopted by you as well as the criminal acts of putting the same on the Internet."
I know nothing about OMICS's publishing practices, but based on how they handle their critics, I feel confident in saying that they're not the sort of firm that any scholar should be doing business with -- censoring, terrible bullies don't make good publishers.
I've written before about Moran Cerf -- celebrated neuroscientist, former military hacker, and good-guy bank robber -- who also happens to be a great storyteller. Here's a video in which Cerf recounts some clever and fascinating neuroscience experiments that use neurofeedback to help people resolve competition between different thoughts and wills in their minds. The applications are even more interesting -- mentally controlling a robotic arm, for example.
Moran Cerf: Hacking the brain (Thanks, Moran!)
The Public Domain Review has a nice gallery of plates from Lieutenant Colonel Frank Sheffield's 1902 book "How I killed the tiger; being an account of my encounter with a royal Bengal tiger, with an appendix containing some general information about India," which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like:
My main purpose in writing this little book, was to place in a permanent form a description of my wonderful preservation from death in a chance encounter with a Royal Bengal Tiger. My life had been adventurous up to that time. I had shot big game of various kinds. But this episode, so marvellous in itself, so important in its influence upon my after life and character, marks the close of my career as a hunter of big game.
Here's a video of biologist Brad Josephs's GoPro camera being eaten by a grizzly bear in Alaska; he'd set it out in order to get footage for a BBC documentary. The grizzly went above and beyond the call of duty.
Star Trek star and noted homosexual George Takei responds to bigots who believe in restricting the right to love to straight people only: an image gallery on Imgur. Oh, snap, oh glorious snap.