New submitter chrylis writes "SCOTUSblog is reporting that the U.S. Supreme Court has accepted an appeal in Alice v. CLS Bank, a case in which the Federal Circuit ruled haphazardly that the particular patents in question were invalid but did not address the issue of software patents generally. 'The case will provide a new test of the Patent Act’s most basic provision — Section 101, which broadly outlines what kinds of inventions are patentable. One of the long-standing exceptions to the types of inventions mentioned in that section is that an abstract idea can never be patented. That issue arises frequently these days, especially with rapidly developing technology in computer software. The EFF wrote a summary of the issues in the case when it was before the Federal Circuit this spring. The case files are also available."
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snydeq writes "The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Innovation Act, dealing trolls a severe blow despite opposition from universities looking to protect patents, InfoWorld's Simon Phipps reports. The act cleared the House of Representatives with an overwhelming majority of 325 to 91 despite opposition from the organizations most likely to feed new patents to the trolls. 'So bravo to the Innovation Act. It's far from perfect, as the EFF documents and as I commented before the holiday. But it's a step in the right direction, and the tidal surge of support it's seeing suggests legislators' appetite for proper patent reform is finally growing strong enough for them to contemplate substantial change.'"
Fnord666 writes with this excerpt from Tech Crunch "Twitter has enabled Perfect Forward Secrecy across its mobile site, website and API feeds in order to protect against future cracking of the service's encryption. The PFS method ensures that, if the encryption key Twitter uses is cracked in the future, all of the past data transported through the network does not become an open book right away. 'If an adversary is currently recording all Twitter users' encrypted traffic, and they later crack or steal Twitter's private keys, they should not be able to use those keys to decrypt the recorded traffic,' says Twitter's Jacob Hoffman-Andrews. 'As the Electronic Frontier Foundation points out, this type of protection is increasingly important on today's Internet.'" Of course, they are also using Elliptic Curve ciphers.
An anonymous reader writes "With the advent of national security letters and all the NSA issues of late perhaps the web needs to implement a warrant 'warrant canary' metatag. Something like this: <meta name="canary" content="2013-11-17" />. With this it would be possible to build into browsers or browser extensions a means of alerting users when a company has in fact received such a secret warrant. (Similar to the actions taken by Apple recently.) The advantage the metatag approach would have its that it would not require the user to search out a report by the company in question but would show the information upon loading of the page. Once the canary metatag was not found or when the date of the canary grows older than a given date a warning could be raised. Several others have proposed similar approaches including Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic and Cory Doctorow's Dead Man's Switch." What problems do you see with this approach?
mahiskali writes with this interesting news via the EFF's Deep Links "The new Renault Zoe comes with a 'feature' that absolutely nobody wants. Instead of selling consumers a complete car that they can use, repair, and upgrade as they see fit, Renault has opted to lock purchasers into a rental contract with a battery manufacturer and enforce that contract with digital rights management (DRM) restrictions that can remotely prevent the battery from charging at all. This coming on the heels of the recent Trans-Pacific Partnership IP Rights Chapter leak certainly makes you wonder how much of that device (car?) you really own. Perhaps Merriam-Webster can simply change the definition of ownership."
Nerval's Lobster writes "When the GCHQ agency (Britain's equivalent of the National Security Agency) reportedly decided to infiltrate the IT network of Belgian telecommunications firm Belgacom, it relied on a sophisticated version of a man-in-the-middle attack, in which it directed its targets' computers to fake, malware-riddled versions of Slashdot and LinkedIn. If the attack could be proven without a doubt, would the GCHQ—or any similar spy agency engaging in the same sort of behavior—be liable for violating trademarks or copyrights, since a key part of its attack would necessitate the appropriation of intellectual property such as logos and content? We asked someone from the Electronic Frontier Foundation about that, and received a somewhat dispiriting answer. "From a trademark perspective, if a company uses another company's marks/logos to deceive, there may be a trademark claim," said Corynne McSherry, the EFF's Intellectual Property Director. "But it's complicated a bit by two problems: (1) the fact that while there may be confusion, it's not necessarily related to the actual purchase of any goods and services; and (2) multiple TM laws are in play here—for example UK trademark law may have different exceptions and limitations." McSherry also addressed other issues, including governments' doctrine of sovereign immunity."
sfcrazy writes "Last week Canonical sent a cease and desist letter to EFF staffer Micah F Lee asking him to remove the word Ubuntu from the URL as well as the Ubuntu logo from the site. Lee responded through an attorney who said that Canonical's 'request were not supported by trademark laws and interferes with protected speech.' Shuttleworth apologized, though it was cheeky, and while he dubbed the Mir opponents as non-technical (hello KDE, systemD, Wayland, Intel) he also went on to explain why they needed to protect their trademark. Now there is an official response from EFF. In the blog post EFF has explained that Shuttleworth is far from reality and was totally wrong about trademark."
New submitter bkerensa writes "A member of Canonical's Legal Team recently sent a email to a critic of Ubuntu's privacy settings to insist he stop using the Ubuntu name and logo, even though it falls under 'fair use.' Micah Lee is the CTO of the Freedom of the Press Foundation and maintainer of the HTTPS Everywhere project. When Ubuntu began adding commercial results in its Dash search software, Lee wrote about the privacy concerns and created a site called Fix Ubuntu to show people how to turn it off. Canonical's legal department has now sent him a letter asking him to 'remove [the] Ubuntu word from you[r] domain name and Ubuntu logo from your website.'"
theodp writes "That there's no easy way for her to get timely, affordable access to taxpayer-funded research that could help her patients leaves speech-language pathologist Cortney Grove, well, speechless. 'Cortney's frustration,' writes the EFF's Adi Kamdar, 'is not uncommon. Much of the research that guides health-related progress is funded by taxpayer dollars through government grants, and yet those who need this information most-practitioners and their patients-cannot afford to access it.' She says, 'In my field we are charged with using scientific evidence to make clinical decisions. Unfortunately, the most pertinent evidence is locked up in the world of academic publishing and I cannot access it without paying upwards of $40 an article. My current research project is not centered around one article, but rather a body of work on a given topic. Accessing all the articles I would like to read will cost me nearly a thousand dollars. So, the sad state of affairs is that I may have to wait 7-10 years for someone to read the information, integrate it with their clinical opinions (biases, agendas, and financial motivations) and publish it in a format I can buy on Amazon. By then, how will my clinical knowledge and skills have changed? How will my clients be served in the meantime? What would I do with the first-hand information that I will not be able to do with the processed, commercialized product that emerges from it in a decade?'"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Danny O'Brien writes for the EFF that as the NSA's spying has spread, more and more ordinary people want to know how they can defend themselves from surveillance online. 'The bad news is: if you're being personally targeted by a powerful intelligence agency like the NSA, it's very, very difficult to defend yourself,' writes O'Brien. 'The good news, if you can call it that, is that much of what the NSA is doing is mass surveillance on everybody. With a few small steps, you can make that kind of surveillance a lot more difficult and expensive, both against you individually, and more generally against everyone.' Here's ten steps you can take to make your own devices secure: Use end-to-end encryption; Encrypt as much communications as you can; Encrypt your hard drive; Use Strong passwords; Use Tor; Turn on two-factor (or two-step) authentication; Don't click on attachments; Keep software updated and use anti-virus software; Keep extra secret information extra secure with Truecrypt; and Teach others what you've learned. 'Ask [your friends] to sign up to Stop Watching Us and other campaigns against bulk spying. Run a Tor node; or hold a cryptoparty. They need to stop watching us; and we need to start making it much harder for them to get away with it.'"
First time accepted submitter jellie writes "According to Ars Technica, a new bill introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has received bipartisan support and has a real chance of passing. In a press call, lawyers from the CCIA, EFF, and Public Knowledge had universal praise for the bill, which is called the Innovation Act of 2013. The EFF has a short summary of the good and bad parts of an earlier draft of the bill. The bill will require patent holders who are filing a suit to identify the specific products and claims which are being infringed, require the loser in a suit to pay attorney's fees and costs, and force trolls to reveal anyone who has a 'financial interest' in the case, making them possibly liable for damages."
Lirodon writes "After being called out by the Electronic Frontier Foundation for banning the loosely-defined use of "servers" on its Fiber service, Google appears to have changed its tune, and now allows 'personal, non-commercial use of servers that complies with this AUP is acceptable, including using virtual private networks (VPN) to access services in your home and using hardware or applications that include server capabilities for uses like multi-player gaming, video-conferencing, and home security.'"
New submitter newbie_fantod writes "Ignoring the fact that the surest way to get a child to do something is to tell them not to, the RIAA and MPAA have developed an anti-piracy curriculum for kindergarten through grade 6. The pilot project is scheduled for testing in California schools later this year." Mitch Stoltz, an EFF attorney, isn't impressed: “It suggests, falsely, that ideas are property and that building on others’ ideas always requires permission,” Stoltz says. “The overriding message of this curriculum is that students’ time should be consumed not in creating but in worrying about their impact on corporate profits.”
cold fjord writes "The Houston Chronicle reports, 'A newly declassified opinion from the government's secret surveillance court says no company that has received an order to turn over bulk telephone records has challenged the directive. The opinion by Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Judge Claire Eagan, made public Tuesday, spells out her reasons for reauthorizing the phone records collection "of specified telephone service providers" for three months. ... 'Indeed, no recipient of any Section 215 order has challenged the legality of such an order, despite the explicit statutory mechanism for doing so.'" Relatedly, the UN Human Rights Council is discussing the surveillance situation.
wabrandsma writes "James Logan's patent company, Personal Audio, has closed a licensing agreement with SanDisk. The company says that now 'between a third and two thirds of all mp3 audio players' are made by companies to which its patents have been licensed, including LG, Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Blackberry and Amazon. The Electronic Frontier Foundation wants to fight Personal Audio's podcasting patent at the US Patent and Trademark Office. About 30,000 dollars, was brought in earlier this year through crowdfunding to fight the case. Logan took part in a question-and-answer session here In June."
An anonymous reader writes "Thanks to an EFF lawsuit, the office of the Director of National Intelligence is releasing declassified redacted versions of various documents relating to the NSA's domestic surveillance activities. The documents are being released on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks." The EFF is hosting the documents, which are searchable. A few initial findings were posted yesterday evening; they include (thanks to another anonymous reader) the NSA illegally using phone data for three years, and evidence that Clapper knowingly mislead the public about metadata collection.
Trailrunner7 writes "In response to a lawsuit by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Department of Justice is preparing to release a trove of documents related to the government's secret interpretation of Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act. The declassified documents will include previously secret opinions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The decision by the Justice Department to release the documents is the second legal victory in recent weeks for the EFF related to the National Security Agency's intelligence collection programs. In August, the group won the release of a 2011 FISC opinion that revealed that the court ruled that some of the NSA's collection programs were illegal and unconstitutional. The newest decision will result in the release of hundreds of pages of documents related to the way the government has been interpreting Section 215, which is the measure upon which some of the NSA's surveillance programs are based. In a status report released Wednesday regarding the EFF's suit against the Department of Justice, attorneys for the government said that they will release the documents by Sept. 10."
First time accepted submitter rjkimble writes "In June, the USPTO solicited proposals for voluntary best practices supporting intellectual property enforcement, especially against infringement that occurs online. It received 23 responses from individuals and organizations, including Google, the EFF, and the MPAA and RIAA. [On Wednesday] they were posted to the USPTO web site."
mspohr writes "For over a year, EFF has been fighting the government in federal court to force the public release of an 86-page opinion of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). Issued in October 2011, the secret court's opinion found that surveillance conducted by the NSA under the FISA Amendments Act was unconstitutional and violated 'the spirit of' federal law."