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DailyDirt: There Will Be Blood... And DNA And Stem Cells

Techdirt - 1 hour 48 min ago
Biotechnology takes time to grow and develop new stuff, but every so often, there's a big leap. And then it still takes time to verify results and perform rigorous double blind medical studies. Science fiction and CSI TV shows make it seem like we'll be re-growing body parts and curing every disease before the next commercial break. Unfortunately, biology rarely moves that fast. Here are just a few cool biotech projects that won't be available at your local drug store anytime soon, but these sci-fi-sounding projects are closer to reality now. If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.

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Categories: Tech Polis

چگونه وبلاگ‌نویسان ابزارهای الکترونیکی در ایران قربانیان سپاه پاسداران شدند

EFF - 2 hours 31 min ago

نارنجی یکی از مهمترین وبسایت‌های خبری ایران دربارۀ ابزارهای الکترونیکی بود که به صورت روزانه توسط گروهی از وبلاگ‌نویسان فن‌آوری و از یک دفتر کوچک در شهر کرمان به روز می‌شد. مخاطبان این سایت را جمعیت رو به رشد ایرانیان علاقه‌مند به فن‌آوری تشکیل می‌دادند. مانند گیزمودو (Gizmodo) و انگجت (Engadget) در ایالات متحده، محبوبیت این سایت از یک فرمول ساده اما مرسوم ناشی می‌شد: نظرهای کارشناسی مثبت و منفی از آخرین محصولات آندرویدی و اپل، خلاصه‌ای از دانلودها و برنامه‌های فارسی زبان جدید، و همچنین جدیدترین چیزهای محبوب در اینترنت (مانند ویدیوی همیشه محبوب "کشیدن باورنکردنی پرترۀ مورگان فریمن با انگشت در آی‌پد").

اما اکنون این سایت از بین رفته است. در صفحۀ نخست نارنجی، زمان در تاریخ ۳ دسامبر متوقف شده، هنگامی که کل تیم نارنجی توسط سپاه پاسداران دستگیر و روانۀ زندان شدند. دو وب‌سایت خواهر نارنجی، نردبان و نگهبان،  هم که به دنبال موفقیت نارنجی توسط این گروه راه‌اندازی شده بود در زمان متوقف شده‌اند.

بنیانگذار نارنجی، علی‌اصغر هنرمند، و سردبیر آن عباس واحدی، به چند دلیل می‌توانستند با اشتیاق به آینده نگاه کنند. رئیس جمهور فعلی ایران، حسن روحانی، با ایجاد یک صندوق نوآوری ۱ میلیارد دلاری برای توسعۀ "اقتصاد دانش‌بنیان"، کارآفرینی در حوزۀ فن‌آوری را به عنوان بخشی از پلتفرم دولت خود تشویق کرده بود. دولت او همچنین سخت در کار بود تا از طریق مذاکره، تحریم‌های غرب علیه این کشور را لغو کرده تا اقتصاد تقویت شده و طبقۀ متوسط ​​ایران امکان دسترسی به ابزارهای الکترونیکی بیشتری را داشته باشد.

این ویدیو، که از تلویزیون دولتی ایران پخش شده، تیم نارنجی را در بازداشت نشان می‌دهد.

در این گزارش آمده که این وبلاگ‌نویسان با سرمایه‌گذاری و آموزش توسط "شبکه‌های جاسوسی … و با هدف 'براندازی نرم' نظام ایران" ایجاد شده‌اند.

به نظر می‌رسد که دادستان‌های ایرانی بر این باور بودند که یک یا بیش از یک نفر از اعضای این تیم هنگامی که در لندن بوده‌اند توسط بی‌بی‌سی آموزش روزنامه‌نگاری دیده‌اند، و همین برای سرکوب آنها کافی بوده است. در حالی که برخی از وبلاگ‌نویسانی که در همان دور دستگیر شده بودند آزاد شده‌اند، اکثریت تیم نارنجی هنوز هم در پشت میله‌های زندان هستند:

* علی اصغر هنرمند (بنیانگذار نارنجی و صاحب پات شرق گواشیر، شرکت مالک نارنجی)

* عباس واحدی (سردبیر نارنجی)

* حسین نوذری (مدیر عامل پات شرق گواشیر)

* رضا نوذری (وبلاگ‌نویس بخش تکنولوژی نردبان، وب‌سایت خواهر نارنجی)

* احسان پاک‌نژاد (وبلاگ‌نویس بخش تکنولوژی نارنجی)

(روزنامۀ گاردین، لیستی منتشر کرده که کمی تفاوت دارد: علی اصغر هنرمند، عباس واحدی، علیرضا وزیری، نسیم نیک‌مهر، ملیحه نخعی‬‎، محمدحسین موسوی‌زاده و سارا سجادپور)

از این تعداد، تنها واحدی و نوذری به تازگی به قید وثیقه آزاد شده‌اند و انتظار می‌رود که آنها و سایرین ماه آینده به دادگاه احضار شوند.

نوع برخورد با تیم نارنجی، نمونه‌ای است تکراری از اینکه دولتهای سراسر جهان چگونه متخصصان فن‌آوری را به خاطر کارشان مورد هدف قرار داده‌اند. این مهم نیست که شما در حال نوشتن یک وبلاگ در مورد برنامه‌نویسی برای اندروید هستید و یا در حال توزیع پروکسی ضدسانسور: برای بسیاری از دولتها، همین که شهرت آنلاین داشته باشید و یا قدرتی نهفته برای تأثیرگذاری و یا ایجاد تغییر در جامعه از طریق دانش فنی، به سرعت ممکن است به عنوان یک تهدید غیرقابل قبول برای نظم اجتماعی تلقی شوید.

وبلاگ‌نویسان معروف اما غیرسیاسی مانند نویسندگان نارنجی، با این خطر هم مواجهند که ممکن است وسط جنگ‌هایی داخلی گرفتار شوند که خود هیچ کنترلی بر آن ندارند. کارشناسان سیاسی ایران که ما با آنها صحبت کرده‌ایم بر این باورند که بازداشت نارنجی توسط سپاه پاسداران انقلاب کرمان ممکن است واکنشی آگاهانه باشد توسط رادیکالهای محلی بر علیه حمایت دولت روحانی از کارآفرینان تکنولوژی: سیگنالی که روشن می‌کند که تهران نباید در اعتدال خود زیاده‌روی کند. در معرض دید بودن نارنجی نه تنها منجر به محافظت آنها را در برابر سپاه پاسداران نشده، بلکه ممکن است موجب شده باشد که آنها هدف ساده‌تری باشند.

قربانی شدن جامعۀ فنی تاریخچه‌ای طولانی و غم‌انگیز دارد. خود بنیاد مرزهای الکترونیکی (ای‌اف‌اف) هم در پاسخ به سرکوب شدن نابخردانه و ترسناک هکرها در ایالات متحده متولد شد؛ تعقیب‌های قانونی فعالان تکنولوژی مانند آرون شوارتز که با انگیزه‌های سیاسی صورت گرفته و تا به امروز هم ادامه داشته است. اگر ما خواهان توقف این موارد در هر کجای دنیا، چه در ایالات متحده، ایران، یا روسیه هستیم، نیاز داریم تا به منظور محافظت و بازتاب دادن بازداشت ناعادلانه و ارعاب فن‌آوران، در همه جای دنیا با یکدیگر متحد شویم.

شما می‌توانید با امضای این طومار از دولت ایران بخواهید تا تیم نارنجی را آزاد کند، و یا با استفاده از هشتگ‌های Narenji#  و #نارنجی، در رسانه‌های اجتماعی به خبررسانی جمعی بپردازید. از آن مهمتر این است که در اجتماع خود داستان آنها را به اطلاع دیگران برسانید. هر چه نارنجی بیشتر مورد توجه مردم عادی قرار گیرد، این احتمال بیشتر خواهد بود که آنها در زندان در امان بوده و پرونده‌یشان سریع‌تر بررسی شود.

Related Issues: Free SpeechBloggers Under FireInternational
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Categories: Tech Polis

Sending A Message: It's Time To Stop Secret Trade Agreements That Undermine Democracy

Techdirt - 2 hours 45 min ago
A bunch of organizations and companies have teamed up to demand that President Obama Stop the Secrecy around the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. With over 2.8 million signatures already, the groups behind this project are projecting a "stop the secrecy" light on buildings around Washington DC to draw attention to the shady, underhanded nature of the way that these trade agreements are negotiated. The campaign kicked off by shining the message on the Canadian embassy: The organizers note that as the campaign goes on and more people sign, they'll be shining the message bigger and brighter -- and on bigger targets.

While this may be a bit gimmicky, the message here is a serious one. It makes absolutely no sense at all that negotiations like the TPP are done in secret. All of the excuses the USTR gives about this wither under scrutiny. Plenty of other international agreements are negotiated with public texts being shared. The USTR could easily do the same if it chose to. The very fact that former USTR Ron Kirk admitted that they won't reveal the details of these agreements because the public might not like them explains exactly why this kind of secrecy is undemocratic.

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Categories: Tech Polis

Backlash Aftermath: King Suddenly Turns Amicable In Trademark Disputes

Techdirt - 3 hours 51 min ago

When King, of Candy Crush fame, decided to lose its legal mind over supposed trademark violations by roughly everyone, the backlash on the internet was swift and decisive. Entire platforms developed out of the ether with the seemingly sole purpose of trolling the hell out of King. The most notable dispute, it seemed, was over a game called The Banner Saga, which King insisted represented a grave threat to their business model of allowing people to match up three or more digital representations of candied items. There too, the backlash was relatively severe.

Severe enough, it appears, to get King to suddenly transmogrify itself into an amicable tech beast. According to both Stoic and Ransom, King has quietly and amicably settled the trademark disputes with both companies.

"Stoic is pleased to have come to an agreement with King regarding Stoic's The Banner Saga trademark, which enables both parties to protect their respective trademarks now and in the future," reads a brief statement on the Stoic website. This result provides evidence once again that these David versus Goliath IP disputes can often be resolved with a little sunshine and public shaming. King acted like a bully and once their actions were spotlighted the public sprung into action to make their voices heard.

Perhaps the more important lesson is one served to King and other companies that might be tempted to behave similarly. It's one thing to protect your brand, but it's quite another to open up a legal salvo, with all of its necessary expenses, only to end up in exactly the same place you began. No names have been changed in response to the disputes. The only real result in all of this is now everyone thinks a little less of King and a bunch of lawyers made a little bit of money. Sort of makes the whole process seem silly, no?



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Categories: Tech Polis

FCC's New Rules Could Threaten Net Neutrality

EFF - 4 hours 12 min ago

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Wheeler is circulating a proposal for new FCC rules on the issue of network neutrality, the idea that Internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all data that travels over their networks equally. Unfortunately, early reports suggest those rules may do more harm than good.

The new rules were prompted by last January’s federal court ruling rejecting the bulk of the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet Order on the grounds that they exceeded the FCC’s authority, sending the FCC back to the drawing board.

According to reports, Chairman Wheeler’s new proposal embraces a “commercially reasonable” standard for network management. That standard could allow ISPs to charge companies for preferential treatment, such as charging web-based companies like Netflix or Amazon to reach consumers at faster speeds.

This kind of “pay to play” model would be profoundly dangerous for competition.  New innovators often cannot afford to pay to reach consumers at the same speeds as well-established web companies. That means ISPs could effectively become gatekeepers to their subscribers.

The FCC issued a statement this morning that claims that the new network neutrality proposal will not allow ISPs to, “act in a commercially unreasonable manner to harm the Internet, including favoring the traffic from an affiliated entity.”  But we have no idea as to how “commercially reasonable” will actually be interpreted.

The devil will be in the details. While all we have now is a statement that a proposal for what the proposed rules might look like is being circulated in private within the FCC, the public should be poised to act. In an FCC rulemaking process, the commission issues what’s called a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). After the NPRM is issued, the public is invited to comment to the FCC about how their proposal will affect the interest of the public.

The FCC is required by law to respond to public comments, so it’s extremely important that we let the FCC know that rules that let ISPs pick and choose how certain companies reach consumers will not be tolerated. 

The problem is that most people don’t know about this extremely opaque process, and so they don’t participate.  Let’s change that. Stay tuned. We’ll let you know when it’s time to raise your voice and add your testimony during the FCC’s public comment window when the new proposed rules are announced.

 

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Categories: Tech Polis

New Lawsuit Claims FBI Used No Fly List To Pressure Muslims Into Becoming Informants

Techdirt - 4 hours 54 min ago
Over the past few months, we've covered the bizarre trial of Rahinah Ibrahim, who was incorrectly placed on the no fly list, leading to a series of other problems, meaning that the Stanford PhD grad student was unable to fly back into the US for the past ten years. When the unredacted ruling in that case was finally released last week, we discovered that Ibrahim is still in the "terrorist screening database" (TSDB), though not on the no fly list, and barred from getting a visa to travel back to the US, even though the US admits she's no threat, because of a "secret exception" to the "reasonable suspicion" standard. And, given that the exception is secret, we may never know what it is.

However, perhaps it has something to do with "when the FBI wants to intimidate you into becoming an informant," as a new lawsuit suggests. (And because none of the news sources reporting on this seemed willing to put the actual legal filing online, here it is.) The lawsuit was filed on behalf of four different men, who all had similar experiences with the FBI threatening to put them on the no fly list if they didn't become informants, reporting back on what others in their Muslim communities were up to -- and then finding themselves on the list after refusing. Plaintiff Muhammad Tanvir is a lawful permanent resident of the United States whose most recent residence in the United States was in Corona, Queens, New York. Mr. Tanvir is Muslim. Mr. Tanvir was placed on the No Fly List after he declined multiple requests by FBI agents to serve as an informant in his Muslim community. He declined to do so because it would have violated his sincerely held religious beliefs. He also felt that he had no relevant information to share. After he learned that he had been placed on the No Fly List, he was told to contact the same FBI agents to clear up what he presumed was an error that led to his placement on the No Fly List. Instead, the FBI agents offered to help him get off the List—but only in exchange for relaying information about his community. Mr. Tanvir again refused. Mr. Tanvir does not pose, has never posed, and has never been accused of posing, a threat to aviation safety.

Plaintiff Jameel Algibhah is a United States citizen who resides in the Bronx, New York. Mr. Algibhah is a Muslim. Mr. Algibhah was placed on the No Fly List after he declined a request from FBI agents to attend certain mosques, to act “extremist,” and to participate in online Islamic forums and report back to the FBI agents. After Mr. Algibhah learned that he was on the No Fly List, the same FBI agents again visited him, telling him that only they could remove his name from the No Fly List if he agreed to act as an informant. Mr. Algibhah again exercised his constitutional right to refuse to become an informant and he remains on the No Fly List. Because of his placement on the No Fly List, Mr. Algibhah has been unable to visit his wife and three young daughters in Yemen since 2009. Mr. Algibhah does not pose, has never posed, and has never been accused of posing, a threat to aviation safety....

Plaintiff Naveed Shinwari is a lawful permanent resident of the United States who resides in West Haven, Connecticut. Mr. Shinwari is a Muslim. Mr. Shinwari was placed or maintained on the No Fly List after he refused a request from FBI agents to be an informant on his Muslim community. Subsequently, he was prevented from boarding a flight to Orlando, Florida, where he had found work. Following his placement on the No Fly List, the same FBI agents approached Mr. Shinwari, told him they were aware of his inability to board his flight, and again asked him to work as an informant. Mr. Shinwari again refused. Because of his placement on the No Fly List, Mr. Shinwari’s work has been disrupted and he has been unable to visit his wife and family in Afghanistan since 2012. Mr. Shinwari does not pose, has never posed, and has never been accused of posing, a threat to aviation safety....

Plaintiff Awais Sajjad is a lawful permanent resident of the United States who resides in Jersey City, New Jersey. Mr. Sajjad is a Muslim. Mr. Sajjad was prevented from flying because he was on the No Fly List. After he sought to be removed from the List, he was approached by FBI agents and subjected to extensive interrogation, including a polygraph test, after which he was asked to work as an informant for the FBI. Mr. Sajjad had no relevant information to share, so he refused. Because of his placement on the No Fly List, Mr. Sajjad has been unable to visit his family in Pakistan, including his ailing 93- year old grandmother, since February 2012. Mr. Sajjad does not pose, has never posed, and has never been accused of posing, a threat to aviation safety
Note how these are all US citizens or lawful permanent residents. The filing notes that while the FBI has used a number of other threats to turn Muslims into informants -- including threatening their immigration status or trying to prosecute them for minor crimes -- at least in those cases, the victims know what's happening. Since the no fly list is totally opaque, the FBI can abuse it widely, with almost no recourse. Withholding immigration benefits or bringing criminal charges against American Muslims can be challenged and resolved under known legal standards through procedurally adequate administrative or judicial proceedings. Unlike those situations, the No Fly List operates under unknown standards and a vague set of criteria with a process that provides no opportunity to learn of the purported bases for placement on the List or to respond to such claims. This secretive process is conducted with no impartial determination on the merits, and without regard to the possibly retaliatory or unduly coercive motives of the field agents who place people on the No Fly List. The full filing goes into a lot more detail on the four cases above, showing just how far the FBI is willing to go to try to intimidate people into becoming informants. They're not just asking them to provide information, but often asking them to travel to foreign countries, infiltrate various groups, and send back information. For a whole variety of reasons, the individuals found this to be completely unacceptable, and were subsequently punished by the FBI. The stories are rather heart-wrenching, as these individuals are bullied (sometimes to the point of breaking down and crying), as the FBI threatens all sorts of punishment if they don't do what the FBI wants, which often involves putting themselves in very dangerous positions.

Of course, this is exactly what happens when you allow for secret "lists" like this to proliferate, and give the FBI nearly unlimited power to spy on Americans. I'm assuming that, as in previous no fly list cases, the US government will freak out and claim all sorts of "national security" reasons why the entire case should be dropped. Hopefully, the courts will not allow such games.

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Categories: Tech Polis

DOJ Whines That A Warrant To Search A Mobile Phone Makes It More Difficult To Catch Criminals

Techdirt - 5 hours 59 min ago

The US government has entered its reply brief in the US vs. Wurie case and its argument in favor of warrantless searches of arrestees' cell phones contains some truly terrible suppositions. Here's a brief recap of the situation in this case: In 2007, the police arrested a Massachusetts man who appeared to be selling crack cocaine from his car. The cops seized his cellphone and noticed that it was receiving calls from "My House." They opened the phone to determine the number for "My House." That led them to the man's home, where the police found drugs, cash and guns.

The defendant was convicted, but on appeal he argued that accessing the information on his cellphone without a warrant violated his Fourth Amendment rights. Earlier this year, the First Circuit Court of Appeals accepted the man's argument, ruling that the police should have gotten a warrant before accessing any information on the man's phone. As was noted by Orin Kerr at the Volokh Conspiracy, a lot has changed since 2007. The phone the police searched seven years ago was a grey flip phone with limited capabilities. Unfortunately, the Court is using this case to set precedent for a nation full of smartphones, which contain considerably more data and are roughly the equivalent of a person's home computer, rather than the address book the government refers to in its arguments.

The government agrees that times are changing but counterintuitively argues that only law enforcement is being negatively affected by this. Every argument in favor of warrantless searches contains some sort of lamentation about how tech-savvy criminals will be able to cover up or destroy evidence contained on their phones before the police can crack open these new-fangled address books and copy everything down. [T]he Founding officers have conducted full evidentiary searches of individuals lawfully arrested on probable cause to find evidence of the crime of arrest, including the examination of objects, containers, and written material; (ii) that in an unbroken series of decisions from 1914 to 2013, this Court has recognized that this historical search authority applies categorically; and (iii) that if an officer does not search an unlocked cell phone as soon as she finds it, a significant risk exists that the police will never be able to recover evidence contained on the phone. This speedy dismantling of the Fourth Amendment pursuant to law enforcement's desire to secure is only the preamble. As the reply brief rolls on, the government makes even more questionable assertions that view smartphones and technological advances as little more than escape vehicles for alleged felons. (h/t to Hanni Fakoury for pointing this part out.) [S]earching an arrestee's cell phone immediately upon arrest is often critical to protecting evidence against concealment in a locked or encrypted phone or remote destruction.The numerous party and amicus briefs in these cases have not seriously undermined that fundamental practical point. Although the briefs identify various techniques to prevent the remote-wiping problem (none of which is close to perfect), they barely address the principal problem that the government identified: automatic passcode-locking and encryption. The government argues that impartial technological advancements somehow favor criminals. As it sees it, the path to the recovery of evidence should not be slowed by encryption or wiping or even the minimal effort needed to obtain a warrant. The police are presented as forever behind the curve, despite evidence otherwise. Without a doubt, there's an ongoing arms race between deletion technology and recovery technology, but the gap between the two isn't nearly as large as the government portrays it.

But what really deserves attention here is the government's antipathy towards encryption and other protective technology. Together with the paragraph above, the government argues that any smartphone with the potential to be encrypted/wiped should automatically be relieved of warrant requirements. Encryption and wiping technology are inherently evil in the government's eyes. But even if amici were correct in their premise that threats from third parties cannot justify the search of a cell phone incident to arrest, they ignore the principal justification in the government's opening brief—the threat of passcode-locking and encryption—as well as newer "geofencing” technologies that will enable individuals to preset their phones to automatically wipe in certain circumstances. Those tactics are not the actions of third parties, but rather automatic functions that an arrestee—potentially with police investigation in mind—can program into his phone. Criminals might use these methods. That's a given. But what about anyone worried about their phone being stolen, especially considering the wealth of information stored on it? Does the government plan to take a stance against law enforcement's push for cell phone "kill switches?" This, too, could result in law enforcement being deprived of the opportunity to browse a person's smartphone while they sit in a holding cell awaiting booking or arraignment.

But it's the underlying assertion that such technology would be deployed mostly by criminals that's the most troubling. It's no secret government investigative and security agencies don't care for encryption. The NSA holds onto encrypted data "just in case," under the guise of counterterrorism. This argument puts non-criminal citizens in a unwelcome position: the presumption of hidden criminal activity whenever a police officer encounters an encrypted phone.

What's equally as worrying is the government's suggested remedies. The government brushes aside civil liberties concerns and points out that wronged citizens have plenty of recourse... provided they're willing to be arrested, charged, jailed until their court date and successfully argue their rights were violated in front of a judge.

The government first sets up the "remedies" by suggesting law enforcement will have to develop steps to ensure they're not getting more than they're looking for and that they're not intercepting communications while in possession of the phone. It suggests moving the phone to "airplane mode" before searching and encouraging officials to craft guidelines to address privacy issues. The nudge towards belatedly addressing constitutional issues is backhanded and backwards, especially considering law enforcement's usual attitude towards these considerations: protocols are only developed if and when public outcry reaches unacceptable levels.

The latter suggestion -- suppression of evidence -- places a delusional amount of faith in the justice system. Even worse, it places the burden on the arrested to ensure law enforcement follows its own rules. Ultimately, law enforcement agencies will need to develop protocols to address that issue, and defendants will be able to enforce the limitation through suppression motions. No information indicates that agencies are not up to that task. "No information," eh? There's plenty of evidence to the contrary.

Police the police at your own expense while under the threat of imprisonment. Yeah, that should go just fine.

The government wants a warrant-free ride for its law enforcement officers, who are apparently forever behind the tech curve. The argument against warrants doesn't get much more ridiculous than the following. Respondent and his amici have even less to say about a scope-limited approach, in which officers would be permitted to search cell phones incident to arrest only to the extent reasonably necessary to serve the legitimate law-enforcement interests of finding evidence of the offense of arrest, identifying the arrestee, and ensuring officer safety. Under that approach, courts would remain vigilant against uninhibited "exploratory" searches that do not serve those interests. Once again, your civil liberties can be argued... after the fact... in court. Under a scope-limited approach, an officer could not peruse every area of a phone on the off chance that evidence of some crime might be found there. Rather, the officer would be required to articulate a specific reason to believe that evidence relevant to the offense of arrest, officer safety, or arrestee identity would be found in each area of the phone she searched. Specific reasons that evidence might be relevant sounds a whole lot like the sort of things that would be present on a warrant request. Except in this case, the officer would have the luxury of arguing that after searching the phone. It's like asking for warrant after tossing the house. But the government's not done. It goes farther and attempts to portray warrants as the actual enemy of the Fourth Amendment. If respondent's rule is adopted, at the time a magistrate issues a warrant, neither officers nor the magistrate will know what files or applications the phone contains. A typical warrant would identify information sought in the search (e.g., drug ledgers, customer lists, financial records, and evidence of a suspect's use or ownership). Officers would then necessarily need to conduct at least cursory searches of relevant areas of the phone to determine whether they might contain the object of the search—a process indistinguishable from the scope-limited approach the United States has suggested. A warrant-based approach would thus not limit the scope of any ultimate search, as compared to the scope-limited approach described above. In the government's comparison, both are equally intrusive, but only one keeps cops from doing their job. Rather, the primary function of a warrant requirement would be to preclude officers from searching a phone when they have reason to believe that it contains evidence of crime, but cannot establish the higher standard of probable cause—or cannot obtain a warrant before a phone locks and becomes inaccessible. That's odd infuriating. I could have sworn warrant requirements were in place to protect citizens' Fourth Amendment rights, not to somehow screw cops out of diving into someone's cell phone just because they happened to be carrying it on their person. The Fourth Amendment protections are there for a reason -- for this exact reason: to prevent unreasonable searches.

Replace anything in that sentence and see if it still looks like the sort of thing the government of a free nation should be arguing. Rather, the primary function of a warrant requirement would be to preclude officers from searching a RESIDENCE when they have reason to believe it contains evidence of a crime, but cannot establish a higher standard of probable cause -- or cannot obtain a warrant before the DOOR CLOSES. The government views the Fourth Amendment as little more than a criminal's best friend. This is the entity that is supposed to protect civil liberties, not argue them away as pesky impediments to the pursuit of bad guys.



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Categories: Tech Polis

Spotify Pulls Vulpeck's Silent "Sleepify"Album, Band Issues Response

Hypebot - 6 hours 33 min ago

VULPECKSpotify has deleted indie band Vulpeck's silent "Sleepify" album for violating its terms of service.  The release, which contained no sound at all, would have reportedly netted the band $20,000 from plays of "the most silent album ever recorded" by fans and supporters who often left Spotify running all night while they slept.

Spotify logoIn a recorded response to Spotify, posted there as a new release dubbed "Official Statement", the band said they had just been contacted by the music streamer and jokingly asked for "30 seconds of silence to ponder the uncertainty."

MORE: Band Games Spotify To Fund Tour, Streams "Most Silent Album Ever Recorded"

 

Categories: Future Music

Criminal Conviction In South Africa For Posting A Movie To The Pirate Bay

Techdirt - 7 hours 1 min ago
A few years ago, we wrote about an insanely aggressive anti-piracy campaign in South Africa, in which the local version of the RIAA (RISA) suggested people "shoot the pirate." That hyperbolic and ultra-aggressive campaign resulted in some actual violence, when RISA sent a group of artists (armed with that slogan) onto the streets to "confront" counterfeit CD sellers. So, perhaps it shouldn't come as a huge surprise to find out that a man in South Africa has been criminally convicted for posting a torrent for a local movie to the Pirate Bay, and given a suspended prison sentence.

There's a reason why most copyright infringement should be handled under civil litigation, rather than criminal. But, apparently authorities down in South Africa are trying a more aggressive path. While the guy had his sentence suspended because he apologized and helped to remove the work from being accessed via the Pirate Bay, it's hard to see how this is even close to a proportionate or reasonable response to someone sharing your movie. Meanwhile, it seems worth noting that up in Nigeria, a massively successful film industry has been built over the past few decades, in part because piracy helped solve the distribution problems the industry faced. Perhaps South Africa might want to think again before throwing fans behind bars for sharing a local film they liked.

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Categories: Tech Polis

US Copyright Law Doesn’t Apply Worldwide,”DVD Ripper” Tells Court

TorrentFreak - 7 hours 37 min ago

dvdfablogoAACS, the decryption licensing outfit founded by a group of movie studios and technology partners including Warner Bros, Disney, Microsoft and Intel, launched a crackdown on DRM-circumvention software earlier this year.

In the most prominent action AACS sued the makers of popular DVD ripping software DVDFab. Last month it won a preliminary injunction based on the argument that the “DVDFab Group” violates the DMCA’s anti-circumvention clause, since their software that can bypass DVD encryption.

The injunction barred the Chinese-based DVDFab from distributing its software in public, by allowing AACS to order the seizure of its domain names. In addition, the company’s social media accounts were blocked and bank funds frozen.

DVDFab initially did not respond to the court, so the order was entered by default. However, after the injunction was issued the company responded in the name of Feng Tao, with a request for the court to revise its earlier judgment.

The company informed the court that the injunction is too broad, as it basically shuts down the entire operation based on U.S. law. The anti-circumvention provisions the injunction is based on don’t apply worldwide, they argue.

“It is well-established that the Copyright Act doesn’t apply extra-territorially,” the company notes.

dvdfab

Since DVDFab’s domain names and bank accounts were seized the injunction also blocks DVDFab’s business in other countries, which goes too far according to the lawyers.

“For example, shutting down the DVDFab domain names and enjoining the payment processors prevents defendant Feng Tao from using such domain names and payment processors for sales of unrelated products, and for sales of DVDFab products outside the United States,” they note.

For this reason DVDFab asks the court to amend the injunction so it only applies to the United States. This would require the return of seized domain names and social media accounts, plus the lifting of payment processing restrictions.

In a response, AACS points out that DVDFab has violated the preliminary injunction from the start. The company immediately registered several new domain names that are not under U.S. control, and continued business as usual. DVDFab also allegedly launched a new “BluFab” brand under which it sells copies of its DVD ripping software.

dvdfabchange

Even more controversially, AACS claims that a DVDFab representative threatened them in an attempt to settle the issue. A person named “Frank” contacted an AACS lawyer and offered an “exclusivity delay” with all major circumvention software makers, if AACS agreed to lift the domain name seizures. If AACS declined this offer, DVDFab would give away its software for free, the company allegedly said.

“Frank said that DVDFab was the largest circumvention software maker and it could align all other major circumvention software makers to allow AACS LA a one to three weeks exclusivity delay on introducing circumvention software in exchange for AACS LA restoring the DVDFab Websites and business.”

“Frank stated that if AACS LA refused the deal, DVDFab Defendants would distribute the software for free, thereby rendering AACS LA irrelevant,” AACS lawyers adds.

AACS further points out that the scope of the injunction isn’t too broad at all. According to the company, the Copyright Act allows for such measures in cases where the actions of a foreign business are “felt within the United States.”

It’s now up to the court to decide who’s right in this case.

For the time being, all U.S.-controlled DVDFab domain names, social media accounts and payment processing services remain unavailable. However, the software maker is still operational through several new domains, which can be easily found through Google and other search engines.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

Categories: Tech Polis

Former DHS Watchdog, A Tyrant, Failure And Alleged Felon, 'Punished' With Transfer To Another Government Agency

Techdirt - 8 hours 1 min ago

Good news, Americans! The former "top watchdog" for the Department of Homeland Security, Charles K. Edwards, was an incredibly perverse blend of crooked and spineless and yet we still managed to avoid being terrorized to death during his run as Inspector General (2011-2013). That's the resilience of the American public. Even while the agency was being bumblefucked into (even greater) uselessness, those who hate us for our way of life (which now includes drone strikes, neverending military 'interventions' and the constant watching of damn near everybody) were unable to find a way to maneuver around the "security" "provided" by the DHS.

How can you tell when an investigative report is especially damning? When you can't even make it through the table of contents without gasping out loud a few times. Get a load of this: III. LACK OF INDEPENDENCE
A. Lack of Familiarity with OIG Work
B. Frequent Communications and Personal Relationships with Senior DHS Officials
C. Lack of Independent Legal Advice
D. Improper Alteration or Delay of Reports
1. “Secure Communities” Audit Report
2. “Advance Imaging Technology” Audit Report
3. “Acquisition Management” Audit Report
4. “Secret Service” Investigation and Inspection
5. “Ports of Entry” Audit Report
E. Tainted Audit Reports
F. Apparent Desire for a Permanent IG Position

IV. ABUSE OF AGENCY RESOURCES
A. Assistance with Pursuit of a Ph.D
B. Assistance with Employment at Capitol College
C. Assistance with Pursuit of a Permanent IG Position
D. Travel to Florida
E. Misuse of a Government Vehicle
F. Benefits for Ms. Edwards
1. Nepotism in Hiring
2. Telework from India
3. International Phone Calls
4. Staff Assistance for Ms. Edwards

V. OTHER ALLEGATIONS
A. Notice of Administrative Leave
B. Destruction of E-mails
C. Deletion or Closing of Hotline Complaints
D. Destruction of Phone Records
E. Retaliation
1. Administrative Leave
2. Poor Performance Review
F. Office Environment
Where do you even start? It's all terrible. Edwards apparently wined and dined with DHS leaders, giving them heads up on the findings of investigations. So, there's that, which undermines the oversight. From there, Edwards went to various administration higher-ups and allowed them to control the timing and wording of investigative reports, further subverting the oversight process he was tasked with.

Beyond the major subversion, there's tons of minor issues. Nepotism, misuse of department resources, Edwards using the department to pursue a doctorate and a permanent position as an IG… about the only thing not noted in here is supply closet raids.

Furthermore, it appears Edwards wasn't even qualified to do the job he absolutely failed to do over a three-year period. Unlike most IGs, Mr. Edwards does not have experience conducting audits, investigations, or inspections, the three main types of work conducted in an Office of Inspector General.

For example, when interviewed by Subcommittee staff, Edwards was unable to articulate guidelines that govern briefing details of an ongoing investigation to DHS. Edwards stated, “I don’t know that offhand here. You will have to talk to the office – to the Assistant IG for Investigations.” Not only was he a lousy employee, he was a terrible boss. When not setting up his wife with travel, phones, laptops and a position within the department, he mistreated the rest of his staff -- the same staffers he tasked with working on his Ph.D dissertation and documents related to his pursuit of both a position with Capitol College and a permanent IG nomination. During the Subcommittee’s investigation, current and former OIG employees repeatedly reported that Mr. Edwards had created a hostile work environment. One official characterized the office as a “toxic, totally dysfunctional and oppressive” work environment characterized by low morale, paranoia, and fear. Another official described the atmosphere of the OIG as one of “[c]omplete terror,” such that “there were times that [they] couldn’t even get up out of bed, [they were] so emotionally scared, drained.”

Many employees told the Subcommittee they wanted a change in leadership. According to one official, the OIG staff “want to have a legitimate Inspector General in place to get us back on track.” Another called the office “the worst agency” and said that it has been “run into the ground” under Mr. Edwards’ leadership. Reasons include Mr. Edwards’ reluctance to “seek out advice or guidance from anybody with experience” and that the “people … he surrounds himself with … do not have the background or the experience to be useful to him.” When faced with low morale, Edwards apparently did what other wholly ineffective leaders do when faced with friction: he retaliated. Staffers claim Edwards routinely placed dissenters on administrative leave or used periodic employee reviews to "get back" at them for their failure to kowtow.

Allegations (some unsubstantiated) that Edwards broke federal law by destroying emails and documents are also included in the report. There are also allegations that Edwards spied on interoffice communications. A former senior OIG official noted that "nearly all" the communications he received about Edwards' actions originated from personal email accounts or phones.

So, what's to become of Edwards, who completely undercut any sort of independent oversight of the nation's foremost security agency, along with possibly breaking a handful of federal laws? A whole lot of nothing. Edwards, a 20-year federal career employee with expertise in computer engineering, resigned his office in December, three days before he was scheduled to appear at a Senate hearing to answer questions. DHS granted his request to be transferred into its office of science and technology, and the hearing was canceled. Wonderful. Way to send a message, Chief. That will let the government's Inspector Generals know they'd better be right on that oversight thing OR ELSE [they'll be transferred to another government agency, no questions asked].

The DHS is a joke with no punchline. I'd say DHS head Jeh Johnson has his hands full whipping this disgrace back into some semblance of a respectable government body, but let's face it, it has never been credible during its decade-plus existence. Johnson's not going to turn this around. The department's focus is almost entirely on maintaining a credible terrorist threat in order to justify its $39 billion budget and 225,000 employees. That leaves precious little time or resources to clean house.

People like Edwards who can fill the position while minimizing embarrassing investigative reports are welcomed at the DHS. No one wants to be the guy (or girl) who truly outs the agency as a bloated wreck that does little to nothing in the way of keeping the Homeland secure. Pursuing truly independent oversight just means working your way out of a job.



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Categories: Tech Polis

Record Store Day 2014's Outstanding Indie Shop Sales Revealed By New Stats Company

Hypebot - 8 hours 56 min ago

Buzzangle-music-logoBuzzAngle Music is a new analytics company. Earlier this week, while Hypebot was down from an almost week-long DDOS attack on Typepad, they announced the first daily stats from Record Store Day focused on indie record shops. One could say this brings indie record stores into the late 20th Century and is a reminder that just because the tech exists doesn't mean everyone is in a position to pay for it or implement it. Given BuzzAngle's additional capabilities, I guess they're actually helping indies leapfrog into the present.

Barring acts of God and hackers, I should be writing more about BuzzAngle Music next week. Until then I'll focus on the amazing Record Store Day sales that help explain why major labels are in and sucking up as much of the capacity of vinyl pressing plants as they can.

On Tuesday BuzzAngle Music released a number of sales stats comparing that Saturday's sales to the previous Saturday's sales. This includes sales at previously unreported shops but does not speak to Record Store Day's growth year-over-year.

They report:

image from theseconddisc.files.wordpress.com"A 646% growth in sales at independent record stores on Record Store Day (Saturday, April 19) in comparison to the previous Saturday (April 12)"

"A 1,855% increase in vinyl sales for the industry as a whole (a 1,062% growth in overall sales mix for vinyl) on Record Store Day in comparison to the previous Saturday"

"A 2,042% increase in vinyl sales at independent stores (a 187% growth in overall sales mix for vinyl, with over 74% of all titles sold being vinyl releases) on Record Store Day in comparison to the previous Saturday"

In addition they shared the Top 25 Albums and Singles sold on Record Store Day at indie record stores that were RSD Exclusive Vinyl Releases. So this is a very specific snapshot but an important one for anyone wishing to understand what's really happening on RSD.

Top 25 RSD Albums

1. Live - Tame Impala

2. Live at Hampton Coliseum - The Grateful Dead

3. An Ideal For Living (1978) - Joy Division

4. 7 Skies H3 - The Flaming Lips

5. Meltdown With The Ramones - The Ramones

6. Loaded - The Velvet Underground

7. Live 2012 - Death Cab For Cutie

8. The 1969 Singles - Creedence Clearwater Revival

9. Live With Joe Strummer - The Pogues

10. Because the Internet - Childish Gambino

11. Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik - The OutKast

12. The Wizard of Oz: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - Various

13. Life After Death - The Notorious B.I.G.

14. Demolicious - Green Day

15. Live at Eddie’s Attic - The Civil Wars

16. Ultimate Alternative Wavers - Built to Spill

17. Indie Cindy - Pixies

18. Recover EP - Chvrches

19. Sun Records Curated by Record Store Day (Volume 1) - The Various Artists

20. Clear Lake Forest - The Black Angels

21. Odessey and Oracle - The Zombies

22. Live At Monterey - The Jimi Hendrix Experience

23. With His Hot and Blue Guitar - Johnny Cash

24. Weird Scenes Inside The Goldmine - The Doors

25. Girls Talk - Garbage

Top 25 RSD Singles

1. Pennyroyal Tea / I Hate Myself and Want To Die - Nirvana

2. Side By Side Series: Just Like Heaven - The Cure/Dinosaur Jr.

3. Side By Side Series: Gates Of Steel Live - Devo/The Flaming Lips

4. American Beauty - Bruce Springsteen

5. 1984 Picture Disc - David Bowie

6. Side By Side Series: 7 and 7 is - Mystery Artists – Rush / Love

7. Ghostbusters - Ray Parker, Jr.

8. Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow / Down In De Dew - Frank Zappa

9. Learn To Obey - Off!

10. Million Dollar Bill / Easy/Lucky/Free - Conor Oberst/Dawes

11. Dragonfly / The Purple Dancer - Fleetwood Mac

12. Side By Side Series: The Badge - Poison Idea/Pantera

13. Forever - Haim

14. You’ve Got Time - Regina Spektor

15. I’m Less Here - Mazzy Star

16. Hundreds of Ways / Fast Friends - Conor Oberst

17. The Lake Nokomis Maxi Single - Atmosphere

18. Holding On for Life - Broken Bells

19. Take It Or Leave It b/w Jesse James - Cage The Elephant

20. Say Goodbye To Hollywood b/w Baby Please Don’t Go - Ronnie Spector & The E Street Band

21. Wait for Me b/w Don’t Matter (Live) - Kings Of Leon

22. Illumination Theory - Dream Theater

23. Supernova b.w. Pick Up a Gun - Ray LaMontagne

24. Run, John Barleycorn, Run / Ether Madness - Clutch & Lionize

25. Live From Criminal Records - Frightened Rabbit

More on BuzzAngle Music coming soon.

More:

Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch) posts music crowdfunding news @CrowdfundingM. To suggest topics about music tech, DIY music biz or music marketing for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

Categories: Future Music

Weasel Language In Proposal For FCC's New 'Open Internet' Rules Actually Opens The Door To An End To Net Neutrality

Techdirt - 9 hours 52 sec ago
Yesterday reports started leaking about how FCC boss Tom Wheeler was getting ready to release his proposal for "new" net neutrality rules, to be voted on in a few weeks. They've now been introduced -- and Wheeler insists that all the whining and hand-wringing from yesterday was wrong. Except that's not true.

These new proposed rules are a response to a court tossing out the FCC's 2010 rules for not actually falling under the FCC's mandate. We pointed out that if the FCC were serious (and it's not), it should be focusing on increasing competition (which it's not). Congress certainly isn't going to do anything. Like previous FCC bosses, Commissioner Tom Wheeler has made it pretty clear that he's too timid to do anything serious, and instead will seek to find some sort of weak middle ground. Because there seems to be a rule that, if you're to become FCC Commissioner, you can't take a solid stand, but instead have to take a weak middle ground position and pretend it's a strong stand.

But what's currently being suggested may actually be worse. Because this opens the door to killing off net neutrality while pretending it's supporting net neutrality. As Stacey Higginbotham points out, even if Tom Wheeler believes this proposal makes sense, it's pretty ridiculous to claim it's net neutrality or about protecting an open internet. Wheeler should step up and admit what he's doing: killing off net neutrality to create a system that lets the big broadband providers double charge -- and then explain why he thinks that's necessary. Pretending this is net neutrality is a joke. Here's the basic proposals:
  1. That all ISPs must transparently disclose to their subscribers and users all relevant information as to the policies that govern their network;
  2. That no legal content may be blocked; and
  3. That ISPs may not act in a commercially unreasonable manner to harm the Internet, including favoring the traffic from an affiliated entity.
The key issue is that last one, in which the FCC claims it will still have the ability to stop "commercially unreasonable" activities by broadband providers, while refusing any attempt to explain what commercially unreasonable means. At the same time, it makes it pretty clear that "commercially reasonable" (again, undefined) rules will be allowed -- and it's likely this means allowing ISPs to create "fast lanes" by which they can charge more, so long as anyone with a lot of cash can also pay more.

This is not net neutrality. Yes, the 2nd rule means that no ISP will get away with the outright banning of access to websites, but no ISP was seriously considering that anyway. This bans a practice no one was going to do, meaning it doesn't ban anything. But by opening up "commercially reasonable" discrimination, it's allowing ISPs to create privileged "fast lanes" by which large internet players can "pay" to have preferred access to users. If you have a fast lane, by definition you also need a slow lane. So the (reasonable) fear here is that smaller entities, who can't pay for the fast lane, basically start out with degraded service compared to the big guys who can (and will) pay.

That means that services that don't pay up are throttled. By definition.

It's exactly what the big ISPs have wanted all along, which is a system to double charge big companies, who will now have to pay for both their own bandwidth and a portion of your bandwidth. If you think "hey, I already pay for my bandwidth," you're right. And now you'll likely have to pay much more, because the big companies who pay are going to pass the costs on to you. And, you'll have fewer interesting new services because the barriers to entry will be higher. So, the end result is the immensely profitable duopoly of internet service providers get more profitable and you pay more. Big internet companies pay off the broadband providers to stay fast, while startups and innovation are basically more difficult to create, because they're going to have to set aside a huge chunk of money to pay for some of the bandwidth that you're already paying for (and probably not getting anyway).

The Comcasts and AT&T's and Verizons of the world are going to parade up and down about how this will let them invest in better networks and provide better services, but there is absolutely no incentive here for them to actually do so. In fact, they have every incentive in the world to degrade service in the "slow lane" to make it less useful, driving more companies to need to pay for the fast lane.

These aren't rules for an open internet or for net neutrality. These are rules to kill that off.

"Commercially reasonable" are the weasel words here that effectively sell out the internet. The old rules were dreadful, and these rules are still just in proposal stages, but Wheeler's first foray into net neutrality is a joke. He's doing the same thing as his predecessor in refusing to stand up and say what he actually means, because he knows that what he's proposing is bad news.

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Categories: Tech Polis

A Different Letter to a Junior Designer

A List Apart - 9 hours 8 min ago

Editor’s note: Last week, Cennydd Bowles published his “Letter to a Junior Designer.” Today, Andrew Clarke offers a different perspective.

To be honest, I envy you. I envy your energy and your enthusiasm and the fact that for you, design is still new, still exciting. I envy your self-confidence. You know you’ll be a better designer than me. Maybe you already are.

With age comes experience, and there’s no doubt that I have more of it than you—especially experience in balancing the needs of people who use what I design with those who pay for it. That experience gives me an advantage today, but you’ll gain it too, in time.

In the meantime, I’d like to offer three suggestions.

Don’t slow down

You must never forget that it’s ideas that matter most, and that without your idea there would be nothing. You can’t turn a poor idea into a brilliant one by iterating, so don’t make fewer ideas. Make more. Don’t slow down. Speed up.

Your mind is a muscle, just like any other: you need to use it to keep it in top condition. To keep making ideas happen, make more of them, more often. Feed your mind with inspiration wherever you can find it. Exercise it with play. Make idea after idea until making them becomes a reflex.

You don’t always need to think things through

You won’t ever predict the path your ideas will take. You can’t know the restrictions they’ll face nor the limitations that will be put on them. My advice to you is not to try. Too often I see brilliant ideas extinguished because people think about practicalities too early. How will this be built? How will someone use it? These are important questions, but at the right time.

Naturally, some ideas will fade, but others will dazzle. So before you pinch out the flickering flame of a new idea, let it burn brightly for a while longer, unhindered by practicalities.

Sell with passion

Selling is frowned upon by a lot of people. It’s true: no one likes to be sold to badly, nor enjoys being interrupted unnecessarily. But being sold to well, by a good salesperson, is an experience that benefits both seller and buyer.

Learning how to sell was one of the best things I did early in my working life. Granted, I sold photographic equipment and not websites, but what I learned has served me immeasurably well. It’s helped me deal with people in a whole host of situations, not least in presenting (read: selling) my design ideas to clients.

Selling ideas should become one of your best skills. It’s a fact of life that it’s not always the best idea or the best execution that wins a pitch or presentation, but the one that’s been sold the best. So learn to sell. Learn to talk about your work so that the person you’re selling to understands your ideas and why they should buy them. Learn to inspire people with your words as well as your work. Make them feel like they’re so much a part of your ideas that they simply must buy from you.

Finally, I hope most of all that you never allow your energy and enthusiasm for design to wane. You’re young, you’re talented: revel in that. This industry has been good to me for many years, and I’m glad that you’re here too, to show an old dog new tricks.

Love,
Andrew

Categories: Web Design

One New Stat From Apple Shows Why iTunes Is [Almost] Unbeatable

Hypebot - 9 hours 42 min ago

image from www.hypebot.comIncluded in yesterday's report by Apple to investors and analysts was a single stat that reinforces why iTunes still controls so much of the digital music market.  Apple has nearly 800 million registered users. Impressively, users have grown 40% in just 10 months; and attached to every user is a credit card that enables one click purchase. 

image from www.youredm.comThat's a growth rate of 710,000 accounts per day, and on track to hit 1 billion users next year. Amazon, which does not release user stats, has an estimated that 82 million users monthly.

But Apple has miscalculated.

The company has been reluctant to move into streaming music; and its first foray, iTunes Radio, has failed to slow growth at Pandora and other competitors.  If Apple does not roll out new streaming music products soon, and  the predicted shift to free and paid streaming music gathers stream, those 800 million credit cards will not be enough to save iTunes dominate position. 

Related articles Apple Announces iTunes Radio Michael Robertson On iTunes Radio: "Good For Pandora, Bad For AM/FM" iTunes Wants To Pay 50% Less Than Pandora For Streaming [REPORT] Some Remarkable iTunes, iPod & Apple Music Stats
Categories: Future Music

YouTube Is Now 9 Years Old

Hypebot - 9 hours 42 min ago

image from 1.bp.blogspot.comIt's almost hard to believe, but YouTube turned 9 years old yesterday.  First launched a dating site called "Tune In Hook Up" modeled after "Hot or Not," the online video giant eventually caught on with an audience eager to share everything for their cat to a cell phone video of their favorite band.  YouTube has also become the world's favorite free streaming music site, paving the way for Spotify, Rdio, Rhapsody, et al.

Latest Stats & YouTube's First Video

YouTube Viewership Stats:

  • 9More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month
  • Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube - almost an hour for every person on Earth
  • 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute
  • 80% of YouTube traffic comes from outside the US
  • YouTube is localized in 61 countries and across 61 languages
  • According to Nielsen, YouTube reaches more US adults ages 18-34 than any cable network
  • Millions of subscriptions happen each day.
  • The number of people subscribing daily is up more than 3x since last year, and the number of daily subscriptions is up more than 4x since last year

Watch the first video on YouTube, uploaded at 8:27 P.M. on Saturday April 23rd, 2005. The video was shot by co-founder Yakov Lapitsky at the San Diego Zoo.

Related articles YouTube Deletes Billions Of Fake Views Apple Is Pulling YouTube From iOS & It's Bad News For Music, Apps Rhapsody, Napster Add Chromecast Support YouTube Tells Creators: 'Build A Fanbase, Not An Audience'
Categories: Future Music

Russia Orders Bloggers To 'Register'; Outlaws Anonymous Blogging, Continues Clampdown On Social Media

Techdirt - 9 hours 54 min ago

As we've reported, Russia has been steadily trying to bring the Internet under control with ever-more stringent measures. After tackling general Web sites through powers that allow them to be blocked more easily, it now seems to be the turn of the bloggers, as this report from the ITAR-TASS News Agency on a recently-approved law explains: The law introduces a new term: "Internet user called blogger." Bloggers will be obliged to declare their family name and initials and e-mail address. Those authors whose personal website or page in social networks has 3,000 visitors or more a day must have themselves registered on a special list and abide by restrictions applicable to the mass media. In other words, registration requires the blogger should check the authenticity of published information and also mention age restrictions for users. Also, bloggers will have to follow mass media laws concerning electioneering, resistance to extremism and the publication of information about people’s private lives. An abuse of these requirements will be punishable with a fine of 10,000 to 30,000 rubles (roughly $300 to $1,000) for individuals and 300,000 rubles ($10,000) for legal entities. A second violation will be punishable with the website's suspension for one month. Clearly those onerous conditions are designed to make any blogger think twice or three times before publishing anything at all controversial or embarrassing for the authorities. The article notes that the new law may be challenged before Russia's Constitutional Court, and that there's a huge loophole in the form of blogs located overseas, which are not covered by the legislation. The fear has to be that the Russian government will now move on to blocking them too. Moreover, not content with intimidating independent blogs, the Russian authorities also seem to be tightening their grip on VKontakte, the Russian Facebook. As Ars Technica reports: Pavel Durov, the founder of Vkontakte (VK) -- the largest social network in Russia -- said on Tuesday that he fled the country one day after being forced out of the company, claiming that he felt threatened by Kremlin officials.

In a post on his profile page on Monday, Durov explained that he was fired from his position as CEO of VK and that the so-called "Russian Facebook" is now "under the complete control" of two oligarchs close to President Vladimir Putin.
His removal is probably connected with his longstanding refusal to censor content on VKontakte: Durov explained that after seven years of relative social media freedom in Russia, his refusal to share user data with Russian law enforcement has set him at odds with the Kremlin, which has recently been trying to tighten its grip on the Internet, according to The Moscow Times.

VK's former CEO says that despite his multiple refusals of Kremlin requests to censor his site in a similar fashion to how it filters print and TV news, the site -- which boasts 143 million registered users globally, 88 million of whom are based in Russia -- is now effectively under state control.
What's sad here is that, as we've noted ruefully before, in the wake of revelations about NSA and GCHQ spying, the West is no longer in a position to criticize this kind of censorship and surveillance. As the latest moves indicate, the Russian authorities seem intent on taking full advantage of that fact.

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Categories: Tech Polis

DistroKid Added Beats Music & More Single Fee Distro Outlets, But Who Knew?

Hypebot - 10 hours 26 min ago

Distrokid-logo-one-word-gothamDistroKid is has gotten a lot of attention for their limited, low cost digital music distribution service. At some point they added multiple additional services. Perhaps these are the ones marked "beta": Beats Music, Rdio, Deezer though I can only verify that Beats Music was added in January. Oddly enough, some of the pople that would normally cover such news as a matter of course found out long after the fact. DistroKid may be doing just fine but this is one of those reminders that a company blog, for example, is a great way to keep people posted and set the ground for more coverage.

Jesse Cannon at Musformation posted this week about DistroKid's new outlets and that's the sort of thing he tends to pay close attention to.

"A few days back I was looking at Distrokid‘s website and had noticed they now had a few new sites they would aggregate to in beta and figured I would pass along the word since I think they offer a great service."

It appears that Beats Music, Rdio and Deezer are the new services marked beta on DistroKid's homepage. Other than a tweet from January about Beats Music being added and a couple of passing mentions buried in blog posts from February, I'm not seeing much about this.

And if you look at that tweet you see a lot of people asking questions that aren't answered.

I'm not going to give Philip Kaplan, DistroKid founder, a hard time about this. My understanding is that he does this stuff by himself so that makes it hard to do things like write blog posts and respond to customers questions.

And maybe providing a stripped down service in this manner is exactly what people want. Especially if other users are answering their questions.

But note that when there's a gap in public communication and in customer service communication, that's what opens things up for competitors.

However, in DistroKid's favor, the only real criticisms I've seen have been in Hypebot's comments.

And the problem there is that the same people come on, complain in the same ways and actually end up undermining the brands of their own companies.

Instead of doing something obvious like contacting me, for example, to ask if I'd like more information about what is needed beyond a bare bones service, they just get grouchy in the comments and make themselves look like the type of people I don't want to talk to. And so I haven't reached out on an important topic.

That's too bad because artists need distro and Hypebot wants to help them just as do people like Jesse Cannon. Yes, it is our business but, for my part, I'm also writing about DIY music because I want to see people empowered to take charge of their own lives.

However I'm faced with a situation in which none of the leading distributors strike me as particularly communicative or worth interviewing. And I bet that's not true but given poor communication on the part of business people combined with mixed response from artists with the trolls most likely to speak, there's a big disencentive for me to do more.

And even that I say in a helpful spirit though I have difficulty imagining anyone involved seeing it that way.

More:

Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch) posts music crowdfunding news @CrowdfundingM. To suggest topics about music tech, DIY music biz or music marketing for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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Categories: Future Music

noexcept — what for?

Andrzej's C++ blog - 10 hours 48 min ago
In this post I would like to share my observation on where using noexcept really adds value. It is less often than what one might expect, and it does not have that much to do with throwing or not throwing … Continue reading →
Categories: Programming

THU. NEWS BRIEF: Facebook + Apple = Strong Earnings, FCC Net Neutrality Shift, Vevo App Upgrade & More

Hypebot - 11 hours 8 min ago

THURSDAY 4.24.2014

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Categories: Future Music