Entries Tagged as 'Law'

SCO ordered to pay $2.5 million to Novell

sco.gif It looks like SCO has finally dug itself into a hole. Ordered to pay for attorney fees plus interest and probably will put a stop on the SVRX agreement with Sun Microsystems since they were found have unjustly held onto royalties that were owed to Novell.
What’s more interesting is that while SCO is reviewing the findings and will probably appeal and push for a jury ruling, this hasn’t broken them out of the IBM case yet. Which means that the other hammer hasn’t fallen. Fun times for SCO. Fun times.

G8 governments setting up scare tactics for piracy

The latest thing that the G8 conference talked about was anti-piracy measures. And apparently they want to enact the international agreement that would give the right to inspect all portable devices such as music players, phones, or laptops for illegal downloads.
While this is more likely to be about customs officials actually being able to intercept shipments of counterfeit goods (of which they already can as far as I know), there is an eerie feeling that there will be some overzealous screener that will take into their own hands a misinterpretation of this agreement.
Here’s the deal. The chance of actually having a scan of your device is probably fairly unlikely due to the fact that there is no way to actually prove ownership. On top of that, it would increase the times at customs checkpoints by ten-fold. I don’t think there are many people that don’t bring music players for transpacific or transatlantic trips anymore.
In regards to the burden of proof, I give you this example; many people rip their entire music library on CD and legal downloads to their portable music device. I personally have over 4000+ songs (all legit) and I know people that have more. How customs will be able to prove that is beyond me if I’m going in and out of the country. If there is a misinterpretation of this however, the more likely thing would be confiscation. And you know that will face the wrath of at the very least business people that go on flights if not the citizens of G8 countries. Without very strict rules on how the procedures are and what is and isn’t allowed, the only thing we can hope for is that this doesn’t happen.
Photo Credit: (Will Lion)

Did MediaDefender break the law in attack against Revision3?

mediadefender.gif Over the Memorial Day weekend, Revision3 was brought down by MediaDefender due to an open BitTorrent tracker, that according to MD, was seeding illegal copyrighted content.
Now here’s the rub. MD usually just seeds the target trackers with corrupted files and collects data on whom could be downloading the copyrighted property. But R3 claims to have found an open security hole in their tracker (used to distribute their legitimate content) and closed it over that weekend. From there on, MD servers took drastic measures and sent over 8,000 SYN packets a second trying to reach the tracker instead of just shutting down. MD obviously defends their actions, while R3 speaks against it.
Question is, were any laws broken?
While I’m no attorney, any sort of DoS attack is a violation of IAB proper use policy. On top of that, this there’s a question of whether or not any computer crime laws were broken. On a federal level, it seems pretty gray area since most of it deals with actual damages of copyright or intrusion based on commerce and fraud. What is interesting to note however is California actually has code specifically for computer crimes.
While much of it seem to apply such as civil damages and such, here’s the one thing that I found rather fascinating. In Section 1 of Stats.1987, c. 1499, under 8c:

(c) Any person who maliciously accesses, alters, deletes, damages, destroys or disrupts the operation of any computer system, computer network, computer program, or data is guilty of a public offense.

The reason why this is interesting is because from the interview, MD was saying that their actions were legit due to the fact that there was copyrighted materials. But even law enforcement have specific procedures that they have to follow and can’t go guns a-blazing and MD doesn’t constitute as law enforcement. On top of that, DoS attacks clog the networks that route them, meaning that an attack launched as such would not only effect R3 itself but would create a major load on the Tier 1 routers pushing the traffic and any routers down the stream. For most DDoS attackers, this isn’t an issue due to the fact that they’re knowingly committing a crime. But for MD? Having servers set up in this fashion couldn’t be good by any means. Either way, one thing is extremely clear. There definitely was a disruption of a computer network.
There’s a lot more to go over in the California State Penal Code, but overall being that both corporations are in California state, I personally think that MD would be fighting an uphill battle with the comments already made and having read some of the attorney speak. It’s obviously based on my interpretations of the code (which doesn’t mean squat in a court of law, but it is my opinion nonetheless). I’ll leave the whole federal law thing to the FBI who’s sorting out the matter in itself. I would be curious to know if the copyrighted materials found within the R3 tracker was indeed an exploit, or if an employee or what not was involved in those materials. It still doesn’t legitimize MD’s attack, but it would put R3 in deeper water than it is currently.
If MD should change their tune and say that it was a misconfiguration or what not and take back what the CEO said to Wired, then I would be curious how that works out since then it becomes pretty gray area of who’s at fault. That’s one for judge or jury and not I or anyone else.
Should be interesting to see what outcome is from this event. Word to the wise. It’s not always prudent to fight fire with fire. Especially if your “fire” could be the not-so-ethical kind.

Carriers get class-action against charged incoming text messages

I’m really not surprised that this is happening. Not one bit.
For text messaging, being charged for incoming messages that you have no way of setting a white list, or block unknowns, or ways of controlling incoming messages means that anything that is incoming is out of your control. And if you can’t control it, you shouldn’t have to pay for it.
I haven’t the slightest clue what the carriers will try to defend with, since outside of the perspective of trying to get people to get on the ten to fifteen dollar extra a month, unlimited text messaging plans, there isn’t a good technical solution that does the above.
From a legal perspective though, I’d be curious if you target incorrectly towards certain carriers if that absolves all named in suit from liability (since it’s pointing the finger at the group). The reason for this is because, US Cellular (which is named in the lawsuit) doesn’t charge for incoming text messages. Sprint and apparently AT&T allow you to turn off text messaging completely (I definitely know for Sprint since I’ve done it for my parents).
Whether or not this lawsuit comes to fruition, it does bring up a great point though. Why does the consumer have to pay for incoming text messages? The carrier might answer that it’s similar to the delivery of a cellular call, but it isn’t. First, you don’t need to answer your phone. Second, while everyone believes that SMS is a two-way communication, it technically isn’t. 2-way designates that you actually get a receipt upon delivery so that you’re guaranteed that the packets have gone to their destination. Instant messaging is 2-way. Internet chatting is 2-way. Phone calls are 2-way. But not SMS. Ever have a text message that never got to the person you were sending it to? Just went into the void, didn’t it. 1-way communication.
In fact, most of the time, people assume that SMS is a timely communication form, but that isn’t true either. In all technicality, you can queue up SMS messages and burst them. If the person’s mobile can’t be found on a home system, there’s a good chance that it could be delayed messaging. Anyone with texting experience should have experienced this also in probably the first month of going at it.
Either way? I’m curious as to how the carriers pull this one off. It will probably reach settlement and most people will get 500 text messages plans for a year or something since I seriously doubt they’ll go and change the internals to do text messaging policing unless forced to by the courts. Should be interesting to watch.
Photo Credit: (pouwerkerk)

Docstoc – find and share professional documents

docstoc.gif If you’re a small business, chances are you have an attorney to take care of your most basic of needs but otherwise the cost of drafting up custom documentation is a hard hitter on your pocket.
While all common sense dictates that an attorney’s word rules above anything you get on the Internet, Docstoc is a good resource to find FREE legal and business documents that others have uploaded.
Now, if you use this, you have to use a grain of salt and perhaps understand how to reword some parts of it to make it fit your business, and on top of it, it’s not guaranteed to be legally water-tight until an attorney looked it over. But for the most basic of policies such as terms of service, privacy policies, and perhaps even basic contracts, this site could save you a whole lot of headache and a little bit left in the wallet.

Engadget behind the times on E-911?

Ick. I just read two posts by Engadget author, Darren Murph, and I’m thoroughly disappointed.
A couple commenters also mentioned this fact, but in both this post on Japan’s move to run GPS in their phones and then this later one on South Korea, it just reeks of misinformation.
Here’s the problem with the post:

“Taking a note from Japan, it’s being reported that South Korean police are backing a highly controversial plan …”

Hate to say it, but just because South Korea is close to Japan, doesn’t mean they South Korea used Japan as an example. Nothing in the XinHua (China View) news report states this nor does it from from textually.
On top of this, back in 2001, I had worked on getting the customer (one of the US vendors) into compliance with both CALEA and E911. By the early 2000s, all mobile handsets in the United States were required to be equipped with a GPS chip for 911 emergency. As far as I know for most of the mobiles I’ve ever tested, this is on by default unless you specifically tell it to only be on for E911.
Furthermore, there are numerous reports of how E911 works, such as this one back in 2004 when a Tennessee boy prank called 911 services from his school bus. Based on some background, I would have expected a little more seeing that the author had worked for a corporation that is one of the domestic three cellular infrastructure providers.
Bad choice of words, Engadget. Perhaps poor research. Either way, it doesn’t look good when the written word makes the assumption that the US doesn’t have similar technologies in place already for emergency services. Especially when those that are not in the know-how have the expectation that you know what you’re talking about.
Photo Credit: (Milica Sekulic)

How patent lawsuits create need for patent oversight

Growing up, I got to hear about patents a lot. Heck, dad has had his name on a fair share of them and I’ve seen the plaques to prove it.
At the time, patents were used in such a way to protect your intellectual property from other corporations from stealing your ideas and creating knock-offs. There are pretty specific laws on what you can do, once a patent is handed out and how things such as reverse engineering is limited to a certain percentage that can be very similar and so on, so forth.
These days though? You just see what I deem as frivolous lawsuits that are spent basically on the basis of trying to reach into the pockets of larger corporations. In fact, there are corporations out there, that their whole business is based on filing patents and then suing. Sounds pretty unethical to me, and you would imagine that the Patent Office wouldn’t hand out such patents.
There are certain things that can or cannot be done in a certain fashion, but trying to sue a larger corporation or FUD a smaller one is just… well, pansy. Maybe it’s just me.
But it sounds like there needs to be patent oversight. It wasn’t long ago that I remember reading about someone that had set up a patent for the warp drive. I’m not sure if it’s true or not, but if it was? That’s just ridiculous.
This is truly a time where if the government was supported to do anything with the Patent Office, it would tighten the reins. No more just handling out patents because people pay the money for the application. A lot of these things need to be contested. And if people start lawsuits that are proven to be just stretching the boundaries of the law just to make money from the lawsuit instead of actual protecting intellectual or actual tangible property, then there should be black marks set against those individuals or corporations. Maybe it’s just my opinion, but the world doesn’t need more stupid things going on that hurts technological innovation. It needs less.
And in my opinion, without more oversight on how patents are handed out and how they are used, it devalues the point of a patent altogether. At least in my eyes.
Photo Credit: (niallkennedy)

How to know if you can use Creative Commons content

cclicenseflowchart.jpg Usually, it’s tough to know if you can use Creative Commons content on your website or blog. What dictates the ability to use NC-CC licensed content? Well, while there isn’t directives on this… there are some guidelines.
There is also a nice little flowchart that shows you how to tell. From my perspective, not being a legal anything…. I can say that rule of thumb seems to be that if you have ads, then you better not be using the licensed content as the ad. Also, you cannot be a commercial entity of any sort. That sort of defeats the purpose of the NC part of the licensing directly.
So for wholly owned blogs by commercial entities? NC-CC licensed stuff seems to be off-limits. Personal blogs though? Go nuts. Of course, maybe the legal department would disagree, but so far from what I’ve read, it seems to be the general consensus.

Senator Dodd stalls immunity for telecoms until January

Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) has stalled the FISA bill until January that would have retroactively made telecommunication companies that have spied on United States citizens, immune to privacy legal action due to “national security” measures.
This man took to the floor of the Senate for ten hours, before Senate majority leader moved to push the bill to January for reconsideration.
Hopefully they’ll change the crazy wording of this bill. But in case they do not, don’t hesitate to take a moment to take action.

Stop telecoms from gaining immunity from spying on you!

eff.jpg Why should telecommunication corporations gain immunity for invading your privacy?
Well, that’s the point. They shouldn’t. But currently there is a bill that if passed through the Senate, will give them immunity with FISA and be retroactive. This means that the AT&T whistleblower about the NSA tapping the line that broke a while back? AT&T will be immune.
Is that what you want? It’s not what I did. So fight it and tell your senator that their constituent refuses to support such actions.