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Category: privacy and licensing

Good Artists Copy, Great Artists Steal

In 2003, after I unveiled a prototype Linux desktop called Project Looking Glass*, Steve called my office to let me know the graphical effects were “stepping all over Apple’s IP.” (IP = Intellectual Property = patents, trademarks and copyrights.) If we moved forward to commercialize it, “I’ll just sue you.” My response was simple. “Steve, I was just watching your […]

Federal Intellectual Property Enforcement Gears Up

Federal Intellectual Property Enforcement Gears Up

The Obama Administration has been slowly ramping up its attention to intellectual property issues. Over the past few months, we’ve seen an IP “summit” at the White House. We’ve seen the successful nomination of a new cabinet-level “IP Czar” position. We’ve seen the announcement of a new DOJ task force for IP issues. What does it all portend? Unfortunately, many […]

Unintended Consequences: Twelve Years Under the DMCA

Unintended Consequences: Twelve Years Under the DMCA

Twelve years after the passage of the controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the law continues to stymie fair use, free speech, scientific research, and legitimate competition. A new report from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) collects reported examples of abuses of the DMCA and the ongoing harm the law continues to inflict on consumers, scientists, and small businesses. The […]

Software sniffs out criminals by the shape of their nose

Forget iris and fingerprint scans — scanning noses could be a quicker and easier way to verify a person’s identity, according to scientists at the University of Bath. With worries about illegal immigration and identity theft, authorities are increasingly looking to using an individual’s physical characteristics, known as biometrics, to confirm their identity.

File-Sharing Software Potential Threat to Health Privacy

The personal health and financial information stored in thousands of North American home computers may be vulnerable to theft through file-sharing software, according to a research study published online in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. Healthcare professionals who take patient information home to personal computers containing peer-to-peer file-sharing software are jeopardizing patient confidentiality, note the authors of […]

Why I Will Not Sign the Public Domain Manifesto

Why I Will Not Sign the Public Domain Manifesto

By Richard M. Stallman: The Public Domain Manifesto (http://www.publicdomainmanifesto.org/node/8) has its heart in the right place as it objects to some of the unjust extensions of copyright power, so I wish I could support it. However, it falls far short of what is needed. Some flaws are at the level of implicit assumptions. The manifesto frequently uses propaganda terms of […]

Open letter to Google: free VP8, and use it on YouTube

Open letter to Google: free VP8, and use it on YouTube

With its purchase of the On2 video compression technology company having been completed on Wednesday February 16, 2010, Google now has the opportunity to make free video formats the standard, freeing the web from both Flash and the proprietary H.264 codec. Dear Google, With your purchase of On2, you now own both the world’s largest video site (YouTube) and all […]

The Toyota recall and the case for open, auditable source code

Public Safety is not a matter of Private Concern In a recent article, Slate’s Farhad Manjoo attempts to play down fears of faulty software in car braking systems as a potential cause of traffic accidents. Citing numerous studies which conclude that “the overwhelming reason we get in crashes is driver error,” Manjoo reasons that “the less driving people do, the […]

FreeBSD and the GPL

Linus Torvalds has said Linux wouldn’t have happened if 386BSD had been around when he started up. We trace the history of FreeBSD and how it’s affected the open source world. The first free Unix-like operating system available on the IBM PC was 386BSD, of which Linus Torvalds said in 1993: “If 386BSD had been available when I started on […]

Proposed guidelines for open government plans

Proposed guidelines for open government plans

Open Source for America (OSFA) represents more than 1,600 businesses, associations, non-governmental organizations, communities, and academic/research institutions who have come together to support and guide federal efforts to make the U.S. Government more open through the use of free and open source software. We applaud the Obama Administration’s Open Government Initiative and the December 8th Directive requiring all federal agencies […]

No Warrant Necessary to Seize Your Laptop

The U.S. Customs may search your laptop and copy your hard drive when you cross the border, according to their policy. They may do this even if they have no particularized suspicion of wrongdoing on your part. They claim that the Fourth Amendment protection against warrantless search and seizure does not apply. The Customs justifies this policy on the grounds […]

The Traceability of an Anonymous Online Comment

Yesterday, I described a simple scenario where a plaintiff, who is having difficulty identifying an alleged online defamer, could benefit from subpoenaing data held by a third party web service provider. Some third parties—like Facebook in yesterday’s example—know exactly who I am and know whenever I visit or post on other sites. But even when no third party has the […]

Google Buzz Privacy Update

Google Buzz Privacy Update

Over the weekend, Google announced significant changes to its new social networking service, Buzz. Responding to criticism (including EFF’s), Google moved away from the system in which Buzz automatically sets you up to follow the people you email and chat with most. Instead, Google has adopted an auto-suggest model, in which you are shown the friend list with an option […]

Digital Books and Your Rights: A Checklist for Readers

Digital Books and Your Rights: A Checklist for Readers

I. Introduction After several years of false starts, the universe of digital books seems at last poised to expand dramatically. Readers should view this expansion with both excitement and wariness. Excitement because digital books could revolutionize reading, making more books more findable and more accessible to more people in more ways than ever before. Wariness because the various entities that […]

Protect Your Privacy on Google Buzz

Protect Your Privacy on Google Buzz

Google’s new social networking service, Buzz has upset a lot of people who have inadvertently posted the list of the people they email and chat with most frequently on their profile. If you took the default options and didn’t opt-out or edit this list during profile creation, the list becomes part of your profile. Since who you email with frequently […]

The Multiple Meanings of the Term “Open”

Over the last couple of months I’ve found myself involved, both actively and passively, in several conversations that contained terms like “open” or “openness”. The adjective “open” was associated to nouns like “format”, “standard”, “source”, “government”, “data”, and so forth. Quite often the use and misuse of the term “open” leads to almost hatred discussions, exuding religious fervor on both […]

Google Superbowl Ad Explains The Need for Search Privacy

Google Superbowl Ad Explains The Need for Search Privacy

Google’s ad during yesterday’s Superbowl explained in less than a minute how the story of someone’s life can be pieced together from their search queries. Using only the search terms and user’s clicks of the search results, Google told the story of a user who seeks love while studying abroad in Paris, finds it, moves to Paris, marries and has […]

How to enhance the physical security posture of your Linux/BSD-powered PC

How to enhance the physical security posture of your Linux/BSD-powered PC

Securing a computer goes beyond more than just using strong passwords. You should consider what happens if an unauthorized person gains physical access to your computer. If the only security feature protecting your data from an unauthorized person is a user account password, then you have not taken enough steps to protect your computer and your data. This article presents […]

Anonymity and the Internet

Universal identification is portrayed by some as the holy grail of Internet security. Anonymity is bad, the argument goes; and if we abolish it, we can ensure only the proper people have access to their own information. We’ll know who is sending us spam and who is trying to hack into corporate networks. And when there are massive denial-of-service attacks, […]

Internet Explorer’s dominant market share eroding

Internet Explorer’s dominant market share eroding

Remember when Internet Explorer ruled the Web, to the tune of about 98% of the browser market share? Those were happy days for Internet Explorer. Until Firefox rose from the ashes of Netscape. Internet Explorer’s market share has been sliding ever since, and I think it got worse when Safari and then Google’s Chrome joined the browser market. A new […]