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Chris Meadows

Appeals court judges ask probing questions in Apple e-book anti-trial case
December 16, 2014 | 7:56 pm

Yesterday, the appeals court heard testimony from Apple and the Department of Justice relating to the e-book anti-trust trial appeal. To my surprise, two of the three judges seemed amenable toward Apple’s point of view. They expressed concern over why the publisher collusion was such a bad thing when it was for the sake of stopping monopolist Amazon, and hinted that Judge Cote might have erred when she ruled that Apple’s behavior constituted a pro se anti-trust violation—a violation so obvious that it doesn’t need the “rule of reason” test applied to it. Apple attorney Theodore Boutros asked for...

Apple music DRM case wraps up with final witness
December 14, 2014 | 11:07 am

The Apple iTunes DRM case proceeds apace. After finding a replacement plaintiff to supplant those who were found not to have bought iPods during the required time period, the case moved forward, hearing reluctant testimony from a former iTunes engineer who worked on blocking the interoperability of competitors’ music DRM with iPods. (The engineer basically rehashed the same arguments Apple’s made all along: Apple had to lock out competitors because the music labels demanded it.) This was the case’s last witness; it will go to jury deliberations next week. As I’ve said before, this case could potentially have profound...

Judge Cote rules DRM removal for fair use is not copyright infringement
December 10, 2014 | 8:52 pm

The Apple anti-trust case continues to have some interesting fallout. The EFF today issued a press release concerning Judge Denise Cote last month dismissing some charges in a related case, trumpeting that Cote had ruled that stripping DRM for fair use purposes is legal. I’ve read the 20-page opinion, and I’m not so sure. Here’s what I know. The case pertains to Abbey House, the operator of the “BooksOnBoard” e-book store. In March, 2014, Abbey House (and two other defunct e-book store operators) filed suit against Apple and the Agency Five alleging that their implementation of agency pricing...

Groupon offers 16 GB 2013 Nexus 7 for $150
December 9, 2014 | 7:38 pm

If you were disappointed when Google stopped selling the Nexus 7, this deal on Groupon might make you feel a little better. Groupon is offering a new, not-refurbished 16 GB 2013 Nexus 7 for $149.99. That’s $50 less than Amazon’s price. That’s the generation 2 model, with a quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU, 2 gigs of RAM, and a full 1080P display, capable of running Android 5.0 Lollipop without breaking a sweat. Made by Asus, branded by Google. The high-resolution, 323 pixels-per-inch display is one of the best you can get for e-reading short of an e-ink display. ...

Connor Cochran rebuts Internet troll’s allegations over Conlan Press product delays
December 8, 2014 | 10:13 pm

connorUpdate: Cochran has determined the responsible party is not ex-employee Mike Bolger after all; Bolger has contacted Cochran in such a way as to convince Cochran it wasn't him, and apologized for his prior behavior. Cochran reports that more evidence has emerged about who the responsible party actually is, and he has provided that information to his lawyers and instructed them to "go after him to the fullest extent of the law. It’s never easy to have to deal with trolls, and Connor Cochran, publisher of Conlan Press, best known for publishing works of Peter S. Beagle including The Last Unicorn,...

Apple iPod DRM case heats up, but might still fizzle
December 7, 2014 | 12:37 pm

The wheels of justice grind slowly, and sometimes a bit of grit gets stuck in the gears. This seems to be the case with the ten-year-old lawsuit against Apple over the DRM policies it used to enforce on iTunes Music Store music and iPods. Over the last couple of weeks, it’s started moving again, and the testimony and depositions have been interesting to follow. But now it looks as though, just as it’s getting started again, it may come to a complete halt. Locking Out Competitors At heart, the case has to do with the way Apple continually...

Amazon’s Kiva robots herald warehouse automation
December 1, 2014 | 10:28 pm

kiva_robotsHere’s an interesting feature on Amazon’s Kiva robots, used to automate the process of filling orders in some of its warehouses. I hadn’t been entirely clear on how those robots worked, but the article does a great job explaining. The Kiva robots essentially resemble oversized Roombas—squat hockey-puck-shaped gizmos that trundle along the warehouse floors. They operate by latching onto huge inventory shelves and carrying them along with them to “stow stations” where workers load incoming shipments of merchandise into them, or to “picking stations” where order pickers grab the merchandise and put it into a box. To hear...

Diane Duane holds Cyber Monday sale; may have to close e-book store
November 30, 2014 | 4:58 pm

Diane Duane’s e-book store is running a 50% off sale for Black Friday/Cyber Monday. All e-books in the store are half-off, no discount code required. But as Duane explains in a blog post, this could very well be her last Cyber Monday sale, because of the new VAT MOSS regulations coming into effect as of the New Year. As Duane points out via a quote from a Huffington Post article on the matter, the new regulation—and its removal of the minimum threshold at which UK businesses need to worry about VAT—is going to hit many UK small businesses particularly...

New European VAT law could threaten small e-businesses
November 29, 2014 | 10:19 pm

New European Union regulations regarding value-added taxes (a sort of European equivalent of sales tax) will take effect January 1, 2015 that could cause problems for businesses selling electronic goods and services. Referred to as VAT MOSS (for “Mini One-Stop Shop,” the web portal each member state will run to make payments easier), the new regulations put the onus on businesses that provide “telecoms/broadcast/electronic services” to EU customers to keep track of and charge each customer VAT at the rates that apply to the country where that customer lives. Previously, businesses were free to charge at the rate that...

Copyright Office posts DMCA exemption petitions
November 25, 2014 | 6:17 pm

A few weeks ago I discussed the need for a DMCA exemption for e-books, in light of the US Copyright Office requesting petitions for such exemptions. The Copyright Office has now posted all 44 petitions it received as PDFs. There are a number of interesting petitions there—not least of them my own. Now that I read my petition again, I see a few typos and other tweaks I wish I could go back and fix (and they miscategorized it under “Audiovisual Works – Multimedia E-Books,” rather than “Literature Distributed Electronically”), but on the whole I’m satisfied with it....

Motorola’s ‘Duet’ tells a story as only a smartphone can
November 20, 2014 | 7:41 pm

Screenshot_2014-11-20-18-35-16I was just answering a message on Google Hangouts in my Moto X when I saw a blue stylized figure of a ballet dancer dance across the bottom of the screen. It left a glowing blue circle that I tapped on, and I was presented with a screen that said “Duet”. This puzzled me, as I certainly hadn’t installed anything by that name lately. A quick Google revealed that this was a new animated short from Motorola’s Moto X Spotlight Player. Directed by veteran ex-Disney animator Glen Keane, “Duet” tells the story of a boy and a girl who...

James Patterson wants Amazon to do more to promote reading
November 20, 2014 | 7:16 am

Salon Magazine has an interview with bestselling author and literary franchise James Patterson that is refreshingly free of the anti-Amazon rhetoric that has characterized both institutions of late. At least they’re not currently trashing Amazon for what it’s doing. They’re complaining about what Amazon ought to be doing but isn’t. And I can’t say that I necessarily disagree. Patterson is planning to launch a new public awareness campaign to encourage reading, following on the heels of his $1 million in grants to bookstores. The campaign will include a TV ad featuring a public book-burning (a bit of a cliché,...