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What do Apple executives and Bruce Banner have in common?
January 4, 2014 | 2:34 pm

425.the.incredible.hulk.033108Business Insider has another article on the enmity between Apple and Michael Bromwich, including PDFs of Apple’s filing requesting a stay and Bromwich’s declaration detailing his interactions with Apple over the last few months. According to Apple’s attorneys, the corporation apparently shares some characteristics with Bruce Banner. It’s angry, and you wouldn’t like it when it’s angry. Seriously, that is what Bromwich says Apple’s lawyers told him: that “Apple executives would ‘never get over the case’ and that they were still extremely angry.” And that it might be a good idea for Bromwich to wait to talk to them...

Amazon begins collecting sales tax in Indiana, Nevada, and Tennessee
January 1, 2014 | 7:16 pm

Here’s some Amazon news that hits me literally right where I live. Today Amazon began charging sales tax on orders shipped to Indiana—where I currently live—as well as Nevada and Tennessee. I can see why the states want to get their hands on the extra money, and technically we should be paying sales tax or use tax on everything we purchase, no matter where we buy it, but it’s still annoying to see all my Amazon prices effectively rise by 7%. I was talking about it with my brother, and he pointed out that the funny thing is that...

DoJ fires back at Apple over anti-trust monitor issues
December 16, 2013 | 7:15 pm

Is Apple’s independent anti-trust monitor, Michael Bromwich, overreaching, as we reported Apple claimed last week? Not according to the Department of Justice. Andrew Albanese reports in Publishers Weekly on a recent letter to the court from the DoJ. U.S. attorney Lawrence Buterman accused Apple of trumping up concerns over the monitor in order to help make a case for a stay on the order pending its appeal. “The United States and Plaintiff States have reviewed Apple’s filings, and have spoken on multiple occasions with both Apple and Mr. Bromwich concerning Apple’s objections,” Buterman wrote. “Based on...

Supreme Court rejects Amazon appeal; New York affiliate program sales tax law stands
December 2, 2013 | 4:14 pm

A few years ago, states started passing laws requiring Amazon to pay sales tax if it offered affiliate marketing programs in their state, rather than only being required to pay them if it had physical facilities there. This resulted in Amazon cutting off its affiliate programs in any state that passed such a law (such as my former home, Missouri). Amazon finally fought New York’s law to the Supreme Court—and the Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal, meaning that the appeals court decision affirming the law will stand. Amazon has been pushing for the “Marketplace Fairness Act,” which...

Use Tax on Missouri ballots today could affect large Amazon purchases
November 5, 2013 | 8:09 pm

CAM00068I was out and about doing various things today, and over the course of those things, I voted. There was only one issue on the ballot in my county: a 1.25% Use Tax, applying sales tax to out-of-state purchases. In other words, making sure that people who buy from Amazon and their ilk have to pay their share to the county. Except that the way the law is written, it doesn’t seem to apply to Amazon purchases so much at all, or at least the small ones. Theoretically, everyone is supposed to pay the tax. However, the only people...

Effect of Government Shutdown on Libraries, e-Publishing and the Stuff We Write About
October 1, 2013 | 12:15 pm

Since I live in a suburb of Washington, D.C., there was little to no rejoicing when I woke up this morning. My Facebook feed was full of angry, disgusted people. My "hometown" newspaper, The Washington Post had news about little else. So naturally, my curiosity was sparked, and I began to do some digging to see how a U.S. government shutdown would affect the topics we write about on this site. And the answer was "not too much." Here was what I found. 1. The Post Office is privately funded, so your new Kindle Paperwhites should arrive on October 10. As will anything...

Ex-copyright czar Victoria Espinel becomes head of Software Alliance
August 30, 2013 | 9:27 pm

Remember “copyright czar” Victoria Espinel? We mentioned her a couple of times back in 2010—when she called for public comments on the state of IP law,, when the comments came in. and then when they were made public. Some interesting stuff on the state of intellectual property law there, and what the stakeholders thought was important—notably, they all complained about online piracy without a single word about counterfeit physical goods. Huh. Espinel popped up again in 2011 when she recommended that Congress make illegally streaming copyrighted content online a felony offense in some cases. Although our article on the...

Amazon discontinues associate referral program in Missouri
August 15, 2013 | 2:02 am

amazon-frownSometimes the news happens to you when you least expect it. I drove up from Springfield, Missouri to my brother’s house in St. Charles, on the way to GenCon in Indianapolis. As I was rolling through Rolla, I pulled off into a parking lot to check my email via convenient hotel wifi and found this missive waiting for me: Greetings from the Amazon Associates Program. We are writing from the Amazon Associates Program to notify you that your Associates account will be closed and your Amazon Services LLC Associates Program Operating Agreement will...

FBI Can Activate Android Microphones, Record Secretly
August 3, 2013 | 12:34 pm

FBIIt’s no big secret that the U.S. government can use some extreme methods in order to maintain justice and security for the nation by gathering information on suspects. Even before Snowden leaked all the NSA data, most of us had a pretty decent idea that the U.S. government has always been keeping a watchful eye over everyone. The shock from the leaks likely came from the scope and depth of all the information-gathering and spying. If you think the government couldn’t possibly dig even deeper, guess again. Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the FBI uses custom-designed hacker tools to spy...

Australian government report urges its citizens to circumvent geographical restrictions, buy cheaper digital media from overseas
July 30, 2013 | 7:37 pm

That thud sound you just heard was my jaw hitting the floor. Nate Hoffelder on The Digital Reader just posted an article about a report issued by an Australian government committee officially recommending that Australian citizens ignore geographic restrictions and buy digital content from other countries because it’s so expensive to buy it in Australia proper. (Weird that it comes so soon after another Australian government commission said there was nothing wrong with Apple’s high e-book prices, but I guess nobody said every part of a government had to agree.) The report even recommended amending Australia’s copyright law to...

Why Apple is still fighting the DoJ
June 30, 2013 | 3:44 pm

The Wall Street Journal has a look at why Apple is so persistent in fighting the Department of Justice charges after the publishers already settled. It basically comes down to not having its ability to negotiate with other media businesses hampered, not having to get rid of its “most favored nation” clauses in other media sales (it does use them in other areas than just e-books), and not having to put up with government oversight. "Any time there is a monitor, there is someone sticking their nose in your future business and you aren't comfortable," said...

FAA investigation into allowing in-flight gadget use continues
June 23, 2013 | 2:14 pm

The FAA might soon permit limited use of electronic devices even during take-off and landing. We reported on the study earlier this year (and even last year), but The Wall Street Journal reports the FAA has been circulating a set of draft proposals that would allow for devices such as tablets, e-readers, and smartphones to be used during flights as long as they were set to a no-transmissions airplane mode. Phone calls and other radio transmissions would still be forbidden (unless the plane has in-flight Wi-Fi, of course). (The WSJ article is paywalled, but Ars Technica also has relevant coverage.)...