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Posts tagged government

SFWA to participate in Copyright Office orphan works roundtables
March 9, 2014 | 5:42 pm

The SFWA actually can do some useful things when it’s not getting embroiled in scandals. A press release on its web site notes that former SFWA President Michael Capobianco will be attending some US Copyright Office roundtables on the problem of orphan works on March 10th and 11th. The problem posed by orphan works is becoming more obvious the longer copyright lasts. However, the SFWA suggests that the problems may not be as severe as some copyright reform advocates claim. The SFWA’s full position on the orphan works matter is laid out in a white paper (PDF) that it...

Commercial drone use apparently legal in US after all…for now
March 7, 2014 | 6:09 am

Amazon Delivery Drones Remember that story I wrote the other day about the FAA’s restrictions against commercial use of drones? Motherboard reports that a federal judge has dismissed the FAA’s first (and only) case against someone making commercial use of a drone. 29-year-old Raphael Pirker, fined for filming a commercial at the University of Virginia, contended that the FAA has never actually issued any binding regulations restricting commercial use of drones, and the judge agreed. Though the FAA issued a policy notice in 2007 ostensibly making them illegal, the notice was only advisory and not actually legally...

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...

Renting Textbooks from Amazon? Better Not Cross State Lines…
August 18, 2013 | 3:39 pm

AmazonA poster at Mobile Read alerted me to this shocking story from Inside Higher Ed, about a new textbook rental program. The article warns of a clause in the textbook rental fine print that restricts users renting through Amazon's Warehouse Deals, Inc, from moving the textbook out of the state in which it was initially purchased. From the article: "At first glance, the restriction doesn’t seem to make much sense. But to those who have been following Amazon’s aggressive efforts to avoid charging state and local sales tax, the reasoning behind it becomes clearer. Kenneth C. (Casey) Green, founding director of the Campus Computing...

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...

BREAKING: Online Pornography To Be Blocked In All UK Households
July 22, 2013 | 12:09 pm

pornographyThe BBC is reporting that prime minister David Cameron is introducing new measures that will block all 'online pornography' from UK households. The block will initiate at the level of the Internet service provider (ISP), and will be a default setting unless customers specifically opt out to enable this content. Cameron is also calling for 'horrific' search terms (including "rape pornography") to be automatically banned, for everyone. The BBC's article used generous scare quotes throughout to editorialize about how stupid this plan is. For example, on questions regarding the technical feasability of such a plan, they had this to say: "He told...

Judge Cote: Apple Did Conspire to Raise E-Book Prices
July 10, 2013 | 12:51 pm

AppleJudge Denise Cote has ruled on the Apple e-book case. And the verdict? "The plaintiffs have shown that the publisher defendants conspired with each other to eliminate retail price competition in order to raise e-book prices, and that Apple played a central role in facilitating and executing that conspiracy," Cote said. "Without Apple's orchestration of this conspiracy, it would not have succeeded as it did in the spring of 2010," she added. [caption id="attachment_90285" align="alignright" width="125"] Judge Denise Cote[/caption] So Apple lost their case, which does raise the question of why they decided to fight it. When all the publishers settled, it would be...

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.)...

Post-PRISM “Nineteen Eighty-Four” sales spike points up Orwell’s split position
June 15, 2013 | 4:53 pm

PRISM One off-the-wall consequence of the sudden disclosures regarding the U.S. National Security Agency’s PRISM digital surveillance program earlier this week was the much-reported spike in sales of George Orwell’s "Nineteen Eighty-Four"—with Penguin Plume’s recent Centennial Edition up almost 7,000 percent on the Amazon Movers & Shakers list for Books, according to some sources. This level of interest proved to be more than just a flash in the pan. By Friday, "Nineteen Eighty-Four" was still in 18th place on the Amazon Movers & Shakers list for Books—although the Kindle edition was absent from the Top 100 Movers & Shakers or Best Sellers rankings on...

On privacy, and the use of our personal information
June 12, 2013 | 3:41 pm

privacyThere’s been lots in the news recently about this issue. The latest article I’ve seen was from All Things D about Google wanting permission to reveal how many FISA requests its received. I think this is a good time for us to be thinking about our information, how it's collected and what can be done with it. It’s our information, after all. Don’t we have some rights here? I think Google has some good points. Two relevant quotes from the article: "And, like so much else that’s considered too secret to discuss in this matter, it’s difficult to have an informed discussion about any...