Only weeks after protests over two digital copyright bills demonstrated the political muscle of Internet users, the White House is publicly endorsing new copyright legislation that also would target suspected pirate Web sites.
After the unprecedented outcry against the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act – designed to target offshore copyright-infringing Web sites — supporters of the bills on Capitol Hill backed down and moved on to other topics.
But the White House today reignited the congressional debate by throwing its weight behind legislation targeting offshore Web sites. “We believe that new legislative and non-legislative tools are needed to address offshore infringement,” today’s report (PDF) says.
The report, prepared by U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel, who President Obama appointed to the job in 2009, lists Protect IP and SOPA as “examples of recent attempts by Congress to address the issues of counterfeiting and piracy online.” It also endorses the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) and lauds Internet providers, including Comcast, Cablevision, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable, for agreeing last summer tobecome Internet copyright cops.
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, a treaty aimed at harmonizing global copyright enforcement, is now weaving its way through the various committees of the European Parliament. Its final vote could come as early as June 11th.
“The first committee to file a recommendation, the Industry, Research and Energy committee (ITRE), has just published their draft opinion on ACTA,” writes Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge this morning.
Crucially, the final point in the ITRE’s draft opinion advises the Committee on International Trade to withhold its consent to the agreement [ACTA].
Can a farmer commit patent infringement just by planting soybeans he bought on the open market? This week, the Supreme Court asked the Obama administration to weigh in on the question. The Court is pondering an appeals court decision saying that such planting can, in fact, infringe patents.
Spain has set off further alarm bells among bond investors and its crisis-hit eurozone neighbours by conceding that its debts will balloon this year to their highest level for two decades.
The admission fanned fears that the recession-bound country will lose its battle to stay on top of its debts without reaching for outside bailout funds and knocked Spanish government bond prices.
Despite announcing its most austere budget for more than 30 years last week, Spain’s government admitted on Tuesday that the debt-to-GDP ratio will jump to 79.8% in 2012 from 68.5% last year.
Ministers put the rising ratio, which will still be below the European average, down to high interest payments, Spain’s contribution to the Greek bailout and the cost of support for its own banks and regional authorities.
Well here’s hoping they can find a way to offer tax cuts to the wealthy. That will fix the problem for sure.
The world’s most popular weed killer, Roundup®, can cause amphibians to change shape, according to research recently published in Ecological Applications.
Rick Relyea, University of Pittsburgh professor of biological sciences in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and director of Pitt’s Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology, demonstrated that sublethal and environmentally relevant concentrations of Roundup® caused two species of amphibians to alter their morphology. According to Relyea, this is the first study to show that a herbicide can induce morphological changes in a vertebrate animal.
Relyea set up large outdoor water tanks that contained many of the components of natural wetlands. Some tanks contained caged predators, which emit chemicals that naturally induce changes in tadpole morphology (such as larger tails to better escape predators). After adding tadpoles to each tank, he exposed them to a range of Roundup® concentrations. After 3 weeks, the tadpoles were removed from the tanks.
A top adviser to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned the Bush administration that its use of “cruel, inhuman or degrading” interrogation techniques like waterboarding were “a felony war crime.”
What’s more, newly obtained documents reveal that State Department counselor Philip Zelikow told the Bush team in 2006 that using the controversial interrogation techniques were “prohibited” under U.S. law — “even if there is a compelling state interest asserted to justify them.”
Zelikow argued that the Geneva conventions applied to al-Qaida — a position neither the Justice Department nor the White House shared at the time. That made waterboarding and the like a violation of the War Crimes statute and a “felony,” Zelikow tells Danger Room. Asked explicitly if he believed the use of those interrogation techniques were a war crime, Zelikow replied, “Yes.”
Zelikow first revealed the existence of his secret memo, dated Feb. 15, 2006, in an April 2009 blog post, shortly after the Obama administration disclosed many of its predecessor’s legal opinions blessing torture. He briefly described it (.pdf) in a contentious Senate hearing shortly thereafter, revealing then that “I later heard the memo was not considered appropriate for further discussion and that copies of my memo should be collected and destroyed.”
At least one copy survived in the files of the department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research. The State Department has now disclosed it to Danger Room, mostly without redactions — three years afterthis reporter filed an official request for it. You can read the memo for yourself, below.
Variations of the Flashback trojan have reportedly infected more than half a million Macs around the globe, according to Russian antivirus company Dr. Web. The company made an announcement on Wednesday—first in Russian and later in English—about the growing Mac botnet, first claiming 550,000 infected Macs. Later in the day, however, Dr. Web malware analyst Sorokin Ivan posted to Twitter that the count had gone up to 600,000, with 274 bots even checking in from Cupertino, CA, where Apple’s headquarters are located.
Plans to allow the authorities to monitor the online activity of every person in Britain were pushed back last night after being condemned by MPs of all parties.
The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, announced that the contentious measures would be published only in draft form and would be subject to widespread consultation – concessions that could delay the proposals for at least a year. In a letter to Mr Clegg published inThe Independent today, 17 Liberal Democrat MPs welcomed his intervention but warned him their support could not be taken for granted on the issue.
A storm erupted this week after it emerged that legislation to allow the police, intelligence services, councils and other public bodies to obtain details of messages sent via Skype and social networks would be included in the Queen’s Speech.
Six of the country’s universities say they face immediate closure after the recent bondswap reduced their assets to zero.
An emergency meeting of university rectors on Tuesday heard that only 33m euros remained of 120m euros that 17 Greek universities had deposited with the Bank of Greece for their operating expenses, while six university accounts were now completely empty meaning they would soon be unable to stay open.
Their accounts hit rock bottom following Bank of Greece’s conversion of their funds into state bonds, which were subsequently subjected to a haircut in the private-sector involvement (PSI) bond-swap deal in March.
Well, at least destroying their assets helps protect banking interests and investments, and that’s what’s really important.
Google’s transition into the new Microsoft is now complete: fancy-pants sci-fi concept video to promote stunningly awkward augmented reality glasses.