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Nova Express writes "Though general public outrage caused the House shelve consideration of SOPA (and the Senate to shelve PIPA), SOPA sponsor Lamar Smith (R-TX) continues to support the bill, saying that "The online theft of American intellectual property is no different than the theft of products from a store" and saying SOPA just needs to be reworked. Further, Smith is still sponsoring another bill, the Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011 (HR 1981), which would impose fairly onerous Internet data retention and tracking provisions for ISPs. In light of that, several Republican groups opposed to SOPA have been calling for a primary challenge to Smith for the Texas 21st Congressional District. Now a primary challenger has come forth in the person of former Sheriff Richard Mack, most famous in the gun rights community for his role in a lawsuit that got key provisions of the Brady Bill overturned. But Mack will have an uphill race, since Smith has more than $1.3 million in campaign funds on hand." Link to Original Source top
Nova Express writes "Recently a lot of science fiction stories from the 1950s and 60s (including work from still-living authors like Frederik Pohl and Jack Vance) have been showing up on Project Gutenberg as being in the public domain. However, according the science fiction writer Greg Bear and his wife Astrid Anderson Bear (daughter of Poul Anderson, some of whose works were among those put up) Project Gutenberg has made a mistake: 'After conducting legal research on the LEXIS database of legal cases, decisions, and precedents, we have demonstrated conclusively that PG was making incorrect determinations regarding public domain status in many, many works that originally appeared in magazine form...In general, Project Gutenberg is doing a tremendous service by making available texts that have truly long since fallen out of copyright, but they are clearly overstepping their original mandate. They are not merely exploiting orphan works, but practicing a wholesale kidnapping of works that are under copyright protection.'" Link to Original Source top
Nova Express writes "If you thought Congress was finished doing the bidding of copyright holders, guess again. "Congress is set to once again consider the Sen Leahy's Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeit Act, a truly awful bill (with the appropriately awful acronym 'COICA'...The bill would allow the Attorney General to institute an in rem action against the domain name of any Internet site 'dedicated to infringing activities,' defined to include any site that 'engages in' copyright or trademark-infringing activities where those activities, 'taken together,' are 'central to the activity' of the site. The court would then be authorized to issue injunctions, not against the offending website, but against 'the domain name' itself, ordering the domain name registrar where the target site's domain name was registered, and the domain name registry responsible for maintaining the authoritative database of names for the target site's top-level domain, to 'lock out' the domain name (and therefore prevent access to the site through use of the domain name). The court could also enjoin any of the thousands of Internet Service Providers, or any 'operator of a nonauthoritative domain name server' (a category that includes virtually all ISPs or operators of networks linked to the Internet), ordering them to 'take technically feasible and reasonable steps designed to prevent [the] domain name from resolving to that domain name's Internet protocol address'"" Link to Original Source top
WisCon disinvites Elizabeth Moon as GoH over Islam
Nova Express writes "Howard Waldrop and I reviewed Iron Man 2 over at Locus Online. Though we enjoyed the film, I spent a fair amount of time explaining how it not only strains scientific plausibility, but breaks it and stomps on the pieces until they're kindling. For example: the particle accelerator Tony Stark builds in his basement in about a day, which includes an optical prism to bend the beam, despite the fact prisms bend light, not streams of accelerated matter. I also go into more detail on the issue in my blog, where I talk about the inherently looser scientific underpinnings of comic book heroes, and how the "anything goes" ethos of something like the sprawling Marvel Universe strains credibility further. "If you’re watching a film about a man who can build a miniature fusion reactor the size of a smoke detector out of scrap metal, at what point can you really step off Mr. Toad’s Deeply Unlikely Ride?"" top
Nova Express writes "Locus Online is reporting that Prometheus Award-winning SF writers Charles Stross and Cory Doctorow have been selected to write Atlas Rebound, an authorized sequel to Ayn Rand best-selling novel Atlas Shrugged. "Atlas Rebound features the teenage children of the founders of Galt's Gulch rebelling against their elders and traveling out into a world devastated by John Galt's strike, where they develop their own political philosophy with which to rebuild."" top
Lawrence Person writes "The BBC is reporting that science fiction writer J. G. Ballard has died at age 78. Ballard had been fighting terminal prostate cancer since 2006. His is probably most famous to the public at large for his autobiographical novel The Empire of the Sun, which told the fictionalized story of his growing up in a Japanese internment camp near Shanghai during World War II, and was made into an acclaimed Stephen Spielberg film. His controversial novel Crash was also made into an equally controversial David Cronenberg film. Before finding mainstream success, Ballard was best known as probably the most influential writer in the British New Wave of science fiction, which incorporated many experimental literary techniques and tackled many topics (such as sex) that had generally not been touched on in "golden age" science fiction. He published several acclaimed novels in the field, including The Crystal World, The Drowned World, The Wind from Nowhere, and High Rise, as well as numerous influential short stories, many of which were published in the Michael Moorcock-edited New Worlds. His autobiography, Little Miracles of Life: From Shanghai to Shepperton, came out last year." Link to Original Source top
Lawrence Person writes "Tuesday the FBI carried out raids on two Texas data centers, carrying off millions of dollars in co-lo equipment. What triggered the raid wasn't child porn or terrorism, but unpaid VoIP bills to Verizon and AT&T. "Companies affected by the raids say they've lost millions of dollars in equipment and business after the FBI hauled off gear belonging to phone and VoIP providers, a credit card processing company and other businesses that housed equipment at the centers. Nobody has been charged in the FBI's investigation." It gets stranger: "Authorities also raided his home, where they seized eight iPods, some belonging to his three children, five XBoxes, a PlayStation3 system and a Wii gaming console, among other equipment. Agents also seized about $200,000 from the owner's business accounts, $1,000 from his teenage daughter's account and more than $10,000 in a personal bank account belonging to the elderly mother of his former comptroller."" Link to Original Source top
Lawrence Person writes "The forthcoming publication of Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has set off a mashup frenzy, with publishers buying up similar books left and right. Books to be published include Henry James and Laurell K. Hamilton's The Portrait of a Lady and Vampires, which the publisher describes as being "exactly like the original, but with several hundred additional pages of kinky sex," Feodor Dostoevsky and Stephen King's Crime and Punishment and Werewolves, George Eliot and Paul Di Filippo's Silas Marner vs. The Lizard Men, Leo Tolstoy and Jeff VanderMeer's War and Peace and Alien and Predator, James Joyce and Aaron Allston's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Terminator, and Herman Melville, H. P. Lovecraft, August Derleth and Brian Lumley's Moby Dick vs. Cthulhu. A Creationist publisher is also bringing out The Bible, Now With Added Dinosaur Attacks. "Since the earth is only 6,000 years old, it's obvious that several biblical characters must have fought dinosaurs."" Link to Original Source top
Lawrence Person writes "Everyone's favorite live-action science fiction comedy series will finally return to TV, with Lister, Rimmer, Kryten and the Cat all making it to Earth. The new two-part series Red Dwarf: Back to Earth will appear on digital channel Dave, will be written and directed by Red Dwarf co-creator Doug Naylor, and will reunite the line-up. Personally, I think this is pretty smegging fantastic." Link to Original Source
eBay jacks up fees, removes negative buyer feedback
Nova Express writes | more than 6 years ago
Last week, in response to widespread complaints from users, incoming eBay CEO John Donahoe promised lower listing fees. Now eBay has released their new fee schedule for 2008, and listing fees for items under $25 have been lowered by a whopping nickel. Meanwhile, final value fees in the same range have been increased by 3.50%, from 5.25% to 8.75%. So, to put it in concrete terms, if you sell an item for $20, instead of paying $1.65 ($.60 listing fee + $1.05 final value fee), you'll now pay $2.30 ($.55 listing fee + $1.75 final value fee). Wow, thanks a lot for that "price break," John. Listing fees have been decreased more for higher-priced items, but not nearly enough to offset the price hike. Moreover, there have been additional changes made to the feedback structure as well, including this gem: "Buyers will only be able to receive positive Feedback." What could possibly go wrong?
Nova Express writes | more than 9 years ago
I don't know why Slashdot rejected this submission, so here it is:
Paypal (which is owned by eBay) is now forcing all eBay sellers to accept credit cards through Paypal. "Beginning August 19, 2005, if you sell on eBay and offer PayPal, your PayPal account must accept all forms of payment including payments made via credit card, regardless of whether you display the PayPal logo with credit card icons. You must have a Premier or Business PayPal Account or be willing to upgrade from a Personal PayPal Account to a Premier or Business Account if you receive a credit card payment. You may not communicate to eBay buyers (e.g. via your eBay item description) that you only accept, or will not accept, specific forms of PayPal payment." Because Business and Premier accounts charge a fee to receive any funds, this means eBay/Paypal will receive a chunk of every Paypal transaction payment you receive going forward, no matter whether it was for eBay or a credit card, and no matter whether the seller already had another (possibly cheaper) way to process credit cards. Frankly, eBay sales have been on such a steady decline over the last two years, a lot of sellers have been considering switching to selling through Amazon or using using Google adwords. I susect this will make the choice to leave eBay a lot easier for many people.