Wrath0fb0b writes "Days after President François Hollande sternly told the United States to stop spying on its allies, the newspaper Le Monde disclosed on Thursday that France has its own large program of data collection, which sweeps up nearly all the data transmissions, including telephone calls, e-mails and social media activity, that come in and out of France. The report notes that "our email messages, SMS messages, itemised phone bills and connections to FaceBook and Twitter are then stored for years."
Wrath0fb0b writes "The US Supreme Court reversed the $600,000 fine for a student who imported cheaper textbooks from Thailand and resold them for a profit in the US. The ruling affirms that the exclusive right of importation is subject to the same limitations (first sale, archival, fair use) as the restriction on reproduction and that a book bought abroad by a lawful assignee of the copyright is "lawfully obtained" for the purposes of the First Sale doctrine. The dissent focused more closely on the intent of Congress in passing the Copyright Act, and called the Court's decision a "bold departure from Congress’ design" and said it was at odd's with the US treaty position on copyright exhaustion. The opinion is also notable for the odd lineup, with three of the Court's liberal wing joining three of the more conservatives Justices in the 6-3 majority in favor of the appellant (the Court is current split 4-1-4)." Link to Original Source top
Wrath0fb0b writes "The New York Times reports that Facebook is overhauling their iOS App to ditch their HTML5 based UI for a native ObjectiveC one. This is an about face from their position a few months ago in which FB wonks said HTML5 would allows them to write once run anyhwere. While WORA certainly has a lot of appeal for both programmers (due to desire not to duplicate effort) and management alike (due to desire not to pay programmers to duplicate effort), the large number of negative reviews that FB for iOS has illustrate that this approach is not without drawbacks. No matter how the new app is received, this is more fuel on the native vs. web-app fire." Link to Original Source top
CA Governor Vetoes Bill Protecting Arrestees' Cell
Wrath0fb0b writes "The U.S. Supreme Court let stand Diaz v. California, a Fourth Amendment case from California's Supreme Court which held that a cell phone can be searched incident to a lawful arrest. Meanwhile, over the summer, California state legislators passed SB 914, a bill limiting searches incident to arrest in California. Just today, however, California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the bill stating that the courts are better suited to resolve complex and case specific issues relating to constitutional search-and-seizures protections.
Noted Fourth Amendment scholar Orin Kerr opines that Governor Brown has it exactly backwards and lays out the advantages of the legislature in rapidly-evolving fields such as new technology and their ability to better assess facts, amend the law to reflect the latest technology and disregard precedents that they feel no longer ought to apply. He argues that legislatures are much better equipped than courts to strike the balance between security and privacy when technology is in flux." Link to Original Source top
Wrath0fb0b writes "The United States Supreme Court threw out a California law prohibiting the sale of violent video games to minors (signed by a man who would never pander violence to children). Notable in the opinion is a historical review of the condemnation of "unworthy" material that would tend to corrupt children, starting with penny-novels and up through comic books and music lyrics. The opinion is also notable for the odd lineup of Justices that defies normal ideological lines, with one conservative and one liberal jurist dissenting on entirely different grounds.
In the process, they continue the broad rule that the First Amendment does not vary with the technological means used:
Video games qualify for First Amendment protection. Like protected books, plays, and movies, they communicate ideas through familiar literary devices and features distinctive to the medium. And the basic principles of freedom of speech . . . do not vary with a new and different communication medium.
Wrath0fb0b writes "[Disclosure: I'm not involved in any way in this research or Cornell, nor do I know any of the researchers or papers cited. ]
The endowment effect is a long-studied cognitive bias in which owners of property consistently assign it a higher value for sale (WTA, willing to accept) than non-owners for purchase (WTP, willing to pay). This effect is occurs even if the property is assigned randomly, meaning it is independent of the fact that we acquire things we consider valuable or have experienced as valuable. A brief overview of the evidence for the effect, and a number of possible psychological bases for this bias, are discussed in the paper.
This studyis the first to test the extent and manner in which this effect applies to transactions involving IP — that is, non-rivalrous goods. Subjects (undergrads) were divided into three groups based on their order of scheduling: the first third became Authors; the middle third became Bidders; and the final third became Owners. The authors were told to write a poem for entry into a contest, in which the winner would be awarded $50. They were then asked at what price they would be willing to sell their chance of winning — their WTA for the work. Each bidder was assigned a single poem and asked at what price they would be willing to buy that poems chance of winning. Finally, each owner was assigned a single poem, told that they already "owned it", and asked for a WTA for that work's chance of winning.
The results were in line with what one might expect from Endowment Effect literature — Authors and Owners both valued the poems at nearly twice as high as bidders, which is even more interesting because what was being "sold" here was only partial alienation of the property — the author would continue to have the poem for personal use but sold only the winnings from the contest. Even more interestingly, the results do not change much if you allow all the subjects to read all the poems entered into the contest before writing their bids/sells. Nor do they change if you inform the subjects that the winning poem will be selected by lottery instead of by subjective judgment. The conclusions for the rational structuring of IP law are broad and generally point towards a "liability rules" (what we would call compulsory-licensing) over the extant "property rules" (what we would call the current system in which the owner retains the unlimited power to refuse to sell). As the authors put it more verbosely:
Our findings suggest that private transactions in creative goods may face significant transaction costs arising from cognitive biases. These biases in turn drive the price that creators and owners of IP are likely to demand considerably higher than buyers will, on average, be willing to pay. This discovery does not mean, of course, that transactions in IP will not take place — we see such transactions happening every day. Our research suggests, however, both that IP transactions may occur at a frequency that is significantly suboptimal and that the baleful effect of cognitive and affective biases is likely to be more serious for transactions in works of relatively low commercial value or for which no well-established custom or pattern helps to inform valuation. These results have considerable implications for the structuring of IP rights, IP formalities, IP licensing, and fair use.
Most broadly, we believe that our results should inform the ongoing debate over whether IP law is best structured around property rules or liability rules. Additionally, we argue that our results point toward the advisability of copyright re-formalization, which is best achieved via reformulation of copyright as remedies provisions to limit owners of works that are unregistered (and therefore presumptively of low commercial value) to the effective equivalent of a liability rule. Finally, our findings should inform copyright'(TM)s fair use doctrine. Many courts considering the fair use defense already base their analysis, in part, on the presence of significant transaction costs that lower the likelihood that the parties would have negotiated a license and therefore make fair use more appropriate. In light of our findings, courts should consider whether a license for the use at issue in a particular case would likely be subject to significant endowment effects. If so, it is less likely that the parties would have struck a deal as an alternative to the defendant'(TM)s unauthorized use, therefore making a finding of fair use more appropriate.
Wrath0fb0b writes "OSU President Burns Hargis has abruptly canceled an NIH-funded study on an anthrax vaccine on primates, who would then have to be euthanized. Suspicion that the decision was meant to appease large donor Madeleine Pickens, the wife of noted huntsman T. Boone Pickens, who had previously pressured the school over animal-rights issues. Scientists counter that the study was approved by the NIH peer-review process, the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) and subject to the Federal Animal Welfare Act (by virtue of using NIH money) and that the decision by the President is short-circuited months of planning and deliberation on the matter.
Hargis has denied being influenced by Pickens and cited "confidential factors" that he couldn't discuss, telling the faculty council that "to go through every lurid detail is simply not prudent". A post on Pickens' blog, on the other hand, obliquely takes credit for the "great decision", noting the a faculty hunch that ""generous benefactor to OSU and her ties to the Humane Society of the United States may have played a role in the termination of the project". Meanwhile, the NIH expressed displeasure at the decision, releasing a statement that stated "NIH fully expects institutions to honor these assurances and commitment to complete NIH supported projects as requested, approved and funded". Some OSU scientists speculated that the fiasco would make it harder for them to receive NIH funding in the future.