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Bad Idea Is Bad: Senator Sasse Wants To Give Whoever Patents COVID-19 Treatments 10 Extra Years Of Patent Protection

It‘s amazing how two people can look at the same situation and see the exact opposite conclusions. As experts are pointing out that to fight COVID-19 we should be relaxing intellectual property laws to enable more experimentation and collaboration, some have decided what we really need is more locking up of knowledge, and apparently Senator Ben Sasse falls into that ridiculous camp. We joked a few weeks ago about a law professor who‘

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DC Court Says Terms Of Service Violations Can‘t Trigger Federal CFAA Prosecutions

In a win for researchers and the ACLU, a federal court has ruled that violating a site‘s terms of service is not a criminal violation of the CFAA. The ACLU filed this lawsuit in 2016, representing researchers, scientists, and journalists who were looking into whether employment websites engaged in discriminatory behavior. To do so, the researchers needed to deliberately violate the terms of service of the websites they were studying by c

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Disney Is Making Damn Sure That None Of You Watch An Unauthorized Version Of Samuel L. Jackson Reading ‘Stay The Fuck At Home‘

Lots of famous folks have been making (often amusing) "Stay Home" public service announcements. One great one showed up last week, in which Samuel L. Jackson read a copy of a new "poem" by Adam Mansbach, the author (a decade ago) of the infamous Go the Fuck to Sleep. This time, it was Stay the Fuck at Home. As with the original, Mansbach wrote it, and they got Samuel L. Jackson to read it -- though it debuted on the Jimmy Kimmel show (filmed wit

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5G Isn‘t Interesting Enough To Warrant These Stupid Conspiracy Theories

Fifth generation wireless (5G) is not magic. It‘s not witchcraft. It‘s not a "race." It‘s not going to kill you. And frankly, it‘s not even all that interesting. We‘ve noted for years now how 5G has been over-hyped by wireless carriers looking to spike lagging smartphone sales, or the gear makers hoping to cash in on global network builds. They‘ve been busily trying to suggest that 5G is almost magic, capabl

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Donald Trump Fires Inspector General Who Brought Ukraine Phone Call Whistleblower Complaint To Congress

No one really needs to wait until Friday afternoon to bury bad news. Not these days when bad news is all we seem to have, occasionally mixed with even worse news. But the White House remains the White House, so the time-honored process of dumping stuff you want to stay out of the headlines right before everyone punches out for the weekend remains in place. The government as a whole claims it wants whistleblowers to report wrongdoing through th

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Benjamin Netanyahu, Hater Of Fake News And Purveyor Of Fake News

As most of you will know, the term "fake news" has been so bastardized at this point so as to be more a moniker of quite literally the opposite of its original intended meaning. Once used to label the sort of nonsense news stories that people would share haphazardly on social media, the term is now almost exclusively used by government strong-men with paper-thin skin and entirely too much power. Still, the term does have a real meaning, if only

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Sheriff‘s Office That Employed A Deputy Facing 9 Lawsuits And 44 Criminal Charges Says It Has Lost All Of His Dashcam Footage

Hamilton County (TN) Deputy Daniel Wilkey is in more trouble than possibly any other law enforcement officer has ever been in. Currently facing nine lawsuits over his bizarre and disturbing rights violations, Wilkey is simultaneously facing 44 criminal charges, 25 of which are felonies. Wilkey‘s rights violations were especially creative. He forced one woman to undergo an involuntary mid-winter baptism in a nearby lake in exchange for so

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That Coronavirus Image Is Public Domain, But That Won‘t Stop Getty From Trying To Sell You A 500 License To Use It

Late last week, we wrote a nice story about how the infamous image of the coronavirus that is causing COVID-19 is in the public domain, since it‘s a work of the US federal government. That‘s part of the reason why it‘s everywhere these days: But, as one of our commenters pointed out, that won‘t stop Getty Images from trying to sell you a license to the image (even complete with the CDC logo on it, which takes real ba

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Congress Let Spy Powers Expire Last Month, Which Is Having Almost No Effect On Current Spying

Thanks to the goddamn everything else going on in the world right now, we‘ve now learned what happens when Congress lets surveillance authorities expire. Nothing, really. Here‘s Charlie Savage for the New York Times. House Democrats left the capital on Friday after passing the 2 trillion coronavirus relief legislation without taking up a Senate bill to temporarily revive three expired F.B.I. surveillance tools for terrorism and es

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Daily Deal: Laptop 9-in-1 Docking Station Stand

Enjoy your laptop‘s supposed portability and convenience with Ledetech‘s Laptop Docking Station Stand. Featuring 9 outputs, this dock holds your laptop while it functions as a universal port replicator, allowing you to connect the peripherals you need with ease. The holder has an HDMI, RJ451, SD Card/Micro SD card readers, and more ports that you can use simultaneously with your laptop. With 12.2" length, this device will add conveni

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Predictive Text Patent Troll Tries To Shake Down Wikipedia

WordLogic is a patent troll. The company has been around for a while and holds a bunch of patents (such as US Patent 7,681,124) which it claims covers the concept of predictive text writing. While WordLogic is (was?) a publicly listed company, the stock is currently worth 0.0001 per share. About the only news about the company has to do with hiring patent lawyers and failing to live up to bragging press releases. The company has spent the last

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SLAPP Suit Filed Against Fox News Over Awful & Dangerous COVID-19 Coverage

Pretty much everyone knew this was coming. Fox News‘ coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic has been absolutely despicable -- insisting that it was little more than the flu, was overhyped by Trump‘s political enemies, and nothing anyone should be worried about, before turning on a dime to suddenly pretend they never said any of that earlier, and that suddenly it was always obvious it was serious: Of course, a ton of people not only

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COVID-19 Will Someday Fade Away. The Wireless Location Data Practices Being Embraced To Track It Probably Won‘t.

Location data has long proven to be hugely profitable to wireless carriers, given it‘s used by everyone from city planners to marketing departments. Now it‘s proving useful to help spread the track of COVID-19, allowing researchers to see not only who an infected person has been in contact with and where they‘ve been, but also helping them predict where hot spots might appear next. Such technology was used during the Ebola outb

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Dr. Drew Pinsky Played Down COVID-19, Then Tries To DMCA Away The Evidence

Copyright system supporters keep insisting to me that copyright is never used for censorship, and yet over and over again we keep seeing examples that prove that wrong. The latest is Dr. Drew Pinsky, the somewhat infamous doctor and media personality, who has been one of the more vocal people in the media playing down the impact of the coronavirus. In a video that had gone viral on Twitter and YouTube, it showed many, many, many clips of Dr. Dre

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Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

This week, both of our winning comments on the insightful side come in response to the news that Jared Kushner‘s coronavirus task force has been using private email accounts for official business. In first place, it‘s That One Guy breaking down his reaction: ‘Lock... him... up?‘ The best case scenario I can think of is this is just hypocritical incompetence, where they‘re using private email accounts because do

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This Week In Techdirt History: March 29th - April 4th

Five Years Ago This week in 2015, in what was not an April Fool‘s joke, President Obama signed a silly cybersecurity executive order that amounted to little more than an empty threat, while raising some concerning questions. Meanwhile, in the TV world, analysts were still happily pretending cord-cutting doesn‘t exist and doing their part for an entire industry in denial (to the point cable companies would throw tantrums when forced

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How The Public Domain Coronavirus ‘Beauty Shot‘ You Now See Everywhere Came To Be

By now, you‘ve probably seen this image of the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19 a million times: It‘s freaking everywhere. And it‘s in the public domain. That‘s because it was created by employees at the CDC, and as a work of the US government it is exempt from copyright laws, meaning anyone can use it. Which is probably why everyone uses it. One of the many reasons why a public domain is so useful. The NY Time

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Texas Court Says City, PD Must Answer Questions About Botched Drug Raid Led By A Crooked Cop

The Houston Police Department‘s botched drug raid that resulted in the killing of the home‘s two occupants continues to cause problems for the PD and the city of Houston. The raid was predicated on a phone call from an unbalanced, vengeful neighbor with a history of calling in bogus crime reports. Probable cause was bolstered (if that‘s even the word) by dirty cop Gerald Goines, who fabricated a confidential informant and provi

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Those Ex-Theranos Patents Look Really Bad; Contest Opened To Find Prior Art To Get Them Invalidated

A few weeks back we wrote about how Fortress Investment Group -- a massive patent trolling operation funded by Softbank -- was using old Theranos patents to shake down BioFire, a company that actually makes medical diagnostics tests, including one for COVID-19. Fortress had scooped up the patents as collateral after it issued a loan to Theranos, which Theranos (a complete scam company, whose founders are still facing fraud charges...) could not

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TikTok Users In China Temporarily Banned For Speaking Their Own Cantonese Language Instead Of Using The Official Mandarin

Most people know about TikTok, from the company Bytedance, but not many know that it is the international version of the similar, but separate, Douyin app. The What‘s on Weibo site has a good explanation of why the two versions came about, and how they differ: Why would Bytedance go through the effort to create two apps running on different systems? The answer partly lies in China‘s strictly controlled online environment, where (s

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World‘s Worst Copyright Trolling Lawyer, Richard Liebowitz, Files Lawsuit Against Ellen Barkin For Posting Photo Of Herself

I‘m still amazed that any photographer could think it‘s wise to hire notoriously bad copyright trolling lawyer Richard Liebowitz. Liebowitz, among many other problems, has been sanctioned for lying to the court, sanctioned for failing to comply with court orders, and even got into trouble for lying to a court about the death of his grandfather (in that one he actually had a friend of his father‘s write a letter to the court bas

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Controversial Spyware Vendor NSO Group Is Helping The Israeli Government Spy On Its Own Citizens

Israel‘s leading malware purveyor is pitching in to help with the pandemic. NSO Group -- which has pitched its spy tools to a number of questionable governments -- is trying to help track the spread of the virus with its proprietary surveillance tool. This would be the third effort by the country to keep tabs on the disease, starting with the Israeli government‘s authorization of the use of phone/location data to monitor infected i

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