Last year, we noted that after five years of nothingness, despite what the law required, the federal government finally had a Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), after years of nominations that went nowhere. The PCLOB does now exist and has been charged with looking into the government’s surveillance efforts. While the PCLOB does have some really good members who are strong privacy/civil liberties advocates, there are significant questions about how much authority it actually has. Still, on Tuesday, the PCLOB held hearings on the ongoing surveillance programs, and perhaps the most interesting thing to come out of them were the comments from James Robertson, a former FISC judge, who had quit the court, but had not spoken publicly about why until now…
Posts by Techdirt
Ohio AG Gets Urban Outfitters To Pull Satirical Prescription Coffee Mugs From Stores, Citing His Own Lack Of HumorBy Techdirt
If you take a hard line in your belief in free speech, you need to double that staunch stance when it comes to humor and satire, because they almost universally require an edge or offense of some kind. Quadruple your stance if that humor or satire is aimed at anything having to do with the government, since they’re not allowed to be offended by our speech. Sorry, government, but that’s the deal we made two-hundred-plus years ago: you get to pretend like you represent us and we get to make fun of you for it…
This is the process the government follows to place would-be travelers on the no-fly list.
1. The government places a person on the no-fly list.
That’s all there is to it. The list is too “sensitive” to publish and exposing its methodology would apparently result in airliners raining down around us.
If you’re a lucky recipient of the “no-fly” designation, here’s how you’re informed of your new status…
I have to admit that I’m still a bit surprised that pop-up/pop-under advertisements still exist. The concept is so annoying and so anti-consumer that pretty much all browsers figured out ways to build in pop-up blockers many, many years ago. Every so often one gets through (almost always advertising Netflix, by the way), and I get annoyed and try to remember never to visit that site again. However, Paul Keating alerts us to the news that a company called “ExitExchange” now claims to hold a patent on pop-up ads, and has sued seven porn sites and two travel companies [Ed. note: this link is from a porn industry publication so it's "safe-ish" for work, but be warned] for using them without a license.
Here’s a bit of good news: the Supreme Court has effectively said you can’t patent genes, though in typical Supreme Court fashion, it hedged a bit. Basically, they found that merely separating out naturally occurring DNA is not patentable, but that synthetically made “complementary DNA” or (cDNA) can be patentable. This case has been going on for quite some time, involving a company called Myriad Genetics, which isolated two genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, where mutations indicate a high likelihood of developing breast cancer. Myriad then set up a very lucrative, extremely high priced set of tests to find those mutations and argued that others testing for those genes violated its patents — because stopping breast cancer should be prohibitively expensive, apparently.
Insane legal actions over relatively mild pranks are coming fast and furious these days. We just recently discussed the 17 years old high school girl staring down felony charges over a childish year book prank. There have also been several cases of those that fall victim to pranks turning to intellectual property law as a way to hide their gullibility. There’s something — embarrassment perhaps — that spurs victims into unreasonable legal action once the trap has been sprung.
I’ve always liked the state of Vermont — but mainly because it was a nice place to visit. But, now the state appears to be declaring war on patent trolls. A new anti-patent trolling law has been quietly enacted, H.299, which targets patent trolls. Or, as it says “bad faith assertions of patent infringement.” It does this by amending the state’s consumer protection laws, to give tools to judges to recognize when patent litigation is done in bad faith (i.e., for trolling, rather than legitimate reasons)…
VP Joe Biden Believes There’s ‘No Legal Reason’ The Government Can’t Slap A Sin Tax On ‘Violent Media’By Techdirt
I’m not sure where vice president Joe Biden is getting his information, but he seems rather confident that a tax can be levied against “violent media.” He may want to check with the Supreme Court, which has ruled against regulating violent video games and found taxing certain varieties of speech differently to be a violation of the First Amendment.
Possibly Biden just got carried away with the jovial spirit of censorship pervading the post-Sandy Hook political climate. Or maybe he was just in an overly-agreeable mood and started making affirmative statements without considering what he was saying…
Prenda Lawyer Says Judge Wright’s Order Is Inapplicable In Georgia Because California Recognizes Gay MarriageBy Techdirt
So, you may recall that as a part of Judge Otis Wright’s Prenda sentencing, he ordered that a copy of the ruling be submitted in every other case involving Prenda:
For the sake of completeness, the Court requests Pietz to assist by filing a report, within 14 days, containing contact information for: (1) every bar (state and federal) where these attorneys are admitted to practice; and (2) every judge before whom these attorneys have pending cases.
In one Prenda case (involving AF Holdings again) in the Northern District of Georgia, the defendant, Rajesh Patel, and his lawyer, Blair Chintella, submitted Judge Wright’s ruling themselves to the court in the case. As pointed out by Fight Copyright Trolls, Prenda’s local counsel in Georgia, Jacques Nazaire has filed one of the most ridiculous filings we’ve ever seen yet in all of the Prenda filings. It argues that the court should not allow Judge Wright’s order to be entered into the docket because California recognizes gay marriage and Georgia does not. I’m not joking…