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Netflix's Very Big Deal
December 22, 2014
Dish Network last week announced that it had integrated the Netflix app into its set-top box. The video streaming service is now available to Dish subscribers with a second-generation Hopper Whole-Home HD DVR. This integration of the services allows Dish customers the ability to stream Netflix movies and TV shows from the same platform that is used to access linear TV channels.
Google Calls In Legal Eagles in MPAA Piracy Skirmish
December 19, 2014
Google has filed a lawsuit against Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, the latest salvo in its piracy battle with the Motion Picture Association of America. Hood targeted Google with an "unreasonable, retaliatory and burdensome" subpoena, the complaint says. The referenced subpoena likely is part of a coordinated campaign against Google known as "Project Goliath."
Feds Pounce on Sprint for Phone Bill Cramming
December 18, 2014
The United States government is delivering a one-two punch to Sprint over the practice of cramming -- allowing third parties to place unauthorized charges on customers' bills. The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau on Thursday filed a civil suit against Sprint over the issue. Meanwhile, the Federal Communications Commission reportedly is planning to hit Sprint with a $105 million fine.
Tech Industry Rallies Around Microsoft in Data Privacy Battle With US
December 18, 2014
A coalition of supporting organizations filed 10 amicus briefs with the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in a case challenging a U.S. government search warrant for Microsoft customer data stored on a server based in Ireland. The coalition includes 28 technology and media companies, 35 computer scientists, and 23 trade associations and advocacy organizations.
Disappointed iPod Plaintiffs: Jurors Didn't Weigh the Right Questions
December 17, 2014
After a 10-year knock-down drag-out battle, Apple on Tuesday prevailed in a class-action lawsuit over its use of digital rights management technology on iPods purchased between Sept. 1, 2006 and March 31, 2009. Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd -- one of the "most feared litigation firms" in the U.S. -- brought the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Sony Sends News Outlets a Stern but Toothless Warning
December 16, 2014
On behalf of Sony Pictures Entertainment, high-powered attorney David Boies has sent a letter to several news outlets demanding that they refrain from publishing stories based on material hackers recently stole from the company and that they destroy the pilfered data. The letter to the news organizations claims the stolen information is "protected under U.S. and foreign legal doctrines."
Good, Bad and Ugly 'Pirate Bays' Spring Up in Torrent World
December 15, 2014
The torrent world is in turmoil following last week's shutdown of The Pirate Bay in a police raid. Other torrent sites have seen traffic spikes, while Pirate Bay clones -- set up both by file-sharing activists and cyberscamsters -- are emerging. Meanwhile, authorities around the world appear to be playing a game of whack-a-mole. There have been indications The Pirate Bay may stage a comeback.
Sony May Have Succumbed to DDoS Temptation
December 15, 2014
Sony reportedly has used Amazon Web Services to launch distributed denial of service attacks on sites carrying files stolen from its network. Those attacks apparently involved "hundreds of computers" in Tokyo and Singapore. Amazon reportedly issued a statement denying the claim, but the language it used was vague: "The activity being reported is not currently happening on AWS."
Your Bitcoins Are Good at Microsoft
December 15, 2014
Microsoft last week began to accept bitcoins as payment for digital content purchases. Bitcoins can be credited to a Microsoft account by anyone in the United States at the currency's market value -- currently around US$352 per bitcoin -- and used to buy content at the Windows Store or stores that carry Xbox games, music and video.
Whoa, Maybe Apple Really Is Serious About Enterprise IT
December 12, 2014
Apple and IBM have delivered the first batch of enterprise-class apps for iOS, rolling out 10 apps that cover key industry verticals like banking and finance, travel and transportation, retail, insurance, telco and government. The companies have pledged to deliver more than 100 such apps. The apps are the first proof point in the "unprecedented" partnership.
Amazon Cries Foul Over FAA's Drone License Stalling
December 12, 2014
The FAA this week gave five licenses to four companies for UAS operations -- that is, flying drones. The drones will be used in aerial surveying, construction site monitoring, and inspecting oil rig flare stacks. The news led Amazon to launch a media blitz about its attempts to get a license and to renew threats to take more of its drone testing outside of the U.S.
No News Is Google Spain News
December 11, 2014
Google on Thursday said it will close Google News in Spain, as of Dec. 16. That's in reaction to a new law that will take effect in Spain in January. The law requires all Spanish publications to charge content aggregators for publishing any part of their content. Spain's new law is "a perverse policy," said Ronald Gruia, director of emerging telecoms at Frost & Sullivan.
Plundered Pirate Bay May Be Back in Business
December 11, 2014
The Pirate Bay, which was closed down following a raid by Swedish police on Tuesday, appears to have found safe haven on a Costa Rican domain. The site, which gained notoriety for hosting pirated movies and music files, has been raided repeatedly by the Swedish police. Its founders have been arrested and convicted of copyright infringement, and two are currently behind bars.
Samsung, Apple Kick Off Round Eleventy in Patent Fight
December 10, 2014
Apple and Samsung last week squared off again in court over their long-running patent dispute. The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit heard Samsung's appeal of the $930 million in damages a district court awarded to Apple for patent infringement, following a trial in 2012 and a retrial in 2013. "Samsung never wanted this fight," said Fosspatents' Florian Mueller.
NSA's Auroragold Mining Operation
December 10, 2014
The United States National Security Agency, which is known for monitoring landline, Web and cellphone communications worldwide, reportedly also targets wireless carriers. Documents released by whistle-blower Edward Snowden show the NSA has monitored more than 1,200 email accounts associated with major cellphone network operators worldwide since 2010.
No One Has Privacy Now, Thanks to Super Cookies
December 10, 2014
Does anyone really think that we have any privacy? Probably not. Between GPS tracking and our favorite app, most of us gave up on privacy long ago. Some privacy advocates claim that cell carriers have not been transparent about what personal data they have been gathering and using, although we now know that in order to use a cellular device, we must agree to give it away.
Google Sets Its Sights on the Under-12 Set
December 08, 2014
Google soon will begin targeting kids 12 and under with tailored versions of its products, likely including its search functionality, along with offerings such as YouTube and Chrome. The company is pushing to change make its products fun and safe for children, Pavni Diwanji, Google vice president of engineering, said last week. The new initiative reportedly will begin next year.
Apple Accused of Secretly Snuffing Non-iTunes Music Purchases
December 04, 2014
Apple for two years surreptitiously removed from iPods any music not purchased at its iTunes store, prosecutors charged Wednesday in federal court. The accusations surfaced during the trial of a 10-year-old class-action lawsuit claiming Apple violated federal and state laws when it issued iPod software updates that prevented the devices from playing songs not purchased on iTunes.
Everything's Coming Up Broadband
December 04, 2014
Comcast and AT&T. Broadband started as a service for people to surf the Web. Generally, it was a separate service offered by the telephone and cable television companies. However, things are changing and growing. The changes that are occurring in the industry are groundshaking, but they don't get as much attention as they should. Understanding these changes is important.
Apple Fights Yesteryear's iTunes DRM War
December 03, 2014
Apple this week clomped into court to continue fighting a nearly 10-year-old class-action suit stemming from its use of digital rights management technology in iPods. The suit originally was brought in 2005. Both sides' lawyers have filed dozens of trial documents in several hearings. The courts have dismissed some of the items in the original complaint, but have refused to dismiss the case.
High Court Hears Arguments in Facebook Threat Case
December 02, 2014
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday heard arguments in "the Facebook threat case," which centers on a number of threats posted in the form of rap lyrics to a Facebook page created by Anthony Elonis. The targets of the threats were his estranged wife and an FBI agent. Elonis was convicted on four of five counts of making threatening statements in violation of federal law.
Journalist-Tracking Uber Exec Gets Vague Hand Slap
December 02, 2014
Uber has disciplined a company executive accused of using an internal tool to track a journalist's whereabouts, it said. The company offered no details about the nature of that reprimand, however, or about the possibility of taking similar action against another executive who publicly suggested the possibility of targeting journalists with a smear campaign.
The Madness of the ITC, Part 2: Is Its Reach Exceeding Its Grasp?
December 02, 2014
The U.S. Trade International Trade Commission has broad investigative powers on matters of trade, gathering and analyzing trade data, and providing it to the White House and Congress to help formulate U.S. international trade policies. Its statutory authority is based on legislation that is 20 or more years old, and consequently does not address issues in the digital age.
Intel Gives Google Glass a Big Break
December 01, 2014
Google reportedly has teamed up with Intel to target the corporate market with its Glass eyewear, and it will use an Intel processor in the next iteration of the device instead of the Texas Instruments chip it now uses. The partnership makes sense, given that Glass has failed to make much headway in the consumer market. "It's a major coup for Google to get Intel," said tech analyst Ronald Gruia.

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