The Electronic Frontier Foundation recaps two court cases pending in the U.S. which will decide whether you're allowed to re-sell the things you purchase. The first case deals with items bought in other countries for resale in the U.S., such as textbooks. An unfavorable decision there would mean "anything that is made in a foreign country and contains copies of copyrighted material – from the textbooks at issue in the Kirtsaeng case to shampoo bottles with copyrighted labels – could be blocked from resale, lending, or gifting without the permission of the copyright owner. That would create a nightmare for consumers and businesses, upending used goods markets and undermining what it really means to 'buy' and 'own' physical goods. The ruling also creates a perverse incentive for U.S. businesses to move their manufacturing operations abroad. It is difficult for us to imagine this is the outcome Congress intended." The second case is about whether music purchased on services like iTunes can be resold to other people. "Not only does big content deny that first sale doctrine applies to digital goods, but they are also trying to undermine the first sale rights we do have by forcing users to license items they would rather buy. The copyright industry wants you to "license" all your music, your movies, your games — and lose your rights to sell them or modify them as you see fit."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
An article at The H makes the case that many open source foundations have successfully proven their worth and withstood the test of time as legitimate entities. This leads to the question: where do they go from here? The author suggests an umbrella foundation to provide consistent direction across many projects. Quoting; "As you might expect, the main aim of most foundations is to promote their own particular project and its associated programs. For the putative [Open Source Foundation Foundation], that would generalise into promoting open source foundations as a way of supporting open source activity. In practical terms, that might translate into establishing best practice, codifying what needs to be done in order to create an open source foundation in different jurisdictions with their differing legal requirements. That would make it far easier for smaller projects – such as Krita – to draw on that body of knowledge once they have decided to take this route. It might also encourage yet more projects to do the same, encouraged by the existence of support mechanisms that will help them to navigate safely the legal requirements, and to minimise costs by drawing on the experience of others. After all, this is precisely the way open source works, and what makes it so efficient: it tries to avoid re-inventing the wheel by sharing pre-existing solutions to problems or sub-problems."
Amazon and Google, both giants in the online business world, started out as separate entities with two very different agendas. As each has grown into an empire, the overlapping areas of business between the two companies has grown as well. But with both companies moving strongly into the electronic device market, cloud services, and Amazon now building out its advertising network, they find themselves increasingly at odds, and 2013 may bring more direct battles."Amazon wants to be the one place where you buy everything. Google wants to be the one place where you find everything, of which buying things is a subset. So when you marry those facts I think you're going to see a natural collision," said VC partner Chi-hua Chien. Adds Reuters, "Not long after Bezos learned of Google's catalog plans, Amazon began scanning books and providing searchable digital excerpts. Its Kindle e-reader, launched a few years later, owes much of its inspiration to the catalog news, the executive said. Now, Amazon is pushing its online ad efforts, threatening to siphon revenue and users from Google's main search website."
badger.foo writes "When you're hit with a DDOS, what do you do? In his most recent column, Peter Hansteen narrates a recent incident that involved a DNS based DDOS against his infrastructure and that of some old friends of his. He ends up asking: should we actively publish or 'name and shame' DDOS participants (or at least their IP addresses)? How about scans that may or may not be preparations for DDOSes to come?"
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from a UC Berkeley news release: "Our eyes may be our window to the world, but how do we make sense of the thousands of images that flood our retinas each day? Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have found that the brain is wired to put in order all the categories of objects and actions that we see. They have created the first interactive map of how the brain organizes these groupings."
One day Rob 'samzenpus' Rozeboom was happily working away at Slashdot HQ, then in Holland, MI, when a gentleman came though the door with a plan to make millions of dollars by reverse-engineering Rob Malda. There was a certain Underpants Gnome Step 2: '????' bizzareness to the idea, but he offered him a car just for a chance to meet Rob Malda, an offer Rozeboom could (and did) refuse. But that is just one of the many reader comments and requests he has dealt with in his years at Slashdot. Most of them come in by email, and we've included a few of the weirder ones in the video for your chuckling pleasure.
A recent paper in Science (abstract) examines the insurance industry's reaction to climate change. The industry rakes in trillions of dollars in revenues every year, and a shifting climate would have the potential to drastically cut into the profits left over after settlements have been paid. Hurricane Sandy alone did about $80 billion worth of damage to New York and New Jersey. With incredible amounts of money at stake, the industry is taking climate projections quite seriously. From the article: "Many insurers are using climate science to better quantify and diversify their exposure, more accurately price and communicate risk, and target adaptation and loss-prevention efforts. They also analyze their extensive databases of historical weather- and climate-related losses, for both large- and small-scale events. But insurance modeling is a distinct discipline. Unlike climate models, insurers’ models extrapolate historical data rather than simulate the climate system, and they require outputs at finer scales and shorter time frames than climate models."
At John Scalzi's blog, astronomer and science fiction author Diane Turnshek writes about spending the holidays at the Mars Desert Research Station, a place in Utah where The Mars Society is running test missions to figure out proper procedures for living in a habitat on Mars. She says, "In sim, we eat rehydrated/dehydrated food, have a 20-minute lag time for communication, spend time in airlocks before going out on the surface and conserve water (Navy showers every three days). A row of parked ATVs out in front awaits us for our more distant EVAs. We have to be careful–the nearest hospital is forty miles away on back roads and there’s no cell service here on Mars. Reports are sent via email to Mission Support every evening in which we have to clearly explain any technical or medical problems and they respond in kind. I’ve been working in the Musk Observatory, taking CCD photometry of eclipsing binary stars." You can also read the mission's daily crew reports and browse through their photostream.
hypnosec writes "BLAKE2 has been recently announced as a new alternative to the existing cryptographic hash algorithms MD5 and SHA-2/3. With applicability in cloud storage, software distribution, host-based intrusion detection, digital forensics and revision control tools, BLAKE2 performs a lot faster than the MD5 algorithm on Intel 32- and 64-bit systems. The developers of BLAKE2 insist that even though the algorithm is faster, there are no loose ends when it comes to security. BLAKE2 is an optimized version of the then SHA-3 finalist BLAKE."
jones_supa writes "Steam users worldwide are getting more than they expected this Christmas, courtesy of Valve. Increasingly annoyed reports are piling up on a Steam Community thread about an ominous 'No Connection' error. Depending on your luck, this means you can either start the client in offline mode and play only single-player games with anything related to the Steamworks cloud features disabled, or you cannot start Steam at all and consequently access anything in your library. However, store related functionality seems unaffected, in case this blunder made you feel like purchasing some more games you may or may not be able to play these holidays." Update: 12/25 17:45 GMT by T : The connection problems were fixed; did you hit the loading errors before they were resolved?
An anonymous reader writes "My kid seems incredibly interested in my Android tablet, but I'm not too comfortable with letting her play with my browser. I've been hunting the app store for apps that I could let my kid play around with, but haven't found much. It seems like most apps are targeted for slightly older kids and are trying to teach them words, math or whatnot. Has anyone found any cool apps for approximately 6-month-old children? I'm mostly looking for something that makes funny noises or where you just have to e.g. track moving objects on the screen."
New submitter Isaac-1 writes "First it was the sex offenders being mapped using public records, now it seems to be gun owners — I wonder who will be next? It seems a newspaper in New York has published an interactive map with the names and addresses of people with [handguns]." It's happened before: In 2007, Virginia's Roanoke Times raised the ire of many gun owners by publishing a database of Virginia's gun permit holders that it assembled based on public records inquiries. (The paper later withdrew that database.) Similarly, WRAL-TV in North Carolina published a database earlier this year with searchable map of (partially redacted) information about permit holders in that state, and Philadelphia made the news for a similar disclosure — complete with interactive map and addresses — of hundreds of gun permit applicants and holders.
New submitter Alex Belits writes "Users of the Instagram image sharing service owned by Facebook filed a class action against Facebook for the recent change in Terms of Service." The changes that were supposed to take effect on January 16, 2013 declared for Facebook an unlimited right to use and license users' photos, added an arbitration requirement for legal disputes, and more. Guess the lawyers involved here weren't impressed enough by Facebook's hasty back-pedaling on this front; the company did explicitly disclaim ownership interest in the uploaded photos after a wave of complaints, but left in place certain other clauses in the new terms.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "About 80 percent of the gasoline consumed in the U.S. is blended with ethanol, primarily with a 10 percent mix of ethanol, generally derived from corn. Now Kate Sheppard writes that the Environmental Protection Agency has approved a new policy that will allow states to raise the blend to up to 15 percent ethanol (also known as E15), approved for use for cars and light trucks from the model year 2001 and later. A few weeks ago, AAA issued a statement saying that the EPA's new policy creates the 'strong likelihood of consumer confusion and the potential for voided warranties and vehicle damage.' AAA surveyed vehicle manufacturers, and found that only about 12 million of the 240 million vehicles on the roads today are built to use E15 gasoline. The EPA will require that gas pumps with E15 bear a warning sign noting the blend and that it is not recommended for cars older than the 2001 model year. But what happens if you accidentally use it? 'Nobody really knows what negative effects [E15 is] going to have on the vehicle,' says Brian Lyons, Toyota's safety and quality communications manager. 'We think that there needs to be a lot more study conducted to make sure there are no longer term effects on the vehicle. So far everything we've seen says there will be.' The concern is that repeated, long-term exposure could cause the higher-alcohol-content fuel to degrade engine parts like valves and cylinder heads — which could potentially cost thousands of dollars to replace. Gas station owners don't like it very much either, because they'd likely have to upgrade their equipment to use it. Nor are environmental groups big fans of the EPA's decision, arguing that increasing the use of ethanol can drive up food prices, and isn't the best means of reducing our reliance on foreign fuels. The ethanol lobby is the only group that really seems to like the new rule. 'We've force fed a fuel into every American's car that benefits a few thousand corn farmers and ethanol refiners at the expense of virtually every other American,' says Scott Faber."
retroworks writes "In August 2011, Acer Chairman JT Wang declared that the consumer affection for tablets had already begun to cool, basically labeling it a fad. What a difference a year (and a half) makes. Acer now plans to introduce a 'category killer' $99 tablet. 'In the past few months, we've made project roadmap changes in response to big changes in the tablet market,' according to a source at the Wall Street Journal. 'The launch of the Nexus 10 has changed the outlook for what makes competitive pricing.' Acer is aiming the new tablet at emerging markets, competing with Chinese 'white box' tablets (already available in Shenzhen at $45 each)."