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Aug 17, 2000

Bangkok Post Aug 17, 2000 - Armed roboguard world's first
Misc.8/17/2000; 12:50:55 PM 'The world's first armed robot security guard that can open fire on intruders while controlled through the Internet was unveiled in Bangkok yesterday.''"The robot is equipped with a camera and sensors that track movement and heat. It is armed with a pistol that can be programmed to shoot automatically or wait for a fire order delivered with a password from anywhere through the Internet," [Asst Prof Pitikhet Suraksa] said.'Boy, it'd be fun to hack one of these... I'm not sure you want to put digital firearms on the chaos that is the 'net... hmmm... there's no QBullet "evil smiley"...


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Aug 16, 2000

Appeals Decision in USTA vs. FCC (CALEA)
Surveillance and Privacy from Government
8/16/2000; 1:20:03 PM 'Electronic Privacy Information Center announces the DC Circuit Decision in USTA v. FCC (CALEA). The U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit has ruled that law enforcement agencies must meet the highest legal standard before using new surveillance capabilities. The court decision came in a legal challenge filed by EPIC, other privacy groups and the telecommunications industry to invalidate technical surveillance standards issued by the Federal Communications Commission last year. More details at: CDT Policy Post Volume 6. The court's decision is available."'


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Aug 15, 2000

Napster’s backers under attack
Programmer's Rights8/15/2000; 3:48:15 PM 'THE legal juggernaut set in motion by the recording industry to rid itself of Napster is threatening to take with it more than just the upstart firm whose software enables music fans to share each other’s CD collections free on the Internet. If, as seems likely following a hostile ruling a fortnight ago, Napster is fined for music piracy, the way could be open for action against both its investors and the developers of any software that might be used to undermine copyright. 'For now, the ruling that Napster must immediately remove all copyrighted material from its site (in effect closing the service down) is stayed until the case reaches the appeal court, from where it will almost certainly move to the Supreme Court. If, as expected, things go badly for Napster in the higher courts, litigious music and film companies will most likely turn their sights on the venture-capital firm that backed Napster, Hummer Winblad, and the programmers who made Napster possible.'Big problems! This could restrain freedom every bit as much as patents do, and extend it out to investors, who need to worry about the legal liability the investments could open them up to.


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Aug 15, 2000

Toysrus.com stops using Coremetrics
Privacy from Companies
8/15/2000; 9:46:42 AM '"For a short period of time, we had a trial arrangement with a service called Coremetrics to assist us in evaluating information about how visitors use our site," Toysrus.com's policy read. "This trial arrangement is no longer in effect."'

I think I understand thier point of view (if they are telling the truth)... "It was only a trial, why should we notify customers of something temporary that we may not even go with?" The answer is, of course, that a site like Toysrus.com can collect more data in an hour then I could collect from this site in a year; what looks like a trial arrangement can still collect a lot of data very quickly, without customer's knowlege. It's a perspective thing.


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Aug 15, 2000

Writers sue Web publishers, demanding back royalties
General IP Issues8/15/2000; 9:39:26 AM 'Database operators frequently pay publishers for access to articles and books and charge customers to download them from thousands of publications, but they typically pay the writers nothing. That violates U.S. copyright law, according to the San Francisco suit, because the authors contend that they never signed their rights away and still own their work.'...'The difference between Napster and the database defendants involves more pronounced financial considerations. “Napster isn’t earning any money for what they’re doing,” Mr. Fergus says. “These people are selling” the files they have amassed.'On a very related topic, consider the Slashdot story "95 (thousand) Thesis For Sale".'Have you completed a Masters or PhD thesis in the last eight or so years? If so, it is probably for sale at http://www.contentville.com, a for-profit company which I understand I partially owned by NBC and Time. Mine is there and I never gave them permission to sell it. As far as I know, I am the sole owner of the copyright on my thesis. Even my ex-supervisor had to ask permission (he did) before he could make it available on a web site (for free, by the way).'Good stuff there too, but I would definately recommend reading the high-scored comments; not everything is as it appears.


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