Sunday, April 30, 2017

'Just Show Up': Sheryl Sandberg On How To Help Someone Who's Grieving; NPR, April 25, 2017

Ari Shapiro, NPR; 

'Just Show Up': Sheryl Sandberg On How To Help Someone Who's Grieving

"On the best way to be there [sic] someone who's going through a hard time

I used to say, when someone was going through something hard, "Is there anything I can do?" And I meant it, I meant it kindly. But the problem is ... that kind of shifts the burden to the person you're offering the help to to figure out what they need. And when I was on the other side of that question, I didn't know how to answer it. Is there anything you can do? Well, can you make Father's Day go away so I don't have to live through it every year? No.

Rather than offer to do something, it's often better to do anything. Just do something specific. My wonderful friends ... tragically lost a son and they spent many months in a hospital before that. And one of his friends texted him and said, "What do you not want on a burger?" Not, "Do you want dinner?" Another friend texted and said, "I'm in the lobby of your hospital for an hour for a hug whether you come down or not." Just show up.

Now, there's no one way to grieve and not everyone will want the same thing. So the best approach is really ask people. Say, "I know you're going through something terrible. I'm coming over with dinner tonight. Is that OK?""

The Chainsmokers' 'Don't Let Me Down' Turns Tearjerker in New State Farm Commercial: Watch; Billboard, March 14, 2017

Kat Bein, Billboard; 

The Chainsmokers' 'Don't Let Me Down' Turns Tearjerker in New State Farm Commercial: Watch

[Kip Currier: Usually, I assiduously avoid watching ads. (No ads are marketed on my blogs either.) But the first 2-3 seconds of this ad grabbed my attention and snared me (darn you--cute little scruffy white dog!).

A very effective mix of imagery and music to deliver State Farm's message about "doing some good".]

"If you thought that Humane Society commercial with the Sarah Mclachlan song was tough, wait 'til you get a load of this new State Farm commercial.

The Chainsmokers' hit “Don't Let Me Down” gets the ultra-ballad treatment as a musical means to motivate you to do some good. State Farm captures that guilty feeling we all get throughout the day as we're constantly and rightly reminded how hard life is for others. We could all do more to help our veterans, our troubled youth, our elderly, our homeless, even the neglected animals of the world.

You may often say to yourself, “I don't have the cash to spare to charity right now,” but what's even better to give is time. State Farm wants to make donating your time easier than ever. Just head over to, enter your zip code, and see what organizations can benefit from your energies whenever works for your schedule."

Asian-American Rock Band Denied Trademark For ‘Disparaging’ Name;, April 27, 2017

Julie Grant,; 

Asian-American Rock Band Denied Trademark For ‘Disparaging’ Name

"The government’s position is that the trademark registration program and trademarks generally have not historically served as vehicles for expression; they are meant to identify the source. The law is set forth in the Lanham Act which states that registration can be refused if a trademark is disparaging. Dr. Rooksby believes the provision is too arbitrary and will be invalidated by the court.

According to Rooksby, “I think Simon Tam should win the case. They’ve made a compelling argument that this provision of the trademark law is unconstitutional and this is because it’s too arbitrary. How do you apply it? What is something that’s disparaging?”

While the court weighs the arguments, the band has released an EP titled “The Band Who Must Not Be Named.” A decision is expected by the end of June."

F.C.C. Invokes Internet Freedom While Trying to Kill It; New York Times, April 29, 2017

Editorial Board, New York Times; 

F.C.C. Invokes Internet Freedom While Trying to Kill It

"Under Mr. Pai’s proposal, broadband companies would probably use their gatekeeping position to give themselves a leg up. AT&T, for example, already encourages people to buy the streaming video service of its DirecTV subsidiary by allowing customers to watch it on AT&T’s wireless network without incurring data charges. Verizon and Comcast have similar practices. Over time, such corporate policies will make it harder for smaller companies to compete with the telecom giants.

Big internet businesses like Amazon, Facebook, Google and Netflix will probably be fine under Mr. Pai’s plans, because they are well established and have the money to cut special deals with broadband companies.

Smaller firms and start-ups — some of which may never get started — will not be as lucky.

Ultimately, though, the real losers will be all Americans, because there will be fewer choices and less innovation."

World copyright day: NCC seizes N600m pirated books; The Guardian, April 30, 2017

Sam Oluwalana, The Guardian; 

World copyright day: NCC seizes N600m pirated books

"The Lagos State operatives of the Nigerian Copyright Council (NCC) recently impounded pirated books valued at about N600m. National President of the Nigerian Publishers Association (NPA), Mr. Adedayo Gbadega, disclosed this at a conference organised by the association in Ibadan, Oyo State, to commemorate the World Books, and Copyright Day.
With theme, “Collaborative Efforts At Curbing The Menace Of Book Privacy [sic] In Nigeria,” the event served as platform for major stakeholders in the industry to air their views on copyright and piracy in the country.
According to Gbadega, books and other intellectual materials have suffered a lot from the hands of pirates and this has caused a lot of conflict between publishers and actors, who see their books all over the place, but have nothing in term of financial rewards to show for it."

Episode 76: X-Men – “The Dream”; ComicsVerse, June 10, 2016

Justin Gilbert Alba, ComicsVerse; 

Episode 76: X-Men – “The Dream”

"Joined by my friend, ComicsVerse X-Men writer and podcast co-host Marius Thienenkamp, Episode 76 of the ComicsVerse Podcast, “X-Men: The Dream,” explored the significance of the metaphor of the X-Men both in and outside of comics through discussions of race, sexuality, inequality, and “othering” in western civilization.  Podcast panelists Jamie Rice, Kay Honda, Nolan Bensen, and Corey Spanner weighed in on parallels between historical activists like Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Gandhi which lead to conversations about dominant cultural hierarchies and the nature of humanity itself.

X-Men comics and characters are rife with meaning and serve as a mirror of how society treats anyone who is, and feels, different and how those same people cope in a world that hates and fears them. The concept of the X-Men served as a perfect platform during this podcast to embark on an analysis of American culture as a microcosm of human nature and what it ultimately means to be American."

Donald Trump’s One Awful Accomplishment; New York Times, April 29, 2017

Frank Bruni, New York Times; Donald Trump’s One Awful Accomplishment

"The other presidents in my lifetime have at least done a pantomime of the qualities that we try to instill in children: humility, honesty, magnanimity, generosity. Even Richard Nixon took his stabs at these. Trump makes a proud and almost ceaseless mockery of them.

And while I worry plenty that he’ll achieve some of his most ill-conceived policy goals, I’m just as fearful that he has already succeeded in changing forever the expected demeanor of someone in public office.

All around me people shrug and yawn at his latest petulant tirade, his newest baseless tweet, his freshest assertion that the numbers that the rest of us see are just optical illusions and he really did win the popular vote. Even outrage grows boring, and it begins to feel pointless: His obnoxiousness isn’t going to get him impeached.

Besides, the mendacity, the grandiosity: That’s just Trump being Trump. It’s old news by now. Many readers will get this far in this column and wonder why I and other naysayers don’t just let it go and cut him a break. As if we’re stuck on piddling things and his bearing is nothing more than peculiar.

But when something no longer provokes remark, it becomes unremarkable, and the road from there to acceptable is a short one."

The Handmaid’s Tale series premiere recap: ‘Offred’; Entertainment Weekly, April 26, 2017

Jessica Derschowitz, Entertainment Weekly; The Handmaid’s Tale series premiere recap: ‘Offred’

[Spoilers for Episode 1]

"When another student, Janine, talks back, Lydia (Ann Dowd) shocks her with a cattle prod and has her taken away, before offering a line straight from Atwood’s novel, which I’d say is the scariest quote of the entire episode:

“I know this must feel very strange. But ordinary is just what you’re used to. This may not seem ordinary to you right now, but after a time it will. This will become ordinary.”"

Thursday, April 27, 2017

'It's a lot bigger than the band': The Slants challenge ruling rejecting trademark for their name; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 27, 2017

Paula Reed Ward, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; 

'It's a lot bigger than the band': The Slants challenge ruling rejecting trademark for their name

[Kip Currier: Fascinating panel discussing Lee v. Tam case and broader issues of trademark law and free speech. The Slants performed after the panel. I spoke with the defendant, Simon Tam, who was a member of the panel and did a masterful job using "story" to make his points, and he insisted that the rest of the band sign the band poster I bought.]

"“I should be able to say what I want to say that my community doesn’t find offensive,” Mr. Tam said. “At the end of the day, it’s a lot bigger than the band.”

On Thursday, Mr. Tam and his bandmates — he describes their music as 80s-inspired synth pop — spoke at a panel discussion at Duquesne University before an evening performance. It’s part of a six-week tour that has hit clubs, law schools, intellectual property workshops and anime conferences.

The tour is to raise awareness of the ongoing court case, Lee v. Tam. In it, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office appealed a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which found in Mr. Tam’s favor in December 2015.

Mr. Tam’s original trademark application, made in 2009, was rejected because it was found to violate the Lanham Act, which prohibits a trademark if it “consists of matter which may disparage persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.”"

April 27, 2017 Panel: A Name Worth Fighting For? The Slants, Trademark Law, and Free Expression; Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

[Kip Currier: Looking forward to attending this panel--addressing very interesting IP and free speech issues--and hearing the band play afterwards]

A Name Worth Fighting For? The Slants, Trademark Law, and Free Expression

Event Date: 
Thursday, April 27, 2017 - 4:30pm to 7:00pm

Event Location:

Event Audience:

$60 or $50 for CLE Program, Reception, and Music

Continuing Legal Education

A Name Worth Fighting For? The Slants, Trademark Law, and Free Expression 

Join Duquesne Law, the Pittsburgh Intellectual Property Association, and the Federal Bar Association’s Pittsburgh chapter for a special program about the rock band that is the subject of a current U.S. Supreme Court case. 
The continuing legal education (CLE) course focuses The Slants, an Asian-American musical group whose trademark application was denied for its use of a term deemed derogatory, and the case Lee v. Tam
The program features Simon Tam, the band’s founder and bassist, Hon. Cathy Bissoon of U.S. District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania, and Christine Haight Farley, a law professor from American University. Associate Dean Jacob H Rooksby, an intellectual property professor at Duquesne, will moderate a discussion about trademark law, including whether the band’s choice to claim the name should be protected by the First Amendment.
The CLE will review Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act of 1946, which the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office used to deny the band’s trademark application; the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s decision reversing the trademark office’s determination; and freedom of expression issues. 
The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument on Lee v. Tam in January. The ongoing legal battle has been covered by the New York TimesNPR, and other media outlets. This CLE will offer insight into the fight by the band’s founder as well as an opportunity to hear the group’s music. A 45-minute concert and light reception will follow the CLE program.
4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m. CLE
6:15 p.m. – 7 p.m. Concert 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Chechnya’s Crackdown on Gays; New York Times, April 24, 2017

Editorial Board, New York Times; 

Chechnya’s Crackdown on Gays

[Kip Currier: I was recently thumbing through a file folder of comic strips and Op-Eds I've bookmarked over the years and came across this one by the brilliant political cartoonist Rob Rogers, featured frequently in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The cartoon is from 2007 but is eerily timely, and reminiscent of recent statements by Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov and his administration, denying the very existence of gays, while euphemistically threatening "such people" with death. Frank Bruni's Food, Sex and Silence trenchantly points out "how often oppression is an act of omission rather than commission". Chilling first-hand reports from Chechen gay men and human rights groups show how oppression is also waged through both strategies.] 

[The Guardian, April 21, 2017] "Previously, Kadyrov’s spokesman Alvi Karimov denied the reports of the purge, saying there were no gay people in Chechnya. “If there were such people in Chechnya, law enforcement agencies wouldn’t need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning,” he said."

[The New York Times Editorial Board, April 24, 2017] 
"The crimes in Chechnya have presented the Trump administration with its first major test on this issue on the international stage. Last Monday, Nikki Haley, the American ambassador to the United Nations, issued a strong statement calling for a prompt investigation and accountability for the culprits.

“We are against all forms of discrimination, including against people based on sexual orientation,” Ms. Haley said. “When left unchecked, discrimination and human rights abuses can lead to destabilization and conflict.”

It would be encouraging to see Ms. Haley take on this cause with as much passion and perseverance as her predecessor, Samantha Power. Without American leadership, forging a global consensus that gay rights are human rights will take longer. Time is not on the side of gay people living in terror in places like Chechnya."

Monday, April 24, 2017 head 'heartbroken' that users found out it sells their inbox data; Guardian, April 24, 2017

Alex Hern, Guardian; head 'heartbroken' that users found out it sells their inbox data

"Following the story,’s CEO and co-founder Jojo Hedaya wrote a corporate blogpost in which he expressed contrition. But while he said it was “heartbreaking”, he was not talking about the sale of customer data: instead, he said he felt bad “to see that some of our users were upset to learn about how we monetise our free service”.

He added: “the reality is most of us – myself included – don’t take the time to thoroughly review” terms of service agreements or privacy policies."

‘Remix’ or plagiarism? Artists battle over a Chicago mural of Michelle Obama.; Washington Post, April 24, 2017

Derek Hawkins, Washington Post; ‘Remix’ or plagiarism? Artists battle over a Chicago mural of Michelle Obama.

"Devins’s mural had only been up for a matter of hours when word got back to Mesfin. She objected to the use of her work without permission in a widely circulated Instagram post that triggered a wave of outrage online, saying she felt like Devins stole her piece.

“I was very disheartened when he did that,” Mesfin told The Washington Post. “There’s a common code among all artists that you can get inspired by someone’s work but you have to pay homage and you have to give credit for it.”...

Devins said he never intended to take credit for Mesfin’s creation, which itself was based off a portrait in the New York Times by photographer Collier Schorr. Mesfin credited Schorr’s work on her Instagram post...

Devins said he came across Mesfin’s drawing on the sharing site Pinterest and was unable to track down the artist. He explained his decision to use the image without permission in an analogy, saying he was creating a “remix” of a piece of art in the way that a DJ remixes songs."

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Food, Sex and Silence; New York Times, April 22, 2017

Frank Bruni, New York Times; 

Food, Sex and Silence

"The discrepancy between accounts of Beard up until his death and posthumous assessments like “America’s First Foodie” remind me of how often oppression is an act of omission rather than commission: not letting people give voice and vent to much of what moves them and to all of what defines them; not recognizing and honoring that ourselves.

I’m struck, too, by the nature of lies. They’re not just statements. They’re silences that fail to confront bad as well as beautiful things, often with grievous consequences.

[Ted] Allen thought about all the L.G.B.T. kids back then who were denied a role model. He thought about how the editing of Beard’s life shortchanged a minority group’s major contribution to American gastronomy. Claiborne, too, was in this minority, as the writer John Birdsall pointed out in a 2014 essay for the magazine Lucky Peach that was titled “America, Your Food Is So Gay.”

But Allen said that he thought in particular about all “the well-known people whose homosexuality was buried along with them,” and how that distorted and continues to distort our views of L.G.B.T. Americans."

O’Reilly, Ousted; New York Times, April 20, 2017

David Leonhardt, New York Times; 

O’Reilly, Ousted

"Rupert Murdoch tried to make his firing of Bill O’Reilly seem as if it were based on morality. In a letter to Fox News employees (obtained by CNN’s Brian Stelter), Murdoch wrote that “we want to underscore our consistent commitment to fostering a work environment built on the values of trust and respect.”

This claim is false, and Murdoch’s use of “consistent” is especially rich. O’Reilly’s pattern of harassing women has been clear for more than a decade. Megan Garber of The Atlantic has a useful review — incomplete, no doubt — of his behavior...

But if O’Reilly’s firing wasn’t based on morals, it is still a victory for morality. A man who spent years abusing people less wealthy and powerful than him has lost his large public stage, in a very public way. His legacy — like that of his old boss, Roger Ailes — will always involve his ugly abusiveness."

Alex Jones, You’re a Real Sicko; Daily Beast, April 23, 2017

Matt Lewis, Daily Beast;
Alex Jones, You’re a Real Sicko

"What is more, starting or spreading conspiracy theories—warning of false flags and ginning up the worries and fears of people who might already be struggling with reality—could result in horrific repercussions.

It’s one thing to sincerely believe the theories you spout out for public consumption (some people do), but it’s even worse to do it solely for fawning attention and a fat paycheck.

One particularly despicable example of this phenomenon occurred in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, when Jones advanced the theory that the shooting was a “false flag” hoax. Parents who had lost a child were already experiencing unimaginable pain, and Jones compounded that pain by spreading this false and emotionally damaging rumor...

Jones’s custody case seems to hinge on his mental stability. But if he’s perfectly sane, that means he is guilty of saying inexcusably careless things that could possibly get someone killed—and definitely break the heart of a grieving parent.

His lawyer’s defense boils down to this: He’s not crazy—just evil. Having shared a drink with him, I’m inclined to believe his attorney."

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Ex-CIA operative Valerie Plame talks nuclear, cyber threats at CMU; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 22, 2017

Courtney Linder, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Ex-CIA operative Valerie Plame talks nuclear, cyber threats at CMU

"Ms. Plame, who worked to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, referred to the Science and Security Board’s “Doomsday Clock” in her keynote speech at Carnegie Mellon University on Friday, prefacing a panel on inclusivity in STEM — or science, technology, engineering and math — for students and faculty.

In her hour-long discussion of nuclear threats and cybersecurity, Ms. Plame kept the conversation solutions-oriented, rather than dwelling on the high-profile “Plamegate” scandal that ended her espionage career."

VW Moves Beyond Criminal Case, but Not Without a Scolding; New York Times, April 21, 2017

Bill Vlasic, New York Times; 

VW Moves Beyond Criminal Case, but Not Without a Scolding

"The criminal case against Volkswagen for its decade-long scheme to cheat on diesel emissions tests ended Friday with a scolding, an apology and $4.3 billion in penalties.

The sentence, affirmed at a court hearing, had been recommended by federal prosecutors in January as part of a deal in which the German automaker agreed to plead guilty to three felony charges for illegally importing nearly 600,000 vehicles equipped with devices to circumvent emissions standards.

The conclusion of the criminal case, 19 months after the vast cheating operation was first revealed, was a milestone in Volkswagen’s recovery from a scandal that badly damaged its reputation and sales. This week it delivered an encouraging quarterly report, and the company has even been given permission to sell — with modifications — the diesel cars at the center of the case."

What happened when ‘Pizzagate’ came to my restaurant; Washington Post, April 20, 2017

James Alefantis, Washington Post; What happened when ‘Pizzagate’ came to my restaurant

"It started in October when WikiLeaks released Podesta’s hacked emails. Podesta and his brother, Tony, are Comet fans, and in these emails I was invited to cook for a Clinton fundraiser.

Anti-Clinton conspiracy theorists and online trolls congregating on Reddit and 4chan decided that the words “pizza” and “cheese” in these emails were code for pedophilia.

They ultimately pushed the lie that my pizza restaurant was being used to abduct children and commit heinous crimes.

These lies ricocheted from shadowy chat rooms to various social-media platforms, encouraged by fake news articles and deliberately amplified by provocateurs such as Alex Jones, who broadcast these smears to his audience of millions."

Torching the Modern-Day Library of Alexandria: "Somewhere at Google there is a database containing 25 million books and nobody is allowed to read them."; The Atlantic, April 20, 2017

James Somers, The Atlantic; Torching the Modern-Day Library of Alexandria: "Somewhere at Google there is a database containing 25 million books and nobody is allowed to read them."

"After the settlement failed, Clancy told me that at Google “there was just this air let out of the balloon.” Despite eventually winning Authors Guild v. Google, and having the courts declare that displaying snippets of copyrighted books was fair use, the company all but shut down its scanning operation.

It was strange to me, the idea that somewhere at Google there is a database containing 25-million books and nobody is allowed to read them. It’s like that scene at the end of the first Indiana Jones movie where they put the Ark of the Covenant back on a shelf somewhere, lost in the chaos of a vast warehouse. It’s there. The books are there. People have been trying to build a library like this for ages—to do so, they’ve said, would be to erect one of the great humanitarian artifacts of all time—and here we’ve done the work to make it real and we were about to give it to the world and now, instead, it’s 50 or 60 petabytes on disk, and the only people who can see it are half a dozen engineers on the project who happen to have access because they’re the ones responsible for locking it up."

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Bose headphones have been spying on customers, lawsuit claims; Washington Post, April 19, 2017

Hayley Tsukayama, Washington Post; Bose headphones have been spying on customers, lawsuit claims

"Wireless headphones are part of a growing category of connected devices, in which everyday products can hook up to the Internet and pass information from users to companies. Other smart device makers have been accused of sharing and selling information without users' consent...

“It’s increasingly important for companies to be upfront and honest about the data use policies” as more devices become smart, said John Verdi, vice president of policy at the Future of Privacy Forum. “This is a sign of the friction that is increasingly common when devices, like headphones, that were not previously connected or data-driven become increasingly data-driven.”

Zak's complaint alleges that Bose's actions violate Illinois state statutes prohibiting deceptive business practices, as well as laws against eavesdropping and wiretapping."

Ivanka Trump won Chinese trademarks the same day she dined with China's president; Associated Press via Los Angeles Times, April 19, 2017

Associated Press via Los Angeles Times; Ivanka Trump won Chinese trademarks the same day she dined with China's president

"On April 6, Ivanka Trump's company won provisional approval from the Chinese government for three new trademarks, giving it monopoly rights to sell Ivanka brand jewelry, bags and spa services in the world's second-largest economy. That night, the first daughter and her husband, Jared Kushner, sat next to the president of China and his wife for a steak and Dover sole dinner at Mar-a-Lago, her father’s Florida resort.

The scenario underscores how difficult it is for Trump, who has tried to distance herself from the brand that bears her name, to separate business from politics in her new position at the White House."

Trump’s ethical squalor is worse than you thought; Washington Post, April 19, 2017

Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post;

Trump’s ethical squalor is worse than you thought

"What is striking is the degree to which the Trump clan publicly flaunts its ethical laxity and disinterest in complying with norms that every other president and his family have managed to follow.

Whether it is abuse of the instruments of government power or disregard for financial propriety, Trump is setting a new low."

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Rude Doctors, Rude Nurses, Rude Patients; New York Times, April 10, 2017

Perri Klass, New York Times; 

Rude Doctors, Rude Nurses, Rude Patients

"Just how much rudeness is there in the hospital, and who bears the brunt of it?

A few weeks ago I wrote about a study that looked at what happens to medical teams when parents are rude to doctors. In these studies of simulated patient emergencies, doctors and nurses working in the neonatal intensive care unit were less effective in teamwork and communication, and in their diagnostic and technical skills, after an actor, playing a parent, made a rude remark about the quality of the hospital."

Rooney Rule legacy touches entirety of NFL and beyond; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 14, 2017

Brian Batko, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; 

Rooney Rule legacy touches entirety of NFL and beyond

[Kip Currier: Standing across the street from St. Paul's Cathedral in Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood today, the site of Dan Rooney's funeral, I overheard a news reporter filing a story behind me say "Dan Rooney said you can get just about anything done if you share the credit."] 

"Chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, a foundation promoting equality in coaching, scouting and front-office jobs for NFL teams, Mr. Wooten worked closely with Mr. Rooney to develop a league policy requiring teams to interview minority candidates. Eventually — and, as Mr. Wooten remembers, reluctantly — it would be named after an Irishman who grew up on the North Side.

“The thing about it is, he really didn’t want it to be called the Rooney Rule,” Mr. Wooten, 80, said over the phone from his Texas home on what he called a sorrowful evening for him and his organization. “I told him, ‘As much as I respect you, and will always do what you recommend, I don’t want to call it anything else but the Rooney Rule. Because you are the one that made it happen. You, and you alone, made it happen.’ ”

Undoubtedly, it was also the brainchild of people such as Mr. Wooten and the two attorneys he called on his victorious day in 2002 — Cyrus Mehri and the late Johnnie Cochran — but Mr. Rooney was the driving force behind it.

As Mr. Wooten sees it, no other NFL power broker would have been able to persuade the entirety of league ownership to vote in favor of the rule. But Mr. Rooney did, with alacrity, and now it’s viewed by many as a move that opened the gates for some of the sport’s finest coaches, including the Steelers’ Mike Tomlin."

Monday, April 17, 2017

What you’re really agreeing to when you accept your smart TV’s privacy policy; Washington Post, April 17, 2017

Hayley Tsukayama, Washington Post; What you’re really agreeing to when you accept your smart TV’s privacy policy

"Let's be honest here — most of us don’t read the privacy policies for smart televisions. And even if we try to, it’s often difficult to read them, particularly on a television screen. Some televisions even display the massive policies five lines at a time. Reaction to recent controversies involving Vizio and Samsung televisions, for example, have highlighted that while people understand that their televisions have microphones, cameras and tracking software, they don't fully understand how much of this information they've actually agreed to share with companies.

So we asked a few legal experts who specialize in privacy — Christopher Dore of the Chicago-based law firm Edelson, Danielle Citron of the University of Maryland, William McGeveran of the University of Minnesota and Bradley Shear of Maryland-based Shear Law — to explain what we're really getting into when we hit the “I agree” button."

‘Nobody’s got to use the Internet’: A GOP lawmaker’s response to concerns about Web privacy; Washington Post, April 15, 2017

Kristine Phillips, Washington Post; ‘Nobody’s got to use the Internet’: A GOP lawmaker’s response to concerns about Web privacy

"In response, Sensenbrenner, who voted to scrap the Federal Communications Commission’s privacy rules that were set to take effect at the end of this year, said:

“Nobody’s got to use the Internet. … And the thing is that if you start regulating the Internet like a utility, if we did that right at the beginning, we would have no Internet. … Internet companies have invested an awful lot of money in having almost universal service now. The fact is is that, you know, I don’t think it’s my job to tell you that you cannot get advertising for your information being sold. My job, I think, is to tell you that you have the opportunity to do it, and then you take it upon yourself to make that choice. … That’s what the law has been, and I think we ought to have more choices rather than fewer choices with the government controlling our everyday lives.”...
The Internet has become such a fixed part of people’s everyday lives, the United Nations considers access to it a human right. In 2016, the U.N. Human Rights Council passed a resolution declaring that denying someone the ability to access or disseminate information online is a human rights violation." 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Company sued EFF over “Stupid Patent of the Month;” EFF now flips the script; Ars Technica, April 13, 2017

Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica; 

Company sued EFF over “Stupid Patent of the Month;” EFF now flips the script

"The Electronic Frontier Foundation has sued an Australian company that it previously dubbed as a "classic patent troll" in a June 2016 blog post entitled: "Stupid Patent of the Month: Storage Cabinets on a Computer."
Last year, that company, Global Equity Management (SA) Pty. Ltd. (GEMSA), managed to get an Australian court to order EFF to remove its post—but EFF did not comply. In January 2017, Pasha Mehr, an attorney representing GEMSA, further demanded that the article be removed and that EFF pay $750,000. EFF still did not comply.
The new lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Francisco on Wednesday, asks that the American court declare the Australian ruling unenforceable in the US. Why? According to the EFF argument, the Australian ruling runs afoul of free speech protections granted under the United States Constitution—namely, that opinions are protected.
GEMSA attorneys have threatened to take this Australian court order to American search engine companies to deindex the blog post, making the post harder to find online."