The U.S. Government Relinquishes its Control of the Internet

As of October 1, an agreement with the Commerce Department expired and the “National Telecommunications and Information Administration no longer exercises control over the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which has long been the manager of Internet domain names,” reports Digital Trends. ICANN will now serve as an independent non-profit that will “answer to international stakeholders across the Internet community, including a governmental advisory committee, a technical committee, industry committee, Internet users, and telecommunications experts.” A lawsuit filed by four states to block the plan “failed when a Texas federal judge refused to issue an injunction,” notes Yahoo Tech. Continue reading The U.S. Government Relinquishes its Control of the Internet

Top Record Labels File Lawsuit Against YouTube Ripping Site

Sony, Universal, Warner Bros. and other record labels are taking legal action against the German operator of website YouTube-mp3.org, claiming that the industry is being robbed of revenue from streaming, downloads and advertising. BBC notes that the site provides an easy-to-use method of downloading audio from YouTube videos. The labels filed the suit in a federal court in Los Angeles, seeking damages including $150,000 per each alleged act of piracy. According to the labels, “tens, or even hundreds, of millions of tracks are illegally copied and distributed by stream-ripping services each month.” YouTube-mp3.org is described as the “chief offender,” with more than 60 million monthly users. Continue reading Top Record Labels File Lawsuit Against YouTube Ripping Site

Hackers Steal Data From Half a Billion Yahoo User Accounts

In what could mark the largest-ever theft of personal data, Yahoo has confirmed that more than 500 million of its user accounts were hacked in late 2014. The Internet company is pointing the blame at state-sponsored hackers who reportedly stole names, email addresses, birth dates, phone numbers and encrypted passwords after breaking into the Yahoo network. The company does not believe the hack impacted unprotected passwords or financial data such as payment card or bank account info. The breach was discovered after Yahoo began investigating a claim by hackers who were attempting to sell 280 million usernames and passwords. Continue reading Hackers Steal Data From Half a Billion Yahoo User Accounts

Tech, Media Firms Join Microsoft’s Suit Against Secrecy Laws

On Friday, Microsoft filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Justice Department, saying that part of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 is unconstitutional. The provision in question prevents Microsoft from letting customers know when their communications have been turned over to law enforcement, which Microsoft says violates the First and Fourth Amendments. Approximately 80 different companies — including Amazon, Google, Snapchat, and Salesforce — have signed briefs in support of Microsoft. Continue reading Tech, Media Firms Join Microsoft’s Suit Against Secrecy Laws

Pandora Readies Subscription-Based On-Demand Streaming

Pandora is expanding beyond its flagship free Internet radio, with two new monthly subscription options. According to sources, the company is near to inking deals with major record companies. Up until now, Pandora hasn’t needed to secure rights because listeners can’t get specific songs on demand, and the company has limited service in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, where music licensing is automatic in exchange for payments. The new tiers will debut first in the U.S. and then other English-speaking countries. Continue reading Pandora Readies Subscription-Based On-Demand Streaming

Jury Sides with Google in Oracle Copyright Case Over Software

Yesterday, a jury ruled in favor of Google in its dispute with Oracle over software used to power smartphones. Oracle was seeking $9 billion in its claim that Google used copyrighted material in its software code for the company’s Android mobile operating system. Android uses open-source Java, which Oracle acquired when it purchased Sun Microsystems in 2010. Google argued that it made fair use of the code. According to The New York Times, “The victory for Google cheered other software developers, who operate much the way Google did when it comes to so-called open-source software… The courtroom fight was something of a watershed for technology and could offer clarity on legal rules surrounding open-source technology.” Continue reading Jury Sides with Google in Oracle Copyright Case Over Software

Facebook’s Metrics Are Stellar, But Biometrics Spur Lawsuit

Facebook’s net income almost tripled to $1.5 billion and monthly active users hit a record 1.65 billion. But the metric that matters is that users spend an average of 50 minutes a day on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger platforms, up from 40 minutes in 2014. That’s the equivalent of one-sixteenth of most peoples’ waking time, and more time than on any other leisure activity than anything but TV and movies. Facebook, of course, would like people to spend even longer on its sites and that’s behind its latest improvements to News Feed. However, the company is also facing a lawsuit regarding its photo tagging feature and biometric data. Continue reading Facebook’s Metrics Are Stellar, But Biometrics Spur Lawsuit

Seattle’s United Vote Greenlights Uber and Lyft Driver Unions

The Seattle City Council voted 9-0 to approve a bill allowing Uber and Lyft drivers to unionize. The city’s mayor, Ed Murray, who supports the workers’ right to organize, won’t sign due to his concerns about the unknown costs of administering the collective bargaining process. Even without his signature, it will become law, the first victory for the App-Based Drivers Association (ABDA) of Seattle, the organization of on-demand contract workers who joined with the local Teamsters union to lobby for the legislation. Continue reading Seattle’s United Vote Greenlights Uber and Lyft Driver Unions

Ruling on YouTube Viral Videos Parses Fair Use Versus Theft

The line between “fair use” in copyright law and outright theft has often been unclear, but a recent U.S. District Court ruling drew the line on a case involving Equals Three Studios and viral-video aggregator Jukin Media. Jukin accused Equals Three of illegally taking dozens of clips for use in its own YouTube show. Equals Three sued Jukin, saying its actions were protected by fair use, and that Jukin’s takedown deprived it of ad revenue. The Court’s ruling sides with Equals Three on all but one of the videos under consideration. Continue reading Ruling on YouTube Viral Videos Parses Fair Use Versus Theft

Amazon Enters the Gig Economy with “Flex” Delivery Service

E-commerce giant Amazon launched a new delivery system this week called Amazon Flex. The Uber-like model offers individuals with their own vehicles and an Android smartphone the opportunity to deliver packages for $18-25 per hour. Drivers have the option of two-, four- or eight-hour shifts. In addition to a car and an Android phone for managing deliveries with the Flex app, drivers must be over 21 and pass a background check. The new system, initially rumored back in June, works with Amazon’s Prime Now service, which offers members one- and two-hour delivery on items. Continue reading Amazon Enters the Gig Economy with “Flex” Delivery Service

Apple Takes the Latest Round in Patent Battle with Samsung

Apple has won the latest legal battle in a back-and-forth case that began in 2014 when a jury trial in San Jose awarded the company more than $119 million in damages for infringement by Samsung. At that trial, the presiding judge denied Apple’s request for an injunction against Samsung including features that Apple said infringed on its smartphone patents. In this most recent ruling, a U.S. Federal Appeals Court flipped that ruling, saying that Apple is entitled to an injunction barring Samsung from using those specific features. Continue reading Apple Takes the Latest Round in Patent Battle with Samsung

Lawsuit Claims Streaming Tax on Digital Entertainment is Illegal

Chicago recently extended its 9 percent “amusement” tax — originally intended primarily for live shows and sporting events — to include an array of online services. Now, subscribers to streaming services such as Netflix, Xbox Live and Spotify are fighting back with a lawsuit that contends taxing such digital entertainment should be ruled illegal. The policy challenge in Chicago could prove significant to the larger media industry since its outcome could possibly shape how cities and states could tax parts of the Internet economy in the future. Continue reading Lawsuit Claims Streaming Tax on Digital Entertainment is Illegal

FTC Has Authority Over Corporate Hacks, says Appeals Court

The Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Federal Trade Commission can advance its lawsuit against Wyndham Worldwide, which the FTC holds partially culpable for theft of online data three times between 2008 and 2010, for a total of over 619,000 credit- and debit-card numbers. Since Congress has yet to pass sweeping legislation on data security, the FTC has stepped in, so far instigating 50 additional data-security cases based on its mandate to act against unfair and deceptive business practices. Continue reading FTC Has Authority Over Corporate Hacks, says Appeals Court

Tech Industry Fears Implications of Apple-Samsung Patent War

The patent war between Apple and Samsung resulted in Samsung turning over profits from Galaxy products to Apple based on patent infringements. The implications of the case motivated major tech companies including Dell, eBay, Facebook, Google, HP and others to form a coalition in a “friend of the court briefing” siding with Samsung, filed July 1 with a federal appeals court. The companies are concerned the ruling could subject the industry to more lawsuits, hinder future innovation, and limit customer choices across the entire tech sector. Continue reading Tech Industry Fears Implications of Apple-Samsung Patent War

Lawsuit Filed Against Sling Media for Streaming Unwanted Ads

Consumers filed a class action lawsuit against Sling Media, claiming the company streamed ads through its Slingbox device without their permission. Slingbox sends TV, video and other media from home broadcast, cable or satellite devices to consumers’ phones. The plaintiffs allege that as of March 2015, the $300 Slingbox devices embedded advertising in the media streamed to the mobile devices of consumers who never consented to the ads. They claim Slingbox ads violate business law in California and Sling Media engages in unlawful business practices. Continue reading Lawsuit Filed Against Sling Media for Streaming Unwanted Ads

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