Labels File Copyright Suit Against Pandora Under State Law

Major record labels Sony, Universal and Warner Music, along with indie label ABKCO, filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan last week, claiming that streaming music service Pandora is violating New York’s common-law copyright protections by using songs recorded prior to 1972 without licenses. The suit acknowledges that older songs are not protected under federal copyright, but contends that Pandora needs permission to use them under state law. Continue reading Labels File Copyright Suit Against Pandora Under State Law

SXSW: Snowden Talks Digital Privacy, Pushes Better Encryption

Former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden addressed the crowd at SXSW in Austin, Texas yesterday via videoconference from Moscow. Speaking on NSA leaks and data security, Snowden urged tech firms to adopt better encryption methods to help protect users from government surveillance. He also shared privacy tips for citizens, such as encrypting your hard drive, implementing browser plug-ins that prevent online tracking, and using online network Tor, that promises anonymity. Continue reading SXSW: Snowden Talks Digital Privacy, Pushes Better Encryption

Internet of Things: Google to Buy Nest Labs for $3.2 Billion

Google is making a run for the connected home. On Monday, the company announced it is acquiring Nest Labs, a maker of smart smoke alarms and thermostats, for $3.2 billion. This is Google’s second largest acquisition to date, behind the 2012 purchase of phone maker Motorola Mobility. Nest Labs is considered a poster child for the Internet of Things movement, a key focus of last week’s CES in Las Vegas, where companies showcased sensor, communication, and computing tech to make everyday life easier.  Continue reading Internet of Things: Google to Buy Nest Labs for $3.2 Billion

Vacuum Sealed Protection for Smartphones That Also Floats

A new version of the DryCASE for smartphones and larger sizes for tablets was introduced at CES by Dry Corp. If you grew up by the sand and water you’ll appreciate how this crystal clear vacuum bag can both protect your phone from the elements and save it from a watery grave. Learning the hard way that anything in a pocket seems destined to end up 100 feet below the surface, this case and it’s armband supply both protection and flotation. So even if it’s not stowed on your arm it will bob to the surface. Continue reading Vacuum Sealed Protection for Smartphones That Also Floats

House Passes Innovation Act: Enough to Save Patent System?

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Innovation Act yesterday, a bill that intends to help reform the troubled American patent system. The bill, which passed by a vote of 325-91 with bipartisan support, will now go to the Senate (where it expects to pass), and then to the White House. Supporters hope the bill will save the current patent system plagued by low-quality patents and trolls, while others suggest it is merely a small solution for a much bigger problem. Continue reading House Passes Innovation Act: Enough to Save Patent System?

Schmidt: Solution to Government Surveillance is Encryption

According to Eric Schmidt, executive chairman and former CEO of Google, we may be close to a new “network age” in which Internet traffic will be protected with code, allowing users to communicate and organize socially without the fear of government censorship. Schmidt believes that Internet users will communicate via private channels that are shielded by encryption, scrambling data that can be decoded with a special digital key. Continue reading Schmidt: Solution to Government Surveillance is Encryption

Trade Commission Pilot Program Aims to Curb Patent Trolls

In an effort to help curb frivolous lawsuits initiated by patent assertion entities (also called “trolls”), the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) says it will require some companies to prove they have a significant domestic presence. As part of the commission’s new pilot program, six administrative judges will determine within 100 days whether or not companies that file infringement suits do in fact have the necessary U.S. production, research or licensing credentials. Continue reading Trade Commission Pilot Program Aims to Curb Patent Trolls