HPA Tech Retreat: Washington Update During This ‘Silly Season’

In another annual HPA Tech Retreat panel, Jim Burger, a copyright attorney with Thompson Coburn in Washington, D.C. gave his “Washington Update.” “We’re talking about Congress and the Silly Season, and it’s crazy,” said Burger, who said he would touch on intellectual property litigation on the copyright side; the FCC and communications; net neutrality; and unlocking the set-top box among other topics. Burger noted that the House Judiciary Committee has held over 20 copyright hearings this year. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Washington Update During This ‘Silly Season’

MPAA and Donuts Ink Pact to Thwart Large-Scale Movie Piracy

The Motion Picture Association of America just signed a pact with Donuts, the largest operator of new domain-name extensions, to cooperate against large-scale piracy. Under the terms of the agreement, the MPAA will first attempt to contact the third-party registrar/hosting provider for resolution. If that fails, and Donuts has “clear evidence of pervasive copyright infringement,” the company will put the domain on hold or suspend it. Among Donuts’ domain-name extensions are .movie and .theater. Continue reading MPAA and Donuts Ink Pact to Thwart Large-Scale Movie Piracy

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

CalECPA: California Governor Signs Landmark Privacy Law

California Governor Jerry Brown last week signed a new law designed to protect digital privacy rights. The California Electronic Communications Privacy Act (CalECPA) mandates that a warrant is required in order for state law enforcement agencies or investigators to compel businesses to turn over metadata or digital communications such as emails, texts, and cloud-stored documents. Additionally, it requires a warrant for the tracking or searching of electronic devices. The White House, meanwhile, has backed down on its battle with tech companies over encrypted data of digital devices. Continue reading CalECPA: California Governor Signs Landmark Privacy Law

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

Microsoft Reportedly Plans to Invest Significant Sum in Uber

Unnamed sources report that Microsoft has agreed to invest in Uber. Although details are not yet public, the company is expected to invest a significant portion of the upcoming $1 billion funding round that values Uber at around $51 billion. That new funding round — and the valuation — makes Uber one of the most highly valued private companies ever, along with startups such as Xiaomi, a Chinese electronics company valued at around $45 billion and Airbnb, valued at more than $24 billion. Continue reading Microsoft Reportedly Plans to Invest Significant Sum in Uber

Oculus Rift Interstellar Experience Coming to IMAX Theaters

Christopher Nolan fans and moviegoers interested in the upcoming “Interstellar” can get a sneak peek at the galactic world through a 3D virtual reality experience. Participants will get a chance to wear Oculus Rift headsets and virtually explore the film’s spacecraft, which took two months for the team at Framestore to recreate. The Oculus Rift Interstellar Experience is hitting select AMC IMAX theaters in New York, Houston, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. before the film opens November 7. Continue reading Oculus Rift Interstellar Experience Coming to IMAX Theaters

U.S. Postal Service to Slash Prices for E-Commerce Retailers

To be more competitive, the U.S. Postal Service will cut its prices by as much as 58 percent on certain Priority Mail packages for retailers shipping at least 50,000 packages per year. Both UPS and FedEx believe the price cuts are an unfair way for the USPS to gain an edge in the e-commerce business. Amazon and USPS already have a partnership to deliver on Sundays, but the two organizations are teaming up again to test grocery deliveries in San Francisco. Continue reading U.S. Postal Service to Slash Prices for E-Commerce Retailers

DirecTV Introduces NFL Sunday Ticket Free of TV Subscription

DirecTV announced that it will offer its NFL Sunday Ticket to certain consumers who do not have a satellite subscription. Sports fans can register via NFLSundayTicket.TV to access streaming of live games on laptops, smartphones, tablets or game consoles. To qualify, viewers must live in an apartment building where DirecTV is not available, attend one of the universities included in DirecTV’s list, or live in metropolitan New York, San Francisco or Philadelphia.  Continue reading DirecTV Introduces NFL Sunday Ticket Free of TV Subscription

The Future of Microsoft Focused on Productivity, Not Devices

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is adapting his company to address the challenges of a changing market. The software company is now working on improving Microsoft products across all platforms, such as Android and iOS. Also, Microsoft is about to release a search tool, Delve, that can peruse emails, social networks and corporate documents to find information for work-related inquiries. Microsoft is placing emphasis on Delve’s machine learning and artificial intelligence. Continue reading The Future of Microsoft Focused on Productivity, Not Devices

Amazon Releases App Figures in Preparation for Launch Event

Following several hardware launches over the past year, including new Kindle Fire tablets and its Fire TV streaming box, Amazon is expected to unveil its first smartphone during a launch event in Seattle on Wednesday. To generate buzz, the company posted a YouTube video about a mysterious new product and announced that the number of apps in its Appstore nearly tripled over the past year. More than 240,000 apps are now available, and Amazon claims developers can make more money with its apps. Continue reading Amazon Releases App Figures in Preparation for Launch Event

Microsoft Has Plans to Bring More Internet Access to Africa

Unlike Google, Microsoft is not trying to connect the entire Earth by using drones or balloons. Instead, the company hopes to utilize television white space, an unused part of the broadcast spectrum, to provide more Internet access to people living in Africa. After running cost-effective pilot programs in the U.S. and Kenya, Microsoft has found that the challenge for Microsoft’s 4Afrika initiative is to persuade governments to lift regulations to allow them to utilize white space. Continue reading Microsoft Has Plans to Bring More Internet Access to Africa

House Passes USA Freedom Act to Curb NSA Surveillance

Late last week the House overwhelmingly passed legislation that is intended to bring an end to the National Security Agency’s bulk phone records program. The USA Freedom Act is designed to restrict the federal government’s ability to collect records about citizens in bulk, a program that had sparked debate regarding privacy and civil liberties. The House voted 303-to-121 in support of the USA Freedom Act, which could signal a change in how both political parties view the power of the NSA. Continue reading House Passes USA Freedom Act to Curb NSA Surveillance

Netflix to Be Available to 500,000 Cable Subscribers Next Week

Netflix has reached an agreement with cable companies RCN, Grande Communications and Atlantic Broadband that will allow subscribers to basically access the streaming video service as if it were a cable channel starting next week. Netflix will be added as an app to set-top boxes to provide subscribers with the option of viewing the Netflix content they would otherwise access via computers and mobile devices. The offer is only available for customers of the cable companies who also subscribe to Netflix. Continue reading Netflix to Be Available to 500,000 Cable Subscribers Next Week

Aereo Supreme Court Case Could Upend Cloud Computing

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard arguments in the Aereo case that could cause legal implications for cloud computing businesses such as Dropbox and Google, especially if remote storage and data transmission are classified as “public performance.” Broadcasters accuse the Internet startup Aereo of violating copyright laws by using antennas to stream over-the-air broadcasts to paid subscribers. Justices will determine if Aereo’s service is “public performance” that requires permission. Continue reading Aereo Supreme Court Case Could Upend Cloud Computing