March 2, 2005

Eolas Appeal [7:04 pm]

Been busy all afternoon - the carefully worded CNet headline: Appeals court revisits Eolas decision

The decision: Eolas Technologies, Inc., et al. v. Microsoft Corp. (more reading)

A quick skim suggests that there’s some interesting content here about what constitutes public release (a WWW posting is sufficient according to the decision) and what constitutes a component of an infringing product (software code/”gold” code counts as a component in this case)

Slashdot has an even clearer headline: Appeals Court Sends Eolas Case Back For New Trial

Later - the NYTime’s Patent Ruling Against Microsoft Is Thrown Out; WaPo’s Microsoft Ruling Overturned

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The Berkman Grokster Brief Posted [8:17 am]

Derek points to the Fisher, Zittrain and Palfrey brief in the Grokster case (EFF site). Still no sign of the musician brief cited yesterday in the news.

Also CNet’s P2P companies ask high court for help;
The Register’s P2P promises economic Valhalla - Grokster et al

Slashdot’s latest article: MGM v. Grokster: Here’s Why P2P is Valuable

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Vonage’s Citron Claims A Position [8:11 am]

Vonage’s Citron Says VoIP Blocking Is ‘Censorship’

In an exclusive interview here Tuesday [March 1], Vonage’s chief executive said the issue of the company’s recent incident of having some VoIP traffic blocked reaches beyond the market for IP-based voice communications and into the realm of free speech — and as such, should be protected by the courts, the FCC, or by new telecom regulation that ensures free and open access over the Internet.

“What is this [port blocking] really all about?” said Citron, who was in San Francisco Tuesday for the Reuters Technology Summit. “It’s really censorship in a way.”

[...] The advanced features of network analyzers, Citron said, already allow administrators to look not only at what types of packets are traversing their networks, but into the actual content of the packets. Port blocking of VoIP traffic, he opined, is a step down a slippery slope that could lead to network owners blocking content or Web sites they disagreed with.

“What happens if [network operators] use technology to peer into your packets and read and see what you’re doing?” Citron asked. “If they have a particular view of the world, they could just stop any news article that purports to go against that view. If they’re [already] looking in the packets for SIP, or for instant messaging, where does the line end?”

Elsewhere in Advanced IP Pipelines, we have Can Vonage Avoid Getting Squeezed Out?

Forget about port blocking, the relatively simple method used to temporarily cut Vonage’s virtual lines. What’s coming next — or what may be already happening — is a bandwidth squeeze, where network administrators use shaping and prioritizing techniques to slow time-sensitive applications like VoIP to a crawl.

The techniques and equipment used can vary, but according to various networking sources the deed will go down like this: A network operator identifies traffic it doesn’t want on its network (which could be Vonage VoIP, or something similar, like online gaming or file-sharing), and assigns it a “low priority,” meaning it gets transmitted only after every other type of traffic goes through the Internet door.

Technically, that’s not “blocking” traffic, per se. But it is an effective — and harder to prove — way of ensuring that latency-sensitive traffic like VoIP has a good chance of failing to get to the other end on time. Even if such tactics are revealed, expect to hear telecom-company lawyers insist that the techniques were employed to ensure that bandwidth was reserved for the operator’s own resources, and for the traffic generated by its paying customers.

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Probing Cellphones At The Oscars [7:59 am]

An Oscar Surprise: Vulnerable Phones

Three employees of the company, Flexilis, founded two years ago by four University of Southern California students, positioned themselves in the crowd of more than 1,000 people watching celebrities arrive at the Kodak Theater. John Hering, one of the company’s founders, wore a backpack in which he had placed a laptop computer with scanning software and a powerful antenna.

The Flexilis researchers said they were able to detect that 50 to 100 of the attendees had smart cellphones whose contents - like those of Ms. Hilton’s T-Mobile phone - could be electronically siphoned from their service providers’ central computers. The contents of Ms. Hilton’s phone, including other celebrities’ phone numbers, ended up on the Internet.

[...] The researchers said that their stunt, which scanned the red carpet from about 30 feet away, was meant to raise awareness of a threat to privacy that is becoming more common as advanced cellphones carry a growing range of personal data, including passwords, Social Security numbers and credit card information.

“Celebrities, V.I.P.’s, executives and politicians are among the most vulnerable to this kind of attack, because they are frequently the first to adopt new consumer technologies,” Mr. Hering said.

He also noted that despite extensive security measures at the Oscars, his company’s surveillance activities went unnoticed. “We were only doing this passively, but it was possible that someone could have been standing right next to us doing this maliciously,” he said.

[...] The Flexilis team said their concern was not with Bluetooth itself, which contains adequate security protection, but with the way the technology has been used by many manufacturers. “We’re attempting to raise the level of security in the wireless world to the same standard that is now expected in the wired world,” Mr. Hering said.

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OT: Taking the Marketing a Little Too Far [7:54 am]

It’s one thing to play a feuding to promote a record, but this seems more than a little out of control: Rapper’s Potshots on the Air, and Gunshots at a Radio Studio

A feud between two once-chummy rappers - both survivors of past shootings, with 16 gunshot wounds between them - appears to be behind gunfire in the snowy streets of the West Village and outside a Midtown office late Monday night, the police said yesterday.

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Fun Fact Via A Controversial Technology [7:06 am]

A popularity metric that might not exist had content providers been in charge: Foxx win is most TiVo’d Oscar moment

Jamie Foxx’s passionate acceptance speech for his best-actor award for “Ray” was the Oscar moment most replayed by TiVo viewers.

[...] The second most-popular moment with TiVo digital video recorder customers was the best-picture win by Clint Eastwood’s “Million Dollar Baby,” which captured a total of four awards.

[...] The audience analysis is based on a sample of 10,000 anonymous TiVo households, the company said. It has 3 million subscribers.

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