Thursday, February 05, 2009

AP claim copyright infringement on Obama image

It seems that the Associated Press believe that they are the copyright owners of the photo which the Obama presidential campaign poster created by Shepard Fairey was based on. AP's lawyers are now in touch with Fairey's lawyers over the matter of credit and compensation.

Yet just a couple of weeks ago, James Dazinger at least, seemed to think that the photo had been taken Reuters photographer, Jim Young. I note though that he's since blogged that the photo was taken by freelance photojournalist Manny Garcia for AP.

Update: It appears Manny Garcia wasn't a member of AP staff when he took the photo and he, not AP, may be the copyright owner.

Update: See: and for informed commentary.

Google Latitude

The Times has a report on Google Latitude today.
"Millions of people will be able to track each and every move by friends and family through their mobile phones, thanks to a new feature launched by Google yesterday.

The new system dubbed “Latitude” uses a digital map to show automatically exactly where a loved one is at any time, sometimes pinpointing their location to a few metres. Worried parents will be able to check up on where their children have got to after school, friends can meet for a quick drink if they see they are nearby and spouses will be able to see if their partners really are working late at the office.

Google said that Latitude was an opt-in feature, meaning that both parties have to consent to being spied on. But privacy campaigners said they were appalled by the idea, and children’s groups said the Government should intervene and look into whether the system was fully secure."

White House Lawyers Look to Limit Commercial Use of President

From Bloomberg via Yahoo News:
"Barack Obama’s popularity makes him a marketer’s dream. Now, the honeymoon may be over for those trying to profit from his appeal.

White House lawyers want to control the use of the president’s image, recognizing the worldwide fascination about Obama’s election, First Amendment free-speech rights and easy access to videos and photos on the Web.

“Our lawyers are working on developing a policy that will protect the presidential image while being careful not to squelch the overwhelming enthusiasm that the public has for the president,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said."

ACTA draft leaks: nonprofit P2P faces criminal penalties

From Nate Anserson at Ars Technica:

"It's becoming clear that the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement is not, as backers have suggested, just a minor tuneup to worldwide intellectual property law, one done for the purpose of cracking down on fake DVD imports or Coach handbag ripoffs. Such a law—one that amounted essentially to some streamlining and coordination in the fight against actual pirates—might well be hashed out between nations operating in secret. But a treaty that seeks to apply criminal penalties to peer-to-peer file-sharing?


Based on sources and leaked documents, Knowledge Ecology International now asserts that ACTA drafts are in fact "formally available to cleared corporate lobbyists and informally distributed to corporate lawyers and lobbyists in Europe, Japan, and the US."

As for what's in these drafts, which are too secret to be seen by the public paying the negotiators' salaries, it's a long and mostly boring list of items intended to stop or slow shipments of counterfeit goods. But the ACTA proposals currently include language that would make copyright infringement on a "commercial scale," even when done with "no direct or indirect motivation of financial gain," into a criminal matter."

ID cards are go

The first UK biometric ID cards have been issued but naturally they are no use to anyone. From
"The first UK ID cards have already been issued - but no UK police officers or border guards have any way of reading the data stored on them.

Currently no police stations, border entry points or job centres have readers for the card's biometric chip, the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) revealed in response to an FoI (Freedom of Information) request by about the £4.7bn identity cards scheme.

The news comes in spite of the first ID cards being issued to foreign nationals in November last year, with the IPS expecting to issue 50,000 ID cards by April this year."

Update: Henry Porter has a story in yesterday's Guardian indicating what a mess the issuing of ID cards and the correction of errors is going to be in practice. A US citizen married to a UK citizen traveled to an ID card centre and paid nearly £600 for a "premium service" to get her fingerprints and face scan and other details taken for her ID card. She waited for hours before eventually being told the system had crashed and she should go home and wait for the card in the post. It arrived eventually with a mistake regarding her citizenship of the US. Then started the process of trying to get it put right, which as well as spending hours waiting in phone cues to different places, dealing with unhelpful people on a spectrum from those who tried to be nice through those who thought it was funny to the downright rude; in addition to sending the error ridden ID card along with her passport off to get the card corrected. Both seem to have disappeared into a black hole and the woman concerned is now uable to travel abroad since she has no passport. And these were people who were prepared to volunteer early, pay £600 and just get no with it. What a shambles. I hope the couple concerned gt their problems sorted out soon.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

90,000 sex offenders removed from MySpace

AP reports that 90,000 sex offenders have been removed from MySpace.

Copyright, monopoly and Google Book

Nice [short] essay over at Books do Furnish a Room on Google's settlement with authors and publishers.
"I'll start with a confession: I was wrong about the Google Books Project. And my wrongness is underscored by just how right Siva Vaidhyanathan--whose worries I dismissed at the time as contrarian library-fetishization--was. It's true that a happy ending could still emerge, but if it does, it's likely to be in spite of Google, and in the teeth of its opposition. My mistake is perhaps instructive, because it exemplifies some cognitive biases that bedevil all of us: wishful thinking, overvaluing the causal impact of character traits (and individual agency, generally) relative to structural tendencies, and an unfortunate tendency to take sides--if only affectively, subconsciously identifying one's own interests with those of one party or another--when powerful entities clash."
Thanks to Manon Ress via hte A2K list for the pointer.

Google execs face criminal charges over disabled teen abuse video

IAPP is reporting that four Google executives are facing charges in an Italian court relating to a video of a group of teenagers bullying another teenager who was disabled.
"The executives face charges of defamation and failure to exercise control over personal data. They follow a two-year investigation by Italian authorities into footage uploaded onto Google Video that showed a disabled teen being disparaged by peers. Google's Paris-based Global Privacy Counsel Peter Fleischer, Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer David Drummond, former Chief Financial Officer George Reyes, and a former London-based Google Video executive were charged. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 36 months.

It is believed to be the first criminal sanction ever pursued against a privacy professional for his company's actions...

The video that sparked the investigation was captured in a Turin classroom. Four high school boys were recorded taunting a young man with Down syndrome, and hitting the 17-year-old with a tissue box. One of the boys uploaded the footage to Google Video's Italian site on September 8, 2006...

According to Google, more than 200,000 videos are uploaded to Google Video each day. Under EU legislation incorporated into Italian law in 2003, Internet service providers are not responsible for monitoring third-party content on their sites, but are required to remove content considered offensive if they receive a complaint about it. Between November 6 and 7, 2006, Google received two separate requests for the removal of the video–one from a user, and one from the Italian Interior Ministry, the authority responsible for investigating Internet-related crimes. Google removed the video on November 7, 2006, within 24 hours of receiving the requests. "

The Italian prosecutor is basing his case on a law which says content providers are responsible for 3rd party content. However this case turns out Italy loses. A conviction will presumably lead to Google blocking access from Italian IP addresses and an acquittal leaves the authorities (though possibly not the prosecutor, who would presumably be riding the wave of Giuseppe Public's moral outrage) looking less-than-sensible for having pursued the case in the first place.

NHS refusing to let patients opt out of Summary Care Record

Via FIPR, Pulse magazine is reporting:
"NHS bosses leading the rollout of the Summary Care Record are refusing to take no for an answer from patients who say they want to opt out, Pulse can reveal.

GPs in the first wave of the rollout are being asked to send their PCT a list of patients opting out of the programme, despite fears the request may breach confidentiality.

Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show NHS Lincolnshire, one of the first trusts to adopt the care record, wants GPs to hand over patients’ details, so they can be invited ‘to the surgery to discuss it further’.

The documents also reveal that when the PCT writes to patients, it will put the practice logo on letters so that they are sent ‘as if from the practice’."

If this report is accurate, then senior NHS managers are reportedly asking GPs to breach data protection laws and medical confidentiality, pretend that a demand from those managers for patients to attend surgeries to be brow-beaten into changing their minds about their medical privacy actually originates from their GPs, and actively engage in interviews with patients where they lean on them to agree to have their medical details put on ridiculously insecure computer systems, which the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee has just concluded:
  • don't work very well if at all
  • are neither liked nor trusted by NHS staff
  • that government claims about the functionality and value of the systems are unrealistic
  • that no one knows how much they are costing
  • that the contracts interfere with appropriate auditing of the systems
  • that data security threats are significant and the government department responsible thinks it "is not practical for it to collect details of all security breaches" thereon
Does incitement to break the law, or at the very least breach medical confidentiality, fall under the serious misconduct provisions of NHS employment regulations these days?

Tony really has been worn down by my endless stream of consciousness about the importance of public policy in relation to the deployment of the tools of our information age. :-)

He was twittering about the lack of public input to the Digital Britain report a couple of days ago, prompting a response from Joss Winn at the University of Lincoln. This then led to them both setting up a blog,, to facilitate commenting on public reports. You can comment on the Digital Britain report in particular at

It's neat how easy it can be to get actively involved in the political process from a standing start.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Websites for children must register their moderators, says new law

From OutLaw:
"Organisations with interactive websites likely to be used mainly by children must ensure that staff moderating the sites are not barred from working with children from October.

It will be a criminal offence for an organisation to knowingly employ a barred person for a regulated role, such as moderating children's sites.

The Government is changing the way that it controls who has access to children and vulnerable adults and new laws take effect on 12th October. Those make the moderation of online services such as bulletin boards a regulated activity...

The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act was introduced in 2006 and has been modified by a commencement order which expands it to include some online services as regulated activities, meaning that they cannot be performed by anyone on the list of banned people.

The new law includes as a regulated activity "moderating a public interactive communication service which is likely to be used wholly or mainly by children"."

FSFE launches Free PDF Readers campaign

Speaking of open content, it is worth noting the announcement from the FSF:
"The Fellowship of the Free Software Foundation Europe is proud to announce its latest initiative:, a site providing information about PDF with links to Free Software PDF readers for all major operating systems.

"Interoperability, competition and choice are primary benefits of Open Standards that translate into vendor-independence and better value for money for customers," says FSFE president Georg Greve. "Although many versions of PDF offer all these benefits for formatted text and documents, files in PDF formats typically come with information that users need to use a specific product. provides an alternative to highlight the strengths of PDF as an Open Standard."

The coordinators of, Hannes Hauswedell and Jan-Hendrik Peters, are pleased to present the latest revision of the site with short and compact information how users can seize the full benefits of both Open Standards and Free Software.

"Free Software gives us control over the software we use, and Open Standards give us control over our data and allow implementations by many different groups," explains Jan-Hendrik Peters. "We wanted to show that with the Portable Document Format people can have both."

Hannes Hauswedell adds: "Similar to a Free Software project we started off with an idea, provided a first implementation, received lots of feedback, and worked that into a better version of the site. We are grateful to all the people who got involved. This was a collaborative effort that would not have been possible without all the contributors."

"The site offers buttons in several languages that we encourage everyone to put next to PDF files offered on their sites," explains Matthias Kirschner, FSFE's Fellowship Coordinator. "We hope that in a year from now, no PDF is offered without the vendor-independent alternative buttons of""

Lessig coming to OpenLearn

I'm currently going through version 7 of the OpenLearn rendition of my old internet law course 'T182' based on Larry Lessig's book 'The Future of Ideas'. I'm sure there is probably at least one academic paper in the story of how an OU course which came off stream about 5 years ago and the short creative commons release of which triggered the creation of OpenLearn hasn't quite made it back to the outside world yet. It's a tale of politics and organisational infrastructure, architecture and systems choice, staff turnover and technology, openness and 'openness', the incompatibility different versions of XML and XML engines, DOS and web utilities, cutting, pasting and ordering, style and substance and a handful of dedicated individuals.

That was a longer than intended intro. to explain why I've been purusing some of Tony Hirst's old postings on OpenLearn which the latest review process have reminded me of. Most notably his take in Feb last year on The Problem With OpenLearn... I was stuck in particular this time by this:
"Anyway - is OpenLearn making right content available?, and is it just another document dump?

Who cares? The take home points for me about OpenLearn is that it makes available authentic distance educational material, some of it designed for online delivery, in an open format and under an open license."

He's right. I guess that is one of the reasons I've gone back time and again to the OpenLearn versions of T182 in various often incredibly frustrating attempts to get it put back together into a coherent whole. Good news is that the material is in better shape than any other previous OpenLearn version but I'm only part way through it and have so far noted a signficant volume of errors. But let's hope it is 7th time lucky and it will again see the light of day (or CC at least) in the none too distant future.