Appeals Court Upholds Apple Ebook Antitrust Ruling

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Court Rules: Bulk Collection Of Phone Records Is IllegalAn antitrust ruling against Apple that was appealed by the technology giant was upheld in a federal appeals court.

The case, U.S. v. Apple Inc., 13-3741, was first heard and ruled on in July 2013 in a lower court.

Apple was accused of entering into a conspiracy with five publishers to fix the prices of electronic books that they offered for purchase in the lawsuit filed by 33 state attorneys general and the Justice Department.

The original judge in the case, Judge Denise Cote, ruled in favor of the government, citing statements by the late Steve Jobs that showed a targeting of Amazon.

The decision to uphold the ruling came as the result of a 2-1 vote.  Circuit Judge Debra Ann Livingston referred to the original ruling notes in her summation of the decision: “By organizing a price-fixing conspiracy, Apple found an easy path to opening its iBookstore, but it did so by ensuring that market-wide e-book prices would rise to a level that it, and the publisher defendants, had jointly agreed on.”

Apple’s response was to deny the charges, but it offered no comment on whether they would pursue another appeal – if they do, that case would then come before the Supreme Court.

Christopher A. Smith

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VMware Settles With The Government In Alleged Fraud Case

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VMware To Acquire AirWatchSoftware company VMware has agreed to a settlement to pay a federal government agency to bring closure to a lawsuit where it was accused of fraud.

The lawsuit was brought against VMware and a government approved reseller partner, Carahsoft, back in 2010.

In the lawsuit, the General Services Administration claimed that VMware and the reseller practiced “inaccurate pricing, inaccurate disclosures, and incomplete information about sales of VMware products to non-governmental customers” to them, leading them to pay more than private companies.

The specific bone of contention lay in a discount offering that was made by VMware which was said to be lower than ones made to foreign governments.

The total amount of the settlement? $75.5 million, which the law firm prosecuting the case states as “one of the five largest recoveries against a technology company in the history of the False Claims Act.”

VMware issued a statement that denied any fraud and misbehavior on their part, but claimed that they settled to avoid more drawn-out litigation.

Christopher A. Smith

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PayPal Modifies Their Controversial New Robocall Policy

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PayPal Fined $25 Million For Bogus Credit SignupsThe upcoming robocall policy addition to the terms and services of PayPal that has many up in arms as reported here earlier, will get some modifications.

The mobile payments company received a huge backlash when it announced changes to the user agreement that would allow users to be bombarded with pre-recorded phone calls and text messages by PayPal.

The move concern that PayPal would use these changes to pester customers with unwanted ad solicitations, and it drew some notice from the FCC.

The company is now making some modifications to the language of the policy to give more clarity to what it is they’re trying to do with these automated phone calls to customers.

PayPal now states that the calls are essentially tools to help prevent fraud, make users aware of their account activity in full and to collect on outstanding balances.

In a statement addressing the situation, FCC spokesman Travis LeBlanc said: “These changes, along with PayPal’s commitments to improve its disclosures and make it easier for consumers to express their calling preferences, are significant and welcome improvements.”

PayPal also stated that they are continuing to work closely with regulators in the interest of consumer protection.

The new policy is set to take effect on July 1st, and users can still opt out of receiving the calls.

Christopher A. Smith

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U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Google In Oracle Java Case

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Court Rules: Bulk Collection Of Phone Records Is IllegalThe Supreme Court of The United States has shut down Google in a case heard before them today involving Oracle and Java.

The case, Google v. Oracle, 14-140, was brought by Oracle Corp. was seeking $1 billion in damages over allegations that Google used their Java programming code to hurriedly create their iconic Android operating software for smartphones and tablets without paying them for it.

The situation focuses on how there is a split between companies that create these API’s, or application programming interfaces, and those companies who uses those codes to develop software without having to devote a great deal of time and finances.

A federal court in Washington State found in favor of Oracle being the creator of the code.

Google then made its appeal to the highest court in the land, claiming that the lower court’s decision would stifle future innovation in programming technology.

The justices came back and ruled in favor of the decision of the lower court.

Oracle had gotten support from Microsoft and other API developers when it first brought the allegations against Google, and the Obama administration had made a recommendation against reversing the decision to the Supreme Court.

The case will now return to the appeals court so that Google can argue their claim of fair usage.

Christopher A. Smith

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STUDY: Google’s Manipulation Of Search Results Is Damaging

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GooglelogoIn a study conducted by Internet scholar and law professor Tim Wu, it has been found that Google’s deliberate manipulation of its search results is damaging to both its users and its competitors.

The study was funded by the popular consumer review website Yelp, who has a history of being critical of Google’s practices regarding search results.

A prior complaint was made last year over Yelp’s allegations that Google was purposely undercutting Yelp’s search traffic by 20%, even though papers related to that complaint stated that the move hadn’t hurt Yelp’s bottom line overall.

The results claim that Google’s move to assign prominence on its own content over more organic results found by its search algorithm leads to something termed “social welfare” which summed up means that consumers and competitors alike are harmed by the lack of proper and unbiased search results.

The news comes as Google is grappling with similar allegations made in an anti-trust lawsuit by the European Union.

Yelp has added their voice to the allegations by filing a complaint to anti-trust regulators in Europe.

A spokesperson for Google dismissed the study, stating: “This latest study is based on a flawed methodology that focuses on results for just a handful of cherry-picked queries. At Google we focus on trying to provide the best results for our users.”

Christopher A. Smith

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Uber Managers In France Thrown In Jail

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Uber Looks To Acquire Nokia’s Digital Mapping Service HereTwo managers for the on-demand car service Uber Technologies Inc. have been arrested and are currently in jail in Paris, France.

Law enforcement officials carried out the arrest for “illicit activity” days after a strike by French taxi drivers became violent, resulting in cars being overturned and railways being blocked.

Courtney Love even got caught up in it.

The uproar even cut off traffic to the nation’s airports.

Drivers were furious at the fact that Uber drivers didn’t have to pay a licensing fee to operate on the road as they are required to.

They are also incensed at Uber since they tend to undercut them with lower rates.

The interior minister put a ban on their budget car service UberPOP in response to the unrest, claiming it was illegal and directing police and prosecutors to make sure the ban was enforced.

Representatives for Uber say that they will stop all operations in France if they are ordered to by the courts.

Christopher A. Smith

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Facebook Gets Thumbs Down At Pride Parade

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Video Ads in your Facebook Feed coming this FallMarchers during the Pride Parade held Sunday in San Francisco had a pointed message for Facebook.

Protesters and drag queens marching with the #MyNameIs campaign handed out stickers, buttons and fliers that took the social network to task over their policy that users with accounts have to have “authentic names” and provide proper identification if required in order to not be barred from their accounts.

The LGBTQ community has viewed this policy as highly discriminatory and potentially dangerous to the point of life-threatening for them since it was enacted last September.

They marched with the Harvey Milk group, ahead of marchers representing Facebook.

As they approached the judging platform, the marchers turned their signs around to spell “Shame On FB”.

The group had lobbied to ban Facebook from marching in the annual parade, but a personal phone call from Mark Zuckerberg and a narrow board vote gave the social media company the green light to march.

Since the uproar, Facebook has made slight adjustments to the part of the policy looking for identification, where users can now add bank information along with others as long as they match up.

Christopher A. Smith

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Courtney Love Caught Up In Paris Uber Protest

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Life_Ball_2014_Courtney_Love_CropOn Thursday, the city of Paris, France was caught in the throes of a vigorous and violent protest by the city’s taxicab drivers over Uber’s growing presence in the country.

One witness to the unrest?

American rock singer Courtney Love.

Love took to Twitter to give her account of fleeing Roissy Charles de Gaulle Airport atop a motorcycle; she had to escape her chauffeured car after protesters attacked the vehicle by throwing rocks and slashing the tires in addition to damaging it with bats.

In the fashion that some of Courtney Love’s fans know her best for, she lit into French President Francois Hollande on the social media platform, stating: “This is France?? I’m safer in Baghdad.”

The taxi drivers took to the streets as part of a strike that no one can foresee an end to.

Drivers are incensed that Uber drivers aren’t required to get a license that costs other drivers 100,000 Euros to obtain.

The protests saw drivers blocking railway stations, burning tires and flipping over cars across the nation as well as obstructing the entrance to airports.

Uber has claimed that they have a million registered users including those signed up with their UberPop on-demand service in the country.

The French government has filed a complaint against the company via the Office of the Interior Minister along with the police, who have created a special task force assigned to issue fines to their drivers.

Christopher A. Smith

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Private Eye Email Hacker May Face Prison Time

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Court Rules: Bulk Collection Of Phone Records Is IllegalA private investigator could now be staring prison in the face once federal prosecutors make their recommendations in a New York courtroom on Friday.

Eric Saldarriaga, of Queens, New York, pled guilty in March to one count of conspiracy to commit computer hacking.

The charge is related to claims that Saldarriaga was hired by the Church of Scientology to gather information on journalists who had written pieces on the church over the past years.

The insistence on a prison sentence, which could see the private eye do six months maximum, is a flag alerting the public as to how seriously the government is viewing the acts of hacking emails and social media accounts.

The request would also be in opposition to the court’s own recommendation that Saldarriaga undergo six months of house arrest followed by three probationary years of supervision.

Saldarriaga admitted to the wrongdoing but also expressed that in doing so he may have prevented a crime concerning a woman who was one of the individuals the Church of Scientology tasked him to investigate.

Others affected feel that giving Saldarriaga jail time while his employers get away without facing court time would be wrong.

Christopher A. Smith

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Eternify Loops Spotify Music Tracks To Help Increase Artist Payouts

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Spotify Goes Live Today On Sony's PS4 and PS3Artists who have railed against the unfair royalty payouts by streaming music giant Spotify may have an unexpected ally.

Eternify is a fairly new website with a twist; the site is connected to Spotify, and it plays loops of music from artists in order to increase the amount of money for artist payouts.

Below the track display on the page is a real-time counter which shows how much the user made for the particular artist.

Each loop amounts to five cents.

The site was created by indie band Ohm & Sport, who currently have a single on the streaming music service.

They created this hack for reasons explained in statement via Twitter: “We’re launching Eternify in the wake of numerous false promises of a better future for streaming: Not a single one of these announcements or apparent victories have had any meaningful impact on the vast number of small artists on whom these services depend.”

This isn’t the first attempt to manipulate Spotify to rake up profits; an indie funk group by the name of Vulfpeck produced a silent album entitled “Sleepify”.

When users played the album as they went to sleep, the band’s royalties increased.

Spotify swooped in and shut it down after trying to contact the band directly.

With regards to Eternify, the company has stated that it will reach out to the band to see if the site fully complies with their terms of operation.

Christopher A. Smith

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