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86 Organizations Demand Zuckerberg To Improve Takedown Appeals

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2018-11-17 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: An open letter to Mark Zuckerberg signed by 86 organizations and published on Tuesday implores Facebook to provide a clear, fast mechanism that allows users to appeal instances of content takedowns and account deactivations. The letter which was spearheaded by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Article 19, Ranking Digital Rights, and the Center for Democratic Technology (CDT) -- expanded upon the Santa Clara Principles published earlier this year, which called for all social media platforms to improve its transparency and responsiveness to flagged posts and appeals for removed content. In April of this year, Facebook launched appeals for posts that are removed on grounds nudity, hate speech, or graphic violence. The press release claims that one of Facebook's human content reviewers will review all appeals within 24 hours, and notify users if their appeal has been approved or denied. The open letter to Mark Zuckerberg also requests that all content takedown and deactivation appeals are reviewed by a human moderator, which Facebook claims that it already does. EFF Director of International Freedom of Expression, Jillian York, believes the undercurrent of content moderation on social media is the censorship or restriction of speech towards marginalized groups. "There are accounts, [and] there is content that is taken down frequently from social media, and we don't hear those stories as much because they're often overshadowed by the pushes for hate speech to come down," York said. "I respect the people doing that work, I think it's really important. But really, the thing about appeals is they work in every case. So if someone breaks the rules for hate speech and they appeal, they're not gonna get their account restored. But if someone who should not have had their account taken down in the first place, appeals are the right solution to that."

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A New Senate Bill Would Hit Robocallers With Up To a $10,000 Fine For Every Call

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2018-11-17 04:05
Massachusetts Democratic Senator Ed Markey and South Dakota Republican Senator John Thune have introduced a bill on Friday that aims to ramp up the penalties on illegal robocalls and stop scammers from sending them. Gizmodo reports: The Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act, raises the penalty for robocalls from $1,500 per call to up to $10,000 per call, and allows the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take action on illegal robocalls up to three years after the calls are placed, instead of a year. The Act also aims to push the FCC to work along with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and other agencies to provide information to Congress about advancements in hindering robocall and prosecuting scammers. Perhaps most importantly for us highly annoyed Americans, the bill would also force phone service providers to use call authentication that filters out illegitimate calls before they go through to consumers.

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Trump Signs Bill That Creates the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2018-11-17 00:40
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: U.S. President Donald Trump signed today a bill into law, approving the creation of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). The bill, known as the CISA Act, reorganizes and rebrands the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD), a program inside the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), as CISA, a standalone federal agency in charge of overseeing civilian and federal cybersecurity programs. The NPPD, which was first established in 2007, has already been handling almost all of the DHS' cyber-related issues and projects. As part of the DHS, the NPPD was the government entity in charge of physical and cyber-security of federal networks and critical infrastructure, and oversaw the Federal Protective Service (FPS), the Office of Biometric Identity Management (OBIM), the Office of Cyber and Infrastructure Analysis (OCIA), the Office of Cybersecurity & Communications (OC&C), and the Office of Infrastructure Protection (OIP). As CISA, the agency's prerogatives will remain the same, and nothing is expected to change in day-to-day operations, but as a federal agency, CISA will now benefit from an increased budget and more authority in imposing its directives. "Elevating the cybersecurity mission within the Department of Homeland Security, streamlining our operations, and giving NPPD a name that reflects what it actually does will help better secure the nation's critical infrastructure and cyber platforms," said NPPD Under Secretary Christopher Krebs. "The changes will also improve the Department's ability to engage with industry and government stakeholders and recruit top cybersecurity talent."

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A Leaky Database of SMS Text Messages Exposed Password Resets and Two-Factor Codes

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2018-11-16 20:00
A database which contained millions of text messages used to authenticate users signing into websites was left exposed to the internet without a password. From the report: The exposed server belongs to Voxox (formerly Telcentris), a San Diego, Calif.-based communications company. The server wasn't protected with a password, allowing anyone who knew where to look to peek in and snoop on a near-real-time stream of text messages. For Sebastien Kaul, a Berlin-based security researcher, it didn't take long to find. Although Kaul found the exposed server on Shodan, a search engine for publicly available devices and databases, it was also attached to to one of Voxox's own subdomains. Worse, the database -- running on Amazon's Elasticsearch -- was configured with a Kibana front-end, making the data within easily readable, browsable and searchable for names, cell numbers and the contents of the text messages themselves.

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PlayStation Begins Collecting Amusement Tax From Chicago Users

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2018-11-16 17:20
schwit1 writes: PlayStation users in Chicago on Wednesday began paying a 9 percent tax on streaming content as the gaming company starts complying with a city levy. The Sony-owned company joins other streaming services including Spotify, Netflix and Hulu in complying with the charge, which took effect three years ago. The city's amusement tax, which used to apply mostly to concert and sporting event tickets, was extended to include streaming services in 2015. That includes charges paid for playing games, according to Chicago's Finance Department. Some tech companies have fought the additional 9 percent charge. Apple filed a lawsuit against the city in August alleging the tax on its music streaming services was illegal and discriminatory. That suit is pending in Cook County Circuit Court. Meanwhile, Apple is not collecting the tax. In 2015, a group of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Spotify, XBox Live and Hulu users sued Chicago in Cook County, alleging the tax violates federal law. The judge ruled in the city's favor in May, and the streaming service users appealed the decision. The case is pending in state Appellate Court.

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FCC Paves the Way For Improved GPS Accuracy

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2018-11-16 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) paved the way for improved GPS and location accuracy today, approving an order that will allow U.S. phones to access a European satellite system. The order allows non-federal consumer devices to access the European Union's version of GPS, which is also known as Galileo. The system is available globally, and it officially went live in 2016. By opening up access, devices that can retrieve a signal from both Galileo and the U.S. GPS system will see improved timing estimates and location reliability. The iPhone 8 was the first Apple product to support it. Other phone models from Huawei and Samsung support the system, too. "Since the debut of the first consumer handheld GPS device in 1989, consumers and industry in the United States have relied on the U.S. GPS to support satellite-based positioning, navigation, and timing services that are integral to everyday applications ranging from driving directions to precision farming," the FCC said in a release. Now, the U.S. system will be able to commingle with the European one, making the way for better reliability, range, and accuracy.

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Why Sleep Apnea Patients Rely On a Lone, DRM-Breaking CPAP Machine Hacker

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2018-11-16 04:05
Jason Koebler writes: "SleepyHead" is a free, open-source, and definitely not FDA-approved piece of software for sleep apnea patients that is the product of thousands of hours of hacking and development by a lone Australian developer named Mark Watkins, who has helped thousands of sleep apnea patients take back control of their treatment from overburdened and underinvested doctors. The software gives patients access to the sleep data that is already being generated by their CPAP machines but generally remains inaccessible, hidden by DRM and proprietary data formats that can only be read by authorized users (doctors) on proprietary pieces of software that patients often can't buy or download. SleepyHead and community-run forums like CPAPtalk.com and ApneaBoard.com have allowed patients to circumvent medical device manufacturers, who would prefer that the software not exist at all. Medical device manufacturers fought in 2015 to prevent an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to legalize hacking by patients who wanted to access their own data, but an exemption was granted, legalizing SleepyHead and software like it.

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Justice Department Is Preparing To Prosecute WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2018-11-16 03:25
According to the Wall Street Journal, "the Justice Department is preparing to prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (Warning: source paywalled; alternative source) and is increasingly optimistic it will be able to get him into a U.S. courtroom." From the report: Over the past year, U.S. prosecutors have discussed several types of charges they could potentially bring against Mr. Assange, the people said. Mr. Assange has lived in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since receiving political asylum from the South American country in 2012. The people familiar with the case wouldn't describe whether discussions were under way with the U.K. or Ecuador about Mr. Assange, but said they were encouraged by recent developments. Prosecutors have considered publicly indicting Mr. Assange to try to trigger his removal from the embassy, the people said, because a detailed explanation of the evidence against Mr. Assange could give Ecuadorean authorities a reason to turn him over. The exact charges Justice Department might pursue remain unclear, but they may involve the Espionage Act, which criminalizes the disclosure of national defense-related information.

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Senators Ask Four Major Carriers About Video Slowdowns

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2018-11-16 00:03
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Three U.S. Senate Democrats today asked the four major wireless carriers about allegations they've been throttling video services and -- in the case of Sprint -- the senators asked about alleged throttling of Skype video calls. Sens. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) sent the letters to AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile, noting that recent research using the Wehe testing platform found indications of throttling by all four carriers. "All online traffic should be treated equally, and Internet service providers should not discriminate against particular content or applications for competitive advantage purposes or otherwise," the senators wrote. Specifically, the Wehe tests "indicated throttling on AT&T for YouTube, Netflix, and NBC Sports... throttling on Verizon for Amazon Prime, YouTube, and Netflix... throttling on Sprint for YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Skype Video calls... [and] delayed throttling, or boosting, on T-Mobile for Netflix, NBC Sports, and Amazon Prime by providing un-throttled streaming at the beginning of the connection, and then subsequently throttling the connection," the senators' letters said.

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Fake Fingerprints Can Imitate Real Ones In Biometric Systems, Research Shows

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2018-11-15 22:45
schwit1 shares a report: Researchers have used a neural network to generate artificial fingerprints that work as a "master key" for biometric identification systems and prove fake fingerprints can be created. According to a paper [PDF] presented at a security conference in Los Angeles, the artificially generated fingerprints, dubbed "DeepMasterPrints" by the researchers from New York University, were able to imitate more than one in five fingerprints in a biometric system that should only have an error rate of one in a thousand. The researchers, led by NYU's Philip Bontrager, say that "the underlying method is likely to have broad applications in fingerprint security as well as fingerprint synthesis." As with much security research, demonstrating flaws in existing authentication systems is considered to be an important part of developing more secure replacements in the future. In order to work, the DeepMasterPrints take advantage of two properties of fingerprint-based authentication systems. The first is that, for ergonomic reasons, most fingerprint readers do not read the entire finger at once, instead imaging whichever part of the finger touches the scanner.

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Chinese Telecoms Giant ZTE is Helping Venezuela Build a System That Monitors Citizen Behavior Through a New Identification Card

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2018-11-15 16:40
The "fatherland card," already used by the government to track voting, worries many in Venezuela and beyond. From a report: In April 2008, former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez dispatched Justice Ministry officials to visit counterparts in the Chinese technology hub of Shenzhen. Their mission, according to a member of the Venezuela delegation, was to learn the workings of China's national identity card program. Chavez, a decade into his self-styled socialist revolution, wanted help to provide ID credentials to the millions of Venezuelans who still lacked basic documentation needed for tasks like voting or opening a bank account. Once in Shenzhen, though, the Venezuelans realized a card could do far more than just identify the recipient. There, at the headquarters of Chinese telecom giant ZTE Corp, they learned how China, using smart cards, was developing a system that would help Beijing track social, political and economic behavior. Using vast databases to store information gathered with the card's use, a government could monitor everything from a citizen's personal finances to medical history and voting activity. "What we saw in China changed everything," said the member of the Venezuelan delegation, technical advisor Anthony Daquin. His initial amazement, he said, gradually turned to fear that such a system could lead to abuses of privacy by Venezuela's government. "They were looking to have citizen control." The following year, when he raised concerns with Venezuelan officials, Daquin told Reuters, he was detained, beaten and extorted by intelligence agents. They knocked several teeth out with a handgun and accused him of treasonous behavior, Daquin said, prompting him to flee the country. Government spokespeople had no comment on Daquin's account. The project languished. But 10 years after the Shenzhen trip, Venezuela is rolling out a new, smart-card ID known as the "carnet de la patria," or "fatherland card." The ID transmits data about cardholders to computer servers. The card is increasingly linked by the government to subsidized food, health and other social programs most Venezuelans rely on to survive.

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Mozilla's 'Privacy Not Included' Gift Report Highlights Security Concerns

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2018-11-15 09:00
Mozilla has released its second annual "Privacy Not Included" guide that rates 70 products to help give you an idea as to how secure or insecure they are. "We want to provide people information about how to make informed decisions when shopping for gifts that are connected to the internet," says Ashley Boyd, vice president of advocacy at Mozilla. "These products are becoming really popular. And in some cases, it's easy to forget that they're even connected to the internet." Wired reports: Among the important signifiers of a trustworthy stocking stuffer, according to Mozilla's rubric: the use of encryption, pushing automatic software security updates, strong password hygiene, a way to deal with vulnerabilities should they arise, and a privacy policy that doesn't take a PhD to parse. The most surprising result of Mozilla's testing may be how many products actually earned its seal of approval. Thirty-three of the 70 items in the "Privacy Not Included" guide passed muster; fans of the Nintendo Switch, Google Home, and Harry Potter Kano Coding Kit can sleep a little easier. On the other end of the scale, Mozilla highlighted seven products that may not hit the mark -- yes, including the sous vide wand, the Anova Precision Cooker. Also scoring low marks in Mozilla's accounting: the DJI Spark Selfie Drone (no encryption, does not require users to change the default password), the Parrot Bebop 2 drone (no encryption, complex privacy policy), and unsurprisingly, at least one baby monitor. The remaining 30 items on the list all exist somewhere in the murky middle, usually because Mozilla was unable to confirm at least one attribute. Which may be the real takeaway from the report: Typically, you have no reasonable way to find out if a given internet-connected device is secure. "If you can't tell, that says that there's a problem of communication between manufacturers and consumers," says Boyd. "We would love for makers of these products to be more clear and more transparent about what they're doing and not doing. That's a big place we think change is needed."

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Many Free Mobile VPN Apps Are Based In China Or Have Chinese Ownership

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2018-11-15 02:03
A new study has found that more than half of the top free mobile VPN returned by Play Store and App Store searches are from developers based in China or with Chinese ownership, raising serious concerns about data privacy. "Our investigation uncovered that over half of the top free VPN apps either had Chinese ownership or were actually based in China, which has aggressively clamped down on VPN services over the past year and maintains an iron grip on the internet within its borders," said Simon Migliano, Head of Research at Metric Labs, a company that runs the Top10VPN portal. ZDNet reports: The researcher says he analyzed the top 20 free VPN apps that appear in searches for VPN apps on the Google and Apple mobile app stores, for both the US and UK locales. He says that 17 of the 30 apps he analyzed (10 apps appeared on both stores) had formal links to China, either being a legally registered Chinese entity or by having Chinese ownership, based on business registration and shareholder information Migliano shared with ZDNet. The expert says that 86 percent of the apps he analyzed had "unacceptable privacy policies." For example, some apps didn't say if they logged traffic, some apps appeared to use generic privacy policies that didn't even mention the term VPN, while some apps didn't feature a privacy policy at all. On top of this, other apps admitted in their policies to sharing data with third-parties, tracking users, and sending and sharing data with Chinese third-parties. Almost half of the free VPN apps also appeared to take the privacy policy as a joke, with some hosting the policy as a plain text file on Pastebin, AWS servers, or raw IP addresses, with no domain name. In addition, 64 percent of the apps also didn't bother setting up a dedicated website for their VPN service, operating strictly from the Play Store.

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Comcast Forced To Refund $700,000 To Customers Over Misleading Fees

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2018-11-15 00:03
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Comcast has been forced to shell out $700,000 in refunds and cancel the debt of more than 20,000 Massachusetts customers after a state attorney general investigation found the company routinely jacks up consumer bills via a bevy of misleading fees. An investigation by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy found that Comcast routinely advertises one rate, then charges customers up to 40 percent more when the bill for service actually arrives. When shocked customers then tried to cancel or downgrade to cheaper broadband and TV plans, Healy's office found they were socked with a $240 fee for violating long-term contracts. Many users were promised a locked-in rate of $99, but hidden fees and surcharges quickly left many with service plans they couldn't afford, the AG said. Under the new settlement with Massachusetts, Comcast must forgive all outstanding debts for unpaid early termination fees and related late fees, clearly disclose all fees in future advertisements, and train the company's service reps to more clearly outline billing caveats. "Comcast stuck too many Massachusetts customers with lengthy, expensive contracts that left many in debt and others with damaged credit," Healy said in a statement. "Customers have a right to clear information about the products and services they buy. This settlement should encourage the entire cable and telecommunications industry to take a close look at their advertisements and make sure customers are getting a fair offer."

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ProtonVPN Passes 1 Million Users and Launches on iOS

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2018-11-14 18:46
Encrypted email service provider ProtonMail has launched its standalone VPN app for iOS devices. From a report: The announcement comes more than a year after ProtonVPN launched globally for desktop users and 10 months after it landed on Android, so the iOS launch has been a long time coming. There is, of course, no shortage of VPN apps out there already, but ProtonMail has built a solid reputation in the encrypted communications realm since it was founded out of CERN in 2013. Following the launch of its privacy-focused email service nearly three years ago, the company subsequently added two-factor authentication (2FA), Tor support, an encrypted contacts manager, and of course a VPN service. ProtonMail offers various pricing tiers for ProtonVPN, ranging from free to $24 per month. Those who choose not to pay can access three countries' servers, with access on one device, but will have slower speeds, while the top $24/month tier offers access on 10 devices with server access in all available countries. In related news, ProtonMail said that ProtonVPN now has 1 million users globally.

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Google Accused of 'Trust Demolition' Over Health App

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2018-11-14 16:00
A privacy expert is criticizing Google for taking over a controversial health app developed by AI firm DeepMind. The app in question -- Streams -- was first used to send alerts in a London hospital but hit headlines for gathering data on 1.6 million patients without informing them. DeepMind now wants the app to become an AI assistant for nurses and doctors around the world. BBC reports: One expert described the move as "trust demolition." Lawyer and privacy expert Julia Powles, who has closely followed the development of Streams, responded on Twitter: "DeepMind repeatedly, unconditionally promised to 'never connect people's intimate, identifiable health data to Google.' Now it's announced... exactly that. This isn't transparency, it's trust demolition," she added.

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Food Taste 'Not Protected By Copyright,' EU Court Rules

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2018-11-14 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: The taste of a food cannot be protected by copyright, the EU's highest legal authority has ruled in a case involving a Dutch cheese. The European Court of Justice said the taste of food was too "subjective and variable" for it to meet the requirements for copyright protection. The court was asked to rule in the case of a spreadable cream cheese and herb dip, Heksenkaas, produced by Levola. Levola argued another cheese, Witte Wievenkaas, infringed its copyright. The firm claimed that Heksenkaas was a work protected by copyright; it asked the Dutch courts to insist Smilde, the producers of Witte Wievenkaas, cease the production and sale of its cheese. The Court of Justice of the European Union was asked by Netherlands' court of appeal to rule on whether the taste of a food could be protected under the Copyright Directive. In order to quality for copyright, the taste of food must be capable of being classified as a "work" and has to meet two criteria: That it was an original intellectual creation; That there was an "expression" of that creation that makes it "identifiable with sufficient precision and objectivity." The court found that "the taste of a food product cannot be identified with precision and objectivity." It said it was "identified essentially on the basis of taste sensations and experiences, which are subjective and variable," citing age, food preferences and consumption habits as examples which could influence the taster.

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Man Pleads Guilty To Swatting Attack That Led To Death of Kansas Man

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2018-11-14 09:00
Federal prosecutors in Kansas announced Tuesday that a 25-year-old Californian has admitted that he caused a Wichita man to be killed at the hands of local police during a swatting attack late last year. Ars Technica reports: According to the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Kansas, Tyler Barriss pleaded guilty to making a false report resulting in a death, cyberstalking, and conspiracy. He also admitted that he was part of "dozens of similar crimes in which no one was injured." In May 2018, Barriss was indicted on county charges (manslaughter) and federal charges, which include cyberstalking and wire fraud, among many others. U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said in a Tuesday statement that Barriss would be sentenced to at least 20 years in prison. Barriss also was involved in calling in a bomb threat to the Federal Communications Commission in December 2017 to disrupt a vote on net neutrality rules. The 25-year-old Californian is scheduled to be sentenced on January 30, 2019, in federal court in Wichita.

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Nasty Adobe Bug Deleted $250,000 Worth of Man's Files, Lawsuit Claims

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2018-11-14 02:50
Freelance videographer Dave Cooper has filed a class action lawsuit against Adobe, alleging that an update to Premiere Pro came with a flaw in the way it handles file management that resulted in the deletion of 500 hours of video clips that he claims were worth around $250,000. Adobe has since patched the bug. Gizmodo reports: Premiere creates redundant video files that are stored in a "Media Cache" folder while a user is working on a project. This takes up a lot of hard drive space, and Cooper instructed the video editing suite to place the folder inside a "Videos" directory on an external hard drive, according to court documents. The "Videos" folder contained footage that wasn't associated with a Premiere project, which should've been fine. When a user is done working on a project they typically clear the "Media Cache" and move on with their lives. Unfortunately, Cooper says that when he initiated the "Clean Cache" function it indiscriminately deleted the contents of his "Videos" folder forever. Cooper claims that he lost around 100,000 individual clips and that it cost him close to $250,000 to capture that footage. After spending three days trying to recover the data, he admitted that all was lost, the lawsuit says. He also apparently lost work files for edits he was working on and says that he's missed out on subsequent licensing opportunities. On behalf of himself and other users who wish to join the suit, he's asking the court for a jury trial and is seeking "monetary damages, including but not limited to any compensatory, incidental, or consequential damages in an amount that the Court or jury will determine, in accordance with applicable law."

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Couple Who Ran ROM Site To Pay Nintendo $12 Million

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2018-11-14 02:10
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Nintendo has won a lawsuit seeking to take two large retro-game ROM sites offline, on charges of copyright infringement. The judgement, made public today, ruled in Nintendo's favor and states that the owners of the sites LoveROMS.com and LoveRETRO.co, will have to pay a total settlement of $12 million to Nintendo. The complaint was originally filed by the company in an Arizona federal court in July, and has since lead to a swift purge of self-censorship by popular retro and emulator ROM sites, who have feared they may be sued by Nintendo as well. LoveROMS.com and LoveRETRO.co were the joint property of couple Jacob and Cristian Mathias, before Nintendo sued them for what they have called "brazen and mass-scale infringement of Nintendo's intellectual property rights." The suit never went to court; instead, the couple sought to settle after accepting the charge of direct and indirect copyright infringement. TorrentFreak reports that a permanent injunction, prohibiting them from using, sharing, or distributing Nintendo ROMs or other materials again in the future, has been included in the settlement. Additionally all games, game files, and emulators previously on the site and in their custody must be handed over to the Japanese game developer, along with a $12.23 million settlement figure. It is unlikely, as TorrentFreak have reported, that the couple will be obligated to pay the full figure; a smaller settlement has likely been negotiated in private.

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