Thursday, 30 June 2016

Judge Says IP Address Doesn't Prove Anything in Piracy Case

What do you do if you get busted for pirating a terrible Adam Sandler movie? Deny it. That seems to be the lesson of a recently dismissed federal case, which raises the burden of proof that copyright owner must meet in order to hold you accountable for infringement.
TorrentFreak reports that Oregon District Court Magistrate Judge Stacie Beckerman dismissed a case against Thomas Gonzales, who was accusedof illegally downloading Adam Sandler’s The Cobbler. Beckerman states that IP-addresses aren’t enough to prove that Gonzales was directly involved with copyright infringement.
You see, Gonzales runs an adult foster care home, and he wasn’t the only person with access to the internet. There’s simply no direct way to pinpoint that it was he who was guilty of the act. Beckerman argues that you can’t hold someone accountable for copyright infringement unless you can prove they did it.
“The only facts Plaintiff pleads in support of its allegation that Gonzales is the infringer, is that he is the subscriber of the IP address used to download or distribute the movie, and that he was sent notices of infringing activity to which he did not respond. That is not enough.”
This seems reasonable. There’s no guarantee that judges across the country will use the same standard, though.
Hollywood hasn’t and definitely won’t stop making attempts to get money from pirates who download their films and that’s fine. They have a right to protect their property, but at the same time, Hollywood must also have more to go on than just IP-addresses as hard proof of accessing illegal content, especially since it’s hard to tell if it’s actually you doing the downloading in the location where you have internet access.

We know how many people are killed by vending machines. We don't know how many people are killed by cops.

Take action here:
How many police shootings happen around the country every year? We still don’t know.
The federal government keeps tons of data and statistics on all kinds of topics – from how many people were victims of shark attacks to the number of hogs and pigs living on farms in the U.S. – but we still have no reliable data on how many people are shot by police officers each year.
We also don’t have comprehensive data on other police activity like stops, frisks, low level arrests, and uses of force– and the related basic demographic information like race, gender, age, etc.
For too long we have been relying on voluntary, self-reporting by police departments. And police departments don’t often volunteer any of this data, even if they’re collecting it, because they’re concerned with their image and liability. It’s time to make this information public – we have the right to know.
Police targeting of Black and brown people is a national crisis. The deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, and so many others have put law enforcement under scrutiny to identify and rectify patterns of misconduct and racial profiling.
The first step towards accountability is transparency – tell the DOJ to mandate police departments around the country to collect and share this data.

A super-PAC backing Hillary Clinton has accepted $200,000 in donations from a company holding multiple contracts with the federal government — despite a ban on such contributions

A super-PAC backing Hillary Clinton has accepted $200,000 in donations from a company holding multiple contracts with the federal government — despite a ban on such contributions.
According to a review of contributions by The Hill, Boston-based Suffolk Construction made two contributions of $100,000 to Priorities USA, which is backing the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.  
At the time it made the contributions, Suffolk held multiple contracts worth $976,560 with the Department of Defense for maintenance and construction projects at a Naval base in Newport, R.I., and the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., according to the government website
Suffolk — which, by Forbes’s estimate, brings in some $2 billion in revenue annually — also donated $10,000 in 2015 to Right to Rise, a super-PAC that supported Republican Jeb Bush’s now-defunct presidential bid.
The donations from Suffolk highlight how a 70-year-old campaign finance law meant to prevent pay-to-play deals between public officials and companies making money from the government is often ignored by those making the donations and those on the receiving end.
The two contributions, one made in July and one in December, came during Clinton’s presidential primary battle with Bernie Sanders, who rose to prominence partly because he railed against super-PACs and the wealthy donors who fund them.
A review of campaign finance records by The Hill shows that the practice of skirting or openly flouting the contractor ban has become widespread in both congressional and presidential politics.
There are multiple reasons why the law is ignored.
Some lawyers believe the prohibition on a contractor giving to a super-PAC is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has never issued a ruling on the specific matter.
Perhaps more importantly, donors face little chance of being penalized by a Federal Election Commission (FEC) that is so divided between its Republican and Democratic members it has proved incapable of deciding even the most basic questions, such as whether to investigate complaints.
Priorities USA stipulates on its website that donors can’t be federal contractors. Yet a spokesman for the super-PAC declined to comment in response to a question about whether the donations from Suffolk would be returned.
Clinton’s campaign also declined to comment.
“The increasing trend of contractors violating the law comes as no surprise,” said Craig Holman of Public Citizen, an advocacy group that was involved in a high-profile case regarding the ban.
In addition to the donations to Priorities USA, The Hill found 14 federal contractors that had contributed a total of $173,250 to Right to Rise. Two had also given to Conservative Solutions PAC, a group that supported Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) bid for president.
One contractor, a Florida utility named Gulf Power Co., gave $44,000 to Right to Rise in March 2015. At the time, the company held more than $1 million in contracts with the Department of Defense.
The Hill asked Gulf Power whether the company was aware it was in violation of the ban and if it believed there was a conflict of interest in politicians benefiting from donations from federal contractors.
Jeff Rogers, a spokesman for the company, responded, “We believe Gulf Power’s right to make the contribution in question is constitutionally protected.”
Suffolk Construction, which since 2008 has received $169.7 million in federal contracts, according to USASpending.­gov, declined multiple requests for comment.
John Fish, the company’s CEO, has been a prolific donor to both parties over the years, though FEC records show he favors Democrats by a wide margin. He’s contributed thousands to President Obama’s White House bids and gave $500 to his 2004 Senate campaign.
Fish’s office did not return a request for comment.
The company itself has mainly funneled money to Republicans. In 2012 it gave $510,000 to Restore Our Future, a super-PAC supporting GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, and $50,000 to another group backing then-Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.).
Campaign finance lawyers say federal contractors that donate to super-PACs are taking a calculated risk that the politically deadlocked FEC will never take action against them.
History suggests they’re correct.
In 2012, a Los Angeles Times investigation found that a number of companies with federal contracts, including Suffolk Construction, had, at that point, contributed $890,000 to Restore Our Future.
None of the federal contractors were ever punished for their super-PAC donations.
A top official who worked for Romney’s now-defunct super-PAC declined to comment. Officials who worked for the Bush and Rubio super-PACs also declined to comment.
There are also loopholes in the federal contractor ban. The biggest allows employees and corporate officers of companies with federal contracts to contribute to any candidate or committee of their choosing. They can also establish super-PACs in the name of their own company.
Another way around the federal contractor ban is colloquially known as the “Chevron loophole” and gives contractors with multiple subsidiaries the freedom to make political contributions through business entities not named on the government contracts.
In 2013 Public Citizen filed a complaint with the FEC against the oil giant Chevron, which had held hundreds of federal contracts worth $1.5 billion. The complaint centered on a $2.5 million contribution it made to the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super-PAC linked to then-SpeakerJohn Boehner (R-Ohio) that was committed to electing House GOP candidates.
In a 5-1 decision, the FEC ruled that the company’s contribution was legal because the federal contract went to a subsidiary, Chevron USA, which is distinct from Chevron, the entity that made the contribution.
The two Chevron entities share a headquarters in San Ramon, Calif.
A spokeswoman for Chevron declined to comment for this article.
Holman said the extraordinary development is that following the ruling, federal contractors aren’t even bothering to take advantage of the loophole, knowing they are unlikely to face any repercussions.
“Contractors now may circumvent the law either by creating an artificial division within the company for the purpose of making contributions, or even not bother with such machinations and make direct contributions, and can still feel assured they will not be prosecuted by a deadlocked FEC for violating the law,” he told The Hill.
The federal contractor ban survived a legal challenge in 2015, when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld the law in a suit against the FEC.
Writing for the 11-judge panel, Chief Judge Merrick Garland — now President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court — wrote that the ban is a necessary defense against corruption.
“The statute was itself the outgrowth of a decades-long congressional effort to prevent corruption and ensure the merit-based administration of the national government,” Garland wrote. “And it was followed by subsequent scandals that led to further legislative refinements, again motivated by concerns over corruption and merit protection.”

Baltimore Police Department plans to implement a new use-of-force policy Friday that emphasizes the "sanctity of life," stresses de-escalation and requires officers to intervene if they see a fellow cop crossing the line.

The Baltimore Police Department plans to implement a new use-of-force policy Friday that emphasizes the "sanctity of life," stresses de-escalation and requires officers to intervene if they see a fellow cop crossing the line.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced the new policy on Wednesday as the U.S. Department of Justice prepares to release the results of its sweeping investigation into the department's patterns and practices.
The first full rewrite of the policy since 2003 comes more than a year after the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray from injuries suffered in police custody — an incident that sparked widespread protests against police brutality, the Justice investigation and the prosecution of six officers.
Rawlings-Blake, who announced the policy changes alongside Police Commissioner Kevin Davis at police headquarters, said the use of force by officers is "one of the most scrutinized areas in policing, and it is incumbent upon the police department to ensure its officers are well trained and knowledgable about the procedures when a decision is made to use force."
Rawlings-Blake said city residents never tell her they want "an aggressive police department; they say they want an effective police department," which she said the changes would help create.
Davis said officers would be empowered by the clarity in the new policy, and said any suggestion the changes would inhibit officers from policing proactively was "just silly."
He said the policy would continue the department's recent progress. He said citizen complaints about excessive force were already down 40 percent to date this year.
The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, the local union that represents rank-and-file officers, did not respond to a request for comment.
The Police Department revised the policy in consultation with outside groups and institutions including the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, the Baltimore chapter of the NAACP, and local prosecutors and public defenders, officials said. 
Police also drew on guidance on best practices from other departments nationwide, Davis said.
Tessa Hill-Aston, president of the Baltimore NAACP and a participant in the discussions, said it was unfortunate that Gray had to die before changes were prioritized. But she believes the new policy is "a good thing."
"It's meaningful that they're starting to do something," she said. "The commissioner is trying to do things, expedite things and get it done."
David Rocah, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Maryland, said the new policy is "certainly an improvement" over the old one, but still has "significant problems."
The Baltimore Police Department "wants to be able to say they are adhering to best practices, but they aren't," Rocah said.
The new policy broadens reporting requirements for incidents in which an officer uses force. It defines three distinct categories of force — Levels 1, 2, and 3 — and the reporting requirements associated with each.
"There's really a focus on de-escalating when possible," said Jason Johnson, the department's new director of strategic development. "And also when force is necessary, that the force is proportional."
For the first time, the policy will require reporting when an officer points his gun at a suspect without shooting or flashes a Taser's electrical current without firing.
But Rocah said the new policy doesn't require officers who use deadly force to fill out a form, despite a recently passed state law requiring such action.
"That's critically important, and it's hugely problematic that that documentation doesn't exist," he said.
The policy requires officers to intervene to "prevent the use of excessive force by another member" of the department, and to immediately alert a supervisor to the incident. An officer who does not intervene to stop another's excessive force may be subject to disciplinary action.
But Rocah said it does not require officers to intervene to stop lesser force.
It also doesn't tell supervisors to ask officers who use force about that use of force, and doesn't restrict the use of Tasers and pepper-spray as much as it should, Rocah said. It also falls short or is not clear on a range of other points, he said.
The revised policy does require officers to call for a medic if an individual asks for or shows signs of needing one.
Gray requested a medic, but the officers on the scene said they didn't believe he actually needed one. A medic wasn't called until he was found unresponsive.
Gray died a week after his arrest from neck injuries suffered in the back of a police van. Six police officers were charged in his arrest and death.
All have pleaded not guilty. Two have been acquitted; four await trial.
Following Gray's death, Rawlings-Blake asked the Justice Department to launch a full-scale investigation into the Police Department's practices. The Justice Department had already been conducting a more narrow review of the department, also at the mayor's request, after a Baltimore Sun investigation showed that the city had paid millions of dollars to settle complaints of excessive force by its officers.
Rawlings-Blake acknowledged the Justice investigation and its looming report Wednesday, but said the steps the Police Department has taken are not a result of that investigation.
"Just because that investigation is going on doesn't mean we are going to sit on the sidelines and wait for them to tell us the things that are wrong," she said. "I've said before, we knew we had problems with the police department, we knew we had problems with the relationship between the community and the police."
Davis said the new policy would ensure that each use of force by an officer is entered into a "tracking database" that generates alerts that will help the department identify officers who may need intervention.
Johnson said the department would begin to post aggregate information about use-of-force cases on its website. The results of internal investigations into officers' actions are not made public.
He said officers have been getting training on the new use of force policy for weeks, and that all officers would be trained by its implementation Friday.
Hill-Aston, of the NAACP, said Baltimoreans "saw right in the courtroom" during the trials of the officers charged in Gray's arrest and death that officers who aren't given clear policies and documented training can claim they were unaware of what was expected of them.

Guy Turned An Old Van Into “Adventuremobile” (61 pics)

Imgur user worked on this old van for four months on week-ends and every evening after work and now that it is done, he is all excited to embark on adventurous journeys with it. "I spent the last 4 months building an adventuremobile on the weekends and evenings after work. Building this van was at times overwhelming, but always exciting. The experience has taught me many things and I am excited for the adventures to come. I hope you enjoy this tour. -Evan"

"The finished van/tiny home. It weighs in at 6,600 lbs. Well under the GVWR of 8,600 lbs. The total build added 1,300 lbs."

"Cleared out and ready to get started. It took a day to rip out all the factory trim and riveted cargo rails. I made a dump run to get rid of it."