The Noel Humphreys IP Buzz : Dedicated to commentary on copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets and patents and legal issues centered on software, knowledge management, outsourcing, virtual organizations, ASP's and contracts. This is NOT legal advice.
Updated: 2/23/06; 11:00:30 PM.



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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Tomorrow, maybe we'll know about the injunction against RIM for Blackberry product infringement on NTP patents.

As a lawyer, I've been wondering what is in the public interest in this context. The public interest is one of the four prongs of the test that the judge is supposed to weigh in determining whether to grant an injunction. How does the judge figure out what is in the public interest?

Is it a question of long-term interest versus short-term interest, for example?

RIM has apparently put in affadavits of public officials, such as police officers and other first responders, to say that they really depend on their Blackberries. Should the court say that the public interest is what the first responders say it is? Is there anyone in America that we trust more these days than first responders?

Is it public officeholders who define the public interest? At least elected officials have some idea of what the constituents think is the public interest.

On the other hand, public officeholders have re-election as a primary goal. Judges (federal ones, anyway) hold office for life precisely because we want their perspective to be different from the perspective held by elected officials.

So, what if the judge thinks that the public interest calls for the first responders to have their own system, that they shouldn't be sharing a system like Blackberry that is open to anyone who pays the fee? How would NTP provide any evidence that the public is better off if first responders don't have Blackberries?

Should it be first responders who drive the public interest inquiry at all? Maybe the costs to the public in a macro or aggregate sense are what should drive the question. Apparently RIM put in evidence from Arthur Laffer (the Laffer curve Laffer) as to the cost to the public of a potential shutdown. Is the public interest really measurable in dollars? Or is that simply one factor?

These cases seem to include no evidence from either party about whether an injunction, for example, would make people more likely or less likely to invent new things. That's really the Constitutionally important question. I want some clever sociologist or psychologist to figure out what makes people invent new and better things in greater numbers. It would be great to have some empirical evidence that suggests that favoring NTP will create more incentive for inventors or denial of an injunction against RIM will create more invenctive for inventors. If we could only tell whether NTP or RIM is more inventive.

I admit I'm troubled by what evidence a lawyer could provide to a court to demonstrate whether an injunction against RIM is in the public interest.
11:00:25 PM    comment []

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Come join us as the annual meeting next week in New York at the Marriott in Times Square.
9:22:13 PM    comment []

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Date: Mon, 01 Sep 2003 11:29:33 -0400 From: Mike Anderson Subject: Re: [IP] Streisand versus Coastal Photo Effort To:

Really interesting story, Dave, and check out that house:


From: "Dave Farber" To: Sent: Monday, September 01, 2003 2:09 AM Subject: [IP] Streisand versus Coastal Photo Effort

Date: Sun, 31 Aug 2003 08:20:19 -0700 Subject: Streisand versus Coastal Photo Effort From: Paul Saffo To: Dave Farber


This case has important free speech implications. If Streisand wins, it is a vast blow to any watch-dog who dares pick up a camera. -p

Streisand goes coastal over Web photo effort Maria Alicia Gaura, Chronicle Staff Writer Sunday, August 31, 2003 >2003 San Francisco Chronicle |Feedback > URL: MN305247.DTL

When Ken Adelman retired several years ago -- for the second time, at age 37 -- he and his wife, Gabrielle, decided to spend some time in the air, photographing the entire California coastline from their helicopter and posting the images free on the World Wide Web.

They assumed the barriers to such an ambitious project would be technical. But the Adelmans got some unexpected turbulence: Barbra Streisand. Ken and Gabrielle Adelman, who live in rural Santa Cruz County, came up with the idea for their California Coastal Records Project in 1996 when Ken volunteered to fly while friends photographed San Simeon on the Central Coast. (They were fighting a planned development by The Hearst Corp., which owns The Chronicle.) > The San Simeon photos were taken on 35mm film, as were a previous series of coastal photos taken by the government that ended up stacked in hundreds of slide carousels. > But advances in digital photography, an Apple Powerbook and a jury-rigged connection to his helicopter's global positioning unit allowed the Adelmans to shoot the entire coastline and post the results on the Web in less than a year's time. > With Gabrielle at the rudder of a Robinson R44 helicopter and Ken leaning from the door with a Nikon digital camera, the two documented every nook and cranny of the coastline, with the shutter clicking away every three seconds and the GPS documenting latitude and longitude for each shot. > >"We thought we could start at the Oregon border and just fly our way down the coast," Gabrielle said, adding that fog and other troubles often meant they had to reshoot areas. > While the state's coast is officially about 840 miles, the Adelmans say they have shot roughly 1,100 miles, including every cove and promontory. > The more than 12,000 images they have posted on are not the first to document California's Pacific boundary. But the digital technology, free access and user-friendly Web site design are unprecedented.

In addition to scenes of spectacular loveliness, the project also documents illegal seawalls, sewage outflows, erosion and masses of new development. > >Now that the kinks have been worked out of the technology, the Adelmans plan to update the photos every five years or so, and have been approached to do similar projects in Washington state, around Vancouver Island, in Hawaii and Mexico and even in Cuba. > They also plan to take thousands of coastal slides shot in the 1970s, scan them into the computer, and display them on the Web site for comparison. > >But not everyone appreciated their efforts. Vandenberg Air Force Base -- which launches satellites -- has refused to allow the Adelmans to take photographs. > But the reaction from the military was nothing compared to the wrath of Streisand. > One of the 12,700 digital images posted on the Adelman's Web site depicts a glorious stretch of beach in Malibu -- and a lavish bluff-top estate belonging to Streisand. > Arguing that the photograph violated her privacy, Streisand filed a $50 million lawsuit in May demanding that the photo including her house be removed from the site, along with the caption reading "Streisand Estate, Malibu." > >According to her suit, and property owners concerned with the privacy of homes along the coast, projects like the Adelmans' must be nipped in the bud. > "A self-appointed vigilante of the skies," according to court documents, "Adelman might next want to swoop down and . . . take pictures of homes in the vicinity of public parks . . . lakes, rivers, hillsides, reservoirs and highways, all under the pretext that he is documenting the environment. No one would be spared.'' > Streisand attorney John Gatti insists the lawsuit is not an attempt to shut down the Web site, but an attempt to protect the privacy of a celebrity who has been harassed in the past by stalkers and obsessive fans. > >The Adelmans rejected the diva's demands, arguing that the photos constitute free speech, were taken from public airspace and are part of a historic public document. > >"The biggest reason not to comply is that what we do for Barbra we would have to do for everybody else," Ken Adelman said. "If we took down her photo and caption, we'd eventually have to take down the whole thing. We don't feel we can make exceptions for the people who are wealthy enough to sue us." A technology entrepreneur with a passion for the Internet, the 40-year-old Adelman promptly posted every legal document in the case on his site, as well as letters, phone messages and flaming e-mail rants. > >Adelman argues that his own wealth makes him the logical person to fight a deep-pockets plaintiff like Streisand. > While Streisand's wealth has been estimated at $100 million by People Magazine, Adelman sold his first high-tech company to Cisco Systems in 1996. He retired but soon got back in the technology game. > He sold his second company to Nokia in 2000. While he kept only a portion of the $450 million from the two sales, he did retain enough to retire early, he said, and absorb legal costs that have totaled $250,000 to date. > While no people are visible in the contested photo, it does show the arrangement of furniture on the star's lanai, and the placement of windows and balconies on her three houses, the lawsuit notes. > "This case has nothing to do with restricting anyone's freedom of speech or expression," Gatti said. "I think it's a step in protecting privacy in an age when advancing technology begins creeping into private lives." > As a result, the lawsuit over privacy has generated worldwide publicity -- a good thing for a fledgling Web site but a problematic consequence for a publicity-averse celebrity. > >According to Adelman, the Malibu photograph in question was downloaded only six times in the three months before the lawsuit was filed. But once the story hit the media, visits to the site surged. An average of 108,000 visitors per day viewed the photograph in June. > The Adelmans have filed a motion to dismiss the case, and Streisand has asked the Los Angeles Superior Court for an injunction ordering the removal of identifying information from the site until the case is settled. Both sides are anxiously awaiting a ruling, which will determine whether the case proceeds to trial. > The legal costs are five times what he spent to document the coast, Adelman said, and a less wealthy person might have given up for lack of money. > "I think fighting her is really a public service," Adelman said. "Someone has to stop her.'' > E-mail Maria Alicia Gaura at . > >©2003 San Francisco Chronicle |Feedback > > Page A - 1

Archives at:

Date: Mon, 01 Sep 2003 23:32:24 -0400 From: Barry Ritholtz Subject: They'll never learn (Streisand versus Coastal Photo Effort ) To: Dave Farber

..... Her home has been identified, and reposted around the internet. I'm proud to post Streisand's home at my blog (, and I suggest other people do so also. Even if she wins the case, she will ultimately lose, because her goal -- rmoving the photo -- will be widely disseminated. You can't just put the toothpaste back in the tube . . .
2:04:53 PM    comment []

Monday, September 1, 2003

Just because it can be reverse engineered doesn't make it not a trade secret. A trade secret may be possessed by more than one person.

The key is whether the supposedly secret facts are known to others. The fact may be well known within a particular industry, even if it is not well known to the public. A fact that is known within the industry is not a trade secret because it lacks the quality of secretness that it key to the characterization as a trade secret.

Bunner himself did not reverse engineeer the software. He did not acquire the software by his own efforts. He did not try to sell it. The majority said that he should not benefit because he knew that the person who did reverse-engineer the software took it wrongfully.

Just how the court knew that Bunner knew that Johanson wrongfully reverse-engineered the software is, to me, a mystery. I guess if you know that the DVDCCA doesn't want you to reverse engineer the software, you are supposed to know that in Norway that is enforceable.

Johanson may or may not have been a lawbreaker or a contract breaker. So far, the authorities haven't gotten him convected. But the courts in California, just like Congress, do seem mostly, although not exclusively, sympathetic to the arguments of the big entertainment purveyors.
4:04:20 PM    comment []

The Bunner case reminds us tht protectinig trade secrets is part of the inherent quality of the trade secret. Some insights from the case: ONE: If it's not a secret, it's not a trade secret. TWO: The measures that the trade secret's possessor needs to take to protect the secret vary with the value of the secret. The California supreme court decision in the case did not dwell on this because of the procedural posture of the case, however. THREE: As the dissent noted, the question of whether the fact is well known is different from the question of whether the possessor took reasonable measures to protect the secret fact. FOUR: The case the California Supreme Court heard was about how to deal with Bunner. The law does not require that Bunner receive the same treatment as Johanson, who reverse engineered the DeCSS software, apparently. Bunner downloaded the software or linked to a URL where the software existed; the factual question for the lower court to figure out was whether it was a secret when Bunner posted the DeCSS code. FIFTH: The First Amendment is a weak reed for people to lean on. The courts are not sympathetic. Courts don't believe that anyone is really interested in what the DVD CCA does. The majority of the court also does not believe that Bunner needed to post the DeCSS software to participate in the debate about what the DVD CCA does. SIXTH: The majority has the trouble that so many courts have. They don't recognize news when they see it, but they are unaware of this limitation on their vision. SEVENTH: The courts have interpreted the First Amendment to be much less radical than they would have if they had read the First Amendment more literally. That comes up in Bunner for example, when the majority discusses whether the injunction on Bunner is "content neutral." Of course the content of the DeCSS code is the subject of the injunction. Nonetheless, the court says that the tradition of enjoining disclosure of trade secrets is content-neutral, because courts try to enjoin all disclosures of trade secrets to promote commerce. This line of inquiry seems silly, but they use it to justify the prior restraint on Bunner. The court has a very limited view of what is political.

Here are some citations to URL's for the Bunner case.

Supreme Court Decision: Lower court opinion:

... Ed Felten on the Bunner ruling. Here is Ed Felten's take on the California Supreme Court's ruling that posting the DeCSS code is ... dvd-discuss2/msg19413.html dvd-discuss2/msg19399.html biplog/archive/001020.html 2001-November/000692.html
3:29:16 PM    comment []

Privacy rights under threat by lawmakers

By Dan Gillmor, Mercury News Technology Columnist

In the constant battle to preserve what's left of our privacy and roll back some of the invasions we've already suffered, one reality is all too clear: Elected officials are not on our side.

Last week brought the latest perversion of the public will, the cowardly refusal of the California Legislature to enact even modest improvements in financial privacy. The voters will do it instead, in a ballot measure next year.

Meanwhile, state and federal lawmakers are almost totally oblivious to future threats, including some that should be dealt with before they cause trouble. For example, retailers will soon be installing little identifying radios, a technology known as RFID, into items they sell, enabling a host of new privacy invasions that could make the status quo seem benign.

We all understand why lawmakers hold the public good, and will, in such contempt. They tend to vote on behalf of their financial benefactors. Commercial interests see our privacy as a barrier to their business.

Game over? No. We have to care enough to take matters into our own hands. Pressuring politicians is vital, but it's plainly not enough. We'll need to do a little multitasking to retrieve our right to be left alone.

Californians have more options than most Americans. We can pass our own laws by going over the heads of paid-for public officials, through the ballot initiative process.

Through their toadies in Sacramento, the nation's largest financial conglomerates and their allies killed SB 1, an already watered-down bill by State Sen. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, in an Assembly committee vote. It would have given us somewhat more ability to prevent the financial giants from peddling our personal information without our specific consent. The legislation's death was a replay of previous years' charades, in which politicians pretended to support financial privacy but somehow couldn't find a way to make it law.

A majority of a key committee's members failed to vote, thereby preventing the bill's passage while giving them a way to claim they weren't opposing privacy. They won't get away with it, if their opponents in next year's elections, assisted by the press, hold them to account. The industry that lobbied so effectively won't get away with it, either.

Maybe some of these craven legislators will lose in primary elections next March. If so, that will be a delicious dessert for privacy-hungry people, because that's when the state's voters will pass a ``California Financial Privacy Initiative.'' To learn more and find out how you can help get the initiative on the ballot, visit the organizers' Web site ( www.california ).

The financial giants will fight back, of course. They'll warn of horrific problems if we pass this law, and they'll blanket us with deceptive advertising. But they'll discover, as they did in North Dakota a couple of years ago, that the lies will only reinforce voters' determination to rescue their privacy.

Citigroup, Wells Fargo, State Farm and the other conglomerates are going to learn a hard, expensive lesson. They can buy the Legislature, but not the people.

The financial industry is nothing if not resourceful. It will surely attempt to pull an end run, asking Congress for a nationwide law that would prohibit individual states from enacting stronger privacy measures.

Write your U.S. representative ( ) and senators ( ), and demand a) that he or she enact serious privacy measures or b) reject moves to further weaken the already inadequate federal laws we have. It may feel futile, but the lawmakers pay attention to letters, especially when they're not part of an organized special-interest campaign.

ANOTHER THREAT : Once the financial privacy law goes into effect in California, it'll be time to look into another emerging threat: the tiny, increasingly cheap RFID (radio frequency identification) tags that many companies want to embed in products.

They have some good reasons to do this. RFID tags, which could appear in significant numbers within several years, could bring vastly greater efficiency to what's known as the ``supply chain'' from manufacturers' factories to store shelves. Knowing where products are at all times, and then knowing when and where they've been sold so inventories can be maintained at appropriate levels, is plainly a smart and useful idea.

But the RFID industry is not being sufficiently straightforward with the public about the privacy implications. If these tags are still working when they leave the store, the surveillance opportunities -- corporate America sees these as research and marketing opportunities -- are obvious and disturbing.

Our elected officials should enact laws, soon, that will protect our privacy. Retail RFID tags should be disabled -- with no possibility of revival -- or removed before they leave the stores. Period.

The RFID lobby was embarrassed last week when documents describing a deceptive pro-tag public-relations plan were revealed on a Web site at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where some of the development work is taking place. One suggestion was to rename them ``Green Tags,'' apparently to suggest environmental friendliness. (Think ``money'' instead.)

This should plainly be a federal issue, but given the overwhelming pro-business tilt in Washington these days, the states may have to take it on themselves. Maybe California's Legislature will do the right thing and save the voters some time and effort.

But you have another way of influencing this particular discussion short of another ballot initiative. Wal-Mart is the main retail and corporate force behind the move to RFID, by many accounts, though it may be having second thoughts about an early retail deployment. If you're a Wal-Mart customer, tell the store manager the next time you're there that you will reconsider your shopping behavior if the retailer is primary enabler of such spying. (And please let me know the response.) If Wal-Mart does the right thing, so will others.

Some believe it's too late to salvage our privacy, that this kind of advice is useless. I'm not certain they're wrong. But if we don't try, we'll make the worst case the certain one. So let's work on this, together. Dan Gillmor's column appears each Sunday and Wednesday. Visit Dan's online column, eJournal ( ). E-mail ; phone (408) 920-5016; fax (408) 920-5917.
3:07:26 PM    comment []

RFIDs will have a huge effect in discovery patterns that people didn't know before. This will create a huge business in discovering that information and using that information. Businessmen will have to protect that information zealously. RFID, wireless and GPS will enable many new products and services.

These new items of information will be trade secrets. Don't forget to protect them.

Intellectual property law rewards those who aggressively defend their secrets and their marks.

Thanks to Dave Farber

------ Forwarded Message From: Dewayne Hendricks

[Note: This item comes from reader Monty Solomon. The intial news of Wal-Mart taking the step to use RFID got a lot of coverage. This backing away from its use to me is even of more significance. I remember attending a conference of mostly high-tech folks a few months ago where there was a presentation on RFID and they had a very strong reaction against the use of the technology for various privacy issues. DLH]

At 12:56 AM -0700 7/11/03, Monty Solomon wrote: From: Monty Solomon Subject: Gillette, Wal-Mart drop plan for radio ID chips Date: Fri, 11 Jul 2003 00:56:19 -0700 MIME-Version: 1.0

Gillette, Wal-Mart drop plan for radio ID chips

Plan had raised concerns over privacy of consumers

By Hiawatha Bray, Globe Staff, 7/10/2003

Customers at the Wal-Mart store in Brockton won't be getting miniature radio transmitter chips with their Gillette Mach 3 razors, after all.

Boston-based Gillette Co. and giant retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc. have backed away from plans to test the controversial chips at the Brockton Wal-Mart store. ''We didn't do the test, and we're not going to,'' said Wal-Mart spokesman Tom Williams.

Williams said the decision reflected a change in business strategy, rather than a reaction to an Internet-based campaign against the technology, known as radio frequency identification, or RFID.

Privacy advocates were concerned that the technology would be used to track consumers' purchases without their knowledge or consent.


Archives at:

Weblog at:

Someone else said: Don't make too much of Wal-Mart's decision to back off from deploying RFID at the shelf level. At current cost for RFID tags (10 cents per tag, even in bulk), it doesn't make business sense to do so at this time. Wal-Mart is still insisting that all of their major vendors begin using RFID on the pallet and case level, for inventory tracking purposes. This application is a much more cost-effective use of the technology. Over time, as vendors and wholesalers begin using them, costs for the tags will come down. Once prices are low enough (fractions of a cent per tag), we'll see them showing up on the shelves. This decision is merely an effort to put the cart back behind the horse.

Also keep in mind that Gillette is still moving forward with Tesco (UK) and Metro (Germany) to test RFID at the shelf level, so it is not as if this project is dead.
2:59:58 PM    comment []

Sunday, August 24, 2003

>Judge rejects Fox bid vs. Franken book > >- - - - - - - - - - - - >By ERIN McCLAM > >Aug. 22, 2003 | NEW YORK (AP) -- > >A federal judge on Friday denied Fox News Channel's request for an injunction to block humorist Al Franken's new book, whose title mocks the >Fox slogan "fair and balanced." > >U.S. District Judge Denny Chin said the book -- "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right" -- is a parody protected by the First Amendment. > >"There are hard cases and there are easy cases," the judge said. "This is an >easy case. This case is wholly without merit, both factually and legally." > >< snip > > >
4:14:51 PM    comment []
2:27:44 PM    comment []

Last week's blackout in the northeast U.S. is obviously a major story for IEEE Spectrum. > >We've collected some of our power-grid-related and other energy articles from the past few years and made them publicly available. The general URL for the collection is > >We'll also be posting new articles on the blackout as they're ready. Here are the links to the individual articles that are there now. They're in chronological order, but if you have time for only one, I recommend skipping down to "Restructuring the Thin-Stretched Grid." > > Steven >* 2002 Department of Energy grid study > >An expert team organized by the U.S. Department of Energy prepared to >release its National Transmission Grid Study at a time when other >authorities were sounding alarms about the state of the transmission system. > >See "Energy Team Readies Major Transmission Study," by Barbara Klein and William Sweet: > > > >>* 2001 Cheney task force on energy policy > >The controversial study headed by U.S. Vice President Richard B. Cheney squarely recognized a crisis in the electricity sector but took a rather one-dimensional view of the problem. Better ways of operating transmission systems, recommended by the policy arm of IEEE, got short shrift in the report. The study paid lip service, but not very forcefully, to strengthening the nation's self-managing reliability organization by giving it greater enforcement powers. > >See "Energy Woes," by William Sweet and Elizabeth A. Bretz: > > > >* Three views on deregulation of the U.S. electric industry > >The U.K. model on which U.S. electric industry deregulation was based is, after 10 years, a failure. In addition to the essay explaining Britain's deregulation woes, two other views on the problems inherent in the deregulation of electric energy are presented. > >See "Technology Offers Solutions to the Current Power Crisis" by Karl >Stahlkopf, "Electricity Restructuring in Britain: Not a Model to Follow" by Theo MacGregor, and "Putting Consumers First" by Glenn English: > > > >* Seeing at a glance what's up with the grid > >While the electric power system was designed as the ultimate in plug-and-play convenience, the humble wall outlet has become a gateway to one of the largest and most complex of man-made objects. Basically the grid in most of North America is just one big electric circuit encompassing billions of components, tens of millions of kilometers of transmission line, and thousands of generators. More than ever, it's essential for power traders, grid managers, public service boards, and the public itself to be able to see and imagine what's going on. See "Visualizing the Electric Grid," by Thomas J. Overbye and James D. Weber: > > > >* 2000 post-outage study team (POST) > >Following widespread power outages in the summer of 1999, from New York City and New England to Chicago and Texas, the U.S. Department of Energy convened an expert panel to diagnose the situation. A picture emerged in that panel's hearings of a power system that was already being stretched to its limits. Whether the talk was of generation and transmission capacity, distribution lines or control equipment, service personnel or simulation engineers, it was the same story: too few resources to easily satisfy demands made on systems designed for radically different requirements. > >See "Restructuring the Thin-Stretched Grid," by William Sweet: > > > >* An outstanding grid regulating organization > >Even at a time when the electric power system was stretched to its limits, and there had yet to be any serious test of the newly created "independent system operators" established to manage deregulated grid systems, one such organization stood out as exceptionally competent and effective. This was the Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Maryland ISO, or, formally, the PJM Interconnection-an organization that proved its mettle once again on 14 August, when it largely preventing the cascading outage that began in Ohio from infecting its control area. >See "PJM Interconnection: Model of a Smooth Operator," by Elizabeth A. Bretz: > > > >* Could hackers be the next big threat? > >When the northeastern grid went down on 14 August, suspicions immediately centered on the possibility of terrorism. That fear was almost certainly unfounded, but this does not mean that such threats are non-existent. The nation's electric power systems are more dependent all the time on communications, and those communications offer ill-willed hackers tempting targets. > >See "The Next Threat to Grid Reliability-Data Security," by David A. Jones and Ronald L. Skelton: > > > >* Lessons from the 1996 California outages > >The inglorious summer of 1996 blackouts taught the West to improve emergency control and protection and to sharpen simulation technique Though California would experience another huge electricity crisis in 2001-2002, that one was largely induced by a faulty system of deregulation that bankrupted the state's utilities. The state's independent system operator, working frantically, largely kept the lights on. > >See "Improving Grid Behavior," by Carson W. Taylor: > > > >* Challenges to grid reliability from deregulation > >Even as the lessons of California were being absorbed, it was evident that the process of separating electricity generation from transmission was sowing uncertainty as to who was responsible for making new investments-or even identifying new investment needs. And experts predicted that maintain reliable grids in a deregulated power industry would get harder, as temptations to cut corners multiplied. > >See "Keeping the Lights On," by John D. Mountford and Ricardo R. Austria: > > > >* The promise of new technology > >The promise of new technologies offering much closer management of electricity flows is still largely unrealized. One such technology, known as flexible ac transmission systems or FACTS, relies on large-scale semiconductor devices. Another technology, pioneered in the western grid system, allows power system dynamics to be monitored in real time. It depends on digital communications and GPS-based time-keeping. Yet even in 1997, the buildout and effective use of such system was hampered by inadequate financing and manpower, Spectrum learned from experts like former U.S. energy secretary Hazel O'Leary. > >See "Tighter Controls for Busier Systems," by Karl E. Stahlkopf and Mark R. Wilhelm: > > > >* Lessons from abroad? > >In the wake of the 14 August disturbance, former U.S. energy secretary Bill Richardson compared the U.S. electricity system to those of Third World countries. That may have been insulting to less advanced economies. In 1997, two emigré engineers from Russia argued that the United States had much to learn from practices developed in the former Soviet Union. However that may be, it's evident that there are poor countries with much more reliable grids, and few if any rich countries with grids that experience as frequent and serious problems. > >See "Heading Off Emergencies in Large Electric Grids," by Nickolai >Grudinin and Ilya Roytelman: > >

> Steven Cherry, +1 212-419-7566 > Senior Associate Editor > IEEE Spectrum, for Fair and Balanced technology news > 3 Park Ave, New York, NY 10016 >
1:51:03 PM    comment []

The government doesn't like people to make trouble. If you find out about a problem with your employer's security, tell your employer. If your employer isn't interested in hearing about shut up. That's the rule.

But here's another opinion:
1:03:36 PM    comment []

Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition. How much more information can your organization handle? Do you really want to know what you collect?
12:50:59 PM    comment []

Saturday, August 23, 2003

This was an unexpected patent trap for Microsoft. Patents and silent, hidden patent applications are a huge potential trap for the unwary.
12:37:17 PM    comment []

Saturday, January 3, 1970

Ha ha ha

---------- Forwarded message ---------- Date: Tue, 12 Aug 2003 14:48:39 -0400 (EDT) From: destiny To: Subject: "Fair and balanced"

To mock Fox News -- and their lawsuit against Al Franken -- a number of web-logs have changed their taglines to "Fair and Balanced." It's in the title bar of cartoonist Tom Tomorrow's, the well-read Eschaton, and several others.

I'm following suit. Fox New's self-description is transparently laughable -- and should apply equally well to the even-more opinionated universe of web-logs.

Destiny-land. Fair and balanced.
3:48:22 AM    comment []

Online Streaming of Movie Trailers Halted

Trailers Parked Shannon P. Duffy The Legal Intelligencer 08-13-2003

In a significant victory for movie studios, a federal judge has ruled that movie "trailers" are an art form unto themselves and protected by copyright law and therefore cannot be streamed on the Internet without permission. In his 24-page opinion in Video Pipeline v. Buena Vista Home Entertainment Inc., U.S. District Judge Jerome B. Simandle of the District of New Jersey also ruled that the "fair use" doctrine does not protect a company that created its own version of trailers for Disney and Miramax movies after the studios insisted that their trailers be taken off the Internet. "Trailers have become more than advertising material for other products; they have become valuable entertainment content in their own right," Simandle wrote. The plaintiff in the suit, Video Pipeline of Haddonfield, N.J., was seeking a declaratory judgment that its use of existing trailers and creation of its own trailers did not violate copyright law. But Simandle found that trailers, although not separately registered, are nonetheless protected by the movie's copyright, and that all of the defenses Video Pipeline asserted were invalid.
3:34:43 AM    comment []

The MS Blaster worm raises many questions.

THE END OF E-MAIL VIRUSES--AND ANTIVIRUS APPS By Robert Vamosi SECURITY: The MSBlast worm that wreaked havoc last week signals a sea change in the virus world. E-mail viruses are on their way out, says Robert, and so are antivirus solutions as we know them today.

Thanks to Declan: According to a Wired (,1377,59994,00.html) story today, Microsoft is confused why these worms continue plaguing users when the company's made great effort to improve the patch delivery process. Microsoft says it's working with federal law enforcement to find out who's behind the dastardly deed that's giving the software monopoly yet another embarrassing black eye in the media. This is a typical Microsoft response full of proactive sound of fury, but signifying nothing helpful. And the media's full of reporting about the pervasiveness of MSBlaster and what people can do to protect themselves against this "latest" cyber-threat.

Yet Microsoft says third-party software accounts for (,2000048600,20277185, m)>half of all Windows crashes. Funny, it also blamed the competing DR-DOS for Windows 3.1 crashes in an ( attempt to get people to buy MS-DOS back in the 1980s. (It was later discovered that Microsoft had engineered false error messages to trick users into buying MS-DOS.) It also said Internet Explorer couldn't be removed from Windows 95 without crippling the operating system, and was proven wrong by enterprising researchers. So Microsoft's track record for veracity isn't exactly stellar when it comes to its products and business practices.

But, few if any are mentioning the real issues here: MSBlaster's ability to affect practically all versions of Windows shows that despite Microsoft's marketing flacks, there is still significant code shared between all versions of Windows. Anyone who thinks DOS is dead, or Windows XP's code internals have little in-common with Windows NT 4 should think again. MSBlaster proves it.

Is there a link between MS Blaster and the east coast blackout? >Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2003 09:53:56 -0700 >From: (Justin Mason) >Subject: Could W32.Blaster have caused the blackout? >Sender: >To: > >Thanks to Dave > >There's an article from Heise Security in Germany at [1], which raises some interesting questions about whether W32.Blaster could be to blame for the blackout. Some translated points are at [2] -- quote: ... it becomes a bit more likely if one considers what the authors of that article found out: > > - The Niagara Mohawk power grid which seemed to got overloaded first is owned by National Grid USA. > - National Grid is listed as an important customer of Northern > Dynamic who call themselves the "OPC Experts". > - OPC is an acronym for OLE for Process Control and is used for communications between control systems. > - OPC is based on DCOM, exactly that Windows technology attacked by W32.Blaster. > - One symptom of a W32.Blaster attack is that a crashing DCOM service (not only under Windows), often taking down the whole server. > > One usage of OPC is the coupling of so-called SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems. Among other things is SCADA used in powerplants and grids to exchange data between some central instance and external measuring units. And for some reason did the monitoring system which should prevent snowball effects like the one on thursday from happening. >> So the questions the authors of the article have are: >> - For which processes does National Grid utilise OPC? > - Were there any problems regarding OPC when the power went down? > - If yes, were they related to W32.Blaster? >1. >2.

Thanks to SANS --Blaster Worm Code Flawed (12/15/16 August 2003) A flaw in the code of the Blaster worm may be Microsoft's "saving grace." The code instructs computers still infected with Blaster to begin a denial-of-service attack against Microsoft's patch site; however, the address in the code is incorrect. While Microsoft had routinely redirected visitors who made that same error to the correct site, the company has disabled that feature in an effort to stave off the attack. Many experts feel that while Blaster was not well written or conceived, future worms that exploit the vulnerability could be more powerful and dangerous.,4814,84077,00.html [Editor's Note (Schultz): Both Mr. Coope and Mr. Toulouse are missing the main point here. I suppose they can debate the merits (or lack thereof) of the specific mechanisms of Microsoft's patch management program all they want; the real issue is that there are so many security vulnerabilities in Microsoft products that the IT community is so overwhelmed that it has chosen a path of least resistance, accepting an inferior solution (namely, Windows Update) or, worse yet, allowing vulnerabilities to go unpatched, as in the case of the many systems that succumbed to MSBlaster.]

--Blaster Variants and the RpcSpybot Trojan are Spreading (13/14 August 2003) Two variants of the Blaster worm, Blaster.B and Blaster.C have been detected in Asia. Because of their similarity to the original worm, anti-virus scanners should detect them. In addition, a Trojan named RpcSpybot-A that exploits the same Windows vulnerability that Blaster exploits has been spreading. RpcSpybot creates a backdoor on systems it infects.,aid,112002,00.asp

--Worm's Publicity May Raise Security Awareness (14 August 2003) Some in the security community have pointed out there is a "silver lining" to the Blaster worm; incidents like Blaster and Code Red raise awareness of the need to address computer security. Because of the immense publicity Blaster has generated, home users are more likely to visit Microsoft's windows Update ( and download patches. Editors' Note (Multiple): This has not been true of previous worms and it is not likely to be true of Blaster.]

--Blaster Hits Scandinavian Bank (15 August 2003) Blaster wormed its way into servers at all 440 offices of Scandinavia's Nordea bank; the bank was forced to close at least 70 of its branches in Finland.

--Blaster Infected Unprotected PC Within Minutes (13 August 2003) In an effort to gauge how fast computers were becoming infected with Blaster, a security company put an "unprotected" PC on the Internet. At one point, the machine became infected in 5 1/2 minutes; later in the day, it took only 27 seconds. Among the entities hit by Blaster are the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta (GA) and German automaker BMW.

--Blaster Emphasizes Patching Problems (12 August 2003) The rapid spread of the Blaster worm highlights the problems inherent in the present state of patching methods. Home users are less likely than business users to patch their computers. Still, companies need time to test patches before installing them, which itself can be a time-consuming process. Patching needs to be part of a more in-depth security plan that includes securing internal networks in addition to perimeter defense.

London -- Computer systems across London came to a halt on Friday trying to deal with the vast number of e-mails being spread by the destructive Sobig-F computer virus. Several firms were forced to suspend e-mail service to deal with the backlog of messages containing the virus, while British Telecom's high-speed Internet service for business users crashed, leaving customers unable to access the Internet. Experts confirmed that London is the worst affected European city due to the large number of computers in the capital. The virus doubled its progress overnight, with about 22.5 million infected e-mails spotted by one anti-virus company.

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