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British Lawmakers: "If a product looks like gambling and feels like gambling, it should be regulated"

A U.K. House of Lords empowered committee called for video games with loot crates (aka loot boxes) to be classified as games of chance and "immediately" brought under the country's stringent gambling regulations under the Gambling Act 2005. "If a product looks like gambling and feels like gambling, it should be regulated as gambling," the committee says in its report, cited by the BBC. "The government must act immediately to bring loot boxes within the remit of gambling legislation and regulation," stated one of its members.

The report has sparked a debate in the U.K. about whether the Gambling Act 2005 is up to the task when dealing with contemporary and new forms of gambling, especially one with potentially billions of Pounds in market size. Lord Michael Grade, chair of the committee, in an interview with the BBC highlighted how several other countries already identify loot crates as a form of gambling as "they can see the dangers" which is teaching "kids to gamble." He argued that the Gambling Act can regulate video game loot crates without needing any legislation in the way of amendments.

To Boost or not to Boost: South Korea Looking to Make "Game Boosting" Illegal

Game Boosting refers to the practice of gamers to pay other, more skilled players to "boost them up" to higher ranks, mainly in competitive multiplayer games. The practice sometimes takes the form of paid partnership with a team of skilled players (where the player that's receiving the boost is of much lower skill, but gets pulled along with the remaining members of the team's efforts) or by actually giving a player access to your account, to play as if he/her was you, and cashing in on his/her better "skillz". This practice, it goes without saying, goes against the competitive nature of certain games, and if you know your South Koreans, you know they take competitive gaming very, very (really, very) seriously.

This is why the country is seemingly looking to put an "illegal" tag on game boosting, as in, illegal enough to warrant prosecution and an actual sentence to jail (a maximum prison sentence of two years and a fine of 20 million won ($18,000). This isn't something that has been cooked up overnight: an amendment to the "Law on Game Business Development" bill was first proposed earlier this summer, and has now passed the National Assembly Legislation Review Committee, bringing it one step closer to becoming law.

AMD Settles in "Llano" Investor Lawsuit by Coughing up $29.5M

AMD Tuesday agreed to settle in its longstanding class-action lawsuit by investors for making misleading guidance over its first-generation accelerated processing units (APUs), codenamed "Llano." AMD was alleged to have oversold the potential of "Llano" in driving up revenues to the company, causing losses to investors. AMD is reported to have reached an agreement with the class to settle for USD $29.5 million. The settlement is yet to be approved by Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, who has been hearing the case since 2014, sitting in session for the US District Court in Oakland, California. Under the proposed deal, AMD's insurers foot the bill for the settlement, while it continues to deny any wrongdoing.

NVIDIA Loses Patent Infringement Claim Lawsuit to Samsung

The United States Federal Trade Commission (US-FTC) has found that Samsung Electronics did not infringe upon patents held by NVIDIA. In a ruling made by Judge Thomas Pender on Friday (09/10), it's held that Samsung did not infringe two out of three NVIDIA-claimed patents, it did infringe upon a third one, but that patent is invalid because it's not a new invention compared to previously known patents.

Samsung manufactures the Exynos brand ARM SoCs for its own smartphones, which embed a graphics core that NVIDIA claims is based on patent infringing technology. NVIDIA, which claims that it invented the first GPU and released it in 1999, accused Samsung and Qualcomm of using its patents on graphics chip technology without permission. The company claims that both Samsung Exynos and Qualcomm Snapdragon (which make up a majority of Android device chips), breach its IPR. Its claims don't seem to hold water with the US-FTC. "We remain confident in our case," commented NVIDIA spokesperson Robert Sherbin to Reuters. The ruling will be reviewed by the full bench of the commission in February 2016.

Foxconn Admits to Breach of Anti- Child Labor Laws

Foxconn admitted to employing interns as young as 14 years, in what is a breach of labor laws in China, where the minimum age for such employment is 16. The company, in a statement accessed by CNET advised that it found the matter "not only a violation of China's labor law, it is also a violation of Foxconn policy," and that "immediate steps have been taken to return the interns in question to their educational institutions." The company launched an investigation and promises action against permanent staff members who allowed the breach in regulations to happen. This development follows a strain of bad PR for Foxconn, which recently suffered riots in some of its facilities due to imposition of strict quality standards in manufacture of iPhone 5.

World's Smallest Silicon Wire Leads To Atomic-Scale Computing, Moore's Law Continues

News of quantum breakthroughs seem to be coming every few months now, edging ever closer towards the hallowed goal of building a quantum computer using quantum qubits rather than classical bits and bringing colossal improvements in computational power. This will eventually lead to applications that we can't even imagine now and possibly a true artificial intelligence of the kind one sees in the movies. Also, it would allow calculations that would normally take longer than the lifetime of the universe on a classical computer to be made in just a few seconds or minutes on a quantum one. A goal well worth striving for.

The latest breakthrough comes from the University of New South Wales, Melbourne University and Purdue University who have developed the smallest wire yet. It's a silicon nanowire, having the tiny dimensions of just one atom high and four atoms wide. This is a feat in itself, but the crucial part is that the wire is able to maintain its resistivity even at this atomic level, making it far easier for current to flow, thereby preventing the tiny wire from becoming useless. This will help with the continuation of Moore's Law, giving us ever more powerful computers at the present rate and opens the door to quantum computing within the next decade.

TechEYE has a more detailed article about this development. This is based on an ABC Radio interview with Michelle Simmons from the University of New South Wales and makes for fascinating listening.

AMD Flogging Dodgy Chips? Gets Slapped With Lawsuit

AMD has been slapped with a lawsuit by Quanta for allegedly selling faulty CPUs & GPUs that were unfit for purpose, since they didn't meet specified heat tolerances and subsequently failed. Taiwan-based Quanta may not have a name that the general public immediately recognizes, however they are actually the world's largest contract manufacturer of notebooks, so this lawsuit is a big deal. They claim that the faulty parts were used in notebooks made for NEC. The lawsuit was filed in a district court in San Jose, California and in the filing, Quanta claims they have "suffered significant injury to prospective revenue and profits". As Bloomberg reports, "the lawsuit also claims breach of warranty, negligent misrepresentation, civil fraud and interference with a contract."

Hurt Locker Copyright Extortion Racket In Tatters, Plaintiffs' Hypocrisy

Voltage Pictures, producers of movie Hurt Locker attempted to use a reverse class action tactic to extort hundreds of millions in 'settlement' claims aka extortion demands over alleged 'losses' due to 'piracy' - something that has never and can never, be quantified and proved. However, their attempt has failed miserably - plus read on for how Voltage Pictures did a little content 'theft' of their very own to make the movie.

The idea was to use the services of the US Copyright Group (USCG) to extract personal subscriber information from ISP's via subpoenas and then send demand letters averaging US $2,000 to hapless victims, with the hope of racking in a grand total of around US $94 million - way more than the film ever made, about US $12.6 million.
The USCG quickly unloaded lawsuit claims against 47K members of the unwitting American public, even as Voltage Picture spewed a stream of vitriol suggesting that the children and families of file sharers would hopefully "end up in jail".
explained DailyTech, putting it very well. Yes, let's get the kiddies in the name of corporate copyright and profit...

HP Printer Firmware Vulnerability Fixed: Opportunistic Lawsuit's Lost Opportunity?

Three weeks ago, we brought you news that researchers had apparently found serious vulnerabilities in the firmware of HP printers that can allow hackers to cause the fuser to overheat and almost make the paper inside catch fire. HP dismissed these claims as exaggerated, but said that they would look into it. Three days later, we reported that some enterprising New Yorker called David Goldblatt sued HP, alleging that he would not have bought their printers had he known about this problem beforehand, which seems a bit unlikely when you consider that HP is the number one printer brand by a mile. Now HP have released patches for these vulnerabilities and issued the following press release:

Sony's Anti-Class Action ToS Attracts Class Action Lawsuit!

In perhaps one of the more ironic legal moves to be seen recently, Sony's clause in its Terms of Service preventing PlayStation 3 owners from filing class action lawsuits has itself attracted a class action lawsuit! The lawsuit was filed in Northern California in November, by a man on behalf of PS3 owners who signed up for the PlayStation Network before September, when the ToS were updated and this anti-class action clause added.

The killer clause is buried deep into the contract and is very hard to spot, requiring the contract to be read all the way through with a fine toothcomb - if the reader can rise to the challenge of reading the complicated and dry legalese it's written in. Compounding the problem is that the agreement isn't even readily available online for anyone to study - it can only be viewed on the PS3 itself (so the console is already used before you can even see the agreement - hardly fair?) and appears near the bottom of the 21-page form. Previous agreements had been posted online for anyone to inspect. On top of that, the only way of opting out of it, is to mail a physical letter to Sony within 30 days of agreeing to the ToS - very inconvenient and likely to be forgotten by the average person. The main thrust of the lawsuit are allegations of unfair business practices, since PS3 owners are forced to choose between forfeiting their rights or access to the PSN. Note that since Sony introduced this clause, Electronic Arts and Microsoft have both introduced similar clauses, which doesn't put them in a very good light either and potentially at the receiving end of a lawsuit themselves.

Pirate Becomes Youngest EU Parliamentarian, Vows to Fight Archaic Laws and Mindsets

Amelia Andersdotter from Sweden will soon take oath as the youngest to join European Parliament in Brussels. The 24-year old member of The Pirate Party was voted to her seat more than two years ago, but her appointment was delayed all this while, due to bureaucratic hurdles. Andersdotter promises to fight archaic copyright laws and corporate interests.

In an interview to Torrent Freak, Andersdotter touched on issues like competition between telecommunication companies (state and private operators), certification, and the infamous ACTA legislation. "When national parliaments have been saying that they can't do anything about ACTA, activists and media just kind of happily accept. What national parliaments could do, and should do, is obviously tell their national governments not to sign the agreements. That is and would be within their power," she said. You can read the full interview at the source.

ITC Issues Notice of Final Determination in Rambus Matter Regarding NVIDIA Products

Rambus Inc., one of the world's premier technology licensing companies, today announced that the International Trade Commission (ITC) issued its notice of final determination in the action brought by Rambus against NVIDIA Corporation and other Respondents. In its notice, the ITC has affirmed the findings of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), with certain modifications. The final determination, including such modifications, has yet to be released.

On November 6, 2008, Rambus filed a complaint with the ITC requesting an investigation pertaining to certain NVIDIA products. The complaint sought an exclusion order barring the importation, sale for importation, and sale after importation of products that infringe nine of Rambus' patents. The accused products include graphics processors, application processors, media and communications processors, and chip sets which incorporate infringing memory controllers. The complaint named NVIDIA as a proposed Respondent, as well as companies whose products incorporate the accused NVIDIA products and are imported into the United States. These Respondents include: Asustek Computer Inc. and Asus Computer International, BFG Technologies, Biostar Microtech and Biostar Microtech International Corp., Diablotek Inc., EVGA Corp., G.B.T. Inc. and Giga-Byte Technology Co., Hewlett-Packard, MSI Computer Corp. and Micro-Star International Co., Palit Multimedia Inc. and Palit Microsystems Ltd., Pine Technology (Macao Commercial Offshore) Ltd., and Sparkle Computer Co. Four of the asserted patents were later withdrawn from the investigation.

Microsoft to Strip Windows 7 of IE and WMP for Europe, Abiding by Laws

Software giant Microsoft has had disturbed relations with the EU markets following series of lawsuits to penalise the company's alleged anti-competitive market practices. Abiding by the courts' judgments, Microsoft will release two special types of its upcoming Windows 7 operating system to sell in Euro-zone countries. The OS will be devoid of Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8 (MSIE 8) web-browser, and Windows Media Player (WMP) 12 multimedia software. The first type is Windows 7 E, which lacks MSIE 8 alone. The second is Windows 7 N, which lacks MSIE 8 and WMP 12. The standard type which includes both, will not be available in Euro-zone countries. These types maintain their variant hierarchy (with the lineup starting from Home Basic to Ultimate).

Furthermore, the copies of Windows 7 (E, N) will require a clean installation. Users will not be able to upgrade their existing Windows Vista installations with such types of Windows 7. This however, won't affect the standard version. The move puts users in a bit of inconvenience, since the OS will not remain web-capable as soon as it's installed. In an effort to make things as easy as possible for users, Microsoft is recommending OEM vendors to pre-install MSIE 8, or any web-browser they choose. MSIE 8 will be available as CD-ROM installation media at stores. It will also be available for users to download using FTP, so a web-browser could be downloaded and installed without the presence of another one. "We're committed to making Windows 7 available in Europe at the same time that it launches in the rest of the world, but we also must comply with European competition law as we launch the product," said Microsoft deputy general counsel Dave Heiner said in a written release. "Given the pending legal proceeding, we've decided that instead of including Internet Explorer in Windows 7 in Europe, we will offer it separately and on an easy-to-install basis to both computer manufacturers and users. We're committed to launching Windows 7 on time in Europe, so we need to address the legal realities in Europe, including the risk of large fines. We believe that this new approach, while not our first choice, is the best path forward given the ongoing legal case in Europe," he added.

Pakistan Blocks YouTube

It seems that America and the United Kingdom aren't the only countries caught in a sudden desire to become authoritarian. Pakistan is blocking websites that they feel either will pervert their citizens culturally or politically. YouTube recently made the list for both reasons. There's plenty of sketchy X-rated material on the website, and it's cousin, X-tube. However, it's more likely than not that YouTube was blocked in Pakistan due to political footage. To be precise, someone managed to sneak proof of election fraud, in video form, onto YouTube. Pakistan obviously doesn't want anybody to see this, so they bury the video. When it comes bouncing back later, Pakistan got mad and completely blocked out the site.

Canadian Police Slay Zombie Network With up to 1 Million Members

In response to one of the largest hacking scams in the history of Canada, police from Quebec raided several homes across Quebec, and arrested 16 people, between the ages of 17 and 26. Their crimes, other than making a million zombies, include creating phishing sites that earned them a respectable kickback of $45 million CAD. Canadian authorities claim that these million computers were mainly in Poland, Brazil, Manitoba, and America. Government computers may have been compromised as well, but investigators will not disclose where those computers may have been. Regardless, many of these zombies are coming back from the brink, and it seems this crisis is, for the most part, contained.

UK to Threaten ISPs who Refuse to Comply with Demands of Pirate-Hunters

One by one, the European Union territories are falling to the will of the music and movie industries. If either of those industries demands to see some information from an ISP, they'd better comply. By April 2009, if an ISP does not co-operate, then they can face legal punishment from the government. This move came after a meeting between ISPs and the recording industries, which resulted in no universally pleasing solution. The government would much rather see a voluntary solution, but understands that when that isn't going to happen, they have to step in and do what they feel is right. More secure legislation should be developed over the course of this year. Current estimates claim that over 6 million broadband internet subscribers are active pirates.

McAfee Defends Plan to Stick Children's Information on Single Database

Scottish Prime Minister Gordon Brown recently unveiled epic plans to place the information of every child's health, education and social/economic status on one database for the UK to access, to much protest. The Prime Minister believes that placing all this information on one central database will eliminate confusion, streamline necessary medical care, and have all sorts of other benefits. The Prime Minister also feels that if all the information is in one central location, it will be a lot more secure, and a lot harder to lose. Most UK citizens feel that this is really not the way to be doing things, claiming that his central database would be the target of hackers, pedophiles, terrorists, and other baddies as long as the database remained operational. McAfee subsidiary SafeBoot feels otherwise. The only easy way for the previously mentioned baddies to get such touchy information is to snatch it while it's unencrypted and in transport. By eliminating several instances of unencrypted transport, and by solidifying security, things suddenly get much safer.

Norwegian Police Pwn MPAA Lawyer

"Pirate chasing" lawyer Espen Tøndel works for the MPAA, and would love to see everyone who's ever used a file sharing network/client to download or upload copyrighted content either make reparations or go to jail. Tøndel was most recently seen in Norway, chasing a bunch of IP addresses. When Tøndel took this list of IP addresses to the police, they flat out told him that they will not chase petty criminals when murderers, rapists and other baddies roam Norwegian streets. Tøndel, infuriated, decided to take his case to higher court. He requested a meeting with the Norwegian department of justice. He instead got a flat "no" answer, and was effectively told that he might as well file suits against the pile of IP addresses, because no Norwegian police agency was going to bother itself with solving the petty piracy cases. It is unclear whether or not Tøndel has actually tried to sue the IP addresses, or if the suits utterly failed because he never could tie the IP addresses to a name.

New Mexico Seeks to Put Taxes on Televisions/Video Games

In a desperate bid to get children off their rear ends and out into the real world, New Mexico is currently trying to get a bill passed which will effectively tax video games and televisions. At this point, the tax would be almost negligible (1% extra on all appropriate paraphernalia). Dubbed the "Television Tax", the funds gathered from it would actually be put towards noble causes. Funds will be used to...
  • Develop curriculum-based programs for teachers to use on public lands and at other outdoor learning sites for outdoor education initiatives.
  • Develop hands-on teaching materials for children for use in outdoor education programs.
  • Provide transportation for children to experience outdoor education programs.
  • Provide substantial and frequent outdoor experiences for children.
  • Increase outdoor nature-oriented physical activity programs for school-age children.

UK Government Plans to Compile Massive Database of Citizens' Academic Records

So, apparently the United Kingdom is considering compiling a database. Logged in this database will be the academic records of every UK citizen aged 14 or older. This isn't going over very well with anyone. To start things off, the government's track record with data isn't the cleanest (anyone remember the little incident with lost health records?). The main beef that most people have with this plan is that it gives possible employers access to the academic records of people. What's wrong with this is put into words quite elegantly, as stated by a professor from the University of London:
This disregards how people change throughout their lives. Academic records are no indication of future success. There are many reasons for the grades we get: they might reflect the teaching or a personal crisis. People who do badly at school often do well later in life. There's a danger that these records prevent change and progress for the better.
Whether the UK plans to continue compiling this database after such criticism is unclear at this point.

America's First Amendment Extended to Internet Trolls

While most people inside and outside America feel that the right of free speech has succumbed to weaker minds and a move towards political correctness, a recent court decision would prove otherwise. DailyTech summed up what happened pretty nicely:
A California judge in the Sixth Appellate District in Santa Clara County last week ruled that anonymous trolls on the Internet are allowed to stay anonymous. Along with remaining anonymous, Internet trolls are able to say what they like, by exercising their First Amendment rights, no matter how belittling is it.
This decision reversed a prior ruling made just two years ago, in which ten subpoenas were issued to people that would fit into the definition of "internet trolls" who took things to new extremes.

European Union Raids Intel in Search of Evidence for Anti-Trust Case

At this point, it seems as though Intel has just about everything in the world going right for them. They're getting a lot of money, their CPUs are in just about every computer, and they have had the best products on the market for the past several months. However, AMD and the European Union don't feel like Intel got this success in a legitimate manner. And so, the European Union sent law enforcement agents to do surprise raids. The raids being sent out are searching for one thing in particular: hard evidence that Intel pressured retail stores to avoid AMD-based products. These charges are added on to similar monopoly charges already put upon Intel by the European Union.

Anti-Trust Lawsuit Claims Microsoft Knowingly Deceived Vista Customers

The whole "Vista Capable" sticker scandal was a mess, pure and simple. However, new evidence has prompted a new anti-trust lawsuit against Microsoft. It would seem as though it's entirely plausible that Microsoft was indeed trying to pull a fast one past Vista customers. Everyone who was shopping for a PC, or used a relatively-new PC a couple months before the Vista release probably saw that it came with a "Vista Capable" sticker. The new evidence shows that Microsoft may have planted Vista Capable stickers on computers not ready to run Vista at all, be it the premium version or the normal version. Men from inside Microsoft did everything from reprimand members of marketing to scoff at retailers who sent letters of concern to Microsoft. We'll keep you posted on what exactly comes out of this lawsuit. If you bought a "Vista Capable" computer with a "Vista Capable" sticker on it, you may just qualify for a settlement if this case comes through for the prosecution.

In short, it has been a very bad week for Microsoft.

Record Label 'Quits', Uploads Music Directly to Pirate Bay

Piracy really needs no introduction. The RIAA is on it like a fat kid to cake, and a sizable chunk of internet users do it. Artists and record labels are caught in the middle of things, the victim in both cases. If pirates win, they make no money. If the RIAA wins, nobody will pay for their music. And so, in what is likely to be the only time this happens, an independent record label is hoisting a white flag. All music that German record label Dependent Records owns will be uploaded directly to The Pirate Bay. Dependent Records attracted mainly aggrotech, electro-industrial and futurepop artists. Dependent Records is doing this because they had to close shop recently, but still want the artists to see some exposure.

Update: The record label Dependent has informed us that this news posting is not true and that the owner Mr. Herwig has been an opponent of file sharing for a long time. Apparently the original news source Torrentfreak did not do their research properly.

UK Censorship Board to Review Game Rating Policy

With violent video games such as Manhunt 2 causing controversy, the British government is reconsidering the exact rating system. At this point, games are given to the British Board of Film Classification, who slaps an appropriate rating on the game. Selling games to children under the rating's age class is grounds for arrest. However, up to 90% of games needing a high-class rating bypass this system by getting their games rated by the much more relaxed PEGI system. And so, the British government decided that it was high time to change things around. No matter how things turn out, the British government wants their citizens to know that this is being done to "protect children from damaging games". They also want you to know that their definition of a damaging game involves "gross violence towards humans or animals, human sexual or excretory activity, or scenes that would show people how to commit a crime".
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