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Tech News Roundup: Google’s Win, Vine’s Update, Yahoo vs. NSA, and the Inventor of the Mouse

| July 5, 2013
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Photo by JUNG YEON-JE/AFP

Google Wins Key Ruling in Book-Scanning Case

Jonathan Stempel, reporting for Reuters: “Google notched a legal victory in its bid to create the world’s largest digital books library, winning the reversal of a court order that had allowed authors challenging the project to sue as a group.

“A panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said Circuit Judge Denny Chin prematurely certified a class of authors without first deciding if the ‘fair use’ defense under U.S. copyright law allowed Google to display snippets of books.”

This ruling effectively means that authors would have to pursue legal claims individually rather than as part of a class. The “fair use” argument, should it prevail, would allow Google to continue with its massive scanning project, which already has produced digital copies of some 20 million books.

In the Latest Round in the Twitter-Facebook Video War, Vine Launches New Features

Jordan Crook, reported in TechCrunch that Twitter’s Vine, the six-second looping video app, has launched new features, including a “redesigned camera, categories for various vine genres, and the ability to revine people’s existing Vines.”

The move comes quickly after Facebook announced Instagram Video, a 15-second, non-looping video app.

Crook noted: “With Instagram’s recent launch of Instagram Video, many have posited that the end of Vine is near. However, Vine has shown rapid growth and an active community over the past six months, with over 13 million users on the service. The limits put forth within the app, like a six-second maximum, and a lack of editability, have actually made the app more appealing to users both creatively and consumption-wise.”

Yahoo Fought Against Turning Over Data to the NSA Back in 2008

Claire Cain Miller and Nicole Perlroth reported in the Bits Blog of The New York Times that Yahoo fought and lost a secret case with the government’s surveillance court in 2008 that set the stage for the basis on which Internet companies have been forced to provide massive amounts of data under the National Security Agency’s Prism program.

“The court used a heavily redacted version of the decision by the FISA court of review, published in 2008 without Yahoo’s name, to warn other companies that they need not even try to test the legality of FISA requests.”

In another twist on the data collection controversy, ProPublica’s Jeff Larson filed a Freedom of Information Act Request with the NSA to find out what information the agency had collected on him. The agency responded that it could not confirm or deny whether it collected Larsen’s metadata:

“Any positive or negative response on a request-by-request basis would allow our adversaries to accumulate information and draw conclusions about the NSA’s technical capabilities, sources, and methods. Our adversaries are likely to evaluate all public responses related to these programs. Were we to provide positive or negative responses to requests such as yours, our adversaries’ compilation of the information provided would reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security.”

The Visionary Who Invented the Computer Mouse Dies

John Markoff, writing in The New York Times about the life of one of the earliest computer visionaries, Doug Engelbart, who died this week at the age of 88:

“Engelbart was 25, just engaged to be married, and thinking about his future when he had an epiphany in 1950 that would change the world…The epiphany spoke to him of technology’s potential to expand human intelligence, and from it he spun out a career that indeed had lasting impact. It led to a host of inventions that became the basis for the Internet and the modern personal computer.”

His best known invention was the computer mouse, which he created in 1964.

 

 

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About the Author ()

David Weir is Senior Editor, Online News for KQED. He is a veteran journalist who co-founded the Center for Investigative Reporting, and was a reporter, writer and editor at numerous media companies, including Rolling Stone, Salon, Wired Digital, California Magazine, Mother Jones, 7x7, and Excite@Home. He has published four books and his articles have appeared in many publications including The Economist, The New York Times, New York Magazine, The Nation, LA Weekly, San Jose Mercury News, Wired News and Salon. Reach David Weir at david.a.weir@gmail.com.

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