Perhaps Myles Weathers' biggest mistake was not calling it quits after stealing 2,000 Netflix DVDs instead of 3,012. Or maybe he should have been more careful about removing the DVDs from Netflix mailers in front of surveillance cameras. Then again, the whole idea is dumb to begin with, and we imagine the 49-year-old former postal worker is kicking himself pretty hard right about now.
Weathers, who worked at a mail processing and distribution center in Springfield, Massachusetts, was picked up by authorities last year after Neflix officials fielded a hunch that perhaps thousands of missing DVDs meant something shady was going on. Surveillance footage confirmed the suspicion when it showed Weathers stuffing the stolen DVDs into his backpack, but not before he managed to lift over 3,000 discs valued at more than $30,000.
Weathers pleaded guilty yesterday to federal theft charges and is scheduled to be sentenced December 23, 2009. His felony plea carries a maximum of 5 years in prison, but will likely receive 1 year, The Smoking Gun reports.
Earlier this year, the European Commission nailed Intel with a record setting $1.45 billion fine for what it construed as anticompetitive practices, and on Monday the EC published a non-confidential version of its Intel Decision laying out all the details that led to the hefty fine.
The EC seems to have taken particular exception to conditional rebates offered by Intel, listing no less than five scenarios, including rebates to Dell from December 2002 to December 2005 in exchange for purchasing exclusively Intel CPUs. But according to the paper, Intel also dangled the conditional carrot in front of Acer, HP, NEC, Lenovo, and Media Saturn Holding during various times from 2002 up until as recently as 2007.
Not only did Intel dictate how much AMD-based product each OEM could sell, but the chip maker also had clear directions on how AMD systems could be sold, according to the paper. For example, Intel payments to Acer were conditioned on Acer postponing the launch of an AMD-based notebook from September 2003 to January 2004. Lenovo was also advised to postpone a notebook launch, while payments to HP were conditioned on the OEM selling AMD-based business desktops only to small and medium enterprises, and only via direct distribution channels.
And that's only a portion of the paper. Get all the gory details here, then hit the jump and tell us whether you think the $1.45 billion fine was warranted or if Intel was doing what any company in its position would do.
Dude, you're getting a check. That is, if you live in New York and purchased a computer from Dell using a Dell-financed "no interest loan."
The OEM has reached a settlement with New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo in which the company will pay $4 million "in restitution, penalties, and costs to resolve charges of fraudulent and deceptive business practices that scammed consumers across New York State."
Cuomo initially filed the suit in 2007 accusing Dell of fraud, false advertising, and deceptive business practices over alleged misleading financing and failing to honor rebates, warranties, and service contracts.
"Today's announcement is the final step in ensuring New Yorkers harmed by Dell's deceptive and illegal business practices are fully compensated," said Cuomo. "Going forward, this deal means that Dell will have to clearly and fully disclose the terms and conditions of their products and services, to avoid this kind of fraud at the consumer's expense. We encourage anyone who was ripped off by Dell to come forward and file a claim to get their money back."
It should be noted that Dell admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement. Nevertheless, New York customers who think they may qualify for part of the $4 million settlement have until December 15 to file a claim, which they can do so at www.nyagdell.com.
In a recent blog post, Microsoft Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel Horacio Gutierrez makes a plea for "patent harmonization," pointing out current problems in patent application backlogs, lengthening pendency periods, rising costs of prosecuting patent violators, and other issues.
"Over 3.5 million patent applications are pending around the world, including over 750,000 in the U.S. Pendency periods are extending to three, four, or in some cases five years before final patents are issued," Gutierrez wrote. "The cost of this workload to patent applicants and patent offices is too high, and the delays in securing patents are too long for entrepreneurs and large enterprises alike."
Gutierrez proposes a global patent system, which he says would resolve these and other problems associated with the national patent system.
It's probably no coincidence that Microsoft's focus on overhauling the patent system comes not long after the software giant was prosecuted in Texas for patent infringement for its Word application. A District Court in Texas issued a permanent injunction prohibiting Microsoft from selling or importing any Word products to the U.S. that have the ability to open .XML, .DOCX, or DOCM (XML files) containing custom XML.
As another reminder that crime doesn't pay, 23-year-old Nicholas Woodhams, also known as the "iPod Mechanic," faces 13 months in prison after pleading guilty to mail fraud and money laundering charges. Woodhams was also ordered to pay $648,568 in restitution to Apple and $8,066.85 to the U.S. Postal Service, Arstechnica reports.
According to the lawsuit, Woodhams ran a scam of exploiting Apple's advance replacement system for the iPod shuffle and reselling them through his own website. He also allegedly exploited Apple's iPod Warranty Service Program to get Apple to repair out-of-warranty iPods.
Woodhams' scam proved rather lucrative, but it's all going back. In addition to the above jail time and fines, Woodhams must forfeit about $750,000 worth of criminally acquired assets, including his house in Michigan, an Audi S4, an Ariel Atom 2, a Honda motocyle, and over $500,000 in cash. Ouch.
The Swedish courts are doing everything it can to decimate The Pirate Bay -- at least in its current form -- from the Internet, and that includes ordering the torrent tracking site's ISP to disconnect TPB from the Internet. The penalty for failing to comply would have been 500,000 kroner, or $70,600, so the ISP did what was ordered saying it had no choice but to uphold the law.
Game, set, match for the Swedish courts then, right? Not so fast. Rather than jump ship and throw in the towel, The Pirate Bay just jumped servers instead. And true to TPB's form, it had a defiant message for Swedish authorites.
"Even though large parts of the Internets and many old and famous trackers have fallen or may fall into the grip of the lfpi and all the odious apparatus of MPAA rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end," TPB said in a statement.
In related news, Global Gaming Factor will vote this Thursday whether or not to proceed with plans to purchase the controversial site and proceed to turn it legit.
Good news today for Terry Childs, a former network administrator accused of hijacking San Francisco's computer network he designed and maintained. A judge has dropped three tampering charges against Childs, leaving just the sole charge of denying city authorities access to the network.
Childs, who has been in custody since July 2008, was working at San Francisco's Department of Telecommunication Information Services for five years before allegedly being disciplined for poor performance. Superiors also accused him of electronically spying on his supervisors and their attempt to fire him. Among the allegations, Childs is said to have refused to surrender secret codes that would allow access to the system, but ultimately coughed them up to San Francisco Mayer Gavin Newsom in a secret meeting after spending a week in jail.
According to Child's attorney, his client was only trying to protect the network from incompetent city officials who were trying to force him out of a job and that there was no malice involved. Childs is currently being held on $5 million bail.
Last month, Twitter co-founder Isaac "Biz" Stone jotted down in a blog post his intention of trademarking the term "Tweet," which at the time probably seemed like a slam dunk request. Instead, the request is turning out to be no easy layup as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has preliminarily denied the patent app.
Whether or not the decision is fair, we'll leave that up to you decide, but here's the deal Three other companies -- TweetMarks, Cotweet, and Tweetphoto -- already have pending applications for trademarks that contain "tweet" in their names. This was enough to make the Patent Office gunshy in granting Twitter's request, at least for now, even though Stone expressed in his blog his company's willingness to let developers use the term.
"We have applied to trademark Tweet because it is clearly attached to Twitter from a brand perspective but we have no intention of 'going after' the wonderful applications and services that use the word in their name when associated with Twitter," Stone wrote on the same day the patent application was filed. "In fact, we encourage the use of the word Tweet. however, if we come across a confusing or damaging project, the recourse to act responsibly to protect both users and our brand is important."
Should Twitter be granted the trademark? Hit the jump and sound off!
Got a beef with a 17-year-old girl? If so, one way not to settle it is to post a fake "Casual Encounters" Craigslist ad posing as the person you're peeved with. That's the lesson a Missouri woman is learning the hard way, who now faces felony cyber bullying charges for said ad.
A little history is in order here. After MySpace harassment led to a 13-year-old to commit suicide in the "MySpace Mom" case, Missouri changed its anti-harassment law to include cyber bullying, becoming the first state to enact such legislation. Violations are normally a misdemeanor, but Missouri's legislation allows for charges to be upgraded to a felony if the victim is under 18 and the suspect is over 20, a move intended to prevent adults from bullying minors.
In this case, 40-year-old Elizabeth Thrasher got into an argument with her ex-husband's current girlfriend on MySpace. The girlfriend's 17-year-old daughter got involved in the spat, and Thrasher ultimately ended up creating a fake personal ad on Craigslist and included the girl's photo, email address, and cell phone number.
If convicted, Thrasher could face up to four years in state prison and a $5,000 fine.
Jammie Thomas is running out of options. Found guilty in 2007 of copyright infringement and ordered to pay $220,000 for willfully making available 24 songs via peer-to-peer, she now owes a whopping $1.92 million following a retrial earlier this year. Surely the Department of Justice would step in and find the nearly $2 million fine unconstitutional, right?
Wrong. According to ArsTechnica, the huge of amount of damages (Thomas ended up owing $80,000 per song) were not intended just to apply to big corporations, but also to "deter the millions of users of new media from infringing copyrights." The only time the DOJ would have a problem with a fine is if it become "so severe and oppressive as to be wholly disproportional to the offense and obviously unreasonable," something for which a $1.92 million fine for sharing 24 songs doesn't qualify.
"We are pleased the Administration has filed a brief supporting our position," an RIAA spokesperson told ArsTechnica. "Its views are consistent with the views of every previous Administration that has weighed in on this issue."