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01/02/2021 16:11:14  

Elon Musk had just wrapped up a wide-ranging 90-minute interview on the audio chat app Clubhouse early on Monday, when he threw the hosts a curveball. "Do you want to hear the real story from Vlad [from] Robinhood about what happened on the Street with GameStop?" Musk asked. He advised the moderators to click on Robinhood CEO Vladimir Tenev so he could talk. From a report: That's when Musk launched into a torrent of questions, a CEO-to-CEO showdown over why the popular trading app had halted trading on the market's hottest stocks at one point last week. "Spill the beans, man," Musk said to Tenev, whom the Tesla CEO introduced as "Vlad the stock impaler." "What happened last week? Why couldn't people buy the GameStop shares? The people demand answers, and they want to know the truth." Musk, who has come under fire for quality control issues, business missteps and personal behaviors, asked Tenev what caused him to halt trades on GameStop and other heavily shorted stocks last week. Were more powerful entities, such as regulators, depriving smaller retail investors of a potential payday at the expense of shadowy hedge funds? Was Robinhood partner Citadel Securities responsible for the trading halt? "Is anyone holding you hostage right now?" Musk asked. [...] "If you had no choice, that's understandable, but then we got to find out why you have no choice," Musk said. "And who are these people that are saying you have no choice?" In response, Tenev suggested more transparency was needed in the formulas used by financial institutions to calculate these requirements. He emphasized how Robinhood was able to raise more than $1 billion in capital in 24 hours to reopen on Monday. Tenev would not commit to imposing no restrictions on the stocks.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

30/01/2021 06:10:35  

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg, which is "based on interviews with more than 30 current and former Amazon employees, most of whom spoke under the condition of anonymity citing fears of litigation or career repercussions." From the report: Mike Frazzini had never made a video game when he helped start Amazon Game Studios. Eight years later, he has released two duds, withdrew both from stores after a torrent of negative reactions and canceled many more. For a company that dominates countless areas of retail, consumer electronics and enterprise computing, the multiple failures in gaming show one realm that may be impervious toAmazon.com's distinctive business philosophy. It tried to make games the Amazon way, instead of simply making games people would want to play. Frazzini is an Amazon lifer who came up in the books section of the website, where he endeared himself to Jeff Bezos as a manager there. Conventional wisdom inside the company is that if you can run one business, you can run any other. Amazon's deep financial resources certainly help. As head of the games division, Frazzini has acquired established development studios and pushed the company to spend nearly $1 billion for the live video streaming website Twitch. Frazzini recruited some of the top names in the video game industry, including creators of the critically acclaimed franchises EverQuest and Portal, as well as executives fromElectronic Arts Inc.and other big publishers. Then, according to numerous current and former employees of Frazzini's game studios, he ignored much of their advice. He frequently told staff that every Amazon game needed to be a "billion-dollar franchise" and then understaffed the projects, they say. Instead of using industry-standard development tools, Frazzini insisted Amazon build its own, which might have saved the company money if the software ever worked properly. Executives under Frazzini initially rejected charges that New World, an Amazon game that would ask players to colonize a mythical land and murder inhabitants who bear a striking resemblance to Native Americans, was racist. They relented after Amazon hired a tribal consultant who found that the portrayal was indeed offensive, say two people who worked on the project. The game, previously planned for release last year, is now scheduled for this spring.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

24/01/2021 00:09:18  

Inside.com's developer newsletter spotted this code repository story: GitHub posted a DMCA notice it received from the Motion Picture Association (MPA) last week asking the platform to take down a repository associated with NYAA.si, a popular torrent site specializing in anime content. The DMCA captured attention as the code doesn't belong to the MPA. Rather, the MPA argues the code is used for the development of the site, which allows for copyright infringement, while the repo also makes it possible to create NYAA clones. The news comes a few months after GitHub restored the youtube-dl repository and created a $1m legal defense fund to help open source developers fight unwarranted DMCA Section 1201 takedown claims. At the same time, the platform also announced it will be improving its Section 1201 claim review process to make it harder to take down repos. But the next day, the newsletter reported GitHub had reversed the takedown: The company explains the notice didn't meet its DMCA Takedown Policy requirements as it failed to "establish that the code is preconfigured to infringe." GitHub adds that it also restored any content that was disabled because of the notice. Some context from TorrentFreak: This isn't the first time the MPA has gone after the anime torrent site. Last November we reported that the anti-piracy group sent cease and desist letters to several people who are allegedly connected to the site, describing it as an "Anime Cartel". TorrentFreak's latest update: A few weeks ago, the Motion Picture Association tried to shut the project down by going after several people who are allegedly linked to the site. Framing NYAA as an "Anime Cartel", the movie group demanded a total shutdown and tens of thousands of dollars in settlements... This takedown request initially succeeded as GitHub disabled the repository earlier this week. Before doing so, the platform reached out to the developers and gave them the option to respond or make changes, but that request went unanswered. Without a response from the developers, this is usually where things end. In this case, however, GitHub decided to carry out another review after the project was taken down, perhaps in part motivated by the news coverage. "While we didn't hear back from the maintainers, we chose to do another review ourselves to proactively see how we could resolve the issue," a GitHub spokesperson informs TorrentFreak... [A]t the time of writing the NYAA repository is up and running again. The MPA still has the option to provide additional information about the allegedly-infringing nature of the code, which would then trigger another review. GitHub stresses that it's their purpose to make sure that developers can host code within the boundaries of the law. Unless the entire repository is infringing, it's standard policy to allow developers to respond to DMCA claims before any content is removed.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

14/01/2021 06:07:18  

Torrent search engine is still up after years of whack-a-mole with copyright cops

One of the co-creators of notorious BitTorrent search engine The Pirate Bay has criticised free speech social network Parler for the lack of resilience that saw it go dark after Amazon Web Services booted it out of its cloud.…

05/01/2021 23:05:34  

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Torrent Freak: On December 21, 2020, Elsevier, Wiley, and American Chemical Society, filed a lawsuit hoping to have the court compel Indian ISPs to block both Sci-Hub and Libgen. Accusing the platforms of blatantly infringing their rights on a massive scale, the publishers said that due to the defiant nature of the platforms, ISP blocking is the only effective solution to hand. The massive complaint, which runs to 2,169 pages, was received by Sci-Hub with little time to review its contents. This not-insignificant issue was quickly pointed out to the Court, with counsel for Sci-Hub asking for an extension. After Sci-Hub assured the Court (pdf) that "no new articles or publications, in which the plaintiffs have copyright" would be uploaded to the site in advance of the next hearing, more time was granted to respond. The case is set for a hearing tomorrow but in advance of that, interested parties are attempting to put the government under pressure to intervene by preventing a blockade that, according to them, would cause damage to education and society in India. Speaking on behalf of thousands of scientists, academics, teachers and students, the Breakthrough Science Society (BSS) is expressing dismay at the publishers' efforts to prevent the "free flow of information" between those who produce it and those who seek it. [...] Instead of demonizing Sci-Hub founder Alexandra Elbakyan, the group describes her work as an effective solution to make research papers available to all for the benefit of humanity. As a result, the Breakthrough Science Society says it actually supports the work of Sci-Hub and Libgen, arguing that their work is not illegal and should continue unhindered. In an effort to pressure the Indian government to intervene on behalf of the people, the Breakthrough Science Society has launched a petition, calling on everyone from scientists and academics to teachers and students, to declare that knowledge should be accessible to all, not just those who can afford to pay the publishers' rates. Dr. Ashwani Mahajan, an Associate Professor at the University of Delhi, who among other things describes himself as a policy interventionist, says that if the ISPs are compelled to block Sci-Hub and Libgen, Indian researchers' access to information will be seriously undermined. While acknowledging that the government spends large sums of money to subscribe to journals, Mahajan says that researchers and students are heavily reliant on Sci-Hub and Libgen for information that the publishing industry itself does not pay for.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

02/01/2021 20:05:06  

Slashdot reader Charlotte Web quotes SiliconValley.com: Bay Area ride-hailing giant Lyft is accused in a series of new lawsuits of failing to protect female passengers from rape by drivers. One plaintiff claims she was 15 when her driver raped her and then forced her to take an anti-pregnancy pill. The December legal actions are part of a "mass tort" lawsuit initiated in August 2019 by 20 women alleging sexual assault by Lyft drivers. Several dozen women joined the case soon after, and lawyers for the plaintiffs plan to add hundreds more alleged victims. A trial is scheduled for January 2022... The suits also allege that Lyft "does not cooperate with police when a driver commits an illegal sexual attack on its passengers," requiring that "extensive standards be met" before it will consider police requests for information, and only releasing information in response to a subpoena... Lyft could, the suits allege, ensure that video is taken and saved of all rides, and the firm could track drivers if they leave their cars for any reason other than to provide temporary help to a passenger, and it could set up a system in which passengers must confirm their intention to significantly change routes or destinations. Lyft said it has developed in-app features allowing riders to share their location with family and friends, and to quickly and easily obtain emergency help from a security firm that can alert police upon a passenger's request. The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages, including punitive damages. The firm's rival, Uber, has also faced a torrent of allegations that it doesn't protect female passengers from sexual assault. After admitting last year that thousands of sexual assaults were reported during rides, Uber was fined $59 million this December for allegedly defying demands by California regulators for details about the reported attacks and its responses to them. Uber in response noted that its publicly issued safety report that acknowledged the sexual assaults was an industry first, and the San Francisco company described regulators' efforts to obtain details as a violation of victims' privacy.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.