Bill to tear down federal courts’ paywall gains momentum in Congress

Enlarge / Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) disagree about many issues, but they both support the Open Courts Act. (credit: KEVIN DIETSCH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved the Open Courts Act—legislation to overhaul PACER, the federal courts’ system for accessing public documents. The proposal would guarantee free public access to judicial documents, ending the current practice of charging 10 cents per page for many documents—as well as search results.
The bill must still be passed by the full House and the Senate and signed by the president. With Election Day just seven weeks away, the act is unlikely to become law during this session of Congress.

Still, the vote is significant because it indicates the breadth of Congressional support for tearing down the PACER paywall. The legislation is co-sponsored by Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), whose bill we covered in 2018,


Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1707000

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Trump calls TikTok a hot brand, demands a chunk of its sale price

Today the president appeared to bless the budding Microsoft-TikTok deal, continuing his evolution on a possible transaction. After stating last Friday that he’d rather see TikTok banned than sold to a U.S.-based company, Trump changed his tune over the weekend. TikTok is owned by China-based company ByteDance, which owns a portfolio of apps and services.
A weekend phone call between Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, and the American premier appeared to change his mind, leading to the software company sharing publicly on Sunday that it was pursuing a deal.
Then today the president, endorsing a deal between an American company and ByteDance over TikTok, also said that he expects a chunk of the sale price to wind up in the accounts of the American government.
The American president has long struggled with basic economic concepts. For example, who pays tariffs. But to see Trump state that he expects to receive a chunk


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Georgia’s Republican governor orders cities to stop requiring masks

Enlarge / Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp during a “Wear A Mask” tour stop in Dalton, Georgia, on Thursday, July 2, 2020. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp yesterday issued an executive order that overturns local mask-wearing requirements.
Kemp’s executive order says that “any state, county, or municipal law, order, ordinance, rule, or regulation that requires persons to wear face coverings, masks, face shields, or any other Personal Protective Equipment while in places of public accommodation or on public property are suspended to the extent that they are more restrictive than this Executive Order.”
Kemp, a Republican, issued the order despite evidence that masks are an effective tool in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Wearing masks is one of several important steps people can take to limit the spread of coronavirus, among others, such as hand-washing and social distancing. Kemp acknowledges that, as his executive order says, “all residents and visitors


Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1692276

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SpaceX launch footage was taken down thanks to bogus copyright claim

Enlarge / The Falcon 9 rocket climbs to space on Saturday. (credit: Trevor Mahlmann)
This weekend’s launch, in which SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket successfully propelled the Crew Dragon spacecraft and the two astronauts on board from Florida safely into space, was amazing, awe-inspiring, and frankly, just plain cool to watch. And here in the age of inexpensive, tiny high-definition cameras and streaming content, it should be easy to catch up on it if you missed it—or even if you just want to watch it again for fun. But for most of the weekend and into this morning, you couldn’t watch it at all, thanks to copyright content ID bots working overtime.
The May 30 launch was streamed live to NASA’s YouTube channel and then archived, along with several shorter clips and highlights taken from the day-long livestream. NASA footage, like photo and video from other government agencies, is generally published into


Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1680275

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ICANN blocks controversial sale of .org domain to a private equity firm

Enlarge (credit: dalton00 / Getty)
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the non-profit organization that oversees the Internet’s domain name system, has rejected a controversial proposal to sell the .org domain to a private equity group for more than $1 billion. It’s a serious—quite possibly fatal—blow to a proposal that had few supporters besides the organizations that proposed it.
Currently, the .org domain registry is run by the Public Interest Registry, a non-profit subsidiary of another non-profit called the Internet Society. PIR was created in 2002 to run the .org domain and has been doing so ever since. But last fall, the Internet Society stunned the non-profit world by announcing it would sell the PIR—and, effectively, ownership of the .org domain—to a new and secretive private equity firm called Ethos Capital for more than $1 billion.
The announcement created a swift and powerful backlash. In its resolution formally rejecting the


Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1672396

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Justices debate allowing state law to be “hidden behind a pay wall”

Carl Malamud, founder of Public.Resource.Org. (credit: Kirk Walter)
The courts have long held that laws can’t be copyrighted. But if the state mixes the text of the law together with supporting information, things get trickier. In Monday oral arguments, the US Supreme Court wrestled with the copyright status of Georgia’s official legal code, which includes annotations written by LexisNexis.
The defendant in the case is Public.Resource.Org (PRO), a non-profit organization that publishes public-domain legal materials. The group obtained Georgia’s official version of state law, known as the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, and published the code on its website. The state of Georgia sued, arguing that while the law itself is in the public domain, the accompanying annotations are copyrighted works that can’t be published by anyone except LexisNexis.
Georgia won at the trial court level, but PRO won at the appeals court level. On Monday, the case reached the Supreme Court.
Read


Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1627091

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Trump tweet gets it wrong on net neutrality ruling

President Trump this morning randomly addressed a recent court ruling on net neutrality, calling it a “great win” that will “lead to many big things including 5G.” Perhaps he didn’t read the ruling closely, because it in fact is an enormous blow to the FCC and the “unhinged” logic on which it based the rollback of net neutrality.
You can find a full analysis of the decision here, but Trump’s tweet ought to be addressed directly, because it is wrong in several ways.

We just WON the big court case on Net Neutrality Rules! A great win for the future and speed of the internet. Will lead to many big things including 5G. Congratulations to the FCC and its Chairman, Ajit Pai!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2019

First and most important, the FCC didn’t win this. Certainly it was a partial victory in that it wasn’t struck down and many of


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