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Just $59 for Roku 4 Streaming Media Player 4K UHD If...

You can pick up the Roku 4 4K UHD player for far below list price, if you're comfortable buying refurbushed. Which you can be -- certified refurbished products are tested and certified to look and work like new, and come with 90-day warranties. Roku provides access to 3,500+ channels on demand, offering 350,000+ movies and TV episodes, and the ability to search across the top streaming channels.

Follow movies, TV shows, actors, and directors and get automatic updates when new content is ready to stream. Roku 4 will automatically adapt and deliver the best picture quality your TV can display.

Advanced upscaling ensures that your TV’s maximum resolution will be optimized, so whether you have an HD TV or a 4K Ultra HD TV, you’ll view the best picture possible.

Gremlin hid your remote? Just press the button on top of your Roku 4 and your remote will tell you where it is. With a typical list price of well above $59, you're getting a solid deal if you decide to go refurbished.
See the certified refurbished Roku 4 streaming media player on Amazon.To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

The X-Files will be back for another 10 episodes in 2017...

Gillian Anderson: “You ready for more of this @davidduchovny? 🔦 #TheXFiles”

Doctor Who’s intriguing new cast gets a slow start with “The...

Showrunner Steven Moffat starts his swansong series with kind of a thud.

The new MST3K isn’t the same show, but it’s same enough

There are some cobwebs to shake off, but MST3K's goofy spirit is fully intact.

21% off Roku Premiere+ Streaming Media Player – Deal Alert

Get powerful performance, stunning 4K and HDR picture quality, and an advanced remote for an amazing streaming experience.

The new Roku Premiere+ is for HD & 4K Ultra HD TVs.
It delivers ultra-smooth quad-core streaming, brilliant 4K resolution at 60fps, vibrant HDR color, access to 450,000+ movies and TV episodes across 4,500+ paid or free channels, and a handy point anywhere remote.  The Roku Premiere+ list price has been reduced a significant 21% to $79. See the deal now on Amazon.To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Longer heat waves, heavier smog go hand in hand with climate...

Pollution and extreme temperatures go hand in hand.

Doctor Who’s Peter Capaldi to ditch TARDIS at end of 2017

Moffat's exit will also be Capaldi's swansong. Who will replace the 12th Time Lord?

Axanar Productions, Paramount, and CBS settle Star Trek copyright lawsuit

Enlarge / A scene from Prelude to Axanar.Axanar reader comments 52 Share this story On Friday, litigants announced a settlement to end a contentious copyright lawsuit over a short film and a proposed feature-length film based in the Star Trek universe.

The lawsuit was filed last year and involves Star Trek fan-fiction producer Axanar Productions, Paramount Studios, and CBS. The parties did not disclose all the details of the settlement, which is sealed from the public record.

But a joint statement from Axanar and the plaintiffs noted that the defendants “acknowledge that both films were not approved by Paramount or CBS and that both works crossed boundaries acceptable to CBS and Paramount relating to copyright law.” A spokesperson from Axanar told Ars Technica in an e-mail “we’re not paying anything,” with respect to the settlement. The settlement will also require the fanfic producer to “make substantial changes to Axanar to resolve this litigation.” According to a statement from Axanar, this includes changing the proposed feature-length film into two 15-minute short film episodes, which will be posted on YouTube without advertising from which Axanar could earn revenue.

The 20-minute Prelude to Axanar will be allowed to stay on YouTube. Axanar Productions was founded after some Star Trek enthusiasts raised more than $1.1 million on Kickstarter to create a high-quality, feature-length Star Trek movie based on the story of Captain Kirk’s hero, Garth of Izar.

Axanar Productions, under the leadership of Alec Peters, created Prelude to Axanar in 2014.

The company was hoping to release the full-length movie in 2016—until Paramount Pictures and CBS sued for copyright infringement. Axanar claimed the lawsuit was unexpected because CBS had a long history of turning a blind eye to fan fiction using Star Trek characters and names, especially since the project was supposed to be non-commercial, meaning that the production company wouldn’t try to make a profit selling tickets or DVDs or T-shirts. Paramount and CBS argued that Axanar was trying to make professional-quality work and objected “to professional commercial ventures trading off our property rights.” A civil trial had been scheduled for January 31, 2017 after a judge ruled in early January that Prelude to Axanar and its planned feature-length movie could not avoid an infringement trial on the basis of a fair-use exception. Last June, Paramount and CBS issued a list of 10 rules for Star Trek fan fiction creators.

The list includes dictates that films can’t be longer that 15 minutes and stories can’t exceed 30 minutes; uniforms and props must be “official merchandise;” and all films must be family-friendly, without any profanity, nudity, drugs, or alcohol. As part of the settlement, Axanar agreed to assure Paramount and CBS that “any future Star Trek fan films produced by Axanar or Mr. Peters will be in accordance with the ‘Guidelines for Fan Films’ distributed by CBS and Paramount in June 2016.” Paramount and CBS issued a statement saying that they “continue to be big believers in fan fiction and fan creativity” and will “not object to, or take legal action against, Star Trek fan productions that are non-professional, amateur, and otherwise meet the Guidelines.” In a statement from Axanar, the company said, “Since the beginning of the lawsuit, over a year ago, we have expressed our desire to address the concerns of the studios and our willingness to make necessary changes, as long as we could reasonably meet our commitments to Axanar’s over 14,000 donors, fans, and supporters. We are now able to do exactly that.” The statement continued: “Axanar Productions was created by lifelong Star Trek fans to celebrate their love for Star Trek.

Alec Peters and the Axanar team look forward to continuing to share the Axanar story and are happy to work within the Guidelines for Fan Films for future projects.

Throughout this process, we will continue communicating with our fans and backers to ensure they are informed and involved until we reach completion of the production.”

Netflix is so big that it doesn’t need net neutrality rules...

Netflixreader comments 28 Share this story Netflix has long been an outspoken supporter of net neutrality rules, but the streaming video provider says it is now so popular with consumers that it wouldn't be harmed if the rules were repealed. The potential of reversing net neutrality rules increased the moment Donald Trump became president-elect, as Republicans in the Federal Communications Commission and Congress want to get rid of the rules.

But in a letter to shareholders yesterday, Netflix reassured investors that this won't affect the company's financial performance or service quality. "Weakening of US net neutrality laws, should that occur, is unlikely to materially affect our domestic margins or service quality because we are now popular enough with consumers to keep our relationships with ISPs stable," Netflix wrote. The FCC's rules prohibit ISPs from blocking or throttling traffic or giving priority to Web services in exchange for payment.

Because of the rules, small video providers that aren't as popular as Netflix don't have to worry about being blocked or throttled by ISPs or having to pay ISPs for faster access to customers.
ISPs would prefer that customers subscribe to the ISPs' own video services, and thus have incentive to shut out competitors who need access to their broadband networks. Though Netflix is no longer worried about its own access to broadband networks, the company's shareholder letter said the company still supports the net neutrality rules. "On a public policy basis, however, strong net neutrality is important to support innovation and smaller firms," Netflix said. "No one wants ISPs to decide what new and potentially disruptive services can operate over their networks, or to favor one service over another. We hope the new US administration and Congress will recognize that keeping the network neutral drives job growth and innovation." Netflix fought some high-profile battles against Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable in 2014, before the net neutrality rules were passed. Netflix at the time was seeking free interconnection so that it could deliver video traffic to the ISPs' networks directly instead of paying transit providers to carry its traffic to the ISPs.

This alone showed that Netflix was already a giant: Most video providers aren't so big that it's worth building out their own content delivery networks. Netflix ultimately paid ISPs for interconnection but the dispute had an impact on the FCC's net neutrality proceedings. The FCC didn't ban interconnection payments but set up a complaint process so that companies like Netflix can challenge specific payment demands as being "unjust" or "unreasonable." There have been no major public disputes since then. Netflix ended 2016 with 47.9 million paid memberships in the US and another 41.2 million outside the US.
In North America, Netflix accounts for about 35 percent of downstream Internet traffic during peak viewing periods, according to Sandvine's Internet Phenomena report. Netflix's letter to shareholders this week also poked fun at rival HBO for discouraging binge-watching by doling out episodes of new shows one at a time instead of all at once as Netflix does. Despite its previous fights with ISPs, Netflix has gained a privileged status with those same companies.

For example, Netflix is now available on Comcast's X1 set-top boxes, letting customers browse Netflix video alongside Comcast content. Netflix, video, however, is not exempt from the data caps Comcast imposes on customers.

Those data caps and overage fees do remain a roadblock for online video providers that seek to offer a replacement for the cable TV services offered by ISPs.

Star Trek fan film says CBS and Paramount don’t own “the...

Enlarge / Axanar Productions is arguing that its Prelude to Axanar doesn't infringe copyright because it's filmed in “mockumentary” style.Prelude to Axanar reader comments 7 Share this story In a motion filed last week, CBS and Paramount asked a judge to rule that (PDF) fan-funded Axanar Productions infringed Star Trek copyright.

A day later, the small production company filed its own motion (PDF) claiming that its only existing 20-minute film, called Prelude to Axanar, was shot in a “mockumentary” style, unlike a true Star Trek TV show or movie, and that Axanar Production’s output was always intended to be non-commercial. The company also contended that CBS and Paramount don’t own “the idea of Star Trek or the Star Trek universe as a whole." CBS and Paramount allege that Axanar's work copies from the “plots, themes, settings, mood, dialogue, characters, and pace,” of Star Trek works and that, by raising nearly $1.5 million on Kickstarter, the production studio didn’t operate non-commercially. While those arguments aren’t new from the studios, the recent motion cites several statements by Axanar’s own top players that controvert the idea that they were mere fans producing fan art.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys write that Axanar representatives wanted to make a “professional”-looking film and that Executive Producer Alec Peters “attempted to meet with Netflix to become a producer of Star Trek productions and even attempted to trademark (for use in commerce) the word ‘Axanar.’” The motion also includes testimony from Christian Gossett, director of Prelude to Axanar, who told Axanar's attorneys that the movie he made infringes on Star Trek copyright.

The motion includes the following snippet of that testimony: Q.

Do you think Prelude to Axanar is—infringes upon the Star Trek intellectual property? A. Yes. Q.

And in what way? A.
In that it is an unlicensed filmed entertainment that uses countless elements of the Star Trek fictional world without—yeah, unlicensed. The plaintiffs sought to deflate Axanar’s arguments that it had created a separate, untold story within the Star Trek universe.

They allege that the idea for the feature film’s premise was first recorded in a (licensed) 1980s RPG called Star Trek: The Role Playing Game that came with a supplemental section called “The Four Year’s War.” That fictional conflagration is set against the backdrop of “the ‘arms race’ between the Klingons and the Federation to create new and more capable starships.” Lawyers for CBS and Paramount wrote: It is beyond dispute that Defendants’ works were not created for purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, or teaching.
Similarly, the Axanar Works do not constitute either parody or satire, and (prior to this lawsuit) Defendants never claimed they were.
Indeed, Defendants expressly set out to create an authentic and “independent Star Trek film” that stayed true to Star Trek canon down to excruciating details.  The “mockumentary” defense As for Axanar Productions, the company is now calling Prelude a free “mockumentary.” Axanar contests that it shouldn’t be liable for any perceived infringement with respect to the planned full-length film because that film hasn’t even been made—except for a three-minute scene called “The Vulcan Scene”—and the script could change at any time. The most recent script for the full-length film has more than 50 original characters out of 57 total, the defendants said, adding that the project had changed the script to accommodate CBS and Paramount. “In fact, through the many scripts, Defendants have attempted to create drafts to alleviate Plaintiffs’ concerns regarding alleged infringement, and [Defendants] are now leaning towards more mockumentary style works.” In June, CBS and Paramount published a list of 10 rules for fan film creators to avoid copyright infringement suits like Axanar’s.

Among other things, that list mandates that no fan film be longer than 15 minutes, and no fan film can exceed two episodes in length. Furthermore, "Plaintiffs own a limited number of Star Trek episodes and films, but they do not own a copyright to the idea of Star Trek, or the Star Trek universe as a whole," the defendants wrote. “While Plaintiffs do have copyright registrations to central Star Trek characters such as Spock and Captain Kirk, Defendants Works’ do not include those or any other characters to which Plaintiffs own separate copyrights,” Axanar’s motion says, adding that the 20-minute Prelude video was inspired by M*A*S*H, Band of Brothers, Babylon 5, The Pacific, and The Civil War as much as it was inspired by Star Trek. Finally, Axanar Productions argues that films like Prelude and the feature film it was going to make don’t harm CBS and Paramount, but help it financially.

Axanar said: Star Trek fans have produced and disseminated fan fiction for over 50 years, without complaint, and rather with encouragement from Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs have benefitted from the unpaid and often unacknowledged labor of fans, who have helped to maintain engagement in Plaintiffs’ Works during leaner years in Plaintiffs’ cycle of production. The production studio cited comments made by Star Trek film directors J.J.

Abrams and Justin Lin that they were “outraged” by CBS and Paramount’s suit. “We started talking about it and realized this was not an appropriate way to deal with the fans,” Abrams had said at the time. In a separate statement, Axanar PR director Mike Bawden said the production studio will set up an Independent Financial Review Committee to make sure fans’ funds are being well used.

Bawden wrote: As to where things will go after the lawsuit, we think it would be unhelpful to speculate on too much.

But Axanar Productions remains committed to addressing the copyright concerns of CBS Studios and Paramount Pictures Corporation in a way that allows us to tell the story of AXANAR our fans and donors have supported. Once this lawsuit is resolved, Axanar Productions’ team will meet and discuss what kinds of modifications need to be made so we can move forward with production.

Bay Area: Join us tomorrow 11/16 to talk about infosec for...

Enlarge / You can always figure out a way to hide from Big Brother.reader comments 14 Share this story The eighth episode of Ars Technica Live is coming up next tomorrow, November 16, in Oakland, California, at Longitude! Join Ars Technica editors Dan Goodin and Annalee Newitz with guest Morgan Marquis-Boire for a conversation about infosec, surveillance, and digital authoritarianism. Marquis-Boire is a New Zealand-born hacker, security researcher, and journalist. He is the director of security for First Look Media and a contributing writer for The Intercept. Prior to this, he worked at Google. Marquis-Boire is a Senior Researcher at the Citizen Lab, University of Toronto, focusing on state-sponsored hacking and the global surveillance industry. He currently serves as a special advisor to the Electronic Frontier Foundation and as an advisor to the Freedom of the Press Foundation and Amnesty International. Filmed before a live audience at Oakland tiki bar Longitude, each episode of Ars Technica Live is a speculative, informal conversation between Ars Technica hosts and an invited guest.

The audience, drawn from Ars Technica’s readers, is also invited to join the conversation and ask questions.

These aren’t soundbyte setups; they are deep cuts from the frontiers of research and creativity. Doors are at 7pm, and the live filming is from 7:30 to 8:20-ish pm (be sure to get there early if you want a seat). You can stick around afterward for informal discussion at the bar, along with delicious tiki drinks and snacks.

Can't make it out to Oakland? Never fear! Episodes will be posted to Ars Technica the week after the live events. Yes, we have a Facebook invite for this event.
See you tomorrow, Bay Area Arsians!

“Patents are bulls–t,” says Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng

reader comments 53 Share this story Lee Cheng is one of the few attorneys to fight back against patent trolls and prevail.

And at the latest Ars Live event, we talked to him about his most famous case, how people can fight patent trolls today, and what the future of patent abuse will look like in coming decades. His answers, as expected, were incredibly candid and hilarious. In 2007, a patent troll known as Soverain had already gotten millions of dollars out of The Gap and Amazon for their online shopping cart patent when they hit Newegg with a suit.

Cheng's colleagues in the legal community said you'd better just pay up—this patent is legit.

Cheng didn't see it that way. Newegg had just reached a billion in sales, and he thought this piece of litigation would be the first of many lawsuits brought by companies that wanted a piece of Newegg's success.

And sure enough, soon after the shopping cart claim, Newegg was hit with patent claims on several aspects of online search.

Cheng decided he wasn't going to lie down and take it. He thought he could win on appeal if he could just make it through the courts in the Eastern District of Texas, where 40 percent of patent infringement claims are brought. "I looked at the numbers, and you know the typical patent troll strategy is to say, 'You know how much money it's going to cost you to fight a case? Two to $6 million. We're only asking for $3 million... give us the money and we'll go away,'" he said. "I looked at it differently. [I said if] I can control legal costs... by doing as much work myself and with my team, this is a cost that's spread out over three to five years.

That's how long a lawsuit takes." When Cheng put it that way to his employers, they decided the money was worth it.
If Cheng's strategy worked, they would never have to deal with patent trolls again. "It was obvious there was a scam going on, and someone needed to say no," he recalled. Cheng explained the Eastern District of Texas, where there's one courtroom in Marshall, Texas, that gets 25 percent of all patent cases filed in the US. He noted there have been theories about why so many cases go to Marshall, involving "certain retired federal judges viewing themselves as stewards/godfathers of the local economy... but that's speculation." "Still," Cheng said, "federal judges have a huge amount of discretion setting rules in their courts, and they created certain rules heavily in favor of plaintiffs." One such rule requires both parties to provide "everything relevant" during discovery.

This "disfavors defendants" because the trolls are usually "shell companies" who have very little paperwork to show. Meanwhile, the legitimate entrepreneurs and businesses who are the defendants have an incredibly expensive process to go through, often with years of documents to comb through. Plus, Cheng said, being in East Texas gave the plaintiffs a chance to "play race cards." He recalled an attorney describing Newegg as "a Chinese company" in court, despite the fact that it is based in the US, because many of Newegg's executives are Chinese-American.

As he told the story, Cheng recalled thinking to himself, "'Fuck you... we are proudly American, because in this great country anyone from around the world can be American'... I told the jury we're based in California and our profits are made in America and we proudly employ 1,000 Americans.

And they got it.

That was the one trial we won." Why was Newegg willing to stand up to patent trolls, against all odds, when bigger companies wouldn't? Cheng believes much of it has to do with fearing risk, especially when the companies are publicly traded and answerable to shareholders.

There were also concerns that plaintiffs could simply shut the defendant's business down. Until the 2006 decision in eBay Inc. v. MercExchange, plaintiffs could get immediate injunctive relief that forced the defendant from using any technology described in the patent at issue.

That would mean, for example, that Soverain could have prevented Newegg from using online shopping carts until the case was decided. Though there has been a lot of reform around patent lawsuits, both in the courts and Congress, Cheng warned that he "has it on good authority from patent trolls that they are planning to jump back into the fray." He said that you have to look at patent abuse and trolling as an industry, and recent reforms mean "the mid market has been wiped out." So trolls are focusing on "big game cases like going after Google or Apple for large amounts of money," Cheng said. "They go after international companies, too, which often settle—especially in East Texas." On the other side are "nuisance trolls filing hundreds of lawsuits, asking for small amounts from each defendant." He called the latter especially dangerous because they're going after smaller businesses that don't have the budget to fight over $25,000-$100,000 claims. Cheng recommended that small businesses hit by these kinds of trolls "organize all the defendants together." He suggested that groups of defendants can "create a defense war chest" and fight the trolls that way, by paying half of what they would to the patent holder. "It's hard though because someone has to make the 50 or 25 phone calls [to the other defendants]," he admitted. Plus, "the problem is that most companies call their outside counsel" instead of having an in-house lawyer who can help them work with other defendants.
Still, Cheng believes the best option for a defendant who wants to fight trolls is to organize with other defendants and share costs. During the question-and-answer period, Cheng talked more about how lawyers and entrepreneurs can challenge bad patents. He also had some choice words for patent trolls and abusers, singling out Qualcomm as a particularly grave offender. Ultimately, he worried that the litigation landscape around patents stifles innovation: "At a certain time, will we have a country that can build another Golden Gate Bridge? Or are the lawyers and regulators going to kill everything?" Cheng said the possibilities of patent trolling make him fear for the future of this republic.

And with stakes like that, the question of fight or flight becomes an easy one. You can watch previous episodes of Ars Technica Live here.

Be sure to join us in October for another episode of Ars Technica Live, filmed at Longitude in Oakland, California, with guest Ariel Waldman.
She's the founder of Spacehack and has served as a consultant to the US government on human spaceflight. Waldman will talk to us about what it's like in space and how we'll get there.