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YouTube’s “VR180” format cuts down on VR video’s prohibitive requirements

VR in only 180 degrees is easier to stream and fits traditional video content better.

Carrie Fisher will be in Star Wars: Episode 9 without CGI

Brother confirms existing footage, not CGI, will be used to complete Episode IX.

Filming mosquitoes reveals a completely new approach to flight

Mosquitos generate lift via three mechanisms, two of them new to us.

Divided federal appeals court rules you have the right to film...

Filming cops, 2-1 court rules, ensures that they "are not abusing their power."

Cop filmed telling motorist he wanted to beat him, sic dog...

New Jersey officer becomes enraged that he is being filmed during traffic stop.

Cop filmed killing fleeing suspect testified he felt “total fear”

reader comments 99 Share this story
Excerpts from Michael Slager's testimony. A white South Carolina police officer on trial for shooting an African-American man in the back—in a video of the killing that has been watched millions of times online—took the witness stand in his own defense and said he was gripped with "total fear." Michael Slager, a 35-year-old North Charleston officer, is on trial for killing Walter Scott, 50, who was pulled over in April 2015 for a routine traffic stop.
Scott, who had a warrant for his arrest, fled the Mercedes-Benz he was driving, was chased into a field, and was then shot and killed as a passerby secretly captured the shooting on video.

The footage prompted the police to change their response to the killing, and charges were eventually levied. "In my mind at that time was, people don't run for a broken tail light.

There's always another reason," he testified Tuesday, sometimes in tears. "I don't know why he ran.
It doesn't make any sense to me." "My mind was like spaghetti," the officer said in his self-defense testimony. Slager faces anywhere from 30 years to life if convicted of murder, and a term of between two and 30 years if convicted of voluntary manslaughter.

The monthlong trial continued Wednesday in a Charleston, South Carolina, court.

The defense team was unsuccessful earlier in trying to keep jurors from seeing the video that a local man took as he happened upon the scene while he was walking to work. The officer testified that after the brief chase, a struggle ensued, and he fired his Taser on Scott.

Then Scott grabbed his Taser, the officer said. "He rips it out of my hand," Slager testified, adding: "I knew I was in trouble.
I was scared. "I was in total fear that Mr.
Scott didn't stop, continued to come towards me," he said.
Feidin Santana, a 24-year-old South Carolina man, came upon the scene and began filming at about this point in last year's confrontation.
Santana had said that another police officer on the scene "told me to stop" recording. After Slager said there was a confrontation over the Taser, Slager said he readied his firearm. "At that point I pulled my firearm and pulled the trigger," he testified. "I fired until the threat was stopped as I was trained to do. "I didn't know if I hit him.
I didn't know if he tripped or fell," Slager said. Scott was shot five times in the back. The video shows the officer placing a Taser next to the dead man, whom Slager had handcuffed. He said he wasn't trying to plant evidence, but was following police procedure to take stock of their weapons. "I must have dropped it by Mr.
Scott's body.
I don't remember doing that," he said. Closing arguments are expected to begin Wednesday, after which the case will go to the jury for deliberations. Listing image by YouTube

After near misses, careless British drone pilots told to heed Dronecode

EnlargeEmmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images reader comments 7 Share this story In an effort to stamp down on irresponsible drone flights, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)—which regulates all flights in the UK—has launched a new version of the "Dronecode." The Dronecode is a set of rules, regulations, and recommendations originally launched in 2015 that stated drones must stay within sight of the pilot, below an altitude of 400 feet (120 metres), that they must stay away from aircraft and airports, and that operators must use common sense to keep others safe. However, according to research conducted by the CAA, only 39 percent of drone owners have actually heard of the Dronecode, with only 36 percent being made aware of it at the time of purchase. To make things a little easier for pilots to remember, the watchdog has come up with a mnemonic aid as follows: Don't fly near airports or airfields Remember to stay below 400ft (120m) and at least 150ft (50m) away from buildings and people Observe your drone at all times Never fly near aircraft Enjoy responsibly While you can't help but feel the CAA stopped trying by the time it got to the letter "O," there's no doubt that some drone pilots could use some common sense. Earlier this month it emerged that airline pilots reported four near misses with drones in a month, including one flying near London's Shard and another at Liverpool airport. One pilot even reported he could identify the particular brand of drone that came within 100 meters of the plane because "his son had the very same model." Drone crime has also soared in the UK, with police being called in to investigate alleged pedophiles filming playgrounds, high-tech drug-runners trying to smuggle contraband into prisons, and even one occasion when a man was caught filming people at an ATM in Northern Ireland. Alongside the Dronecode, the CAA and air traffic control body NATS has also launched dronesafe.uk, which includes the regulator's rules as well as training resources. UK retailer Maplin said it will ensure those that buy drones in the run up to Christmas are aware of the Dronecode at the time of purchase. This post originated on Ars Technica UK

Court says secretly filming nude young girls in bathroom isn’t child...

Pablo Ares Gastesireader comments 63 Share this story The Tennessee Supreme Court is vacating the child-porn production conviction of a Knoxville man, named Thomas Whited, who secretly filmed his 12-year-old daughter—and 14-year-old friend—showering, going to the bathroom, and undressing.

Although the father recorded the bathroom for two months for sexual reasons, the high court vacated his 22-year sentence because what he filmed did not amount to pornography.

The girls were not having sex, the high court reasoned (PDF) Monday, and instead the minors were videotaped in the bathroom performing "everyday activities." Most states define child pornography to some extent on whether it is intended to sexually arouse the viewer, which was the case in the prosecution of Whited, a US Army National Guardsman. However, under Tennessee's child pornography laws, the intent of the viewer or producer of the recorded images doesn't matter. What does matter, however, is the story the images tell. Tennessee defines child porn as depicting children having sex, simulated "sexual activity," and "lascivious exhibition" of children's private parts.

There was no sexual or simulated sexual activity being filmed in the case of Whitfield, and the term "lascivious" is overbroad, the high court reasoned.

Because of that vagueness in "lascivious," the court suggested that filming a baby's first bath could be considered child porn: The question is close, but we must hold that the videos at issue do not rise to a level at which the trier of fact could reasonably find that they include "sexual activity," defined as the "lascivious exhibition" of the minor's private body areas.... Rather, the minors in the videos are engaging in everyday activities that are appropriate for the settings and are not sexual or lascivious within the ordinary meaning of those terms.

For this reason, we reverse and dismiss the defendant's nine convictions for especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor. The court added that the video producer's "subjective intent or purpose of sexual arousal or gratification" is immaterial. "To determine the sufficiency of the evidence, the court must focus on the material at issue and ask whether it includes a depiction of the lascivious exhibition of a minor‘s private body areas," the court ruled. "Assessing the videos in the instant case, we conclude that the videos do not include a minor engaging in a lascivious exhibition." A jury in 2013 found Whited guilty of nine counts of aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, one count of attempted aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, 13 counts of observation without consent, and one count of attempted observation without consent.

The defendant was brought to trial after his wife discovered the video on his mobile phone. The state's high court noted that its ruling "does not mean that the defendant's conduct does not constitute a criminal offense." The court, which did not disturb the other charged counts, ordered Whited to be re-sentenced in light of the nine main counts being overturned.

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!

Sweden’s highest court bans drones with cameras

reader comments 67 Share this story Cameras attached to drones fall foul of Sweden's strict surveillance laws, the country's highest court has ruled by slapping an outright ban on drone filming—unless the kit is used by a law enforcement agency or an expensive permit has been issued.The Supreme Administrative Court of Sweden ruled that all drone cameras count as surveillance devices, and that they can now only be used to prevent crime or accidents.
In a linked ruling, it decided that car- or bike-mounted cameras are legally fine. The difference? A camera mounted on a helmet or handlebars, or behind a windshield, goes where its owner goes, but as drones are remotely operated, this means they are capable of spying on things that are otherwise out of sight of their pilot, and are therefore illegal. In its ruling, the court said "that the [drone] camera can be used for personal monitoring, although it is not the purpose.

The camera is therefore to be regarded as a surveillance camera." The move has upset Swedish drone users and the country's growing drone market, which industry group UAS says employs thousands of people and is worth billions of krona. It said: "UAS Sweden held a board meeting and has established a plan to try to force policymakers at all levels to realise how this bad ruling strikes against an entire industry that employs thousands of people and features companies with billions in turnover." The ruling will prevent drones being used in nature photography, racing, weddings, and journalism. Private operators who want to use cameras attached to drones will have to apply for a special filming permit from local government to prove that they're monitoring their own property. There is no law against Swedes taking pictures in public places. This post originated on Ars Technica UK

Cops record themselves allegedly fabricating charges with suspect’s camera

reader comments 53 Share this story In a US federal civil rights lawsuit, a Connecticut man has shared footage to bolster his claims that police illegally confronted the pedestrian because he was filming one of them.

Authorities seized Michael Picard's camera and his permitted pistol, and the officers involved then accidentally recorded themselves allegedly fabricating charges against the man. Picard's police encounter began as he was protesting a sobriety checkpoint while lawfully carrying a handgun in a holster. The plaintiff often protests near sobriety checkpoints in the Hartford region and is known by locals and police in the area, according to court documents. "Cops Ahead: Keep Calm and Remain Silent," read the 3-foot-by-2-foot sign Picard held up to motorists ahead of the checkpoint in West Hartford last year. According to the lawsuit, trooper John Barone walked up to Picard and said "someone called in" a complaint about a man "waving a gun and pointing it at people." It's a claim the lawsuit alleges is fabricated.

The lawsuit also states that Barone "swatted" the digital camera out of Picard's hands and onto the ground, at which point the battery dislodged.

Barone seized Picard's pistol and "took the handgun permit out of Picard's pants pocket," according to the suit. Enlarge Michael Picard/YouTube The officer briefly walked away to a patrol car, and Picard picked up his camera, inserted the battery and began filming again, according to the suit. "It's illegal to take my picture," the officer is overheard saying on the video. "No, it isn't," Picard replies. "It's illegal to take my picture. Personally, it is illegal," Barone says before taking the camera. "I got the camera," he tells fellow officers. The officer next put the camera on the light bar on the roof of a patrol car, pointed skyward.
It was still running.

There likely would be no lawsuit without the footage, Picard's lawyer told Ars. According to the lawsuit: "Unbeknownst to the defendants, Mr. Picard had been using the camera to record video and audio, not still photographs, and the camera continued recording until it was returned to Mr. Picard." After taking the camera, Barone started speaking with fellow troopers Patrick Torneo and John Jacobi, according to the tape and the federal lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The trio didn't know this conversation was being recorded.

After the brief encounter, Picard was given back his device, but not before he received two citations the lawsuit claims are unjustified. According to the footage, when Barone checks to see if Picard has a permit for his weapon, he finds out from somebody on the radio that it's "valid." On the tape, you hear a big "ugh" from Barone, who seems upset that Picard is lawfully carrying a weapon. The officers want to know if the lieutenant in the area has "any grudges" against Picard.

Barone is next overheard saying that we "Gotta cover our ass." The officers then allegedly plot other charges. Jacobi: "So, we can hit him with reckless use of the highway by a pedestrian and creating a public disturbance...." Barone: "Yeah." Jacobi: "[That's] two tickets." Trooper Torneo is overheard on the footage saying they could "claim" that motorists complained about a man waving a gun "but that no one wanted to stop and give a statement." The tickets Picard got were for the alleged use of a highway by a pedestrian and for allegedly creating a public disturbance for carrying an “exposed loaded sidearm in plain view of passing motorists." The authorities eventually dismissed the tickets. Picard's attorney, Dan Barrett of the ACLU, said his client likely wouldn't have much of a case without this video evidence. "It would be very tough," the attorney told Ars. "It's not always the way police say it is." How did the camera—and the unexpected footage—end up back with Picard? According to the suit: After Mr. Picard had been given the tickets, defendant Torneo drove away from the scene with Mr. Picard’s camera still on the light bar of his cruiser.
It fell onto the hood of the car, and Torneo stopped and instructed defendant Jacobi to give the camera back to Mr. Picard. Jacobi did so. The suit claims violations of Picard's First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights.

Connecticut state police said they opened an internal investigation into the matter.

The Connecticut State Police Union said the lawsuit is "frivolous and will ultimately be dismissed." Listing image by ACLU

Bay Area readers: Newegg’s Lee Cheng talks patent trolls at Ars...

A T-shirt design from Newegg while they were involved in litigation with a notorious patent troll.Newegg.com reader comments 33 Share this story If you're in the Bay Area, join us for the filming of our sixth episode of Ars Technica Live, a monthly interview series with fascinating people who work at the intersection of tech, science, and culture.
It's coming up tomorrow, Wednesday September 21, in Oakland, California, from 7 to 9pm.

Ars editors Annalee Newitz and Joe Mullin will be talking to Lee Cheng, the chief legal officer of Newegg.com, about his lifelong war against patent trolls. Cheng has been the top lawyer at online retailer Newegg since 2005. More than any other corporate lawyer, Cheng has been outspoken about the need to fight “patent trolls”—shadowy entities that exist only to file patent lawsuits. Under his leadership, Newegg adopted a strategy and philosophy of “never settle,” seeing patent troll lawsuits through multi-million dollar trials in tough jurisdictions, even as his competitors paid the trolls to make them go away.

Cheng and Newegg have had so much success, the company doesn’t get sued anymore. (Some potential patent trolls have even dropped litigation within a day.) At the event, we’ll be talking about how the American legal system has allowed patent trolls to thrive and what to do if a small company gets hit with a demand letter or lawsuit. Doors are at 7pm, and the live taping is from 7:30 to 8:00pm (be sure to get there early if you want a seat).

After, you can stick around 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. We also have a Facebook invite page. Filmed before a live audience in Oakland tiki bar Longitude (347 14th St., Oakland, CA), each episode of Ars Technica Live is a speculative, informal conversation between Ars hosts and an invited guest.

The audience is also invited to join the conversation and ask questions.

These aren’t soundbyte setups; they are deepcuts from the frontiers of research and creativity. Here's the cast for this upcoming edition: Lee Cheng is presently the chief legal officer at Newegg.com.

Before that, he was an attorney at the law firm of Latham & Watkins; served as general counsel at GeneFluidics, a medical device company; and as VP of legal affairs at LightCross, a photonics components and subsystems startup. He graduated from Harvard College with a degree in history and science and received his law degree from UC Berkeley.

Cheng was born and grew up in San Francisco but now lives in Southern California with his wife and three kids. Annalee Newitz is the tech culture editor at Ars Technica. Previously she was the editor-in-chief of Gizmodo and io9.
She is the author of Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction (Doubleday). Her first novel, Autonomous, comes out in 2017 from Tor Books. Joe Mullin is the tech policy editor at Ars Technica and has sat through more patent trials than is healthy for any non-lawyer. He’s been covering the intersection of law and technology since 2007 and worked for The American Lawyer’s magazine group before joining the tech press.