Google yanks Themer app after Apple copyright complaint

Google removed Google Play access to Themer, an app to let Android users give their phones a different look, after a copyright infringement complaint from Apple about its icons.

The theme in question, called Seven, gives Android phones an iOS 7 styling, and that led to a Digital Millennium Copyright Act complaint, said MyColorScreen Chief Executive Ashvin Dhingra, leader of the company that makes Themer. And though Themer removed the theme in question, the app was missing for more than a week.

The app has been downloaded more than a million times and has more than 200 themes. It went … Read more

Old school vs. new school as academic publishers brawl over Web

The competition for prominence in academic publishing heated up this week as a traditional company, Elsevier, tangled with a Digital Era rival, publishes research papers for free online after researchers upload them. On Friday, the company took down some papers after receiving Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notices from Elsevier, which often charges for access to the articles.

" is committed to enabling the transition to a world where there is open access to academic literature. Elsevier takes a different view, and is currently upping the ante in its opposition to academics sharing … Read more

Two tracker services shutter, following Apple's DMCA takedown

Founder Mordy Tikotzky shut down Apple-Tracker and iPhone-Check after Apple issued a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notice on the latter site. Both services helped consumers track down the availability of Apple products.

Apple-Tracker posted the alleged takedown notice, showing that an Apple attorney from the law firm Kilpatrick Townsend and Stockton LLP requested that iPhone-Check be taken down.

"I have a good faith belief that the the Web site identified by URL below is unlawful because, among other things, the page scrapes and collects data from in violation of the Internet Service Terms … Read more

White House petitions FCC to make cell phone unlocking legal

Months after endorsing cell phone unlocking, the White House on Tuesday filed a formal petition with the Federal Communications Commission to require wireless carriers to unlock mobile devices upon request.

Filed by the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the proposal comes after the Obama administration threw its support behind an Internet petition this spring that asked the Library of Congress to change its stance on the legality of smartphone unlocking.

Under the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Americans are broadly prohibited from "circumventing" technologies that protect copyrighted works. But the DMCA gives the Library of … Read more

House committee approves bill to end ban on unlocking phones

Consumers are one step closer to being able to legally unlock their smartphone -- again.

The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved a bill introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., that would allow consumers to unlock their phones without permission from their wireless carrier.

The bill, H.R. 1123, would restore an exemption in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that was rejected by the Library of Congress in October 2012. The exemption would make it legal to break the software locks carriers put on devices to prevent them from being used on other carrier networks.

"The bipartisan Unlocking Consumer … Read more

AT&T: Ban on unlocking phones won't affect our customers

AT&T said today that its customers shouldn't fear the law against unlocking phones because the carrier will do the unlocking for them.

As part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the Library of Congress has ruled it illegal for people to unlock their own phones, a decision that has irked consumer advocacy groups and prompted a petition to the White House to throw out the ban. The law, however, won't have any effect on AT&T customers, the company said in a blog post today.

"While we think the Librarian's careful decision was … Read more

Growing pressure in Congress to fix flaws in DMCA law

A once-obscure copyright law that the U.S. Senate unanimously approved in 1998 has finally irritated so many members of the public that Congress might bother to defang it.

It's not like the flaws of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act have remained a state secret for the last 15 years: it's been wielded to threaten Princeton security researchers, restrict replacement garage door openers, and jail a programmer who dared to create an e-book converter. One federal appeals court even invoked the law when banning "linking" to certain DMCA-offending Web sites.

Not one of those extrusions of … Read more

What the DMCA cell phone unlock ban means to you (FAQ)

There has been a lot of talk lately about about how it's now considered illegal to unlock your smartphone without your carrier's permission.

The change comes as part of a three-year cycle for renewing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (PDF). And in this cycle the Library of Congress, which has the job of approving exemptions to the law, decided not to exempt the software locks that carriers put on devices that prevent them from being used on other carrier networks.

The change has caused quite a stir in the wireless community since it took effect in January. An … Read more

White House: You have a right to unlock your cell phone

The White House today backed an Internet petition asking the Library of Congress to change its stance on the legality of smartphone unlocking.

In a post on the We The People blog, R. David Edelman, the White House senior adviser for Internet, innovation and privacy, said the administration agrees with those who signed the petition, and aims to support any legislation that would remedy the issue.

"The White House agrees with the 114,000 plus of you who believe that consumers should be able to unlock their cell phones without risking criminal or other penalties," Edelman wrote. "… Read more

White House petition to unlock cell phones hits 100,000 trigger

A petition asking President Obama to oppose a new rule restricting cell phone owners from unlocking their devices has passed the 100,000 mark, meaning the White House is now obliged to respond.

The petition, which passed the threshold last night and now stands at more than 102,000 signatures, protests a regulation from the Library of Congress that prohibits unlocking phones without the carrier's permission -- even when a customer's contract with the carrier has expired.

"I think it's terrific," said Derek Khanna, a Yale visiting fellow who was previously a Republican Hill staffer … Read more