Europe Washes Hands of ACTA
Today in international tech news: ACTA is officially voted down by European legislators. Also: Apple loses a UK court case over a handful of patents, including its "slide to unlock" feature; a Dutch ISP shows how the country's block on The Pirate Bay has spiked traffic; and Megaupload's founder becomes a "cult hero" in New Zealand.
07/05/12 8:47 AM PT
ACTA may now rest in peace.
ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, was officially voted down by European lawmakers Wednesday, according to The New York Times.
This was the conclusion of a long and troubled journey for the act. Media have for months reported that the July 4 vote would be a mere formality, the death knell for the piece of legislation that has long been regarded as dead on its feet.
The European Parliament overwhelmingly rejected the act. Many nations around the world have accepted it, however, including Japan, Canada, South Korea and the United States.
HTC Take a Win
England's High Court has ruled with Taiwan-based HTC in a patent dispute with Apple, according to the BBC http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-18709232.
HTC, a manufacturer of smartphones and tablets, was fighting accusations that it infringed on four Apple-patented technologies -- chief among them the "slide to unlock" feature made famous by the iPhone.
The judge ruled that HTC's "arc unlock" feature would have infringed on Apple except for the fact that Apple appears to have lifted that technology from a 2004 device, the Neonode N1 from Sweden, which also utilized a sliding motion to unlock it.
However, the BBC goes on to quote a British lawyer who said that because the Neonode phone wasn't released in the U.S., it could be hard to use this UK ruling as a precedent on future slide-to-unlock patent disputes in other countries.
Among the other patents in question: the ability to unlock a device by making a gesture on an image; a certain type of multilingual keyboard; and having images "bounce" back into place if they are dragged off-screen.
Law of Unintended Traffic
Dutch ISP XS4All has released a report stating that BitTorrent traffic has increased in the weeks since the Netherlands banned file-sharing site The Pirate Bay.
The reports is a blow to anti-piracy group BREIN, which had hailed the Dutch ruling as a move that would help thwart piracy, according to TorrentFreak.
Ninety percent of Dutch Internet users cannot access The Pirate Bay because of a May ruling that ordered ISPs to block the site. But the ruling appears to have roused interest in BitTorrent, according to a source cited by Torrent Freak.
The article adds that there is very little at The Pirate Bay that is not also available at other sites. Thus while The Pirate Bay is perhaps the most famous file-sharing platforms, blocking it does not equate to blocking access to BitTorrent.
Apparently, it equates with increasing interest in BitTorrent.
Megaupload Founder Becoming 'Cult Hero'
Kim Dotcom, a German who founded the file-sharing site Megaupload and is currently fighting a U.S. extradition request in New Zealand, is becoming a sort of a cult hero, according to The New York Times.
Dotcom was arrested in January when police raided his house -- the most expensive home in New Zealand at some US$24 million -- under New Zealand's extradition treaty with the U.S.
Dotcom and three others arrested as part of a U.S. online piracy investigation are free on bond while they wait for an extradition hearing set for early August.
The article goes on to explain that in the time that has passed since the January arrest, people's support is increasingly with Dotcom instead of the authorities. In part because the January raid involved 70-plus armed officers and two helicopters, law enforcement has been increasingly seen as "heavy-handed" and as succumbing to U.S. pressure.