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How Microsoft helped imprison a man for ‘counterfeiting’ software it gives away for free

In a sickening concession to bad copyright law and Microsoft’s bottom line over basic technical truths and common sense, Eric Lundgren will spend 15 months in prison for selling discs that let people reinstall Windows on licensed machines. A federal appeals court this week upheld the sentence handed down in ignorance by a Florida district judge, for a crime the man never committed. Now, to be clear, Lundgren did commit a crime, and admitted as much — but not the crime he was convicted for, the crime Microsoft alleges he did, the crime that carries a year-plus prison term. Here’s what happened. In 2012 feds seized a shipment of discs, which they determined were counterfeit copies of Windows, heading to the U.S., where they were to be sold to retailers by Lundgren. U.S. Prosecutors, backed by Microsoft’s experts, put him on the hook for about $8.3 million — the retail price of Windows multiplied by the number of discs seized. The only problem with that was that these weren’t counterfeit copies of Windows, and they were worth almost nothing. The confusion is understandable — here’s why. When you buy a computer, baked into the cost of that computer is usually a license for the software on it — for instance, Windows. And included with that computer is often a disc that, should you have to reinstall that OS for whatever reason (virus infection, general slowdown), allows you to do so

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Where have all the pilots gone?

You’d think everybody would want to fly. It’s been a universal human dream since the first cave person saw the first pterodactyl¹. You’d think better technology, greater demand, economic growth, and population growth would mean more and more pilots. But the surprising, counterintuitive fact is that fewer and fewer people are flying, and now Earth needs pilots, badly. “ Airline industry facing a massive shortfall of pilots .” “ Yes, there is a definite pilot shortage. It is true in all parts of aviation .” “ The US Air Force is short more than one-quarter of the fighter pilots it needs .” “ Asian airlines are running out of trained pilots .” “ ‘Extraordinary’ Pilot Shortage Threatens Flights; 637,000 Needed .” Meanwhile, the number of active pilots in the US has declined from over 800,000 in 1980 to barely 600,000 in 2017, a quarter of whom are student pilots, a certificate for which you need no experience at all. Of course there are pilots and there are pilots. A private pilot in a little Cessna is very different from an airline transport pilot guiding a 777. And one reason there’s a shortage is that, while that 777 pilot pulls in six figures, an overworked copilot at a remote feeder airline gets paid peanuts. But this overall broad decline in piloting is still truly remarkable. Why are we flying so much less in person, at the same time that we are flying so much more remotely? (The demand for commercial drone pilots, who in the USA must qualify for a “ remote pilot certificate ” by passing an aeronautical knowledge exam and a TSA security check, is also growing.) Why are fewer and fewer people taking to the skies, when they have never been more accessible, and flying car startups, some of them self-flying , are erupting like mushrooms after rain ? Might self-flying airplanes ultimately solve the pilot shortage? To try to answer these questions and more, I have recently taken up flying lessons myself, as a sterling example of investigative journalism on behalf of TechCrunch’s readers. I jest.

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Mutual assured dronestruction

Western airstrikes on the Middle East: déjà vu all over again. Twenty years ago, the USA attacked Sudan and Afghanistan with Tomahawk cruise missiles. Two days ago, the USA attacked Syria with … Tomahawk cruise missiles. Aside from the (de)merits of each attack, isn’t it a bit surprising that technology hasn’t really changed small-scale strategic warfare in that time? Just you wait. In the next decade, that strategic calculus will change a lot , and probably not in a good way. Consider this sharp one-liner from Kelsey Atherton last week: the future of war is million-dollar gray triangles hunting hundred-dollar quadcopters — Kelsey D. Atherton (@AthertonKD) April 9, 2018 Of course cheap drones are already being used on the battlefield in small-scale ways: by Daesh , by Hezbollah , by Hamas , by drug cartels , and of course by traditional nation-state militaries worldwide. But those are piloted drones, used in short-range, often improvisational ways; interesting but not really strategically significant. Meanwhile, across the world, we are in the midst of a Cambrian explosion of artificial intelligence and automation technology. Consider Comma.ai, the startup that began as a literal one-man self-driving-car project . Consider the truly remarkable Skydio , a self-flying drone that can follow you wherever you go, avoiding obstacles enroute. …Do you see where we’re going here?

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Online video software/infrastructure startup Bitmovin raises $30M Series B led by Highland Europe, with participation from Atomico, Dawn Capital, YC,…

Steve O'Hear / TechCrunch : Online video software/infrastructure startup Bitmovin raises $30M Series B led by Highland Europe, with participation from Atomico, Dawn Capital, YC, and more   —  Bitmovin, the online video software and infrastructure company founded by two of the creators of the MPEG-DASH video streaming standard …

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HQ Trivia pilots its first social feature, "Friends on HQ", in the UK, to help users track friends’ performance and show whether they’re in…

Lucas Matney / TechCrunch : HQ Trivia pilots its first social feature, “Friends on HQ”, in the UK, to help users track friends' performance and show whether they're in the current game   —  The popular quiz startup HQ Trivia is beginning to roll out the first of many new social features to its app focused …

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Huami debuts Amazfit Stratos, a multisport GPS smartwatch with a 1.34" always-on display, 4GB of onboard storage, claimed 5+ day charge, on sale…

Matthew Miller / ZDNet : Huami debuts Amazfit Stratos, a multisport GPS smartwatch with a 1.34" always-on display, 4GB of onboard storage, claimed 5+ day charge, on sale today for $199   —  Huami impressed with its low cost Amazfit Bip smartwatch and partnered with key training professionals to launch a high-end GPS sport watch at a reasonable price.

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Mark Zuckerberg’s prepared testimony says Facebook dealt with several Russian threats, including from APT28, before the 2016 US election (Josh…

Josh Constine / TechCrunch : Mark Zuckerberg's prepared testimony says Facebook dealt with several Russian threats, including from APT28, before the 2016 US election   —  The most interesting part of Mark Zuckerberg's prepared testimony for Congress that was released today shows that Facebook has been fighting Russian …

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Amazon spent $22.6B on R&D for “technology and content” last year, more than any other US company, followed by Alphabet at $16.6B and Intel at $13.1B…

Rani Molla / Recode : Amazon spent $22.6B on R&D for “technology and content” last year, more than any other US company, followed by Alphabet at $16.6B and Intel at $13.1B   —  Tech companies claimed the top five spots again this year.  —  Tech companies claimed the top five spots in the U.S …

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Uber acquires bike-sharing startup JUMP, source says for ~$200M; JUMP will continue running independently (Megan Rose Dickey/TechCrunch)

Megan Rose Dickey / TechCrunch : Uber acquires bike-sharing startup JUMP, source says for ~$200M; JUMP will continue running independently   —  Uber has acquired bike-sharing startup JUMP for an undisclosed amount of money.  This comes shortly after TechCrunch reported that JUMP was in talks with Uber as well as with investors regarding …

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