Brian Scavo is making laws that help people!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Former Panamanian dictator's lawsuit against videogame maker is shot down

Former Panamanian dictator's lawsuit against videogame maker is shot down

General Manuel Antonio Noriega speaking in Panama City in 1988.Photo by AFP—Getty Images

A judge dismissed a lawsuit by former dictator Manuel Noriega that accused Activision Blizzard of violating his privacy rights by including his likeness in the game “Call of Duty: Black Ops II.”

Much like his former militaristic regime, former Panamanian President Manuel Noriega’s lawsuit against video game publisher Activision Blizzard is out of commission.
A Los Angeles judge has tossed out a privacy rights lawsuit filed against Activision Blizzard by Panama’s former leader, the company said in a press release. Noriega, who is currently serving a prison sentence in Panama, filed the suit in July, claiming the company had used his name and likeness without his permission for an installment of its popular “Call of Duty” game franchise.
Judge William Fahey of the Los Angeles Superior Court dismissed the lawsuit on Tuesday, ruling that Activision Blizzard’s right to free expression outweighs Noriega’s right of privacy. The lawsuit sought damages and claimed that Activision Blizzard damaged Noriega’s reputation when it allegedly “engaged in the blatant misuse, unlawful exploitation and misappropriation of [Noriega's] image and likeness for economic gain” by including him as a character in “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” – a game that, within two weeks of its November 2012 release, raked in more than $1 billion in sales.
Fortune wrote about the lawsuit last month, when Activision Blizzard  ATVI 1.26%  announced that it had enlisted former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani to join its defense team. Giuliani – who, interestingly, once denied accusations that his former law firm, White & Case, had done work for Noriega – called Fahey’s dismissal of the lawsuit “an important victory.”
“This was an absurd lawsuit from the very beginning and we’re gratified that in the end, a notorious criminal didn’t win,”Giuliani said in a statement. “This is not just a win for the makers of Call of Duty, but is a victory for works of art across the entertainment and publishing industries throughout the world.”
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said in a statement that the ruling is “a victory for the 40 million dedicated members of our Call of Duty community and global audiences who enjoy historical fiction across all works of art.” The company’s legal team had previously argued that Noriega’s lawsuit, if successful, could have opened the door for families of historical figures to attempt to block depictions in any number of works of historical fiction, from movies like Forrest Gump to televised sketches on “Saturday Night Live.”
Fahey wrote in his order that Noriega failed to provide actual evidence showing that his reputation had been harmed by the popular video game.
“Indeed, given the world-wide reporting of his actions in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, it is hard to imagine that any such evidence exists,” Fahey wrote in a scathing dismissal that also describes Noriega as “a notorious public figure, perhaps one of the more notable historical figures of the 1980’s.”
A U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989 removed Noriega from his role as that country’s military dictator and led to his eventual conviction on multiple counts of drug trafficking, racketeering and money laundering a few years later. Noriega spent two decades in prison in the U.S. and is currently serving a jail sentence in Panama for crimes he committed while in power in that country, including the murder of members of his opposition.

Home automation companies go hub-hunting

Home automation companies go hub-hunting

Photo by Michal Bryc—Getty Images

In the race to conquer the connected home market, companies want hubs that let people avoid having to futz around with multiple apps to turn on the lights and air conditioning.

In homes of the future, you can use your smartphone to unlock your door, turn on the lights and turn up the heat. But it isn’t so convenient if you have to fumble around with different apps to control everything.
Enter the smart home hub, a master control for your home. The idea has turned into a key battleground for companies that are trying to create the home of the future.
On Friday, Nest, which is owned by Google and known for its sleekly designed smart thermostats, bought hub maker, Revolv. Over the summer, Samsung acquired hubmaker SmartThings to help its own efforts.
The smart home industry is still a nascent market that is trying to make inroads with homeowners, many of whom unaware of the technology or unwilling to spend big money on unproven technology. But research firm IHS projects the market will grow to 44.6 million devices installed by 2018, which implies a huge potential market.
A big problem in with current smarthome technology, says IHS analyst, Lisa Arrowsmith, is the confusing array of apps people have to use to turn different devices on and off. It’s as annoying as having a table-full of TV remote controls.
“A consumer has to open three different apps to control their home and then these devices can’t communicate,” she said.
Revolv’s teardrop shaped hub tries to solve this problem. It is essentially a router that connects to all smarthome devices – regardless of their manufacturer – so that homeowners can operate everything from a single app.
However, Nest seems to be more interested in what Revolv’s team can do rather than its product. In the wake of its acquisition, Revolv has said that it will no longer make new products, but will continuing offering support for its existing products. Nest and Revolv declined to comment, but Nest co-founder Matt Rogers told Recode:
“We are not fans of yet another hub that people should have to worry about. It’s a great team, an unbelievable team. There’s a certain amount of expertise in home wireless communications that doesn’t exist outside of these 10 people in the world.”
Nest and Samsung aren’t the only companies on the connectivity bandwagon. In September, Logitech released its Harmony line of products which includes a hub that links smarthome devices along with a remote control that people use instead of their phones.
Meanwhile, a number of start-ups are using crowd-funding sites Kickstarter and Indiegogo to gin up customers for their would-be smarthubs and get the attention of bigger companies, which may be in the market for acquisitions.
While smart home automation owners can thank Nest and Samsung for making their lives slightly easier, the question of how to connect one’s devices has been replaced by a new one. Which hub is better? Unless of course, Nest has a surprise up their sleeves.

Guess what? WhatsApp lost $138 million last year

Guess what? WhatsApp lost $138 million last year

WhatsApp made just $10.2 million in revenues last year.Courtesy of WhatsApp

Facebook’s blockbuster $21.8 billion acquisition burned through cash. Lots of it.

For the first time, Facebook disclosed financial information for WhatsApp, the mobile messaging app it acquired earlier this year in a deal now valued at an eye-popping $21.8 billion.
It wasn’t pretty.
WhatsApp made nearly $16 million in revenues during the first half of 2014, but it lost $232 million in the process, most of which came from stock-related expenses. Last year, it had $10.2 million in revenue, but lost another $138 million, also from stock-related expenses.
WhatApp’s huge losses aren’t exactly shocking. The mobile app, which lets people send and receive calls, video and pictures, and text-based messages, is essentially free. The company asks users to pay $1 annually, but forking the money over is voluntary.
What’sApp is growing rapidly. It added 100 million users between June and August 2014 alone, bringing the total number to more than 600 million.
Ex-Yahoo employees Jan Koum and Brian Acton co-founded the business in 2009. In the years since, WhatsApp developed a huge following, particularly in Europe and parts of Asia. “It just effing works,” Acton said during a rare public appearance in June, explaining in semi-profane terms WhatApp’s appeal. “We don’t have a lot of gimmickry. We don’t collect messages or do anything with them. We respect our users.”
While keeping WhatsApp low on “gimmickry” paid off by attracting users, the approach hasn’t done much for its bottom line. What is clear, however, is that Facebook  FB 0.61%  is banking on WhatsApp to become a profit machine — eventually.
During Facebook’s earnings call, Mark Zuckerberg briefly outlined his five-year vision, which included services like WhatsApp and making them “important businesses in their own right.”

Friday, October 3, 2014


Kathy Sheehan presented her 2015 budget amid booing and hissing from the crowd at city hall in Albany on Wednesday evening, presenting the Albany taxpayers with a 1.4% TAX INCREASE and a closing of a downtown fire house.
Brian Scavo responded saying " Sheehan has failed the struggling home owners and business people of Albany, already overburdened with a heavy tax burden."
Scavo went on to say " Kathy Sheehan has failed to make the tough cuts and passed the buck to the taxpayers of Albany , same old same , this budget is fiscally irresponsible."
Hon. Brian Scavo