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  1. A Blue Origin New Shepard rocket has lifted off from the company's launch site on its ninth test flight in the run up to carrying paying passengers. At 10:11 am CDT on July 18, the booster and its unmanned Crew Capsule thundered into the sky above Texas on a mission to see how well the launch system operates on the edge of its engineering envelope. According to Blue Origin, today's flight lasted only 11 min and 17 sec, but that was long enough for the single-stage rocket with its BE3 engine to deliver the capsule to the edge of space, with the capsule igniting its emergency escape system 20 seconds after stage separation. The solid rocket motor generated 70,000 lb of thrust and hit the "Mannequin Skywalker" test dummy in the pilot's couch with an acceleration of 10 Gs. This shot the capsule to a maximum altitude of 389,846 ft (118,825m) – a new Blue Origin record – and a velocity of 2,236 mph (Mach 3, 3,598 km/h). The purpose of Mission 9 (M9) was to confirm that the New Shepard rocket would survive an emergency abort while operating at the edge of its design parameters, and still make a landing, which on the day came off without any major problems. The other goal was to test the attitude control system in the capsule while in the near-vacuum of space. According to Blue Origin, no obvious problems were encountered and the capsule was able to correctly orient itself to deploy its parachutes. Though the Crew Capsule carried no passengers, aside from Mannequin Skywalker, it contained seven commercial payloads. These included an experiment to study granular gases, a NASA device to record the capsule's interior environment, another experiment to study the condensation of droplets in zero gravity, an electromagnetic field monitor, a platform to isolate payloads from rocket vibrations, a materials sample package, and a company internal payload. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRDhdHRyyjc Source: Blue Origin
  2. Intel's Shooting Star drones continue to hit new heights, with their latest outing culminating in yet another record for the computer hardware turned robotic pyrotechnics company. The record saw thousands of the tiny aircraft take to the air over California, arranging themselves in spectacular formations to celebrate the company's 50th anniversary. The Shooting Star drones first emerged in 2016, when the Intel set a Guinness World Record by having 100 of the unmanned aircraft fly in formation in tune to Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. It has ramped things up pretty quickly from there, soon following that with a 500-strong effort later that year and then unleashing 1,218 drones in South Korea for the Olympics earlier this year. These efforts are about more than just claiming a string of Guinness World Records. If you imagine the spectacle created by a huge fireworks show, and then imagine organizers could control their path through the air, that's the kind of capability offered by these LED-equipped drones, which are made from plastic and foam and weigh just 10 oz (283 g) apiece. They have created Christmas trees over Disney World, a swirling backdrop for Lady Gaga's Superbowl halftime show and formed snowboarders and Olympic rings for the games in South Korea earlier this year The 2,018 drones used for Intel's 50th birthday celebrations took the shape of the company's logo and other spectacular shapes, setting yet another Guinness World Record in the process. You can see them take flight over its facility in Folsom, California, in the video below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhC4UVbX1AM Source: Intel
  3. With a livery that reflects its namesake, the first of Airbus' five BelugaXL heavy transport aircraft completed its maiden flight today at Toulouse-Blagnac, France. At 2:21 pm CEST, the three-story tall airplane touched down after finishing its first four hours and eleven minutes in the air with Captain Christophe Cail, Co-Pilot Bernardo Saez-Benito Hernandez and Test-Flight Engineer Jean Michel Pin at the controls. In an industry where the boring laws of aerodynamics makes one commercial aircraft look pretty much like the next, the BelugaXL stands out. With its bulbous cargo area and cetacean-like nose, it's designed to ferry large aircraft components between 11 Airbus locations to support production of the Airbus 350 XWB and other models. Development of the BelugaXL began in November 2014 when it was found that the existing fleet of BelugaST aircraft was insufficient for future needs. With an architecture based on the Airbus A330-200 Freighter, the BelugaXL is 63.1 m (207 ft) long with a wingspan of 60.3 m (198 ft). It's powered by a pair of Rolls Royce Trent 700 engines and its 8.8 m (29 ft) fuselage is large enough to handle 53 tonne (117,000 lb) of cargo – the equivalent of seven full-grown elephants or two fully built 350 XWB wings. In addition, the BelugaXL is noted for its newly-developed lowered cockpit, which has the same layout as the Airbus A300-600s and A310s to accommodate the two pilots and loadmaster. The redesigned cargo bay has a semi-automated handling system and climate control for sensitive payloads, like satellites or paintings. Airbus says that the BelugaXL is scheduled to complete 600 hours of flight testing in the next 10 months before getting its Type Certification. It's slated to enter service in the latter half of next year and the five aircraft in the fleet will work alongside the BelugaST, which will be gradually retired by 2025. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbkI_vbrwzQ Source: Airbus
  4. The last time Levis introduced a new motorcycle was in 1938, three years before it would shut down. Eighty years later, the Levis logo is resurfacing on the V6 Café Racer, a brand new motorcycle built around a modular racing car motor, a host of bespoke parts and a price tag for the very few. The Levis brand remained dormant until 2014, when its rights were acquired by David Redshaw, who dreamt of reviving it. In 2017 he met with Phil Bevan, a businessman who had recently bought Connaught Competition Engines, a UK company that made a compact two-liter V10 motor for GT Racing cars. This engine was built on a modular design that allowed for easy production of V8, V6, V4 and even V2 variants, and Bevan had already been looking for a suitable motorcycle to host it. He promptly bought the brand's rights from Redshaw and together they set up the Levis Motorcycle Company in July 2017, with new headquarters in Swaffham and a clear plan in their minds. For the Café Racer they developed a 1,200-cc V6 version of Connaught's liquid-cooled engine, mounted longitudinally on the frame, producing some 120 hp (89.5 kW) and plenty of torque – Levis calculates something around 120 Nm (88.5 lb-ft). A supercharged version of the V6 is also in Levis' plans. Power is transmitted via a six-speed gearbox with an overdrive sixth, developed by Levis to accommodate several future models. The fact is that this powerplant is still in development, so some of its elements are not even defined yet; the final drive system, for instance, still lingers between shaft and chain. With most of its components in final testing and ready to be manufactured, it shouldn't be long before a working prototype will be put on a dyno. After all, Levis has a September deadline to meet, as per its announcement. The frame is built in-house from steel tubes, featuring a Hossack-type front suspension system and a single shock at the rear. Both shock absorbers are bespoke adjustable units, fabricated especially for Levis' motorcycle by an unnamed English specialist. Levis also fabricates in-house most parts of the Café Racer, including the fork legs, clamps, headlight assembly, steering, hand controls, brake discs, gearbox casings and wheels – all machined from solid blocks of aluminum. This opens a wide window which Levis intends to take full advantage of, offering customizing options down to the bare essentials, such as the finish of the frame and bodywork panels. The wheels themselves, presumably tubeless, are based on an uncommon two-piece design, with two halves bound together with hidden bolts and sealed tight with a sealant agent. The semi-solid design was reportedly selected as the best combination of strength and low weight. Levis will unveil two variants on the same motorcycle base, the Café Racer and the Ultra Roadster, at the Goodwood Revival event in West Sussex, UK, on September 7-9. We should note that the motorcycle pictured in this article is just a mock-up, intended to fine-tune the motorcycle's styling and serve its publicity purpose for the July 18 online unveiling. Levis suggests that the Café Racer will look much better in its final form, down to the tiniest detail. As for the Goodwood event, Levis clearly states that it will introduce pre-production models, so they'll be two fully-functioning prototypes, but not ready to be sold to customers yet. Actual delivery dates have not been communicated. Following that, the next target is to build a Flat Tracker and two sport models, bringing the tally up to five V6 motorcycles. Then there's a V10 in the pipeline as well. After the six-cylinders are all done and marketed, the original 2,000-cc V10 motor is set to power a Cruiser. Levis wants to have achieved all this by 2020, when the Cruiser should be unveiled right on the 100-year anniversary of Levis' first Isle of Man victory in 1920. Does all this sound all too optimistic? Well, given the amount of work that has been done in just one year, perhaps we should put a little faith in the Levis crew. After all, they are not designing an engine out of thin air, but rather adapting an existing one to a new purpose. Source: Levis
  5. A Texas District Court has sanctioned TVAddons operator Adam Lackman for failing to disclose evidence requested by Dish. Within five days, he must share how much money was earned through TVAddons.ag and Offshoregit.com. At the same time, the court reprimanded Lackman's lawyer for an "egregious disruption" of the court proceedings. Last year, American satellite and broadcast provider Dish Network targeted two well-known players in the third-party Kodi add-on ecosystem. In a complaint filed in a federal court in Texas, add-on ZemTV and the TVAddons library were accused of copyright infringement. As a result, both are facing up to $150,000 in damages for each offense. While ZemTV’s developer has chosen not to put up a fight, TVAddons’ Adam Lackman has retained counsel and will defend himself in court. Both parties are currently in the discovery phase, gathering evidence, but this hasn’t been a smooth process. A few days ago Dish informed the Court that Lackman had failed to provide crucial evidence. Among other things, TVAddons’ owner hasn’t shared a detailed accounting of the revenue and profits he made through TVAddons.ag and Offshoregit.com. After the lawyers on both sides couldn’t come to an agreement, Dish asked the Court for an order compelling TVAddons’ owner to disclose this information. Texas District Court Judge Vanessa Gilmore agrees that the financial information should be handed over. In an order signed last Friday, she compels Lackman to disclose the requested financial information, including the banks and cryptocurrency exchanges he used. “Within five days of this Order, Adam Lackman must produce: All documents identifying his revenues, costs, and gross profits relating to Tvaddons.ag or Offshoregit.com from February 17, 2015 through June 4, 2017,” the order reads. Lackman previously refused to hand over information related to donations, as these can’t be directly linked to any alleged copyright infringements. These and other disputes were summarized in an email that was submitted as evidence last week. This document already lists the names of several bank accounts as well as Lackman’s taxable income, ranging from $10,534 to over $133,000 over the past three years, but Dish requests more detailed information on several issues. In addition, the Court ordered TVAddons’ owner to share all documents he has on ZemTV and several other allegedly infringing addons. These include ARY Digital, B4U Movies, B4U Music, Dunya TV, Express Entertainment, Geo TV, Hum TV, Movies OK, Times Now, and Zoom. For failing to provide the requested evidence in a timely manner Lackman is sanctioned. Within five days, he must pay Dish $2,835.00 to cover the legal expenses that arose from the discovery dispute. Making matters worse for the defense team, Judge Gilmore also reprimands TVAddons’ attorney for disrupting Court proceedings during a telephone conference, stating that he prematurely hung up the phone. This was revealed in a separate order, which was issued following the conference on Friday. “After the Court inquired why Lackman had failed to provide the discoverable documents, defense counsel for Lackman, Jason E. Sweet, falsely stated to the Court: ‘If you are going to yell at me, this conversation is over. I don’t care if you are a judge,’ and hung up the phone prior to the conclusion of the teleconference,” the order reads. According to Judge Gilmore, these comments were aimed “to lessen the authority and dignity of the Court.” During a scheduled hearing in September, the attorney has the opportunity to explain why he shouldn’t be held in direct contempt of court.
  6. With over 300 million active users, Skype is one of the most used services in the world, but it still lacks quite a few important features that its competitors offer. Microsoft announced a host of new features that will be making it into the app in the near future. Call recording is one feature that has been heavily requested by users but never made it into the service. Microsoft is finally working towards releasing a call recording feature that will be hitting the app soon on all platforms. Users were forced to use third-party solutions for call recording in the past and having an inbuilt feature makes things much easier for users. Other new features that will be part of a future update include the ability to view read receipts for messages, a private conversation mode with no data being stored on the servers and profile invitations. Skype 8.0 is already live, but the new features haven’t made it to the current build yet. Skype 8.0 will be replacing 7.0 (also known as Classic), and if you want to continue using the service, it is recommended to update the app before September 1. Microsoft stated in their blog “We are encouraging everyone to upgrade now to avoid any inconvenience as only Skype version 8.0 will work after September 1, 2018. As we roll out improvements, there comes a time when we must shut down older services and application versions. The service will also receive a minor quality of life tweaks to make the user experience better. The update will also add a chat media gallery to view all shared images and other media from a conversation. Skype has been playing catchup to other services due to a lack of features. The new update should help the app gain some popularity, but it may be a case of “too little too late.”
  7. Unless your name is Peter Parker, you may not be aware of quite how versatile spider silk is as a material. In fact, aside from spinning webs, spider silk can also be used for a plethora of applications — from improving the quality of microphones in hearing aids to forming incredibly strong-yet-lightweight shields to forming microcapsules for delivering anti-cancer vaccines. Now researchers from Sweden and India have come up with yet another novel use for spider silk’s unusual mix of strength and elasticity: Creating artificial skin and wound dressings for helping heal wounds. “We have developed two types of silk-based constructs: Nanofibrous matrices which serve as bioactive wound dressings, and microporous sponges cultured with human skin cells to serve as artificial skin,” Biman Mandal, an associate professor in the Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, told Digital Trends. “Both types of constructs are made up of silkworm silk fibroin biomaterial acting as bulk platform, and are top-coated with recombinant spider silk fusion proteins. The recombinant spider silk protein contains bioactive peptides like cell-binding motifs, antimicrobial peptides, and growth factor domain.” The hope is that the dressings could be used to treat chronic wounds like diabetic foot ulcers, which otherwise can be a challenge to heal. The cellular skin grafts, meanwhile, could be used as full thickness bilayer skin for grafting purposes in the case of critical third-degree burns. Due to its similarity to skin, the material may also find use as a skin substitute to screen certain drug molecules for the cosmeceutical industry. “Next, we have plans to validate our results in animal models, particularly diabetic wound model and third-degree burn model,” Mandal continued. “We are keen to understand how these grafts help in accelerated healing in animal models. If successful, we would be able to translate our research into useful products for wound-healing applications in the future.” Mandal noted that approach the team used is scalable thanks to the cheap bulk availability of silkwork silk from sericulture farms, and the recombinant spider proteins from a Swedish company called Spiber Technologies. A paper describing the work was recently published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.
  8. Remember that light-emitting tracking device that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character memorably pulls out of his nose in the 1990 movie Total Recall? A similar device might one day be implanted in your body to help you battle cancer. The implantable device, which is held in place by sticky bioadhesive “nanosheets,” was developed by researchers at Japan’s Waseda University. It consists of an LED chip that’s wirelessly powered by NFC, the same technology used for mobile payment solutions like Apple Pay. When tested under the skin of mice with cancer, the device was shown to be capable of effectively shrinking their tumors. It does this by using something called photodynamic therapy (PDT), a treatment which is already being used to fight some cancers. Photodynamic therapy requires the patient to take a drug that makes certain cells vulnerable to light. An endoscope is then used to shine light on the tumor for up to 45 minutes. However, this approach can make it difficult to control dosage, which is where the Waseda University’s new technology comes into play. “The device can be easily pasted to the target tumor owing to the ultra-flexibility of [our] nanosheets, without conventional suturing,” Professor Toshinori Fujie, who led the research, told Digital Trends. “The beauty of this study is we succeeded in decreasing the light intensity, about 1,000-fold smaller than the conventional therapy, [so as to] avoid thermal damage of normal tissue — yet realized effective treatment of cancer by local light irradiation, thanks to the bio-adhesive nanosheet.” According to Fujie, the approach could one day be used to help treat cancerous tumors in parts of the body like the brain or pancreas. These organs make it risky to use conventional cancer-treatment approaches, such as surgery or radiotherapy, because of the possibility of damaging surrounding healthy tissues, nerves, and blood vessels. “Definitely, we should push forward this technology from benchside to bedside to improve the quality of life of patients,” Fujie continued. “We hope to start the translational research as soon as we solve the legal regulation in medical device developments. To this end, our next research is to consolidate the protocol and clinical design to show the effectiveness in the appropriate lesions, which cannot be accessed by conventional PDT, such as hard-to-detect micro-tumors and deeply located lesions.” A paper describing the work was recently published in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering.
  9. Aston Martin has joined the race to put flying taxis in the skies above the world’s most crowded cities. The British company introduced a futuristic design study named Volante Vision at the biennial Farnborough Airshow that illustrates what the vehicle might look like when it embarks on its maiden voyage. The announcement describes the Volante Vision concept as a hybrid-electric aircraft with vertical take-off and landing capabilities. Think of it as a giant drone developed to carry passengers. It offers space for three adults arranged in a triangular configuration; one passenger sits front and center while two more travel side-by-side directly behind the front seat. Rolls-Royce — the plane maker, not the car maker — provides at least part of the propulsion system but Aston Martin stopped short of providing concrete technical details. We don’t know exactly what it’s powered by or how far it can travel and at what speed. The company notes its concept can fly itself thanks to state-of-the-art autonomous technology. Like Aston’s land-bound vehicles, the Volante Vision concept puts a strong focus on style and luxury. Design boss Marek Reichman points out his team drew inspiration from cars like the DB11, the Vantage, and the upcoming Valkyrie when drawing the Volante Vision. The company added a wide, high-resolution head-up display that looks like it comes from a fighter jet to replace the instrument cluster. It provides passengers with key data about the Vision Volante and its surroundings like its speed, its range, and its altitude. Bringing it to production would be reasonably straight-forward because it’s based on an existing technology quickly spreading across the automotive industry. Though it looks like a prop made for the next installment of Star Wars, Aston Martin suggests wealthy travelers will be able to commute in the Vision Volante in the near future. “The Volante Vision concept will enable us to travel further with our hourly commute, meaning we are able to live further away from where we work. Cities will grow, and towns that are today too far away from cities to be commutable will become suburban,” Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer noted in a statement. Rivals working on similar projects, like Uber and Airbus, tentatively plan to start producing their own flying taxis between 2020 and 2030. Though Aston hasn’t released its time frame yet, that is the rule it will need to play by if it wants to remain competitive in this burgeoning segment of the luxury market.
  10. Automated in-flight refueling has come to large aircraft after Airbus Defence and Space and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) conducted the first Automatic Air-to-Air (A3R) refueling between an Airbus 310 development tanker and a RAAF KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport. Previously demonstrated using a fighter aircraft, the June 20, 2018 exercise off the coast of Spain saw the two aircraft make seven automatic contacts. Air-to-air refueling is one of the key technologies of modern air forces. The capability to transfer fuel from a tanker plane to another aircraft allows air fleets to extend their reach to a global scale or keep assets like surveillance aircraft on station for longer times. However, getting two very different aircraft to fly in sync at hundreds of miles an hour while hooking up a pipeline filled with inflammable fuel between them is a very difficult task that requires a great deal of skill and practice. Aside from the fact that this makes air-to-air refueling reliant on expensive personnel, the development of new Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) means that not only will tanker aircraft have to be able to refuel UAVs, but robotic tankers are also under development that will have to be able to do the job themselves. To do this while taking the pressure off human operators means producing autonomous systems that can conduct refueling. According to Airbus, the automated refueling begins as the tanker's Air Refuelling Operator (ARO) handles the first approach of the receiving aircraft and deploys the boom. The computer then uses passive techniques like image processing to seek out the receiver's refueling receptacle position and the automated system then comes online to fly the boom and keep it aligned with the receptor. During the operation, the system allows for manual control by the ARO, automatically keeping the two planes at a relative distance, or taking full automatic control of the operation. During the June 20 demonstration off the southern Spanish coast, the two aircraft made seven contacts over two hours in conjunction with Test Pilots and Flight Test Engineers from the RAAF's Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU). "It was extremely impressive to see how accurately the A3R system tracks the receiver," says David Piatti, who acted as Airbus Test ARO, or "boomer", on the A310. "It can be very useful to be able to refuel another tanker or transport, for example to extend its deployment range or to avoid taking fuel back to base, but it is also a challenging operation and this system has the potential to reduce workload and the risk involved." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wh2j_bJ5Z-s Source: Airbus
  11. TMC Dumont sits 36-inch hubless rims either side of a roaring aircraft engine In every sense. This staggering custom motorcycle uses the biggest pair of hubless wheels we've ever seen, as well as placing the rider astride a snarling, 300-horsepower Rolls-Royce aircraft engine. Live in fear – of corners, if nothing else. The TMC Dumont is the work of Brazilian ex-Formula One driver and champion motorcycle custom builder Tarso Marques. Its name is a tip of the hat to Brazilian aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont, who Brazilians believe got an airplane aloft before America's Wright Brothers. Hence the aircraft engine – a monstrous Continental V6 from the Rolls-Royce aircraft company that was lifted from a 60's-era aircraft and polished within an inch of its life. Three hundred horsepower (224 kW) is a heck of a lot for a motorcycle, and it's even madder when you look at the bike's signature feature: gargantuan, hubless 36-inch wheels that sit high enough to block the rider's view, and connect to underslung swingarms by the flimsiest of connections. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kps82JmgoVg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3br_haXmeWk Source: TMC
  12. As successful as the Rolls-Royce name has been in luxury cars, it's been far bigger in aeronautics. The two are very separate companies at this point – the car company employs some 1,300 people, but it's absolutely dwarfed by the aircraft motor business, which employs around 50,000. So when these guys announce a four- to five-passenger hybrid electric/turbine VTOL aircraft concept with a 250-mph top speed and a 500-mile range, it's worth listening. Presented at this year's Farnborough International Airshow, the EVTOL concept uses six electric rotors for vertical takeoff and landing, giving it access to helipads and other small landing zones. The props are designed to minimize noise, allowing it to operate over cities without as much disruption as a helicopter. Once aloft and moving forward, the main wing and tail fins tilt fully forward, enabling high-efficiency winged flight and a top speed around 250 mph (402 km/h). The props on the main wing fold away during winged flight, further reducing drag and increasing the efficiency of the design in the air. Rather than a massive battery, the EVTOL uses a smaller one, which would be charged by an efficient gas turbine generator to enable a huge 500-mile (805-km) range, far further than fully electric tilt-wing designs can manage at this point. Rolls-Royce says this machine could be in production as soon as "the early to mid 2020s, provided that a viable commercial model for its introduction can be created." While this concept uses an M250 gas turbine and leverages the company's rich history of aircraft engine design, it's clear that Rolls-Royce sees a fully electric powertrain taking over somewhere in the future. Tilt-wing electric-propulsion VTOL aircraft are popping up all over the place at the moment, so there's nothing particularly new or radical about this design, except the long-range hybrid powertrain and the fact that, rather than a Silicon Valley startup, it's being pushed by an established aerospace company that does US$21.5 billion dollars worth of business a year instead of. One to keep an eye on. Source: Rolls-Royce
  13. A UK man who sold 8,000 set-top boxes that provided illegal access to Hollywood movies and live sports has been jailed for five years and three months. John Haggerty founded Evolution Trading, a company that provided XBMC (Kodi) based devices loaded with a subscription IPTV service. His wife received a two-year suspended sentence. Streaming pirate content directly to living rooms around the world has become huge business over the past few years, with many hundreds of operations selling various services to the public. While the majority appears to do so with impunity, a growing number of UK providers are finding that their businesses attract the attention of rightsholders who are keen to send a message that they won’t be tolerated. The latest case involves John Haggerty and wife Mary Josephine Gilfillan, who together ran Evolution Trading Company Limited, a business venture registered at their former home address. Incorporated in December 2013 for the stated purpose of “wholesale of coffee, tea, cocoa and spices”, Evolution was used in connection with Haggerty’s business of selling Kodi-based set-top boxes, some of which were loaded with an illicit IPTV service. “Stop paying for sky high satellite or cable bills. Never buy or rent another DVD again! With Stream Box you can view any movie from the very latest blockbuster to your all time favorites,” some of Haggerty’s original marketing reads. “Watch any box set or TV Series ever made or ever will be made! Watch tons of sports and hundreds of other TV channels from all over the world ALL FOR FREE. “We consider Stream Box the future of TV viewing, with Stream box connected to your broadband Internet and your HD TV you can stream any film or TV show ever shown – all totally free.” Following an investigation by the Federation Against Copyright Theft, searches were carried out at various premises connected with Haggerty. Like many of these kinds of cases, it’s taken a very long time to come to court, but now it has, it’s ended badly for the pair. According to prosecutors, the business ran from March 2013 to July 2015, during which time at least £764,000 was generated from the sale of set-top boxes, carried out from a shop and online marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon. The court heard the devices would be sold for between £75 and £100 to the public and £400 to pubs, although searches reveal them changing hands for as little as £52. The IPTV service provided with some of the boxes, Infusum.tv, was created by Haggerty and sold for £15 per month. According to prosecutors, the operation meant that broadcasters including Sky and BT Sport faced potential losses of £4m per year while using the devices in pubs exposed licensees to the risk of prosecution. Chronicle Live reports that Haggerty had several passports in different names, and set up a company in Nevis to hide the true purpose of his business. Along with his wife, he also supplied the UK Immigration Service with false documents to sponsor an Egyptian national who was put in charge of the streaming service. All things considered, 57-year-old Haggerty was jailed for five years and three months for conspiracy to defraud. His wife, 54, who the court accepted had played a minor role, was handed a two-year sentence suspended for two years and ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work. “This was a very sophisticated fraud perpetrated primarily by you, John Haggerty,” said Judge Simon Batiste. “You sold 8,000 set top boxes and started services including streaming services, you created an application to enable other devices to access the stream you created. In particular devices permitted users to view all Premier League matches and films, some of which hadn’t even been released in the cinema.” The sentencing of the pair was welcomed by Premier League director of legal services, Kevin Plumb. “This case demonstrates how seriously the courts are dealing with criminals involved in the supply of illicit streaming devices and services that provide illegal access to Premier League football and other popular content,” Plumb said.
  14. Being an entrepreneur in the digital age comes with risks, particularly when a business model is connected in any way with the music and movie industries. Kim Dotcom says he's spent $40 million in legal bills fighting his corner while TVAddons founder Adam Lackman is already facing potential bankruptcy. Neither defendant is anywhere close to a full trial on the merits of their respective cases. Entrepreneurs on the Internet face risks that are in many ways the same as those operating in the physical realm. All have to find a suitable market while combining hard work, skill, and elements of luck to create a sustainable and profitable business model. While there are plenty of opportunities out there to do things that other people have already done, the online world presents a whole raft of new possibilities to build projects in areas where few – if any – have trod before. Take for instance Megaupload, the file-hosting site created by Kim Dotcom, which initially tried to solve the problem of sending files that were too big to email. Or TVAddons, the portal created by Canadian Adam Lackman, that set out to become the world’s leading repository of third-party Kodi media player addons. Both businesses thrived for many years, working within what they believed to be the parameters of the law. In Megaupload’s case, taking down content when asked to do so and working with copyright holders to ensure a smooth relationship. In TVAddons case, never hosting or linking to copyrighted content at all and never responding to copyright complaints – because none were ever received. Now, however, both companies are resigned to history. Megaupload was shut down in 2012 and TVAddons (in its original form) was shuttered in 2017. While the force used against both has been documented in detail (few need to be reminded of the helicopters and armed police in Dotcom’s case or the specialist warrant used against Lackman) both have faced an onslaught of legal action. Last week, Dotcom revealed that in the 2,375 days since the raid and after reporting for bail 670 times and appearing in court for 165 days, he has spent $40 million on legal fees. Quite clearly Kim Dotcom is no ordinary person. Conjuring up $40m in legal fees is an astonishing feat, not least since the man was supposedly near destitute just a few short years ago. But despite spending dangerously close to six whole months in court and more money than most of us could hope to see in several lifetimes, Dotcom is no closer to finding out whether his Megaupload operation was legal or not. Most proceedings thus far have dealt with how his case was (often wrongly) handled in New Zealand and whether or not he should be extradited to the United States. Letting that sink in, the legality of Megaupload and the actions of its operators is yet to be determined on the merits, yet Dotcom has already spent $40m defending his corner. Whether you support the man or not, whether you believe Megaupload was brilliant innovation or the epitome of infringement, the numbers are staggering and are as far away from a reasonable fight as one can imagine. Granted, someone with fewer abilities and resources than Dotcom would have been shipped off to the U.S. years ago where the case would’ve been decided much more cheaply. However, that would’ve been done under a system that tends to listen to arguments more closely when they’re made by defendants with huge financial resources. That status certainly isn’t a good fit for TVAddons founder Adam Lackman who, unlike Dotcom, doesn’t appear to have the ability to conjure up millions of dollars to pay his lawyers. On numerous occasions over the past 12 months, Lackman has turned to users of the now reborn TVAddons to ask for their financial support to help fight his case against the largest telecoms companies in Canada. He’s currently asking for their help again to raise CAD$55,000+ that must be paid to the plaintiffs in his case after he contested a search warrant. Bailiffs have already been to Lackman’s home trying to recover the cash (or goods) but left when they could find little of value. TVAddons now say that they’re in a precarious position. “It seems that the companies suing us (Bell, Rogers, Videotron, TVA) are trying to use this debt to force our founder into bankruptcy and therefore force him to settle with them, even though he did nothing wrong. This way they can avoid the issue being heard in court,” the site explains. The last sentence in this statement raises a point that is regularly made in David vs Goliath-type copyright cases. The big companies who bring these cases are regularly accused of not wanting to have cases heard on the merits. Their critics claim that if they can string things out long enough, defendants like Lackman – or indeed Kim Dotcom – will eventually fold under the pressure. While that doesn’t seem to be on the cards in the Megaupload case, Lackman seems to be dangerously close to the edge. Just like Dotcom, there’s no shortage of people who would be happy to see him go under but that wouldn’t just be bad for him. Whether they beat Lackman before or during trial, the plaintiffs in the TVAddons case want to create the impression that by “merely hosting, distributing and promoting Kodi add-ons, the TVAddons administrator is liable for inducing or authorizing copyright infringements later committed using those add-ons.” That analysis is from the EFF, who note that a victory would “create new uncertainty and risk for distributors of any software that could be used to engage in copyright infringement.” But while a decisive win for the telecoms companies on these grounds would be considered a success, a clear and early capitulation by Lackman would give the public the impression they would’ve won anyway. Both outcomes would serve the purpose of deterring people from making a business on the back of their content – no matter how remotely nor how many third-parties are involved. It’s not hard to see why this is the end goal. Lackman says that so far he has spent over CAD$80,000 on legal bills, but “owes significantly more than that” to his own lawyers. That’s on top of the CAD$55,000+ he currently owes the plaintiffs plus anything he may spend at trial, if it even gets there. In comparison, Kim Dotcom’s $40m is monopoly money to most of us, but whichever scenario one takes, the suffocating financial power faced by defendants in these case means inevitable mismatches. Whether one thinks of these disrupters as heroes or calculating crooks is a matter of opinion (and there’s no shortage of people on both sides of that fence), but it’s likely that many will agree with the notion that getting a fair trial, on the merits of what has been accused, should be the target society aims for. The current system doesn’t seem to allow for that.
  15. The US is continuing its quest to try Silk Road's foreign leaders. Irish resident Gary Davis (aka "Libertas") has been extradited to the US to face charges over his alleged involvement in the dark web outfit as an administrator. He faces charges of computer intrusion, money laundering and narcotics distribution. IF he's convicted, he could face life in prison. According to prosecutors, Davis received $1,500 per week to handle a myriad of tasks that, among other things, included addressing disputes between drug buyers and dealers. Davis lost an appeal against the extradition in 2017, roughly a year after Ireland issued the order. At the time, his attorneys argued that his Asperger's Syndrome, anxiety and depression meant that he was "very heavily" dependent on family support and wouldn't get the help he needed in the US prison system. The Irish Court of Appeal rejected the idea, noting that the appeal wasn't based on a "point of law" and that US officials had promised support for Davis' conditions. The American government has stepped up its actions against former Silk Road members in the past year, including the shutdown of founder Ross Ulbrecht's appeal. While the case itself has been plagued by a crooked investigation and attempts to restart the site, it's clear that law enforcement wants to bring a definitive end to the saga.