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This has been going on for quite a while now, but just a few moments ago, Sweden's Supreme Court handed down its decision to not grant leave to appeal in the long-running Pirate Bay criminal trial. What this means is that their previously determined jail sentences and fines handed out to Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm and Carl Lundström will stand.
During the original 2009 trial, Fredrik Neij, Peter Sunde and Carl Lundström all had their sentences decreased, but ordered to pay increased damages that added up to millions of dollars to be handed over to the entertainment company plaintiffs.
The three men filed for a hearing of their case at the Supreme Court, which happened today, and their request was denied. This means that the previously-given sentences now stand, and are final. Peter Sunde aka Brokep, will face 8 months in prison. Fredrik Neij aka TiAMO, is looking at 10 months. Businessman Carl Lundström has just 4 months behind bars. They are all still required to pay a combined $6.8 million in damages.
Facebook has finally, after all this time, speculation and rumors, finally reached their status of hitting an initial public offering (IPO) with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). It raised $5 billion, less than the previously speculated $10 billion.
In their S-1 filing, Facebook also mentioned they would begin selling public stock as soon as possible. On top of the IPO news, they released some statistics on Facebook, which are very mind-blowing: Facebook now receives 845 million active users per month, 100 billion friendships, 2.7 billion likes and comments per day, as well as 250 million photos being uploaded every day.
We also found out that Facebook has been profitable for three years now, with revenue of $777 million on profit of $229 million in 2009 alone. Revenue grew 154-percent to $1.974 billion in 2010, and another 88-percent in 2011 to $3.711 billion. Facebook earned $1 billion last year, and are sitting on cash reserves of $3.908 billion.
What would you say Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg earned? Well, a salary of $483,333 in 2011, with a $220,500 bonus for the first half of the year, and $783,529 in other compensations (with $692,679 spent on chartered airplanes). This pay "reflected the impact of his performance in leading our product development efforts, our success in growing Facebook's global user base and developing strong developer and commercial relationships."
Twitter recently gave itself itself the power to censor particular tweets in particular countries, but this latest move tops them all. Two friends had planned a trip the the United States, as most people would dream of doing, with Leigh Van Bryan posting a tweet just weeks before his trip that he was going to "destroy America."
Now, a level-headed person would take that as someone who is excited about going to the U.S. with a friend, and is looking to have a great time. The U.S. didn't see it that way, and did not think it was said in a positive tone, where things escalated, quite a bit. Bryan and his friend, Emily Bunting, arrived at the Los Angeles International Airport, where they were questioned by U.S. special agents who had spotted their tweet.
They were questioned for over five hours, after which they were placed into an illegal immigrants van and were put behind bars, separately, for 12 hours. Bryan was questioned in regards to his tweet, where he jokingly said he would be "digging up Marilyn Monroe." The tweet where the U.S. believed Bryan was a "terrorist" was:
Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America.
Emily on the other hand stated:
Officials told us we were not allowed into the country because of Leigh's tweets. We just wanted to have a good time on holiday. That was all Leigh meant in his tweets.
Sony aren't in a good position right now, with three years of losses behind them, and the potential of a fourth, they're shuffling their CEOs in the near-future. Current CEO, Sir Howard Stringer, will be replaced by Kazuo Hirai, effective April 1.
After the move, Stringer will become chairman of the board after a shareholders meeting in June. Hirai, current PlayStation chief, will try to integrate the unprofitable TV business and computers, with content from Sony's entertainment divisions. Sony have lost a few battles now, with the Walkman losing to Apple's iPod, the Bravia TV's to Samsung, and Nintendo slamming the sales of the PlayStation 3.
Sony reports their third-quarter earnings tomorrow, where they're expected to post a loss. This will be the fourth consecutive year of losses, a first for the company since it was listed back in 1958. Hirai has quite the job ahead of him, I just can't see how he can steer Sony back into profits in the short term.
With Hirai off the PlayStation chief position, what does this mean for the PlayStation 4? Questions need to be answered, Sony.
Hasn't the world, or WikiLeaks, learnt anything? If the U.S. Government wants you, they'll come and get you. No matter what country, no matter if you're not a U.S. citizen, or whether you're on water - they'll find a way. Kim Dotcom would've thought he was safe with MegaUpload, after all. The latest out of WikiLeaks is that they want to move their servers offshore in an attempt to avoid prosecution from the U.S.
Citing "multiple sources within the hacking community," told FoxNews.com that those backing WikiLeaks' founder, Julian Assange, have been working behind the scenes to move the servers to international waters where they would find themselves under maritime law. This means that once they are far enough away from land, then maritime law is what you "report" to.
But moving servers onto the open sea isn't going to solve WikiLeaks problems overnight. Jim Dempsey, Vice President for Public Policy with the Washington, D.C., think tank Center for Democracy and Technology has said that moving the servers offshore wouldn't go any good unless those who are running WikiLeaks also moved offshore, where he's quoted;
Where the data resides isn't what determines jurisdiction. You prosecute real people, you don't prosecute servers. So if the WikiLeaks people want to live on a platform in the North Sea and educate their children there ... for people who have lives, that doesn't make sense.
Electronic Frontier Foundation comes to the rescue for MegaUpload users, will retrieve their non-infringing files
The MegaUpload debacle is in the middle of a complete storm right now, and users who have used the storage provided by MegaUpload are facing the possibility that their files will be completely wiped away and never seen again.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has stepped in, with the help of Carpathia Hosting, where they've announced plans to assess the scope of the issue facing MegaUpload users who are at risk of losing their data. Carpathia has created the website, http://www.MegaRetrieval.com to help users contact EFF. EFF will then take a look at the situation, and if possible, help resolve the issues.
Facebook are now expected to raise $5 billion in a preliminary IPO prospectus on Wednesday morning. This is much less than expected, but could balloon out from here based on investor demand "according to sources close to the deal," reports the International Financing Review.
The smaller deal is reportedly reflecting a decision to start with a conservative base, before deciding whether to increase. Facebook has chosen to hire five bookrunners including Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays Capital and JP Morgan. This list could grow, also.
Facebook are expected to finalise the IPO process by May, if everything goes right with the registration process with the SEC. It has been reported that Facebook have been "unusually guarded" about the process for selecting banks involved in the underwriting syndicate. Obviously because this would be not only a stressful move, but a very strategic move for their future growth.
Apple appeals Chinese court ruling, where it was rejected the ownership of the iPad trademark in China
Apple are having to appeal a Chinese court ruling in December of last year, where they were rejected of iPad trademark ownership in China. This could open up Apple to trademark infringement lawsuits from a local company. Apple filed an appeal on January 5 with the Higher People's Court of Guangdong Province, according to a statement from Proview International.
Proview International is a small Chinese display monitor company that claims control over the iPad trademark in mainland China, and the same company that is stirring up a storm over at Apple. Apple had originally filed a lawsuit against Proview to take control of the trademark, but back in December of last year, the Shenzhen Municipal Intermediate People's Court rejected Apple's claim.
Within the lawsuit, Apple claimed that a Proview subsidiary in Taiwan had actually sold the iPad trademark rights to a U.K.-based company called "IP Applications." From there, the trademark rights were then sold to Apple in 2010. The Shenzhen court ruled the transfer of trademark rights were only made through Proview's Taiwan subsidiary. Proview's Shenzhen-based company did not actually attend trademark negotiations, and did not formally transfer any trademark rights, according to the court.
Rovio Mobile, the guys and gals behind the crazy successful Angry Birds, has enjoyed much success with their bird-slinging game. Right up to the point where chief executive, Mikael Hed told the Midem conference in Cannes this morning:
We have some issues with piracy, not only in apps, but also especially in the consumer products. There is tons and tons of merchandise out there, especially in Asia, which is not officially licensed products. We could learn a lot from the music industry, and the rather terrible ways the music industry has tried to combat piracy.
Hed explained that Rovio sees it as "futile" to go after pirates through the courts, apart from when it feels the products they are selling are harmful to the Angry Birds brand, or ripping off its fans. Rovio see piracy as a way to attract more fans, even if its not making money from it. This is where Hed is quoted with:
Piracy may not be a bad thing: it can get us more business at the end of the day.
Apple products are thrown into such secrecy that the Cupertino-based company sometimes puts new engineers on fake products, until those new employees can be trusted.
In his book "Inside Apple," author Adam Lashinsky, reported the following tidbit in his new book, and was backed up by a former Apple employee who confirmed it when Lashinsky spoke at LinkedIn the other day. This is what the engineer had to say:
A friend of mine who's a senior engineer at Apple, he works on --or did work on -- fake products I'm sure for the first part of his career, and interviewed for 9 months. It's intense.
The same employee also says that Tim Cook has the charisma to be President. Not President of Apple, but he could replace Obama as the President of the United States. If this happened, maybe all U.S. citizens could expect an iPhone to help stimulate the people?