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Thursday, December 27, 2012

New Video of Fatal Shooting at West Bank Checkpoint Shows Officer\'s Final Shot

Security-camera footage of a shooting at a checkpoint in the West Bank city of Hebron this month, provided to Israel's Channel 10 by the Israel Defense Forces.

Sarit Michaeli, a spokeswoman for the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, wrote to The Lede on Thursday to draw our attention to the fact that more video of a fatal shooting at a checkpoint in Hebron this month has been posted online.

As The Lede reported last week, when the Israel Defense Forces relea sed security-camera footage of an Israeli officer killing a 17-year-old Palestinian at the checkpoint in the occupied West Bank on Dec. 12, activists and bloggers in the region asked why the video had been edited before release.

On Wednesday, a correspondent for Israel's Channel 10 uploaded what appears to be unedited video of the encounter at the checkpoint to his personal YouTube channel. According to the correspondent, Roy Sharon, the security-camera footage, which includes 19 seconds omitted from the edit posted on an Israeli military channel last week, was “raw material provided by the I.D.F. Spokesperson's unit.”

The longer version of the footage displays a time stamp indicating that it was recorded on Dec. 12, from 8:09 p.m. to 8:10 p.m. The unedited recording includes about 14 seconds that was cut from the middle of the version released by the military last week and another five seconds that was trimmed from the end of the encounter.

The newly released video of the end of the incident appears to show that the Israeli officer fired at least three shots at the Palestinian boy, Muhammad al-Salameh, after he had already retreated away from the officer he had been fighting with when the first shot was fired. The officer's final shot, which was omitted entirely from the military's edited version, looks to have been fired from some distance, after the boy had doubled over, perhaps from the impact of the earlier shots, and was not close to any of the Israeli officers visible in the footage.

One day after the incident, B'Tselem released video recorded at the checkpoint minutes after the shooting. That footage showed the boy's body on the ground near the guard post and a series of tense encounters between Israeli officers and Palestinian civilians.

Video recorded shortly after the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old Palestinian boy by an Israeli officer at a checkpoint in the West Bank city of Hebron.

A Pay Cut for Tim Cook? Not Really

In 2012, Apple became the most highly valued public company in history and generated $156.5 billion in revenue - nearly 50 percent more than in 2011.

So how much did Timothy D. Cook, the company's chief executive, take home?

A relatively modest $4 million in pay, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday. The filing, made in advance of the company's annual shareholder meeting, revealed that Mr. Cook earned a salary of $1.36 million and received a cash bonus of $2.8 million.

That may look like a steep decline from the $378 million package that Mr. Cook was awarded in 2011, one of the la rgest on record, bolstered by a stock package that was worth $376.2 million at the time.

But the stock will vest over a 10-year period. Frank Gillett, an analyst with Forrester Research, said that this move was in line with Apple's overall strategy, from its product development plans to its long-term goals for the executive at the helm.

“If you want to create success for the company, you want to create it based on the long-term success of the company,” he said. “You put a big carrot on the horizon, about 10 years out, and go from there.”

Mr. Gillett also noted that although Mr. Cook did not receive any additional stock benefits this year, the board increased his salary to $1.4 million from $900,000. He also pointed out that for a period of time, the company's former chief executive and founder, Steven P. Jobs, earned a salary of just one dollar.

“If you were handing out gigantic nine-figure stock deals every year, it would send the wrong message to customers and shareholders,” he said.

Instagram Flap Shows Confusion Over Control of Content

The ruckus (now lawsuit) over whether Instagram would use your pictures to make money has drawn new attention to an unresolved battle of the Web era: Who owns your stuff online?

In a blog post on the company site last week, Instagram's co-founder, Kevin Systrom, sought to reassure users that their “content,” in Web jargon, belongs to them. He pointed to the company's Terms of Use, which spelled out that “Instagram does NOT claim ANY ownership rights in the text, files, images, photos, video, sounds, musical works, works of authorship, applications, or any other materials (collectively, “Content”) that you post on or through the Instagram Services.”

He added in plainer terms, “We don't own your photos - you do.” It was a smart tactical move. We tend to be proprietary over the picture s we make and share with friends.

It was also, as the law professor Eric Goldman put it, part of a raft of company policies that can be “misleading shorthand.” We might own our data, but we may not always control what happens to it. There are too many complicated, sometimes impenetrable clauses in company Terms of Service. Take for instance Facebook, Instagram's parent company. Its users are also told they own their data, but their preferences for certain products â€" their “likes” â€" can be used in the service of a type of advertising known as Sponsored Stories.

“Unfortunately,” Mr. Goldman argued, “the lay audience usually misreads these complicated and nuanced contract provisions, resulting in histrionics (“they ‘own' me!”) or platitudes (“it says right there in the TOS that users own their own data”), neither of which is quite right.”

Instagram is a free service, and the business model of free Web services relies precisely on taking advantage of user data, including the “content” users produce. Facebook makes money by letting advertisers direct marketing messages at prospective customers, based on what they reveal about themselves and who their friends are. And even as Facebook too says it doesn't “own” any of it, personal data is the company's most valuable asset. Advertising is its principal moneymaker.

Instagram too will walk down that road. It too will get into the advertising business at some point. As Mr. Systrom made clear to his users, “We are going to take the time to complete our plans, and then come back to our users and explain how we would like for our advertising business to work.”

The blog post came in response to an unusual uproar from among users over Mr. Systrom's bid to share Instagram user data with its parent company, Facebook; the mutiny compelled Instagram to backtrack on the proposed change. A class-action lawsuit was filed in federal court in San F rancisco, even before the revised terms of service were to go into effect.

Instagram is not the first company to have to contend with the dilemma over user data. Twitter sought this year to convince a federal judge in New York that its users have a reasonable expectation of privacy over their own postings. The judge disagreed; posting a 140-character missive on Twitter, he ruled, is akin to shouting out of the window.

Likewise, federal prosecutors have argued in court that cellphone owners do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the location data captured by their cellphones because, they contend, the data belongs not to the cellphone owner, but to the telecommunications carriers that provide the service.

Jury Awards $1.17 Billion in Patent Suit

Jury Awards $1.17 Billion in Patent Suit

Carnegie Mellon University said it was awarded $1.17 billion by a federal jury in Pittsburgh on Wednesday in a unanimous verdict that found the Marvell Technology Group had sold billions of semiconductors using technology developed at the university without a license.

The award is one of the largest in a patent infringement case, and comes after a $1 billion verdict awarded to Apple this summer over its smartphone design.

Carnegie claimed that Marvell had infringed on a pair of patents relating to fundamental technology for increasing the accuracy with which hard drive circuits read data from high-speed magnetic disks.

The patents were developed by José Moura, a professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering, and Aleksandar Kavcic, a former Ph.D. student now a professor at the University of Hawaii. Their work was supported by Carnegie's Data Storage Systems Center, a university research organization.

During the trial, Marvell argued that it had not used the university's technology and that those patents were invalid because similar systems had been developed elsewhere before the university filed for its patents. A company spokesman said Marvell would seek lower damages from the judge in post-trial hearings, which are scheduled for May, and might appeal the ruling otherwise.

Patent infringement lawsuits have become a big issue in recent years as the pace of innovation and competition speeds up and technology firms increasingly seek to shield their products behind patents. As the number of technology patents filed in the United States has risen rapidly in the last decade, so have patent-related lawsuits. Recent cases have involved Microsoft, Motorola, Research in Motion, Visto, Google and many others.

In August, Apple won a $1 billion infringement judgment against Samsung over iPhone design patents. Since then, the companies have argued over the size of the verdict and how the jury reached its conclusion. Samsung has argued the figure is excessive, while Apple has sought a court injunction to bar Samsung from selling various products that the jury found infringed on its patents.

Since the jury found the infringement by Marvell had been “willful,” meaning the company knew it was using the patented technology, the judge can award up to three times the verdict amount, according to a statement by K&L Gates, the law firm representing Carnegie Mellon.

The case was tried before Judge Nora Barry Fischer of United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Marvell ships more than one billion chips a year to a variety of electronics manufacturers, including Panasonic, Sony and Dell.

After Wednesday's verdict, Marvell's share price dropped 10.3 percent, to $7.40 on the Nasdaq, valuing the company at about $4 billion.

The university said the verdict was a victory for academic research and collaboration. “Protection of the discoveries of our faculty and students is very important to us,” the university said in a statement.

“The university's singular success, particularly over the past 40 years, has been achieved in large measure through collaboration with industry. We value those relationships greatly.”

Carnegie Mellon was represented by Douglas B. Greenswag and Patrick J. McElhinny of K&L Gates.

Marvell was represented by Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.

A version of this article appeared in print on December 27, 2012, on page B1 of the New York edition with the headline: Jury Awards $1.17 Billion In Patent Suit.

Glitches in Amazon\'s Cloud

‘The Cloud' Challenges Amazon

For some on Christmas Eve, “White Christmas” was a blackout on Netflix.

That's because problems with Amazon's cloud computing service, which provides storage and computing power for all kinds of Web sites and services, caused Netflix to go down for much of the day.

In updates on a Web site that reports on the status of its online services, Amazon traced the trouble to Elastic Load Balancing, a part of its service that helps spread heavy traffic among multiple servers to prevent overload. The company gave few details about the problems in its data center in Northern Virginia beyond this and did not offer an official statement or explanation.

Social networks filled with complaints. Some customers also complained that Amazon's own streaming service, Amazon Prime, was down. Amazon said it had fixed the problem completely by the afternoon of Christmas Day, and Netflix said it had restored its services to most of the affected consumers by late Christmas Eve. But the episode highlighted how consumers are increasingly using “the cloud.”

As more everyday devices, appliances and even automobiles rely on services connected to the Internet, consumers expect those services to be available at all times. Yet all sorts of disruptions - harsh weather conditions or an apparent overload - can knock a service out for hours.

Last month, problems with the same Amazon data center in Virginia took down Reddit, Foursquare and Heroku. The instance was explained on the status Web site as “degraded performance” in some parts of Amazon's storage service. In June, a lightning storm hit the Virginia data center, taking Netflix as well as Pinterest, Instagram and other sites off line for hours. That time, too, customers were offered little insight into what had happened.

In April 2011, an Amazon failure took down many smaller sites that had rented cloud storage space from the Internet giant. That time, the companies that were most affected were start-ups that were less likely to pay for so-called redundancies, or backup systems that kick in when a service fails. Netflix was not affected then, and said at the time it was because it had taken advantage of the redundancies that Amazon offers.

Netflix has said that it has built several redundancies into its cloud-based system. For instance, it stores its data across multiple “zones,” so if there is a failure in one zone, it can retry in another. It says it also spends money on more capacity than it needs, so that if there are large spikes in customer activity, the service is less likely to go down.

Joris Evers, a Netflix spokesman, declined to elaborate on why Netflix went down despite these safeguards. He said the company was investigating the cause and would do what it could to prevent the interruption from recurring.

“We are happy that people opening gifts of Netflix or Netflix-capable devices on Christmas morning could watch TV shows and movies and apologize for any inconvenience caused Christmas Eve,” Mr. Evers said.

Tera Randall, an Amazon spokeswoman, said the company has been “heads down” to ensure services are running smoothly and that a full summary of the incident would be published in a few days.

Amazon is one of the biggest players in online services, hosting data storage and computation for hundreds of companies, including Netflix, Instagram and Pinterest. Once a sideline Amazon set up six years ago, the cloud service has since exploded into a business that is expected to bring in about $1 billion to the company this year.

Other companies offer similar services, notably Google, which introduced its competitor in June. Microsoft is also in the business with Windows Azure.

Although the service disruptions may annoy some companies and their customers, it's unlikely many businesses will end their partnerships with Amazon in light of this latest Netflix failure, said James McQuivey, an analyst for Forrester Research. He added that it was unlikely that a temporary service failure for Netflix was going to cause many to cancel subscriptions.

He said companies can pay extra to Amazon to add safeguards that increase reliability of their online services, but they typically choose to save costs and take the risk of their services going down temporarily. He said that Amazon has been especially popular among businesses because it has been gradually improving its services and lowering its costs.

Businesses, “of course, are going to say, ‘Gee, Amazon, what's going on?' ” Mr. McQuivey said. “But in reality they're all getting such a great deal. I don't see them getting that upset about it.”

For consumers, though, it may be a different matter. On Christmas Eve, Merrilee and Alex Barton were watching an episode of “It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia” when their Netflix feed started to stammer and finally froze, then began to buffer excessively. “It would try to load and get to about 2 to 7 percent of the way through and then just hang there for five minutes,” Mrs. Barton said.

Eventually the two said they gave up and - with nothing else going on in Farmingdale, N.Y. - decided to “nerd it up.” They played a few games of Minecraft, a video game in which the players can build whatever they wish. In the game, all the technology worked.

A version of this article appeared in print on December 27, 2012, on page B1 of the New York edition with the headline: ‘The Cloud' Challenges Amazon.