Recent News from Digital Trends

Two New Drugs Are Exacerbating the Overdose Crisis

Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week suggests that two recently resurfaced drugs are now contributing to the ongoing overdose crisis in the U.S. Among both reported overdose deaths and drug busts, officials are seeing …

Over 80 percent of NFTs minted for free on OpenSea are fake or plagiarized

One of the largest online marketplaces for non-fungible tokens is once again the center of controversy. Mere months after one of its employees resigned for using insider information to profit on NFT drops, OpenSea caused a stir among its users this week when it abruptly announced it was putting a restriction on its free minting tool. The feature allows individuals to create and list an NFT without first paying a “gas price,” the fee that crypto miners charge to write new data to a blockchain.

On Thursday, OpenSea said it would add a 50 item limit to the tool. Predictably, the announcement wasn’t popular among OpenSea users, and the company quickly reversed course. But in doing so, it provided some context about the feature. In a Twitter thread spotted by Vice News, the company said more than 80 percent of the NFTs recently created through its free minting tool involved either plagiarized work or spam.

It’s a staggering number, but one that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Artists and photographers have complained for months that the company hasn’t done enough to prevent scammers and bots from profiting from their work. In fact, there’s an entire Twitter account dedicated to documenting NFT thefts.

“Every decision we make, we make with our creators in mind. We originally built our shared storefront contract to make it easy for creators to onboard into the space,” OpenSea said on Twitter. “We didn’t make this decision lightly. We made the change to address feedback we were receiving from our entire community.”

OpenSea added it was working on several “solutions” it hoped would appease users while deterring bad actors. Moving forward, the company promised it would preview those changes before rolling them out broadly.

The Delightful Brian and Charles Makes a Grand Case for Human-Robot Friendships

In 2017, io9 wrote about a short film titled Brian and Charles, dubbing it “beautifully shot and equal parts poignant and wryly hilarious.” So we were thrilled to see that director Jim Archer made a feature film based on his short It just made its debu…

Telecoms Just Got Their Asses Spanked in Latest Attempt to Revoke California’s Net Neutrality Law

In a major victory for open internet activists, a federal court has once again shot down the telecom industry’s challenge to a California state net neutrality law.Read more…

Netflix will have to face ‘Queens Gambit’ defamation suit, judge rules

Netflix is learning that careless dialogue in its fictional shows can have serious implications. Its bid to get a recent defamation suit dismissed has been rejected, meaning it will have to face the plaintiff — Georgian chess legend Nona Gaprindashvili — in court. 

In September, Gaprindashvili filed a suit against the streaming giant, accusing the company of defamation and “false light invasion of privacy.” As the world’s first female grandmaster, Gaprindashvili was mentioned in Netflix’s series The Queen’s Gambit — a period drama about a chess prodigy. 

In one scene during a chess match, a radio commentator says in passing “The only unusual thing about her, really, is her sex. And even that’s not unique in Russia. There’s Nona Gaprindashvili, but she’s the female world champion and has never faced men.”

According to the suit, not only is the allegation that Gaprindashvili hadn’t faced men at that time “manifestly false,” it’s also “grossly sexist and belittling.” It states that “By 1968, the year in which this episode is set, she had competed against at least 59 male chess players (28 of them simultaneously in one game), including at least ten Grandmasters of that time.”

Georgian chess player and women's world chess champion, Nona Gaprindashvili of the Soviet Union, pictured playing a game of chess at the International Chess Congress in London on 30th December 1964. (Photo by Stanley Sherman/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Stanley Sherman via Getty Images

The show is based on a 1983 novel by Walter Tevis that also mentions Gaprindashvili. However, the part which Netflix appears to have based this particular bit of its script on says, “The only unusual thing about her was her sex; and even that wasn’t unique in Russia. There was Nona Gaprindashvili, not up to the level of this tournament, but a player who had met all these Russian Grandmasters many times before.” Netflix’s version is clearly different.

The streaming provider had moved to strike the case in November, saying in its filing that “the Series is a fictional work that a reasonable viewer would not construe as conveying fact.” It also said that “a reasonable viewer would not draw the negative implication that Plaintiff alleges.”

However, US District Judge Virginia Philips denied that motion today, writing that “the fact that the Series was a fictional work does not insulate Netflix from liability for defamation if all the elements of defamation are otherwise present.”

The ruling also states that “at the very least, the line is dismissive of the accomplishments central to Plaintiff’s reputation.” It also points out that, when filing its motion to dismiss, “Netflix’s own evidence demonstrates knowledge of the truth in its choice to deviate from the text of the Novel, which states that Plaintiff had faced the male Russian Grandmasters ‘many times before.'”

Gaprindashvili is seeking damages of at least $5 million, as well as for Netflix to remove the statement that she never played men from the show. 

Who Will Be Marvel’s Next Guardians of the Galaxy?

As noted philosopher and Poison frontman Bret Michaels once said back in 1988, “Every rose has its thorn.” Alas, it’s a truth that even applies to roses that bloom as beautifully as the Guardians of the Galaxy movie franchise. We’ve known for a while t…

Neil Young was fed up with Spotify’s ‘shitty’ sound quality anyway

Neil Young’s frustrations with Spotify go far beyond COVID-19 vaccine misinformation. A day after his music was removed from the platform, he said he “felt better” after leaving and slammed Spotify for its sound quality compared with other streaming services.

“Amazon, Apple Music and Qobuz deliver up to 100 percent of the music [quality] today and it sounds a lot better than the shitty degraded and neutered sound of Spotify,” Young wrote in the latest letter published to his website. “If you support Spotify, you are destroying an art form.” He urged fans to switch to “a platform that truly cares about music quality.”

Young, who claims “Spotify streams the artist’s music at five percent of its quality,” has long been vexed by the audio quality on some streaming platforms. He temporarily removed his music from them in 2015. Young launched his own audio player and music download platform that year, but Pono shut down in 2017.

In February 2021, Spotify said it planned to roll out a CD-quality music streaming option in some markets that year. That didn’t happen. The company said earlier this month it was “excited to deliver a Spotify HiFi experience to Premium users in the future,” but didn’t offer a timeline.

Apple Music, Amazon Music and Tidal all started offering CD-quality music streaming as part of their standard plans last year. Deezer and Qobuz also offer hi-res streaming.

Earlier this week, Young accused Spotify of allowing Joe Rogan to share COVID-19 vaccine misinformation and gave the platform an “it’s him or me” ultimatum. Spotify, which reportedly paid north of $100 million to secure the exclusive rights to Rogan’s podcast and said it has taken down more than 20,000 COVID-related podcast episodes, barely flinched. The service pulled the musician’s songs, though said it regretted Young’s decision and hoped he’d return soon.

Meanwhile, Young wrote that he supported free speech and companies’ right to choose what to profit from, “just as I can choose not to have my music support a platform that disseminates harmful information.” He said he was standing “in solidarity with the frontline healthcare workers who risk their lives every day to help others” and “as an unexpected bonus, I sound better everywhere else.”

Big Tech Will Soon Have to Disclose Salaries for Jobs in NYC and It’s Freaking Out the Money Men

Big businesses are throwing a tantrum in New York over a new pay transparency law requiring all employers with more than four employees to post minimum and maximum salary ranges for posted positions. Those rules are significant and would apply to the m…

Horrific Observations Confirm That Orcas Feed on Blue Whales

As apex predators, orcas can basically feed on whichever marine animal they want, but biologists weren’t entirely sure if these aquatic killers feast on the biggest of them all: blue whales. New evidence suggests they very much do, and it ain’t pretty….

Jedi Padawans Explore Corellia in an Exclusive Star Wars: The High Republic Excerpt

When Star Wars fans think of Corellia, they think of Han Solo. They think of Qi’ra. Maybe they think of piloting the Millennium Falcon there for Hondo Onaka. What they don’t think of is Jedi roaming the streets, but that’s going to change in Star Wars:…