Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the vote-'em-up dept

This week there was no question whatsoever which comment you guys thought was the most insightful. There was also no question which comment you guys thought was the funniest. And while they were totally different comments... they were both by the same person. We'll get to the funny comment in a minute, but let's start with insightful. Winning hands down was el_segfaulto with his statement, "as a developer," in response to the news that Spotify was sued for patent infringement just weeks after entering the US market:
There is a reason why I do not release code anymore and am reluctant to even help others out on message boards. I'm a decent developer, I've never been great on prettiness but when it comes to security fuggedaboutit. I've been threatened with patent litigation before and it is not a pleasant process. When I was in grad school I had the resources of a major U.S. university to help. Their pack of rabid lawyers outmatched the trolls', but the sad reality is that the amount of money, time, and energy expended was wayyyy more than was warranted for the little piss-ant project that I was working on.

Now that I have a cushy government job and consult on the side, I simply can't afford to be sued for creating a JavaScript/CSS vertical dropdown menu (I kid you not, I received an email saying I was violating a patent for doing that). What happens is that all of the neat ideas that me, and others like me have are simply going to stay in our brains out of fear of having our lives ruined by a parasite suing us in East Texas.

If you give a group of engineers a problem and each one of them comes up with a similar solution guess what...it's not that damned novel! Creators (artistic and technological) need to realize that they are not special little snowflakes and not every idea that comes out of their minds is unique and amazing.
If only policy makers and judges would read stories like this one.

Coming in second was a short comment from rw, in response to the IFPI's suggested plan of forcing Google to put "red lights" next to search results for sites that the industry claims "support infringement." rw points out that this might backfire on the industry:
I think they should do it. That way we know which sites they don't want us to go to so we can get to those same sites faster.
There were lots of really good insightful comments this week which got a lot of votes, but I narrowed the list down to three picks for editor's choice. First up, we have HothMonster pointing out something very fundamental in explaining when using "free" works as a part of a business model:
The caveat is, free only helps sales if your product is good.

The AC thats gonna come in here calling us all freetards is mad because his content was shit so no one ever wanted to pay for it. But he overvalues it, so he will never get it
Then we have a knowledgeable Anonymous Coward explaining why the court order in the UK for BT to block Usenet provider Newzbin2 is pointless:
Of course attempts to dismantle Usenet failed: we designed it precisely to resist such approaches.

Usenet was (and remains) the largest and most successful experiment in mass communication ever. (This is not to say that it doesn't have issues -- clearly, it is, and the largest of these is abuse, particularly spam.) And there are quite a few services which index it, search it, collate it, archive it -- including Google. It will be interesting to see if this ruling is extended to them.

But in the end, it won't matter. We simply won't allow Usenet to be shut down. If necessary, we'll tunnel it, encrypt it, whatever it takes to sustain no matter what any mere court says. Usenet is far more important than the entire content industry combined, and is certainly run by far more intelligent and clever people. We will always win in the end.

So if the entertainment industry wants to pointlessly expend its resources in this failure: by all means. It will reduce those available to take on other targets
Finally, it's a comment from another Anonymous Coward, explaining how he went from being a recording industry supporter to something else entirely:
At this point back in 2001, I had a music collection of about 1600 albums. I'd been buying about 100+ albums a year (2 a week on average) for about 15 years. At the time I was a very strong supporter of the RIAA's position on file sharing and copyright issues.

But then Sept 11th happened and I was out of work for three months. Not only did I end up selling most of my cassette (about 850ish) to help make ends meet, but it allowed me a lot of time to do a lot of reading.

Slowly, over the period of a year or so, I began to see the logical fallacies (if not outright lies) of most of the RIAA's arguments and often dishonest business dealings (Sound Exchange, for example, gets to collect money for artist - even if those artists don't want them to - and they get to keep the money unless an artist has a membership, which basically means cutting them a percentage of your money - whether you want to or not - or they get to keep all of it. And THAT is EXACTLY what the copyright clause was intended to prevent).

I've gone from being a strong supporter of the recording industry to one of their biggest critics. I've also gone from being a good customer (2 albums a week) to not having bought a single major label album new (I still get some from secondhand stores occasionally) since mid-2004. The vast majority of the music I've picked up in the last 7 years either comes directly from the artists/bands themselves or independent marketplaces like eMusic (or it did until the major labels bought into it and pretty much ruined it).

And none of the loss of business has anything to do with file sharing.
And, now over to the Funny side, where el_segfaulto wins the gold as well (nice week, dude!). This time, it's for his comment explaining how he learned that copying was stealing:
I hate agreeing with ACs but I have a story that will help. A few days ago I was hiking in my beloved Sierra Nevada mountains outside of Lake Tahoe. I saw a beautiful snow-capped peak just to my left. I harmlessly thought that I'd take a picture of it. Well I snapped my photo and wouldn't you know it, the entire damned thing disappeared!

A park ranger came up to me demanding to know what had happened. I told him that I had taken a picture of the mountain. No sooner had I uttered those words than a fleet of black helicopters descended on our location. An engineer jumped out of the first one, grabbed my camera, and proceeded to pull out all of the bytes one at a time with a very tiny set of tweezers.

It took most of the weekend, but the mountain is now back to where it was (along with a couple of families camping in the mountains and a very confused black bear). The moral of the story is copying things, or even remembering them can be critically damaging to our planet, and thus our children.

And won't somebody please think of the children?
Coming in second place was Prisoner 201, discussing questions about the arrest in the UK of someone that the police insist is the spokesperson for LulzSec, but who others are less sure is the right guy. Prisoner 201 settled the matter conclusively:
They have an IP address.

Of course they have the right guy
On the editor's choice list, we've got an Anonymous Coward responding to the news that the Associated Press doesn't know its Farenheit from its Celsius, declaring 100 degree temperatures to be literally near the "boiling point." The AC pointed out how this proves something else:
I guess the Hot News Doctrine works after all - I haven't see this story reported anywhere else!
Nicely done. And, last but not least, we've got another Anonymous Coward responding to new research claiming that time travel is impossible. The AC explains why any physicist should always say this:
Saying time travel is impossible is a really safe bet. If it turns out time travel is possible, they can always go back in time and change their statement.

But since they haven't changed their statement then that means time travel is impossible.

Peer review that shit, I win
I think that "Peer review that shit, I win," may become my new catchphrase... so thanks for that! In the meantime, another week has begun, and I'm sure we'll have plenty to talk about this week. I keep waiting for one of those "slow news days" that critics in the comments talk about, but haven't found one yet...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2011 @ 12:19pm

    This is so depressing ....

    ABOLISH IP!!!! ABOLISH IT!!!!

     

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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jul 31st, 2011 @ 6:18pm

    Re: “Usenet was (and remains) the largest and most successful experiment in mass communication ever.”

    I’d say that honour now belongs to the Web. It has made possible entire new application areas (like wikis, blogs, and social networking) that USENET has not.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2011 @ 1:51am

      Re: Re: “Usenet was (and remains) the largest and most successful experiment in mass communication ever.”

      Sittling on porch

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2011 @ 9:48pm

    "If only...judges would read stories like this one."

    Judges are not inclined to read stories. They are inclined to review evidence. Stories and evidence are poles apart in their utility as information sources.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 31st, 2011 @ 9:59pm

      Re:

      Judges are not inclined to read stories. They are inclined to review evidence. Stories and evidence are poles apart in their utility as information sources

      If you believe that, you've just explained a huge part of the reason why our court system is destroying the American economy with bad patent rulings.

      Sad. The purpose of the patent system is to promote the progress. What the courts have done is the exact opposite of that. They've stretched & distorted patent law to make it very difficult and costly to innovate today.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2011 @ 10:07pm

        Re: Re:

        No, what I believe is sad is the general lack of understanding by so many about how courts carry out their judicial duties.

         

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          Jay (profile), Aug 1st, 2011 @ 12:26am

          Re: Re: Re:

          If they do, "judicial activism"

          If they don't, "bad judge"

          Damn...

           

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          Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 1st, 2011 @ 2:28am

          Re: Re: Re:

          No, what I believe is sad is the general lack of understanding by so many about how courts carry out their judicial duties.

          I love these snide put downs that never ever seem to have any actual facts behind them.

          I stand behind my statement. I understand -- VERY CLEARLY -- how courts carry out their judicial duties. And it's a big part of the reason why American innovation is at risk. If you don't see it, you're a part of the problem.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2011 @ 9:03am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Processes entrusted to the care and execution of people are hampereed by one indisputable fact...people, for all their strenghts, faults, etc. are the linchpin on the process.

            To bring some level of order to what could easily turn into chaos, rules of judicial procedure have developed over the centuries to establish certain norms, and these norms are manifested in several forms, including, among others, rules of civil and criminal procedure, rules of evidence, case law cabining judicial authority (e.g., standing, ripeness, concreteness, justiciability), etc.

            Are these rules perfect? Of course not. But tell me, would you rather have a judicial system that for all its warts does attempt to err on the side of neutrality, or one in which every judge is a "Roy Bean" clone?

             

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              Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 1st, 2011 @ 10:19am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              You act, incorrectly, as if there are only two extreme possibilities.

              This is wrong.

              And, honestly, if judges were supposed to be following such process, we wouldn't have business method patents or software patents or gene patents in the first place.

              Somehow, the judges only follow the rules when they agree with you.

               

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          The eejit (profile), Aug 1st, 2011 @ 4:43am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Go on, then, please explain, in no more than 1000 words, why you think we're wrong (and "you're wrong!" isn't going to cut it.)

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2011 @ 5:09am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "what I believe is sad is the general lack of understanding by so many about how courts carry out their judicial duties."

          Suggesting how courts 'should' carry out their judicial duties is different from misunderstanding how they currently 'do' carry them out.

          What's sad is that you seem to display a level of incompetence that doesn't seem to even understand this.

          Patents are meant to promote the progress, and nothing else, and if they do not do so then they should be abolished.

          I say abolish IP and all other forms of government established monopolies.

           

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      Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jul 31st, 2011 @ 11:48pm

      Learn About The Law ...

      ... kiddo.

       

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      Nicedoggy, Aug 1st, 2011 @ 3:02am

      Re:

      Your comment doesn't align with reality, judges do take into account stories of the day otherwise we wouldn't have moral panics(a.k.a. taboo law, FUCK Jurisprudence, were a taboo can be so strong as to influence the course of justice), judges also like any other human being have a tendencies to carry their own bias, that is why lawyers shop for courts.

      Quote:
      This Article is as simple and provocative as its title suggests: it explores the legal implications of the word fuck. The intersection of the word fuck and the law is examined in four major areas: First Amendment, broadcast regulation, sexual harassment, and education. The legal implications from the use of fuck vary greatly with the context. To fully understand the legal power of fuck, the nonlegal sources of its power are tapped. Drawing upon the research of etymologists, linguists, lexicographers, psychoanalysts, and other social scientists, the visceral reaction to fuck can be explained by cultural taboo. Fuck is a taboo word. The taboo is so strong that it compels many to engage in self-censorship. This process of silence then enables small segments of the population to manipulate our rights under the guise of reflecting a greater community. Taboo is then institutionalized through law, yet at the same time is in tension with other identifiable legal rights. Understanding this relationship between law and taboo ultimately yields fuck jurisprudence.

      Source: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=896790

       

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      Nicedoggy, Aug 1st, 2011 @ 3:16am

      Re:

      You should read Harry G. Frankfurt - On Bullshit so maybe you get a moment of clarity about what you talk so much, unless of course you are just a paid shill then no amount of clarity will be able to change all that rhetoric that you try to pass for factual, but that every human being on the face of this earth known to be incorrect because their own experiences resemble nothing what you try to pass as truth.

       

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    Chris Rhodes (profile), Jul 31st, 2011 @ 11:21pm

    I Concur

    "Peer review that shit, I win" is now my favorite phrase.

     

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    Vic Kley, Aug 1st, 2011 @ 8:41am

    Secret Sauce THE PROBLEM

    How sweet it is! The zinger, the wining statement that says it all.

    "If you give ...... a problem". The act of invention is critically tied to the clear and precise definition of a problem. If the marketplace agrees that you have indeed perceived a problem and your execution of a solution is good it qualifies as an "innovation".

    If you do not have to give the problem because it is well known and the typical practitioner of the art finds the solution obvious, then it truly is not an invention.

    Of course Masnick and el segfaulto think because they can write a sentence the process of "giving a problem" is simple. Last time I looked Masnick had no patents under his name and no problems not well defined by others in any field.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 1st, 2011 @ 10:21am

      Re: Secret Sauce THE PROBLEM

      Of course Masnick and el segfaulto think because they can write a sentence the process of "giving a problem" is simple. Last time I looked Masnick had no patents under his name and no problems not well defined by others in any field.

      I love people who think that only those who have gov't granted monopolies can comment on whether or not gov't granted monopolies are good.

      I've done many things that my lawyers have told me to patent. I choose not to, because I do not believe in fucking up the system for everyone else.

      You apparently feel differently.

       

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        Vic Kley, Aug 1st, 2011 @ 10:34am

        Mike's Inner Voice Re: Re: Secret Sauce THE PROBLEM

        You keep listening to that inner voice.

        Oh just out of curiosity what company with "lawyers" were you working for that let you skip the patenting step for something of value?

        Why not point us to that highly valuable code or function made by masnick that opened up new areas. The Blackman-Masnick Fast Furrier Function?

        I know, you and your buds were in a (buds) induced cloud from whence came the wonderful idea of Cloud Computing. You are so modest not to mention it.

         

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    staff, Aug 1st, 2011 @ 8:57am

    truth about trolls

    "trolls"

    Call it what you will...patent hoarder, patent troll, non-practicing entity, etc. It all means one thing: “we’re using your invention and we’re not going to pay”. This is just dissembling by large infringers to kill any inventor support system. It is purely about legalizing theft.

    Prior to eBay v Mercexchange, small entities had a viable chance at commercializing their inventions. If the defendant was found guilty, an injunction was most always issued. Then the inventor small entity could enjoy the exclusive use of his invention in commercializing it. Unfortunately, injunctions are often no longer available to small entity inventors because of the Supreme Court decision so we have no fair chance to compete with much larger entities who are now free to use our inventions. Worse yet, inability to commercialize means those same small entities will not be hiring new employees to roll out their products and services. And now some of those same parties who killed injunctions for small entities and thus blocked their chance at commercializing now complain that small entity inventors are not commercializing. They created the problem and now they want to blame small entities for it. What dissembling! If you don’t like this state of affairs (your unemployment is running out), tell your Congress member. Then maybe we can get some sense back in the patent system with injunctions fully enforceable on all infringers by all inventors, large and small.

    For the truth about trolls, please see http://truereform.piausa.org.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 1st, 2011 @ 10:23am

      Re: truth about trolls

      Call it what you will...patent hoarder, patent troll, non-practicing entity, etc. It all means one thing: “we’re using your invention and we’re not going to pay”.

      Do you just have this saved to cut and paste? Because you post it every day around here, and it doesn't make it any less stupid and any less wrong.

      It almost never means that at all. In nearly every case (well over 90%) such lawsuits involve someone coming up with things totally independently, and folks like YOU trying to suck the innovators dry by claiming a broad patent that never should have been issued.

      You know that. And yet you still do it. Because you have nothing productive to contribute to society. You are a sad sad man who should be ashamed of himself.

       

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        Vic Kley, Aug 1st, 2011 @ 11:02am

        Re: Re: truth about trolls AND Masnick

        Masnick, first understand that a patent means that your elder gets your respect and some of your money if you have used his idea. You can not "independently invent it" if someone else already has, except in the emotional sense of knowing that you really did think of it without the benefit of the publication.

        The Germans came along and said to the Poles you are sub-human and therefore we take your land, your buildings and factories. You know "independent discovery", like Columbus and the indians, or the Normans and Saxons. Now independent Real Estate works great until you run out of ammunition.

        You rehash the same dreck every day about the worthlessness of patents and inventions while you are using hardware that would not exist without such things. Your whining is pitiful and shameful.

        You have no place criticizing "staff" for giving a contrary view. Besides you are the only person who reads your ramblings every day. For most of us "staff's" observations are refreshing, new and insightful.

         

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          Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 1st, 2011 @ 11:37am

          Re: Re: Re: truth about trolls AND Masnick

          Masnick, first understand that a patent means that your elder gets your respect and some of your money if you have used his idea.

          Patents have nothing to do with respect. And, knowing some patent holders, they don't deserve respect. Many deserve scorn for hindering real innovation.

          You can not "independently invent it" if someone else already has, except in the emotional sense of knowing that you really did think of it without the benefit of the publication.

          If you really don't believe people can independently invent stuff, I don't see how you can be reasoned with. You are so wrong it's hilarious. You should have no place in this debate because of your astounding levels of cluelessness.

          The Germans came along and said to the Poles you are sub-human and therefore we take your land, your buildings and factories. You know "independent discovery", like Columbus and the indians, or the Normans and Saxons. Now independent Real Estate works great until you run out of ammunition.

          Dude. Seriously. If you can't understand the basic differences between what's rivalrous and what's non-rivlarous, and you honestly believe that independent invention is the same thing as seizing land from someone else, you really are not worth talking to.

          This is basic stuff. Keep up.

          You have no place criticizing "staff" for giving a contrary view. Besides you are the only person who reads your ramblings every day. For most of us "staff's" observations are refreshing, new and insightful

          Hahha. Good joke.

           

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    Peter S. Chamberlain (profile), Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 10:23am

    The Peer Review Reference at End of This Comment

    Re the "peer review" aside to this post: As a lawyer, I find a real problem with the Supreme Court's requirement of "peer review" to validate either scientific or expert evidence so that it can even be offered. First, where are you going to publish the average first piece of new expert, much less "scientific" knowledge, evidence, and procedure? Second, who is going to read through, test, and publish such peer review (assuming anyone would publish it) unless the subject is commercially huge like cigarettes or breast implants, and I've got my suspicions who funds most of the published actual or alleged research on those, for example. The irony is that the five brilliant liberal Justices of our same august Supreme Court just short-circuited its own standards for such scientific evidence again, including overlooking the same leading author on the subject that they had cited for another point, thus screwing up all future cases in the field of child sexual abuse evidence and testimony, in Lawrence v. Louisiana, not the first time they have done this in diverse more or less arcane fields that don't draw a lot of expensive review. The very defense-oriented Supreme Court of Texas has also fouled up some areas this way. How many gas tanks or left front wheel assemblies have to come loose before anybody outside the company starts doing peer review?

     

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