Rob Reid's Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week

from the in-the-immortal-words-of-david-lee-roth dept

Rob Reid founded the company that created the Rhapsody music service, and more recently is the author of Year Zero - the tale of a vast alien civilization that’s so into American pop music that it inadvertently commits the biggest copyright violation since the Big Bang, thereby bankrupting the entire Universe. You may recall him from our video chat earlier this year.

I wouldn't challenge Charlie Sheen to a drinking contest. I wouldn't enter the ring with Oscar de la Hoya. And I certainly wouldn't level a laughably flimsy charge of copyright infringement against Mike Masnick and Techdirt. But late last week, the remedial lawtards at Human Synergistics did just that. Presumably wasted and punch-drunk after losing bouts to both Sheen and De La Hoya, they penned a takedown letter. Then yesterday came The Rebuttal. This is certainly my favorite Techdirt post of the week - and perhaps of the year (although ask me again after after all of those heart-warming holiday columns have left me sobbing in my Venti Gingerbread Latte). If you think you'd enjoy watching the 49ers smash a math-science magnet school's JV squad, then this post is for you. And if you think "Human Synergistics" sounds like a creepy, high-end love doll manufacturer from the late 80's - well, join the club.

Speaking of dim-wittery, the Barnes & Noble brain trust has come up with a novel (GET IT?) way of shoving piracy-curious eBook buyers straight to the dark side. You simply forbid them from re-downloading books that they've fully paid for after their credit cards expire. It's that easy! This post has the low-down. And if you happen to be a B&N employee (particularly a buyer in the science fiction department), my disparaging tone is not directed at you, but rather that irritating boss (or boss's boss) who just doesn't get it.

On a more serious note, several of this week's Techdirt posts evoked the grim masterpiece 1984. I'm referring, of course, to Van Halen's weirdly succinct album from the eponymous year, which includes "Jump," "Hot for Teacher," and seven other extremely brief songs. Play Side II backward at juuuuust the right speed, and you'll hear David Lee Roth spin an ominous yarn about a dystopian near-future in which brutish governments track their citizens' every thought and movement (it may sound like gibberish, but it's actually Icelandic). Mr. Roth's macabre warnings are echoed in this post about a Texas school that requires students to wear chips that continuously broadcast their locations. And in this post about a Florida gazillionaire who successfully abused copyright and other laws to silence a critical blogger.

Now to be genuinely serious for a moment, I found the images in this post to be oddly chilling, despite the fact that they're just dry line charts. They document the guillotining of Syria's Internet access. They remind me of a flatlining monitor in Intensive Care. I traveled two weeks in Syria back in 2011, and while I was there, the government allowed Facebook access for the first time. I fell in love with the country (particularly Aleppo), and hoped this minor liberalization pointed to a broader loosening that might one day lead to a truly free and open society (note: I tended to be almost pathologically optimistic). I still believe that Syria will get there, eventually (see above). But I fear that things will first get much worse.

In other totalitarian news, Iran's monstrous government is requiring all citizens over the age of 14 to carry biometric ID cards which, among other things, will be required for Web access. It's fascinating (if at times depressing) to watch the tech arms race between authoritarian governments and the forces of openness. I believe that while there are often bumps along the way (like this), technology strongly favors greater individual freedom, empowerment, and autonomy over longer timescales. But as we know, I'm a pathological optimist.

An interesting test of this proposition may be brewing in Utah, where the police in one community will soon be wearing almost-always-on "eye cams." If every cop, citizen, and perp knows that a subpoena-able video is being recorded whenever the police interact with the public, it could lead to better behavior all around (perhaps particularly on the part of police). But as Tim Cushing points out in his thoughtful piece, this will only work if individual officers don't have access to an "off" switch that they can activate at awkward moments.

With that, I leave you to your weekend. In the immortal words of David Lee Roth, "Ég hef fengið það slæmt, fékk það slæmt, fékk það slæmt, - ég er heitur fyrir kennara."


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Nigel (profile), Dec 1st, 2012 @ 12:17pm

    Lulz

    That was fantastic thanks for taking the time.

    Nigel

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2012 @ 1:19pm

    piracy-curious?

    GOD WILL JUDGE YOU, JUST LIKE THE GAYS. ONLY HOLLYWOOD IS SACRED AND PURE!

     

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    kj1313, Dec 1st, 2012 @ 1:49pm

    Whack a mole continues

    OT but the latest round of takedowns have begun but now they are targeting EU addresses, https://torrentfreak.com/top-bittorrent-sites-have-domains-put-on-hold-pending-legal-action-121201/

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2012 @ 2:22pm

      Re: Whack a mole continues

      By holding the domains and not shutting them down does this mean that the have questions regarding the US ICE procedure?

       

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    kj1313, Dec 1st, 2012 @ 3:06pm

    Perhaps they are actually trying to follow the rule of law (and seen the megaupload blowback) before they just seize sites on ICE's whim. Some domains have changed, i.e. watchseries.eu is now watchseries.li.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2012 @ 4:55pm

      Re:

      THAT'S why I couldn't access watchseries.eu this morning. It redirected me to that watchseries.il where there was a message stating that the website was down. Yeah, well, down for whateva...
      kj1313? Is that like KJ-52?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2012 @ 5:50pm

    "An interesting test of this proposition may be brewing in Utah, where the police in one community will soon be wearing almost-always-on "eye cams. But as Tim Cushing points out in his thoughtful piece, this will only work if individual officers don't have access to an "off" switch that they can activate at awkward moments."

    Pff! This isn't about protecting the public from police officers, it's about protecting police officers from the public. If a case goes to trial and evidence captured by an officer's camera shines a bad light on law enforcement, then that evidence will mysteriously disappear due to technical problems with the officer's recording equipment or whatever else law enforcement feels like saying.

    Once again, it's about protecting those in authority, not about protecting citizens. Citizens better not let the police know they're being recorded, otherwise they'll destroy or wipe you're recording device before they arrest you or let you leave.

     

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      Alana (profile), Dec 1st, 2012 @ 6:22pm

      Re:

      . If a case goes to trial and evidence captured by an officer's camera shines a bad light on law enforcement

      Then they deserve to be outed? Gee, its almost like this is incentive for law enforcement to NOT be douchebags!

       

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        Alana (profile), Dec 1st, 2012 @ 6:24pm

        Re: Re:

        To add to the comment; you see, police don't deserve the power to shut down video footage of them acting badly. It's like the bully walking to the principal and whining about how a victim caught footage of the bully beating up a kid, and then the principal outlawed recordings in the school grounds.

         

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          Greevar (profile), Dec 2nd, 2012 @ 6:54am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Replace bully with hall monitor and you'd have it right.

           

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          Dreddsnik, Dec 2nd, 2012 @ 7:18pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          " It's like the bully walking to the principal and whining about how a victim caught footage of the bully beating up a kid, and then the principal outlawed recordings in the school grounds. "

          Not as unbelievable as you might think. Colleges in my area no longer allow students to record lectures for later review. Seems some faculty members got caught on tape 'misspeaking' and 'bam' rule change. No consequences for the faculty. Nice to be the ones that MAKE the rules.

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2012 @ 10:50am

    I wasted 8 minutes of my life finding an Icelandic-to-English translator and I want it back!

     

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    IhateVista, Dec 2nd, 2012 @ 10:59am

    Give it time

    I hope the always-on police cameras are transmiting the video & audio to a central server for storage. Stop them from deleting in criminating evidence of them plotting to arrest citiyens just to fill quotas. Especially their patrol car conversations.

     

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    Charley Malden, Dec 2nd, 2012 @ 4:10pm

    Dangerous actions - give me break!

    Charlie Sheen, Oscar de la Hoya, yeah. But mention Franz de Byl? THATS dangerous!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2012 @ 5:27pm

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=388162557927199&set=a.274991665910956.65258.262068223869 967&type=1&theater&_fb_noscript=1

    With cameras everywhere the good and bad on the police will show up more and more, I hope the good starts showing up even more like that NYPD cop that bought a pair of all weather boots for a homeless man.

     

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