Best Response To A Copyright Threat Ever? Lawyers Explain Why ABA Is Full Of S**t In Claiming Copyright On Routing Numbers

from the enjoy dept

In our time we've seen some pretty epic responses to bogus legal threats, but it appears we have a new contender for the throne. As a whole bunch of lawyers suddenly emailed me this morning, it appears there's been a followup to our earlier story on the American Bankers Association claiming that bank routing numbers are covered by copyright, and threatening a website that had created a useful way to look up those routing numbers. The website, run by Greg Thatcher, was doing a public service, getting such info from the Federal Reserve's website, and making it much easier for people to find the numbers.

Thatcher is now being represented, pro bono, by Andrew Delaney of Martin & Associates, and his response letter to Nigel Howard, the lawyer from Covington & Burling LLP (the ABA's lawyer who sent the threat letter) is one of the most beautiful responses to a bogus threat letter you'll ever see. It gets bonus points for its usage of footnotes (which is to say, do not skip the footnotes). You really need to read the whole thing. I'd quote parts of the legal analysis, but you have to see the whole thing in context with the footnotes (linked above or embedded below). I will, however, quote the closing paragraph, to give you a sense of the tone of the letter:
If you do feel it's necessary to sue our client, we are open Monday through Friday from 8:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. and we have lollipops for people who serve process. So if you do file a complaint and send someone over with a summons, please have them wear something with a bit of purple... we all like purple.
Oh, and then there's this:
© Andrew B. Delaney and Jorge V. Pivar-Federici. All rights reserved. But wait . . . fair use allowed and encouraged. Actually, go 'head and publish the whole thing as is. We don't care.
Nicely done. Nicely done. I may have to send them a bag of lollipops.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    GeneralEmergency (profile), Aug 30th, 2013 @ 11:34am

    Glaring misspelling...

    .

    ...but it appears we have a new contender for the thrown.


    Was this a wrestling match?


    .

     

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  2.  
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    memphislimsan, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 11:36am

    *"throne"

     

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  3.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 30th, 2013 @ 11:37am

    Re: Glaring misspelling...

    Ugh. Fixed. Apologies.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    GeneralEmergency (profile), Aug 30th, 2013 @ 11:43am

    Re: Re: Glaring misspelling...

    .


    I have just received an apology from Mike Masnick.

    Am I now a demi-God, or what?


    .

     

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  5.  
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    Sneeje (profile), Aug 30th, 2013 @ 11:46am

    Spice Girls

    Anyone that can work "zigazig ha" into a legal response is a demi-god in my book.

     

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  6.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Aug 30th, 2013 @ 11:47am

    Epic.

     

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  7.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Aug 30th, 2013 @ 11:49am

    Re: Glaring misspelling...

    It would be a lot more entertaining if court was decided in the squared circle.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 11:56am

    Wow! Some smart ass lawyer puts a couple of funny footnotes in a letter and Pirate Mike wets his pants. Typical Masnick. Keep pandering to the young boys, Mikey. It's pretty much all your good at.

     

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  9.  
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    Baldaur Regis (profile), Aug 30th, 2013 @ 11:56am

    This is the epistolary equivalent of appearing in court and saying "Your Honor, our opponent's case is so laughably weak we won't even address it, and instead show you some cool card tricks we learned at a poker game last night."

    Well done!

     

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  10. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 11:57am

    Wow! Some smart ass lawyer puts a couple of funny footnotes in a letter and Pirate Mike wets his pants. Typical Masnick. Keep pandering to the young boys, Mikey. It's pretty much all your good at.

     

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  11.  
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    Arthur Moore (profile), Aug 30th, 2013 @ 11:57am

    My Professors Would Fail The People Who Wrote This Letter.

    No, really.

    They cited Wikipedia. That was considered an auto fail by many of my professors.

    It's still an awesome letter though.

     

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  12. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 12:11pm

    Poor little Mikey,

    Too scared to actually discuss anything that matters with a critic, and too dishonest to admit that he routes known critics' posts to the spam filter.

    What a fucking joke. What a fucking pussy.

    Anytime, Mikey. Anytime. But you and I both know that you'll never be man enough.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 12:13pm

    Re:

    You are a sad, sad, little man.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 12:14pm

    Re:

    Actually, letters such as this may achieve their intended results, but they virtually ensure that should counsel ever again cross paths their then clients will almost certainly be hurt by an "ego battle".

    There are many ways to make the very valid points raised in the letter without poisoning the well. Feel good letters more often than not are later regretted by the writer.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 12:14pm

    Re:

    mad trolls are mad. Are your cheeks shaking with rage as you angrily type? Do you guys gnash your teeth while typing, do you pound on the keyboard?

    Gah Facts the Trolls natural enemy.

     

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  16.  
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    jeh, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 12:15pm

    Re:

    So you take issue with Mike... you dedicate your time to following his post around so you can make disparaging remarks? I can't imagine Mike gives you much attention and most commenters around here don't give your comments weight. What have you accomplished, I'm curious, besides wasting your own time? Do thoughts of Mike keep you up at night? Do you keep locks of his hair on your night stand? Do you have a voodoo doll of him in your closet?

    I can just see the painted portrait of mike on your wall, the moody lighting. The screaming out. "WHHHHHY???? WHHHHHY DO YOU DO THIS TO ME?!" As you collapse to the ground with tears streaming down your face.

    Right, back to work.

     

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  17.  
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    slinkySlim, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 12:17pm

    Re:

    er, ah, I think you meant "a smarter than an ass lawyer". Were you not entertained!?

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 12:18pm

    Re: Re:

    He's not really a troll though, don't you know. Real trolls tend to actually get to their victims, rile them up. It seems this randy dan hasn't really accomplished that since most replies would just tend to laugh at him (her perhaps?).

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    slinkySlim, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 12:24pm

    Re:

    I've read everything you've put out. Including your little wet noodle skirmishes. You. Got. Nothing.

    You're, like, a douche, and stuff.

     

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  20.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Aug 30th, 2013 @ 12:30pm

    Re:

    Normally, when someone I respect is being accused of doing "Bad Thing XYZ", I ask/demand to see the evidence to support the accusation.
    Not here. I don't care the slightest bit.

     

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  21.  
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    Ruben, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 12:36pm

    Re: My Professors Would Fail The People Who Wrote This Letter.

    That's why they're teaching. The real world was too much for them, so now they get off on passing judgement on adolescents.

     

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  22.  
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    Akari Mizunashi (profile), Aug 30th, 2013 @ 12:40pm

    I smell a new Techdirt t-shirt in the works.

    A lollipop design with a copyright "c" marked out like a no-smoking sign.

    When should we expect them? Can we pre-order?

     

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  23.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Aug 30th, 2013 @ 12:49pm

    Re:

    I'll take 10! *Finds cannon, steals it, robs bank, stuffs money down cannon, aims cannon only half-assed where Techdirt HQ is, then let's er rip*

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 12:53pm

    Re: Spice Girls

    Exactly my thought! Having obscure references to nineties boybands or girlbands will always be a gem to us of certain ages.

     

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  25.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Aug 30th, 2013 @ 1:02pm

    Re: My Professors Would Fail The People Who Wrote This Letter.

    They cited Wikipedia. That was considered an auto fail by many of my professors.


    I find that kind of funny myself. I actually trust Wikipedia more than I do an encyclopedia these days.

    At the very least, the fact that Wikipedia doesn't fall under the complete control of one corporate entity makes it more trustworthy in my book. Add in the fact that Wikipedia links to most of it's sources so you actually can verify the information with a click makes it even more so.

     

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  26.  
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    AB, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 1:08pm

    Re: Re:

    Uh oh, now you've done it! You said you would rob a bank and fire a cannon at someone. Hear those sirens? They're coming for you...

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 1:09pm

    That.

    Was. Amazing.

    The footnotes are the funniest part.

    Whenever I need a copyright lawyer, Andrew Delaney and Jorge Pivar-Federici are the first people I'm going to call - just so I can pay them to read their letters.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 1:10pm

    (Anytime, Mikey. Anytime. But you and I both know that you'll never be man enough.)


    watch it guys captain badass found our lair of lulz.


    (What a fucking joke. What a fucking pussy)

    *plays worlds smallest violin* do you feel sad sir?

     

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  29.  
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    AB, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 1:11pm

    Agreed. It's as if Terry Pratchett became a lawyer.

     

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  30. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Johnson, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 1:15pm

    سمَـَّوُوُحخ ̷̴̐خ ̷̴̐خ ̷̴̐خ امارتيخ ̷̴̐خ

    That reply letter is awesome.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 1:16pm

    Re: Re: My Professors Would Fail The People Who Wrote This Letter.

    I would smack the student for not following the links on to the original source. Wikipedia's "malleability" is a major problem for academic work. On the other hand, I happily tell students to go use it to get ideas for papers if they have no familiarity with the topic. Go read the Wikipedia article. Find some aspect of the topic you think is interesting. Then follow the source links to start your research for the actual writing.

    I don't know any instructor past junior high that would let you get away with using a print encyclopedia for a source, so I am not going to let a college kid do it for an electronic one.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 1:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: Glaring misspelling...

    "I have just received an apology from Mike Masnick. Am I now a demi-God, or what"

    No, you are just a guy that reported a spelling mistake.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    icon
    DannyB (profile), Aug 30th, 2013 @ 1:34pm

    Re:

    Why would Mike waste his time?

    You are too dishonest to admit that you are not a critic.

    Your spam, ignorance, inaccuracies, personal attacks and sometimes just outright lies are rightly filtered.

    An honest critic would have something constructive to express in an adult fashion.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 1:36pm

    Re:

    Do most men obsessively compile Pastebin manifestos? Who knew?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Aug 30th, 2013 @ 1:52pm

    Re: سمَـَّوُوُحخ ̷̴̐خ ̷̴̐خ ̷̴̐خ امارتيخ ̷̴̐خ

    ...what's with the Arabic? I Google-translated it, but got a nonsense answer.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Ruben, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 1:57pm

    Re:

    Do you offer your harassment services for hire? I'd love to see what kind of shit you can stir up over at trichordist.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 30th, 2013 @ 2:03pm

    Re: Re:

    Actually, letters such as this may achieve their intended results, but they virtually ensure that should counsel ever again cross paths their then clients will almost certainly be hurt by an "ego battle".

    There are many ways to make the very valid points raised in the letter without poisoning the well. Feel good letters more often than not are later regretted by the writer.


    Interesting, though I see nothing to support that. Knowing a few lawyers who have written similar letters, they've found it to be quite good for business, as clients know that they'll get a strong backer not willing to dabble in legal bullshit.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Andrew, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 2:12pm

    Re: My Professors Would Fail The People Who Wrote This Letter.

    Thanks. The point (I am one of the writers) of citing to Wikipedia is to illustrate the inherent silliness of the ABA's claim. As a college professor myself, I also happen to know that Wikipedia is as accurate as Encyclopedia Brittanica. http://news.cnet.com/2100-1038_3-5997332.html

     

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  39.  
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    Atkray (profile), Aug 30th, 2013 @ 2:14pm

    Re: Re:

    I'll chip in on that.

     

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  40.  
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    DOlz (profile), Aug 30th, 2013 @ 2:19pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    May I add the original letter was from a bully and hardly qualified as "feel good".

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 2:20pm

    Meh. That letter is full of meh. Way over the top. Sounds like they read the one from the lawyer in New Jersey and thought "Man I wish I had written that!" So they did. Personally, I prefer a drier wit.

    I doubt they did as good a job for their reputation than they think.

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 2:21pm

    I think there was a bug found on some mobile browsers recently that that string causes a crash.

     

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  43.  
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    AzureSky (profile), Aug 30th, 2013 @ 2:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: My Professors Would Fail The People Who Wrote This Letter.

    many older instructors/prof still allow print encyclopedias in my exp, but dont allow any electronic sources as they either dont trust them OR in even more cases, dont understand computers well enough to check up on the sources.(sadly I am not even joking, my buddy had one recently who cant even use email they have a TA who prints it for them, then types up replies from hand written letters...)

    I have had instructors who allows wikipedia as a source but not as the primary source, BUT you could comb threw the sources on the wikipedia artical and link them, and it was fine.

    made me laugh..

    did have one that would fail if you even mentioned wikipedia in class, but gave me an a+ on a paper I did about wikipedia and the fact that time and time again its been found to be just as if not more reliable then dead tree encyclopedias(both are known to contain errors, dif being wikipedia can be fixed quickly and easily.....paper book cant)

     

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  44.  
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    AzureSky (profile), Aug 30th, 2013 @ 2:29pm

    Re: Re: My Professors Would Fail The People Who Wrote This Letter.

    but but but.....wikipedia is free, it cant be any good!!! :P

     

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  45.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Aug 30th, 2013 @ 2:29pm

    Re:

    watch it guys captain badass found our lair of lulz.

    Nah, that's not Captain Badass.

    It's just AJ starting early on his holiday weekend drinking binge.

     

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  46.  
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    GeneralEmergency (profile), Aug 30th, 2013 @ 2:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Glaring misspelling...

    .

    You are understandably envious of my new powers. Such feelings are common in mere mortals.

    .

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 2:35pm

    Re:

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 2:54pm

    Re:

    My phone browser's been doing that with select pages the last few days; this one crashed a while ago and I've got it open on pc. Other crashed pages don't seem to have any strange strings though, so it's possible that there's more than one trigger for this bug.

     

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  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 2:59pm

    considering the total fuck ups the banks have made and how we bailed them out so practically own them all, i would have said that they need to ask us if they can do anything, not the other way around!

     

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  50.  
    identicon
    Andrew, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 3:04pm

    Re:

    Sorry you feel that way. I greatly admire Mr. Kaplitt's work, and yes, his letter served as partial inspiration. But I've been writing stuff like this for years and it's all over the interwebs. I'm an over-the-top guy. Just so you know -- you saw the toned-down version. My secretary wouldn't let us send the first draft. In the immortal words of Joan Jett: "I don't give a damn 'bout my bad reputation."

     

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  51.  
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    JMT (profile), Aug 30th, 2013 @ 3:13pm

    Re: My Professors Would Fail The People Who Wrote This Letter.

    "They cited Wikipedia. That was considered an auto fail by many of my professors."

    Except this wasn't a letter written to a professor, and it was obviously included for comedic effect.

     

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  52.  
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    Ihsan (profile), Aug 30th, 2013 @ 3:23pm

    Re: سمَـَّوُوُحخ ̷̴̐خ ̷̴̐خ ̷̴̐خ امارتيخ ̷̴̐خ

    The string of arabic characters you included will apparently crash browsers and apps running the current version of iOS and OS X. Your charming follow-up sentence helps it to blend it, but I thought I recgonised it from somewhere.

    source: http://arstechnica.com/apple/2013/08/rendering-bug-crashes-os-x-and-ios-apps-with-string-of-arabic-c haracters/

     

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  53.  
    identicon
    Edward Teach, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 3:26pm

    A mind is a terrible thing to waste

    It's pretty much all your good at.


    I think your bachelor's and expensive law degree went totally to waste.

     

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  54.  
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    Wofl, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 3:55pm

    re: print encyclopedia

    "I don't know any instructor past junior high that would let you get away with using a print encyclopedia for a source..."

    Huh?!? It wasn't that long ago, print encyclopedias were the fucking gold standard, till wikipedia showed up.

     

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  55.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 30th, 2013 @ 4:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Glaring misspelling...

    You need a better name if you want to act like a god.

     

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  56.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 4:54pm

    Re:

    Sounds like someone's still furious about the epic Star Trek smackdown Judge Otis Wright delivered to the most famous individuals in copyright enforcement.

    average_joe just hates it when due process is enforced.

     

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  57.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 4:58pm

    Re: Re:

    It doesn't seem like that would be much of a battle.

     

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  58.  
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    Greevar (profile), Aug 30th, 2013 @ 7:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Glaring misspelling...

    How about Vulcan? That's the name of a god. Do you know any such names?

     

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  59.  
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    Get off my cyber-lawn! (profile), Aug 30th, 2013 @ 7:33pm

    DAMN DAMN DAMN!

    48 years of hating lawyers shot down the john! This guy actually makes me LIKE A LAWYER! A perfect record shot to hell! I hope he's happy! Damn lawyer

     

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  60.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 8:28pm

    That letter is epic! Well done!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61.  
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    Rich, Aug 30th, 2013 @ 9:04pm

    Re: My Professors Would Fail The People Who Wrote This Letter.

    Many comparisons between the two have shown Wikipedia to be more actual than the Encyclopedia Britannica.

     

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  62.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Aug 31st, 2013 @ 12:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Glaring misspelling...

    What!

     

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  63.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Aug 31st, 2013 @ 12:18am

    Re:

    I would like to draw your attention to a new and free course on Coursera that has just started (1st week nearly finished) called "Think Again: How to Reason and Argue" from Duke University (found at https://www.coursera.org/course/thinkagain )

    This would be so beneficial to you... It will not only show you why your a complete git (the 2nd lecture week one is a pythonesque classic) but will explain how you can also improve yourself and basically stop contradictions and ad hominem attacks to actually contribute to society.. either that or just STFU&D

     

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  64.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Aug 31st, 2013 @ 12:25am

    Re: Re:

    The solicitors acting for Pressdram in Arkell v. Pressdram (1971) would state otherwise.

    They made history and a whole heap of clients due to it.. and the adoration of new solicitors and lawyers worldwide ever since.

    In fact "I refer you to the reply given in Arkell and Pressdram" has become a well know legal phrase everywhere.

    Your not an "Attorney for the Butthurt" are you by any chance?

     

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  65.  
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    art guerrilla (profile), Aug 31st, 2013 @ 4:32am

    Re: Re:

    day-yam ! ! !
    a semi-honest parasite, er, lawyer ! ! !
    didn't think i'd live to see the day...

     

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  66.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2013 @ 8:28am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Its the equivalent of pulling a girl's ponytail and running away in school.

    AC/OOTB/Horse/AJ etc (all likely to be the same sexually-desperate loner with a frustrated yearning for Mike).

    I hope this doesn't end up like Fatal Attraction.

     

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  67.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2013 @ 8:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: My Professors Would Fail The People Who Wrote This Letter.

    Any professor that can't manage something like email shouldn't be a professor in ANY discipline.

    If they can't manage change, then there is no way in Hell they would be keeping up with the latest scientific developments....

     

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  68.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2013 @ 8:32am

    Re:

    First comes discussion, then the offer of coffee with Mike then back to OOTB/AJ/Horse's place for 'coffee'.......

    Before we know it this sites been renamed TechDirty and its just a serious of pictures of Mike + OOTB in bed together.

    (Obvious Mike by this point is heavily sedated and foot-cuffed to the bed)....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  69.  
    icon
    BernardoVerda (profile), Aug 31st, 2013 @ 9:20pm

    Re:

    Whoosh!

    You evidently missed the snark-dripping sarcasm and thinly-disguised (thinly-disguised only as a technique to pseudo-politely highlight) pitying condescension, embodied in both the main text and the footnotes -- and that use of those footnotes was an additional technique of "talking down" to the recipient...

    It wasn't just saying "You're kidding, right?" And it was more than a "declaration of war." It was a declaration of outright, clearly merited contempt.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  70.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2013 @ 7:42pm

    Re:

    I'm guessing your actually OOTB, but whoever you are I wish the techdirt team could just ban you so you would go the fuck away. Seriously have you noting better to do than troll. Go start your own site about tech news if you dislike this site so much.

    The fact that day after day you and your type troll, bringing nothing to the argument other than that you hate Mike and everything he says, has become tiresome.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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