from the lorem-ispsum-asshat dept
Without further shoddy narrative devices, here's this week's Highly Subjective Best Techdirt Posts of the Week as chosen by yours truly, The Other Tim. I'll make every attempt* to keep this brief and focused and allow you to get on with your weekend lives.
*I'll do no such thing. But false hope is nearly as good as the real thing, and half the price.
It's fitting that an internet-based entity such as Techdirt would cover aspects of the online world such as "What does it mean to be online?" Back in the day, one would know one was online when no one else in the house could use the phone and, in fact, was sternly warned against it lest the gossamer-thin 14.4k connection be severed and the unlucky individual forced back into the queue for an open local number. Today, though, it's probably easier to ask "When are we not online?"
Apparently, the ethereal boundary between online and offline did not occur to Forrester Research when it reported that there had been a drop in the amount of time people spend online. As Zachary pointed out, how people define "being online" has shifted. Streaming services like Netflix hardly feel like being "online," unless of course, you've just been hit with a large bill for exceeding your data cap. If you've got a smartphone, you're most likely online whether your presence is needed or not. (This seems to occur most frequently when large roaming fees can be assessed.)
The judicial system in this country has been rightfully been referred to as a "crapshoot," and not just for some of the decisions squeezed out through its serpentine bowels. Sometimes, the decisions handed down seem to have only the most tenuous connection to reality. Case in point: Hebrew University sued GM for using an image of Albert Einstein, flexing its publicity rights muscle in hopes of a payout. Instead, Hebrew University was turned away empty-handed when the district court declared that publicity rights in New Jersey lasted... oh... how about 50 years... is that OK with everybody?
Yep. 50 years in New Jersey. For now. For this case. Less than the always popular "life plus 70," but still more than 0, which would be logical, but we're dealing with a dead guy whose "rights" are now being handled by someone else, so take that logic elsewhere, buddy. The rationalization was (and I'm paraphrasing), "This is sort of like copyright but not, so 50 years." PRECEDENT SET! (Achievement unlocked: "Fifty Is Nifty!")
Oral arguments in the "Do You Own What You Buy?*" case (slightly less well known as "Wiley v. Kirtsaeng") commenced, opening the plaintiffs up for some pretty direct questions about what sort of Pandora's Box exactly did they wish to unleash. This promises to be a very interesting case, what with the Supreme Court needing to either piss off a large number of consumer rights groups or give its blessing to the grey market (already in progress at eBay, Craigslist and your neighbor's garage).
*Please put your hands down, purchasers of digital products, and return to your now-empty Kindles.
Wiley's lawyer, Ted Olson, found himself cornered by logical questions so often he was forced to trot out "Fair Use" as a defense, marking the first time a legacy copyright industry player has actually spoken those words aloud without them being preceded by "This can't possibly be considered..."
ALSO ALSO TUESDAY
Techdirt's in-house Canadian, Leigh Beadon, gave us a brief rundown of the biggest franchise sale in history*: Lucasfilm to Disney for all the money in the world (approx. $4 billion). To distract from the fact that Disney now owns approximately 75% of entertainment, spokesman threatened to release Episode 7 of the Star Wars Trilogy, subtitled "Eat It Up, Suckers! We're All You've Got!" (For a full list of the entities now owned by Disney Corp., read this and weep.)
*Presumably true, based on no research.
As a fan of mouthy arrogance, stupidity and pure evil being punished in full view of the internet, I found it enjoyable to witness a trolling pseudo-lawyer talk himself into a legal battle he can't possibly win and attempt to bluster his way through a war of words with people who know a hell of a lot more words than he does. While fake lawyer David Blade has mostly maintained the silence of the nonexistent, Craig Brittain (the "revenge porn" site owner) has lashed out at all of his enemies with the flailing effectiveness of those half-man, half-windsock things populating the parking lots of used car dealers and tax preparers. Not content to tangle with the legendary Marc Randazza, Brittain has also attracted the attention of the equally wordy and sharp-witted Ken from Popehat.
It reminds me of that one time when a lawyer decided to punch above his weight and ended up inadvertently helping donate $200,000 to a charity (which he then sued) [and still wouldn't shut up]. The rise of New Carreon? Quite possibly. I'll go pretend to fire up some popcorn!
AGAIN WITH THE WEDNESDAY
Some jackass using the handle @comfortablysmug decides an actual hurricane in New York City isn't exciting enough and yells "The NYSE is flooded!" in a crowded echo chamber. He is immediately retweeted by various news services (including those on the television -- how quaint!). Hell breaks loose momentarily and the offending twitterer is swiftly exposed to be an actual jackass named Shashank Tripathi, leading to a short-lived vigilante movement called "The Shashank Revengeance." The group swiftly set to works doxing the hell out of Tripathi before realizing the word "revengeance" doesn't exist in the English language and that the strained joke really doesn't work on any level.
Speaking of comfortably smug, Apple deserves some sort of kudos for its sheer ballsiness. Ordered by a judge to publicly apologize for treating Samsung like a malfunctioning copy machine, Apple followed neither the letter nor the spirit of the order, turning a supposed act of contrition into a leisurely home run jog. Apple has been ordered to do it again, only right. A spokesperson for Apple's Insincere Apology Division claimed that it would take two weeks to get its innate assholishness under control, provoking a very sincere WTF from the judge. Apple's IAD spokesperson reiterated "TWO WEEKS! TWOO WEEKS! TWOOO WEEEEKS!!!" before its personable disguise malfunctioned, revealing it to be an musclebound quasi-amnesiac trapped on an unfriendly planet.
THURSDAY II: THE COUGARING OF THE INTERNET
I love a good smackdown, especially when it's happening to someone who clearly deserves it and/or someone else. John "The Artist Formerly Known As Cougar" Mellencamp decided it was time to straighten out this whole internet vs. the content industries mess, which apparently involves quoting the Ten Commandments and blaming search engines. As can probably be gathered from the previous sentence, his arguments are a mess of angry FEELS with nary a sideways glance towards logic or reality. "Shut down the clouds," shouts Mellencamp. "Make the career of a one-hit wonder viable 50 years down the road," he bellows. "Thou shalt not steal," he quotes. "Ol' Hoss," he says, making up fear for his sanity.
The best part of the thorough takedown of Mellencamp's laundry list of grievances? The paragraph debunking the "all new business models are novelties" bray from JCM's noisehole that contains TWENTY-TWO (22)[!] links to other "flukes." Keep shaking that fist, John. Whatever keeps you out of the studio.
This one's a vanity pick and I'm only highlighting it because it contains so very many words. The long chronicle of a French DMCA takedown "service" that "Manages You Content" by carpet bombing file lockers with takedown notices, removing random files and shutting down accounts of non-infringing individuals is probably just the tip of the iceberg. With no one in the content industries caring who or what gets damaged in its haste to empty the ocean using a badly designed teaspoon, the anti-piracy work is being handed out to whoever will take it, preferably the lowest bidder. Competence is unwelcome, as it likely a) costs more and b) takes longer. There will be more stories like this and the amount of collateral damage will only continue to grow. The important thing is that it makes us all respect copyright just a little more. [I almost made it through typing that sentence with a straight face.]
Until next week, Techdirtians. Here's a bit of plundered sonics for your weekend enjoyment. Osymyso with "Intro-Inspection"-- 102 song intros crafted into a delightful whole: