As a few different folks have submitted, a woman in Houston was apparently ejected from a bar/restaurant after the general manager saw her complain about something the bartender had done. The woman, Allison Matsu, had apparently gone to Down House, and overheard the bartender talking to two other employees and making fun of another restaurant owner/bartender. She didn't think that was appropriate and used Twitter to call the bartender "a twerp." Apparently, after that, she actually had a good conversation with him, but about thirty minutes later, the General Manager of Down House (who was not there that night) called the restaurant and asked to speak with her. Apparently, he had read the tweet and called to kick Allison out of the restaurant. There's a bit of a dispute over the nature of the phone call, but both agree that the end result was that she was told to leave because of the tweet.
Obviously, a restaurant/bar has the right to refuse service to anyone. But it really makes you wonder what Down House general manager Forrest DeSpain was thinking. It clearly marks Down House as a place where any sort of criticism is not at all welcome. That's not going to attract a lot of customers. Sure, it sucks to have someone say something (very slightly) mean about an employee, but why not just try to understand it, or respond defending the guy without kicking the woman out of the establishment entirely.
Honestly, the part that struck me as most interesting in the article was another restaurant owner explaining how he used Twitter in a much smarter way (and almost entirely the opposite of the way DeSpain used it): to invite people who had bad experiences at other restaurants to his place instead:
"However you feel about Twitter, it makes a big difference," says Kevin Strickland, owner of Ziggy's Bar & Grill and an avid Twitter user, who runs the account for both of his restaurant's locations. "I depend on it. It allows me to have a dialogue with my customers, and they'll usually get a response from me."
Strickland emphasizes that Twitter should not be used by restaurateurs eager to take a crack back at unruly diners. "I've done the opposite," he points out, referring to times when he's seen patrons Tweet about a bad meal elsewhere, and inviting them in to have a better meal at Ziggy's on him.
from the which,-oddly-enough,-is-also-the-'law-enforcement-way' dept
The problem with bad behavior is that it rubs off on others and this is one of those "Everything I Needed to Know About Human Behavior I Learned in Kindergarten/the Stanford Prison Experiment" moments.
Sandy DeWitt said the employee, whose name was Tonialla G., was being rude to several passengers in the boarding area of the flight to Miami. So DeWitt snapped a photo of her nametag with her iPhone because she planned to complain about her in a letter to US Airways. But the photo didn’t come out because it was too dark.
However, once DeWitt was settled in her seat, preparing for take-off, Tonialla G. entered the plane and confronted her. "She told me to delete the photo," DeWitt said in an interview with Photography is Not a Crime Saturday morning.
Of course that's the way you handle it. The TSA handles complaints and "unruly" photographers this way as do several members of law enforcement. Obviously you, as a private citizen (and "hypothetical" US Airways employee), should be able to handle your current "situation" in the same fashion.
But that's not all. Once you've verified that the photo has been deleted, it's time to take the "situation" to a whole new level:
[T]onialla G. wouldn’t let the issue go. She then walked into the cockpit to inform the pilot that DeWitt was a "security risk." Next thing DeWitt knew, she was being escorted off the plane by two flight attendants. Her husband followed.
Off the plane, she spoke to a Michael Lofton, a US Airways manager at Philadelphia International Airport, who told her she would not be allowed back on the plane because she was a security risk. But even though she was supposedly a security risk, Lofton directed her to American Airlines where they supposedly had a flight back to Miami leaving soon.
Beautiful. It's great to see TSA-esque tactics being wielded by employees, who don't like being held responsible for their actions. It's also great to see that US Airways didn't even bother to check out her story before forcing her to switch flights. And it's mind-blowingly idiotic to see a person that one airline has deemed a "security risk" is allowed to board another airline without any hassle.
This may be US Airlines' black eye (and they've got several), but it appears to be a yet another case of abusive behavior hiding behind the one-size-fits-all label of "security."
We recently wrote about a bizarre and mis-targeted complaint letter sent by the bosses of pretty much every old school legacy music industry lobbying/trade group, officially sent to Ziff Davis to complain about two articles concerning Limewire alternatives, suggesting that the articles were promoting unauthorized copyright infringement. Of course, as we noted, these old school recording industry bosses were so upset, they failed to notice that one of the articles in question wasn't even published by PC Mag (the target of the letter), but by PC World, a competing publication put out by an entirely different company, IDG.
Apparently, in their haste to send a complaint to the wrong publisher, these geniuses of the recording industry also failed to leave an address for a reply letter, so PC Mag's Lance Ulanoff responded with a public response letter, which basically tells all of those organizations to learn what it means to be the press reporting on a topic, as opposed to an advocate pushing a particular viewpoint:
The story isn't encouraging or discouraging anything. That's not our role. PCMag's job is to cover all aspects of technology, which includes the products, services and activities that some groups and individuals might deem objectionable. We covered these Limewire alternatives because we knew they would be of interest to our readers. We understand that some might use them to illegally download content. We cannot encourage that action, but also cannot stop it. Reporting on the existence of these services does neither.
We have, obviously, written about many online and offline services, including some that these groups might consider legitimate or "legal." However, the fact is that some users store and manage illegally gained content in music applications like iTunes. We would not stop covering these utilities simply because some users place illegal or even inappropriate content in them.
More importantly, Ulanoff points out the same thing we did in questioning what the hell these industry groups thought they would accomplish in suggesting the press not cover a story:
It worries me that the music industry took this action, because it reeks of desperation. The RIAA and other music industry organizations have spent the better part of the decade fighting the digital transition, with only a shrinking business to show for it. In recent years, though, the fist of anger has turned into at least one open hand as the music industry embraces the once shunned digital music industry. Unfortunately, that warm embrace, and the change that comes with it, are not happening fast enough. Clearly the music industry is still losing money to music piracy and even the recalibrated profit margins brought on by legal music sharing services.
It's time for these music execs to pull their collective heads out of the sand and fully acknowledge and accept all the ways their industry has changed. They also have to understand that nothing will stop technology's inexorable march forward. Things will continue to change. Music downloads and sharing will never go away. These execs have to find a way to use all that technology allows and make a business that rivals the good old days of vinyl, cassette tape and even CDs.
We will continue to cover it all--as we must.
Not a particularly surprising response, but kudos to PC Mag for sticking to its principles, and not feeling bullied by these industry folks.
Ripoff Report is a site that we've discussed a few times before, as it's dealt with a bunch of lawsuits -- all of which it has successfully defended itself against -- from organizations upset that users wrote negative reviews on the site. Of course, as you should know, Ripoff Reports has a strong Section 230 safe harbor defense: it's not creating the content, and thus, is not liable. But, over the past few years we've seen more and more attempts to get around Section 230 with creative lawyering. In the latest case against Ripoff Report, the workaround was to charge the company with RICO (racketeering) violations for trying to "extort" companies. Specifically, a company named the Asia Economic Institute (AEI) was upset about a series of negative complaints about its work environment, and asked for them to be removed. Ripoff Report notes that it never removes content, but did pass on information about its Corporate Advocacy Program (CAP), where, for a fee, it tries to effectively moderate between the company and the complaining individual. AEI suggested that this was presented in an extortionary manner -- as in "if you want to fix your reputation, you need to pay."
As Eric Goldman notes, this particular attack appears to have failed miserably, in large part due to the fact that Ripoff Report secretly recorded all of its phone calls. AEI fought against revealing the content of the phone calls, noting that it did not know its staff were being recorded -- and, in the end, the judge actually does deem the evidence inadmissible. But just the fact that Ripoff Reports presented the recordings made the two principles from AEI suddenly have their memories jogged, and admit that they might have been "confused" about what was actually said in the calls. From there, the judge found little evidence that the CAP program actually represented any kind of extortion.
AEI claimed that Ripoff Report's promise to defend itself against any lawsuit represented a legal threat. However, the judge points out that such an interpretation makes little sense. Claiming you will strongly defend yourself against any lawsuit is hardly a threat. On top of that, the judge notes that a "a threat to take legal action cannot constitute extortion unless the threat was made with knowledge that the threatened claim was false and without merit." Furthermore, the judge notes that the threat to defend itself from any legal action was entirely separate from the CAP program. Thus, the supposed (but non-existent) "threat" was entirely independent from any request for money.
As for the CAP program, the judge doesn't see that as a threat either, specifically noting that Ripoff Reports makes it clear that no reports on the site will be removed, so there's no demand for payment to remove a negative report.
Unfortunately, the case isn't entirely over. The judge did leave open the slim possibility of a RICO charges based on wire fraud, and AEI is heading down that path now. Still, as Eric Goldman notes in his writeup, AEI may have difficulty showing any "harm" to its business due to the following:
AEI was a content publisher from 2000-2009 (it's now out of business), and during those 9 years, it had zero revenues. This could make it hard for AEI to garner much judicial sympathy over any harm to its business.
With ACTA finally being officially "released" back in April, the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property, at American University's Washington College of Law, brought together a ton of actual stakeholders and experts last week to discuss what the draft actually said -- and found severe problems with it. Together, they put together a draft letter for signatures, which they plan on releasing on Wednesday of this week. The current draft reads as follows:
DRAFT statement reflects the conclusions reached at a meeting of over 90
academics, practitioners and public
interest organizations from five continents gathered at American
College of Law, June 16-18, 2010. In the days following the meeting, the statement received the individual and organizational endorsements listed below, and is still open for further endorsements at www.pijip.org
The meeting, convened by American
University's Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property,
was called to analyze the official text of the Anti-Counterfeiting
Trade Agreement (ACTA), released for the first time in April, 2010,
after years of secretive negotiations. The text was released in the
context of public criticism of the process and presumed substance of
the negotiations (see Wellington Declaration, EU Resolution on Transparency and State of Play of the ACTA Negotiations). Negotiators claim that ACTA will not harm significant public interests.
We find that the terms of the agreement threaten numerous public interests, including nearly every concern
specifically disclaimed by the negotiators in their announcement.
The proposed agreement is a deeply flawed product of a deeply flawed process.
started as a proposal to coordinate customs enforcement offices has
morphed into a massive new international intellectual property (IP) and
internet regulation with grave consequences for the global economy and
governments' ability to promote and protect public interests.
agreement of this scope and consequence must be based on a broad and
consultative process and reflect a full range of public interest
concerns. As detailed below, this text fails to meet these standards.
that the terms of the agreement are under negotiation, a fair reading
of the proposed text as a whole leads to our conclusions that ACTA:
THE INTERNET -Encourages internet service providers to police users of the internet without adequate court oversight or due process;
'anti-circumvention' provisions which threaten innovation, competition,
open source business models, interoperability, copyright exceptions,
and user choice;
FREE TRADE AND ACCESS TO MEDICINES
-Disrupts the free trade in legitimate generic medicines and other
goods, and sacrifices the foundational principle that IP rights are
requiring customs authorities to seize goods in transit countries even
when they do not violate any law of the producing and importing
little or nothing to address the problem of medicines with insufficient
or wrong ingredients as the majority of these are not IP but regulatory
-Extends the powers of custom officials to search and seize a wide
range of goods, including computers and other electronic devices, without
adequate safeguards against unwarranted
confiscations and privacy invasions;
'ex officio' border search and seizures from willful, commercial scale
counterfeiting to a broad range of intellectual property infringements,
including "confusingly similar" trademark violations, copyright
infringement standards that require interpretation of "fair use" or
similar user rights, and even to patent cases which frequently involve
complex questions of law and fact that are difficult to adjudicate even
by specialist courts after full adjudicative processes;
FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS -Will
curtail full enjoyment of fundamental rights and liberties, including
rights to privacy and the protection of personal data, health, access
to information, free expression, due process and presumptions of
innocence, cultural participation, and other internationally protected
SCOPE AND NATURE OF IP LAW -Distorts the balance fundamental to IP law between the rights and
interests of proprietors and users, including by
specific rights and remedies for rights holders without correlative
requirements to provide exceptions, limitations, and due process
safeguards for users;
enforcement from private civil mechanisms to public authorities and
third parties, including to customs officials, criminal prosecutors and
internet service providers -- in ways that are likely to be more
sensitive to proprietary concerns and less sensitive to user concerns;
omitting liability and disincentives for abuses of enforcement processes by right holders; and
requiring the adoption of automatic damages
assessments unrelated to any proven harm;
-Alters the traditional and constitutionally mandated law making processes for IP by:
in and exporting controversial
aspects of US and EU enforcement practices which have already proven
problematic, foreclosing future legislative improvements in response to
changes in technology or policy;
requiring substantive changes to intellectual property laws of a
large number of negotiating countries.
INTERNATIONAL TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT -Will
disproportionately harm development and social welfare of the poor,
particularly in developing countries, including through raising
unjustifiable trade barriers to imports and exports of needed medicines
and other knowledge embedded goods;
-Contains provisions inconsistent with
the WTO Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property
Rights (TRIPS Agreement);
with the World Trade Organization Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public
Health and World Health Assembly Resolution 61.21 by limiting the
ability of countries to exercise to the full flexibilities in the TRIPS
agreement that can promote access to needed medicines;
and undermines the commitments agreed to under the World Intellectual
Property Organization development agenda, particularly recommendation
45 committing to "approach intellectual property enforcement in the
context of broader
societal interests and especially development-oriented concerns," and
"in accordance with Article 7 of the TRIPS
INSTITUTIONAL ISSUES -Creates a new and
redundant international administration for IP issues outside of WIPO or
the WTO with broad powers but limited transparency, threatening
multilateralism in international IP norm setting;
technical assistance, public awareness campaigns, and partnerships with
the private sector that appear designed to promote only the interests
of IP owners;
CONCLUSIONS ABOUT THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS
The current process
for considering public input into ACTA is fundamentally flawed in
numerous respects. In many countries, the only consultations taking
place are with select members of the public, off-the-record and without
benefit of sharing the latest version of the rapidly changing text.
There is little possibility that a fair and balanced agreement that
protects and promotes public interests can evolve from such a distorted
policy making process.
Governments, right holders and civil society should have an open
and evidence-based discussion on the right strategy to confront
willful commercial scale trademark counterfeiting and commercial scale copyright piracy. This discussion should
take place in multilateral and national open and on-the-record forums with access to current negotiating text so that all
interested stakeholders can participate.
They are looking for signatures to include on the document before it is released on Wednesday. If you agree with what the document says, feel free to follow the instructions on the site to add your name to the list. Will it actually have any impact? Who knows, but it's about time that those who have been blindly supporting ACTA realize that the concerns here are legit, and weren't all wiped away just because the government released the document.
In the US, there's been an ongoing battle by a bunch of ISPs who want to implement metered broadband as a way to increase revenue. While they've been spinning this as getting heavy users to "pay their fair share" you'll note they never promote any plans to drop prices for the person who barely uses their internet connection. But one thing that has become pretty clear is that consumers absolutely hate metered broadband -- not just because it can increase fees, but because it changes the way they use the internet. Rather than being free to just use it and experiment, suddenly you need to keep track of all that usage (without any kind of reliable meter). This introduces amazingly annoying transaction costs that lead people to just not want to use the internet as much -- decreasing the value of the connection, even as the price is increasing.
A year ago, after a ton of bad publicity around metered billing, Time Warner Cable backed off plans to implement it on a widespread basis, and now it looks like AT&T may be recognizing the same thing. AT&T, of course, has been running a few small scale tests, and it's been pissing people off so much that they've been complaining to the Better Business Bureau, which isn't making AT&T happy. For now, the company has stopped signing new customers up for the metered trials and has said that the "experiment" will end on April 1. Whether or not the experiment ending means no more metered broadband... or more widespread metered broadband, remains to be seen. But large number of complaints being filed should make AT&T think twice before deciding to roll this out further.
It's inconsequential -- most of the verbiage on Twitter, Facebook and the like is banal blather, by noting that what's inconsequential to you is most likely not inconsequential to those it's actually targeted at.
It is ugly -- MySpace is a graphic designer's worst nightmare, by noting that this is done for a good reason, which is to make it a place where blatant overly designed marketing can't take over.
It is ephemeral -- Facebook will blow over in a year and something else will be along, by noting this is a feature and makes sure that the services adapt or die.
There are, of course, lots of other silly "complaints" but my favorite (and perhaps this is really a subset of the first one) is that "I don't want to use Twitter because I don't care what someone is eating for lunch." And, certainly, at some level I can understand the thinking behind that. And, yet, one of the first times I realized how useful Twitter could be was a couple of years ago, when a random Twitter message about what someone was eating for lunch resulted in a chance to meet up with someone who I'd only known as an occasional email acquaintance -- because it passed on a variety of little tidbits of information that we wouldn't have realized otherwise. Since then, I've noticed this quite often. No, I might not care what everyone I follow ate for dinner all the time (not that very many people I know share that info), but quite often these random tidbits of information paint a great picture of someone, which can be useful at other times. And, honestly, if your complaint is that you don't want to know what someone had for lunch -- stop following the people who post what they had for lunch.
from the um...-I-think-I've-got-a-complaint... dept
I think some folks in India may have multiple complaints with the government. That's because it's been revealed that the service that handles online complaints for the gov't just happens to be revealing all the private data of people who complain, including their passwords in plaintext. Apparently, when you looked at your own profile, you could see all of your own data (plus password) and then as you hit refresh you'd see others -- which you could edit if you wanted to. Not exactly a particularly secure system...
This one is getting passed around pretty quickly, but as he retires from Microsoft, we couldn't resist highlighting this fantastic internal email from Bill Gates complaining about the usability of some Windows features. It's old -- from 2003 -- but it's difficult to read it and not identify with some of the complaints. It reads like thousands of angry ticked off blog posts from folks who run into ridiculous situations with Windows. The only difference, of course, is that this one comes from Bill Gates. Some excerpts (though, you should read the whole thing):
So I went to Windows update. Windows Update decides I need to download a bunch of controls. (Not) just once but multiple times where I get to see weird dialog boxes.
Doesn't Windows update know some key to talk to Windows?
Then I did the scan. This took quite some time and I was told it was critical for me to download 17megs of stuff.
This is after I was told we were doing delta patches to things but instead just to get 6 things that are labeled in the SCARIEST possible way I had to download 17meg.
So I did the download. That part was fast. Then it wanted to do an install. This took 6 minutes and the machine was so slow I couldn't use it for anything else during this time.
What the heck is going on during those 6 minutes? That is crazy. This is after the download was finished.
Then it told me to reboot my machine. Why should I do that? I reboot every night -- why should I reboot at that time?
So I did the reboot because it INSISTED on it. Of course that meant completely getting rid of all my Outlook state.
So I got back up and running and went to Windows Update again. I forgot why I was in Windows Update at all since all I wanted was to get Moviemaker.
So I went back to Microsoft.com and looked at the instructions. I have to click on a folder called WindowsXP. Why should I do that? Windows Update knows I am on Windows XP.
At some point I get told I need to go get Windows Media Series 9 to download.
So I decide I will go do that. This time I get dialogs saying things like "Open" or "Save". No guidance in the instructions which to do. I have no clue which to do.
The download is fast and the install takes 7 minutes for this thing.
So now I think I am going to have Moviemaker. I go to my add/remove programs place to make sure it is there.
It is not there.
What is there? The following garbage is there. Microsoft Autoupdate Exclusive test package, Microsoft Autoupdate Reboot test package, Microsoft Autoupdate testpackage1. Microsoft AUtoupdate testpackage2, Microsoft Autoupdate Test package3.
Someone decided to trash the one part of Windows that was usable? The file system is no longer usable. The registry is not usable. This program listing was one sane place but now it is all crapped up.
When asked about the email, Gates claims he sends similar notes nearly every day, as that's his job. If that were the case, though, wouldn't you have expected Windows to actually get better?
Rikuo: long story short, guy is wrongly named as a taxi far evader in a video, and the judge orders it deleted WORLDWIDE from all sites to be more accurate, he was named in the comments, not the video itself dennis deems: Jay, thanks for that reminder Christopher Best: Andrew Stack was not a member of the Tea Party movement. He was a disturbed individual, and a disgruntled software developer. There's explicit tax law that treats software developers very unfairly if they try to work as independent contractors... yaga: that's very true CB Alana: AJ Seriously just compared arguments against copyright infringment to rape. ... Yeah, nobody should take him seriously at this point. err, against copyright* silverscarcat: seriously? Jay: Glenn Beck asking for a 9/12 movement isn't the least bit suspicious? Along with all of the other issues with the IRS right now? Ninja: I am honestly amused that the community is marking the comments of that "horse" guy as funny silverscarcat: Who takes Glenn Beck seriously? Jeff: did the 'new' comment color bars go away? dennis deems: ya I hadn't noticed until you said that. I don't recall seeing them the last couple days. Mike Masnick: new color bars ran into some big technical problems. :) we took them down while we fix them. fix is currently going through testing and should be back (and better than before) soon. dennis deems: yay! the color bars rule! Jeff: whew! Thought I was going... wait for it... "Color Blind" thanks! I'll be here all day... :-) Jay: @ssc I'm talking more in 2011 at the peak of TP hysteria