by Mike Masnick
Wed, Feb 6th 2013 11:57pm
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Jan 10th 2013 12:26pm
from the tragic dept
It's worth noting that Perez only posted her negative reviews after Dietz had already sued her in small claims court, a case that was dismissed (some of the defamation claim concerns Dietz disagreeing with how Perez described the end result of that court case in her reviews). Dietz has also suggested during a video interview on MSNBC that he wanted to go after both Yelp and Angie's List, and that they shouldn't hide behind Section 230 of the CDA. At this point, it would appear that Dietz either does not understand or underestimates the power of the Streisand Effect as well as the importance of free speech and the importance of secondary liability protection for service providers. It's a trifecta!
Perez has pro bono legal help from Public Citizen and the ACLU, but there are still substantial legal costs that she needs to cover. To help pay for it, she's put up an IndieGoGo campaign in which she notes that some comments on a popular site for home builders suggest that an association for home builders may be backing Dietz's lawsuit. The site in question does have a running update on the case, which includes one post where a spokesperson for the National Association of the Remodeling Industry claims that they "support [Chris Dietz] in the quest to right this wrong" and that the organization is "reviewing the case and will determine next steps." It's not clear if this means that NARI is actually financially supporting Dietz's lawsuit, but either way, "supporting" Dietz's misguided lawsuit still doesn't seem like a particularly smart stance, for reasons we'll get to below. NARI could do a lot more good for contractors by teaching them how to properly deal with negative reviews.
That same page includes a couple different reports from other contractors, insisting that contractors need to support Dietz and stop this scourge of people saying bad stuff about them. There's one post that insists the lawsuit is a good thing, saying it will take a "perfect storm" to lose (unlikely), while also mocking review sites claiming most of his customers have never heard of them. Then there's another one that mocks both review sites and the ACLU for daring to think that this was an important case.
I can certainly understand why contractors are upset about negative reviews -- just as lots of other businesses are worried about negative reviews. It's no secret that not all reviews are accurate, and it really does suck, emotionally, to see a negative review that's not true. But there are ways to deal with negative reviews that don't make the situation worse. Jumping straight to defamation lawsuits generally are the opposite of that. They do make the situation worse. SearchEngineLand has a great post in response to this very case, in which they point out that there are much better ways to deal with negative reviews online. Suing only creates news about those negative reviews -- and having it become widely public news that you sued a customer about their negative review seems likely to have a lot more damaging impact on a business than those negative reviews might have had in the first place.
Yes, we live in a legalistic society, where it is the first response of many people to "go legal" when they feel wronged, but in a world where information is widely available, there are often much better ways to respond to "negative" information than going legal. If these contractors really wanted to "support" Dietz, they should encourage more of their colleagues to read the SearchEngineLand article, rather than supporting a dangerous lawsuit that could undermine key principles of free speech or secondary liability.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jan 4th 2013 10:43am
from the this-is-a-problem dept
Somehow, well meaning people seem to think that "bad" speech is just obvious. But it's not. Speech is speech, and whether or not it's "good" or "bad" may very much depend on an individual's context, sense of humor, situation in life or a variety of other issues. To think that Twitter, or any company, should be in a position to make decisions about a person's ability to speak based on such amorphous concepts is a recipe for disaster -- and basically runs counter to everything that a service like Twitter is about. Vallaud-Belkacem's logic follows the standard censor's argument -- claiming that freedom of expression is important... except for speech she doesn't like.
For what it's worth, I agree 100% that the tweets she's complaining about are offensive and disgusting. But to pin the blame on Twitter is to totally misplace it. It actually serves to take the focus off of those who actually posted the controversial posts, and suggest that if only we hid speech we didn't like, it would go away. That's not what happens. Instead, those who are censored tend to believe that they're being persecuted by a government (or company) that "can't handle the truth" and wants to shut them up. It doesn't encourage the ignorant to be taught why they're ignorant. It doesn't encourage important discussions on why such statements are ridiculous and offensive. Instead, it just tries to sweep everything under the rug.
by Tim Cushing
Thu, Dec 27th 2012 3:04pm
from the suing-algorithms-for-fun-and-profit! dept
This time the plaintiff is Guy Hingston, an Australian cancer surgeon. His complaint revolves around the fact that Google's autocomplete suggests he's all out of money.
Guy Hingston, an Australian cancer surgeon, sued Google in Federal Court.While this may be true, it seems odd that potential patients and financiers wouldn't actually follow through with the search term, which lists one link related to bankruptcy. (At this point there's more, thanks to Hingston filing this suit -- something those filing these types of suits fail to consider.) Clicking through on that link brings up details on a bankruptcy filing by Eclipse Aviation. A commenter has reposted a Port MacQuarie news story that links Dr. Guy Hingston to bankruptcy -- via CoastJet Group, seven companies Hingston "principally controlled" that ceased operation when Eclipse Aviation went under.
"When an individual computer user types 'Guy Hin ...', into the Google search engine as a search, the words 'Guy Hingston Bankrupt' appears," the complaint states. "When the link(s) is clicked on, the article(s) to which the user is directed has absolutely nothing to do with a bankruptcy associated with Dr. Hingston. Dr. Hingston is not bankrupt." (Parentheses and grammar as in complaint).
"Dr. Hingston is a surgeon practicing in Port Macquarie, New South Wales, Australia," the complaint states. "Dr. Hingston's surgical practice focuses on breast cancer. Given his professional practice and position in his community, maintaining his good reputation is critical. Dr. Hingston has lost a number of patients and financiers who are refusing to associate and/or deal with Dr. Hingston as a consequence of the reference on Google to a bankruptcy."
Port Macquarie surgeon Guy Hingston bought the 19-year-old business 2½ years ago.A later story appears at the same site, detailing the eventual sale of CoastJet to a Chinese investor, which again mentions bankruptcy and liquidation. Both of these stories make Hingston's claim that "Guy Hingston bankrupt" link leads to article(s) that "have absolutely nothing to do with a bankruptcy associated with Dr. Hingston" completely false. He may not like the perception the words "Guy," "Hingston" and "bankrupt" give when placed next to each other in an autocomplete suggestion, but there's nothing inherently defamatory about having those words appear next to each, especially when it produces relevant search results.
Dr Hingston said the main reason for CoastJet’s demise was the loss of a $2.8 million deposit on two new jets when American company Eclipse Aviation Corporation went into bankruptcy. The business was made more vulnerable, he said, by its heavy investment in a new partnership with Sweden’s Lund University School of Aviation.
He said CoastJet was preparing for its first intake of 24 students from Sweden at the end of March.
Dr Hingston said he and CoastJet’s staff were devastated. “We had two jets we were about to take delivery of, but with the manufacturer going bankrupt, we’ve lost everything,” he said.
The jets were destined to for CoastJet’s growing air ambulance service, Dr Hingston said, as well as for international airline pilot training and charters.
Hingston claims Google's automatic search result is defamatory, show him in a false light, and are "highly offensive to a reasonable person."But the search isn't "negligent" or "highly offensive," unless the person searching for Hingston does nothing more than stare at the completion suggestion and draw all their conclusions from that single, incomplete phrase. Hingston is the only person "offended" by this search suggestion, and any "negligence" is solely on the heads of financiers, etc. who are unwilling to perform even the slightest bit of due diligence when researching Dr. Hingston. Every other link for Hingston points you in the direction of his apparently successful practice and book sales/public speaking sideline. And it must be pointed out again that Hingston is suing over one autocomplete suggestion, rather than the results of those searches.
He claims Google was "was negligent in determining the truth of the information or whether a false impression would be created by its publication."
"This issue, and Google's continued failure to remedy this issue, despite numerous demands to do so, has caused significant harm and economic loss to Dr. Hingston in excess of the minimum jurisdiction of this court," the complaint states.
Hingston seeks at least $75,000 in damages for false light, and court costs.
It's really hard to see how this will come down in favor of the plaintiff, but then again, if judicial systems didn't occasionally head off the deep end, lawsuits like this one would very rarely be filed.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Dec 21st 2012 8:51am
from the scorched-earth-policy dept
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Dec 17th 2012 1:54pm
from the hollywood,-heal-thyself dept
Since then, Hollwyood has continued (via the Australian government) to pressure ISPs to step up to become copyright cops anyway, and iiNet has participated in those discussions. But late last week it walked away from the discussions after Hollywood folks kept demanding a system similar to the US's in which ISPs would send along notices to people they accused of infringement. iiNet gave a bunch of good reasons for walking away, but the basic message was that piracy is a problem that the entertainment industry could solve itself by making all of its content available more conveniently and at better prices. Until it does that, it's silly to rope in third parties to try to hold back the tide.
The problem, of course, is that the entertainment industry still doesn't understand what's happening. They flat out reject the idea that piracy might be due to their own unwillingness to embrace the internet and provide more content, in more convenient ways at better prices. So, instead, they believe that everyone else should be responsible for fixing the entertainment industry's own mistakes. It's nice to see iiNet call them out so directly.
A broken record
The conversation has failed to move on. The rights holders are still insisting ISP's should perform work on their behalf instead of addressing what we have always said is the root cause of the infringements – the limited accessibility to desirable content and the discriminatory and high cost of content in Australia. Infringements are a symptom – access is the problem.
Data retention proposals
iiNet won't support any scheme that forces ISPs to retain data in order to allow for the tracking of customer behaviour and the status of any alleged infringements against them.
Collecting and retaining additional customer data at this level is inappropriate, expensive and most importantly, not our responsibility.
It's not iiNet's job to play online police
We've been over this before. The High Court spoke loud and clear in their verdict when they ruled categorically that ISPs have no obligation to protect the rights of third parties, and we're not prepared to harass our customers when the industry has no clear obligation to do so.
It's time to find a new way
We believe that timely, affordable access to legitimate content is the best option for reducing unauthorised sharing.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Nov 30th 2012 12:40pm
from the clueless-police dept
Seven LKA officers, two police offers, and a court-appointed expert witness started a search of the flat, without respecting my privacy or property whatsoever. Paper documents in a cupboard were read, and no care was taken of my cat (who I was allowed to lock into another room later). My storage cubes (HP MicroServers) were confiscated without any regard for the hardware – the power cords were simply ripped out / hard shutdown, instead of properly shutting them down by the operating system. My main PC was shut down normally, as far as i could determine. After finishing the search in my living room, they continued in my bedroom, where they confiscated my legal firearms, as well as my cable TV receiver, and my Xbox 360. Despite my statement that all firearms and ammunition were legally owned and registered, having passed all background checks, this was doubted by one of the LKA officers due to the caliber.He indicates later that there was at least some knowledge of tor, so hopefully this gets sorted out:
After this, I had them show me the offending IP address, which I identified as belonging to me in the specified timeframe. I explained that this was a TOR exit node under my control at this time. I attempted to explain what TOR is, and they appeared to be familiar with it, as the atmosphere suddenly became more friendly. They probably understood that it was very unlikely they had a child pornographer sitting in their office.Obviously, there are reasons to investigate possible child porn distribution, but it still seems ridiculous that law enforcement still seems skeptical of tor exit nodes and assumes that they must be used for nefarious intent. This isn't the first time of course. Last year, here in the US, ICE seized a tor exit node as well. While it eventually returned the equipment, it warned the guy that "this could happen again." And, of course, just this week, we wrote about a German case where a court actually held someone responsible for the transmission of encrypted traffic on a tor-like system.
Some questions about my motives followed, which I attempted to answer – but this seemingly failed. I could not make them understand why I would “waste” resources and bandwidth (translating into money) to run a TOR node. I informed them that I was already contacted by the Polish police in May about this IP, regarding hacking attempts originating from it. Back then I had already explained to Polish police that this was a TOR exit node, and that no logfiles were held. After the report of hacking attempts, I shut down the TOR node on this server, but apparently this was too late and they were investigating (and/or wiretapping) already.
by Glyn Moody
Wed, Nov 28th 2012 10:33am
from the knowing-the-unknowable dept
A natural response to the increasingly harsh enforcement of laws against unauthorized sharing of copyright files is to move to encrypted connections. It seems like a perfect solution: nobody can eavesdrop, and so nobody can find out what you are sharing. But as TorrentFreak reports, a German court has just dealt a blow to this approach.
The case involves RetroShare, which describes itself thus:
RetroShare is a Open Source cross-platform, Friend-2-Friend and secure decentralised communication platform.
That sounds pretty safe, but TorrentFreak explains why it wasn't in the current case:
It lets you to securely chat and share files with your friends and family, using a web-of-trust to authenticate peers and OpenSSL to encrypt all communication. RetroShare provides filesharing, chat, messages, forums and channels
This week a Hamburg court ruled against a RetroShare user who passed on an encrypted transfer that turned out to be a copyrighted music file. The user in question was not aware of the transfer, and merely passed on the data in a way similar to how TOR works.
That's because the user can't know what's in an encrypted file passing through his or her system, and thus cannot guarantee that it is not the song in question. In truth, this situation is partly the user's own fault:
The court, however, ruled that the user in question, who was identified by the copyright holder, is responsible for passing on the encrypted song.
The judge ordered an injunction against the RetroShare user, who is now forbidden from transferring the song with a maximum penalty of €250,000 or a six month prison term. Since RetroShare traffic is encrypted this means that the user can no longer use the network without being at risk.
RetroShare derives its security from the fact that all transfers go through "trusted friends" who users themselves add. In this case, the defendant added the anti-piracy monitoring company as a friend, which allowed him to be "caught."
But even if the court case in Hamburg is a result of fairly exceptional circumstances, it creates an awful precedent: that German users are responsible for encrypted contents passing through their connection, even though there is no way they can know what they might contain. Unfortunately, this is of a piece with a previous ruling by a German court that people can be fined for what others do with their open wifi connections, regardless of whether they knew what was going on.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Nov 21st 2012 7:39pm
from the that-is-ridiculous dept
3D Systems claims that Formlabs "took deliberate acts to avoid learning" about 3D Systems' live patents. The lawsuit claims that Formlabs looked only for expired patents -- which seems like a very odd claim. Why would they only seek expired patents? Either way, the lawsuit claims that all of the articles that highlighted how the expiration of patents made Formlabs' printer possible meant that Formlabs must have known about its patents. Again, not quite sure the reasoning makes much sense here.
But what's really crazy is that 3D Systems isn't just going after Formlabs... but Kickstarter as well. You can read the whole filing here. 3D Systems is claiming that because Kickstarter takes a cut, it's equally liable.
Upon information and belief, Formlabs and it sales agent Kickstarter knew or should have known about, or were willfully blind to, 3D Systems' extensive patent rights in the area of three-dimensional printing and stereolithography, including but not limited to 3D Systems' U.S. Patent No. 5,597,520 covering improved methods of stereolithographically forming a three-dimensional object by forming cross-sectional layers of an object from a material capable of physical transformation upon exposure to synergistic stimulation, by virtue of their sales of machines touted by Formlabs as using "stereolithography (SL) technology," which is a technology invented and extensively patented by 3D Systems and its founder Charles Hull.The accusations against Kickstarter are really ridiculous -- suggesting that it encouraged infringement:
Upon information and belief, Kickstarter contributes to the infringement of the '520 Patent by offering to sell and selling within the United States the Form 1 3D printer which is an apparatus for use in practicing patented processes of the '520 Patent, constituting a material part of the invention, knowing the same to be especially made or especially adapted for use in an infringement of the '520 Patent, and the Form 1 3D Printer is not a staple article or commodity of commerce suitable for substantial noninfringing use.Most bizarre of all? 3D Systems claims that because Kickstarter encourages "hacker and maker" projects, it's knowingly encouraging infringement -- as if "hackers and makers" are only about infringement. This is a really cynical attempt to tie those words to a negative connotation where clearly none is meant.
Upon information and belief, Kickstarter knowingly or with willful blindness induced and continues to induce infringement and possessed specific intent to encourage another's infringement by, or was willfully blind as to the '520 Patent and with respect to, its activities and Formlabs' activities described above.
Upon information and belief, Kickstarter had specific intent to infringe the '520 Patent by virtue of its agency, business and sales arrangement with Formlabs, which had actual knowledge of the '520 Patent and/or was willfully blind to the existence of the '520 Patent as set forth in the allegations above.I've read those paragraphs over a few times and I still can't see what the issue is there. How is supporting hackers and makers somehow evidence of "intent to infringe"?
Indeed, in Kickstarter's own Guidelines as to "Project must fit Kickstarter's categories" at http://www.kickstarter.com/help/guidelines?ref=footer, under section 02, under "View Design and Technology requirements," Kickstarter is actively encouraging "hacker and maker" companies to make 3D printers for Kickstarter to sell, stating: "Not everything that involves design or technology is permitted on Kickstarter. While there is some subjectivity in these rules, we’ve adopted them to maintain our focus on creative projects: D.I.Y. We love projects from the hacker and maker communities (weekend experiments, 3D printers, CNC machines) and projects that are open source. Software projects should be run by the developers themselves."
Either way, 3D Systems has now permanently placed itself into the category of companies not worth ever doing business with. Suing Kickstarter just because a competitor was selling a better, cheaper 3D printer and you got jealous? Shameful.
by Glyn Moody
Fri, Nov 16th 2012 12:35pm
from the mask-is-slipping dept
One of the many problems with the "guilty until proven innocent" approach to tackling unauthorized filesharing is that it's not clear exactly who should get the punishment. For example, in France, we saw someone convicted not for infringement that he had committed, but something his then-wife had done and even admitted. And it's not just spousal activity that is problematic, as TorrentFreak reports in this interesting case from Germany:
A ruling handed down yesterday by Germany's highest court represents a blow to rightsholders in their quest to clamp down on illicit file-sharing. The court ruled that the parents of a teenager who had made available more than 1,100 songs on file-sharing networks can not be held responsible for their son's infringements, nor be required to monitor or hinder his online activities.
What's particularly interesting here is that Germany's top court not only threw out the original fine, but did so without imposing any unreasonable conditions on the parents, for example by requiring them to spy on their child:
The Court ruled that the parents had met their parental obligations when they informed their child of "basic do's and don'ts" including that file-sharing copyrighted content online is illegal.
Of course, not everyone was happy with this result, which could have major implications for imposing fines in Germany, since it seems likely that much unauthorized file sharing there as elsewhere is carried out by teenagers in their family homes. The Netzpolitik.org blog pointed us to an interesting comment made by a representative of the music industry (original in German):
Furthermore, the Court ruled that the parents were not required to monitor their child's online activities nor install special software to restrict his online behavior. This would only be required should the parents have "reasonable grounds" to presume that their child would engage in infringing activities online.
The case shines "a harsh light" on the fact that, for many parents, the concept of upbringing has become a foreign word, the legal representative of the music industry complained, according to the AFP news agency at the hearing before the federal court in Karlsruhe. While before "an occasional slap didn't hurt", today children are kept on a loose leash.
This hankering after the good old days when parents could hit children to cow them into submission is hardly surprising: it's the physical equivalent of the disproportionate legal punishment the music industry would like to see meted out to all those caught doing naughty things online like sharing files without permission.