Posted on Techdirt - 9 March 2014 @ 12:00pm
The item that got the most attention this week was the news that Keurig plans to include what is essentially DRM in their upcoming line of "2.0" brewers. After the firestorm that post ignited, Keurig raced to put out a weak response discussing all the wonderful reasons that this technology is necessary. Arsik Vek won most insightful comment of the week for catching one of the many flaws in their message:
"It’s critical for performance and safety reasons that our new system includes this technology."
So, are they admitting that current Keurig coffee machines are both improperly performing and dangerous? I mean, they lack this feature, right?
When Australian broadcasters complained that Netflix hadn't blocked VPN users, thus giving all those Australian viewers choice and freedom, DB won second place for insightful with an excellent comparison, and exposure of the underlying hypocrisy:
I see this as the same situation as importing low-cost textbooks licensed for foreign markets.
Large companies want the benefits of an open world economy, moving production freely to optimize costs. But they don't want their customers to have the have same freedom to buy where the prices are lower, or the selection is better.
In this case the media companies want to buy their content on the worldwide market, while restricting their customers from doing the same. They want the government to effectively grant them a distribution monopoly.
For editor's choice on the insightful side, we'll start with one more comment on that post, in which edpo underlined just how dumb it is to hate and fear VPNs:
Anyone attempting to criticize VPN's in this day and age is clueless. I am on a VPN all day, for my privacy *and* because that is how my business is set up to work. I can be anywhere in the world and be sitting at my desk, working as I normally do and being productive. My personal interests (privacy and productivity) trump what some technophobe entertainment-industry lawyer thinks I should be doing to maximize his employer's revenue. It's absurd. If I were advocating for changes in *his* industry to help maximize my income at the expense of his employer's interests, the absurdity would be even more obvious.
Next, we've got a response to the post about Homeland Security detaining US citizen Christine Von Der Haar and quizzing her about her sex life and relationship with Greek national Dimitris Papatheodoropoulos. The incident, and the explanation, gave silverscarcat an idea for a new rule for the government:
Any time a government agency says "national security", an immediate investigation by reporters and non-government officials is to be launched to see why it's considered that.
Over on the funny side, we start out by returning to the Keurig post, where sorrykb won first place by making the connection to an incredibly appropriate quote from Douglas Adams:
"When the 'Drink' button is pressed it makes an instant but highly detailed examination of the subject's taste buds, a spectroscopic analysis of the subject's metabolism, and then sends tiny experimental signals down the neural pathways to the taste centres of the subject's brain to see what is likely to be well received. However, no-one knows quite why it does this because it then invariably delivers a cupful of liquid that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea."
For second place, we head back to the homeland security detainment post, where Michael offered a theory about the government's motives:
They were doing this for the children!
Just think, if these two were married and hyphenated their names, their children would have to learn to spell Von Der Haar-Papatheodoropoulos and forever be unable to fill out government forms because there are not nearly enough boxes for all of those letters.
For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out on the post about the UK's porn filter architect being arrested on child porn charges. Quinn Wilde offered a funny and informative reply, putting this latest embarrassment in the context of the David Cameron government:
We need a Minister for Hypocrisy
For those who need a recap on David Cameron's government:
His Chief Secretary to the Treasury had to resign after fiddling his expenses.
His Director of Communications had to resigned after being implicated in the phone hacking scandal.
His Secretary of State for Defence had to resign after giving his close friend unauthorised access to the Ministry of Defence.
His Immigration Minister had to resign after it emerged his cleaner did not have permission to work in the UK.
And now the architect of the UK porn filter has had to resign having been arrested on suspicion of possession of child pornography.
If only Cameron had a Minister for Hypocrisy this could be the most successful government of all time. Although, given form, he'd probably have to resign after being discovered telling the unequivocal truth about everything and, you know, holding himself to his own standards.
And finally, we've got a short and sweet anonymous comment, pointing out that the accusation that the CIA has been spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee has (unsatisfactorily) answered an old question:
I guess now we know who's watching the watchers.
That's all for this week, folks!
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Posted on Techdirt - 8 March 2014 @ 12:00pm
Kickstarter has launched a lot of brand new games, both video- and otherwise, but it's also home to plenty of people working on ways to enhance and alter existing games, and those people are the stars of this week's Awesome Stuff.
Bridging The Game Gap: Japanese For Gamers
For certain game genres and amongst large portions of the gaming community, Japan is where it's at. Between JRPGs and visual novels, Japan has been pumping out critically acclaimed and hugely popular games whose titles are often barely even heard in the English speaking world, leaving the avid gamers who know about them to campaign for translations and English releases — or to pirate and turn to the fan translation community. This project offers a new alternative for true fans who want to learn something while they're at it: an extensive free video course in speaking Japanese, aimed at gamers with a focus on the language as it is used in video games.
Swirling Lightshow In The Corner Pocket: OpenPool
At this point, pool is timeless — but that doesn't mean it can't be gussied up with some cool technology. OpenPool is a projection mapping system that uses an Xbox Kinect to project a moving, interactive, responsive image onto a pool table. Not only is it a really impressive visual effect, it opens up all kinds of possibilities for new dynamic twists on the game. The coolest part? It's a DIY kit. Combine their software and ceiling mount with your own Kinect, projector and computer, and build an OpenPool system yourself.
Edward Snowden, Jack Of Spades: WIRETAP Cards
I know, I know — I featured a deck of cards two weeks ago too. I wasn't going to include another, but the WIRETAP deck is far too fitting to ignore. It's a full set of original hand-drawn playing cards with suit pips that look at you. The court cards are modelled after important players from the NSA saga and the broader world of privacy and government spying — including Edward Snowden, Jack of Spades.
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Posted on Techdirt - 2 March 2014 @ 12:00pm
This week's comments touch a bunch of topics, starting with our post on the fact that musicians are starting to realize how good Spotify can be for them. Of course, as jupiterkansas pointed out in the most insightful comment of the week, there are still plenty of reasons that the labels are unlikely to follow suit:
But the recording label can't control what people listen to on Spotify, therefore they can't control popular tastes and maintain exclusivity over an aritst's success, therefore Spotify is evil.
While American markets are still warming to Spotify, GEMA has been holding Germany back to the point that it's still struggling with YouTube. This week, when GEMA complained about YouTube's blocked video messages that directly call out the overactive collection society, and suggested they were misleading, Analyst won second place for insightful by wondering if maybe they should be careful what they wish for:
Gema just created a lose lose for themselves
Gema to the courts: Youtube is the one choosing to take down the videos, not us.
Youtube to Gema: Since you have argued in court that it is "our choice", we have chosen to stop taking the videos down.
Gema to Youtube: But ... but ...
For editor's choice on the insightful side, we'll start out with yet another example of people cluelessly fighting against new technology. This time, it's Senator Joe Manchin soothsaying about the dangers of Bitcoin and all that it enables. An anonymous commenter made an important comparison:
Imagine if they would've said this about the Internet:
"Ban the Internet! It will enable piracy, drug selling, and 1-click porn access for our kids...and the upside is dubious at best!"
Next, we've got another anonymous commenter, on another post, with another important comparison — this time on the subject of justice, corruption and accountability in government:
Again to sum up,
Roger Clemens, he lied to congress when they asked him about steroid use, and a Federal Grand Jury indited him. He was later acquitted, but there was a trial.
James Clapper lied to congress about his direct roll in the violation of the constitutional rights of 100's of millions of American citizens, and there has not only been no grand jury, but no one in the federal government seems to think he did anything wrong at all.
The minute Clapper goes to prison, is the minute these other traitorous rats will start to abandon the ship, and suddenly develop a strong desire to become zealous defenders of the constitution.
No wonder why Putin was envious of our spy program.
Over on the funny side, first place comes in response to the un-funny news about a 13-year-old kid being charged with a felony for throwing a snowball at a cop. One commenter replied with that fun old chestnut about "a village missing its idiot" — but "The Village" offered clarification:
No. We are not "missing" him.
Second place for funny could very well go to CCI itself for claiming that Six Strikes is working (or first place, for that matter) — but as it happens, it's going to weneedhelp for a response to CCI's evidence-free assertion:
I have not been bitten by an alligator since reading techdirt... thus, TD repels alligators. Trust me its true.
For editor's choice on the funny side, we start with a comment about the presentation that revealed new shady GCHQ/NSA tactics. Lorpius Prime pointed out a problem that, while generally overshadowed by bigger concerns, is no less true because of it:
Augh. GCHQ needs to be shut down just for its terrible Powerpoint slides.
And, finally, we've got a top-notch anonymous quip responding to our concern that big telcos aren't investing in "the networks of tomorrow":
getting them to invest in the networks of today would be a good start!!
It sure would...
That's all for this week, folks!
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Posted on Techdirt - 1 March 2014 @ 12:00pm
There's a huge industry out there for smartphone and tablet accessories, and that industry contains a lot of hastily-made junk. But it also provides an opportunity for real innovation and smart, functional design work, so like many industries that fits those criteria, it's booming on Kickstarter. This week's Awesome Stuff post focuses on a slice of the tech-accessory world that is saturated yet still not perfected: smartphone and tablet stands.
The fame*dock: Deceptively Simple
Lots of people have offered natural-wood stands, and this isn't even the first to do custom laser engraving, but as far as I know it is the first to hide a handy technological secret: a Bluetooth-based beacon that communicates with your device to trigger functions like SMS, home automation and various online services when it's in or near the dock.
The Léaf Mount: Will It Stick?
One of the holy grails of device stands (and a lot of other applications) is the ultimate sticky surface — one that instantly and firmly connects to anything, but also easily releases when you want it to, and retains these qualities for a long time. The Léaf Mount is one such entrant, with micro-suction pads that they claim will endure multiple devices over many years.
The Right Arm: Highly Flexible
This bigger, heavier-duty stand focuses on flexibility over portability or compactness. Not just for tablets and smartphones, it can hold up full-sized laptops as well, and is designed to provide lots of standing-desk configurations for people who prefer work on their feet, or just more ergonomic postures when sitting down. It also uses a different mounting system — adhesive polyurethane gel, rather than a microsuction surface (the ultimate victor of the sticky-stuff wars is still undecided).
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Posted on Techdirt - 27 February 2014 @ 5:16am
South Park: The Stick of Truth, the much anticipated RPG personally devised by Trey Parker & Matt Stone to be virtually indistinguishable from an episode of the iconic TV show, has been very close to becoming vaporware over the years, especially when original publisher THQ shut down. But it was rescued by Ubisoft, and now has a firm worldwide release date of next week.
But... not entirely. Kotaku reports on a leaked review guide for the game in Europe noting that Ubisoft decided to remove several 20-second scenes and mini-games for the release in Europe, the Middle East and Africa:
It will surprise no one who knows the show that the scenes are very crass and, if you're a fan, probably executed in a hilarious manner:
This is of course not South Park's most famous censorship dust-up, given their epic battle with Comedy Central over depictions of Muhammad, but it may be the most utterly pointless, because it should be obvious what's going to happen: fans in those parts of the world are going to either pirate North American versions of the game or find videos of all the deleted parts online, or both. This decision is basically giving everyone in Europe, the Middle East and Africa a big reason to pirate by saying "sorry, we refuse to sell you the complete version of our game."
It's the sort of game where people are going to care, too. The game has a long and elaborate script, all read by Trey & Matt in full voice-performance mode, and as silly as the listed scenes might sound to someone who isn't familiar with South Park, they are likely to be integral parts of a well-crafted whole. And while it's getting attention from the gaming community at large, the majority of people buying it are doing so out of their love for the show, and are going to want the whole thing.
There's going to be an ironic reverse effect too: Trey & Matt are famous for making good use of censored elements in their shows, whether by covering them up with hilarious non-sequiter images or replacing them with text that seriously addresses the situation from the point of view of the creators. So customers who get the uncut version are likely to go seek out videos of the censored version, just to find out how the game handled it.
Of course, it's not easy to place blame in this situation — Ubisoft's decision is futile but may also have been necessary as part of dealing with various regulatory and ratings agencies overseas. It's just so amusing, but sad, to see people attempting to divide content between different parts of the world when we're already deep inside an era defined by global connectivity. On the plus side, we may get another hilarious South Park episode about piracy out of it.
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Posted on Techdirt Wireless - 25 February 2014 @ 4:29pm
In an evening session just a few minutes ago, the House of Representatives voted 295-114 in favor of H.R.1123, the "Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act". As we discussed this morning, though it started out as a reasonably good bill intended to address the use of the DMCA to squash activities that have nothing to do with copyright, last-minute changes introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte poisoned its intent by introducing a possible future exception for bulk phone unlocking.
Unfortunately, the changes were so last-minute that the reaction and withdrawal of support by Reps. Zoe Lofgren and Anna Eshoo was not enough to turn the tides. Though the problematic text is carefully worded for plausible deniability — allowing the House to claim it hasn't technically taken a side — I doubt it would take long before phone companies and their lobbyists started using this oh-so-obvious bit of leverage gifted to them in the bill. For now, it falls to the Senate to pass their version of the bill, so there's still a chance we'll see these problems addressed.
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Posted on Techdirt - 23 February 2014 @ 12:00pm
This week's comments almost all share the same theme: calling people out on errors, inconsistencies, ironies and other gaffes. When an analyst expressed concern that true wireless broadband competition would do exactly what it's supposed to do and drive prices down, That One Guy took most insightful comment of the week by pointing out the underlying admission in his statement:
So simply having to compete on price is supposedly enough to cause a 20 billion dollar drop in revenue... I wonder if he realizes that he pretty much just said that the current players are hosing the public over for $20 billion due to their duopoly position?
Next, we've got a rather interesting type of comment... There are those who question the value of anonymous comments, and others who question the value of quotation and reuse -- but Christopher Best combined the two and took not only second place for insightful, but first place for funny as well. Because sometimes, as was the case with Valve's anti-cheat system, someone else already said it best:
Best commentary I saw on this was from an Anonymous Coward on Slashdot:
I trust Valve more than the NSA.
The NSA doesn't protect me against hackers.
For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out on our post debunking the ridiculous idea that the public domain is preventing the preservation of film. That One Guy gets another hat-tip this week for pointing out that if preservation is the real issue, there's a far more obvious target:
If they're truly worried about works 'disappearing', then their top priority should be fixing the Orphan Works problem. Low quality recordings are rather overshadowed by no recordings of a work because no-one knows who owns the rights to it, making saving, backing it up, or restoring it legally dicey.
Wouldn't even be a difficult fix either, just bring back the registration requirement to get a work protected by copyright law, and for current orphaned works, give a grace period, say 5 years, for the owner to come forward and claim them, releasing into the public domain any works that remain unclaimed at the end of the 5 years.
Next, when broadcasters fretted about preventing Aereo from "stealing" their signal, an anonymous commenter asked the simple question they'll never be able to answer:
How can you "steal" something that's being given away for free?
It's always funny to hear people talk about copyright as property, and perhaps even funnier to hear them try to talk about radiant electromagnetic waves as though they were diamonds in a wall-safe.
Given that, let's head over to the funny side. We've already had our number one comment from Christopher above. For second place, we head to the post about House of Cards piracy, where Ninja decided to answer our rhetorical question:
but given the fact that it appears almost no one does that search, why should they bother?
Because reasons. PIRACY. And terrorism. Also, the children (is it suitable for children?).
Editor's Choice for funny goes to a pair of similar comments from different anonymous commenters. Perhaps it's a tad morbid to choose two jokes about death and tragedy, but sometimes dark satire is the best delivery system for a biting and relevant point. First up, a response to our post about deaths among cell-phone tower climbers that highlights just how good we are at inventing imaginary problems while ignoring real ones:
Seems like proof
... that cell phones do kill people.
Finally, in response to the tragic story about a 17-year-old being killed by police because he had a Wii controller in his hand, this similar comment glibly underlines the pathetic fact that our society won't make this kind of problem a top priority, but will likely continue making political spectacle out of simulated violence:
More proof that video games turn people into violent murderers.
Uniforms and badges seem to help, too.
That's all for this week, folks!
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Posted on Innovation - 22 February 2014 @ 12:00pm
One of our most important themes here at Techdirt is the idea that the act of remixing, reimagining and recombining the creations of the past is not only natural and wonderful, it's the primary (and at a fundamental level, the only) engine of creativity in human culture. The internet era brings this to the fore and makes the cycle more immediate, because it makes the wealth of history and culture available to everyone, along with the tools to make use of it. Moreover, the sometimes-overwhelming nature of rapid change promotes a healthy degree of nostalgia in even the most forward-thinking and future-embracing among us, and it's in that spirit that this week's Awesome Stuff highlights some nostalgic offerings from Kickstarter:
One Of Those Old-Timey Cameras With A Hood (a.k.a. The Camera Obscura)
We've all seen them — if not in real life then in one of the many movies where they are used as a piece of shorthand synecdoche for "hey, it's the past!" Well, this project to resurrect the iconic camera has shot way past its goal, by staying true to the original design while also demonstrating how it can be combined with modern equipment.
Hey, Is That A Robot?
I love design and illustration work that creates contrast between content and style. I also have every former-8-year-old-boy's fondness for robots. This dinner plate, second in a series, so perfectly emulates a traditional and somewhat bland graphic style that at a glance, anyone would miss the giant robot preparing to disrupt its quaint tranquility. And it all started because the artist re-drew an image from an old plate inherited from his grandparents...
Go Fish (Through The History Books)
Kickstarter has been a boon for all sorts of creators, but there are certain very particular areas that seem to have been bolstered beyond all expectations by the crowdfunding site (the wallet has been "revolutionized" and "reinvented" at least 100 times in the last year, apparently). One of these areas is playing cards, which have a large collector community and serve as a cool way for artists to get their work out there. This extremely beautiful deck is based on the paintings of the old masters, but digitally repainted in exceptional detail (and considerable style) from scratch.
Okay, But How About Something New?
Well, it can't all be nostalgia, so here's a pointer to a project to create something that definitely didn't exist in the past: a personal indicator light that tells you whenever the ISS is overhead. Mostly pointless, perhaps, but cool, because hey, we have a space station!
Dishonorable Mention / Schadenfreude Moment
Here's something I really wish would stay in the past: a belief in ghosts. This guy wants $120,000 to produce a documentary about how ghosts are, you know, real and stuff. With science. And lazers. He promises to reveal "the truth that nobody knows about all the TV Ghost Hunting shows" which presumably is that they are fake but he is, like, totally genuine. If you pledge $1000, you'll even get one of their "devices for capturing human soul" which sounds like a good deal, actually. Just don't cross the streams.
It heartens me to see that he has only raised $5.
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Posted on Techdirt - 16 February 2014 @ 12:00pm
This week was surprisingly slow for funny votes, with the overall score of insightful comments rocketing past them. Nevertheless, there are lots of great comments, so let's get started with first place for insightful — a simple response from silverscarcat to the idea that copyright duration is truly "limited" in any meaningful way:
I'm sorry, but if something is under Copyright from before I'm born until well after I will likely be alive, then, it doesn't matter if there *IS* a limit, for me, it's eternal.
And that is why I do not support copyright, it is eternal, regardless of what is said.
(Furthermore, the fact that retroactive extensions have happened in the past renders the current limits utterly meaningless, as the government has already demonstrated that it is not committed to holding up its end of the bargain with the public.)
In second place, we've got a response to an even battier notion — giving creators huge cellphone discounts as a way to compensate them for the free consumption of their work. Violynne suggested the alternative, which artists seeking handouts never seem to consider:
Here's a better idea, Jarre: Work. For. Goddamn. Hire.
The rest of us have to do it, what the hell makes artists any different?
This entitlement is the reason copyright maximalists keep pushing to steal (an appropriate use of the word here) more money from our wallets.
"Our" being the consumer.
Want me to pay for your work? Good luck with that, because I don't pay for your "work". I pay the middlemen who mark up your work and give you a pittance in return.
So stop whining. If you want more money, talk to your goddamn distributor and leave everyone else out of it.
For editor's choice on the insightful side, we'll start with one more related comment, this time on the subject of remixes and derivative works. When a bunch of big artists joined forces to fight a compulsory derivative license, insisting (ridiculously) that many artists would not release any work if they thought people might remix it (it's not like artists are jostling each other for the privilege of being remixed by DJs with bigger followings or anything like that, right?), Ninja calmly offered a reply that appropriately amounts to "if that's true, then good riddance":
We accept the wealth of new creations in detriment of the possible "losses" suffered due to short sighted morons not releasing their works.
Next, we've got a short, interesting idea that was offered amidst this week's discussion about strong passwords. Anyone who's ever worked in an office with an IT department will likely appreciate this anonymous idea for encouraging stronger passwords:
perhaps we could reward users for making a stronger password by expiring it less often
Over on the funny side, first place comes from our post about the French privacy agency that DDOSd its own website by forcing Google to send it traffic that it wasn't prepared to handle. The Mighty Buzzard made the joke that you just knew someone had to make:
Even their websites surrender.
In second place, we've got an anonymous response to the UK's plans to start filtering extremist content online:
How can you not see that we have to do this in order to stop the spread of radical ideas promoting a social order that controls it's members by restricting information and vilifying all those who disagree with their narrow views of what is acceptable.
For editor's choice on the funny side, as is often the case, we've got a pair of comments sparked by failures. But not the failures of the NSA, or the MPAA, or an aging rocker or a young producer, but rather our own failure to catch some typos in out post about ASCAP's collusion with record labels. First, when we accidentally dated an email in 2014 rather than 2013, before we could fix it, an anonymous commenter offered an explanation for the discrepancy:
Their email servers are probably also calibrated to use Hollywood math so even the timestamps on the servers are off.
Next, on that same post, we referred to the "trail transcript" between Pandora and ASCAP — a bizarre but intriguing notion that put one anonymous commenter in mind of a classic game:
They all died of dysentery.
Though we try to catch as many typos as possible here at Techdirt, it's nice to know the ones that slip through can still serve a purpose. That's all for this week, folks!
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Posted on Techdirt - 9 February 2014 @ 12:00pm
It's always frustrating to hear an old-guard music insider talk about the internet with extremely undeserved authority and go unchallenged. That's probably why first place for insightful this week goes to That One Guy for his response to a misguided attack on Google by U2's manager:
'We need the technology giants like Google to do the things that labels, the publishers, the artists, the writers repeatedly ask them to do. They need to show corporate and social responsibility.'
Here's a question I don't think I've ever seen satisfactorily answered: Why?
Why should google, or any other tech company care what happens to the recording industry? Does the movie industry go out of their way, spending time and money to defend and protect the automotive industry? Does the aviation industry move heaven and earth to protect the farming industry? Or how about the recording industry itself, does it tirelessly work to protect the tech industry?(Answer: No, no it does not)
This is something that gets me every time the subject comes up, the massive, glaring sense of self-importance, arrogance and entitlement that people like that demonstrate, as though everyone around them owes them, as though every other industry has nothing better to do than jump to their tune and do everything in their power to 'defend' the movie and recording industries, no matter what it may cost them to do so.
And as far as 'social responsibility', considering the copyright maximalists were so worried about any possible 'weakening' of copyright that they fought tooth and nail against expanding fair use rules to benefit the blind, the sheer hypocrisy in such a statement just boggles the mind.
Of course, I imagine the frustration of talking to someone like Paul McGuinness pales in comparison to the frustration of taking on the NSA's warband of circumlocutory defenders. Second place for insightful this week goes to Ninja for another response, this time to an excuse for the NSA:
The law is so dense and so complicated that it cannot be accurately summarized at a level a citizen can reasonably process.
Really. So why isn't the law written in less pompous language so the common folk won't face a complex pandemonium of words? If the common folk can't understand the law because lawmakers and lawyers made it freaking complexly written so they can pretend they are something better than the average citizen then how can you reasonably expect such common folk to follow it and on top of it say that "lack of knowledge on the law does not exempt one from following it"????
BRING THE LAWS BACK TO A LEVEL WHERE IT WILL BE NATURAL BEHAVIOR TO FOLLOW THEM. People don't kill not only because there's a law but also because we generally accept that killing is bad. We also generally accept that a Government should not be able to abuse its position of power over the regular citizen to spy him/her or do whatever it pleases without the check of a judicial warrant. The list goes on and on. If the law is complex then it is wrong. Plain simple.
Since we've got two regulars taking the top spots, editor's choice features two anonymous commenters, both offering alternate/additional takes on Paul McGuinness' digital issues. First is a quippy but insightful point about the mental disconnect folks like that seem to suffer from:
I just figured it all out guys.
They equate Google to the Internet because they see Google as the Internet's Gatekeeper, much like how Hollywood and the music industry are Gatekeepers. They think because they have an iron fist on all that is music and movies that likewise Google should have an iron fist on all the internet.
And next we've got a longer response that dovetails the death of the gatekeeper with the sunset of rock & roll:
Luddites have never quite come to grips with the internet. They all have an unworkable solution where time and again they have been shown their ideas are totally unworkable.
Google is not the internet. I somehow manage to deal with the internet and never use Google at all. If I can do it so can the hordes of people that use the internet globally if given a sufficient reason to. Make Google a non-player in importance and that is exactly what will happen. Things will go on as usual, sans Goggle. I somehow fail to grasp exactly how that delisting sites will cure the issue.
More to the point is that younger people are no longer considering rock n roll as the main fare for consumption of music according to a recent article I read a few days ago. Neil Young claimed rock n roll will never die but it's days are already numbered if the future generations aren't caring to hear it. The legacy copyright folks have no one to blame for this but the very ones pushing to wall off culture such as you see in this article so being called for.
If you drive away your fan base through threats to them by court, exactly how long do you think this is going to last? At some point the public will get educated but not in the manner that is being sought. The message they will get instead is leave it all alone and there is no issue.
Over on the funny side we start out with some more news about — guess who — Prenda! After the ignominious legal team was bashed by a judge yet again, S. T. Stone won first place by restyling the villains as struggling artists:
I kinda feel bad for the Prenda Legal Eagles.
Think about it for a moment: these guys worked their asses off to create an amazing work of fiction in the hopes of using it to generate a ton of revenue, and they only get bad reviews and legal entanglements in return.
How dare the courts slam these upstanding fiction writers for doing such a great job!
In second place for funny we've got Jay on our post about Adobe's terrible (and doomed) new DRM scheme for ebooks, where he un-rhetoricalized our cries of "what the hell are they thinking?" and provided a summary answer:
How can I drive more traffic to the Pirate Bay while losing revenue?
For editor's choice on the funny side we'll start with a little sliver of good news in the form of the FISA court making small but meaningful changes to the laws about collecting phone records. One anonymous commenter saw a chance to highlight the absurdity of every claim that such changes would be disastrous:
Well billions of Americans are going to die now. Hope you're all happy.
And finally, since we had lots of fun at Paul McGuinness' expense this week, here's... a bit more fun at his expense. The most illustrative one-liner on the subject came from DannyB, who started to flesh out the fictional world in which Google runs everything:
Google bought the Internet from America Online.
That's all for this week, folks!
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Posted on Techdirt - 2 February 2014 @ 12:00pm
As occasionally happens, we've got a pair of related comments in the top spot this week. When we wrote about a project to crowdsource a list of all the public domain works Disney has used, That One Guy won first place for insightful by crunching a few numbers on one specific example:
From source page:
14. Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling (1894 copyright, movie released just one year after copyright expired)
Revenue = $205.8 million
Barely even waited(if at all, wouldn't surprise me if the movie was already in production and they just waited until the wouldn't have to pay out for it) until pushing it out, and yet, if copyright duration was the same then as it was now, that $205 million likely wouldn't exist, as the story would have only entered the public domain in 2006.
No problem taking from the public domain, but they sure are loathe to ever contribute to it, or otherwise allow it to grow... hypocrisy, thy name is Disney.
(Maybe I could use a wacky legal theory of some kind to assert some rights of my own, since Kipling explicitly wrote about my family getting some "bread"...)
In response to this, an anonymous commenter won second place for insightful and first place for funny by summing it all up in torrenting terms:
Disney doesn't believe in seeding, only leaching.
For editor's choice on the insightful side, we'll start out with one more from the Disney post. A commenter brought up the old canard that the public domain is some sort of socialist concept where the government takes your property away, and Pub Editor neatly put that idea to bed:
The owners have already received their compensation -- during the copyright term -- in the form of state-sanctioned and court-enforced right to stop others from copying, using, or building upon the copyrighted work. Why do you think that it is *theft* for the government to say, "We will enforce this exclusive right of yours, but only for a limited time"?
No one is taking your car from you. But your owning a car is not the same as the government saying that only you may own a car.
Not all property works the same. IP is a tradeoff. The state says, "In order to encourage you to invest blood, sweat and tears into your invention, we will grant you a right, for 20 years, to STOP other people from using your invention." It is a right of exclusion, rather than a right of use, and that right of exclusion comes with a built-in expiration date. Which is what Art. 1, sec. 8 of the US Constitution expressly intends when it talks about "a limited time."
Next, we'll check in on another industry famous for manipulating IP law to its advantage, this time with even more serious and concerning results: pharmaceuticals. When the Bayer CEO made the disturbing statement that they don't make drugs for poor Indians (okay, now I'm starting to feel guilty about that bread thing) an anonymous commenter asked the obvious question:
Why does he care then?
If they didn't develop it for Indians, and only rich westerners were supposed to be their target consumer, then why should they give a rat's ass if Indians are producing their own and selling it for 97% cheaper (from the article)?
I suspect they're really afraid that the world will begin to see what's really going on here, and other countries will follow India's lead.
Over on the funny side, we've already had our first place comment above, so we'll get straight to second place. With Senators Wyden and Udall continuing their efforts to get the intelligence community to own up to its activities, aerilus was inspired to make a comparison:
Udall:what are we going to do tonight wyden?
Wyden: The same thing we do every night Udall. Try to save the world.
For editor's choice on the funny side, we start with Jessie and a response to the ludicrous idea that you need a license to teach coding in California:
I have the perfect idea to settle this matter. Unfortunately I do not have a current license required to pass information from one person to another.
Wait, I just told you I didn't have a license, that was information. Crud, where do I go to turn myself in at.
And, finally, when one commenter made the bizarre claim that Edward Snowden meets the definition of a "tyrant", Baron von Robber offered a pretty brilliant retort:
Is Snowden ruling his domain of his hotel room with impunity?
Does he make his mouse move with every movement of his iron fist?
Is he waterboarding his laundry?
Indeed. That's all for this week, folks!
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Posted on Techdirt - 26 January 2014 @ 12:00pm
It's a rare thing these past few months, but this week's most outrage-inducing piece of government behaviour came not at the hands of surveillance and the NSA but rather those of copyright and our old friend ICE. When federal agents helped the MPAA interrogate a moviegoer for wearing Google Glass (switched off) in the theatre, sophisticatedjanedoe won most insightful comment of the week by summing up how utterly ridiculous this kind of public-private synergy is:
So, a private business solves ITS problems using MY taxpayer money. Who is the thief, MPAA?
When ICE attempted to defend its efforts on Twitter, it sparked up a lengthy discussion in the comments not just about the current laws, but about the very moral underpinnings of copyright and whether its existence is justified. One commenter criticized many Techdirt readers for being "anti-copyright", and Rikuo won second most insightful with a simple response to that observation:
Might I also ask what is wrong with being anti-copyright in the first place? It's simply a position on a law. I live in a country where abortion is illegal for example, but my position is it should be legal. Am I not allowed say it should be, am I not allowed talk about it or campaign to change the law?
Much pro-copyright rhetoric is based around the unsupported assumption that giving creators more control is not only beneficial but morally and ethically right. But that position doesn't bear much scrutiny, as Karl illustrates by responding to one such assertion in our first editor's choice for insightful:
Umm, this is going to be unpopular, but piracy is in part a moral issue. Generally speaking, when you can't afford something, the moral thing to do is to go without it, not seek out illicit means of obtaining it.
This is absolutely not true with cultural works. Generally speaking, when the public can't afford works, the moral thing to do is to create free access to those works.
It is why public libraries are an ethical good. It is why copyright exceptions for public schools are an ethical good. It is why it is an ethical good to create public performance exceptions for churches and non-profits.
It is such an ethical good, in fact, that early copyright laws explicitly stated that publishers had to produce editions that would be affordable by the general public. If they didn't do this, they lost their copyrights.
The question you should ask yourself is not whether it is unethical for the pubic to "take" cultural works. The question you should ask is why it is in any way ethical to stop them.
And it is not ethical. It may be a necessary evil, but it is an evil nonetheless.
And while I usually try not to give both editor's choices to the same commenter, this week Karl has another comment that needs to be highlighted. It's not the first time, and unfortunately probably not the last, that he found himself demonstrating in great detail that, according to the constitution, the statute and the courts, copyright is about benefitting the public:
I disagree with your interpretation of the case law.
You may, but judges and copyright lawyers do not.
Copyright's function/effect today is to provide a limited monopoly of use by the copyright holder.
That is copyright's effect. It is by no means copyrights purpose. Providing a limited monopoly to copyright holders has never been more than a means to achieve an end, and that end has always been to provide the general public with access to, and ultimately control over, works of authorship.
The full passage is necessary to provide context:
Except that you are emphasizing the parts of the passage that are incidental. Nobody (except OOTB) is arguing that copyright is not a statutory monopoly. Nobody is arguing that the method of copyright is to reward and encourage crreative work. Nobody is arguing that copyright is not "a balance of competing claims upon the public interest."
And absolutely none of this supports your claim that copyright's purpose is "to maximize the commercial exploitation of the work by the right holder."
But, if you're still doubtful, here are a few more quotes.
It will be seen, therefore, that the spirit of any act which Congress is authorized to pass must be one which will promote the progress of science and the useful arts, and unless it is designed to accomplish this result and is believed, in fact, to accomplish this result, it would be beyond the power of Congress.
- House Report on the Copyright Act of 1909
The enactment of copyright legislation by Congress under the terms of the Constitution is not based upon any natural right that the author has in his writings, for the Supreme Court has held that such rights as he has are purely statutory rights, but upon the ground that the welfare of the public will be served and progress of science and useful arts will [be] promoted by securing to authors for limited periods the exclusive rights to their writings. The Constitution does not establish copyrights, but provides that Congress shall have the power to grant such rights if it thinks best. Not primarily for the benefit of the author, but primarily for the benefit of the public, such rights are given. Not that any particular class of citizens, however worthy, may benefit, but because the policy is believed to be for the benefit of the great body of people, in that it will stimulate writing and invention, to give some bonus to authors and inventors.
In enacting a copyright law Congress must consider, as has been already stated, two questions: First, how much will the legislation stimulate the producer and so benefit the public; and, second, how much will the monopoly granted be detrimental to the public. The granting of such exclusive rights, under the proper terms and conditions, confers a benefit upon the public that outweighs the evils of the temporary monopoly.
The economic philosophy behind the clause empowering Congress to grant patents and copyrights is the conviction that encouragement of individual effort by personal gain is the best way to advance public welfare through the talents of authors and inventors in "Science and useful Arts."- Mazer v. Stein
The sole interest of the United States and the primary object in conferring the monopoly lie in the general benefits derived by the public from the labors of authors.- Fox Film Corp. v. Doyal
The copyright law, like the patent statutes, makes reward to the owner a secondary consideration.- U.S. v. Paramount
The monopoly privileges that Congress may authorize are neither unlimited nor primarily designed to provide a special private benefit. Rather, the limited grant is a means by which an important public purpose may be achieved. It is intended to motivate the creative activity of authors and inventors by the provision of a special reward, and to allow the public access to the products of their genius after the limited period of exclusive control has expired. [...]
- Sony Corp. v. Universal City Studios
As the text of the Constitution makes plain, it is Congress that has been assigned the task of defining the scope of the limited monopoly that should be granted to authors or to inventors in order to give the public appropriate access to their work product.
Not a one of these quotes is from the 1700's, or even from the 1800's. They are all contemporary descriptions of the purpose of copyright law. And every single one of them disagrees with you.
Over on the funny side, we're sticking to the story about ICE for one more comment. First place goes to Baron von Robber for a response to that weird thing that lives in the comments:
When you sit at the computer, your mind becomes more active.
When your mind is more active, your OCP becomes worse.
When your OCP becomes worse, you wear out the light switches in your house.
When you wear out the light switches in your house, your OCP makes your mind even more irrational.
When your mind becomes more irrational, you start to become obsessed with people named Mike.
When you become obessed with people named Mike, you post under the name Out_of_the_Blue.
Don't post under the name Out_of_the_Blue.
For second place on the funny side, we return to the ongoing tales of the NSA where, among other developments, the monospace font of a redacted document allowed us to deduce the name "AT&T" where we saw only a black bar. An anonymous commenter made a suitable observation:
And they say metadata doesn't tell you much.
For editor's choice on the funny side, we visit this week's Candy Crush Saga Trademark Saga, which inspired another anonymous commenter to begin designing his own game:
I am now working on a new game, it's called "Memory of the Edge Candy Apple Scrolls Saga".
It's about a world where Candy, Apples, Scrolls, Edges, Memory, and Saga's have all disappeared, thanks to the six evil trolls who dress like a patent lawyer, and sleep on big piles of money under bridges.
Oh and thanks to the evil troll of memory, no one can remember anything, because otherwise they'd have to pay the evil troll of memory royalties they can't afford. And the only food available is Candy and Apple's, but hardly anyone can afford to eat them, because they'd owe the evil trolls of Candy and Apple's big royalties if they did eat.
In order to get to the evil trolls dressed like patent lawyers you need to somehow make lots of money to pay the the many tolls set up by the evil trolls.
Eventually you'll come to one of the evil trolls. But no matter how hard you try to kill one of the evil troll's dressed like a patent lawyer, the troll will summon the evil judge! The evil judge will rule that you have to pay the evil troll all of your money for infringing on the troll's monopolies, and will steal all of your weapons and armor and give them to the evil troll to help pay your debts.
And, finally, we've got the revelation that the FISA court waited until after the Snowden leaks to investigate the legality of bulk phone record collection, which put ChurchHatesTucker in mind of a famous thought experiment that effectively describes their approach:
It's neither legal nor illegal until it is examined. Clearly.
That's all for this week, folks!
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Posted on Techdirt - 19 January 2014 @ 12:00pm
Not that anyone ever doubted it, but the fact that the NSA really hates Ed Snowden became crystal clear this week. Our most insightful comment comes from That Anonymous Coward in response to some of their fiery feelings about the whistleblower:
If you remove the names, do the comments seem that different from people describing people who have left the cult and spoken out against it?
The family is more important.
We all care for each other.
We are so betrayed.
This person wasn't a true believer.
Perhaps one should question the activities of these zealots with the same critical eye they turn towards "religious" leaders who keep their followers away from the world in secret compounds.
Second place for insightful goes to The Resident Skeptic for a thorough reminder of the fact that you can kill all the technologies you want, and the network will live on:
Pre-internet saw the rise of the BBS - where people wanted to share files, and did so with NO central oversight. BBS phone numbers were freely copied and shared - many people connected to hundreds of "sites" with simple dial-up modems. A LOT more was done than the industries ever realized. The "internet" centralized it where it became visible and made it a target.
Pre-"It's mine and you can't use it" we had every monthly magazine publishing SOURCE CODE which was freely shared (remember @copyleft?) because people wanted to share and wanted to learn and wanted to share what they enjoyed.
The internet allowed us to do so on a much grander scale - because people want to share what they love and technology allows them to do so easier than ever before. (Try typing in 1000 lines of code out of a magazine with folds in it ... you really learn debugging!)
CULTURE comes from sharing what we love. "The Internet" is just the current mechanism for doing so. Go ahead and take it over. See what happens. Just as has been pointed out - DRM is broken in minutes; phones are jailbroken the day they come out; there is NO technology that can't be circumvented (laws that no one believes in are useless).
People will develop "another way". And, it will be harder to track, harder to find... and the companies will still be standing around wondering what happened and why no one is using their nearly useless service.
Adapt or Die.
The net doesn't care.
People don't care about the success or failure of YOUR business. They care about the things they enjoy. CULTURE is something which MUST BE shared and enjoyed. Locking it up will fail. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
This network may die. But the next one...
For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got two more people expounding on the government's hatred for Snowden. First up, there's FM Hilton reminding the NSA about the privacy-violator's favorite phrase:
What, the NSA doesn't believe this statement:
"If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear."
Guess they were surprised they had something to hide.
Too bad it took someone with guts and ethics to show them otherwise.
It sucks to be them, doesn't it?
Next, we've got BentFranklin with a response to the altogether disturbing revelation that the intelligence community is openly fantasizing about assassinating Snowden:
Clearly they feel betrayed. They feel Snowden betrayed America because they feel they are America. They don't realize how far from the true spirit of America they have strayed.
Over on the funny side, first place goes to blaktron for his advice to the frequent losers in the world of copyright law:
God, this damn 'public' group you keep talking about really could do with some representation in congress. Why haven't they hired lobbyists??? Geeze, what a poorly managed group...
For second place we return to the post about the fantasy Snowden assassination, which included a vivid hypothetical about poisoning him on the streets of Moscow. Michael suggested we use another federal agency's favorite tactic against them:
The FBI needs to find this guy, buy him a ticket to Moscow, get him a passport, a syringe, and then arrest him for platting to kill someone.
For editor's choice on the funny side, we've got a one-two punch that bridges the Techdirt realms of copyright and privacy. First, pegr asked a simple question about a striking analogy:
If the NSA doesn't "collect" my data until they look at it, then that song I downloaded doesn't count as pirated until I listen to it, right?
In response, Beech, who wasn't too sure if that argument would hold up alone, offered the other piece of the puzzle:
It depends. Are you "collecting" songs because terrorism? If so, then you are in the clear, Patriot.
That's all for this week, folks! We're off tomorrow for MLK Day, and back to business as usual on Tuesday.
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Posted on Techdirt - 12 January 2014 @ 12:00pm
One of the tiresome refrains of our detractors around here is that we are too critical of the government but uncritical of Google (neither of which is true). John Fenderson won first place for insightful this week with a simple response to all comparisons between Google and the NSA:
Google is optional. The NSA is not. End of story.
Meanwhile, when we discussed the fact that 99% of misconduct cases against New Jersey cops are being dismissed by Internal Affairs, one commenter suggested that it's because those claims are all flimsy. Second place for insightful went to an anonymous commenter who responded with an extensive list of Techdirt posts about clear police abuses. This is a rare case where I'm not going to reproduce the comment here, since it's very very long, but anyone wanting to navigate Techdirt's bad-cop coverage should check it out.
For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got two thorough comments explaining interesting and important concepts. First up is an anonymous commenter musing on what the copyright industries have in common with the NSA:
The copywrong industry now suffers from the same problem as the government and the NSA. They've lied so long no one believes them anymore.
The movie industry has had consecutive banner records, block buster years, with one break in between that wasn't a block buster year. That one was something like 5% or so under being a block buster. It's not piracy that is killing them at all or there would not be banner years.
The music industry is a victim of it's own policies. Especially having turned all it's management over to politicians and lawyers rather than artists who understand what the artist is going through and how to fix that. You can't run an industry with a club and then not expect people to abandon you.
The copyright industry has gotten it so wrong that its become the copywrong industry. Beyond those with greedy hands stuck out, no one else much cares what they demand and want. Its not applicable in most peoples lives as something they need to pay close attention to. It shows up as constant legal threat letters and court cases.
A good law doesn't need enforced because everyone thinks it is wrong. A bad law is ignored no matter how many are jailed or taken to court.
And next we've got Seegras who responded to comments from the EU Advocate-General by explaining the philosophical and functional underpinnings of copyright:
Copyright is, and was, ALWAYS about publishing. And never about "receiving" or "getting" something.
Now, just about every copyright law on earth is about this. Except the german one, they recently included a paragraph where they made "downloads from an illegally published source" illegal. Which is of course an epitome of stupidity, because no one except a judge can tell whether something was "illegally published".
Of course, nowhere in the European Union (which is actually a series of directives aimed at harmonizing the laws of the different countries), there is anything written about "receiving". So this Advocate-General obviously don't know his law.
Furthermore of course, everyone is a copyright holder. I have a blog, I post photographs on the internet, thus a lot of what I am doing is copyright protected. Now, what happens if you download a picture of a cute cat from the internet, which somebody put up there, without having it made himself? If the AGs view of the law was only remotely correct? Yep, copyright violation. Because nobody ever gave you an explicit permission. In fact, if the AG were right, we'd find hundreds if not thousands of files (especially emails!) on his computer which would constitute a copyright violation according to his own misinterpretation of the law. I could even make him break the law by e-mailing him something which I do not have the necessary publishing rights for. Ridiculous.
Or let's take another angle: How do I now some TV-station has the necessary rights to show a movie that was obviously made by someone else? Do they need to publish all the contracts they have with the movie studio? Because if they don't everyone can call "copyright violation". And the movie studios, do they need to publish all contracts with the people that actually made the movie, because otherwise anyone can call them for "copyright violation"? It's probably not what the AG was thinking of, which just shows he wasn't probably thinking at all...
In other words, its totally, completely, utterly impossible to know if _anything_ is "legally published". Yes, it's possible for the copyright-holder to recognize his own work, and then for a judge to decide whether that claim has any merit. But before that happens, nobody can really know.
And that is the reason, (most) copyright laws are not about the receiving but only the publishing end.
Over on the funny side, first place goes to mattshow for pointing out the real downside of the FBI's decreasing focus on "law enforcement":
Most tragically of all, the number of agents assigned to investigate files with a paranormal or supernatural element to them has fallen from 2 to 0 since 2008.
In second place we've got bmarsh, who read our post about Australia's transit authority reporting a teen hacker to police for trying to help them with a security hole and embraced the wordplay that we let slip by:
The transit department, "throwing someone under a bus?"
For editor's choice on the funny side, we've got two quick one-liners that made me laugh. First up is an anonymous commenter, upon hearing the news that Insane Clown Posse is suing the FBI for branding their fans as a gang:
So THAT'S why the weather's been so frigid - hell has frozen over, I'm actually on the Juggalos' side on something.
And last but not least, Grammar Terrorist replied to some friendly corrections from another commenter with a joke that probably isn't new, but was new to me:
Every time you make a typo, the errorists win.
That's all for this week, folks!
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Posted on Techdirt - 5 January 2014 @ 12:00pm
Time for our first batch of comments from 2014! Let's get started. In first place on the insightful side we've got Zem with a nuanced take on the repercussions of the Snowden leaks:
Snowden has shown that it is possible to harm the US Security Machine, without actually harming the US people. This is a more dangerous idea than the information he leaked.
In second place, we've got a response to our sad annual post about the works that should be entering the public domain this year but aren't. One anonymous commenter summed it up in three words:
Take that, culture.
For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start with another anonymous comment, this time underlining the ridiculousness of overfunding the mostly-useless TSA:
It's even worse than you think. We lost 30,000+ in the usa to suicide in 2001. . .ten times the 9/11 casualties.
We lost 30,000+ more to suicide the year after that.
And the year after that.
And the year after that.
And somewhere along the line to today, that became 33,000+, eleven times the 9/11 casualties, and then 36,000+, twelve times the 9/11 casualties. . .per year. . . .
And the Fed funding for the TSA in 2012 was what again, exactly? $7.4 Billion with a 'Carl Sagan B'?
Versus, what, some $68 million for suicide research and outreach?
Something like that?
Mike, when can we move from "cost-benefit analysis failure" all the way down to "basic grade-schooler allowance math failure"?
And next we've got Rikuo, who responded to a false positive in the UK's porn filter with an apt quote from a famous game:
I remember this quote from the PC game "Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri"
"As the Americans learned so painfully in Earth's final century, free flow of information is the only safeguard against tyranny. The once-chained people whose leaders at last lose their grip on information flow will soon burst with freedom and vitality, but the free nation gradually constricting its grip on public discourse has begun its rapid slide into despotism. Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he deems himself your master."
— Comissioner Pravin Lal, "U.N. Declaration of Rights" (Accompanies completion of the Secret Project "The Planetary Datalinks")
Over on the funny side, first place comes about thanks to a numbers error on our part that seemed to make 10 years disappear from the history of a Canadian copyright collective. After this was pointed out, justok offered a possible explanation for the discrepancy:
Those missing years were lost to piracy
In second place, we've got John Fenderson with some sarcastic input into the Sherlock Holmes copyright debate:
If Sherlock Holmes is in the public domain, then where is the incentive for Arthur Conan Doyle to write new ones?
For editor's choice on the funny side, we head back to the post about the UK porn filter — which was accidentally blocking the website of its own political advocate. Josh in CharlotteNC responded with a spin on an old classic:
First they came for the politicians, and no one cared.
Next they came... oh, wait.
And finally we've got Jeremy Lyman skillfully leveraging the logic that failing security agencies often use to get more funding:
I haven't stopped any terrorist attacks. I must need more federal funding.
That's all for this week, folks. We're off to a great start for the new year, so keep 'em coming!
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Posted on Techdirt - 1 January 2014 @ 12:00pm
Happy new year, everyone! As you can tell, we're taking a break from regular posts today — so it seems like a perfect time to run down the top comments of 2013. Instead of just two winners, we've got the top five from each category. Looking forward to another year full of great comments!
- Akari Mizunashi on the post ICE Starts Raiding Mobile Phone Repair Shops To Stop Repairs With Aftermarket Parts:
"Immigration & Custom's Enforcement (ICE)"
Uh, sorry, but that's not what it stands for.
Industry & Corporate Enforcement.
Please make note of this in the future, for accuracy. ;)
- silverscarcat on the post Guy Who Wrote Legal Memos Defending US Torture Defends NSA Because It Takes Too Long To Obey The Constitution:
There's one thing John Yoo missed
the terrorists have already won.
After all, Bin Laden said that he didn't have to do anything anymore after 9/11, since America would destroy itself.
He was so right.
- Anonymous Coward on the post Bizarre 'Attribution' Troll Bullies Twitter Users Into Compliance With Baseless Legal Threats:
I enjoy the irony of someone being a complete jerk regarding a quote about being polite and civil.
- Rikuo on the post London Police Order Registrars To Shut Down A Bunch Of Websites Without Any Legal Basis; Threaten Registrars If They Don't Comply:
Before certain people come in and vomit their usual idiocy, be aware of these facts.
This is a police body issuing orders to parties to shut down and censor other parties all WITHOUT A COURT ORDER. Not only that, but in the case of EasyDNS, it's a BRITISH police body demanding action from a CANADIAN domain registrar to redirect a website based in SINGAPORE (I did a WHOIS search) to competing websites based in LONDON, or the police would complain to ICANN, a body based in the USA.
Again, no courts involved.
- rw on the post Former DHS Official Says Boston Bombing Proves ACLU & EFF Are Wrong About Surveillance And CISPA:
And what about all the (self-created)terrorist plots the FBI keeps breaking up. A real one comes along and they miss it completely.
- Gareth on the post DJs' 'Dihydrogen Monoxide' April Fool's Prank Results In Suspension And Possible Felony Charges:
Hardly surprising, given:
A) It's Florida, and
B) It's a Country station.
Not exactly a Venn diagram that would contain a lot of smart listeners.
- Double win! Second place for Funny is the anonymous comment on the post Bizarre 'Attribution' Troll Bullies Twitter Users Into Compliance With Baseless Legal Threats that won third place for Insightful.
- Cowards Anonymous on the post Lawsuit Filed To Prove Happy Birthday Is In The Public Domain; Demands Warner Pay Back Millions Of License Fees:
Happy Lawsuit To You!
Happy Lawsuit To You!
This Song Is Public Domain,
Happy Lawsuit To You!
(To the tune of Good Morning To You)
- Arsik Vek on the post Did Paul Duffy's Wife Admit That He Was Engaged In Interstate Extortion On Facebook?:
Duffy's next comment: "I'm not sure who that woman is. She may or may not be my wife, but I have no direct knowledge of any relationship."
- Anonymous Coward on the post Teri Buhl Responds To Our Story; Still Confused About The Internet And The Law:
Hey everybody, I didn't read the article but here's a stinging critique anyway!
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Posted on Techdirt - 29 December 2013 @ 12:00pm
It's been a short week, and a bit of a slow one, but we still had some excellent comments. First up, Gabriel J. Michael, the author of a guest post on US businesses and intellectual property, arrived to answer questions about his use of a Creative Commons license, taking first place for insightful:
Hi. I'm the author. Since you're picking on the CC BY-SA licensing, let me explain why it's there.
This post was not originally written for TechDirt. I originally wrote it on my personal blog. It's since been posted to Slashdot, BoingBoing, here, and been reblogged elsewhere.
I include the CC BY-SA to make sure that people know they are free to copy and reuse the content elsewhere. I often include graphics in my posts that may be useful in peoples' PowerPoints, etc., and embedding a note about the CC BY-SA licensing makes it more likely that people won't lose the licensing information and feel they need to ask for permission.
As you will have presumably read in the post, the conclusion is not that we should eliminate IP laws. Rather, I wrote the post to highlight important empirical data on IP that had received almost no attention.
In second place we've got Fin, answering a question about where the line is drawn on whistleblowing actions like Ed Snowden's:
The line is clear. The government is effectively there to mediate the will of the people.
The minute they spy or try to undermine that the terrorists have won.
Bringing that to light can never be treason. Having to resort to desperate measures just shows how desperate the situation is.
The only people you need to look at to find the traitors are sitting up in DC
For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got a couple related comments. First up is an anonymous commenter responding to suggestions from former government officials that Ed Snowden should be hanged:
Question: What sort of man thinks that exposing government corruption should be a capital crime?
Answer: A man who was complicit in that very corruption.
And next we've got That Anonymous Coward suggesting it's time to close the book on a favorite justification for fearmongering:
Have we finally gotten to the point where when someone spouts because 9/11 we can tell them to shut the hell up?
9/11 was a horrible thing, and every single freaking thing done in its name has been much more horrible. The fact people keep accepting it as an excuse for unacceptable things is very sad.
On the funny side, first place goes to TheResidentSkeptic, who heard the idea of solving piracy by giving everyone a basic income for doing nothing, and predicted how certain groups might react:
And in following news...
Swedish collection societies have applied for a $2,900 "you must be a pirate tax" on this income as it is obviously targeted to file sharers who are stealing the artists work.
In second place, we've got an anonymous commenter who noticed an error in the pre-Christmas firing letter a Chicago sandwich shop sent to all its employees:
5. Return any keys and Company property to Will Ravert at 600 West Chicago Avenue on Monday, December 23, 2014 during normal business hours.
Okay, those who got terminated get to keep company property for an entire year after being fired! How riveting!
For editor's choice on the funny side, we start with a comment from Jeremy Lyman, who read our assertion that "if something is so insane as to get your ire up, there's a half-decent chance that it's too insane to be real" and wished it were universally true:
Oh thank god. I was starting to thing that all this NSA shredding the constitution and staunch refusal of the government to even acknowledge it, labeling public defenders as traitors was actually real. Now that's good satire!
And finally we return to the guest post about US businesses not caring about intellectual property, where an anonymous commenter from everyone's famous IP industry showed up with a fervent defense:
Hey, I'll have you know that as one of the card carrying members of the MOST IMPORTANT IP INDUSTRY of all... Grocery Stores Dunh Dunh Dunh (think Belt from the Croods)... (seriously, read your masters reports if you don't believe me), that lowly grocery store clerk is the one who's paying your masters salaries so they can fund your trolling.
If it were not for Grocery Stores and Grocery Store Clerks upholding the mantel of Copyright Shenanigans, who else would we have to look to for guidance?
That's all for this week, folks! Hope everyone enjoyed the holidays — we'll be back to business as usual tomorrow (with another quick break for New Year's Day).
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Posted on Techdirt - 22 December 2013 @ 12:00pm
It will come as little surprise that our most insightful comment this week was one of the over 400 comments (so far) hashing out a complex free speech question involving the ACLU. Amidst all the debate about a photographer's right to refuse gay customers, Beech won approval from both sides by simply being pragmatic:
I'm not sure why this is a lawsuit. If someone is really THAT vehemently against photographing your wedding, why would you try to force them to do it? And if the government can compel this lady to take pictures at the wedding, can it compel her to take good ones? What if she, "accidentally" or otherwise, leaves the camera out of focus? Or only takes pictures of everyone's feet? Or only takes pictures of derp faces?
It's not like there's not a huge number of options of photographers. Wouldn't you want to choose someone more progressive anyway?
In second place for insightful, we've got Boojum offering a description of Google's anti-spam efforts that gets away from combative language about punishment:
Google really isn't punishing anyone, they are just improving their product. Their product is to link people with the content they are most interested in. In general, the spam sites are NOT the spots people are most interested in. So the changes to their algorithm moves them downwards in the responses.
It's no more punishment than it is to not return Automobile web pages when the searcher was looking for the history of the NSA.
Now they don't like it, certainly! But it's not being done to punish them, it's being done to make Google a better search engine for the people doing the searches.
For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start with techflaws and the simplest possible response to an NSA official's accusation that the media is "intentionally misleading the American people":
Pot, meet kettle.
And next we've got TheResidentSkeptic reminding everyone that the whole notion of an artist living forever off of a single copyright is unique and bizarre:
Calling All Tradesmen
Get your lawyers out! If an "artist" can get paid every time... why not you? Every time a house is sold - get your cut.. for the electrician who installed the wiring, the carpenters who built it, the plumbers, the painters...
How about using "Hollywood" accounting/residuals model? Then you could get paid every time the lights turn on...or the lock unlocks...or the water runs...
I bet we can NOT come up with something more insane than the government does...
Over on the funny side, we start with another comment on our post about Google's anti-spam efforts focused on comment-section link-spammers. Mattshow won first place with an attempt to game the system and punish his enemies:
Extagen Male Enhancement tablets are Ranked #1. If you are looking for a safe, effective, natural male enhancement solution, then Start Today and place your order for FREE TRIAL PACK Try Extagen today and experience the results for yourself. Visit us at www.RIAA.com
In second place, we've got an anonymous commenter who attempted to coach Bic on having a sense of humor about its pens and phallic comedy:
They really should have turned it around. "I'm sorry, it sounds like you purchased an imitation. We sell BIC pens. What you are describing is probably a DIC pen."
For editor's choice on the funny side, we'll start with a reaction to the news that the UK's official internet archive won't be internet-accessible. Arsik Vek speculated on what sort of quasi-Pythonesque banter could have possibly led up to such an insane decision:
"We're going to archive all of this for the future."
"Excellent. Where will we keep it?"
"In a box, in the basement."
"But then how will anyone ever access it?"
"Why would they want to do that?"
And finally, since we've already had one faux-spam message grace the winners' board, we'll end with another. When a Philadelphia food blogger was revealed to be chasing a free family dinner with offers of promotion and good reviews, Arioch offered her a more concise and traditional (for the internet) pitch email:
Hello From Sarah
I am a Nigerian Princess residing in the Philadelphia region.
I run a website http://aroundmainline.com/
My uncle was unfortunately killed in a car accident and left me a large sum as an inheritance.
I am looking for a restaurant that will allow me and four friends to take a meal and drinks in exchange for
1. A good review
2. 30% of the $15000000 legacy of my uncle
That's all for now! At some point over the next couple weeks, among our various year-end posts, I'll be running down the top comments for 2013, so stay tuned. Though I won't be able to scour a year's worth of posts for editor's choices (especially ones I haven't already used), if there are any comments that people think deserve special mention — maybe something you refer back to often or just that still sticks firmly in your head — feel free to nominate them below. Try to make sure they aren't just good, but they are somehow special (such as comments from non-regulars who stopped by with an insider perspective on a given topic), or really good to a degree their votes may not reflect (such as important comments that came in late after voting died down). I don't have a fixed plan for using these nominations, but I know there are some comments like that out there, and if I see enough that I think are truly worthy of note alongside the winners-by-vote, I'll include a section for them in the post.
Until then, happy commenting!
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Posted on Techdirt - 15 December 2013 @ 12:00pm
When Mississippi AG Jim Hood blamed Google for, basically, everything wrong with the internet, his tirade was full of plainly ridiculous assertions. Mike Shore won first place for Insightful by demonstrating this with a game of substitution:
How much sense does this make in a similar context?
Hood accused Ford of being “unwilling to take basic actions to make the roads safe from unlawful and predatory conduct, and it has refused to modify its own behavior that facilitates and profits from unlawful conduct.” His letter cites not just speeding, hit and runs and drunk driving but the use of getaway cars in bank robberies
While Hood was being stupid, the USTR was accusing the public of the same sin, and using our supposed inability to understand international agreements as justification for keeping the TPP secret. Fogbugzd won second place with a simple statement of the actual truth:
The real problem with releasing the details is that the public WILL understand it.
For editor's choice on the Insightful side, we start with TKnarr and a response to a schizophrenic attack on Aereo from one of our regular detractors:
There's a principle in law, though: if I'm entitled to do something, I'm generally entitled to have someone else do it for me. You do this every day when you use a credit or debit card or write a check: you aren't paying the merchant, you're authorizing the bank or credit-card company to pay the merchant for you. Anyone who has a secretary sorting their mail is doing the same thing, authorizing the secretary to open and read the mail instead of them doing it themselves. So, assuming that I'm entitled to record the shows and play them back later (and I am, thanks to the time-shifting ruling), why would I not be entitled to have someone else run my DVR for me?
I'd note that this same principle is why people are so upset over the government's position about access to e-mail on servers: we think of it in terms of us having the provider run our mailbox for us, and the government wouldn't be entitled to come in and riffle through our mailbox without a warrant if it were us operating it directly.
Next we've got PaulT, who heard the 21st Century Fox CEO's comment that people shouldn't dislike bundled TV channels in a world with $5 lattes and cellphone bills, and took on the task of analogy-busting:
Did I miss the part where you have to have the latte every time you go into a store to buy something else, or the part where the latte is only available as part of a package that includes a bottle of water, hot chocolate and sandwich for $20? Did I miss the part where you can't choose to have the latte made the way you want it, but have to from a limited choice of options, rather than being able to choose from a range of sizes, milk types, flavourings, etc.?
Plus, maybe things are different in the US, but aren't cell phone bills simply pre-built bundles of line rental/data/voice/text plans to begin with?
What a strange, deluded analogy.
After all those responses to idiocy, it's nice to open the Funny side of things with some positive news from Norway, which is digitizing all Norwegian books and making them free to its citizens. An anonymous commenter won first place with some good old-fashioned maximalist-mocking sarcasm:
Well I guess no one's ever going to write a book in Norway anymore.
For second place, we head to our post about a photographer attacking Something Awful over a photo of a bird that turned up in a Photoshop contest. Sometimes in these situations, as one anonymous commenter pointed out, it would be satisfying (if not productive) to see those who live by IP die by IP:
I hope the bird sues her for violating its publicity rights.
For editor's choice on the funny side, we head back to Jim Hood and his tragic confusion between "Google" and "the internet", which Ima Fish likened to another common lack of perspective among the technologically unsavvy:
And in a related story, the entire internet exists as an icon on your desktop called "Internet Explorer."
And finally, during yet another debate about copyright-as-theft, someone asserted that "what's being stolen is time, money and brain cells." For Nina Paley, that actually made a lot of sense:
This explains copyright maximalists: they can't make sense because they don't have enough brain cells. Meanwhile "pirates" are using stolen brain cells to make well-reasoned, sensible arguments.
Indeed; you might even say that we have a monopoly on intelligence and reason. Come on, governments and copyright industries — topple our monopoly!
That's all for this week, folks.
34 Comments | Leave a Comment..
Posted on Techdirt - 8 December 2013 @ 12:00pm
Well, looks like we've got another clear winner this week, with Rikuo taking both Insightful spots and second place for Funny. First up is a reaction to a judge's statement about the government trying to hide information that is already public, where Rikuo saw some synergy with the world of intellectual property:
"If information is publicly available in some other way, the government does not have the right to retroactively clamp it down and remove it from the public record."
Right hands up. Who else here noticed that that describes what should be the situation concerning copyright and copyright term extensions?
Next, Rikuo took second place by pointing out that fearmongering about ever-growing terrorist threats doesn't necessarily send the message that the government wants:
Since the NSA programs have been shown to have been operational for several years, but now apparently the threat of terrorist attacks is higher than ever...wouldn't that point to the NSA programs being completely ineffective?
You don't scream and shout that you must continue your highly controversial program by saying it's actually failed in it's stated mission goal.
For editor's choice on the Insightful side, we start with Chris ODonnell, who proposed a simple and strict remedy for government misbehaviour:
Any government employee who is found to be willfully obstructing justice or willfully violating the constitutional rights of a citizen should be banned from working in the public sector ever again.
(The fact that you can already anticipate some people reacting "well, that's just ridiculous" is telling, and frightening.)
Next up is OldGeezer, who did some quick math to underline just how insane Life-Plus-70-Years is for a copyright term:
Let's do some math. I am 61 and was 12 when I first heard the Beatles. Paul McCartney is 71. Let's assume he lives to 80. (Year 2022). Ringo is only 2 years older so likely at least one of them will be alive at least until then, very possibly much longer. Plus 70 Years (2092). My son is 28. He would have to live to 107 to legally download "I Want to Hold Your Hand". He has no children but let's assume if he just had a child. My grandchild may be able to if he lives to nearly 80. Say he has a child at 25. Much of the music I listened to in my early teens will not be public domain until my great grandchild would be in his mid 50's. AND THAT'S NOT LONG ENOUGH ALREADY?!!! Life plus 70 is an appropriate sentence for a serial child rapist, not for a song copyright.
...And all that assumes that nobody succeeds in further extending copyright sometime in the next century.
Over on the funny side, first place goes to FHuminski, who seems to have tracked down the inspiration for the creepy US spy satellite logo:
Haven't I seen this logo (or one like it) before?
Oh that's right...it was in the 1966 Batman movie...
(The sad part is that the one from Batman actually looks much less menacing.)
In second place, we've got one more win for Rikuo, who heard that the MPAA was told not to say "piracy", "theft" or "stealing" during the Hotfile trial, and mused on the impact such restrictions would have:
Hands up if you expect the MPAA's filings to just be blank pieces of paper now ;)
(That's two winning comments that started with "hands up" — so Rikuo may have found an effective tactic for drawing in more votes.)
For editor's choice on the funny side, we start with crade, who decided that the government's confusion between two unrelated (and very different) Muslim groups deserved the Monty Python treatment:
Are you the Jamaah Islamiyah Malaysia?
We're the Jamaah Islah Malaysia! The only people we hate more than the bloody Romans is the Jamaah Islamiyah Malaysia!
Last but not least, we've got a comment that really made me laugh out loud, and another case of synergy between ongoing civil rights issues and ongoing copyright issues. Xenomancer heard the assertion that "the NSA’s mission is of great value to the Nation" and immediately identified an all-too-common error:
There they go confusing price and value again...
That's all for this week!
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