This week's This American Life is an entire hour devoted to investigating the FBI's killing of Ibragim Todashev along with a companion piece in Boston Magazine. You probably heard about the basics of the Todashev story. Todashev was a friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older of the two brothers implicated in the Boston Marathon bombings (and the one who was killed when law enforcement tried to capture them), who was being interviewed by the FBI and was then shot multiple times and killed -- with a whole variety of conflicting stories coming out soon after as to what he did to lead to his death. One of the key stories was that Todashev had just admitted to participating, with Tsarnaev, in a grisly triple homicide outside of Boston a year and half earlier, and then supposedly lunged at the FBI agents (there were a variety of different reports, each claiming he had some kind of weapon, but each time the report differed on what kind of weapon). But reporter Susan Zalkind, who had been friendly with one of the 3 men killed back in 2011, which Todashev supposedly confessed to taking part in, decided to explore the story more deeply, and found a variety of oddities at every turn, nearly all of which involve strange moves by the FBI.
It's also impossible to listen to this story, without connecting it to some of the recent Snowden revelations concerning how the NSA and FBI act. While the various chapters of the story are all interesting (including Todashev's girlfriend who agreed to be interviewed by Zalkind, and a month or so later was deported, almost certainly because of the interview), perhaps the most striking is the story of Ashurmamad Miraliev, profiled in Act 2 of This American Life and written up in more detail by Zalkind last fall.
Miraliev was someone who lived in Florida and had become an acquaintance, but not a close friend, of Todashev. Months after Todashev was killed, Miraliev was pulled over and arrested, supposedly for having an expired license (it had expired a week or so earlier). He was then interrogated for six hours by the FBI (without a lawyer) -- almost all about Todashev, asking specific questions about the triple homicide and Todashev's involvement (remember, this is supposedly well after the FBI claims Todashev confessed to those murders). Miraliev pointed out that he wasn't that close to Todashev, that he'd never been to Massachusetts, and that all of that happened well before he'd ever met Todashev. He then asked to be let go, and was told that he was being thrown in jail based on absolutely ridiculous trumped up charges that are way too convoluted to fully cover here, but the short version is that a year earlier, Miraliev had apparently gotten into a yelling altercation with a guy who Todashev had fought with, and the feds (a year later) had pressured the guy Todashev fought with to press charges, and then claimed that Miraliev was "witness tampering" for that screaming match. The charges were later dropped after a judge pointed out how ridiculous they were -- but the whole thing still got Miraliev put on a terrorist watch list, caused him to miss a court date for his student visa, and got him kicked out of the country:
So the FBI had been matchmaking: They had helped the sheriff’s department go fishing on a long-closed case to find a victim and a charge with which they could pressure or detain first Ibragim, and later Ashurmamad. The witness-tampering charge the FBI brought against Ashurmamad was so flimsy that it was dropped in just a month.
And yet it didn’t matter. Although he had never been to Boston and never met the Tsarnaevs, Ashurmamad was nonetheless flagged—according to a note on the booking sheet—“ON TERRORIST WATCH LIST/PLACED PROTECTIVE CUSTODY AND HIGH RISK. HOUSE ALONE.” Ashurmamad was taken from the Orlando Police Department to the Osceola County jail, where he was kept alone in an 8-by-10 room. To meet with his lawyers, he had to have his hands and wrists shackled and be chained to the ground. Ashurmamad told me there were no windows, the light was always on, and he was always cold. He was there for a month until the tampering case was dropped. But he wasn’t released. His student visa had expired, and he’d missed a court date while he was in jail. So he was moved directly to an immigration detention facility, and on November 4, he was ordered to be deported back to Tajikistan.
Hearing the original story, and reading through the details, I'm further reminded of the stories of how the NSA, FBI and others in the federal government use "parallel construction" to build questionable cases against individuals they want dealt with.
The whole story highlights, yet again, why anyone who claims "if you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear," are simply wrong. Miraliev did not appear to do anything "wrong" other than failing to reregister his driver's license on time. But, because the FBI wanted to pressure and then punish him, to give them information they didn't have supposedly to confirm a murder which the FBI itself claims they had already solved, suddenly he got kicked out of the country entirely, losing everything he had (he lost his home, his money and car, which were all left in the US when he got sent back to Tajikistan).
While Zalkind presents a plausible theory on what may have happened with the FBI and Todashev, the hiding of information, the coverup and the continued efforts to bully, threaten, harass and (eventually) deport a number of his friends is quite shocking. One former law enforcement official quoted in the show, notes that when your job is to stop terrorism, these kinds of actions seem perfectly reasonable. Even if you have no proof, you just want anyone who knew anyone to be gone, so they're not your problem. It's entirely possible that's what's going on, and no one seems to care about punishing perfectly innocent people.
But if you actually believed the crap that the NSA and FBI have been saying about only targeting real threats to national security, and not putting innocent people at risk, take a listen or read the writeup. It presents a very different picture than one of an FBI protecting the country. It suggests a bunch of thuggish bullies who went too far, and are now doing everything possible to cover their tracks.
Stung by internal security lapses, U.S. intelligence officials plan to use a sweeping electronic system to continually monitor workers with secret clearances.... The system is intended to identify rogue agents, corrupt officials and leakers and draws on a Defense Department model under development for more than a decade.... Intelligence officials have long wanted a computerized system that could monitor employees, in part to foil leakers like former National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden....
Of course, now that it's about the intelligence community spying on the intelligence community, those government employees are suddenly feeling a bit uncomfortable about all of this:
Privacy advocates and government employee union officials expressed concerns that electronic monitoring could intrude into individuals' private lives, prompt flawed investigations and put sensitive personal data at greater risk.
The officials backing the program claim this is no real risk because "the system would have safeguards." Of course, that's the excuse we've been hearing for ages about the bulk data collection programs that the NSA and FBI use -- that supposedly they have "safeguards." Considering that the government employees union doesn't seem satisfied with that response indicates that the folks who actually work in the intelligence community know that such "safeguards" are pretty bogus and do little to actually protect privacy.
Of course, there seems to be no recognition from those who are complaining about this new system that it shows why the American public (and, well, the rest of the world) are so concerned about the other surveillance programs of the intelligence community.
from the not-so-fun-when-it's-your-metadata,-huh? dept
Earlier today, we wrote about Senator Dianne Feinstein's justified anger over the CIA "spying" on the Senate Intelligence Committee staffers as they went about putting together a massive (and apparently incredibly damning) report condemning the CIA's torture program. Having now watched the whole video of her speech, as well as read the transcript, there's a lot more here to discuss. You can watch the speech yourself if you'd like, or read the full transcript, which we've embedded below:
Apparently, some of the concerns actually stem from an earlier incident, from back in 2010, during which the CIA deleted access to a bunch of documents that it had previously given to the committee staffers. This came after an initial fight over whether or not the CIA would interfere with the staffers' efforts. The Intelligence Committee eventually agreed with the CIA's request that the research work be carried out on the CIA's premises, but only after the CIA promised not to interfere and to leave the staffers alone. The staffers requested lots of documents, and the CIA did a full pure data dump on them, just handing over piles and piles of documents with no context at all. Basically, it appears the CIA sought to bury the staffers in bullshit, hoping to hide many of the important bits. In response, the staffers asked the CIA to provide an electronic search engine, in order to go through the electronic documents. Also, to keep things organized, the staffers would regularly make local copies and/or print out key documents so they could more easily organize them and keep track of them. Based on this, they noticed that some documents that had initially been available "went missing" in 2010:
In May of 2010, the committee staff noticed that [certain] documents that had been provided for the committee’s review were no longer accessible. Staff approached the CIA personnel at the offsite location, who initially denied that documents had been removed. CIA personnel then blamed information technology personnel, who were almost all contractors, for removing the documents themselves without direction or authority. And then the CIA stated that the removal of the documents was ordered by the White House. When the committee approached the White House, the White House denied giving the CIA any such order.
After a series of meetings, I learned that on two occasions, CIA personnel electronically removed committee access to CIA documents after providing them to the committee. This included roughly 870 documents or pages of documents that were removed in February 2010, and secondly roughly another 50 were removed in mid-May 2010.
This was done without the knowledge or approval of committee members or staff, and in violation of our written agreements. Further, this type of behavior would not have been possible had the CIA allowed the committee to conduct the review of documents here in the Senate. In short, this was the exact sort of CIA interference in our investigation that we sought to avoid at the outset.
Apparently, this snafu was settled quietly between the intelligence committee and the CIA, with the CIA promising not to do it again.
Now, as we've been pointing out, and which was revealed by McClatchy and the NY Times last week, this latest fight is focused mostly on a draft of an internal review by the CIA of the torture program, conducted for then director Leon Panetta. Feinstein reveals some more key details about this document. First, it appears that Panetta more or less ordered the CIA to conduct what appears to be a "shadow review" of the very same documents that were being handed over to the Senate staffers. The report, as noted, appears to come to the same basic conclusions about the CIA's torture program (i.e., that it went to insane lengths and produced absolutely nothing in the way of useful intelligence). This internal review also contradicted the CIA's "official response" to the Intelligence Committee's own report.
Here's where it gets a bit trickier. When current CIA director John Brennan was asked for the full internal report, rather than the draft that the staffers had, there appears to have been a freakout at the CIA, because no one had intended for the intelligence committee to see the report, either as a draft or final report. The CIA appears to have believed that Senate staffers got access to the report illegally (hence the CIA's request that the staffers be investigated for illegal activity). Feinstein denies all of this and notes that the draft report was among the many documents provided in the data dump -- in what now looks like an accident by the CIA folks (and some contractors) in charge of compiling the data dump for the intelligence committee. The staffers "found" this document by using that search tool, which they'd asked the CIA to provide.
Feinstein goes on to reject the claims made by the CIA and CIA supporters that (1) the staffers should have known not to read the documents since they were marked "deliberative" or "privileged" and (2) that they somehow "mishandled" those classified documents by printing them out and bringing them to the Senate. As she notes, both of those claims make little sense. On the classification:
As with many other documents provided to the committee at the CIA facility, some of the Internal Panetta Review documents—some—contained markings indicating that they were “deliberative” and/or “privileged.” This was not especially noteworthy to staff. In fact, CIA has provided thousands of internal documents, to include CIA legal guidance and talking points prepared for the CIA director, some of which were marked as being deliberative or privileged.
Moreover, the CIA has officially provided such documents to the committee here in the Senate. In fact, the CIA’s official June 27, 2013, response to the committee study, which Director Brennan delivered to me personally, is labeled “Deliberative Process Privileged Document.”
We have discussed this with the Senate Legal Counsel who has confirmed that Congress does not recognize these claims of privilege when it comes to documents provided to Congress for our oversight duties.
That takes care of that. On the question of mishandling the documents, the argument is not quite as strong, but still quite reasonable. Yes, it does appear that staffers did not follow the exact process for removing the documents -- in that they were supposed to first review it with CIA staffers, but the reasoning here is not so crazy. The review process was supposedly just so that the CIA could make sure that names of key people or details of operations weren't revealed. The staffers made sure that all such info had been redacted before moving the document -- and, of course, they recognized that this document was a bit of a smoking gun for the CIA in that it appeared to confirm that Director Brennan had been lying to the committee. Taking it to the CIA to review would be an odd move -- especially for staffers tasked with oversight of the CIA itself. Even more important, the staffers noticed that, like back in 2010, that draft review document suddenly "disappeared" from their computer system, despite the previous promises that the CIA wouldn't do that any more (also, she points out that the CIA had previously destroyed early evidence about their torture program). So they made the entirely reasonable decision to make a copy and store it in the Senate:
When the Internal Panetta Review documents disappeared from the committee’s computer system, this suggested once again that the CIA had removed documents already provided to the committee, in violation of CIA agreements and White House assurances that the CIA would cease such activities.
As I have detailed, the CIA has previously withheld and destroyed information about its Detention and Interrogation Program, including its decision in 2005 to destroy interrogation videotapes over the objections of the Bush White House and the Director of National Intelligence. Based on the information described above, there was a need to preserve and protect the Internal Panetta Review in the committee’s own secure spaces.
Now, the Relocation of the Internal Panetta Review was lawful and handled in a manner consistent with its classification. No law prevents the relocation of a document in the committee’s possession from a CIA facility to secure committee offices on Capitol Hill. As I mentioned before, the document was handled and transported in a manner consistent with its classification, redacted appropriately, and it remains secured—with restricted access—in committee spaces.
Now that brings us to the latest "fight." In late 2013, after the intelligence committee had seen that draft report, it had requested the final report from the CIA. That set off alarm bells in the CIA when they realized that the committee knew such a report existed, leading to a freakout and further "searching" the staffers' supposedly private computers and networks:
Shortly thereafter, on January 15, 2014, CIA Director Brennan requested an emergency meeting to inform me and Vice Chairman Chambliss that without prior notification or approval, CIA personnel had conducted a “search”—that was John Brennan’s word—of the committee computers at the offsite facility. This search involved not only a search of documents provided to the committee by the CIA, but also a search of the ”stand alone” and “walled-off” committee network drive containing the committee’s own internal work product and communications.
According to Brennan, the computer search was conducted in response to indications that some members of the committee staff might already have had access to the Internal Panetta Review. The CIA did not ask the committee or its staff if the committee had access to the Internal Review, or how we obtained it.
Instead, the CIA just went and searched the committee’s computers. The CIA has still not asked the committee any questions about how the committee acquired the Panetta Review. In place of asking any questions, the CIA’s unauthorized search of the committee computers was followed by an allegation—which we have now seen repeated anonymously in the press—that the committee staff had somehow obtained the document through unauthorized or criminal means, perhaps to include hacking into the CIA’s computer network.
As I have described, this is not true. The document was made available to the staff at the offsite facility, and it was located using a CIA-provided search tool running a query of the information provided to the committee pursuant to its investigation.
Of course, as Julian Sanchez points out, from this description, it certainly appears that the CIA was collecting "just metadata," and, as you may recall, Feinstein has been at the forefront of arguing that no one should care about the NSA's activities, because it's just metadata. Kinda funny how perspective shifts when it's your metadata being discussed. Suddenly, it becomes a constitutional issue:
Based on what Director Brennan has informed us, I have grave concerns that the CIA’s search may well have violated the separation of powers principles embodied in the United States Constitution, including the Speech and Debate clause. It may have undermined the constitutional framework essential to effective congressional oversight of intelligence activities or any other government function.
Besides the constitutional implications, the CIA’s search may also have violated the Fourth Amendment, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, as well as Executive Order 12333, which prohibits the CIA from conducting domestic searches or surveillance.
And yet that doesn't apply when the NSA spies on all Americans? Yes, Feinstein is absolutely right to be angry about this. It is an astounding breach of protocol, and given that it's the Senate Intelligence Committee's job to oversee the CIA, it appears to be quite a brazen move by the CIA to effectively undermine the Senate's oversight. It's just too bad she doesn't see how the very same things she's angry about concerning her own staff apply equally to everyone else.
There's one other issue in the speech that should be highlighted as well. She notes both of the referrals (that we've previously discussed) to the DOJ: the request to investigate the CIA's activities, and the CIA's tit-for-tat response asking for an investigation into the staffers' access and removal of the draft Panetta review. Feinstein also points out that the person at the CIA who filed the crimes report against her staffers at the DOJ was heavily involved in the torture program the report condemns, and certainly suggests that the move is much more about intimidating Senate overseers:
Weeks later, I was also told that after the inspector general referred the CIA’s activities to the Department of Justice, the acting general counsel of the CIA filed a crimes report with the Department of Justice concerning the committee staff’s actions. I have not been provided the specifics of these allegations or been told whether the department has initiated a criminal investigation based on the allegations of the CIA’s acting general counsel.
As I mentioned before, our staff involved in this matter have the appropriate clearances, handled this sensitive material according to established procedures and practice to protect classified information, and were provided access to the Panetta Review by the CIA itself. As a result, there is no legitimate reason to allege to the Justice Department that Senate staff may have committed a crime. I view the acting general counsel’s referral as a potential effort to intimidate this staff—and I am not taking it lightly.
I should note that for most, if not all, of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program, the now acting general counsel was a lawyer in the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center—the unit within which the CIA managed and carried out this program. From mid-2004 until the official termination of the detention and interrogation program in January 2009, he was the unit’s chief lawyer. He is mentioned by name more than 1,600 times in our study.
And now this individual is sending a crimes report to the Department of Justice on the actions of congressional staff—the same congressional staff who researched and drafted a report that details how CIA officers—including the acting general counsel himself—provided inaccurate information to the Department of Justice about the program.
Once again, it's worth noting that these are the very same folks that, just weeks ago, Feinstein was insisting would never abuse their positions because they're professionals. She said that on January 19th. That was just four days after CIA Director Brennan had told her about how the CIA had conducted the almost certainly illegal search on her own staffers.\
And, of course, this is the point that many of us have been making all along to Feinstein and other kneejerk defenders of the intelligence community. No matter how "professional" they are, they're still human. And given situations where their own jobs may be threatened, they're going to do what they do, and that often leads to serious abuses, like the ones that now have Feinstein so angry. That's why we're so concerned by her lack of real oversight of the intelligence community for years, as well as the rather permissive attitude that both Congress and the courts have taken for years to the intelligence community, by insisting that they only do what they do for the purposes of "national security." I'm curious what kind of "national security" reason the CIA has for spying on the very staffers who were investigating the CIA's torture program?
Who needs SOPA when US judges seem willing to pretend the law already lets them do what SOPA would have created? AACS, the licensing organization that handles the basic encryption used on DVDs, sued one of many DVD ripping software companies, DVDFab (which is based in China). DVD ripping is a somewhat contentious topic. While it's generally accepted (even by the recording industry) that ripping music CDs is legitimate, for whatever reason, Hollywood has fought exceptionally hard against the idea that movies should ever be rippable. With DVD software, they make it "illegal" by placing (weak) DRM on the DVDs, and then claim that any attempt to get around that violates the anti-circumvention clause of the DMCA, 17 USC 1201.
AACS sought a preliminary injunction against DVDFab, who chose not to respond to the lawsuit (understandable, seeing as it's based halfway around the world). Of course, rather than just granting a basic preliminary injunction, federal judge Vernon Broderick appears to have issued an order that is basically Hollywood's dream: ordering the seizure of basically everything in an attempt to wipe DVDFab off the internet entirely. It orders the company to stop using its website, domain names and social media. Then, it goes way beyond that, using "this Court's inherent equitable power" to order domain registries to disable the company's URLs and make them "transferable" on the orders of the court -- basically ordering the companies to seize the domain names. Then, it also orders all companies who have anything to do with DVDFab to stop doing business with the company. This includes social networking companies, service providers, advertising firms, payment processors and more:
Any third party service providers providing services to Defendants in connection with
any of the DVDFab Domain Names, the DVDFab Websites or the DVDFab Social Media
Accounts, and who receive actual notice of this Order, including without limitation, web
hosting providers, social media or other online service providers (including without
limitation, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+), back-end service providers, web
designers, distributors, search-based online advertising services (such as through paid
inclusion, paid search results, sponsored search results, sponsored links, and Internet
keyword advertising), and any banks, savings and loan associations, merchant account
providers, payment processors and providers, credit card associations, or other financial
institutions which receive or process payments or hold assets on Defendants' behalf
(including without limitation, Avangate Inc., Avangate B.V., PayPal, Western Union,
PayEase, IPS Ltd., Realypay, WorldPay, Opus Payments, Amazon Payments, WorldPay,
Money Gram International, WebMoney, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express,
Visa Electron, Maestro, Solo, Laser, and Carte Bleue) for any Defendant or any of the
DVDFab Domain Names or the DVDFab Websites, and who receive actual notice of this
Order, shall, within three (3) days of receipt of this Order, cease or disable providing such
services to: a) Defendants in relation to the DVDFab Software and/or any other products
or services that circumvent the AACS Technology; andb) any and all of the DVDFab
Domain Names, the DVDFab Websites or DVDFab Social Media Accounts.
This goes way, way, way beyond the normal remedies put forth under copyright law. In fact, it was these kinds of solutions which SOPA was designed to add to copyright law. I can understand how a judge only hearing one side of a case goes with the "default" judgment and just gives the single party everything they ask for, but at some point doesn't common sense have to come in, and have people point out that this kind of remedy, seeking to wipe an entire company completely off the face of the internet for daring to do something that's basically legal in similar realms (i.e., with music), seems immensely worrisome.
This morning, Senator Dianne Feinstein finally got angry over the abusive practices of the intelligence community that she oversees as head of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Historically, of course, Feinstein has used her role of "oversight" to actually do everything possible to protect and defend the various intelligence organizations. However, as we've been discussing, Feinstein has wanted to declassify and publish an apparently devastating $40 million 6,300 page report detailing how the CIA's torture program was a complete disaster. The CIA has been fighting hard against this, and in the last few weeks, it came out that the CIA also spied on Senate staffers who were working on the report, after they'd uncovered an internal CIA document that corroborated the big report, and which showed the CIA had lied to the Senate. The CIA has hit back trying to blame the staffers for "illegally" taking a classified document, but that argument rings hollow.
Feinstein is apparently quite furious about all of this and let loose this morning about the CIA, claiming that they not only spied on the staffers, but secretly removed documents from the computers the staffers were using. She directly claimed that the CIA "may have undermined the constitutional framework" of Congressional oversight. That's not a charge one throws around lightly.
Besides possible constitutional violations, Feinstein said the CIA may also have violated the Fourth Amendment, various federal laws and a presidential executive order that bars the agency from conducting domestic searches and surveillance. She said she has asked for an apology and recognition that the CIA search of the committee's computers was inappropriate, but, "I have received neither."
While this confirms much of what was reported last week, it's noteworthy that Feinstein is speaking out about it. To date, she has tried to avoid saying much about this whole debate publicly, but it appears that the issue has finally boiled over. As we noted last week, having the CIA spy on its Senate overseers (and potentially tampering with their computers to remove documents) is an incredible overreach.
Of course, wasn't it just less than two months ago that Feinstein claimed that the intelligence community would never abuse its powers, because they were made up of professionals whose activities are "strictly vetted"? Perhaps she'll now go back and admit that perhaps she shouldn't be so trusting of the intelligence community when they're spying on everyone else, beyond just her staffers.
For years, we've covered the insanity of Warner Music claiming to own the copyright on the song Happy Birthday -- a claim that is finally being challenged in court because Warner's claims are almost certainly bullshit, and the song should be in the public domain. The history of the copyright claim in the song is highly questionable, as the original "copyright holders" appear to have written neither the music nor the lyrics to "Happy Birthday," and what they did write was widely used decades before any copyright claim was made. Still, Warner gets somewhere around $2 million each year licensing the song (making it the most valuable song ever) and has no intention of giving up that free revenue stream.
I'm not sure this one is any more likely to catch on than any of the other alternatives (and the lyrics may not be entirely appropriate for all birthdays...), but Colbert does have quite the loyal audience. At the very least, perhaps this version will become popular among copyright scholars.
As you may have heard, Ed Snowden is speaking at the famed SXSW conference this morning (by videoconference, obviously). It got a fair bit of attention when it was announced, in part because, so far, Snowden has been incredibly reticent to speak out publicly over everything he's been involved in. He has done so on a few occasions, including last week for the EU Parliament, but for the most part he has avoided all of the typical TV interviews and the like.
You may also know that there are some people who don't like Ed Snowden very much. One of those is Rep. Mike Pompeo, one of Rep. Mike Rogers' key attack dogs on the House Intelligence Committee. You may remember that back when Rep. Justin Amash was trying to defund the NSA's bulk metadata program, that Pompeo was the sponsor of the "competing bill" to try to trick Reps. into supporting reform that actually further allowed the NSA to continue. Pompeo also believes that spying on all American citizens by collecting their metadata is the way "our government is supposed to operate."
So, as you might imagine, Pompeo is not particularly happy with Ed Snowden. And he seems particularly livid at SXSW for allowing Snowden to speak there. Pompeo sent the conference organizers a letter so full of misleading statements to flat out lies, condemning their decision to invite Snowden, and asking them to cancel Snowden, that it makes you wonder just what Pompeo is so afraid of. Since when is a little free speech so scary?
Let's dive in and look at some of the lies and misleading claims from the letter:
I share your passion for educating the American public on the intersection of civil
liberties and technology, but I am deeply troubled to learn that you have invited Edward
Snowden to address SXSW on privacy, surveillance, and online monitoring in the United States.
Certainly an organization of your caliber can attract experts on these topics with knowledge
superior to a man was hired as a systems administrator and whose only apparent qualification is
his willingness to steal from his own government and then flee to that beacon of First
Amendment freedoms, the Russia of Vladimir Putin.
Kicking it off on a high note. First of all, given his previous statements, I'm skeptical that Pompeo actually gives two shits about anyone's civil liberties, but frankly, I'm much more "deeply troubled" by an elected US official sending a letter on Congressional stationery, trying to influence who can and who cannot speak at a conference. That screams of intimidation by the federal government.
Furthermore, the whole "fled to Russia" myth has been debunked so many times it just makes Pompeo look foolish to bring it up again. Snowden didn't flee to Russia. He ended up being stuck there because the US government pulled his passport while he was enroute elsewhere, via Russia. Furthermore, the idea that Snowden is somehow unqualified to discuss US surveillance on its own people is simply crazy. It is difficult to think of anyone more qualified. Even many of his detractors begrudgingly are willing to admit that Snowden has helped kick off this big debate we're having.
Mr. Snowden's appearance would stamp the imprimatur of your fine organization on a
man who ill deserves such accolades. Rewarding Mr. Snowden's behavior in this way
encourages the very lawlessness he exhibited. Such the ongoing intentional
distortion of truth that he and his media enablers have engaged in since the release of these
documents--undermines the very fairness and freedom that SXSW and the ACLU purport to
foster. I strongly urge you to withdraw this invitation.
I don't think Snowden's appearance at SXSW makes one iota of difference in terms of encouraging or discouraging others. Nor do I think that without SXSW's "imprimatur" anyone thinks any less of Snowden. That whole argument makes no sense. Furthermore, for Pompeo to call some of the best journalists in the world "media enablers" is just sickening. It's taking a page from the playbook of his buddy Mike Rogers.
Furthermore, a very large percentage of the American public see Snowden as a whistleblower, which actually is the kind of activity that we should wish to encourage.
In case you did not have access to the full facts in making your initial decision to extend
your invitation, I want to call a few undisputed facts about the actions taken by Mr. Snowden to
Warning: when someone like Pompeo announces he's going to highlight "undisputed facts," you can bet pretty strongly that what he's about to describe are neither undisputed, nor facts.
The overwhelming majority of the materials stolen had nothing to do with
the privacy of U.S. persons
Only a tiny sliver of the materials stolen by Mr. Snowden had anything to do with United
States telecommunications or the privacy rights of Americans. Rather, the majority of the
material taken, now in the hands of other countries, provides detailed information about
America's intelligence sources and methods. By divulging this information, Mr. Snowden has
put the lives of our soldiers, sailors and airmen at risk--in addition to the lives of the people who
will attend your conference.
Almost none of the above is accurate. The claim about him taking other information is based on the faulty assumption in a DOD report that every document that Snowden "touched" he took. Snowden, from the very beginning, made it clear that he carefully went through documents and removed those that he thought should remain classified. Second, government officials have repeatedly stated that there is no evidence that Snowden gave those documents to officials in other countries. For Pompeo to argue that this is an "undisputed fact" is laughable. Finally, the whole "put lives at risk" thing is again totally unsubstantiated. It's the same argument that government officials have repeatedly made in response to leaks. They said it about Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. They said it about Chelsea Manning and Wikileaks, and now they're claiming it about Snowden. Every time they've eventually had to admit the claims were bogus.
Mr. Snowden cares more about personal fame than personal privacy
Mr. Snowden's continued pursuit of the limelight has little to do with online privacy and
everything to do with ensuring that he stays in the good graces of his new home nation. Once he
stops doing interviews attacking America's ability to collect intelligence lawfully, he stops being
useful to the Kremlin. This helps to explain why, since arriving in Moscow single word about the number of political dissidents jailed in Russia or about Russia's suspected state-sponsored cyber-attacks against other countries and private entities.
Again, this is laughable. Anyone who has followed this story has to note just how little Snowden has done "in pursuit of the limelight." He's turned down almost every media opportunity, only granting interviews to the key reporters he initially trusted. The claim that he's been continually doing interviews attacking the US is a flat out lie. That he hasn't spoken out about political dissidents in Russia is certainly a valid claim, but a meaningless one. Snowden need not fight every fight -- especially one that he has little to do with. Furthermore, if you were in his shoes, with Russia currently being the only country willing to offer him some form of asylum, it seems reasonable that you'd focus on the area of your actual expertise (US surveillance) rather than attacking the host.
Mr. Snowden gives real whistleblowers a bad name
Mr. Snowden had--and was fully aware of--multiple opportunities to correct what he
perceived as unlawful practices, but he chose not to go to his superior, to Congress, to the
Inspector General, or to anyone save for Russia and Team Greenwald. This fact proves that his
goal was not to fix what he saw as wrong, but rather to inflict harm upon the very nation that
provided him with the rights he chose not to exercise. He is no more a whistleblower than were
Alger Hiss, the Rosenbergs, or Benedict Arnold.
This is not true. Snowden has repeatedly talked about how he went to his superiors and colleagues and told them of his concerns. Meanwhile, just a few weeks ago, the NSA's Inspector General made it clear that if Snowden had gone to him, he would have done nothing to fix things, but rather attacked Snowden. The idea that going to the Inspector General was a realistic option is laughable. And going to Congress? Who would he have gone to? You, Rep. Pompeo? Yeah, right.
Pompeo is simply out of step with the American public, a very large percentage of whom see Snowden as a whistleblower. The fact that two separate government review boards have each found the NSA metadata collection program problematic, to potentially illegal and unconstitutional and the President has committed to changing the program sorta confirms that he was, in fact, a whistleblower -- and that his other "options" would not have worked.
Finally, the fact that Snowden went to the press rather than dead end options that would have gotten himself labeled a "troublemaker" somehow proves he wanted to harm the US? How so? That makes no sense. It's just Pompeo spouting nonsense.
When I served in the Army along the Iron Curtain we had a word for a person who
absconds with information and provides it to another nation: traitor. We also had a name for a
person who chooses to reveal secrets he had personally promised to protect: common criminal.
Mr. Snowden is both a traitor and a common criminal.
Again, Snowden didn't provide information to "another nation." He provided it to the press, so that the American public could learn about it. Pompeo might also want to familiarize himself with the official definition of treason. Also, I'm curious if this elected member of the legislative branch can possibly point to what criminal statute says that revealing information you promised not to reveal makes you a criminal?
While reasonable people can and should disagree on major policy issues in a free society,
Mr. Snowden has, through his own actions, demonstrated he has no interest in contributing to a
free society, choosing instead to live in Russia--a country in which political dissidents are jailed
and individual rights have not been respected since at least 1917. The ACLU, which is
moderating this panel, would surely concede that freedom of expression for Mr. Snowden has
declined since he departed American soil.
He didn't choose to live in Russia. Why must Pompeo lie?
As the Russians work to reestablish their empire by seizing neighboring territory and
aiding the bad actors of the world such as Syria's Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah, they will no
doubt take comfort in the ample information Mr. Snowden can provide them--information Mr.
Snowden swore an oath to protect. Because of Mr. Snowden, our adversaries--terrorists and
state actors alike--have access to our intelligence sources and methods. This security breach has
degraded and will continue to hamper America's and our allies' efforts to fight terrorism,
cybercrime, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
As has been pointed out by former CIA guy Barry Eisler, Snowden did not break his "oath." The "oath" you sign is to protect the Constitution, not to protect secrecy. And, as has been pointed out plenty of times, the fear mongering about adversaries having access to "sources and methods" is quite overblown. Of the things revealed to date, while many are shocking for how far the NSA goes to get access to information, none of them are likely to surprise or concern actual adversaries, who were taking precautions a decade ago against the possibility of all of these things.
In fact, almost nothing revealed to date is likely to have changed terrorists' communications. Instead, it's created fear and uncertainty among innocent people around the globe, including American citizens -- the ones who Pompeo is supposed to be defending, but Pompeo is defending the surveillance state.
Mr. Snowden has absconded with sensitive national security information that goes well
beyond programs potentially related to privacy, yet the American press makes it sound as though
he only sought to reveal a few NSA programs. Even more damning is his willingness to put
American soldiers' lives at risk, as he may have revealed where our troops are stationed. Surely
that privacy interest deserved respect too.
Again, as noted earlier, this is no indication to date that Snowden revealed any such information. That's all conjecture on Pompeo's part. Yet he claims this is an "undisputed fact"? He's lying.
We must protect the very things that make America so special--most certainly including
our civil liberties. But we cannot do so without strong national security and a thoughtful and
Until Snowden blew the whistle there was no discourse on this issue. Now there's a wide-ranging one.
This discourse is undermined when a music, film, and interactive
conference and festival provides a venue to an at-large criminal who has refused extradition to
answer for his crimes in court. His presence will not advance the debate; it will merely create a
circus. Mr. Snowden doesn't need a softball interview. What Mr. Snowden needs is to present
himself, in the finest tradition of American protest and courage, to a court of law that will
adjudge his actions.
The idea that Snowden has no part in the discussion that he kicked off is so ridiculous as it boggles the mind that Pompeo thinks anyone will take this letter seriously. As for his ability to "present himself" to a court of law, well, under the law the DOJ has charged him under, he is barred from presenting evidence that he is a whistleblower. That's hardly a fair trial. Having seen how Chelsea Manning was railroaded in her trial, Snowden made the only reasonable decision, which was to make sure he was out of the country when this story broke, and not subject to being tortured by the US government, as Manning was.
As your organization makes its decision about how best to exercise its cherished First
Amendment freedoms, it may choose to proceed with granting Mr. Snowden this undeserved
opportunity to pretend to speak for "the protection of American privacy." If so, I hope you will
at least do what no journalist has yet had the courage or competence to do and ask Mr. Snowden
a few pertinent questions:
Oh boy. Here they come. Let's be helpful and answer them for Pompeo, who appears to have ignored the fact that nearly all these questions have been answered already:
What is Mr. Snowden's relationship with Russia, financial or otherwise? Has he
ever received money or other compensation from Russia, in cash or in-kind, and
will he provide bank statements to support his answer to this question?
To date, Snowden has denied any relationship with Russia, as have the Russians. More importantly, so have US intelligence officials. Multiple times.
Why, instead of going to the Inspector General at his agency or a Member of
Congress, did Mr. Snowden go to Russia with several stolen laptops full of
Already discussed above. Given how Pompeo himself is bloviating in this letter, it seems rather obvious why he didn't go to Congress. How would that have done any good? And we already described how the NSA's Inspector General has made it clear that he wouldn't have helped Snowden at all. Furthermore, as was revealed ages ago, the laptops never had any information on them. They were empty laptops. Finally, as stated above repeatedly, Snowden did not choose Russia. The US did -- by pulling his passport while he was traveling via Russia.
If he believes he did the right thing, why is he not willing to come back to the
U.S. to face the consequences for his actions?
Because the law he is charged under prevents him from making the case that he did the right thing.
Why should the audience at SXSW find credible a man who broke his oaths and
deliberately deceived not only his employer, but his country, in order to commit a
Thank you for considering this request to withdraw your invitation to Edward Snowden.
I would be happy to speak with you further about why I have made it, at your convenience.
We know why you made it. What would be better, however, is if Rep. Pompeo could explain why almost every one of his "undisputed facts" are either lies or very much disputed? Furthermore, if he could explain why a government official is browbeating a conference in an attempt to silence an important discussion by a person perhaps most qualified to lead that discussion?
Somehow, I doubt we'll hear any answers from Rep. Pompeo. However, I expect Snowden's discussion later today will be quite interesting.
from the the-tacocopter-may-be-grounded-yet-again dept
Late last week, we wrote about an NTSB ruling that said the FAA has no mandate over commercial drones. Apparently, the FAA will not take this attack on its perceived powers lying down, and has announced that it will file an appeal, asking the full NTSB board to review. Along with this, comes the usual hyperbole from the FAA about how if this ruling isn't stayed, it "could impact the safe operation of the national airspace system and the safety of people and property on the ground." While it may make sense for there to be some clear rules for how these things work, frankly the fact that commercial drone use has been totally grounded until now while a bunch of bureaucrats battle it out seems like a complete waste of time when useful experiments and innovation could be progressing.
We've already reported on how Italy's communications watchdog, AGCOM, has assigned itself the power to censor websites based on a copyright infringement claim from a copyright holder, without any sort of judicial due process. However, it appears that Italy's public prosecutor has decided to go even further and simply order ISPs to censor dozens of websites based solely on his say so that they were sources of infringing materials. No copyright holder made any specific claim about those sites. There doesn't appear to have been any due process, or really any process at all, other than that the public prosecutor decided which sites were "pirate sites," and then handed them off to the "Guardia di Finanza" (the financial police, more or less), a part of Italy's Ministry of Economy and Finance, who went out and ordered ISPs to block access to these sites entirely.
Unfortunately, it looks like this is something of a trend, with law enforcement types suddenly deciding on their own what websites need to be shut down absent any sort of judicial due process. These efforts probably make copyright maximalists happy, but they fly in the face of pretty much all of copyright law. They're almost entirely based on confusing law enforcement types into believing that copyright is just like "property" and thus that it can treat sites that are somehow connected to possible infringement the same as entities that traffic in stolen merchandise. There are, of course, worlds of difference between the two, but copyright maximalists play on the ignorance of law enforcement officials in these settings, playing up the misleading analogy, leading to vast censorship and a near total lack of due process.
A couple months ago, we had a blog post celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision that showed the Sony Betamax was legal, an important ruling that helped clear the field for innovations that could, potentially, be used for infringement, so long as they also had substantial non-infringing uses. Today is the anniversary of another important copyright decision. Twenty years ago today, the Supreme Court made a key ruling in Campbell v. Acuff-Rose, emphasizing that fair use can absolutely still apply for commercial use. That ruling is tremendously important to the history of the internet.
The case, if you don't recall, involved the rap group 2 Live Crew's song "Pretty Woman," which was a take on Roy Orbison's "Oh, Pretty Woman." And while a lower court tossed out the fair use question by saying that it was "presumptively unfair" due to being a commercial parody, the Supreme Court noted that commercial use can still be fair use, and that the "more transformative the new work, the less will be the significance of other factors, like commercialism, that may weigh against a finding of fair use." That is, while commercial use is still a factor in determining fair use, if a work is transformative, whether or not it's a commercial use matters much less. That has very important consequences for all sorts of fair use today, including in television, movies, books and news.
Unfortunately, as Matt Schruers notes above, it's also a ruling that is frequently ignored or forgotten by many who think they understand copyright. The number of times we've had commenters here state that something can't be fair use if it's for commercial use is quite incredible, but at least we can assume those people just don't know. Where it gets especially troubling is when people whose job it is to know and understand this stuff seem to ignore it:
It is odd but true that the significance of commercial fair use is often lost in the copyright conversation. A recent House Judiciary hearing on fair use underrepresented the significance of fair use to business, and just this week I sat through a policy event where a speaker confidently declared U.S. trade policy need not address fair use because fair use deals only with “non-commercial” use — blissfully unaware, it would seem, that a unanimous Court thought otherwise. The most recent numbers available suggest that about 17% of U.S. GDP was produced by industries benefiting from fair use and other exceptions to copyright, and that the same industries (increasingly, high-value services) now lead export growth. As a result, other jurisdictions have realized that U.S. copyright law’s hospitality to basic, essential Internet functions like search is a national competitive advantage.
And this is an issue that is only going to become more important. As more and more things move online, there are ever greater questions about fair use in the context of internet services. The fact that this ruling helped cement the importance of transformative use, and made it clear that commercial use can be fair use, is a key part of why the internet can function today without all sorts of cloud and internet services being sued out of existence.
"There's an enormous amount of data held in the private sector," Mr. Inglis said, in his first published interview since leaving government. "There might be some concerns not just on the part of the American public, but the international public."
"These companies at least have a public relations issue, if not a moral obligation, to really make sure you understand that this is to your benefit," Mr. Inglis said. "As an individual, myself, I continue to be surprised by the kinds of insights companies have about me."
Now, first off, he's right. Companies collecting tons of data on their users should absolutely be a hell of a lot more transparent about what they're collecting (and should give more controls allowing people to opt-out of certain collections). However, it seems quite rich to hear that coming from someone at the NSA, perhaps the least transparent organization ever -- and one that worked hard to make sure that the tech industry was completely barred from being transparent about what sorts of data the NSA gets from them.
To try to spin that as an issue for the tech companies is just silly. As plenty of people have pointed out over and over again, your use of a tech company's services is voluntary. You can avoid it if you don't like it. And, yes, while more information and user controls would be helpful, in the few instances where there have been data leaks, or when it has become clear what kinds of info companies collect, most people have actually been totally fine with it. That's quite different from the NSA. With a company, people may be trading information for a service which they value -- and they're making the choice that the tradeoffs are worth it. That's not true with the NSA. It's not by choice and there's no tradeoff.
No matter what, the idea that Chris Inglis is suddenly the spokesperson for transparency is simply ridiculous.
Earlier this week, we wrote about the accusations that the CIA was spying on Senate staffers on the Senate Intelligence Committee as they were working on a massive $40 million, 6,300-page report condemning the CIA's torture program. The DOJ is apparently already investigating if the CIA violated computer hacking laws in spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee computers. The issue revolved around a draft of an internal review by the CIA, which apparently corroborates many of the Senate report's findings -- but which the CIA did not hand over to the Senate. This internal report not only supports the Senate report's findings, but also shows that the CIA has been lying in response to questions about the terror program.
In response to all of this, it appears that the CIA is attempting, weakly, to spin this as being the Senate staffers' fault, arguing that the real breach was the fact that the Senate staffers somehow broke the rules in obtaining that internal review. CIA boss John Brennan's statement hints at the fact that he thinks the real problem was with the way the staffers acted, suggesting that an investigation would fault "the legislative" branch (the Senate) rather than the executive (the CIA).
In his statement on Wednesday Brennan hit back in unusually strong terms. “I am deeply dismayed that some members of the Senate have decided to make spurious allegations about CIA actions that are wholly unsupported by the facts,” Brennan said.
“I am very confident that the appropriate authorities reviewing this matter will determine where wrongdoing, if any, occurred in either the executive branch or legislative branch,” Brennan continued, raising a suggestion that the Senate committee itself might have acted improperly.
A further report detailed what he's talking about. Reporters at McClatchy have revealed that the Senate staffers working on this came across the document, printed it out, and simply walked out of the CIA and over to the Senate with it, and the CIA is furious about that. Then, in a moment of pure stupidity, the CIA appears to have confronted the Senate Intelligence Committee about all of this... directly revealing that they were spying on the Committee staffers.
Several months after the CIA submitted its official response to the committee report, aides discovered in the database of top-secret documents at CIA headquarters a draft of an internal review ordered by former CIA Director Leon Panetta of the materials released to the panel, said the knowledgeable person.
They determined that it showed that the CIA leadership disputed report findings that they knew were corroborated by the so-called Panetta review, said the knowledgeable person.
The aides printed the material, walked out of CIA headquarters with it and took it to Capitol Hill, said the knowledgeable person.
“All this goes back to what is the technical structure here,” said the U.S. official who confirmed the unauthorized removal. “If I was a Senate staffer and I was given access to documents on the system, I would have a laptop that’s cleared. I would be allowed to look at these documents. But with these sorts of things, there’s generally an agreement that you can’t download or take them.”
The CIA discovered the security breach and brought it to the committee’s attention in January, leading to a determination that the agency recorded the staffers’ use of the computers in the high-security research room, and then confirmed the breach by reviewing the usage data, said the knowledgeable person.
There are many more details in the McClatchy report, which I highly recommend reading. And, yes, perhaps there's an argument that Senate staffers weren't supposed to take such documents, but the CIA trying to spin this by saying it was those staffers who were engaged in "wrongdoing" is almost certainly going to fall flat with Congress. After all, the intelligence committee is charged with oversight of the CIA, not the other way around. "You stole the documents we were hiding from you which proved we were lying, so we spied on you to find out how you did that" is not, exactly, the kind of argument that too many people are going to find compelling.
Of course, the CIA may still have one advantage on its side: there are still some in Congress who are so supportive of the intelligence community itself that even they will make excuses for the CIA spying on their own staff. At least that seems to be the response from Senate Intelligence vice chair Senator Saxby Chambliss, one of the most ardent defenders of the intelligence community he's supposed to be watching over. When asked about all of this, he seemed to be a lot more concerned about the staffers supposedly taking "classified" documents than about the CIA spying on those staffers:
“I have no comment. You should talk to those folks that are giving away classified information and get their opinion,” Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) said when asked about the alleged intrusions.
Almost exactly two years ago, we wrote about the tacocopter, a sort of proof of concept idea for using drones to deliver products to people's homes. Yes, Amazon got some attention last year for claiming to be working on something similar, but the Tacocopter (and Lobstercopter on the east coast) idea was the first I'd heard of anyone seriously thinking about commercial-use drones. However, the key point of our Tacocopter story was that they were illegal:
Current U.S. FAA regulations prevent ... using UAVs [Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, like drones] for commercial purposes at the moment.
Well, that's no longer the case apparently. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) administrative law judge Patrick Geraghty has unleashed the tacocopters of the world by issuing a ruling that the FAA has no mandate to regulate commercial drones. The case involved the first time that the FAA had actually tried to fine someone, a guy named Raphael Pirker, $10,000 for trying to film a commercial with a drone at the University of Virginia.
The issue, basically, is that the FAA has historically exempted model airplanes from its rules, and the NTSB finds it impossible to square that with its attempt to now claim that drones are under its purview. As Geraghty notes, accepting that leads to absurd arguments about the FAA's mandate over all flying objects:
Complainant has, historically, in their policy notices, modified the term "aircraft" by prefixing the word "model", to distinguish the device/contrivance being considered. By affixing the word "model" to "aircraft" the reasonable inference is that Complainant FAA intended to distinguish and exclude model aircraft from either or both of the aforesaid definitions of "aircraft".
To accept Complainant's interpretive argument would lead to a conclusion that those definitions include as an aircraft all types of devices/contrivances intended for, or used for, flight in the air. The extension of that conclusion would then result in the risible argument that a flight in the air of, e.g., a paper aircraft, or a toy balsa wood glider, could subject the "operator" to the regulatory provisions of FAA Part 91, Section 91.13(a)....
..... The reasonable inference is not that FAA has overlooked the requirements, but, rather that FAA has distinguished model aircraft as a class excluded from the regulatory and statutory definitions.
The judge notes that while the FAA had some internal memorandum about these issues, it did not put forth a full rule, and thus it is not an actual policy. As a result, the ruling finds that the current definition of aircraft is not applicable here and thus the FAA has no real mandate over this kind of drone.
This does not preclude the FAA from trying to go through a full rule-making process to try to gain a mandate over commercial drone use, but that will involve a big political fight. It's way easier to block something like that from becoming official than overturning it if it was already deemed the law.
We've written a few times about the terrible ruling from Judge Alex Kozinski, the chief judge of the 9th Circuit, finding a bizarre copyright interest by an actress who appeared in 5 seconds of the 13 minute "trailer" for the controversial "Innocence of Muslims" video, thus allowing her to get all copies of the video taken off of Google sites. Google quickly filed for a stay, noting that the ruling was likely to be overturned, and it made no sense to allow for this controversial censorship which likely violated the First Amendment, until such time as the details could be reviewed en banc (by a larger panel of judges). Kozinski almost immediately rejected the request for a stay.
Now, in a move that is quite odd, one of the other judges on the 9th Circuit has apparently asked the court to reconsider the motion for a stay en banc. This is surprising on a few levels. First, it's quite rare to see such a "sua sponte" request. That is, it's common for the parties in the lawsuit (i.e., Google) to request an en banc hearing, but it's not at all common for a judge to step in and make the request for an en banc hearing of his or her own accord. But that's what's happened here. It's important to note that the request for an en banc hearing is only covering the issue of whether or not the court should stay the original order, and not about reviewing the original order (which is likely to happen separately). I assume this is so that things can happen much more quickly with a review of the narrow question of whether or not Google should be forced to keep the content down while the original order is debated.
Either way, the parties have been asked to file briefs on whether or not an en banc panel should explore whether or not their should be a stay on the original order by next Wednesday, so there should be a pretty quick turnaround on this one. Still, the fact that a judge decided to do this suggests that there's at least one judge in the 9th Circuit who is uncomfortable with Kozinski's ruling. We already knew that there was strong dissent to his opinion, and it's possible that the judge requesting this is the one who dissented, but it's still a somewhat surprising move.
I'm going to assume that many of you are familiar with Richard Feynman. If you're not, please get out from under the rock you've been living under and go learn something. While he's probably most well-known in the public for his (not always 100% truthful) collection of stories, Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!, folks of a geekier persuasion are much more aware of his contributions to science and, in particular, the famed Feynman Lectures on Physics. It took way too many years to get those lectures online after (you guessed it) a fight over copyrights. However, online the lectures went and now it appears that publisher Perseus is unfortunately using the DMCA to block attempts to make the works accessible via Kindle or EPUB formats.
Eric Hellman posted the story at the link above, with this being the key part:
Vikram Verma, a software developer in Singapore, wanted to be able to read the lectures on his kindle. Although PDF versions can be purchased at $40 per volume, no versions are yet available in Kindle or EPUB formats. Since the digital format used by kindle is just a simplified version of html, the transformation of web pages to an ebook file is purely mechanical. So Verma proceeded to write a script to do the mechanical transformation – he accomplished the transformation in only 136 lines of ruby code, and published the script as a repository on Github.
Despite the fact that nothing remotely belonging to Perseus or Caltech had been published in Verma's repository, it seems that Perseus and/or Caltech was not happy that people could use Verma's code to easily make ebook files from the website. So they hauled out the favorite weapon of copyright trolls everywhere: a DMCA takedown.
You can see the DMCA here as well as the counternotice, which notes that the software doesn't contain any copyrighted materials (though there's some confusion over who owns the copyright, Caltech or Perseus). Hellman, while admitting he's not a lawyer, further suggests the DMCA takedown is invalid because it's just code... but then further notes that the Feynman Lectures website has put in some code to block the script -- and that Verma has coded around this:
Of course, that introduces a new (and unfortunate) problem. As problematic as it is, the anti-circumvention clause of the DMCA, 17 USC 1201 makes it against the law to get around any "technological measure" no matter how stupid or weak, and thus the effort by the website to block it may introduce a new problem, though likely different than what Perseus initially claimed in its takedown.
Making things even more convoluted, the editor of the Feynman Lectures, Michael Gottlieb, jumped into the fray and made things even more confusing and misleading:
The online edition of The Feynman Lectures Website posted at www.feynmanlectures.caltech.edu and www.feynmanlectures.info is free-to-read online. However, it is under copyright. The copyright notice can be found on every page: it is in the footer that your script strips out! The online edition of FLP can not be downloaded, copied or transferred for any purpose (other than reading online) without the written consent of the copyright holders (The California Institute of Technology, Michael A. Gottlieb, and Rudolf Pfeiffer), or their licensees (Basic Books). Every one of you is violating my copyright by running the flp.mobi script. Furthermore Github is committing contributory infringement by hosting your activities on their website. A lot of hard work and money and time went into making the online edition of FLP. It is a gift to the world - one that I personally put a great deal of effort into, and I feel you are abusing it. We posted it to benefit the many bright young people around the world who previously had no access to FLP for economic or other reasons. It isn't there to provide a source of personal copies for a bunch of programmers who can easily afford to buy the books and ebooks!! Let me tell you something: Rudi Pfeiffer and I, who have worked on FLP as unpaid volunteers for about a decade, make no money from the sale of the printed books. We earn something only on the electronic editions (though, of course, not the HTML edition you are raping, to which we give anyone access for free!), and we are planning to make MOBI editions of FLP - we are working on one right now. By publishing the flp.mobi script you are essentially taking bread out of my mouth and Rudi's, a retired guy, and a schoolteacher. Proud of yourselves? That's all I have to say personally. Github has received DMCA takedown notices and if this script doesn't come down pretty soon they (and very possibly you) might be hearing from some lawyers. As of Monday, this matter is in the hands of Perseus's Domestic Rights Department and Caltech's Office of The General Counsel.
Michael A. Gottlieb
Editor, The Feynman Lectures on Physics New Millennium Edition
This is icky on multiple levels. First of all, Gottlieb is engaging in slight copyfraud in overclaiming what his copyright enables him to block. Further it is not necessarily the case that anyone, let alone "everyone" is "violating [Gottlieb's] copyright" merely by running the script. There are plenty of legitimate reasons why running that script may be perfectly legitimate, and legal cases that have suggested place and time shifting content is a legal fair use would certainly come into play here. Furthermore, the argument that Github is somehow contributorily liable is highly questionable, and Gottlieb really ought to talk to a copyright lawyer before making such a leap.
But from there to shift into how important it is to make the work available to the world... just seems strange. If that's the case, why is he freaking out so much?
Either way, the whole situation seems unfortunate, but once again, that's what you get with our crazy copyright law and the DMCA takedown process.
We've been writing quite a bit about the Aereo case lately, which is scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court in late April. The case has an awful lot of powerful people and organizations lining up on both sides, filing briefs with the Supreme Court. Some have pointed out that Aereo's technology really isn't particularly innovative, and in fact, we've discussed how its setup is basically insane from a technology standpoint, but that the company is forced into building it that way to stay within the law (or so it and its supporters believe).
But some seem to be wondering why this one technology company, with something of a legal kludge is so important. It is incredibly important for reasons that have almost nothing to do with Aereo's actual service. Rather, it's about how the Supreme Court will interpret a key part of the Copyright Act, which could have an astoundingly bad chilling effect on pretty much all cloud computing. This may not seem obvious at first glance, since few people associate Aereo with cloud computing. Matt Schruers does a nice job breaking down the key point, however, as to why this one decision will have far reaching implications well beyond Aereo. And it all comes down to how the Supreme Court defines what is a "public performance."
Aereo’s position is that when Aereo subscribers pay for access to an antenna and direct it to send them back a unique copy of a particular broadcast, this is private. Different users access different antennae at different times, and each user receives a different copy of a work — even if they’re watching the same broadcast. Aereo isn’t rebroadcasting one work to thousands; it gives technology to thousands who at different times use that technology to access and possibly store different copies of works that they’re already lawfully entitled to receive. This is not unlike the Sony Betamax, which didn’t copy television, but gave thousands of consumers the technology to make reproductions of television content that they were already lawfully receiving.
Broadcasters have responded by saying that none of this matters; Aereo is infringing, they contend, so long as a given work is made available to multiple members of the public, even if Aereo does it with different unique copies, and at different times.
The problem with this rationale is that it applies with equal force to cloud storage like Dropbox, SkyDrive, iCloud, and Google Drive. If multiple people store their own, unique, lawfully acquired copy of the latest hit single in the cloud, and then play it to themselves over the Internet, that too sounds like the broadcasters’ version of a public performance. The anti-Aereo rationale doesn’t distinguish between Aereo and the cloud.
If you don't think that copyright holders won't take a victory here and go after various cloud services, you haven't been paying attention to the history of copyright fights over the past few decades.
And this is part of why the US Solicitor General's brief in support of the broadcasters is so ridiculously problematic. It tries to address that issue of cloud computing, by basically saying it might not be a big deal, because no company will require a license. However, other briefs in support of the broadcasters say it's no big deal because everyone can just get a license. One of those can't be true.
the U.S. Government (USG), for example, carefully hedges, saying that a decision for the broadcasters “need not threaten cloud computing.” It conspicuously does not argue that it will not threaten the cloud — only that the decision need not, implicitly conceding that a decision for the broadcasters could still be fatal for the cloud. The USG’s rationale is that as long as a consumer has lawfully acquired media in the first place, no cloud service need worry that someone will demand a license. Inconveniently for the USG, however, several other briefs filed concurrently argue that cloud computing services need not worry because, hey, everyone can just get a license! Setting aside the fact that there’s no way to ensure that all files in the cloud are licensed, this point substantially undercuts the USG’s position. Even as the USG is telling the Court that cloud services need not fear they’ll be demanded to take licenses for everything users put in the cloud, other interests are telling the Court that cloud services should do exactly that. Arguably, it doesn’t advance the broadcasters’ case that even their supporters cannot agree on whether cloud services would have licensing problems.
The ruling in this case matters, even if you don't care at all for Aereo's particular service. The wider impact on a variety of useful services could be massive. In fact, we've seen this before. Aereo's court wins to date rely heavily on the ruling that found Cablevision's remote DVR legal -- which similarly focused on defining whether or not that product involved a "public performance" that needed to be licensed. There, the court found that they did not. However, courts in other countries have found otherwise. That set up a nice natural experiment, and Harvard professor Josh Lerner looked at changes in venture capital investment into cloud computing offerings in the immediate aftermath of similar rulings, finding that the Cablevision ruling (saying not a public performance, and thus protecting the cloud) helped to spur tremendous investment in innovative new services -- to the tune of about $1 billion.
No matter what you think of Aereo, this decision will have a major impact on what sort of internet we have going forward.
Just recently, we wrote about how the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) has been increasingly detaining and harassing people at the border (or near the border) under highly questionable circumstances -- and then refusing to comment on any of it. Instead, CBP has relied on a cloak of secrecy to live outside the law, acting out what we've come to expect from authoritarian police states. Recently, the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of a woman, Christine Von Der Haar, who is a senior lecturer at Indiana University, after CBP detained her at the airport.
She was not entering or leaving the country. She was not even boarding a flight. She merely accompanied a friend to the airport so that he could retrieve some computer equipment that he had shipped separately a few days earlier. After detaining Von Der Haar, CBP officials, who clearly had access to some of the emails Von Der Haar and her friend had sent back and forth, quizzed her about her sex life and if she was planning to marry the friend.
CBP appeared to be concerned that the friend, a Greek national named Dimitris Papatheodoropoulos, was trying to stay in the country illegally. Von Der Haar had first met Papatheodoropoulos 40 years earlier while studying abroad, and the two had recently reconnected thanks to the internet. Papatheodoropoulos had obtained a B1/B2 business/leisure visa to the US which actually let him enter and leave the country for a period of 10 years. He came to the US for business, but while there also wished to visit Von Der Haar since they'd been catching up online.
After detaining and questioning Papatheodoropoulos for some time, CBP officials took Von Der Haar into another room and started asking questions specific to the emails between the two of them. According to the lawsuit:
Given that Mr. Papatheodoropoulos had retained his hard drive that contained the emails, the only way that the Customs and Border Protection Agents could have reviewed the emails is for someone to have surreptitiously monitored the communications between Dr. Von Der Haar and Mr. Papatheodoropoulos and reported those communications to the agents questioning her. Defendant Lieba admitted that employees of the United States had read email communications between Dr. Von Der Haar and Mr. Papatheodoropoulos.
This raises all sorts of serious questions. As the post at Papers Please (linked above) notes:
CBP officers grossly exceeded their jurisdiction. Dr. Dr. Von Der Haar’s US citizenship was never questioned; she wasn’t trying to enter, leave, or ship and goods in or out of the country; and she was never accused of any crime. In general, immigration (as distinct from customs) offenses are handled by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Border Patrol, not CBP. We’re curious what basis CBP will claim for its officers’ authority to detain and interrogate Dr. Dr. Von Der Haar or obtain her email.
The post also wonders how or why CBP got access to those emails, wondering if they were shared by the NSA. There are, of course, other possible explanations as various investigations may have resulted in CBP getting access to the emails separately, but it still raises serious questions about under what authority those emails were obtained and why she was then quizzed about her sex life.
The claims that officials made about Papatheodoropoulos were equally questionable. Again, from the lawsuit:
Customs and Border Protection agents seized Mr. Papatheodoropoulos’
On June 8, 2012, Mr. Papatheodoropoulos was served
with notice that a proceeding was
initiated against him for removal from the United States. The notice stated, in relevant part:
You obtained your B1/B2 visa by misrepresenting your intentions to come to the
United States to wit; It is your intention to immigrate to the United States, you
abandoned your foreign residence, you intend to overstay your admission to the
None of this was true.
Mr. Papatheodoropoulos consulted with lawyers and the Greek Consulate in Chicago and
the removal action did not proceed.
His passport was returned to him and he left the United States at the end of August of
2012 and has not returned
The whole thing seems ridiculous yet again, and you can expect DHS to use its standard cloak of secrecy. I'm sure they'll argue some sort of state secrets or national security claim to try to get the entire case thrown out.
Getty Images has something of a reputation as a copyright maximalist. The company's representatives have testified before Congress and pushed for copyright expansion in the past. It's also well known for filing copyright lawsuits on those it claims illegally used its images. Hell, just a few weeks ago, some were debating if Getty should be described as a copyright troll after filing a flurry of copyright infringement lawsuits.
So it's fairly big news to find out that Getty is trying to get ahead of the curve by making millions of its photos free for sites to use via an embed code -- a la YouTube, Twitter and lots of other sites. Basically, it looks like the company is admitting to reality and adapting (though, apparently freaking out photographers in the process...):
But according to Craig Peters, a business development exec at Getty Images, that ship sailed long ago. "Look, if you want to get a Getty image today, you can find it without a watermark very simply," he says. "The way you do that is you go to one of our customer sites and you right-click. Or you go to Google Image search or Bing Image Search and you get it there. And that's what's happening… Our content was everywhere already."
"Before there was iTunes, before there was Spotify, people were put in that situation where they were basically forced to do the wrong thing, sharing files," Peters says. Now, if an aspiring producer wants to leak a song to the web but keep control of it, they can drop it on Soundcloud. Any blog can embed the player, and the artist can disable it whenever they want. And as Google has proved with YouTube, it's easy to drop ads or "buy here" links into that embed. "We've seen what YouTube's done with monetizing their embed capabilities," Peters says. "I don't know if that's going to be appropriate for us or not." But as long as the images are being taken as embeds rather than free-floating files, the company will have options.
That sounds positively forward looking for an organization with a history (both long term and recent) of being anything but forward thinking. There are some caveats. It is not all of Getty's images, as the Verge article linked above implies. It appears that some of the key collections will still be fee-only. And, you can argue that Getty already has some experience in the free stock image game, seeing as it owns iStockphoto which offers up some free options. This is a little different on two fronts. First, most free stock image banks are... well, pretty crappy. The quality just isn't there. Second, while free stock photo services often let you copy and use the photos, Getty requires this embed, which has some potential issues in that you really don't know what they might do in the future with that embed -- as the quotes above make clear. That may worry some.
There's also the fact that the company claims that they're only allowing this for "non-commercial" usage. Now, as we've discussed for years the line between commercial and non-commercial is painfully blurry -- as it's possible that almost anything people do can be twisted to argue it's a commercial use. Thankfully, it appears that Getty is making it clear upfront that it's taking an extremely (surprisingly) open view on what counts as "non-commercial" noting that any use for "editorial" will be considered non-commercial, even if done by a commercial enterprise, including the NY Times and Buzzfeed:
Blogs that draw revenues from Google Ads will still be able to use the Getty Images embed player at no cost. “We would not consider this commercial use,” says Peters. “The fact today that a website is generating revenue would not limit the use of the embed. What would limit that use is if they used our imagery to promote a service, a product or their business. They would need to get a license.” A spokeswoman for Getty Images confirms to BJP that editorial websites, from The New York Times to Buzzfeed, will also be able to use the embed feature as long as images are used in an editorial context.
At the same time, the company admits that it's not dropping its lawsuit strategy, and will continue to sue those it feels go too far, which may make things a little dicey for some users. Hopefully, the company will be as explicit in its official terms that embedding for editorial purposes will always be deemed legit.
While we're a little wary of Getty given some of its past actions, the company should be applauded for actually recognizing reality, and trying to adapt accordingly, recognizing how it might better serve people who otherwise would automatically go somewhere else.
Not too long ago, we had actually explored various stock photography offerings that were out there, even talking to Getty about its program (which was insanely expensive). Instead, we decided to focus on situations where Creative Commons images and/or fair use situations would work best. However, with this move, we may take another look at Getty for our own image needs.
from the those-darn-international-obligations dept
For many years, we've highlighted how copyright maximalists have abused the international trade process to expand copyright monopolies around the globe. If you're interested in the history there, I highly recommend the book Information Feudalism: Who Owns the Knowledge Economy?, which details much of the history. Defenders of this policy love to pretend that international trade agreements can't bind US law, but reality is quite different. Time and time again, we've seen maximalists use international agreements to get their way either in ratcheting up copyright law even further, or pressuring courts into certain positions. This is one of the reasons (one of many) that we're so concerned about new agreements like the TPP and TTIP/TAFTA. Even if the USTR claims (incorrectly) that nothing in them goes beyond US law today, they can not only limit the changes Congress can make to copyright and patent law, but these issues can show up in court cases, potentially hindering innovation.
Here's a perfect example. We've been covering the Aereo case for quite some time, and as the Supreme Court prepares to hear the case in April, a bunch of international music organizations, led by the IFPI (basically the international version of the RIAA), have filed an amicus brief that pretty clearly says that the Supreme Court has to rule against Aereo because of existing international trade agreements that the US has signed. No joke. The brief directly claims that the appeals court ruling that found in favor of Aereo "places the United States in violation of its multilateral treaty commitments," as well as "its bilateral and regional agreements," and further that the Supreme Court has a duty to find against Aereo in order to respect the US's "treaty commitments."
Reading through the brief, you can see just how much copyright maximalists have succeeded in putting together a huge mess of international agreements (often built around issues totally unrelated to copyright, with a few copyright specific ones thrown in) that these groups can now claim require the Supreme Court to outlaw new innovations like Aereo. It further cites rulings in the EU and Canada that it suggests require the Supreme Court to follow suit. While there are some Justices who have made it clear time and time again that they don't care what foreign courts say, others have shown a willingness to follow suit.
Either way, this brief yet again highlights just how nefarious these international trade agreements can be, and how they can come back to bite new innovations years later. Defenders of copyright maximalism will insist that things like TPP and TTIP/TAFTA will have no impact on US law, but if those agreements come into force, you can bet that future US innovations will get stomped out of existence with certain players pointing to those agreements as a reason they need to be shut down.
Last week, we wrote about the technologically clueless grandstanding Senator Joe Manchin's bizarre request to the Treasury Department and the Fed that it figure out a way to ban Bitcoin. Almost everything in Manchin's letter was ill-informed, right down to his ridiculous assertion that we need to copy Thailand and China (who haven't really banned Bitcoin) to get ahead of this "trend." Of course, as we noted, along with a whole bunch of factual inaccuracies, almost all of Manchin's complaints applied equally to cash.
So, in response to a totally technologically clueless elected official, up steps Rep. Jared Polis, perhaps the most technologically knowledgeable elected official out there, with a counterproposal. He basically rewrote Manchin's letter, but replaced Bitcoin with the dollar bill, highlighting the sheer absurdity of Manchin's request.
I write today to express my concerns about United States dollar bills. The exchange of dollar bills, including high denomination bills, is currently unregulated and has allowed users to participate in illicit activity, while also being highly subject to forgery, theft, and loss. For the reasons outlined below, I urge regulators to take immediate and appropriate action to limit the use of dollar bills.
By way of background, a physical dollar bill is a printed version of a dollar note issued by the Federal Reserve and backed by the ephemeral “full faith and credit” of the United States. Dollar bills have gained notoriety in relation to illegal transactions; suitcases full of dollars used for illegal transactions were recently featured in popular movies such as American Hustle and Dallas Buyers Club, as well as the gangster classic, Scarface, among others. Dollar bills are present in nearly all major drug busts in the United States and many abroad. According to the U.S. Department of Justice study, “Crime in the United States,” more than $1 billion in cash was stolen in 2012, of which less than 3% was recovered. The United States’ Dollar was present by the truck load in Saddam Hussein’s compound, by the carload when Noriega was arrested for drug trafficking, and by the suitcase full in the Watergate case.
Unlike digital currencies, which are carbon neutral allowing us to breathe cleaner air, each dollar bill is manufactured from virgin materials like cotton and linen, which go through extensive treatment and processing. Last year, the Federal Reserve had to destroy $3 billion worth of $100 bills after a “printing error.” Certainly this cannot be the greenest currency.
Printed pieces of paper can fit in a person’s pocket and can be given to another person without any government oversight. Dollar bills are not only a store of value but also a method for transferring that value. This also means that dollar bills allow for anonymous and irreversible transactions.
The very features of dollar bills, such as anonymous transactions, have created ubiquitous uses from drug purchases, to hit men, to prostitutes, as dollar bills are attractive to criminals who are able to disguise their actions from law enforcement. Due to the dollar bills’ anonymity, the dollar bill market has been extremely susceptible to forgers, tax fraud, criminal cartels, and armed robbers stealing millions of dollars from their legitimate owners. Anonymity, combined with a dollar bills’ ability to finalize transactions quickly, makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to reverse fraudulent transactions.
Many of our foreign counterparts already understand the wide range of problems that physical currencies can have. Many physical currencies have enormous price fluctuations, and even experience deflation. 20 years ago Brazil had an inflation rate of 6281%. In 4 years (2001 to 2005), the Turkish Lira went from 1,650,000: $1 to 1.29 to $1. In 2009, Zimbabwe discontinued it’s dollar. Before it was eliminated, the Zimbabwe dollar was the least valuable currency in the world and their central bank even issued a $100 trillion dollar banknote. A person would starve on a billion Zimbabwe dollars and it took an entire wheelbarrow full of $100 billion dollars in notes to purchase a loaf of bread.
The clear use of dollar bills for transacting in illegal goods, anonymous transactions, tax fraud, and services or speculative gambling make me wary of their use. Before the United States gets too far behind the curve on this important topic, I urge the regulators to work together, act quickly, and prohibit this dangerous currency from harming hard-working Americans.
Member of Congress
This is, to put it mildly, absolutely hilarious. I imagine that we'll see some traditionalists bitch about a Congressional rep using satire to mock a colleague, but that's just silly. This makes the point better than any boring letter or speech would ever do. And, considering that Rep. Polis has no problem wearing this on the House floor, I get the feeling he really doesn't care at all what "traditionalists" think of his actions around Congress.
The truth be known, within the legal profession the ones who are generally acknowledged to best understand substantive law are those who are newly minted graduates. One need only understand, for example, the role that clerks play in the Supreme Court. They author opinions, but the justices take all the credit (of course justices review and revise, but nowhere near as much as one would expect). Thus, I long ago ceased to consider how long one has actually been practicing as a key factor in knowledge of substantive law because in many cases (far too many to my liking) the longer they have practiced translates into less than perfect understanding of the law.
Holy shit. You're lucky you comment anonymously, or I'd find a way to link back to the MANY, MANY comments from someone I'm sure is you repeatedly trumpeting your own decades of experience in the law as to why you understand these issues and we do not.
It makes me cringe to see Aero described as "innovative". It is a horrendously inefficient means of receiving broadcasts, with the one redeeming quality being that it is less horrendously inefficient than most other means imposed by the monopolistic regime of copyright.
Innovative, to me, means building something that the public wants. Aereo seems to qualify.
Please please keep this Representative out of the policies of the White House. I shutter to think of what would happen should he learn of DMHO (dihydrous monoxide) or of carbon monoxide and its' associated dangers as claimed by the White House.
I will buy hundreds of small DVD players, The smaller the better. I will then load requested DVDs into the players and rent out the DVD, player, and Player control so that someone over the net can watch the DVD.
His second in command, James Clapper is no bargain to succeed him.
You have your facts mixed up. Alexander reports to Clapper, not the other way around. Alexander is head of NSA. Clapper is Director of National Intelligence, which coordinates between all the intelligence agencies, including the NSA. Also, Clapper is not succeeding Alexander. Instead, it's Admiral Mike Rogers from the Navy who will be succeeding Alexander (not to be confused with House Intelligence Committee boss Rep. Mike Rogers). Clapper is staying in his position.
Your post is very interesting and certainly provides some valuable points. You could have made your point without insulting me and it would have come off as a lot more valuable, and you wouldn't seem like a world class asshole. But, to each his own.
Verrilli should have been fired and disbarred anyway for facilitating the NSA lies to Congress.
This is neither true nor particularly accurate. The lies in particular were to the Supreme Court, not Congress, and Verrilli was repeating a lie he was told by national security lawyers, under the belief that the claim was true. And, to his credit, once it was shown to be a lie, it appears that he was furious and forced changes to policy.
I have my issues with Verrilli, but the NSA stuff is not one of them.
I just don't see the ruling being overturned. Not only that but Google is arguing that it has a first amendment claim? First, Google has no standing to file the appeal, that should be filed by the film-maker, not by Google or Youtube. Not only that, but this isn't a first amendment issue, I would think it's more of a copyright issue.
You seem woefully underinformed.
1. Google is the defendant, not the plaintiff and we're already at the appeals stage. The idea that they don't have standing? WTF? The whole case has revolved around Google. Even more to the point, its Google that is being ordered to block the content.
2. And, yes, it's both a copyright and a First Amendment issue. Prior restraint involves the government ordering certain speech not to occur, which is exactly what's happened here.
By arguing against the order, Google is saying that actors, actresses and artists don't have the right to order takedowns of the content they either appear in or retain the ownership or copyright to.
As others have pointed out, you don't know what you're talking about.
Please try to educate yourself slightly before making silly comments.
I certainly hope the second notice is not the work or has been approved by counsel for Google/YouTube.
My understanding is that it absolutely was.
Spending quality time before a court explaining its contents and why they should not be disciplined is not a productive way to use one's time.
Under what possible legal theory could that ever lead to them being disciplined? The statement is no different than the kind of corporate statement companies release to the press after losing court cases all the time.
You really need to let go of your irrational hatred of all things Google, and your desire to slam everything. It just suggests you're not nearly the super lawyer you pretend to be. It repeatedly clouds your judgment.
And for those arguing about the fixation issue, Goldman takes that on as well, noting:
In order for Garcia to have a federal copyright, she must “fix” her performance by recording it herself (which she didn’t do) or have the movie producer fix her performance “on her behalf” (also clearly not the case). So there is simply no way for Garcia to claim a federal copyright interest because she failed to satisfy one of the formalities. This will be true of almost all actors who are depicted in video produced by someone else.