Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the father's-day-edition dept

It’s another week where one comment stood out way above the others in the voting for “most insightful.” An Anonymous Coward absolutely dominated the “insightful” voting with this response to the story about the Justice Department’s ridiculous arguments trying to block legitimate users from getting their content back from the servers that the government forced offline when it took down Megaupload:

This is one of my favorite brown nuggets FTA:

the government said if the court grants Goodwin’s request, it would open the door for any third party to petition the courts any time a search warrant affects them adversely

In other words… “look, if you grant this, then everyone who ever has any property unlawfully confiscated by the government will come back asking for it.”

Oh, the humanity. Save us from ourselves!

It’s interesting to see that the comment scoring second highest was actually about the same subject, but on a different story. Velox’s comment was actually on the story about a former federal judge arguing that the government is being “outrageous” in blocking users from getting their stuff, likening the situation to one where a bank was shut down, but where the government still lets users retrieve their money. One of our comments tried to claim that the banking situation is totally different, and Velox keyed off of that in response:

“…their deposits aren’t a copy of something …”

“the content of that account not generally considered to have been taken from someone else’s account”

–>How ironic that you should bring up the issue of copying with respect to bank deposits! Perhaps you have forgotten how banks work, so let me remind you.

Banks take your deposit, they log an entry into their computer that says they have your money. Then they loan it out, not just to someone else, but to more than one someone else; all the while telling you that they still have your money on hand. With fractional reserve banking the original deposit gets multiplied many times over.

In the simplest terms, the bank copies a symbol of value (its account of your deposit), and then hands the copies to others (in the form of loans). No theft occurred, but both the loan recipient and the bank end up with value that they didn’t have prior to the start of the process, meanwhile the depositor has the same or greater value.

Congratulations. You have provided another outstanding way to illustrate to people how the copying of symbolic (virtual) goods is *not* the same as stealing a physical object.

For editor’s choice, we have a combination of two comments on our story about a freedom of information request to the CIA about its own rules for declassifying a document. The CIA came back with a letter saying that it searched for the regulations — which were clearly named in the request (32 C.F.R. 1908) and came back empty, saying “We processed your request in accordance with the FOIA…. Our processing included a search for records as described…. We did not locate any records responsive to your request. Although our searches were thorough and diligent, and it is highly unlikely that repeating those searches would change the result….” Reader Anymouse_cowherd discovered that perhaps the CIA needs better search tools:

FWIW… I diligently typed “32 C.F.R. 1908” into Google and found a copy in .035 seconds.

I’m now officially better than the CIA and especially Michele Meeks.

And Oblate took it one step further:

Not sure if this is what he was looking for:
That’s right, the CIA has a link on their own website to download an electric copy of the document they said they don’t have an electronic copy of. In their FOIA section. Maybe it’s on a domestic server, and the FBI should have looked for it?

Of course you can always download CFR from the GPO. It seem ridiculous to submit an FOI for a whole section of the CFR when it’s freely available, but it’s even worse for the CIA to give this response. Is there a ‘secret’ subsection of 1908 that was specifically requested? The article doesn’t indicate anything other than the entire section being requested.

And our final “insightful” editor’s choice comment this week comes from Dave Xantos, responding to one of our regular critics who made the claim that “Big Search is 10 times bigger than Big Content.” Dave suggested the obvious:

I think it’s pretty telling that a business that’s been around less than 15 years is bigger than an industry that’s been around over 100 years. Makes me think that they might want to emulate Google and give customers what they want. But no. That’s just crazy talk.

Moving over to the funny side of the room, we’ve got reader Trails responding to the story of the band The Sweet totally failing in pushing a ridiculous legal theory against a fan who was selling a legally purchased used CD on eBay. Trails decided to rewrite one of The Sweet’s biggest hits, Ballroom Blitz, with lyrics more appropriate for the case:

Oh, yeah, it was like lightning
Scott’s legal theories were frightening
But the ruling was soothing
And now Dieter is grooving
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

And the man at the back said
Everyone attack and it turned into a courtroom blitz
And the girl in the corner said
Boy, I wanna warn ya, it’ll turn into a courtroom blitz

Coming in a close second in the voting booth was :Lobo Santo satirically taking me up on my challenge to come up with a trollicious theory on why a former federal judge had jumped into the Megaupload case (free of charge) after declaring the government’s reasoning “outrageous.”

You spelled it out, right there in the title!
“FORMER” Federal Judge.

…and why do you think he isn’t a Federal Judge anymore?

Because he obviously doesn’t understand how to slather US law onto the world.

Really, Mike, what are you trying to pull?

Here’s the thing: All the money comes from the US–they print it, they distribute it. They can take back the money any time they damn well feel like. And, if you spent the US’s money on anything, well that’s theirs too.

I don’t know where you sheeple get off complaining about this stuff! It’s not that tough people, drink the kool-aid and fail to notice the edges of your cage and you can live in a happy-go-lucky world where everything is beautiful and fair and right.

[/troll] /bob


(How’d I do?)

Apparently good enough for the silver medal in the “funny” competition, :Lobo.

Moving on to editor’s choice awards for funny comments, we’ve got Torg’s response to a comment in our discussion on the fact that fair use doesn’t require permission. One of our usual critics quoted my paragraph on the matter, and then explained why you should ask for permission before relying on fair use just to avoid having to fight it out in court. Torg noticed something ironic:

Did you negotiate with Techdirt to determine if you were allowed to quote that paragraph?

Ah, hypocrisy. As another person responded: Game. Set. Match.

And, finally, we’ve got an Anonymous Coward with a great suggestion regarding the ongoing process of watching Funnyjunk lawyer Charles Carreon self-destruct and lash out at the entire internet. Think of it as a corallary to the Streisand Effect:

The Carreon Effect: The act of doubling and then quadrupling down on an untenable position.

I may have to start using that…

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Comments on “Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt”

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John Thacker (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s amazing that people thought it was insightful. Fractional reserve banking isn’t a “copy” of the money. It’s simply a gamble (a generally very good one, but not always) by the bank that they won’t have everyone asking for their money to withdraw all at once.

For it to be a similar situation to the copying of virtual goods, you would need a case where no matter how much “copying” or loaning took place, the original owners were not put at risk. In fractional reserve banking, there is a minimum fraction of loans outstanding that have to be maintained in reserve; by this analogy, it would be closer to only allowing a certain number of copies checked out at once. I believe that most of us agree that systems that limit the number of electronic copies are far more cumbersome than those which don’t.

It’s true that fractional reserve banking does increase the money supply compared to that created by the monetary authority, but the monetary authority could equally well easily create the additional supply. The central bank simply takes the reserve requirements into account. The central bank has reasons to monitor the money supply (as, for example, to make sure that it continues to rise in nominal terms, since people don’t like wages to go down in nominal terms, nor is it helpful if investments start going to negative nominal return), but aside from those macroeconomic reasons, it’s certainly not the case that, e.g., reserve requirements of 10% that result in roughly multiplying the money supply by ten times actually result in creating ten times the real wealth. Aside from maintaining stable growth in the monetary base to address the aforementioned problems, surely no one believes that if all the numbers on our currency were multiplied by 10 that we’d actually be ten times richer.

Money is a unit of account. It is not real wealth itself, only a way to measure and trade.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:


the monetary authority could equally well easily create the additional supply

Creation of additional money by issuing it, creates inflation.

But you are correct that money is not wealth itself and it is not even good at measuring it, since the more money it is in circulation the bigger the inflationary forces become, an example are wars that create peaks in money quantity despite the fact that war destroy wealth which is the level of comfort that each citizen enjoys, that is why there are other markers to measure wealth, like energy used, number of transactions inside a country and so forth, which all fall inside the economic activity umbrella.


For it to be a similar situation to the copying of virtual goods, you would need a case where no matter how much “copying” or loaning took place, the original owners were not put at risk

Well than sharing virtual goods is not a problem at all, since products manufactured by the content owner(not creator) are under his total control, he just doesn’t control others.

Other thing to note is that banks don’t pay royalties for their customers, they don’t share the profits they make with the people who help them get the money that they lend, this is another strong case to end IP monopolies.

The focus of any country that wants to increase wealth should be not in monetary numbers but in work numbers anything that increases exchange of goods and services is good, anything that decreases that like IP law should be ditched immediately.

lolwut?! says:

Re: Re: Re:

Of course no one with sense believes that when the banks multiply the money supply and take a share of that for themselves, that the actual wealth in existence has been magically increased.

If we thought that banks were actually magically producing wealth when they expanded the money supply, we’d have no cause to criticize their acquisition of nominative currency representative of that productivity.

It’s because we know very well that the actual wealth has not increased and in fact the share of wealth owned by everyone but the bank is dilluted for each loan made, and that this process is a redistribution of extant wealth in the banks’ favour, rather than any creation of new wealth that the banks deserve to be rewarded for, that people are becomming increasingly intolerant of these increasingly parasitic activities.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Not to defend the banks but ideally when the banks loan a certain amount of depositors money they are using that money to bet that the result will be an increase in overall wealth. A decent example would be those who loaned to Ford Motor Company when it started up with the insane, at the time, idea of paying higher wages than the norm so that the workers could afford the products they were making. Simplified but there it is.

The bank gets to play the role of casino where the house never loses As 2008 proved that may not always be the case though in that case governments rushed in to bail out the “casinos” that were too big to fail.

While it is the role of banking to circulate money through the economy we ought to have noticed that something was seriously wrong when the normative paper shufflers became “wealthier” than the productive economy it was designed to serve is.

Banks do not create software, music, vehicles, computers or toasters. In general they aren’t the consumers of large amounts of any of that. Ideally they facilitate that yet by 2008 they were more interested in investing depositor’s money in opaque packages of poor quality which somehow had managed to get higher ratings than some of the wealthiest and most productive nations could get. Bond rating agencies morphed into high class book makers quite different from their alleged role of neutral investigators of bonds and investments.

These service industries, and never forget that that is all banking and related businesses are, forgot they were there to service the economy and became convinced they were the economy.

That, I suspect, is where they became, as you say, parasites. Worse, IMHO than governments can be, as they had and have no built in action that prevents them from destroying or eating their hosts. When the host is suddenly in critical condition they demand rescue no matter the cost to the host.

In that last sense the become similar to the parasite known as “IP” that has mutated beyond its original, possibly, useful function when they first appeared to the predator they’ve become when the host (technology and the resulting economy based on that) evolves into something radically different than what came before as the IP parasites mutate into something whose only purpose is the destruction of its host. For example software patents and their bastard children patent trolls and the ridiculous length and breadth of copyright as it now exists.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“when it started up with the insane, at the time, idea of paying higher wages than the norm so that the workers could afford the products they were making.”

Actually, that IS insane. You pay your workers more so they can buy your product? So, when they buy a car, they’re spending the money that you’d have anyway if you’d just not paid them that much in the first place? And you also have to pay for the materials to make the cars.

Of course, it DOES often make sense to pay workers more than the average pay, because it means you get your choice of workers – not to mention the moral reasons to pay people a fair wage. But to say it’s so they can afford the car is rather silly. Unless they were at the point where they could almost but not quite afford to buy the car, that strategy is not going to be more profitable.

John Thacker (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Money is used for allocation.

Note that in the bank example, the bank makes profit (by paying out in interest less than the interest that they charge) on this. It’s a commercial venture. Thus again the analogy seems stretched.

The analogy seems akin to music artists signing over their music to their labels, which signs it over to Apple and Amazon, so that those companies can make millions of copies *and sell them at a profit.* Yet I suspect that the examples of iTunes and Amazon MP3 in some cases (not all) make artists less likely to want to allow their music to be more freely shared.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Do customers have a say to whom banks can lend money to?
Do bank customers can get injunctions against banks?
Can bank customers claim royalties from the people banks lend money?

Why is that artists have those powers when nobody not even banks the most powerful institutions in any country have that ability?

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Another result of the Carreon Effect

When I checked a few seconds ago Inman’s drive to collect $20,000 for the National Wildlife Federation and the American Cancer Society has raised $177,020.

It seems that as well as the digging of a nearly endless hole the Carreon Effect may have positive effects on forest critters and Cancer patients and research. May Charles Carreon continue to dig! Thousands of baby bears, porcupines, raccoons and kittens will thank him!!!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Youtube – Khan Academy: Banking 3: Fractional Reserve Banking

By the way Fractional Reserve Banking is a great tool when applied to things that create wealth like construction of infra-structure, production of physical real goods, but when actually used to finance IP related stuff that creates nothing, in fact IP is a barrier for the creation of wealth, when it starts to become ubiquitous.

IP law is for the creation of wealth what an electric zapper is to a bug, you will hit that wire and get fried.

Anonymous Coward says:

Moving on to editor’s choice awards for funny comments, we’ve got Torg’s response to a comment in our discussion on the fact that fair use doesn’t require permission. One of our usual critics quoted my paragraph on the matter, and then explained why you should ask for permission before relying on fair use just to avoid having to fight it out in court. Torg noticed something ironic:

Did you negotiate with Techdirt to determine if you were allowed to quote that paragraph?

Ah, hypocrisy. As another person responded: Game. Set. Match.

Look, I’m doing it again! OMG! I’m exercising my fair use rights without a license! Good grief. Sometimes it does make sense to negotiate a license because there is a significant risk. Pretending like me commented on Techdirt is one of those situations where a license would make sense is just silly.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re:

No, it doesn’t make sense to negotiate a licence, because then you have a permission based world, where no-one can write or publish anything without getting permission from X number of other people.
Wait…………….fuck, it’s already happened, if you want to interpret instant DMCA takedowns on Youtube as publishing without asking permission.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Huh? You think it never, ever makes sense to ask someone’s permission to use their copyrighted work? That’s just stupid. Of course it makes sense sometimes, which is why so many people do it. It depends on the circumstances. But to categorically deny that it ever makes sense is a silly oversimplification and reflects the typical Techdirt “eyes closed” mentality.

Torg (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The article was about people that think you need to negotiate or pay for things that are fair use, which, regardless of the pragmatism of negotiating in gray areas, shows a complete misunderstanding of what fair use is. I gave the guy I was responding to enough credit that I didn’t consider that me might not realize how nonsensical the concept of a “fair dealing license” is, and so figured he was talking about the guy who thought Techdirt should have negotiated with him about quoting one of his articles. Thus, “did you ask Techdirt’s permission to post that quote”. Was the flaw in my thinking that the other guy didn’t see how stupid it is to have a license explicitly for things you don’t need a license for, that he wasn’t responding to the specifics of the article but rather what he thought the general idea was, or is quoting actually fair use?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

See, it’s comments like these that show some people lack the ability to read and comprehend.

No one whatsoever said what you seem to think they said.

The irony/hypocrisy was in the statement made by average_joe. Who said that permission is required to quote articles made by others. What was hypocrisy was that he himself then quoted Mike and DID NOT ask permission to do so. Thus sort of shooting himself in the foot as far as his what he said needs to be done and what he actually did go. Then when called out on it he kind of brushed it off with “I don’t need to ask permission, Mike would be a hypocrite to try and sue me or whatnot for not asking his permission to quote him. Blah blah blah.”

Obviously though, you’ve never heard of fair use. Which is basically where you DO NOT need permission. It’s okay though, I like reading what are essentially knee jerk reactions given without actually understanding what they’re replying to. Shows how foolish some people are and reflects the typical AC “you’re all thieves and immoral” mentality (as incorrect as such a mentality is).

average_joe (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

The irony/hypocrisy was in the statement made by average_joe. Who said that permission is required to quote articles made by others.

That’s not what I said (this is a_joe). What I said was sometimes it makes sense. When quoting you here and now, for example, it makes no sense. But if I were writing a book and using large chunks of someone else’s copyrighted book, for example, the publisher may require me to get a license rather than risk it. This isn’t hypocritical at all. What’s stupid is pretending like it always or never makes sense to ask permission. Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn’t. You guys are so itching to catch me in some childish “gotcha!” bullshit, but you can’t refute my point that sometimes getting permission is the less riskier, better option. I understand that getting fair use is not always necessary, hence my complete ease in quoting you, for example. You guys think in silly extremes, no nuance.

Torg (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

And I understand that relying on fair use isn’t always wise. My comment brought up silly extremes because the article was about silly extremes. The way I see it, either you think that a “fair use license” is a coherent concept, you think Techdirt should have negotiated with the guy who didn’t like them quoting him, or your comment wasn’t directly about the substance of the article. I went with the second interpretation, because the first is fucking stupid and the third one rarely occurs to me except in retrospect. If it’s the third that’s the correct one, then I apologize.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

The Carreon Effect - this is not a drill

1. The lawsuit is captioned Charles Carreon v. Matthew Inman; IndieGogo Inc.; National Wildlife Federation; American Cancer Society; and Does [Does are as-of-yet-unnamed defendants], Case No. 4:12 cv 3112 DMR.

Using the effect is now official kids…. but it might be more than quadrupling down…

He sued the fucking charities… ponder on that.

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