Adam Steinbaugh's Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week

from the streisand-effecting dept

Hi.* I write about free speech and the internet on a poorly-named blog. That means I mostly write about revenge porn, Prenda, and vexatious trainwrecks.

The thing I like most about Techdirt is its commitment to covering stories at the same intersection: free speech and technology. Often, these stories involve rights owners overzealously seeking to protect an interest that isn’t really being harmed. The predictable result is that the rights owner comes to its senses and backs down, but only after earning a new reputation: being wrong and a censorious thug. Thankfully, Techdirt is here to document and further these hard lessons in the Streisand Effect.

And so it was with This Charming Charlie, a mashup of the misanthropic lyrics of The Smiths and the aw-shucks renderings of Charles Schultz. The pairing was a hit. Of course, in swept Universal Music Publishing Group to pull the football away, leaving DMCA takedown notices in its wake. The complaint? That Charming Charlie was infringing upon the copyright in the lyrics of The Smiths by using lyrical fragments. Perhaps Universal wants to keep the lyrics intact and in full, or maybe they prefer to leave sleeping dogs lie, as the lyrics utilized by Charming Charlie aren’t all that hard to find.

Whatever their rationale, it’s dubious that Charming Charlie was impacting sales of The Smiths records, except perhaps to increase them as nostalgic Charming Charlie readers reminisce, or as new audiences are introduced to Morrisey’s pre-emo complaints. While there is a certain argument to be made that Universal had a colorable copyright claim — although it’s not an argument I agree with — the risk to Universal’s reputation was more than any possible reward, statutory damages notwithstanding. Record labels don’t earn much goodwill among artists, after all, by threatening artists. Fortunately, after intervention by Booth Sweet, perhaps some consideration of Fair Use, and some negative attention from the LA Times, Universal backed down.

Of course, the Charming Charlie episode wasn’t intended to silence a critic, but instead a misguided attempt to protect intellectual property rights. It’s even more disastrous when you use the DMCA to target speech. Upset people are quoting your speech and criticizing it as racist? Bring in the DMCA! And, while you’re at it, unnecessarily reveal your censorious justification: “Your hosting customer […] decided to embarrass Oliver Janssens in the worst and most effective way – by words out of his own mouth.” And so shall ye conclude every prayer to Her Highness Streisand whenever ye shall invoke her Mysterious Effect.

Meanwhile, in Russia, recent legislation prohibiting material which would promote the dreaded homosexual lifestyle to children (that, after all, is the goal of gay rights activists: making sure that children, and not society as a whole, think that they’re people deserving of equal rights and basic human respect) has finally found some material targeting children to censor. Except that the intended audience isn’t children at all, because it’s a satire intended to mock the legislative windmill tilting. As a result of attempting to suppress satire, greater attention is paid to the work as it spreads on non-Russian sites, and the target audience is reached. So, please, Russia, continue to use censorship to broadcast the messages you dislike.

British airliner EasyJet learned a similar lesson this week when it attempted to boot a passenger over a critical tweet. Of course, EasyJet — a private company — likely has the legal right to only accept passengers that don’t criticize it, but is it worth it? While the company is apparently efficient enough to track critical tweets, identify the passenger, and communicate this grave threat to its reputation to employees at the gate, it lacked the foresight to realize that someone who tweets criticism will probably also tweet more irately when the airline overreacts to said criticism. The best way to salvage a bruised reputation is to stop doing things that hurt your reputation, like intimidating critics. It carries no reward and carries only higher costs.

Finally, in a different vein, a patent troll got a judicial sham-wow cleaning over its sham company, whose “director of business development” was really a landlord overseeing an “office” consisting of a windowless “closet” in East Texas. Why? Because patent trolls love to litigate in East Texas, where statistics suggest they have a significantly greater chance of success. So, if you just need to establish jurisdiction in the eastern district of Texas, do it cheaply. But, as Prenda is learning (and, yes, I’m giving the benefit of the doubt and assuming Prenda has learned something), make sure the owners of your intellectual property can’t be perceived as a sham.

*(“Hi”? That’s your catchy introduction? Shouldn’t you be learning how to tie your shoes or something?)

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Comments on “Adam Steinbaugh's Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week”

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out_of_the_blue says:

Techdirt's NSA bump now definitely over.

Mike’s ride on it is over, according to numbers I see; the long slide resumes.

Mike yet again ran numerous “NSA” items even though was only politicians posturing as usual: he seems to not grasp that all are fanatics for state power, with only a few lesser fanatics playing roles weakly against.

Mike has helped wear out public interest with such useless distractions, and never yet simply called for the criminals to be jailed. — With limp and vague opposition like Mike’s, NSA is even more entrenched.

It’s all right in line with my view that the Snowden “leak” has been a limited hangout psyop from start intended to acquaint the public with how they’re surveilled but without any real change.

Mike yet again attempted to claim that empirical studies support his notions, but right in his source was this:

Empirical research doesn’t always go against industry assertions. Independent empirical research has shown, for instance, that the pharmaceutical industry really does need patents to keep churning out new drugs. And the best empirical work out there has confirmed the recording industry’s worry that illegal downloading has hurt music sales-even if the drop is maybe not quite as dramatic as industry advocates sometimes make it out to be.

which just plain refutes his main theme and provided me with a big horse laugh.

And as usual the fanboy-trolls a) maintain they’re not censoring when mis-use “report” to hide my comments b) complain about my complaining that my comments are hidden in order to censor me c) redefine censorship to justify their mis-use of”report”, maintaining they don’t want the weak-minded influenced d) while effectively hiding my comments, writing “STFU”, sheer ad hom attacks, in every classicly trollish way trying to make me stop posting, they call ME a troll e) THEN complain that I don’t engage in endless back and forth, call me a coward who runs off into the “ether” f) lie about me in advance of my comments g) think their one-liners are witty refutation that helps the site h) go into frothing fits when I snark back, biting their own tails in impotent rage i) can’t see that the old advice to just pass over my comments would be best from their view; they seem compelled to respond, and j) their own stoopid actions embiggening my influence, THEN they complain that I’M the one keeps going further! — While claiming to be savvy techies raised on “teh internets”, they sure act like 13-year old noobs!

For special recognition, I point out the troll calling itself “S.T.Stone”, who posted an all too typical advance one-liner:

Ancient Chinese saying (freely translated): The wise and patient tiger strolls disdainfully among noisy ankle-biters, letting them wear out from yapping.

Carl "Bear" Bussjaeger (profile) says:

Re: Techdirt's NSA bump now definitely over.

ootb, you have a solution to the “problem” of people here not wanting to read your incessant, off-topic whining about Techdirt and its policies:

Get your own blog and dissemble there.

Censorship is preventing a person from speaking (or writing, etc.). But free speech rights don’t include the right to use someone else’s soap box. Get your own blog.

People saying that you aren’t worth listening to isn’t censorship. And if other people want to read your drivel here, they can always “click here” to show comments. You aren’t even being relegated to a “free speech zone”; we’re just ignoring you like we would any other shizophrenic street nut who has long since ceased to be amusing.

But prove us all wrong. Prove the world wants to read your posts. GET YOUR OWN BLOG. It’s free. It’s easy (even you could figure it out). You have access to blog stats to prove how more popular you are than Techdirt.

So do it. But stop your whining here. I’ve babysat two year-olds who whined less about getting want they want.

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re: Re: Techdirt's NSA bump now definitely over.

Blue uses TypePad because she’s wary of free internet services but she’s got a Google account and often whines on G+, getting involved in debates on copyright, etc., in which she continually whines and repeats the same old paranoid refrain. Basically, pirates and the OS movement are part of a socialist/communist plot to take over the world, or something. And to deny artists and innovators their due payment.

You know, the kind of delusional crap she comes out with here on TD. She’s the only one I know who “talks” like this.

Anonymous Coward says:


Often, these stories involve rights owners overzealously seeking to protect an interest that isn’t really being harmed. The predictable result is that the rights owner comes to its senses and backs down, but only after earning a new reputation: being wrong and a censorious thug.

Does being wrong and an overzealous thug bother you Masnick when you actively censor free speech ??

Shame you don’t display the same reverence for free speech that you say you do, when you hold this post for 3 or 4 days because you don’t like open debate on your topics…

You would rather abuse censorship and free speech then to support your arguments..

At least you have the author of this article fooled..

He thinks you are FOR free speech and AGAINST censorship !!!!!!

That’s probably why you don’t have as big a following as you should have, you don’t have the convictions of your words..

It appears you just say thing to get money, that you don’t really mean them, and you certainly seem unwilling to live by the standards you propose !

How do you justify in your own mind the issue of employing censorship and destroying freedoms of speech on your web site that claims to support and uphold those ideals ????

Anonymous Coward says:

About the NSA thing, I believe the government is jealous of others that are manipulating the public opinion better than they can do it.

Yes people we are all manipulated, when we listen to others, is just that some manipulations are kind and gentle and others are more like a brawl in a bar, and still you always have a choice as to how you prefer to be manipulated or handled.

Anonymous Coward says:

The good thing about the copyright wars is that the monopolists will lose one way or another.

If they manage to convince that copying and sharing is lame and bad, this will translate to less revenues since nobody will want to emulate or be like anything they see, everyone would try to be “original”, if they don’t revenues will decline a bit anyways because then people will have other options to find what they want.

The NSA fiasco highlighted something, trust is important and after decades of the government lying so transparently there is no doubt anymore that people just can’t trust any government.

Anonymous Coward says:

NSA Just background noise now.. Thanks to TD

When you have masnick going after EVERY SINGLE TRIVIAL POINTLESS point about the NSA and how evil the US Government is, it just becomes background noise..

i.e: no one is listening or caring anymore, they cant filter out what is important and what is useless, because Masnick is generating so much back ground noise no one can work out what is real or what is simple the usual stuff that Masnick just makes up..

Like his attitude towards censorship and free speech, he talks the talk, but when it comes to reality, he is just as abusive of censorship as ANYONE he writes about.

And Free Speech, NOT HERE ON TD !!!!! NO WAY !!!!!.. .

Not while Masnick has to power to censor, to shield his 10 dire hard fans from what might confuse them… LIKE FACTS.
Or Issues of importance.

One day you might work out it’s the just the quantity of posts here on TD, but actual QUALITY, quantity is certainly no substitute for quality..

And saying you support free speech and fight censorship does not ring true when you actively seek to censor and stifle free speech at every opportunity…

Why is every post I make, “HELD FOR MODERATION” and often appears never to get posted.

Your censoring people Masnick, you abuse power, and you don’t like being caught out for it..

But it does not stop you doing it.. Do you think it makes you case and arguments against censorship stronger by abusing it yourself?

Do you think free speech is only for speech you agree with ??

I wonder how many week it will take for this post to get out of moderation !!!. I Guess some time in the next week or two I will be allowed to engage in a debate that will be long over.

When the only way you can counter an argument is to censor that argument you have already lost..

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: NSA Just background noise now.. Thanks to TD

You don’t debate anything. You barely ever respond to posts made in your direction, and every single one is an attempt to paint everyone who disagrees with you as Masnick’s personal cocksucker.

“Weeks”? Try less than a day after the previous post. Looks like you’re jumping back to posts without anyone responding and posting to make yourself look like having the last word. It’s sad that a solar panel engineer has to reduce himself to this sort of childish shenanigans – if that’s what you even are.

darryl just hates it when due process is enforced.

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