EFF's Parker Higgins' Favorite Techdirt Stories Of The Week
from the so-many-EFF-issues... dept
Hi Techdirt! I’m Parker Higgins, an activist at EFF. It’s been a big week in the office, so I’m especially excited that Mike and the gang asked me to wrap up some of the top stories of the last few days. If you’ll indulge me, some of my personal top stories this week have a bit of an EFF-y flair.
First off, with this week came the announcement of Freedom of the Press Foundation’s relaunch of Aaron Swartz’s whistleblower platform. There aren’t really formal institutional ties between EFF and the Freedom of the Press Foundation, but its Executive Director, Trevor Timm works alongside me full-time as an EFF activist, and I was lucky enough to get the chance to help out with this software. It’s good stuff, and as security expert Bruce Schneier says, “I hope this system is broadly implemented and extensively used.”
One short Techdirt story was a big one at EFF: we filed to invalidate a majorly bogus patent that is being used to shakedown famous podcasters. You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again, but I just don’t want to rest until we’ve destroyed all patent trolls—and our patent lawyers Julie Samuels, Daniel Nazer, and activist Adi Kamdar are working to do just that.
Another great story this week covered the launch of a new site called PiracyData.org. Hollywood is quick to point the finger at whoever it can blame for unauthorized downloading: users, technologies, companies, search engines, whatever. This new site does a clever mashup of two data sets—TorrentFreak’s top downloaded movie list, and a database of what’s available for streaming, renting, and buying—to effectively make the point that Hollywood itself could be doing a lot more to make content available. It’s an old saw that you can’t compete with free, but it sure would be easier if you’re actually, y’know, competing.
Similarly, Tim covered the back-and-forth over Spotify between two musicians I deeply admire: Dave Allen, the bassist for Gang of Four, and David Byrne, who was an amazing frontman to the Talking Heads but is way off-base when he argues—seriously—that “the internet will suck all the creative content out of the world.” David Byrne’s sentiments echoes Thom Yorke’s, previously, and while both of these guys are really incredible musicians, their take on Spotify and other streaming services is sadly short-sighted.
Bringing it back to EFF for a minute, Glyn covered the “truly stupid idea” to make DRM an official aspect of HTML5. Of course, Mr. Moody is correct, and that’s why we officially made the argument to the W3C that DRM has no place in the HTML charter. Unfortunately, Tim Berners-Lee has ruled the proposal in-scope, and responded at length on the W3C blog. Still, Berners-Lee is making some fundamental framing errors that confuse the issue, and Glyn does a great job calling him out for those.
Finally, a post that I consider classic Techdirt material, is this epic takedown of a series of bald-faced lies from Senator Feinstein. The Senator has said that the NSA dragnet would have been helpful in stopping 9/11, which is not just a shameless appeal to people’s emotions, but flat-out verifiably wrong. The Techdirt post quotes at length from a thorough debunking which is worth reading itself, but I loved the line Mike ended his post with: “If they can’t support their program with the truth, it seems pretty clear that there’s no reason to support the surveillance program at all.”
Amen, brother. To wrap up, we’ve got the good: privacy-preserving whistleblower tech, reasoned responses to musicians concerned about streaming; the bad: patent trolls, misleading arguments from Hollywood, and DRM in HTML; and the ugly: sitting Senators serving up mendacious propaganda for NSA spying. What a week!