Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the long-and-short dept

One of the tiresome refrains of our detractors around here is that we are too critical of the government but uncritical of Google (neither of which is true). John Fenderson won first place for insightful this week with a simple response to all comparisons between Google and the NSA:

Google is optional. The NSA is not. End of story.

Meanwhile, when we discussed the fact that 99% of misconduct cases against New Jersey cops are being dismissed by Internal Affairs, one commenter suggested that it’s because those claims are all flimsy. Second place for insightful went to an anonymous commenter who responded with an extensive list of Techdirt posts about clear police abuses. This is a rare case where I’m not going to reproduce the comment here, since it’s very very long, but anyone wanting to navigate Techdirt’s bad-cop coverage should check it out.

For editor’s choice on the insightful side, we’ve got two thorough comments explaining interesting and important concepts. First up is an anonymous commenter musing on what the copyright industries have in common with the NSA:

The copywrong industry now suffers from the same problem as the government and the NSA. They’ve lied so long no one believes them anymore.

The movie industry has had consecutive banner records, block buster years, with one break in between that wasn’t a block buster year. That one was something like 5% or so under being a block buster. It’s not piracy that is killing them at all or there would not be banner years.

The music industry is a victim of it’s own policies. Especially having turned all it’s management over to politicians and lawyers rather than artists who understand what the artist is going through and how to fix that. You can’t run an industry with a club and then not expect people to abandon you.

The copyright industry has gotten it so wrong that its become the copywrong industry. Beyond those with greedy hands stuck out, no one else much cares what they demand and want. Its not applicable in most peoples lives as something they need to pay close attention to. It shows up as constant legal threat letters and court cases.

A good law doesn’t need enforced because everyone thinks it is wrong. A bad law is ignored no matter how many are jailed or taken to court.

And next we’ve got Seegras who responded to comments from the EU Advocate-General by explaining the philosophical and functional underpinnings of copyright:

Copyright is, and was, ALWAYS about publishing. And never about “receiving” or “getting” something.

Now, just about every copyright law on earth is about this. Except the german one, they recently included a paragraph where they made “downloads from an illegally published source” illegal. Which is of course an epitome of stupidity, because no one except a judge can tell whether something was “illegally published”.

Of course, nowhere in the European Union (which is actually a series of directives aimed at harmonizing the laws of the different countries), there is anything written about “receiving”. So this Advocate-General obviously don’t know his law.

Furthermore of course, everyone is a copyright holder. I have a blog, I post photographs on the internet, thus a lot of what I am doing is copyright protected. Now, what happens if you download a picture of a cute cat from the internet, which somebody put up there, without having it made himself? If the AGs view of the law was only remotely correct? Yep, copyright violation. Because nobody ever gave you an explicit permission. In fact, if the AG were right, we’d find hundreds if not thousands of files (especially emails!) on his computer which would constitute a copyright violation according to his own misinterpretation of the law. I could even make him break the law by e-mailing him something which I do not have the necessary publishing rights for. Ridiculous.

Or let’s take another angle: How do I now some TV-station has the necessary rights to show a movie that was obviously made by someone else? Do they need to publish all the contracts they have with the movie studio? Because if they don’t everyone can call “copyright violation”. And the movie studios, do they need to publish all contracts with the people that actually made the movie, because otherwise anyone can call them for “copyright violation”? It’s probably not what the AG was thinking of, which just shows he wasn’t probably thinking at all…

In other words, its totally, completely, utterly impossible to know if _anything_ is “legally published”. Yes, it’s possible for the copyright-holder to recognize his own work, and then for a judge to decide whether that claim has any merit. But before that happens, nobody can really know.

And that is the reason, (most) copyright laws are not about the receiving but only the publishing end.

Over on the funny side, first place goes to mattshow for pointing out the real downside of the FBI’s decreasing focus on “law enforcement”:

Most tragically of all, the number of agents assigned to investigate files with a paranormal or supernatural element to them has fallen from 2 to 0 since 2008.

In second place we’ve got bmarsh, who read our post about Australia’s transit authority reporting a teen hacker to police for trying to help them with a security hole and embraced the wordplay that we let slip by:

The transit department, “throwing someone under a bus?”


For editor’s choice on the funny side, we’ve got two quick one-liners that made me laugh. First up is an anonymous commenter, upon hearing the news that Insane Clown Posse is suing the FBI for branding their fans as a gang:

So THAT’S why the weather’s been so frigid – hell has frozen over, I’m actually on the Juggalos’ side on something.

And last but not least, Grammar Terrorist replied to some friendly corrections from another commenter with a joke that probably isn’t new, but was new to me:

Every time you make a typo, the errorists win.

That’s all for this week, folks!

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

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Anonymous Coward says:

One of the tiresome refrains of our detractors around here is that we are too critical of the government but uncritical of Google (neither of which is true). John Fenderson won first place for insightful this week with a simple response to all comparisons between Google and the NSA:

Google is optional. The NSA is not. End of story.

That’s funny. During the discussions of six strikes, the fact that satellite or wireless was an option to the major carriers participating in it was roundly rejected. But not using Google services is different? Please.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

So do I. So does That One Guy. So do a lot of other people. I know that I, Rikuo, am an Irish man currently lying in bed typing on a wireless keyboard, who after typing this comment, is going to get up and go to work. I know that I’m not the US citizen Mike Masnick, entrepreneur and blogger.
Just because some people comment whenever Mike gets accused of something is not enough evidence for one to conclude that those people are indeed Mike himself. Do you have access to server logs? Paypal accounts? Do you have any evidence for your accusation, good sir, that Mike is indeed me or John or whoever, other than the fact that we typically comment whenever Mike is accused?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

Oh it’s not a matter of ‘taking the observation(which you yourself admit has no real evidence to back it up) hard’, I, along with the other poster are simply pointing out the lack of reasoning and evidence behind your claim, and pointing out that it’s a ridiculous attempt to brush off and avoid answering a valid question by claiming that the one posing it is nothing more than a sock-puppet.

Really, you’d get the same reaction if you tried to toss out any other red-herring argument/accusation in a discussion/debate, so it should hardly be a surprise to you to get this sort of response to your actions on this subject.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Satellite and wireless also would be governed by those silly rules being discussed so it was not an option.

When Google has the power to exact toll both with the force of law and start calling other competitors criminals than you have something akin to what six strikes means.

Google can’t look at competitors and call them criminals, Google can’t look at competitors or anybody for that matter and call them criminals just because they are doing the exact same thing they are doing, Google can’t stop other from using competing services let alone warn them six times that they should not do because in its own terms it views it as a crime and have the power of law to behind it.

Do labels and studios pay Google for every Google user that finds them on the pages of Google doing a search, do those people pay anything to Google for Google users posting their things on Youtube property and creating more exposure to their own products on the cheap?

Google has its own problems but they don’t force others to accept those flaws with laws that expropriate the right of others.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Google has unlimited money and resources (like any other arm of the government) – if they want your ass arrested, they will pay off whoever they need to to have your ass arrested. Having ONE level of indirection in between is irrelevant when the end result is the same. Google is insidious.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You are right they have a lot of resources and still they are not the ones moving to create new classes of crimes and offenses through Washington.

Google is not the one, complaining about its competitors or trying through the courts to stop them from being there, Google is not the one trying to label everyone that does something they don’t like criminals, unlike copyright holders.

See there Google may or may not become evil at some future point, right now they are not there, but you and your friends are.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Is Google trying to pass a law saying all other search engines are illegal and everyone should act as their enforcers for them?

Is Google capable of calling law enforcement all over the world to make sure nobody infringes on their “rights” whatever those may be like, a right to exclusive markets, right to get paid for every use that others make from their services, the right to not accept business from people they don’t like or don’t want, the right to go search the studios and labels office to see if they have infringed upon Google’s rights?

If you don’t think those are acceptable rights, welcome to the growing number of people that realized why IP law is so bad today.

Anonymous Coward says:

‘Most tragically of all, the number of agents assigned to investigate files with a paranormal or supernatural element to them has fallen from 2 to 0 since 200’

the reason it now has 0 agents is because the 2 it had disappeared! spooky!!

the troubling thing is that the entertainment industries have complained so much, cried foul so much that even when the various copyright laws are discussed and trying to be interpreted, they are done so as if there is an entitlement to people and/or industries to receive payment. the EU AG is clearly doing that here and i bet a dime to a dollar, what he has said is what will be mostly taken notice of, not the real reasons for copyright at all!!
the really interesting thing wil be and it will come sooner or later, when those industries that have created this anti-human society and the governments that seem to think that the only laws and only way to run a country is under a capitalist/corporate/police regime, find themselves in the position that no one gives a fuck about them any more!

out_of_the_blue says:

Google is NOT optional. I'm not able to avoid it by trying.

Total baloney. Google is on over 90% of web-sites. Just other day I was trying to get Korora Linux distro, and apparently I’d have to allow Google to run javascript to get it. The easy billions that Google gets — and keeps untaxed offshore while lobbying for changes in tax law — enable it to buy the loyalty of most weenies. In any case, Google is a mega-corporation and doesn’t give a damn about your privacy or other rights, and letting it grow is just plain stupid.

This stoopidity keeps recurring here at Techdirt: you have your little three-word assertions echo it on front page in the Mutual Admiration Society on Sunday. Big deal. Just read the comments on here:
ANYONE on Google+ can now email you, with or without your Gmail addy

Most techies HATE Google, this is just a Google-friendly site that always lists Mike’s lame re-writes within 10 minutes and at top. Google has enough money to throw at Mike — a few thousand is peanuts — and don’t say you know different unless you’re Mike Masnick, but he can never be pinned down on anything…

Google. We’re spying right up to the creepy limit. ™ — And soon as you’re used to it, we get creepier!

Google’s tailoring to YOU can selectively substitute, omit, and lie. You can’t trust anything on the net, neither what you see nor what you don’t see!

The world is being dumbed-down in ways most people are already too stupid to grasp.


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Google is NOT optional. I'm not able to avoid it by trying.

All you’ve done is refer people back to the NSA. You DO know how and why services like duckduckgo exist, correct? It’s called redundancy. When people deviate from Google over privacy, the PTB sets up a net elsewhere. Slam me, bitch at me, call me paranoid – do what you want. Nothing will change the fact that these services are traps.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Google is NOT optional. I'm not able to avoid it by trying.

Contribute code to SEEKS and stop moaning.

Or just install and use YaCy.

Unfortunately it is Java based (ugh!), but it has some nice heuristics functionality which will cause your search results to become more relevant the more you use it. All peers are equal, it cannot be censored and isn’t controlled by any single entity.

out_of_the_blue says:

Okay, I shall never darken this site!

Notice I don’t say “again”, for I’ve only enlightened this cesspit, now have it to point where you fanboys must put hands over eyes to NOT see how filthy and feeble are the notions that you cling to. Been fun dodging massive handfuls the prehensile piratey kids make and fling in monkey-mode, but I’ve seen all their arguments now, and I’m not a coprophile.

Examples of light shed:

– None have yet answered “I made it, therefore I own it” as the rational common law basis of copyright, and that worm will eat away at your pirate notions until like me you focus on the abuse and extension of copyright and not its daily good which is necessary for works to be created and marketed.

– Mike’s “compete with free” is total baloney from premise: NO ONE in business EVER forgets “sunk (or fixed) costs” even for pricing, and ONLY AFTER those costs are recovered can one get income from digital data even if then near zero marginal costs. — You must HAVE a product in hand even if digital, and those bits and bytes don’t pop into order for free. Mike just sez: “I have a zero-cost widget that everybody knows about and wants.” — Yeah, it’s EASY then, kid. That’s how Kim Dotcom got millions without ever paying for more than bandwidth. — It’s so fundamental a flaw to “example” that “economist” Mike is simply LYING when set up conditions never found in reality.

– Rest of Mike’s notions re-phrase well-known “loss leader” advertising pitches and pretends it’s new because “on teh internets”.

– But the new “business models” for distributing digital content simply don’t exist, CAN’T exist, unless control of copies is enforceable, particularly by keeping sleazy grifters like Dotcom from simply duplicating the digital data without ever rewarding the creators.

– Any practical scheme for getting money from one’s OWN content lies in the moral force of “I made it, therefore I own it” requiring consumers to pay for it; Mike explicitly avoids morality so doesn’t have any answer for what happens with inevitable increase in numbers of pirates as trends continue.

– And when “Hollywood” succeeds despite definite losses to piracy, Mike trumpets it as proving that piracy does no harm! At best that’s cherry picking with Hollywood focused on the few blockbusters having staggering promotion budgets.

Mike never addresses start-up efforts at the margin for which just a few pirates tips from slight profit to unsustainable loss. Those would seem his target audience, but Mike simply doesn’t have any experience in the real world: he got sent to Ivy League without having to save up for years out of low wages at daily labor; he has NO idea about people living on the margin.

– Mike has quit trotting out silly schemes like selling T-shirts instead of music. Doesn’t work even for garage bands, utterly can’t scale to $100 million dollar movie level.

– And so Mike’s actual audience has narrowed down to pirates who only steal content, NOT make it. They regard sites having only links to infringed content as vital “free speech”, as too are file hosts having petabytes of clearly infringing content. They’re outraged when their access to free content is threatened or taken away.

– Every time Mike’s notions of unauthorized distribution of copyrighted content on “file hosts” is tested in courts from Europe to US, it goes down in multi-million dollar flames. Napster, Pirate Bay (only being chased around, true, but enough to show the principle), Isohunt, Hotfile, and soon Megaupload. (Oh, sure, exempt Aereo if you must: yet to be final, and in no way is it like Megaupload.) The sheer fact of those actual court losses ought to at least show you that Mike’s notion of the law is way wrong.

– Mike flakking for new grifting middlemen such as Itunes and Spotify in the same old system where actual artists get tiny fraction of revenue is the most astounding reversal and betrayal! What’s different except that Mike likes those particular corporations and they’re “on teh internets”?

– Mike keeps dropping his libertarian facade by running puff pieces on Google’s supposed court case which at best would only get us some unverifiable numbers. With it Mike keeps pushing the notion that Google has “First Amendment rights”, an evil view that only Ivy League corporatist could embrace. And it’s a good question why he does it! No sense as to what reveals about his own views? Or trying to establish that as an ordinary view?

“New media” outlets are just like “old media” outlets except aren’t yet known to be Establishment outlets, but that’s the way to bet. Don’t trust anything you read.

Mike’s re-writing relies so heavily on “old mainstream media” that he’s quite undistinguished.


Pragmatic says:

Re: Okay, I shall never darken this site!

We have all answered your bullshit points, Blue, we just didn’t agree with you. Please note, agreeing with you and answering you are different things.

I myself have answered the bullshit ‘”I made it, therefore I own it” as the rational common law basis of copyright, and that worm will eat away at your pirate notions until like me you focus on the abuse and extension of copyright and not its daily good which is necessary for works to be created and marketed.’ on many occasions, as have John Fenderson, DannyB, Techflaws, and others. That you have chosen not to acknowledge this is a testament to your cognitive dissonance. Now go away.

You can’t enlighten Jack if you can’t tell the truth, and we catch you in a lie EVERY DAY.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Okay, I shall never darken this site!

– None have yet answered “I made it, therefore I own it” as the rational common law basis of copyright…

Bullshit. I myself have rebutted that on many occasions. That you choose to ignore that which goes against your notions is your problem.

Modern copyright has rejected the “natural right” aspect in the United Kingdom (Donaldson v. Beckett, 1774) and the United States (Wheaton v. Peters, 1834). The natural right aspect of copyright has been rejected for good reasons. The Lockean property rights you seem to refer to work well with physical property, but copyright extends these rights unnaturally beyond the point of sale. For example, I make a chair from wood on my land. It’s my resources and my labor and therefore I own the property rights to that chair. When I choose to sell that chair to someone else I transfer ALL of my property rights to that chair. Copyright extends property rights unnaturally beyond that transaction point. The copyright holder still retains property rights to the work (which effectively removes rights from purchaser) beyond the sale. That is why copyright can never be based on a “natural right” since it’s a very unnatural concept to begin with.

out_of_the_blue says:

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it

Here yet again is Techdirt’s censoring in action. Too horrible for the fanboys to bear, so they censor it as much as can. This is exact same excuse as every censor: claim they’re “protecting” frail and gullible from dangerous ideas. — Now, anyone reasonable (hypothetical): are you too frail and gullible to deal with this?

Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2014 @ 2:33pm

“Google is optional. The NSA is not. End of story.”


Google is NOT OPTIONAL… what a load of crap….

“we are too critical of the government but uncritical of Google”

Its your TD DNA, and Google pays you.. (both of which are true).

Hey kids: if you don’t want to be seen as censoring opinion, it’s real simple: don’t click “report” when comments are within common law!


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it

No he should continue to post. I think it’s fucking hilarious that Mike cherry picks his articles such that they serve as premises to either mention or defend the Google god. Even funnier is the fact that everybody knows it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it

Not sure if you’ve noticed but this is Mike’s site, he can post whatever he wants to. If you and/or OOTB think other post would be better, you are free to start your own and see how many readers you can manage to accumulate.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it

And of course what about the numerous articles where he criticises Google?

Those are from the first page of search results when you look at the upper right corner of this page, type in Google and then click on the result “Google stories at Techdirt”.

A defender of Google would never have these articles, would never mention them. Based on the evidence, that Mike has articles both praising and condemning Google, then I have to conclude that Mike is NOT a Google apologist.

Anonymous Coward says:

*yawns* ootb back at it again? Every once in a while he wakes up and realizes no one is on his side when he doesn’t make sense. Instead of realizing what the problem is, troll goes off on another of his rants.

I’d report vote you but you’ve already gathered enough votes its not necessary.

Oh, btw, no one forced you to open up Noscript. You could always have looked for your Korora Linux distro at some other site. Big boys know this is possible. Kids go rant at the walls and blame everyone else for their failings.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: and how do you stop Google web crawlers ?

so if masnick wanted to opt out of Google, but still have a web page it would be possible for Masnick to OPT OUT of Google and not have his web site spied on by Google ???

The internet is optional, but Google is not, if you are on the internet Google has you, and everything that IS on the internet.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: and how do you stop Google web crawlers ?

This website is public. Complaining about Google coming and looking at it would be like yelling at someone for reading a billboard you put up. But, as a matter of fact, you can tell Google not to look at it via robots.txt, which – while technically optional – Google does in fact honor in order to avoid stepping on people’s toes in the exact sort of situation you’re describing. Crawling people’s websites is also in no way the sort of data collection that people describe as being parallel with the NSA, but if you’re going to try and split hairs, you could really stand to look for some better ones.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 and how do you stop Google web crawlers ?

No, it doesn’t. I know because back when I ran a very popular website, I paid attention to the logs. Google never accessed a page that I forbade through robots.txt. Some sleazier web crawler did, but you know what? It’s easy to block those even if they ignore robots.txt.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 and how do you stop Google web crawlers ?

Just for the record, and hold on to your head, this will blow your mind, not only have I never said that Google does no wrong, I actually believe that Google does do wrong! I largely avoid it, personally, because I don’t like being surveilled.

However, Google (like with literally every other company or agency) doesn’t do everything wrong, and it’s just plain stupid to criticize them for things that aren’t true when it’s so easy to criticize then for things that are actually real.

The nuance you might be missing is that in avoiding Google’s practices, I know first hand the you absolutely can avoid giving your data to Google. You can’t do that with the NSA. That’s the core of the issue.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: and how do you stop Google web crawlers ?

There are several ways, now imagine if Google passed laws that made it criminal to bypass their power to crawl websites, would you like that?

See Google don’t make yet the things that could hurt them illegal like the studios and labels do, Google is not forcing studios and labels to use only Google, Google didn’t sue NoScript, Google didn’t make it illegal to create ad-ripers that strip off any ads in a page.

But you would like that wouldn’t you, you defend absurd monopolistic rights that nobody else have and try to paint others as the bad guys.

It doesn’t work always though, there is so far that BS will get you after that it stops working.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: so I could do a Google search and ask Google not to store and keep my meta-data ?

This might sound crazy, but hear me out, if you’re that against google and using their services, have you tried maybe, I dunno, not using their services?

There are other search engines out there, you could always use them instead, rather than using google’s and then whining about how you ‘just can’t avoid them!’

As for the ‘they’re everywhere on the internet’, as others have pointed out, a few web-plugins and you can block google from gathering data on you pretty much completely.

Will this make some pages look rather wonky, if not break them? Quite possibly, but if you’re that against them, that should be an acceptable sacrifice for you, as claiming that you can’t avoid them, while not using the tools that let you do just that, shows that your complaints are nothing but hot air, that despite your claims you don’t in fact mind their actions enough to do anything about it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Here is the good news.

One of the first open hardware projects trying to build a laptop from scratch is nearing completion.

Novena wiki

Like the guy(Bunnie) said “if you can’t hack it you don’t own it”

How important this is?

I let Dr. Awojobi Oluyombo explain it.

?Because I make it, I will know how to mend it. I don’t have to depend upon anybody else.?

Dr. Awojobi Oluyombo is an African doctor that practices in rural Nigeria-Africa, he builds his own medical equipment from whatever he can find.

This is why I tell everyone, “you all have it in you to change your own fortune”, lack of knowledge if worse than lack of money, you can still make the things you need if you have the knowledge but you can’t do anything if you don’t know how, except complain.

If you can’t part with anything you cannot make it, you are a slave.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Not necessarily, I believe the snowflakes only stay consistent in a given comment section, the same IP address in a different article would have a different snowflake.

Still, whether it’s one person or several, spamming the same crap in every article, even when the individual it’s referring to hasn’t shown up in it is no less spammish.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

spamming the same crap in every article, even when the individual it’s referring to hasn’t shown up in it is no less spammish.

A thousand times this. If you’re posting the the same comment that’s already been posted a hundred times before, you’re spamming. Don’t do it. It makes you just as bad as the trolls. In fact, it makes you a troll.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Wall of links proves nothing

It proves that there is a lot of police misconduct. That it’s a small percentage of the total potential for misconduct is meaningless when cops will defend the bad guys in blue.

Misconduct is actually very common, though, at least in my part of the country. Since it is impossible to tell a bad cop from a good by looking, and the odds aren’t terrible that it’s a bad one, you have to treat all cops as potential bad guys.

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