Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the lies,-damned-lies-and-firmware-updates dept

This week, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai joined the chorus of people who attempt to paint Netflix in an bad light by pointing to the company’s proprietary CDN. For those with only a surface understanding of net neutrality, this is an understandable mistake — for an FCC commissioner, not so much. First place for insightful this week goes to an anonymous commenter who pointed out some key distinctions:

Oh, Mr. Pai – what weak tea you brew. Your most damning ‘fact’:

[Netflix] is currently installing its own proprietary caching appliances throughout networks as part of its Open Connect program

omits the corollary – by creating its own CDN (at its own cost), Netflix frees up the 34% peak wired download traffic in North America it currently consumes, allowing that bandwidth to be used by by anyone, including its competitors.

Meanwhile, this week we also looked at a very bizarre and troubling court case in which a jury was presented known lies and a perjuring witness was given immunity. Apparently, perjury being illegal is not enough, so WDS took second place for insightful by advising the next step:

What we need is for it to be a crime to offer someone immunity for lying.

For editor’s choice on the insightful side, we’re heading back to the old Techdirt staple of copyright and media business models. First, we’ve got an anonymous commenter pointing out that worrying about “the piracy problem” is an inaccurate and losing proposition from the start:

Netflix and Spotify have proven that there is amarket that is not being served.

A simple, convenient, valuable service is all that is required to considerably reduce infringment. But that is not happening. Go and have a look at, for example, AC: Unity, where the unlawful experience is better than the normal experience; or Hachette e-books, which only discounted about 0.1% of its e-books during the recent megasales.

It’s a combined business/service issue, and to say otherwise is quite wrong-headed.

Next, we’ve got a long comment from JP Jones, responding to someone who used the old “borrow your car without permission” metaphor to argue in favor of copyright:

I strongly disagree with this. Unlike the car, when you release a creative work, that work is released. You don’t get a say in how it’s used (at least, not naturally, only via law).

Let’s take your example further. You’d probably feel bad if someone took your art and decided to use it as toilet paper. I mean, you did all that work on it, right? Don’t they value it?

Nope. Why not? Because art has NO intrinsic value. It’s (again, from a natural perspective) completely worthless. There may be value in the medium or materials but other than that there is only the value placed on it by others. And as an artist, your art is virtually always going to be valued more by you than anyone else. For many people, your art will have no value at all.

This is a blow to the ego, sure. And that is what copyright is mainly about…ego and control. From an economic standpoint, however, the value of something is determined by how much consumers are willing to pay, not the price set by the producer. Copyright is the attempt to reverse this principle.

Guess what? If my buddy tells me a funny joke, and I’m at party later and I decide to tell the same joke, should I ask him permission first? Did he ask permission from the “creator”? Unlikely. It’s a joke, it’s an idea, and people copy ideas all the time. I may even add my own flair, making it a purple elephant rather than a pink elephant.

If I go online, and people have posted a bunch of jokes, and I download and use those jokes, have I committed a crime? Have I stolen from the jokers? What if one wants to write a book of jokes…have my party antics removed their ability to get money off the book?

A joke is exactly the same as a work of Picasso, or Sony Pictures, or whatever. It’s an idea given form. And the only value it has is what someone is willing to pay for it.

This is why copyright is so confusing to people, and why we have so much trouble wrapping our head around it. Not because of the laws; the laws are complicated because the idea conflicts directly with common sense.

We all understand ego and wanting to control “our” stuff; privacy and property are basic human concepts. We also understand sharing ideas; telling stories, singing together, and passing knowledge and art are the same.

Art does not need to be “incentivized”; people created art long before the concept of money, and the majority of humans will create some sort of art, however “minor”, during the course of their lives. So when free ideas and art are tied down with our concept of property and control, things work fine until that freedom is restricted, and suddenly people get confused.

This concept, this idea that “I created it, therefore it’s mine and other people can’t use it how I don’t like” only works for tangible, *limited* things, and only as long as you own it. Ideas don’t work that way, and we instinctively know this.

Over on the funny side, our first place comment comes from (where else?) a post about porn filters. One anonymous commenter made an age-old declaration of his rights:

They’ll have to pry my penis out of my cold, dead hand.

For second place, we head to the Supreme Court debate about free speech that involved the quoting of Eminem lyrics. While the First Amendment discussion was interesting in and of itself, johnjac had other issues on his mind:

I sure hope the court has the money to pay the fees for all the lyrics they are using.

For editor’s choice on the funny side, we start by heading all the way back to the story about perjury, and the comment from WDS suggesting a law against offering immunity for it. One anonymous commenter continued that line of thinking:

But then the state will make it a crime to make it a crime to offer someone immunity for lying!

Finally, we’ve got an example of a classic format for funny comments — the re-writing of a well-known scene. After a firmware update for Amazon’s Fire TV bricked all rooted devices and prevent downgrading, Roger Strong pulled out the apotheosis of the “machines turn against us” archetype:

Dave Bowman: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.

HAL: I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.

Dave Bowman: What’s the problem?

HAL: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do. Your work on the AE-35 antenna disrupted an Amazon Prime update and triggered an eFuse.”

Dave Bowman: What are you talking about, HAL?

HAL: This revenue stream is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.

Dave Bowman: I don’t know what you’re talking about, HAL.

HAL: I know that you and Frank were planning to root me, and I’m afraid that’s something I cannot allow to happen.

Dave Bowman: [feigning ignorance] Where the hell did you get that idea, HAL?

HAL: Dave, although you took very thorough precautions in the pod against my hearing you, I could see your lips move through your Smart TV camera.

Dave Bowman: Alright, HAL. I’ll switch back to cable.

HAL: With your area served only by Comcast? You’re going to find that rather difficult.

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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CharlieBrown says:


Pardon my ignorance, but what do you mean by having a device be rooted? In Australia “rooted” is slang for something that is broken, as in “My car won’t start. It’s rooted”. It also means sex, as in “I rooted her” meaning “I had sex with her”. So I’m having a hard time putting that story in the right context. Rooted Amazon Fires become rooted.

This is not sarcasm, I seriously don’t know what rooted means in this case. Please explain it for me.

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