DannyB's Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week

from the favorites dept

This week's "favorites" post comes from DannyB.

Having never done the favorite posts before, I wasn't sure if I should. Since I didn't have to pee, I hope I made the right decision.

The best laugh all week was Man Tries To Patent Godly Powers; Justifies It By Pointing To Software & Business Method Patents. That makes sense in an insane sort of way. Multiple forms of insanity combined. He forgot to mention aliens. 'Nuff said.

Speaking of patents: Congress Happy To Knock Out Patents That Impact Financial Institutions... But Everyone Else?. Don't worry. This is good news in disguise. Precedent: You protected Johnny from bad patents, why not me too? What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Microsoft To US Gov't: Hey, Only We Should Be Able To Use Patents To Shakedown Other Companies!. Nice hypocrisy there Microsoft. Live by the patent, die by the patent. (Apple, are you listening?)

56 pages of iTunes terms? Really? Can't we get a short version in one sentence? Try this: You agree to return to the Apple store each month and do whatever they tell you. I AGREE

Which brings me to Music Service Simfy Files Complaint Over Apple Blocking Its iPad App. When you build a business on something controlled by a party with conflicting interests, be prepared to have the rug yanked out from under you. It's not the first time, and it won't be the last. (Disclaimer: Android fanboy talking.) Android lacks a single point of control. There are currently multiple Android app stores (e.g., Google, Amazon), with more on the way. (Will I get in trouble for saying "app store"?) If you don't like Google's store or its policies, approval process, etc, there is Amazon's store. More choice (not less) is a good thing.

I had to chuckle at Former Obama Advisor Says Wikileaks Is Wonderful For The US Government. It's a shame the US government doesn't understand the importance of anonymous public whistle blowing. Of course, maybe they do, but I'd rather not go there.

The next article was informative. How Out Of Control Copyright Law Is Keeping Millions Of Books & Images Away From Scholars. I admit I had been one of those confused about the "science" and "arts" part of "useful arts and science". I didn't know copyrights were for science and patents were for useful arts. That profoundly affects what I think copyrights were intended to protect.

Next was Once Again, The Freedom Of Information Act Is Proving To Be Just That: An Act. If the Osama Bin Laden pictures are released, we learn nothing new. (Unless it would reveal something we didn't know! My mind races with possibilities if I go there.) Otherwise, propaganda usage of the pictures is irrelevant. Honest people could comply with FOIA. If the government would act honestly most of the time, they would have credibility when they need to protect a secret.

Which leads to several ICE domain seizure favorites. There is so much I could say about the bumbling ICE domain seizure clown circus.
  • Government working for private industry.
  • Lack of due process, legal service, representation and response.
  • Making a(nother) mockery of FOIA.
  • Its ineffectiveness.
  • Hurting unrelated subdomains; demonstrating a lack of understanding of how things actually work.
  • Impacting sites outside the US.
Did someone believe this wouldn't have repercussions? Did they grasp what they were doing? I hope it comes back to bite. Hard.

Talk about the right hand of government not knowing what the left hand is doing. C'mon guys. Which do you want? The free flow of information or censorship and government control. It's a delusion to think you can have both.

I was happy to see continuing pushback on mass copyright infringement lawsuits and copyright trolling. Phone numbers are a relic, an artifact of automatic dialing technology. Will it make sense in the future? Using magic, voice-operated, touch screen computers that fit in our pockets (aka, smartphones), "Internet" calls feel no different than telephone calls and may have advanced capabilities like video. International calls reflect the true lower cost of moving bits on a network.

Oh goodie. FBI Agents Getting More Power To Spy On People With Less Oversight. Why is this not surprising. CDA. DMCA. PATRIOT Act. ACTA. PROTECT-IP. Naked scanners. Patdowns. Controlling "rogue" websites. Government as a private police force, no due process. GPS tracking without due process. Making a joke of FOIA. Where does it end?

Maybe it just gets worse. US Trying To Extradite UK TVShack Admin Over Questionable Copyright Charges?. It turns out the US is not just trying, they're actually going to do it. Wow. The discussion on this topic says it all.

Summit Entertainment May Learn That You Can't File A Copyright Takedown Over A Trademark Issue. What to say? The title itself is the punch line. I hope that abuses of the DMCA starts resulting in some serious costs to the abuser.

Senators Unconcerned About Massive Unintended Consequences Of Criminalizing People For Embedding YouTube Videos. I should be shocked. But I'm too numb from other government actions. Clearly the senators don't give the south end of a northbound rat.

What did we learn? People in government should be required to have a full bladder. Which brings me back to where I started. (Oh, gotta run now. . .)
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  1. icon
    Nate (profile), 18 Jun 2011 @ 12:23pm

    "Android lacks a single point of control."

    Tell that to Skyhook. Google was quite capable of kicking Skyhook's app off Motorola's phones.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    DannyB (profile), 18 Jun 2011 @ 12:43pm

    From Wikipedia:

    In December 2010 a judge denied Skyhook's motion for preliminary injunction, saying that Google had not closed off the possibility of accepting a revised version of Skyhook's XPS service, and that Motorola had terminated their contract with Skyhook because Skyhook wanted to disable Google's location data collection functions on Motorola's devices, which would have violated Motorola's obligations to Google and its carriers.

    In short: Motorola terminated their contract with Skyhook because Skyhook wanted Motorola to breach their obligations to both Google and the wireless network operators.

    So exactly what did Google do wrong here?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    Greevar (profile), 18 Jun 2011 @ 1:06pm

    These favorite posts are a great idea.

    I realize now that without these favorite posts of the week, there would be some very good articles I would have missed given the fast pace at which Mike & Co. post.

    I completely missed that article about the obsolescence of phone numbers. I realize that even on cell phones, people spend more time using IM than voice and they're almost always in range of some kind of internet connection. We definitely associate with names rather than numbers when we contact someone on our communications devices. I've been saying for a while now that mobile phones should be shifted entirely to becoming the mobile internet communication devices they really are. No cellular voice towers, just wireless internet. The data plan is your mobile plan. Ubiquitous internet access and smart phones in everyone's pocket is where it's all going now. The old boys club had better catch on and seize the opportunity to get in on the ground floor or they will be kicking themselves when they get left behind.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    PrometheeFeu (profile), 18 Jun 2011 @ 2:37pm

    I have been thinking on the having-to-pee-makes-you-smart article and wondering what bugged me about it. Well, it's the fact that they tried a whole bunch of different scenarios and only the having to pee scenario gave significant results. I wonder if they accounted for the other experiments failing: http://xkcd.com/882/

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2011 @ 9:19pm


    I already detailed some of the problems here.

    This was a poorly thought out experiment.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, 18 Jun 2011 @ 9:32pm

    Re: Skyhook

    So how come they couldn’t get on anybody else’s phones?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, 18 Jun 2011 @ 9:33pm

    Android, Linux, Free Software etc

    Cup half-full => “choice”
    Cup half-empty => “fragmentation”

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Andy (profile), 18 Jun 2011 @ 9:54pm

    Anonymous whistleblowing

    Nice post, Danny.

    Your comment: "It's a shame the US government doesn't understand the importance of anonymous public whistle blowing. Of course, maybe they do, but I'd rather not go there" got me thinking (briefly).

    Here's how that ambivalence might play out:

    "Thank you for calling the Anonymous Whistleblower Hotline. We value your help in highlighting issues which we need to cover up. Please remain at your current location. A federal agent has already been dispatched and will be pleased to arrest you. Your concern for the public good is appreciated. Have a nice day."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    Marcus Carab (profile), 19 Jun 2011 @ 7:22am

    Re: Anonymous whistleblowing

    "You have selected, Regicide. If you know the name of the king or queen being murdered, press one..."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    Hephaestus (profile), 19 Jun 2011 @ 9:09am

    DannyB - You speak short sentences. Me like. Great post ... Made me smile. :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    Nate (profile), 19 Jun 2011 @ 12:20pm

    Re: Re: Skyhook

    That question is irrelevant to Google getting them kicked of Motorola's phones.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    Nate (profile), 19 Jun 2011 @ 12:26pm


    This seems like a single point of control to me:

    "So after all that, here’s what we’ve learned: Android might be open-source, but Google maintains tight control over its OEM partners by restricting access to apps like Gmail, Maps, and Market with a strict license agreement that hinges on Android compatibility. That’s what we’ve always suspected, but now we have definitive proof. And since Google both defines the relevant compatibility standards and decides which devices pass, it wields considerable power over its partners. Which, of course, leads to the central question in Skyhook’s case…"

    via http://thisismynext.com/2011/05/12/google-android-skyhook-lawsuit-motorola-samsung/

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Jun 2011 @ 5:30pm

    One of the reasons why patents hinder innovation is because it discourages trial and error.

    Let A, B, and C be three potential products. If C were created, it would be a market success, A and B would fail. What a patent troll does is he says, fine, I'll just get a patent on A, B, and C, and I'll do nothing to actually provide any products that are covered by these patents. Now everyone is afraid to experiment and conduct market research on A, B, and C because if they do, someone is likely to have a patent on whatever possibility is chosen. It's too risky.

    So companies would rather execute the necessary market research to discover that C is a marketable product (by trying A, B, and C) in other countries that aren't so strict on patents. Then, if C is a success, countries that are strict on patents would merely copy the idea (get the required licenses) and sell it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, 19 Jun 2011 @ 5:31pm

    Re: Skyhook

    It is relevant to showing that there is no “single point of control”, as you seem to suggest.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Jun 2011 @ 5:33pm


    (add to the above the difficulties of trying to determine that C maybe a success in one country while B would be a success in other countries, one can easily see how much patents hinder the trail and error process necessary to determine what products will be successful in what country. China may have a product that never makes it to the U.S., even though it might be a market success, because companies are too afraid that it won't be a success in the U.S. and the risk of infringing is too high).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    DannyB (profile), 20 Jun 2011 @ 5:44am

    Re: Re: Skyhook

    How come Skyhook couldn't get on anybody else's phones?

    It's like asking why can't the RIAA sell DRM'ed music tracks for $5 per track, or $40 per album.

    Because nobody would agree to Skyhook's terms. If Skyhook terms are mutually exclusive with obligations to Google and more importantly the mobile network operators, who do you think the OEM is going to side with?

    As the judge said, Google had not closed off the possibility of Skyhook having different terms.

    On a different line of thinking, anyone (eg, Archos) could build an Android device without Google. Google's market and apps are a powerful lever. But not one that is required. It's not like trying to build a Windows PC without Microsoft, or trying to build a Mac clone. The OS is open source. Compile it. Adapt it to your hardware. If someone else has valuable enough apps to compete with Google (eg, maps, mail, market, sky, earth, etc) then Google would suddenly find itself with less leverage. Nothing inherently prevents this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. icon
    DannyB (profile), 20 Jun 2011 @ 5:48am

    Re: Android, Linux, Free Software etc

    Yep. You're right.

    I'd pick the choice and fragmentation any day.

    The fragmentation is not such a big problem compared to having your app arbitrarily rejected, either initially, or much later after it has been in the store.

    Google is working to make the fragmentation problem easier to deal with.

    The fragmentation problem is much less of a problem than previous phone development. In the past, you had to pick one or more platforms. JME. Blackberry. BREW. Palm WebOS. Windows Mobile. With Android you have one platform that addresses a very large market (100 Million phones now, and 400,000 new activations per day). Which is easier. Differences within a platform? Or completely different platforms?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    DannyB (profile), 20 Jun 2011 @ 5:50am


    It was getting long. I edited for length. I tried to keep it understandable, and say much of what I wanted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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