Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the votes-are-in dept

Yikes. Not only did we get a ton of traffic this week, but a lot more comments and a lot more votes on comments than usual. Keep it up! Coming in first on the "insightful" list was Todd responding to Jon Stewart's analysis of SOPA (just days after Stewart admitted he'd heard nothing about it). The fact that he got the details so quickly didn't go unnoticed:
I find it ironic (and also quite sad) that a comedian can figure out the core issue within two days and that congress has been working on this for two years and still hasn't gotten the point.
This is why I think we all agree that we need more comedians in Congress (though, I guess, we tried that with Al Franken... and he's still supporting PIPA).

Coming in second is a long, but thorough, comment from Rubberpants, in which he breaks down the MPAA's statements concerning the protest on Wednesday:
People often say far more than they intend to simply by the words they choose. Even carefully crafted PR statements contain hidden insights.

"Only days after"

The date of the blackouts was determined before the white-house released their statement. The use of the word "only" implies that having the timing of the blackout was somehow improper, unreasonable, or wrong.

"the White House and chief sponsors of the legislation"

Intentionally grouping the White House and chief sponsors together so that it is unclear who the actions and positions in the rest of the sentence are attributed to.

"responded to"

"Responded to" doesn't mean removed, fixed or addressed. Responded means anything other than silence, up to and including "screw you."

"to the major concern"

Note the singular of "concern." They acknowledge that there are other concerns, and that they did not respond to them.

"expressed by opponents"

By using the word "opponents", they reveal that they see this as a game. There are many other words they could have used there. The game theme keeps popping up later as well.

"and then called for all parties to work cooperatively together,"

They just finished saying that they see people who don't support the bill as their challengers in a game, that there are concerns they didn't respond to, and then somehow think we'll believe that they want all parties to "work cooperatively together." This is clearly a lie. The other things they've said indicate that they don't want that at all.

"some technology business interests"

"Some" is a pretty weak word to represent a quantity that tends to mean "not many." They want to minimize the number. Including the word "interests" evokes the term "special interests" and the negative connotations associated with it. (I find that particularly interesting as this is coming from an organization that's whole reason for being is to influence policy. Where as the "technology" businesses are actual businesses.)

"are resorting"

They use "resorting" to imply desperation or a last-ditch effort, that they believe the blackouts were a hasty reaction and not well thought out or carefully considered. That's not true. We know there was lengthy discussion, advanced planning, and careful coordination between many parties before hand, especially in the case of Wikipedia.

"to stunts"

You know, "stunts", like Evel Knievel jumping a flaming car or a seal balancing a ball on it's nose; implying hollow and pointless entertainment with no real purpose or effect. It's too soon to see all of the effects of this, but early indications are it's been quite effective.

"that punish their users"

This is an attempt to persuade people that encounter the blackout that the site isn't punishing the MPAA - it's punishing them. (Again, interesting coming from an organization that not only literally threatens to punish it's users every time they use their supporters products with a red warning about big punishments but has also actually punished it's users, including children and elderly people by suing them for enormous sums of money.)

"or turn them into their corporate pawns"

Again with the game metaphors. The MPAA doesn't produce or sell anything they simply follow the orders of the companies that fund them. Pawns. Furthermore, the whole point of the MPAA is to influence policy makers with campaign contributions and lucrative private-sector employment opportunities. Pawns again. But somehow, when someone is encouraged to contact the person elected to represent them, they're pawns.

"rather than coming to the table"

They are making clear here that they don't want the direction of the country being determined by the voice of the public, but by big players in a closed room sitting around a table making deals. First chess, and now poker.

"to find solutions"

"Solutions" plural. These bills are not the end, in other words.

"to a problem that all now seem to agree is very real and damaging."

We know that all do not agree. It's hard to tell a blatant lie through, it causes psychological discomfort. So, they had to add the word "seem" to soften the statement. The fact that they even put this phrase in there, shows that they know this isn't true. When someone is writing about drunk-driving, do they bother to write that "all now agree it's very real and damaging?" Of course not, everyone already agrees with that. Also, by trying to strengthen "real" with the word "very", they are betraying that they suspect it isn't real but they want us to think it is.

"It is an irresponsible response"

They are saying that the blackout was reckless and that someone just like you could get hurt by it. Classic appeal to fear.

"and a disservice to people who rely on them for information and use their services."

They are admitting that people "rely" on their opponents. If someone relies on you, then you are essential. I'm surprised by this and think it was a slip up on there part.

"It is also an abuse of power"

They are acknowledging that the Internet is powerful and they resent that.

"given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today."

This is clearly a threat. They're saying that these companies have too much freedom and they can take it away. "Those are some nice freedoms you have there. It would be a shame if something were to happen to them."

"It’s a dangerous and troubling development"

"Dangerous" is, again, an appeal to fear. The use of the word "development" tries to suggest that these actions are a surprise and were not provoked or precipitated by any events. It's an attempt to absolve themselves of any responsibility for the consequences of their actions.

"when the platforms that serve as gateways to information"

I'm surprised they would use the word "gateways" here. It's a common criticism that they are the "gatekeepers" of content and they just want to lock it up. Perhaps they are trying to imply that "those other guys are gatekeepers too, see!"

"intentionally skew the facts"

"Skew" is a pretty weak criticism, akin to "tilt" or "spin". They could have said, "they are lying", but they didn't because that of itself is a lie and would be too strong for comfort. It also would be too hard to fact check them on that - whereas "skew" could mean anything.

"to incite their users"

"incite" is clearly an homage to mob violence and implies coercion rather than persuasion. (Shouldn't they have said "induce" just for kicks and giggles?)

"in order to further their corporate interests."

They are saying, "See, we're not the only ones with corporate interests. Everyone is doing it so it's okay."

"A so-called “blackout” is yet another gimmick, albeit a dangerous one,"

We know it's called a blackout. Everyone is calling it a blackout. "So-called" is an attempt to weaken the term. "Yet another" is trying to imply that there were previous actions that were also "gimmicks." (Writing a letter to congress is a "gimmick?")

"designed to punish elected and administration officials"

This is a deflection of blame and criticism away from themselves to congress. Guess they're not true friends after all.

"who are working diligently"

They are pointing out that the congress who can't get anything done has a chance here to look like they're doing something and they want us to stop being so hard on them and just give them this chance to save their careers.

"to protect American jobs from foreign criminals."

Of course, "jobs" is the buzzword of the year so that's no surprise. The big old "American" and "foreign criminals" is an appeal to nationalism and patriotism. They went one step short of saying "terrorists." That might have worked ten years ago.

"It is our hope"

"Hope" here shows that they doubt this will work.

"that the White House and the Congress will call on those who intend to stage this “blackout” to stop the hyperbole and PR stunts"

Again with the deflection. "You guys tell them, we're too scared to."

"and engage in meaningful efforts to combat piracy.”

They are implying that they are engaging in some efforts but those efforts are not meaningful. Notice they didn't say "effective." "Meaningful", implies moral righteousness which gels with their line that "piracy is illegal" and therefore must be stopped - no matter if it's actually harmful or the laws practical to enforce.
Phew. Onto the editor's choice. I don't always agree with Crosbie Fitch, but he makes a point worth thinking about here. Can copyright and the internet co-exist?
As we should know by now, either copyright has a future or the Internet has a future.

There is no future for both.

Stop kidding yourself that in the future some incredibly talented legislator will invent a magical copyright law that can prohibit the copying of published works without interfering with the people's cultural liberty.
It's an interesting point. The thing that computers do is copy stuff. They're the most powerful "infringement enablers and facilitators ever." Can the two things co-exist?

Next up, we've got blaktron, explaining how, under the original definition of "piracy" SOPA and PIPA themselves are a form of piracy:
Piracy was originally defined as an aggressive attack against a shipping lane.

Since the internet is the 'shipping lane' of the 21st century, and PIPA/SOPA attack its foundation, then both PIPA and SOPA would technically be acts of piracy.

Blows your mind doesnt it?
On that note, we move over to the funny side of the ledger. The vote here was actually super close, but coming out on top was BeachBumCowboy responding to the news of the estate of Martin Luther King locking up his speeches by using IP laws:
"Paid at last! Paid at last! thank God Almighty, we are paid at last!"
For second place... oh wait.... for the first time ever (I think...) we actually have a tie for second place, so we'll list out both. First up, we've got an Anonymous Coward channeling one of our usual critics responding to the news of PIPA support falling apart:
The wild west days of the internet are over, it's just a matter of time until these bills pass. Now, if you will excuse me, I have to finish sticking my head in this sand that I keep inside my ass.
What's amusing, of course, is that the guy -- a confessed lobbyist -- who did make a number comments that read exactly like that first sentence for most of last year, and who's still commenting on the site pretty much every day -- has not admitted yet that he was wrong.

The "second second" place comment was from :Lobo Santo, responding to the Supreme Court Justices discovering naked statues in their own chambers:
Bare breasts where once a symbol of honesty and openness, I personally think we need MORE honesty and openness in video(s) everywhere.
And even though we already have three funny comments, because I just can't narrow it down, I'm giving you three more editor's choice comments this week. First up, Capitalist Lion Tamer, with his response to Lamar Smith's claim that SOPA was necessary to protect business and jobs "from foreign thieves who steal America's intellectual property..." Stealing intellectual property is a neat and misleading turn of phrase, so out of it we got this story:
Good thing the TSA is now patrolling the roads in conjunction with ICE. I can't count how many trucks loaded with American IP I've seen hightailing it to Mexico. One was stacked to the ceiling with pending patents. Another had nothing but 1's and 0's in it but still somehow managed to be over the weight limit.

I saw an ICE agent dressed in a Donald Duck outfit (undercover?) patting down a semi driver for any extra Brothers Grimm stories he might have hidden on his person. I even saw Smith's former IT person sitting in the back of squad car while SWAT-geared officers searched his trunk for unlicensed photos. He claimed he had no idea the photos weren't in the public domain, at which point the ICE agent let out a huge guffaw, stating in a barely intelligible quack that "the public domain is nothing but a pirate myth."

But the worst thing I saw, the thing that chilled me right to my completely American bones, was a trailer full of nothing but empty hard drives, each one capable of housing huge tracts of intellectual property, and if one had the means to link them, could contain all of the mp3s at with room to spare. The worst part, though? The hard drives were stamped "Made in China."

At that point I wept harder than any person with first world problems like "intellectual property theft" has ever wept, knowing that all of our hard-won IP would now be freely handled by third-world countries where reliable and affordable sources of food, heat and clean water were not much more than a hazy mirage on the very distant horizon.

But I knew right then and there that we were right: we had the power to legislate the entire world through a controlled internet. I knew we could help add to the amount of repression and censorship in the countries that were busy victimizing our way of life. I knew that, despite America being in the midst of a recession and attendant financial crises and that an internal occupation indicated great dissatisfaction with the status quo, despite our soldiers still being embroiled in unwinnable wars and our human rights swiftly eroding back home, despite an out-of-control debt and deficit, despite public approval of all levels of government having fallen to all-time lows, I knew in my heart of hearts that this legislation would still be first and foremost in the minds of our legislators and I KNEW that despite everything else, these industries MUST BE PROTECTED.
Next up we've got Chris Rhodes responding to the MPAA's insistence that the protests involving companies shutting down their own websites was "abuse." Rhodes found that either ironic or insane:
Taking down the websites of others = Not abuse
Taking down your own website = Abuse

And, finally, we've got Jupiterkansas with a positively brilliant NY Post headline version of Rupert Murdoch lashing out on Twitter after the world came out against SOPA/PIPA:
"Old Man Yells at Cloud"
Get ready to yell at your own clouds... we'll be back tomorrow with plenty of stories.

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  1. icon
    A. Nnoyed (profile), 23 Jan 2012 @ 5:10am

    Megaupload, Silicon Valley

    Megaupload: If the MPAA Government Puppets read the BetaMax decision by the Supreme Court they might have gotten it through their corrupt skulls that Megaupload conformed to that precedent. Just like the VCR, Megaupload had both infringing and non infringing uses. The Supreme Court found in favor of Sony because of the non infringing uses. Why doesn't the same law apply to Megaupload?

    Silicon Valley: Since the BetaMax decision the RIAA and MPAA cartel has developed psychotic delusions that everyone is stealing their stuff. Each time new technology is developed the cartel requires that more draconian copyright protection be applied to the new technology. Compare the copyright protection applied to DVD's and Blue Ray DVD's. Silicon Valley has been a victim of this psychosis. Hardware developers fear that the copyright cartel will withdraw content for their hardware. The cartel trashed Sony, by refusing to release new movies in Beta format until long after they were released in VHS format. Consumers stopped buying BetaMax VCR'a and started buying VHS VCR's.

    Remember when the DVD was developed. The Copyright Mafia refused to release any content until copyright protection was developed for the DVD. In reality even though the movie studios state in their advertisements of a movie "Own It Today" in reality the purchase price is a one time right to use fee and consumers do not really own the content the movie studio retains ownership. Then of course there was the prosecution of that kid in Sweden, under the DCMA, for creating the DVD copyright protection decode and publishing it.

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