Nospacesorspecialcharacters's Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week

from the follows-instructions-too-closely dept

Alright, here's a play-by-play of the posts that caught my attention between bashing the keyboard, drinking copious amounts of coffee and munching the odd cheese and pickle sandwich.

  • Last week saw the end of the biggest patent trial in history so far and the result wasn't in favor of innovation. But as the pieces of wreckage continue to be picked up and examined, Apple may be wishing one juror would now shut-up. Yes this was the post where Techdirt readers had their 'Aha moment'.

  • This was the week Tim Cushing confessed the Authors Guild latest luddite act makes him want to go all 50 Shades of Grey on a book;
    I'm pretty sure that if I buy a Scott Turow hardcover, I can then rip it from its binding, shove it through the scanner and make my own PDF. From that point on, I can paste it all back together, cross out Turow's name and write "BY TIM CUSHING" all over the cover and put it in the 25-cent bin at the next garage sale, all without fear of litigious reprisal.
    There's a fanfic story in there somewhere... involving a beer glass... or something.
  • An artist decides to take the bold step of going royalty-free in order to see where it ends up and what the world makes of it. Previously I had never heard of Shuho Sata. Now I have. See what I did there?

  • More heartwarming news in the form of one half of our favorite antagonists getting less money-that-really-should-go-to-artists;
    Perhaps the studios are recognizing that they're better off no longer throwing good money after bad.
  • Since I travel a lot for work, the news that hotel locks are easily hackable has got me concerned. I already have to hide my PVC suit from the maid and now this?! Needless to say I'll be checking my hotel bill extras for '1x electronic door lock - $50'.

  • Whilst on the subject of security... this week Mike wrote an excellent post which was about a scientist who is a bank robber. Apparently he was so good at it Chris Nolan contacted him about making a movie about his life. I didn't really read it, I just skimmed the post to the last paragraph where he wrote "this other story that Cerf told at a different Moth event about his life as a bank robber".

  • How silently, how silently the wondrous gift... of public domain is taken away! Another all too familiar story of a Media Overlord sending a DMCA notice to the little town of YouTube to give the message a new creative work is about to be taken down.

  • Speaking of DMCA notices, no sooner than was LendInk back up and running, they received a 'Congratulations' card.. no wait... it was a DMCA notice! Timothy's final summary is what made it hit my favorites list however;
    As an author myself, I can't tell my peers how liberating it is to not give a damn about anyone who wishes to share my work. It alleviates me of all the drama against readers. It alleviates me of all potential missteps against legitimate services. It alleviates me of the responsibility for any ripple effects those missteps might cause. Have I read every word of the contracts I've signed? Yes. Do I understand every word of them. Of course not. Because I don't have to.
  • Is it just me or is spending time with the TSA like spending time with your parents? If they're not criticizing your choice of fashion, they're drilling you for every little detail about what your future plans are... who you're seeing... are you an American citizen.... Now as someone who has had their arse felt more than once by the border agency divas, I know the humiliation that can come from a border couture faux pas. But when they start smiling and asking you about your trip, that's when it gets really creepy, as summarized by Tim C;
    Here's the problem, though. It's nearly impossible for the average human being to chat normally with someone who has the power to indefinitely detain or otherwise screw up their travel plans for any number of nebulous "violations." There's no such thing as an innocuous or friendly question when it comes to an agency with a reputation for acting irresponsibly, vindictively and ignorantly, depending on the situation. No one is ever going to feel comfortable just handing out additional personal information, no matter how anecdotal, to someone who can use any misstep as an excuse to search, detain or otherwise inconvenience anyone and everyone.
What, you haven't heard of silicon heaven?

Finally, being a UK citizen, I know that by writing this post I've deprived a hard-working American of doing it. Well, just so you know, you're welcome to write one of your own -- just don't steal mine (CC-ND-NC).

Reader Comments

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  • icon
    Scott (profile), 1 Sep 2012 @ 12:26pm

    Night of the Brown Shirts

    With TSA (and there ever expanding role), how long until we have our own NIGHT. What more powers do they want.

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

  • identicon
    Olde Gus, 1 Sep 2012 @ 1:18pm

    Is it really going to matter that your files are not transferable when Apple or Amazon close up shop and banish all your purchased content to the nether world of digital services?

    I have seen this point raised dozens of times since the late 90's. And Company X DuJour and Company Y DuJour did indeed go out of business (or abandon the business or just keep *buffering* (that one still hurts ;)). In almost every case IIRC, the sucker that paid the money and allowed DRM to contaminate their machine was:


    And when this is going to change? Never. Screwing people is just "doing business".

    To paraphrase what someone said in the Techdirt item the other day - what you've identified is one of the main reasons that people "pirate".

    You've also identified one of the main reasons people reject DRM.

    We have a saying where I come from "Fool me once - f*** you a**hole!"

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2012 @ 4:51pm

    Harvard Cheating Scandal

    Jonathan H. Adler • August 31, 2012 7:15 am

    The Associated Press reports on a massive cheating scandal at Harvard:

    Harvard University is investigating whether dozens of undergraduate students cheated on a take-home exam last spring.

    School officials said they discovered students may have shared answers or plagiarized on a final exam. They declined to release the name of the class, the students’ names or the exact number being investigated, citing privacy laws.

    The undergraduate class had a minimum of 250 students and possible cheating was discovered in roughly half the take-home exams, university officials said Thursday.

    Bloomberg reports the investigation is looking at approximately 125 students.

    While the AP and Bloomberg reports don’t identify the class, the Crimson does: Goverment 1310 – “Introduction to Congress.” [Insert snarky comment here.]

    Instapundit reader Scott Wiehle comments: “What’s so pitiful about this story is that about 200 or so of our best and brightest had to cheat on an open book exam at a school where grade inflation is so rampant you would have to cite ayn rand or favorably refer to W. to get a B.”

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2012 @ 5:48pm

    Posner on “Staleness” of Digital Evidence

    The attached court opinion is directly about child pornography but is indirectly about searching a computer hard drive. The opinion herein discusses the searching aspect not the child porn aspect.

    In The United States Court of Appeals for the 7 District


    When you delete a file, it goes into a “trash” folder, and when you direct the computer to “empty” the trash folder the contents of the folder, including the deleted file, disappear. But the file hasn’t left the computer. The trash folder is a waste paper basket; it has no drainage pipe to the outside. The file seems to have vanished only because the computer has removed it from the user interface and so the user can’t “see” it any more. Virginia M. Kendall & T. Markus Funk, Child Exploitation and Trafficking 275-76 (2012); United States v. Flyer, 633 F.3d 911, 918 (9th Cir. 2011); United States v. Gourde, 440 F.3d 1065, 1071 (9th Cir. 2006) (en banc). But it’s still there, and normally is recoverable by computer experts until it’s overwritten because there is no longer unused space in the computer’s hard drive.

    “Staleness” is highly relevant to the legality of a search for a perishable or consumable object, like cocaine, but rarely relevant when it is a computer file. Computers and computer equipment are “not the type of evidence that rapidly dissipates or degrades.” United States v. Vosburgh, 602 F.3d 512, 529 (3d Cir. 2010). Because of overwriting, it is possible that the deleted file will no longer be recoverable from the computer’s hard drive. And it is also possible that the computer will have been sold or physically destroyed. And the longer the interval between the uploading of the material sought as evidence and the search of the computer, the greater these possibilities. But rarely will they be so probable as to destroy probable cause to believe that a search of the computer will turn up the evidence sought[.]

    Computer procedures such as “defragmenting,” “wiping,” and creating “garbage files” can make deleted computer files very difficult or even impossible to recover. Lange & Nimsger, supra, at 221-24. And encryption may hide files remaining on the hard drive so effectively as to thwart their recovery by computer experts. Kendall & Funk, supra, at 167. Software that wipes the hard drive or overwrites deleted files with garbage data can be bought on line. But it appears that few consumers of child pornography (the producers may be more savvy) understand well enough how their computer’s file system works to grasp the importance of wiping or overwriting their deleted pornographic files or encrypting them securely if they want to avoid leaving recoverable evidence of child pornography in their computer after they’ve deleted it. Anyway this way of thwarting a search has nothing to do with staleness. A child pornographer who wants to render computer files nonrecoverable will first download those he wants to keep to a DVD, which can be hidden outside his home, and then either destroy the computer and get a new, “clean” one, or take steps to assure the complete overwriting of the contents of his hard drive. Nevertheless, despite the availability of software for obliterating or concealing incriminating computer files, the use of such software “is surprisingly rare.” Kendall & Funk, supra, at 276.

    No doubt after a very long time, the likelihood that the defendant still has the computer, and if he does that the file hasn’t been overwritten, or if he’s sold it that the current owner can be identified, drops to a level at which probable cause to search the suspect’s home for the computer can no longer be established. But seven months is too short a period to reduce the probability that a computer search will be fruitful to a level at which probable cause has evaporated. . . .

    The most important thing to keep in mind for future cases is the need to ground inquiries into “staleness” and “collectors” in a realistic understanding of modern computer technology and the usual behavior of its users. Only in the exceptional case should a warrant to search a computer for child pornography be denied on either of those grounds (there are of course other grounds for denial). But future changes in computer technology may alter this conclusion, and judges as well as law enforcers must be alert to that possibility as well.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Sep 2012 @ 5:45pm

      Re: Posner on “Staleness” of Digital Evidence

      Very good points. I would also add that downloading should always be done through a proxy or VPN. (Avoid TOR, since the government was involved in its development.) Cleaning programs I recommend: Clean Disk Security, Tracks Eraser Pro, and CleanUp!. These are capable of multiple overwrites and wiping. Use a number of cleaning programs, as some will clean what others miss. Wiping both free space and slack space is important.
      Your computer keeps track of images you have viewed with a file called thumbs.db. To avoid this, search for thumbs.db and use a cleaning program to wipe it out. Then go into Tools> Folder Options> View and check "Do not cache thumbnails". This will prevent thumbs.db from being recreated.
      The rest has been pretty well covered in the post to which I replied.
      And don't forget the most important security measure of all: keep your mouth shut.

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

  • icon
    A Guy (profile), 1 Sep 2012 @ 6:58pm

    To anyone whom felt disrespected by anything I may have said on this board:

    I was only expressing my own opinion. I respect the laws and decisions made by our lawmakers, captains of industry and the difficult positions they are often in. My opinions were heartfelt, but they were just my opinions. Perhaps sometimes it's better to keep ones opinions to themselves. I certainly meant no disrespect and deeply apologize if my opinions were taken as disrespectful.

    Sometimes it's easy to step over the line when you perceive you're acting alone in a private setting.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2012 @ 7:50pm


      I respect the laws and decisions made by our lawmakers, captains of industry and the difficult positions they are often in.

      I certainly don't. Our lawmakers and captains of industry are, for the most part, driven by greed of money and power. I certainly don't respect many of them, and I don't trust a single one.

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

    • icon
      Rikuo (profile), 2 Sep 2012 @ 3:55am


      Disrespected by what? I'm on here every day, read every article and not to insult you or anything...but I don't remember you.
      *Does a quick scan of your profile*

      I'm confused. Nothing I saw in there was disrespectful. At all. I saw comments about physics, quantum mechanics etc. I didn't see anything that would cause anyone to burst into rage, and even if they did, then it's their fault for being predisposed to getting angry over extremely benign comments.

      So what exactly are you apologizing over? As far as I can see, you've done nothing wrong.

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

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