by Leigh Beadon

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the definitions-and-nuances dept

This week, Keith Alexander made a strong argument in favor of continued ineffective surveillance, on the basis that this very inefficacy has ensured that the problem is undiminished and the efforts are still necessary. This prompted BentFranklin to deliver our most insightful comment of the week, reminding everyone of an important definition:

Terrorism is the use of fear to affect policy. General Alexander uses fear to affect policy.

Meanwhile, LG revealed its thirst for data this week when it told Smart TV customers that it would disable features if they refused to share their viewing and search history with third parties. Josh won second place for insightful by pointing out how much less palatable this kind of thing is with an expensive product:

Why are people complaining about Google is generally watching what you do with free stuff, but LG is watching very specific stuff with something you have bought.

If LG gave me the TV for free, I wouldn't have to much of an issue with it, but when you pay $1000 for a TV, I expect some privacy.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we'll start out with one more from that post, since an anonymous commenter offered the solution to these and other smart TV woes:

Just buy an 'dumb' TV, and get a dongle to make it smart. Much cheaper, can be swapped and less hassle.

Next, we've got Josh in CharlotteNC with some thoughts inspired by Ladar Levison's condemnation of the stacked US legal system:

What has happened to equality under the law? To me this shows a very clear imbalance among those with real access to the legal system (namely those with money or connections to lawyers), and those without.

Every other day I've got to "agree" to some type of legally binding contract to buy things, install basic software, or use basic services - and it all changes without any warning or objection I can raise. I have to sign 20 pages of dense legalese contracts to get a job, and to be expected to keep up with it when it changes without notice. I luckily rarely deal with the government, but the situation is the same there. If you don't want to be screwed by someone with their lawyer, you need multiple lawyers skilled in wildly disparate parts of the legal code available to you all the time.

I know there's a lot of lawyers that read Techdirt. I know most of you are both very good at what you do, and very well intentioned. You're just trying to help those of us without years of legal training navigate through a crazy byzantine system you had no part in creating. But there is something fundamentally *broken* about the legal system.

I'm a technical, engineer type person. When I see something that doesn't work well, or work fairly, or work efficiently I want to fix it. Rather than just working in the system with its faults, what can be done to make the legal system better? What can be done to simplify it for normal people so that we don't need a lawyer for every minor interaction we might have with the government, with other companies (or our own), or any random passerby on the street?

Over on the funny side the voting was pretty slow this week, but after we criticized Google for being a trademark bully, Michael took first place by sarcastically echoing a troll refrain:

Here you go - another Google is great and can do no wrong article. Don't you get tired of being the Google fanboy?

Next, when a German copyright lawsuit raised some extremely unanticipated questions about Jesus and authorship, an anonymous commenter took second place for funny with an appropriately adapted quote:

He who is without copyright violation among you, let him be the first to throw a lawsuit

Editor's choice for funny starts out on our post about publicity rights disputes between celebrities and the brands that (truthfully) boast about their patronage. An anonymous commenter suggested a workaround for the marketers:

The designers just have to be more careful about wording their ads:

"The Prop Master of The Blind Side thought our tacky watch was perfect for the character played by Sandra Bullock."


"Katherine Heigl won't let us say that she shops at Duane Reade. But if she doesn't, this picture shows that she had the good sense to mug someone who does!"

Finally, we've got Beta, who delivered a joke at the expense of the SF police who built a huge fiasco on a single license plate reader mistake:

Q: How many San Francisco police officers does it take to look at a license plate?
A: Huh?

That's all for this week, folks! We'll be off enjoying the (hopefully) nice weather tomorrow for Memorial Day in the US, but will be back to our regular posting schedule on Tuesday...

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 May 2014 @ 2:48pm

    in response to the 'terrorism that makes surveillance a necessity' comment, the surveillance isn't to stop the terrorists or even try to stop them, it's to keep tabs on all ordinary citizens, in case one or two dont pay their taxes!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 May 2014 @ 3:16pm


      More likely, it is to detect any organized political challenge to the status quo, so that it can be nipped in the bud. Unorganized opposition, like occupy, slows them down, because they can not find the leaders.

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

    • icon
      CK20XX (profile), 25 May 2014 @ 3:27pm


      "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

      - C. S. Lewis

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

  • icon
    G Thompson (profile), 25 May 2014 @ 11:09pm

    In response to Josh's question on how to fix it, or start to fix it, as someone who is outside the USA looking in I can see two main areas that have to be looked at

    Firstly Consumer law:
    * make warranties to be a minimum statutorily in both timeframe (12months at minimum.. reasonable life of product at best) and if warranty is required for the consumer to decide whether they want a Repair, replacement or refund at THEIR choice not manufacturers.

    * Make the point of sale the ONLY requirement for customers to deal with. ie: if you buy an item at X store, X store has to do all the legwork etc for that item at the stores expense (recouped by the store from the distributor and/or manufacturer). The consumer should never have any call to deal with a distributor or manufacturer EVER.

    * if any of the above, including misleading practices, unenforceability, unconscionable behaviour and other fine points of contract law dealing with goods and/or services are allegedly breached by a seller/distributor/manufacturer then an UNBIASED authority (tribunal based works best) should decide what should be done.. Not some arbitrary arbrtation system that is payed for and beholden to the manufacturer. Transparency and Equity demand that the your Federal govt needs to do this only. If a breach is found the user is NOT payed money (though is just compensated for by either Refund, repair, replacement) and instead the corporation is FINED publicly.

    Secondly, TORT REFORM:
    This is normally a dirty evil blasphemous phrase for any attorneys in the USA who work for BigLaw and there are numerous ideas, theories, etc of what it involves etc. Though a good starting point is LOSER PAYS!
    In other words if someone(thing) gets taken to court and loses the winning party MUST pay all legal costs unless an appeal on the legalities of the case is granted.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    Mr. Oizo, 26 May 2014 @ 1:12am

    Google is so great, but I am not biased

    Laugh it up boy. Tell us: does Google pay you (indirectly) or not ?

    Also rather cheap to call everyone who disagrees with your Google fanposts a troll. I'm not the only one who notices a complete reporting bias in favor of Google. Anyway, that is fine, just put a banner under each post: 'I am truly a great Google believer' then people will be able to read it the way they should. I am a total Google hater. They are making a useless commodity of the net and it hurts the ecosystem that one company is allowed to grow so large.

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

  • identicon
    Whatever, 26 May 2014 @ 2:40am

    great line, but not really true

    Terrorism is the use of fear to affect policy. General Alexander uses fear to affect policy.

    Actually, Terrorism uses fear to affect behavior, General Alexander uses fear to affect policy.

    Terrorism is ground up, shake the roots stuff. Politics no matter at what level is always top down stuff.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2014 @ 10:56pm


    Hasn't it been said that if we change the way we do things then the terrorists have won? If that's the case, the terrorists won about 12 years ago.

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

  • identicon
    Andypandy, 27 May 2014 @ 2:45am

    ohhh dear

    s one person said the DOJ is a mess, nobody can get justice unless they have huge amounts of money and this is a crime in itself.

    Why is the DOJ making it harder to get justice and not resolving the issues of unfairness in the courts post haste.

    "The system is broken, we all know that so why is the DOJ not fixing it."
    This is rightly compared to an engineer ignoring failures in his construction....the end result is that the building collapses, maybe the DOJ should notice this and understand if they do not fix the problems post haste that they will eventually collapse.

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

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