Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the me-and-my-aereo dept

This week, we were dismayed when the supreme court ruled against Aereo. It didn't take long for the fallout to start, with Fox trying to use the ruling against Dish, and silverscarcat took first place for insightful with a simple sentence to sum up how many people feel about this:

And this is why...

Copyright loses more and more respect by innovators, writers and consumers on a daily basis.

Meanwhile, when we discussed problems with another fairly recent legal development — Europe's right-to-be-forgotten — one commenter accused us of having a double standard about privacy. Mason Wheeler took second place for insightful by explaining the nuance:

Techdirt is for privacy, but only for things that are actually private. Techdirt has always--as far as I've seen, at least--been against the abuse of the term "privacy" to try to hide public affairs that someone finds embarrassing.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we'll start with some more thoughts about the Aereo ruling, this time from Josh in CharlotteNC who realized that in the long run, nobody wins:

It's not just a disaster for tech companies, startups, and consumers.

It's also a disaster for the media companies that won the suit. As with every other victory they have in the courtroom, it's nothing more than a Pyrrhic one. They've been handed another excuse to not innovate or even to offer services based on now mature technology, and instead to let their lawyers run wild.

Until there's an online video offer equivalent or better than cable at a reasonable price, millions will continue to pirate. Netflix isn't there yet, and not just entirely because cable is trying to kill them.

Lawsuit won, at cost of millions. Revenue gained, nil. Company that could've helped broadcast video reach more people and make more money, destroyed. Other companies that could've helped video adapt, never going to be born. Widescale piracy extended. Everyone loses.

Next, we've got Almost Anonymous pointing out that no matter how you slice it, Keith Alexander shouldn't be doing private security work:

There are huge problems with Alexander doing security consulting, but it seems to me that he must be breaking the law whether he discloses classified info or not.

1. If he knows of "backdoors" and other vulnerabilities and does not disclose the info to his clients, he is essentially defrauding those clients by deliberately allowing them to remain insecure.

2. If he gives those clients the classified info that would allow them to remove those vulnerabilities, then he is obviously breaking the law, as Rep Grayson noted.

This is not even getting into the unethical nature of a person in Alexander's position doing any sort of security consulting in the first place.

Over on the funny side, we start out on the story about a Raspberry Pi microwave-modder whose awesome work can't be commercialized because of the patent thicket. Naturally someone — in this case Michael — had to make the irresistible joke:

I put a raspberry pie in my microwave and it didn't turn out very awesome.

In second place, we start out on the post about the FAA's strict rules against commercial drone use, which suggested (among other things) that using drones for commercial farming is not okay, but for hobby gardening it is. This prompted one commenter to wonder what kind of hobby gardener has so many crops that they need a monitor drone, to which saulgoode offered a possible answer:

Tommy Chong?

For editor's choice on the funny side, we'll return one more time to the Aereo ruling, where one commenter wondered (as many have) why the tech industry doesn't just start buying out the entertainment industry entirely. It's not that crazy of an idea, and you can see why it appeals to some, but it's ultimately not really what tech companies want to do, and Dave Xanatos offered a fantastic explanation of why that is:

Don't fight the dinosaur. *Buy* the dinosaur. Sounds great until you realize that now you have a dinosaur to care for and feed. Do you know how much Brontosaurus Chow goes for these days?

Finally, after all this time spent on a bad ruling, let's head over to a good one: KlearGear being forced to pay up for its attempts to shake down customers who wrote bad reviews. The company's vague, nebulous and often ridiculous nature prompted one anonymous commenter to draw a distinct parallel:

If this were a movie and Techdirt articles were the inspiration for the script, KlearGear would be revealed in the end to be owned by Prenda Law.

What a twist!

That's all for this week, folks.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    kenichi tanaka (profile), Jun 29th, 2014 @ 1:12pm

    The Supreme Court ruling on Aereo was the correct one. This was a company who was stealing media content from the licensed authorized broadcaster and tried to profit off content created by others.

    Aereo was violating copyright laws by selling access to watch TV shows online without licensing that content from the broadcasters.

    It doesn't matter what argument anyone comes up with, violating copyright is simply not permitted in this country. Otherwise, torrent sites would have a legitimate argument to push back against the MPAA and RIAA and be able to profit from sharing torrents.

     

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      Pragmatic, Jun 29th, 2014 @ 1:21pm

      Re:

      kenichi tanaka, you've been told many times that Aereo is all about receiving, not re-broadcasting. Even now, people in the industry are beginning to see what problems "Looks like a duck" can cause to innovation and the best you can do is channel OOTB? Sheesh!

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2014 @ 2:36am

        Re: Re:

        What did Aereo do after it received the signal? It rebroadcasted it via the interwebz. Duh.

        This case was so ridiculous I can't believe the ineptitude of the lower courts ever allowed it to make it to the SC. Scalia and his idiot twin sycophants should be ashamed for politicizing the court with their ridiculous votes.

         

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          Baron von Robber, Jun 30th, 2014 @ 8:32am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Hardly. I'm betting about 95% of free broadcasts were dropped because the Aereo user didn't want to record it, but instead, picked particular programs to record.

          Then Aereo transmitted that select program to their user.

          Something you can't comprehend.

           

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          Michael, Jul 1st, 2014 @ 12:35pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Aereo leased an individual antenna to each of it's users and allowed the users access to the content that the antenna received that was being broadcast freely in the area. The specific part of their offering impacted is the immediate viewing of this content, not the recording of it and accessing it later.

          That being understood, if I were to place an antenna in my house connected to my PC running Windows 7 and then watch live TV via my Xbox 360 - I have used the exact same technology setup Aereo was using. Because of this ruling, it is actually unclear if my doing this is breaking the law.

          What part of their setup is really the problem? Is it the lease of the antenna (I can lease an antenna for my house, can't I?)? Is it the length of the cable? Is it just because there was some kind of remote tuner rather than the tuner built into the TV?

           

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      Greevar (profile), Jun 29th, 2014 @ 2:59pm

      Re:

      "The Supreme Court ruling on Aereo was the correct one. This was a company who was stealing media content from the licensed authorized broadcaster and tried to profit off content created by others."

      Stealing: You keep using that word, but I don't think it means what you think it means.

      "Aereo was violating copyright laws by selling access to watch TV shows online without licensing that content from the broadcasters."

      No, they were providing a DVR to each customer with a really long cable.

      "It doesn't matter what argument anyone comes up with, violating copyright is simply not permitted in this country. Otherwise, torrent sites would have a legitimate argument to push back against the MPAA and RIAA and be able to profit from sharing torrents."

      Translation: It doesn't matter what argument anyone comes up with, I've made up my mind and I refuse to listen to any rational, factual argument that is contrary to my opinion. Despite that, I'll say this anyway:

      Torrent sites do have a legitimate argument to push back against the MPAA/RIAA. They are search engines that provide files that contain links to the actual hosts with specific content. They host no content of their own, just links. How long will it take to get it through people's heads that the "content theft" they rant about comes from the people that use torrent sites and not the torrent sites themselves? You might as well put Stanley Tools on trial every time people are murdered with one of their hammers.

      Let me make this explicitly clear so that anybody with an IQ above room temperature can parse it: Bittorrent is a tool and torrent sites are a tool. Blaming the tool rather than the people that misused it is a special kind of stupid.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2014 @ 7:14pm

        Re: Re:

        I like to think of Bit Torrent as the ultimate fair use.
        You're not sharing entire movies with everybody. You're sharing hundreds of thousands 1 second clips to hundreds and thousands other people. And then they assemble all of the pieces into a single movie.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2014 @ 2:38am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I like to think of you as a moronic freetard. I sleep well knowing I'm right.

           

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2014 @ 3:10pm

      Re:

      OTA is "free tv", right?
      Would it be ok if Aereo did not charge for their service?

       

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      CK20XX (profile), Jun 29th, 2014 @ 3:29pm

      Re:

      That's a really narrow view you have there. I hope that people continue to see wider and farther than you.

      What good has copyright done us by now anyway? Seriously, people just use it to draw battle lines and go to war with each other instead of living in peace and harmony. It's done far more harm than good by now, which is why more and more people are becoming eager to throw out the baby with the bathwater. In theory copyright is still useful, but the proof has long been lost and many are now wondering if it ever even existed in the first place. Copyright infringement being illegal just continues to make less and less sense, and people like you only sabotage your own case by acting like religious zealots about it.

       

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      Leigh Beadon (profile), Jun 29th, 2014 @ 3:39pm

      Re:

      All your comments have this theme that it's all so simple, it's all so obvious, and there's no difference between Aereo and torrents.

      You do realize that this is a nuanced issue that, even though it was decided to be infringement, had to be elevated to the highest court in the land before it was settled, right?

      You do realize that one in three supreme court judges disagreed with the decision, and all nine supreme court judges would laugh you out of the room if you presented your simplistic analysis that it's, like, super-obvious, and it "doesn't matter what argument anyone comes up with".

      So... go ahead and be happy that the final result is one you approve of -- but don't act like your facile understanding of the issues had anything at all to do with it.

       

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      techflaws (profile), Jun 29th, 2014 @ 9:58pm

      Re:

      This was a company who was stealing media content from the licensed authorized broadcaster
      So the content has suddenly vanished into thin air?

       

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      That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jun 30th, 2014 @ 2:01am

      Re:

      "violating copyright is simply not permitted in this country"

      As soon as the cartels are paying up for copyfraud and abuse of the system, please shut the fuck up.
      Laws are to apply to all, not to be a magical hand out.

      Sharing torrents... so providing access to something but not the actual thing is illegal... someone call Google.

      And on the topic of Aereo, how dare these fucking broadcasters send their dirty signal out all willy-nilly to everyone! They just put it out there and then have the nerve to demand that people pay them if they get the signal.
      We should ban broadcast until they are able to stop being so reckless with their transmissions. We should remove all of the government handouts for them making content, allowing them the right to use signals owned by the public, and force them to implement limits where we all have to go to their studios and watch the content performed live.

       

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    out_of_the_blue, Jun 29th, 2014 @ 1:46pm

    HA! TOLD YA AEREO WOULD GET SHOT DOWN!

    And that my influence would linger on here.

    You poor little kids keep being WRONG on law and silly!

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2014 @ 3:21pm

      Re:

      Danth's Law: If you have to claim that you've won an Internet argument, you probably haven't.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2014 @ 4:15pm

      Re: HA! TOLD YA AEREO WOULD GET SHOT DOWN!

      Yep. Same way science is WRONG on evolution... in Kansas.

      (I know that replying is bad, but I am weak, and just had to find out what it's like to poke a badger with a spoon.)

       

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      Candid Cameron, Jun 30th, 2014 @ 5:13am

      Not really all that surprising.

      I also knew very early on that Aereo would get shot down. In fact I'm sure many of us here expected this to be the most likely outcome, especially given the current climate and total lack of judges willing or able to understand the technology they're often asked to pass judgment on. Thankfully this will change over time as those who grew up with technology in their lives take over positions currently held by the old guard.

      PS: I know I shouldn't reply to a well known troll, but my comment isn't really directed at them and I do not care whether they reply or not. I was making more of a general observation.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2014 @ 2:35pm

    "Don't fight the dinosaur. *Buy* the dinosaur. Sounds great until you realize that now you have a dinosaur to care for and feed. Do you know how much Brontosaurus Chow goes for these days?"

    Why not buy the dinosaur and kill it¿ Whatever byproducts are useful can be retained from its carcass.
    Everything has to die sometime.

     

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    kenichi tanaka (profile), Jun 29th, 2014 @ 4:15pm

    What Aereo did is worse than what bit torrent websites are doing. Aereo is actually capturing those signals, storing them, and then re-transmitting them to subscribers whenever they wanted to watch them.

    You guys keep spouting the same BS excuses that piracy sites like Demonoid, Pirate Bay and KickAss keep spouting.

    Did Aereo get permission from the copyright owners or the broadcasters to re-transmit those signals?

    NO, THEY DID NOT.

    Did they acquire a license or compensate copyright owners or broadcasters for the content they re-broadcasted?

    NO THEY DID NOT.

    Aereo violated copyright laws and the Supreme Court saw right through it. While I think that the Supreme Court decision should have been limited to the type of business models that Aereo used, the Supreme Court did come to the right decision.

     

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      Leigh Beadon (profile), Jun 29th, 2014 @ 4:40pm

      Re:

      Did Aereo get permission from the copyright owners or the broadcasters to re-transmit those signals?

      NO, THEY DID NOT.

      Did they acquire a license or compensate copyright owners or broadcasters for the content they re-broadcasted?

      NO THEY DID NOT.


      Did the law clearly require them to do either of those things?

      NO IT DID NOT.

      In fact, it took the country's highest judges to decide if they were breaking the law or not, and even they couldn't agree on it.

      Every time you act like this is simple, you make yourself look more of a fool.

       

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      silverscarcat (profile), Jun 29th, 2014 @ 5:39pm

      Re:

      Um, but aren't those signals over the airways and thus broadcast via the public airways and thus anyone with an antenna could just watch the show anyway?

       

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      orbitalinsertion (profile), Jun 30th, 2014 @ 10:12am

      Re:

      Next, we can have antennae and televisions made illegal, and the broadcasters will finally have their rights properly respected and safeguarded.

       

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    kenichi tanaka (profile), Jun 29th, 2014 @ 5:01pm

    Actually, the justice did agree that Aereo was breaking the law. The only thing some of them were worried about is how it would affect other services like The Hopper, Netflix and so on.

    I don't expect the court to overturn the Aereo decision but I think that they may revise the ruling so that it only impacts the type of service like Aereo that tries to base its business by capturing broadcast signals and re-transmitting those signals without licensing that content from the broadcasters.

    The ruling was too broad and I suspect that the court will limit the ruling where a business like Aereo doesn't license the content they are attempting to re-broadcast without compensating the broadcasters.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2014 @ 6:30pm

      Re:

      the content they are attempting to re-broadcast


      And one of the many places your argument fails is right there. Aereo re-broadcast nothing. Broadcast is one transmitting to all. That is not what Aereo did. Aereo transmitted from many remote antennas and remote DVRs, to the single subscriber that remote hardware was associated with.

      That's why this ruling is so problematic for cloud services. There's little difference between a remote file server, and a remote dvr.

       

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2014 @ 2:41am

        Re: Re:

        "Broadcast is one transmitting to all"

        Bzzzt. No it isn't.

        More intentional stupidity on Techdirt. Shocking, I know...

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2014 @ 7:43pm

      Re:

      So, it's the rebroadcasting that is the problem then?

      I'm quite certain that the OTA signal (which btw is not encrypted) is subject to many reflections off of buildings large and small. so the owners of those building need to get rebroadcast licenses? I think not, but those buildings are re-transmitting the signals! Those bloody pirates!

       

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      Rikuo (profile), Jun 30th, 2014 @ 4:19am

      Re:

      "tries to base its business by capturing broadcast signals and re-transmitting those signals without licensing that content from the broadcasters."

      Here's where you and those Supreme court judges failed to think. What exactly is being broadcast?
      A signal over-the-air that is unencrypted. The signal is being intentionally sent out over the air, with nothing preventing anyone from copying it (no encryption). Since that is the case, there is no reason why a broadcaster should then have control over recordings made using someone else's hardware.
      It'd be like you were to stand out in the middle of the street, preaching via megaphone and ten different people recorded with their smartphones, and then for some reason demanded that we buy a licence from you to distribute those recordings.
      Why should I pay a licence fee to use what I recorded or captured using my own equipment and will distribute using my own equipment, when you spoke or broadcast completely in the clear, doing nothing at all to prevent or restrict any potential copying? That is something that you don't want, and yet don't want to take the effort to prevent on your own. Since you are misusing property terms, let me misuse them as well. It'd be like you complaining that the valuable games consoles you just left out on your front lawn were stolen in the middle of the night; from a lawn that is completely unbarred by neither fence nor wall, and then demanding that people can't walk around at night. If you want to protect what you deem is your property, it is you who has to protect it.
      The content of the recording may or may not be yours (I am firmly in the may not category but that is a different discussion), but you are acting like the only thing that needs considering is the content. What about everything else? What about the hardware, the content deliveryservice or mechanisms? Aereo was putting forth real effort into serving a market that the broadcasters of the original transmission simply didn't want to serve.

       

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      Leigh Beadon (profile), Jun 30th, 2014 @ 8:17am

      Re:

      You contradict yourself a lot.

      One minute, you say that this is simple and obvious: Aereo was infringement, plain as day, anyone could see it, and it was thus automatically illegal, the court "saw right through it", and shut it down swiftly and easily.

      The next minute, you're saying the ruling is over-broad, that in fact this was a very specific and nuanced kind of infringement that has to be carefully and narrowly identified, and that sloppily targeting it as the court has done could cause significant collateral damage by impacting services that are not in fact infringing.

      Or how about this? On the original Aereo post, you commented: "Aereo is violating copyright laws the same way that torrent sites violate the copyright laws. There is NO difference."

      On this post, you commented "What Aereo did is worse than what bit torrent websites are doing ... they may revise the ruling so that it only impacts the type of service like Aereo"

      So... which is it? Is there "NO difference" between Aereo and torrents, or does Aereo require a newly revised ruling that "only impacts the type of service" it provides, a service which is "worse" than torrents?

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2014 @ 5:17pm

    Re: What Aereo did is worse...

    The argument underlying the Aereo decision reminds me of another famous argument: Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor chapter from The Brothers Karamazov.

    Did Dostoevsky's words destroy the Catholic church?
    NO, THEY DID NOT.

    Did they convert the world to Russian Orthodoxy?
    NO, THEY DID NOT.

    Did they unintentionally come to be seen as one of literature's best arguments against organized religion in general?
    YUP.

    -----
    In Dostoevsky's defense, he did at least realize that "transmit" and "broadcast" aren't synonyms.

     

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    JMT (profile), Jun 29th, 2014 @ 5:27pm

    I'm curious to know what broadcaster you work for or are in some way affiliated with. Because there is absolutely nobody who benefits from this ruling, or would defend it so rigorously, other than the broadcasters (and lawyers I guess).

    Most disgustingly, it's the public who lose the most, the very people who are supposed to benefit first and foremost from copyright law. A useful service killed, others immediately targeted, innovation chilled, content harder to access. The very antithesis of copyright's supposed intent.

     

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