Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the funny-stuff dept

Since we're taking the day off for Labor Day today, we pushed our usual weekend posts out a bit, so this is appearing here on Monday.

This week we wrote about a crazy law proposed by Rep. Mike Honda that would make merely possessing or buying "body armor" a crime that could result in 10 years in jail. His theory was that this armor makes it easier for people to commit crimes and thus harder for the police to shoot them down. But That One Guy got the most insightful comment of the week by pointing out how ridiculous that logic is:
So if his justification for this is 'armored assailants', one would assume they are, I don't know, maybe breaking other laws while 'armored', laws already on the books that can be used to charge them? If someone is already breaking laws, and serious enough laws that they expect to come under fire, I don't think an additional 10 years, on top of what is likely a good string of other, quite serious charges, is going to be any sort of deterrent to them.

They are willing to put themselves in a position where they expect to be shot, I don't think the threat of a little extra prison time is going to matter to much to someone like that, especially considering it would come down to 'wear body armor, get shot, survive, get additional 10 years' or 'don't wear body armor, get shot, die, not have to worry about prison'.

Adding a prison term for merely owning body armor, just because criminals might use it, is pretty much like adding a prison sentence for those found in possession of a gun, or a car, or any number of other items, because they might be used by a criminal, and I hope someone points this out when the bill is being debated.
Chances are the bill never even comes close to being debated, but if it does come up, one hopes this kind of response is put in front of Honda (or other members of Congress).

Coming in second was Chuck Wegrzyn on our story about Keurig's DRMing its coffee pods, reminding everyone of a key case involving attempts to use DRM (and the DMCA) to keep out competitors:
Seen this before...

This seems a lot like Lexmark adding DRM to its printer cartridges. Little consumer value other than to lift more money from our wallets.
Thankfully, the big lawsuit over that case actually found against Lexmark, and said that circumventing such hardware restrictions did not violate the DMCA. Green Mountain Roasters (makers of Keurig) haven't gone down the Lexmark legal path yet, so we don't know if it'll try such a plan, but there's a good precedent against that interpretation on the books should it try a DMCA claim (though I doubt the company would).

For editor's choice, we've got mcherm's response to our article on police body cameras, which noted that police had a habit of not turning the cameras on when necessary. Here's an easy solution:
Button Press Too Hard? Try This One Easy Fix!

Seriously, just record ALL audio and video for the entire time that the uniformed officer is on duty. The chips needed to store this weigh just a few grams. We could save the records for 1 week, with automatic holds on anything that the officer flags as important, as well as in response to any citizen complaint or request. Then there's no pesky button push to distract the officer ... or for the officer to forget.

If you really think it is necessary, a button press to SUPPRESS the recording might be acceptable, for when an officer is using the restroom, intimidating a witness, or engaging in any other action requiring privacy.
And finally, going back to that story about banning body armor, an Anonymous Coward responded to Honda's argument that "the bill is designed to stop "armored assailants" whom he claims are "a trend" in recent years." The AC notes that Honda is right, but perhaps not in the way he thinks:
He's right, it is a trend. They're called SWAT teams.

Unfortunately, from the sound of it, his bill will not actually address the problem.
Moving onto the funny side of the ledger, leading the pack (by a wide margin) was this Anonymous Coward responding to George Lucas' refusal to release a version of the "original" 1977 version of Star Wars by arguing that it was only a "half-completed" film. AC feels ripped off:
If we watched only a half-completed film, why did we pay full price to see it?
Coming in second on the funny side was Michael, commenting on the fact that police had lost some Humvees that the Pentagon had handed out as a part of its "militarize all domestic police" program.
See? That $500k for the camouflage paint is TOTALLY worth it.
For editor's choice, we'll start with an Anonymous commenter rightly mocking the (very mockable) idea of news publications colluding to set up a "global paywall" and putting all their content behind it:
And the first story behind the paywall: A government investigation of massive collusion and price-fixing by online media.

There will be no second story.
And, finally, we've got sorrykb responding to the ridiculous (and totally unsubstantiated claim) that "piracy is killing movie franchises." He points out that if that's true, perhaps the same folks who keep saying that we need more "original" content should be happy about piracy:
Wait....

If piracy kills movie franchises, wouldn't that mean that piracy promotes creativity by encouraging the making of original films? Wouldn't that make it a good thing?

On a related note, I guess I'd better start pirating movies, if only to prevent "Expendables 4" from becoming reality. (Please tell me I don't have to actually watch the first three if I download them.)
It's a good point. You'd think that the people who push for copyright maximalism via the claim that it's necessary to encourage originality wouldn't be so infatuated with keeping up clearly derivative "franchises." But, contradictions of logic go hand and hand with maximalism quite frequently.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Ninja (profile), Sep 1st, 2014 @ 11:10am

    The fact that piracy has been killing music, movies AND franchises since Mr Valenti didn't prevent one bad reboot after the other lately, no?

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2014 @ 12:40pm

    Re:

    It's much, much easier to believe piracy is killing your business rather than acknowledge that your business model - the gradual distribution of entertainment, with opportunities to milk the public all along the gradation for the same content - is outdated.

    It's also easier to convince lawmakers in the myth of bogeymen-pirates than it is to convince them to just give you money because...you deserve it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2014 @ 1:39pm

    Re:

    Unfortunately, no. It seems that they are actually people on this planet so incredibly stupid that they will go see Expendables I II and III, because they were not able to figure out after the first two experiments that all these films are absolute shit, and that if -- god help us -- there is an Expendables IV, it will also be shit.

     

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    CK20XX (profile), Sep 1st, 2014 @ 2:04pm

    Re: Re:

    To be fair, piracy is more of a continuum than a binary, having little to no effect on the big businesses that influence the law, but often greater effect on smaller businesses that the big businesses would rather see die anyway. The more niche or nuanced you are, the greater the chance that piracy will be a problem, although that can be easily mitigated just by being a kind and understanding human being to your fans.

    Actually, that seems to be the rub. Communication with your audience is key, and big businesses have a tendency to be like autistic kids living in a basement who have never interacted with another human being before. It's an open, connected world, so you have to be open and connected to survive in it. Rare is the business that can be aloof, mysterious, and yet maintain enough of a hardcore following that its fans won't mind if some DRM is slipped into its products.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2014 @ 2:39pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Rare is the business that can be aloof, mysterious, and yet maintain enough of a hardcore following that its fans won't mind if some DRM is slipped into its products.

    A potential problem is that 3 businesses, which are increasingly important to people, Apple, Microsoft, and the smart phone industry, are strong proponents and users of DRM. The problem for many people will be avoiding having someone else control the core technology in their lives. Secure boot and trusted platform technologies could be used to prevent people taking control of their devices.

     

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  6.  
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    JohnHalo (profile), Sep 1st, 2014 @ 3:54pm

    So by their logic a woman should be arrested for prostitution just because she has the capability of being one? And a man should be arrested for rape because he could be one?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2014 @ 5:34pm

    Re:

    "And a man should be arrested for rape because he could be one?"

    I'm pretty sure that's what a lot of feminists already think...

     

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    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, Sep 1st, 2014 @ 5:42pm

    Some Very Peculiar Responses ...

    ... to my pointing out that gun nuts should be supporting the ban on body armour. After all, the common excuse I keep hearing for your “right to bear arms” is for “self-defence”. But if a crim comes at you in body armour, none of the weaponry you’re legally allowed to have at home is going to take them down.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2014 @ 8:09pm

    Re: Re:

    And I'm pretty sure that you're a fucking moron.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2014 @ 9:31pm

    Re: Some Very Peculiar Responses ...

    That's why you aim for the head.

     

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    beltorak (profile), Sep 1st, 2014 @ 10:16pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    > The more niche or nuanced you are, the greater the chance that piracy will be a problem....

    Actually I think the reverse is true. The more niche and nuanced you are, the greater the chance that piracy will be a boon, since it will widen your net allowing people who may never have heard of you to experience what you have to offer.

     

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    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, Sep 1st, 2014 @ 10:34pm

    Re: That's why you aim for the head.

    That’s what happens when you watch too many Hollywood movies.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2014 @ 11:04pm

    Re: Some Very Peculiar Responses ...

    What's peculiar is your assertion of how people you don't agree with should think a certain way. If body armor is "arms", then it would be totally consistent to say that it falls under the Second Amendment (which has more to do with national security than personal security - "being necessary to the security of a free State".) And the same argument that is made with guns also applies to body armor - criminals will ignore any ban, so a ban really only weakens the law-abiding citizens (and turns them into criminals in the eyes of the law if they dare to defend themselves.) That's, like, the key pro-gun argument, and you're rather foolish to think anyone who is pro-gun would ignore it.

    I'd also say that in general we shouldn't ban stuff on speculation that someday it might become a problem. Especially stuff like "body armor" that's hard to define - I think the bill just refers to some ballistics specifications and says you can't wear anything that protects against that. So if I'm playing the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz, do I have to make sure my metal costume is not bulletproof to be able to legally wear it? If I invent a shark-bite suit, will I (and all my customers) go to prison if it turns out to also stop bullets? If I wear a motorcycle helmet that's too good (helmets are specifically mentioned by the bill) should that mean I get put away for ten years?

    And the point made by That One Guy is a good one. This has zero deterrence value. If someone is wearing body armor to commit a crime, arrest them for the crime. Anyone wearing body armor to commit a crime is almost certainly going to have some sort of gun violation (stolen gun, felon in possession of a gun, or just turning "robbery" into "armed robbery") which you can already use to put them away for a long time. If a criminal is in the position of actually NEEDING their body armor, then they're almost certainly shooting at people who are shooting back - probably the police - in which case they're already going to jail for as long as you like. Ten extra years is superfluous.

    But if by some chance there's someone using body armor who hasn't committed any major crime... then who cares about the body armor? He's just trying not to get shot, and that shouldn't be illegal even for someone who's breaking the law.

     

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    MrTroy (profile), Sep 1st, 2014 @ 11:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I think the GP is referring to the fact that if you're in a truly niche market, then you can't afford to have people pirating your product instead of paying you for it. Consider if the total market share for your work was only 100 companies around the world!

    Note that I'm handily side-stepping any discussion of how to handle or prevent piracy, just demonstrating how piracy could be a killer for a niche market.

     

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    CK20XX (profile), Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 12:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    True. But then again, look what happened when Microsoft tried to put DRM in the Xbox One. They ended up doing the fastest backpedaling ever. Never underestimate the power of angry things in large numbers. It's as if in a roundabout way, democracy is always the system of government in place everywhere, even if it's only a question of how long until the people get well and truly fed up.

     

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    Lurker Keith, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 1:23am

    Re: Re: Some Very Peculiar Responses ...

    It took me a while, but I finally figured out who this law's actual target is! It isn't your standard gun-toting criminals & it restricting the public's safety against the military is just a mere bonus.

    The true target of this law is Bruce Wayne! They don't want Billionaire playboys to get it into their heads that body armor & a mask would let them do a better job at stopping crime than the police. Just imagine how much looting would've happened in Ferguson if they had their own Batman patrolling the streets! The Government can't let that happen, because they'd look bad.

     

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    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 1:51am

    Re: we shouldn't ban stuff on speculation that someday it might become a problem

    No “speculation” about it—it has already happened.

     

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    Richard (profile), Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 2:41am

    Re: Re: Re:

    The more niche or nuanced you are, the greater the chance that piracy will be a problem,

    Actually I think that is just a psychological effect. It may be the case that the smaller your turnover the more likely you are to look at the "lost sales" as a problem but the reality is just as for the bigger business - the "lost sales" would just translate into "no sales" and "lost publicity" if piracy were impossible.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 3:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I suspect, though it is almost impossible to prove, that the more niche an artists is, the more 'piracy' improves their actual sales. Making a few thousand sales with rampant piracy leaves an much artist better off than making a few dozen sales without any piracy.

     

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  20.  
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    Michael, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 5:59am

    Re: Some Very Peculiar Responses ...

    I'm not sure you are listening to the right people arguing - self-defense doesn't seem to be the big reason I hear from people supporting the right to bear arms - of course, I don't call them (or myself) "gun nuts", so I am guessing you are probably in the wrong place for a rational argument - perhaps you are seeking strawmen?

    However, you are wrong. I own several rifles that will shoot right through most body armor (I say most because I'm sure there is some out there that I don't know of, but everything I have seen or hear of, I could shoot through from 20-30 yards). The available body armor will stop handgun rounds, shotgun pellets, and small rifle rounds, but high-powered rifles will go through it. Oh - and if you are wearing body armor and I shoot you in the chest from close range with a large-caliber handgun, you may find yourself more than a little winded.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 6:37am

    Re: Re: we shouldn't ban stuff on speculation that someday it might become a problem

    So it happened once, two years ago. And if this bill had been in effect then... nothing much would have changed. The armor didn't appear to have had an impact on how many he shot. And the guy is possibly facing the death penalty, so an extra 10 years wouldn't have deterred him and wouldn't have punished him.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 10:54am

    Re: Re: Some Very Peculiar Responses ...

    "self-defense doesn't seem to be the big reason I hear from people supporting the right to bear arms"

    I would say that 90% of the time, self-defense is the big reason people cite for why they want to have guns. This includes the "so we can revolt against the government" contingent.

    I suspect they're being a little disingenuous, though, in that they're trying to come up with an objective reason for gun ownership that they think will sway others. In other words, it's a bit like the "because terrorism" argument that the government loves to make.

    I think that more often the real reason they want guns is because they really like guns. This by itself is a perfectly acceptable argument already. No need to gussy it up with a weird fear argument.

     

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  23.  
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    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 3:22pm

    Re: The armor didn't appear to have had an impact on how many he shot

     

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  24.  
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    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 3:24pm

    Re: The armor didn't appear to have had an impact on how many he shot

    But remember the number-one excuse that is commonly given for private citizens being allowed to carry weapons: that it would let you defend yourself from such an attack. If anybody had gone up against this guy, they wouldn’t have stood a chance.

    This is why gun advocates should be supporting a ban on body armour: it renders your “self-defence” weaponry useless.

     

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  25.  
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    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 4:06pm

    Re: I own several rifles that will shoot right through most body armor

    Do you sleep with a rifle under your pillow?

    Do you carry a rifle when you’re on the town, just in case you run into an Aurora-type situation?

    Just wondering what you consider a practical application of the “self-defence” philosophy.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 6:41pm

    Re: Re: The armor didn't appear to have had an impact on how many he shot

    Except body armour increases their own protection - that's especially important for people like armadillo drivers, who are likely to have their hands encumbered anyway.

    Like, I suspect, most people, I'm a selfish bugger who'd rather survive even if that means my attacker gets away than end up with us both dead. When what you're protecting is someone else's not very hard-earned cash, I suspect that's even more true.

     

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  27.  
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    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 9:19pm

    Re: Except body armour increases their own protection

    Only if you’re wearing it. Besides people walking around with guns on US streets, are we going to see them walk around in body armour now?

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 4:13am

    Re: Re: Except body armour increases their own protection

    Over here it is common for people who are actually in significant danger of being shot at to wear at least a bullet-proof vest.

     

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  29.  
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    Michael, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 7:26am

    Re: Re: I own several rifles that will shoot right through most body armor

    Maybe that first paragraph was not clear. I don't own guns because I think they are good for self-defense. In fact, I am quite certain that my owning guns puts me at a higher risk of being shot by one.

    I own guns because I hunt, enjoy shooting, and like them.

    They all stay locked in proper safes when not in use - under the pillow seems like a great way to blow your own head off. I used to live just outside of Aurora and never felt that movie theater required me to protect myself (damn Hollywood studios making those violent movies though...).

    My point was not that self-defense was a useful argument for gun ownership, it was just that a crim comes at you in body armour, none of the weaponry you’re legally allowed to have at home is going to take them down is faulty - many guns can be effective against someone wearing body armor. They may be less lethal to someone in armor, and some guns are rather ineffective against someone in body armor, but I personally own some that would go through a chest plate, a chest, the back plate, and a cement wall behind the person - and these rifles are completely legal, safe, and have practical hunting applications right here in the US.

     

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  30.  
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    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 5:21pm

    Re: actually in significant danger of being shot at

    Would you say this significant danger of being shot at correlates with having more guns around, or fewer?

     

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