Techdirt

by Leigh Beadon




Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the he-says-she-says dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is Mason Wheeler with a response to Nintendo's takedown of major ROM sites and one professor's comments about the importance of libraries and archives:

This is exactly right, and it reaches well beyond games; it's a massive problem throughout the software industry. Because we have a copyright regime that incentivizes closed-source software distribution, we end up with essentially the only medium in all of the creative arts or engineering disciplines where the development techniques of a masterpiece cannot be studied because they can't be known.

Instead of Foddy's university libraries, imagine a world in which the only literature students who could study and learn from the techniques of Hemingway's work were those who went to Hemingway University or went on to get a job at HemingCorp, which would have his work available but lacked access to Mark Twain, Jules Verne and Victor Hugo. This sounds absurd, but it's exactly the state of software development today, and a big part of the reason why we have so many quality problems in computer programs.

Contrast this with actual literature, where the ability to read and analyze the words that went into a book is inherent in the medium. I'll always remember something I heard bestselling author Brandon Sanderson say after someone compared his work favorably to that of Robert Jordan: "the only reason you're saying that is because I had an unfair advantage. I was able to start out my writing having read and learned from the work of Robert Jordan, and he wasn't."

In second place, we've got an anonymous response to a commenter who criticized the often-used "Copyright Duration and the Mickey Mouse Curve" graph on the basis that "correlation is not causation":

Correlation is not causation.

Causation, though, is causation.

Since 1990, The Walt Disney Company had lobbied for copyright extension.[12][13] The legislation delayed the entry into the public domain of the earliest Mickey Mouse movies, leading detractors to the nickname "The Mickey Mouse Protection Act".[4]

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a comment from Ninja about the oh-so-baffling popularity of Kodi boxes:

Maybe if we had good, reliable services that offered content without fragmentation, with ease of access, no bullshit windows and that could be used offline in conjunction with such apps if the user wanted? I mean, why do they like to leave money on the table that much?

Next, it's a response from James Burkhardt to a comparison between our defense of Section 230 and the DMCA to telcos' comments about local loop unbundling:

I would argue that you miss the detail on this situation. Namely, when discussing the burden of Local loop unbundling, telecos use broad language that is short on detail, always highlighting the 'burden', but never explaining what that burden is. Never explaining the scenario in which the presence of this rule makes difficult or impossible moves that are beneficial to consumers. Because there aren't any. Even in a world of competition, I have been unable to find anyone who supports repealing local loop unbundling who can articulate the 'burden' it places on incumbents.

Contrast this with the support SEC 230, where Techdirt has repeatedly noted how it A) prevents a disincentive to moderation, allowing sites to moderate without fear that moderation will create liability (something that happened prior to SEC 230) and B) puts the focus for illegal or Tortuous conduct on the entities responsible, which can include the website, but often does not. Support for SEC 230 comes out of articulable concerns about the internet post repeal.

A better contrast comes in the DMCA and calls for its repeal, as we now discuss arguments for repeal on both ends. And again, we see clear, detailed, articulable concerns about how the DMCA is harming both consumers and creators. The abuses we have seen in the take down provisions combines with a lack of legal remedy for those abuses created by poor drafting and bad jurisprudence. The way the anti-circumvention provision has been used to prevent repair, security research, and circumvent the right of first sale. I can point to specific events if you want to hear it, but the point stands that we can point to not just theoretical harm, but real world harms that have occured. And while yes, the repeal of the DMCA might have negative effects for some content creators, Techdirt has, in my memory, generally called for an overhaul of the system, not tearing it down. Notice and notice, rather than notice and take down. Reinforcing fair use and allowing fair use to bypass technical protection measures. Establishing real legal repercussions for the abuse of the law.

You might think that looking at the effects on consumers and creators rather than copyright holders is 'obfusication'. Or a focus on cost-benefit concerns in enforcement efforts is just 'spaghetti logic'. But here in the real world, those type of concerns are major legal and business concerns, respectively, and should be considered when discussing these topics.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is an anonymous take on this week's popular story about an 11-year-old hacking election website replicas at DEF CON:

Voting machine company: "This was a useless test of the machine's vulnerabilities. Eleven-year-olds can't vote. So your machines are safe from them getting into and changing any records."

In second place, it's Michael dutifully offering up a now-standard joke that comes around when we criticize Google:

Another attempt for Mike Masnick, Google shill, to highlight how great Google is.

When are you going to get out of their pocket and start talking about the things they do wrong?

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with another comment about the DEF CON election hacking, with That One Guy homing in on a software company's complaint that the exercise violates their licensing agreements:

I mean, that's certainly a valid argument, everyone knows that the sort of people who would hack a voting machine would absolutely be the sorts that would stop in a moment the second they realized that doing so would violate the licensing agreement regarding the software.

They're criminals trying to undermine if not shift an election, something with potentially huge repercussions, but that doesn't mean they'd be rude enough to ignore a license, and as such simulated hacking that does so isn't really an accurate scenario, and can be completely dismissed as non-representative of reality.

And finally we head to our post about a police department deciding it can search someone's house because a suspected drug dealer once parked in the driveway. Toom1275 mocked this conclusion with a slightly truncated version of a great Carl Sagan monologue:

"Observation: I can't see a thing on the surface of Venus

Conclusion: Dinosaurs." - Carl Sagan

That's all for this week, folks!


Reader Comments

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  • identicon
    Dinah Shaw, 19 Aug 2018 @ 3:07pm

    Another attempt for Carl Sagan, Dinosaur shill, to highlight how great Venus is.

    When are you going to get out of their pocket and start talking about the things they do wrong?

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

    • icon
      sumgai (profile), 19 Aug 2018 @ 7:52pm

      Re:

      In a manner of speaking, he is out of their pocket.... although I don't expect that he'll be discussing the things they do wrong in the foreseeable future.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Aug 2018 @ 10:27pm

    “Because we have a copyright regime that incentivizes closed-source software distribution, we end up with essentially the only medium in all of the creative arts or engineering disciplines where the development techniques of a masterpiece cannot be studied because they can't be known.”

    This seems absurd on it’s face. Consider the blue-prints for an automobile, or the recipe for coca-cola, or the design of an acoustic speaker, or pretty much anything else that is very difficult to achieve but easy to duplicate.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Aug 2018 @ 11:03pm

      Re:

      Like text?
      All of the things you listed are hard to duplicate and are worse analogies than text -> code.

      A recipe or blueprint isn't the same as a novel either. A blue print tells you how to go about creating something
      A finished book is complete in itself, it doesn't show you how to write a different book.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 19 Aug 2018 @ 11:08pm

        Re: Re:

        It is absolutely normal and appropriate that people who create and own their software may choose to keep the source code unpublished. It also has absolutely nothing to do with copyright.

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

        • identicon
          Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 20 Aug 2018 @ 1:03am

          Re: may choose to keep the source code unpublished

          Except, if you RTFA, Nintendo is forcing the closure of sites that are publishing software that their authors want published.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 1:30am

            Re: Re: may choose to keep the source code unpublished

            “This sounds absurd, but it's exactly the state of software development today, and a big part of the reason why we have so many quality problems in computer programs.”

            No, this sounds absurd because it is absurd. The idea that lack of publication is the cause of low quality software is patently ridiculous. Lack of rigorous testing and verification is the cause of low quality products in general, and software in particular.

            Leave it to Techdirt to promote the most uneducated and backward opinions to further hopeless causes, like Open Source.

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

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 20 Aug 2018 @ 2:39am

              Re: Re: Re: may choose to keep the source code unpublished

              "Leave it to Techdirt to promote the most uneducated and backward opinions to further hopeless causes, like Open Source."

              I love the fact that you state this, while the software you've used to make such a silly comment is dependent on, at minimum, several open source projects.

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

              • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 3:05am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: may choose to keep the source code unpublished

                Oh I see. The fact that you use Open Source justifies your defense of uneducated and backward opinions that promote it. That is, you need Open Source, so promoting it is in your self interest, irregardless of how stupid your opinions are.

                Regardless of what need to support, for whatever reason, software quality is unrelated to whether or not it is published. It is absolutely related to how well it is tested and verified. Moron. Thank you for making that clear.

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

                • icon
                  PaulT (profile), 20 Aug 2018 @ 3:29am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: may choose to keep the source code unpublished

                  "The fact that you use Open Source justifies your defense of uneducated and backward opinions that promote it."

                  You're using open source software right now as well, you ignorant dick.

                  But, it is funny that you are using it to call other people names despite having your facts completely wrong.

                  "It is absolutely related to how well it is tested and verified"

                  Indeed. Which is why publishing the source code helps people do that.

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

                  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                    identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 3:41am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: may choose to keep the source code unpublished

                    RTFA, moron.

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

                    • icon
                      PaulT (profile), 20 Aug 2018 @ 3:48am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: may choose to keep the source code unpublished

                      What does the article have to do with your ignorance of how many open source projects you're depending upon in order to call people names?

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 3:37am

              Re: Re: Re: may choose to keep the source code unpublished

              If you want Microsoft to control your machine, Autodesk to control all CAD/CAM, and Adobe to control all creative software, continue using closed source. However do not be surprised when you find that you have to pay monthly or annual software subscriptions to continue using the software that you have a license for.

              As for Open Source being a hopeless cause, It is not doing so well on the desktop, but is doing just fine for supercomputing, high performance computing, cloud computing, mobile phones, and embedded software like TV's.

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

    • icon
      Mason Wheeler (profile), 20 Aug 2018 @ 6:38am

      Re:

      This seems absurd on it’s face. Consider the blue-prints for an automobile, or the recipe for coca-cola, or the design of an acoustic speaker, or pretty much anything else that is very difficult to achieve but easy to duplicate.

      All of those things can be taken apart and studied (even Coca-Cola; it's trivial if you have access to a mass spectrometer) to find out what they're made of. Software... not so much. Even with good decompiling tools, analysis of software binaries is more often than not a massive, painful ordeal, particularly if the publisher employed obfuscation techniques to attempt to thwart decompilation and analysis. This is something that you simply can't do to literature, automobiles, or beverages.

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

    • identicon
      JEDIDIAH, 20 Aug 2018 @ 11:54am

      WTF

      What kind of point are you trying to be making with that comment exactly? Patents are by their very nature OPEN AND PUBLIC. They are the EXACT OPPOSITE of closed source software.

      Not that source really is relevant to the discussion in question since the archive in question didn't include any sources. ROM archives are BINARIES. They only preserve the works in their published form.

      The recipe to Coke is a trade secret. It is entirely IRRELEVANT to this discussion. It's the opposite situation of a patent. Patents are an attempt to encourage the open disclosure of what would otherwise be trade secrets.

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

  • identicon
    Kronomex, 19 Aug 2018 @ 10:53pm

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2018 @ 5:07am

    The situation is bad from the point of view of researchers in to old games and software design.
    Many games are owned by companys that are no longer in business so they cant be remastered or released again.
    Many companys in the 80,s and 90s, did not preserve the design docs or the original source code of games , they did not think people in 20 years would still be playing those games or those games would be released on new consoles in the future .
    Many old pc games are only avaidable from pirate sites
    ,theres no legal source to buy them from.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 20 Aug 2018 @ 5:58am

      Re:

      Yeah, there's something rather funny about the fact that large chunks of history will be preserved in spite of the law, rather than because of it. That those that ignore the law will end up custodians of past works as those using the laws indifferently or actively try to destroy those works.

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


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