Scooter Company Bird Sends Absolutely Bullshit Copyright Threat Letter To Cory Doctorow For Reporting On Modifying Scooters

from the someone-deserves-to-be-fired dept

Of all the stupid things a lawyer can do, it's difficult to think of many more stupid than to send a totally and completely bogus copyright infringement claim, arguing (incorrectly) a violation of DMCA section 1201 (the anti-circumvention part of the DMCA) to Cory Doctorow. Among many other things, Cory is one of the leading voices about the problems of 1201 and has fought for years to dismantle it. And thus a case that actually challenged 1201 might be interesting, but in this case, there's no valid 1201 case at all.

As explained in an EFF blog post, Bird, one of the bigger app-based scooter rental services out there, sent a completely bullshit "Notice of Claimed Infringement" to Doctorow and the parent company of Boing Boing, Happy Mutants. Over what? Over a BoingBoing post from last month that reports on how people are offering $30 conversion kits to turn a former Bird scooter into one that you yourself can use. Specifically, the article talked about how many Bird scooters were being impounded, and could potentially be sold off at some point to people who might want to convert one on the cheap into a personal electric scooter.

The letter--sent by Bird's "Sr. Corporate Counsel", Linda Kwak (whose experience appears to be focused on employment law, not copyright law)--makes a number of ludicrous claims. Thankfully, Doctorow and BoingBoing have EFF to back them up and respond forcefully to this kind of threat, with a response written by EFF senior staff attorney Kit Walsh. Here's a snippet:

First of all, Mr. Doctorow is well within his First-Amendment-protected rights to report on the existence of these conversion kits and their use. Mr. Doctorow’s article does not encourage any form of illegal conduct, but even if it did, the First Amendment does not permit liability based solely on encouraging others to break the law. Even in cases where a person advocates violent crimes, the First Amendment only permits that advocacy to be punished when it is intended to and likely to imminently cause the lawless act. E.g., Brandenburg v. Ohio, 89 S.Ct. 1827 (1969). The Boing Boing article falls far short of meeting any legal test that would allow a court to impose liability on its author, nor have you identified any basis for doing so. Mr. Doctorow would have had every right to advocate for Bird scooters to be destroyed or stolen; instead he simply reported that they could lawfully be acquired at auction and lawfully modified to function as personal scooters.

Second, you cite the anti-trafficking provisions of 17 USC 1201, alleging that the scooter conversion kits are circumvention devices that violate Section 1201, but that does not appear to be true. Again, Happy Mutants would have every right to report on unlawful conduct or even to encourage it, but here the conduct being described seems entirely within the law.

“Conversion kits” are apparently just replacement motherboards, such as the stock motherboard for the Xiaomi Mijia m365 scooter. Installing the “kit” involves opening the scooter, removing the motherboard containing Bird software, and replacing it with a part that does not contain Bird software. As you note in your letter, the kit “allows the user to replace the Bird code so that users may ride the Bird scooters without using its app.”

It is not an act of circumvention to unplug and discard a motherboard containing unwanted code. Likewise, a part that is used to replace the unwanted board is not a circumvention device -- it substitutes for the part containing proprietary code rather than circumventing technological protection measures that restrict access to the code or prevent infringement. Use of a conversion kit does not appear to involve any access, reproduction, or modification of any Bird code. We are likewise puzzled by your assertion that your copyright in the Bird app provides a basis for a Section 1201 claim against the conversion kits, since they do not appear to interact with the app at all. You have not claimed that the Boing Boing article itself constitutes trafficking, nor could you. It does not offer to sell or traffic in anything but rather reports true, newsworthy facts. Attempting to expand Section 1201 to bar such reporting would fatally exacerbate the First Amendment flaws already inherent in the statute. (Happy Mutants would also be fully within its rights to link to a site such as eBay where the kits can be purchased, but, contrary to your assertion, the article does not contain such a link.)

An assertion of Section 1201 is on especially shaky ground when it seeks to suppress activity that does not infringe copyright, such as fair uses. The Librarian of Congress, overseeing the Copyright Office, has repeatedly exempted from Section 1201’s circumvention ban the noninfringing repair and modification of motorized land vehicles (such as electric scooters), because barring those repairs and modifications would be unjustified and harmful to the public. Those repairs and modifications actually do involve circumventing access controls in order to inspect and modify copyrighted code, unlike the conversion kits at issue here, and they nonetheless are noninfringing, fair uses.

As Walsh further explains in the EFF blog post, this really is incredibly crazy, given all of Doctorow's work on 1201:

Bird probably did not know that the journalist who wrote the post, Cory Doctorow, has been reporting on and challenging this overly broad law and its harmful consequences, both at Boing Boing and as a Special Adviser on EFF’s Apollo 1201 project, for years. They likely also didn’t know EFF has launched litigation to invalidate the law in its entirety and, in the meantime, has successfully pushed for numerous exemptions to the law -- including one that specifically permits repair and modification of motorized land vehicles (for instance, say, an electric scooter).

As fun as it might have been (again... fun for us) to have a legal fight about the nuances of Section 1201, it's pretty clear here that there's no claim to be made. The fundamental reason Bird doesn't have a claim is that Section 1201's ban on trafficking concerns products that circumvent either access controls or use controls on a copyrighted work. To simplify a bit, it concerns a device that cracks a technological measure in order to access or make an infringing use of a copyrighted work.

To turn a Bird scooter into a regular personal scooter, you just open it up and replace the motherboard that contains Bird code with a different motherboard (you could even use the official stock motherboard for this model of scooter, the Xiaomi Mijia m365). You literally throw away the copy of the Bird code residing on the unwanted motherboard, rather than accessing or copying or modifying it. We have long had serious concerns that Section 1201 can be abused to block repair and tinkering. But while the law is overbroad, it is not so broad that it prohibits you from simply replacing a motherboard.

And, of course, all this really does is call that much more attention to Doctorow's original article, and the possibilities for effectively getting your very own electric scooter on the cheap. It is utterly bizarre that anyone at Bird thought this was a good idea. Who knows if this was just the Bird lawyer going through the motions or someone else at the company directing her to do this, but at some point, companies really need to think more carefully about sending out the usual bullshit nastygrams, as they can really come back to bite a company.


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  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 11 Jan 2019 @ 2:50pm

    I guess you could say…

    ( •_•)

    ( •_•)>⌐■-■

    (⌐■_■)

    …this bird just got its wings clipped.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2019 @ 3:02pm

    WHAAA WHAAAA WHA WHAA WHAAAAAAAAAA WHAA WHA WHAAAAAAAAAA

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2019 @ 3:21pm

    Did Boing Boing just give them the bird?

    If it Kwaks like a duck.....

    Oh, and it seems that Happy Mutants have told them to EFF off.

    Forget USC-1201, perhaps they'll have more luck with NCC-1701.

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    identicon
    Scote, 11 Jan 2019 @ 3:30pm

    Bird is wrong, but Doctorow IMO wanted people to steal scooters

    Bird's copyright accusation is wrong on the law and is unjustified. But Doctorow isn't an innocent in this, even if he may not have violated copyright law. He was being a jerk and, IMO, deliberately aiding and abetting the theft and subsequent re-use of Bird scooters by implicitly suggesting that people should steal scooters and re-used them, either for valuable parts or to re-use as electric scooters by changing out the controller. That doesn't make Bird right to misuse copyright law, though, but Doctorow needs to be called out on his BS just as Bird needs to be called out on theirs.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2019 @ 3:34pm

      Re: Bird is wrong, but Doctorow IMO wanted people to steal scoot

      Must you lie about everything to attack people you do not like. What is being suggested is hat the police will probably be auctioning off scooters that they have in their pounds, and which have not been reclaimed. That is not encouragement of theft.

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    • icon
      Get off my cyber-lawn! (profile), 11 Jan 2019 @ 3:37pm

      Re: Bird is wrong, but Doctorow IMO wanted people to steal scoot

      By commenting on the perfectly legal way to purchase said product and convert it for personal use....he is aiding and abetting theft? So by this theory, if I advise you to purchase surplus computers from the government and then replace the OS with one which you purchased on your own, am I aiding and abetting people stealing home PCs and doing the same?

      absurdum est argumentum tuum

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      • icon
        Mononymous Tim (profile), 11 Jan 2019 @ 5:34pm

        Re: Re: Bird is wrong, but Doctorow IMO wanted people to steal s

        Careful, don't give the government any ideas.

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      • identicon
        Bruce C., 12 Jan 2019 @ 7:22am

        Re: Re: Bird is wrong, but Doctorow IMO wanted people to steal s

        Well if the bird scooter is seized/impounded under civil forfeiture law, many here probably WOULD consider that theft, depending on the circumstances.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 12 Jan 2019 @ 8:14am

          Re: Re: Re: Bird is wrong, but Doctorow IMO wanted people to ste

          Keep on inventing conspiracy theories that are NOT supported by the article. Some have been moved to a pound because they were left where they should not have been left, and the owner has not bothered to go and get them back. After a period of time, the police can treat them as abandoned and auction them off. That is not seizure, it is the owner deciding they do not want their property back.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 13 Jan 2019 @ 10:44am

          Re: Re: Re: Bird is wrong, but Doctorow IMO wanted people to ste

          If the circumstances were the government abusing its powers to deprive individuals of their property, than yes we would consider it theft.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Jan 2019 @ 1:52pm

        Re: Re: Bird is wrong, but Doctorow IMO wanted people to steal s

        You seem to ignore the fact that this could lead to people stealing them and replacing the pcb.

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        • icon
          Toom1275 (profile), 12 Jan 2019 @ 2:29pm

          Re: Re: Re: Bird is wrong, but Doctorow IMO wanted people to ste

          And the hardware store selling crowbars could lead to people using them to break into houses.

          And computers existing could -gasp- lead to people infringing copyrights.

          Your argument is utterly moronic.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2019 @ 9:59am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Bird is wrong, but Doctorow IMO wanted people to

            They do - you dip shit

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            • icon
              Toom1275 (profile), 14 Jan 2019 @ 3:11pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Bird is wrong, but Doctorow IMO wanted peopl

              [assumes facts not in evidence]

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              • icon
                Toom1275 (profile), 14 Jan 2019 @ 3:24pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Bird is wrong, but Doctorow IMO wanted p

                Clarification for the above -

                It does not logically follow for the subcompetent trash I replied to to have applied the "dipshit" label to a poster mocking lies, fallacies, and other bad faith rather than the poster making such.

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        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 13 Jan 2019 @ 1:11am

          Re: Re: Re: Bird is wrong, but Doctorow IMO wanted people to ste

          To replace the PCB, they'd also need to have learned how to use a screwdriver. Better ban all talk of those too, just in case someone misuses them.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2019 @ 3:44am

          Re: Re: Re: Bird is wrong, but Doctorow IMO wanted people to ste

          You're the same astroturfing troll posting this to Ars Technica aren't you? Get paid per post or per website?

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    • icon
      Mason Wheeler (profile), 11 Jan 2019 @ 3:38pm

      Re: Bird is wrong, but Doctorow IMO wanted people to steal scoot

      You're making this claim based on... what exactly?

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    • identicon
      Jordan Chandler, 11 Jan 2019 @ 3:40pm

      Re: Bird is wrong, but Doctorow IMO wanted people to steal scoot

      Is being a "jerk" illegal? Is reporting the facts being a jerk?

      called out for what? Writing a factual article?

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      • identicon
        Paul Brinker, 11 Jan 2019 @ 4:16pm

        Re: Re: Bird is wrong, but Doctorow IMO wanted people to steal s

        You can be totally legally correct, while being a total immoral bastard.

        It's better than only being Technically Correct.

        That said, A LOT of people hate the scooter thing, anything that gets them off the streets makes quite a few people happy.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2019 @ 8:36pm

          Re: Re: Re: Bird is wrong, but Doctorow IMO wanted people to ste

          Somehow, I doubt that pulling the scooters from police impound, or even off the street, and getting them in the hands of someone who wants to use it would count as "getting them off the street". Would they not be going to someone who more wants to use it?

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 12 Jan 2019 @ 7:04am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Bird is wrong, but Doctorow IMO wanted people to

            Yeah but if you actually paid money to own them instead of squatting in the streets you are more likely to park them away in an actually legal location. Which is the real goal here.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 11 Jan 2019 @ 3:45pm

      implicitly suggesting that people should steal scooters

      [citation needed]

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    • identicon
      tracyanne, 11 Jan 2019 @ 4:15pm

      Re: Bird is wrong, but Doctorow IMO wanted people to steal scoot

      I know what this is... A failed attempt at 'Both Sides' ism.

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      • identicon
        Scote, 11 Jan 2019 @ 4:29pm

        Re: Re: Bird is wrong, but Doctorow IMO wanted people to steal s

        Nope.

        Bird is wrong on copyright regardless of Doctorow's actions. They are free to call him out for what he did, but not free to make what I consider fraudulent claims of copyright violation. Doctorow did not violate the copyright law with his posts. But neither should he be praised for his posts that, IMO, suggest stealing Bird scooters because of his dislike for "scooter sharing" companies.

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        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 11 Jan 2019 @ 9:25pm

          But neither should he be praised for his posts that, IMO, suggest stealing Bird scooters because of his dislike for "scooter sharing" companies.

          [Citation Needed]. Be specific.

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        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 12 Jan 2019 @ 6:30am

          Re: Re: Re: Bird is wrong, but Doctorow IMO wanted people to ste

          You know, you should try reading the actual articles that are written rather than making a different one up in your head. The ones that actually exist do differ somewhat from your hallucinations, and you might find them educational.

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    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 14 Jan 2019 @ 7:23am

      Re: Bird is wrong, but Doctorow IMO wanted people to steal scoot

      "He was being a jerk and, IMO, deliberately aiding and abetting the theft and subsequent re-use of Bird scooters by implicitly suggesting that people should steal scooters and re-used them, either for valuable parts or to re-use as electric scooters by changing out the controller."

      Except that he did NONE of that.

      He pointed out that replacing a motherboard would change the way the scooter works. In this he does nothing other than what hundreds of thousands of techies have done before in a thousand different variants of how to get old tech to perform in other ways.

      And i don't think anyone this side of the loony bin, even copyright maximalist lobbyists, have ever gone as far off the deep end as to suggest that informing about technology should be considered encouraging theft.

      The only one who needs to be called on their BS would be you.

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    identicon
    Scote, 11 Jan 2019 @ 3:58pm

    Doctrow's posts on BoingBoing imply he wants scooters stolen

    Doctrow leans pretty heavily in his posts about Bird to get people to steal the scooters in my opinion, as he did here, emphasizing his characterization of the scooters as illegal to in what I'd say is his attempt justify people stealing them and re-using them:

    " On the occasion of Bird being ordered to remove its scooters from the streets of San Francisco, JWZ has published the beginnings of a costed teardown of the key components of any you find lying around after they become illegal litter "

    - "A guide to the valuable electronics inside Bird's illegal-in-San Francisco scooters"

    https://boingboing.net/2018/05/25/drinkbot-anyone.html


    It's pretty clear in the above that he's suggesting that any Bird Scooter on a side walk is "illegal litter" and you should steal it because it has valuable parts, only you shouldn't think of it as stealing because the scooter is "illegal".

    Then he goes one further in a subsequent post, telling you how you can do something easier than stripping it for parts, you can convert the scooter to your own use for $30. In this post Doctrow

    $30 plug-and-play kit converts a Bird scooter into a "personal scooter". In this post, Doctrow continues his Bird scooters are "illegal" trope, but this time adds some plausible deniability suggesting that you can source the scooters from impound auctions rather than just stealing them off the streets.

    -$30 plug-and-play kit converts a Bird scooter into a "personal scooter""

    https://boingboing.net/2018/12/08/flipping-a-bird.html

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    • icon
      Get off my cyber-lawn! (profile), 11 Jan 2019 @ 4:02pm

      Re: Doctrow's posts on BoingBoing imply he wants scooters stolen

      Be careful, he may come after that tin-foil hat you wear while you are asleep.

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        identicon
        Scote, 11 Jan 2019 @ 4:10pm

        Re: Re: Doctrow's posts on BoingBoing imply he wants scooters st

        So, you don't actually have any rebuttal. Just a personal attack.

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 11 Jan 2019 @ 4:18pm

          To their credit, you deserve nothing else.

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

          • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
            identicon
            Scote, 11 Jan 2019 @ 4:36pm

            Re:

            And another person with a personal attack.

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            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 11 Jan 2019 @ 4:38pm

              Re: Re:

              You’re just mad that I’m better at it than you.

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              • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                identicon
                Scote, 11 Jan 2019 @ 5:24pm

                Re: Re: Re:

                At making personal attacks? Yes, you clearly have more practice at it. Not something to crow about, though.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2019 @ 10:01pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  A controversial topic like this will always cause a flap and you'll see some loons and old coots raven on about it, parroting the usual non-law, which they think you'll swallow. Bird-brained litigation bullies think it's a lark and expect you to shell out, but if challenged they usually brood and chicken out or fly away, that's if they don't crane their necks to bury their heads in the sand. They can always hawk their wares and feather their nest in another place.

                  Frankly they've made a bit of a booby and goose of themselves and seem a little cuckoo. Then there's people who stork this website and comb every article for something to snipe about and bring everyone down, thinking we're all gullible. Well, that's all in their emargination and eider thought they're gonna come a cropper. What a turkey! Toucan play that game.

                  We had someone nicking money from the till. She had a nice little skimmer method and eyeoyster catch her in the act when I had a tern as security. "It's not like I'm robin the place", she'd say, earning the nickname lyrebird. She had to go, having committed the cardinal sin.

                  I could say more, but I've just been winging it.

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                • icon
                  Get off my cyber-lawn! (profile), 14 Jan 2019 @ 4:12pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  The ever popular "I know you are but what am I" rebuttal!

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        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 14 Jan 2019 @ 7:26am

          Re: Re: Re: Doctrow's posts on BoingBoing imply he wants scooter

          "So, you don't actually have any rebuttal. Just a personal attack."

          He doesn't NEED a rebuttal to what was, essentially, just you, running a personal ad hom on Doctorow.

          It's up to you to back up your assertion that Doctorow, in informing about how technology works, is somehow encouraging people to steal.

          And that's gonna be tough because at the end of that logic you try to apply any book on basic chemistry describing an exothermic reaction would be an attempt to incite terrorism.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2019 @ 4:05pm

      Re: Doctrow's posts on BoingBoing imply he wants scooters stolen

      you mad bro?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2019 @ 4:11pm

      Re: Doctrow's posts on BoingBoing imply he wants scooters stolen

      The only thing "pretty clear" is that you're making wild, unsupported assertions.

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

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        identicon
        Scote, 11 Jan 2019 @ 4:13pm

        Re: Re: Doctrow's posts on BoingBoing imply he wants scooters st

        Right, because providing relevant direct quotes and links to two supporting articles by Doctrow himself is "unsupported". You might want to look into the definitions of those words you are using. I don't think they mean what you think they do.

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 11 Jan 2019 @ 4:17pm

          because providing relevant direct quotes and links to two supporting articles by Doctrow himself is "unsupported"

          It is when the quotes and the posts do not say what you claim they say, even in implication.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2019 @ 7:05pm

          Re: Re: Re: Doctrow's posts on BoingBoing imply he wants scooter

          If I link to those two posts and say it's clear that Doctorow is suggesting flying the scooters to the moon, it doesn't mean I've provided supporting info for my claim.

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 11 Jan 2019 @ 4:16pm

      It's pretty clear in the above that he's suggesting that any Bird Scooter on a side walk is "illegal litter"

      Doctorow talks about the scooters “after they become illegal litter”. The implication is that the scooters will eventually be considered “litter”, but are not at the moment.

      you should steal it because it has valuable parts

      Doctorow mentioned how “JWZ has published the beginnings of a costed teardown of the key components of any you find”. The implication is that JWZ is publishing factual statements about the cost/value of key components of the scooters.

      he goes one further in a subsequent post, telling you how you can do something easier than stripping it for parts, you can convert the scooter to your own use for $30 … [and] this time adds some plausible deniability suggesting that you can source the scooters from impound auctions rather than just stealing them off the streets

      If you buy the scooter from an impound auction, as Doctorow suggests in that post, you own the scooter outright. You can do whatever the hell you want to it—and that includes using a converter kit on it.

      Only someone who sees crime everywhere, who is so paranoid about/afraid of other people that he sees only potential criminals where others would see law-abiding citizens, would ever think those posts endorse—implicitly or explicitly—the theft of Bird scooters.

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

      • identicon
        Scote, 11 Jan 2019 @ 4:34pm

        Re:

        "Doctorow talks about the scooters “after they become illegal litter”. The implication is that the scooters will eventually be considered “litter”, but are not at the moment."

        He's equivocating, as are you.

        Even if the city of San Francisco declares a "scooter sharing" company's scooter distribution to be against city law, that doesn't make the company's scooters legal for private citizens to steal. The scooters remain the wholly owned private property of the company. The city can impound them, but there is no private right of action for people to steal them for parts.

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 11 Jan 2019 @ 4:38pm

          The city can impound them, but there is no private right of action for people to steal them for parts.

          And if Doctorow had advocated for the theft of those scooters, even in implication, you would have a good point—about him. But he did not, so you do not.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2019 @ 5:28pm

          Re: Re:

          I wonder how much you are getting paid to feed people that obvious bullshit. Are you ok with the choices that you have made that have led you to this place? Is the money worth it?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2019 @ 4:18pm

      Re: Doctrow implies he wants scooters stolen

      So If Doctorow does encourage people to steal scooters - which he isn't - Then how cares? You can't "steal" from a corporation if corporations don't exist, right?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2019 @ 5:25pm

      Re: Doctrow's posts on BoingBoing imply he wants scooters stolen

      Posting your bullshit twice doesn't make it true.

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 11 Jan 2019 @ 4:28pm

    "It is utterly bizarre that anyone at Bird thought this was a good idea."

    From a company who just dumps a bunch of unwanted scooters in cities & collects cash from people using them & they care so much about their items they allow them to end up impounded for a long enough time that the city legally can sell them off at auction to try and recoup their costs in cleaning up the mess.

    Seems to make sense to me...

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

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 11 Jan 2019 @ 4:33pm

      Re:

      Given the amount of usage they get I'd argue they're not at all "unwanted"....

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

      • icon
        That Anonymous Coward (profile), 12 Jan 2019 @ 1:30pm

        Re: Re:

        then how come so many end up in impound?

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

        • icon
          Uriel-238 (profile), 13 Jan 2019 @ 11:01am

          Disposable vs. Nondisposable Scooters

          From what it looks like, Bird scooters are those mini-scooters that don't obligate the end user to return it to a designated lot, so they're just being tossed. Oakland's OakDOT scooters are presenting a similar problem where they're tossed in Lake Merritt or otherwise discard them inappropriately.

          This is to say they're getting used -- University of Georgia has problems with unreliable bus service and limited parking -- but then they're abandoned without consideration of future use.

          Curiously, Doctorow's solution of making scooters private will help. Then the user of the scooter has an interest in the scooter's future and will care for it appropriately.

          Also, the City of Athens reports 1100 scooters impounded. I'm curious what rate that turns out to be, and how it contrasts with bike and scooter rentals where they have to be minded until returned to a lot.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 13 Jan 2019 @ 3:32pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Bird goes into a city and drops a bunch of scooters onto public sidewalks without a permit to keep them there. People them use them and leave them scattered all around the city. Cities don't like this, so will impound any unattended scooters they find on the claim (correct or not) that they impede pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2019 @ 6:09am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            They are everywhere in the Phoenix metro area. I see dozens on the sidewalks on my 8 mile drive to work.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2019 @ 4:49pm

    Doctorow is guilty, guilty, GUILTY...

    Cory Doctorow and his Happy Mutants gang are clearly guilty, guilty, GUILTY...

         ... of felony interference with a business model.

     

    It's far beyond all reasonable doubt.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2019 @ 10:24am

      Re: Doctorow is guilty, guilty, GUILTY...

      Gonna go ahead and guess your post was sarcasm.

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

      • icon
        Thad (profile), 14 Jan 2019 @ 10:46am

        Re: Re: Doctorow is guilty, guilty, GUILTY...

        Great job!

        You see, the joke is that interference with a business model is not actually a felony.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2019 @ 11:00am

          Re: Re: Re: Doctorow is guilty, guilty, GUILTY...

          You see, the joke is that interference with a business model is not actually a felony.

          Which totally explains the curious fact that over the years here, we've repeatedly seen various people slammed up against the wall for — “felony interference with a business model.”

          Repeatedly.

          It's not a new thing. Instead, it's become a running observation. I didn't come up with the phrase. It's been seen here many times before.

          Felony interference with a business model.

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

          • icon
            Thad (profile), 14 Jan 2019 @ 11:28am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Doctorow is guilty, guilty, GUILTY...

            Jesus Christ, we're into some kind of explaining-the-joke Inception here.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2019 @ 11:31am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Doctorow is guilty, guilty, GUILTY...

              Jesus Christ, we're into some kind of explaining-the-joke Inception here.

              Well, as they say, when you have to explain a joke, maybe it just isn't that funny.

               

              Not a very funny joke.

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

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 11 Jan 2019 @ 7:09pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you...

    ... Mr. Doctorow, EFF and company for an awesome popcorn moment.

    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, 11 Jan 2019 @ 8:22pm

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Scote, 11 Jan 2019 @ 9:05pm

    Community flag or group think filter?

    Interesting to see that my posts have been "flagged by the community". Generally speaking, most of my comments over the years are consistent with typical comments, so nobody can dismiss me as an AC. But it seems that any contrary opinions, even when backed up with quotes and citations, are subject to being flagged for being contrary to the dog pile. The modding has in effect been outsourced to the mob. It's an understandable technique for Techdirt to employ given how much work good modding is to do by hand and how hard it is to do in a timely fashion without spending a crapload of money, but clearly it also has the potential to turn Techdirt into an echo chamber.

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

    • icon
      Toom1275 (profile), 11 Jan 2019 @ 9:20pm

      [citation unavailable]

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 11 Jan 2019 @ 9:24pm

      Option #3: Response to groundless claims asserting bogus intent

      Yeah, that's why your comments got flagged...

      Your comments weren't flagged for being 'contrary to the dog pile', they were likely flagged because they aren't 'backed up with quotes and citations', and instead are you asserting that someone is advocating illegal action based upon a stretch so severe that you can see light through it.

      'These scooters are a public nuisance, and if the city seizes them and sells them at public auction here's a way to mod them for personal use' does not even remotely come close to 'therefore you should steal them right now', no matter how much you try to twist it.

      If you've got some actual evidence of him suggesting and/or promoting illegal activity along those lines that don't require squinting really hard and translating his words back and forth between a few languages first then by all means present it, until then you're just making claims that are not only baseless they're insulting to the man and anyone who reads your claims about him.

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

      • icon
        Toom1275 (profile), 11 Jan 2019 @ 9:28pm

        Re: Option #3: Response to groundless claims asserting bogus int

        He doubled down on lying about Doctorow with evidence that contradicts his claims by lying about Techdirt amidst all the evidence that contradicts his claims.

        :slow clap:

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Jan 2019 @ 12:52am

      Re: Community flag or group think filter?

      I wouldn't even call something mob rule when it can be easily gamed by simple sockpuppetry.

      Maybe the "Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam" function needs to be changed to read "/opinions I don't agree with." Or even better, Techdirt should just do away with it and instead have a simple upvote/downvote function since people are obviously using it as a general downvote for opinions they don't agree with.

      But it certainly fits in with the current craze of so-called "de-platforming" -- basically shutting down any speech that you vehemently don't like rather than disputing it.

      I also tend to think Doctorow might be engaged in a bit of "reverse-dog-whistling" -- unless of course he's a total fool who has no idea that his contributions can (and probably will) be used for unlawful purposes.


      Youtube searches generate plenty of videos with titles such as "HOW TO HACK A BIRD SCOOTER! (Free rides for life)" and it would be interesting to know if such "how to" content gets regularly deleted by Youtube as much as videos about building gun receivers or installing 'bump' stocks or crafting homemade weapons in general.

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

      • icon
        Toom1275 (profile), 12 Jan 2019 @ 6:47am

        Re: Re: Community flag or group think filter?

        Just like with climate science, the "silencing dissenting opinions" claim only holds up under the deceptive mislabling of "intentional and repeated lies" as "opinions the mob doesn't agree with."

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Jan 2019 @ 7:53pm

        Re: Re: Stupid or ignorant.

        Or your just mad because people keep flagging your obvious bulkshit.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Scote, 11 Jan 2019 @ 9:55pm

    You really need to read the posts and look up my citations

    "likely flagged because they aren't 'backed up with quotes and citations', and instead are you asserting that someone is advocating illegal action based upon a stretch so severe that you can see light through it."

    Yeah, you don't seem to be getting that there have been a number of posts about re-purposing Bird scooters by Doctorow on BB, including the one that suggests that if the scooter company's distribution is not allowed by the city that people are free to take the scooters because they are "illegal", when, in fact, no such right of private action exists and the scooters remain the private property of the scooter company.

    Here is article by Doctorow suggesting that people steal Bird scooters if they are "illegal" (which he declares they are in the headline): A guide to the valuable electronics inside Bird's illegal-in-San Francisco scooters - https://boingboing.net/2018/05/25/drinkbot-anyone.html.

    Now, to be clear, Doctorow is endorsing the suggestion of JWZ, who declared "You only have two weeks to gather up all those free microcontrollers, servos and batteries that are littering the sidewalks of San Francisco!". The two weeks in which to steal scooters JWZ is referring to is actually the grace period **before** the city of San Francisco's deadline after which the scooters would be impounded "Scooter Companies Have Two Weeks to Get Off the Streets" - https://www.jwz.org/blog/2018/05/landfill-capitalism-you-only-have-two-weeks-to-gather-up-all-those- free-microcontrollers-servos-and-batteries-that-are-littering-the-sidewalks-of-san-francisco/

    So, yes, IMO Cory was suggesting that people steal scooters based on JWZs suggestion to do the same before Bird was forced to remove the scooters by the City under threat of impound.

    Think of it this way: if someone parks illegally in on a city street in a red zone, do you get to take their car and keep it for yourself? No, you don't. Nor do you get to take Bird scooters, even if the city regulations say they are not allowed to be left on city sidewalks.

    Now, none of that excuses the overbroad copyright claims by Bird over Doctorow's article. However, as much as I support opposing copyfraud, I also oppose the attempts of people here to pretend Doctorow wasn't suggesting stealing Bird scooters.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2019 @ 10:33pm

      Re: You really need to come clean bro

      You never did get around to answering the question as to how much you’re getting paid to post this steaming pile of horseshit.

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

      • identicon
        Scote, 11 Jan 2019 @ 10:58pm

        Another non-reply by you. And unlike you, I have a history on this page that can be looked up.

        Here's the thing you can't get around: Doctorow's link to JWZ's post about stealing Bird scooters for the parts was explicitly about stealing them in the remaining two weeks *before* San Francisco's grace period expired and the city impounded them, when, presumably, they would no longer be available to steal off the streets.

        You can't plausibly deny that. Which it seems is why you didn't and just made unfounded accusations about me instead.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2019 @ 10:54pm

      Re: You really need to read the posts and look up my citations

      Here is article by Doctorow suggesting that people steal Bird scooters if they are "illegal" (which he declares they are in the headline)

      Yes, like far too many headlines (even among large media organizations), this headline is inaccurate. Anyone who bothered to read the first sentence(out of two total) he wrote in that article would see he clearly said "after they become illegal."

      Beyond that, the question is actually quite interesting from a legal perspective. The ruling from the San Fransisco government actually modified a previous ordinance concerning prohibiting "deposit, leave, place, keep, maintain, or abandon, Debris and Waste Construction Materials, industrial materials, or more than 100 pounds total of any other waste, refuse, or debris...on public property." They simply added to that list "powered scooters that are part of a powered scooter share program."

      This is interesting, because most of what the original ordinance covered also fall under laws concerning abandoned property. There is a reasonable legal argument that if, after the scooters became illegal to leave on sidewalks, the company chose to leave said scooters on the sidewalks, those scooters could be considered abandoned (probably intentionally abandoned). In California, if the property has been intentionally abandoned, it is pretty much a free-for-all, with anyone able to claim ownership if they get to it first. If the property is not known to be intentionally abandoned, then it should be turned into the local police, who would try to determine an owner. If the owner does not retrieve it within 60 days, then it will be given into possession of the person who found it (assuming they want it).

      As for your car example, that falls under rather different sets of laws, since cars are a titled property. In order to make a claim on a titled property, a court would need to be convinced of said claim and transfer the title into your name. It's not enough to just pick up an abandoned car and run off, you must present proof that it was abandoned and get the title transferred.

      Further, of course, there is significant legal differences between "parked illegally" and "abandoned." Time is usually the biggest method of differentiation. However, once the owner is notified (or for items under $250, the owner doesn't come looking for it) that his vehicle was parked illegally and failed to retrieve it within the time allotted by law, then it would be considered abandoned (this is how tow companies operate). In the case of cars, they are almost always towed long before that point, so it's fairly moot from the perspective of someone trying to pick up a free car. This scenario is interesting because while technically they might have only been parked illegally for a few hours, practically the owner was notified months beforehand that the parking situation would become illegal at a given time, so failure to retrieve it prior to that could easily be considered abandonment, depending on what precedents the courts over in California prefer to look at.

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

      • identicon
        Scote, 11 Jan 2019 @ 11:17pm

        That is a thoughtful reply, however it ignores two things, one of which is the headline (which, to the best of my knowledge, are written by the authors at the collective blog rather than a copy editor), which declares the scooters illegal and the linked article cited byt Doctrow, which he is IMO endorsing, that is specifically about stealing the scooters in the two weeks remaining *before* the city's grace period expires and the scooters are subject to city impound. It's a pretty tall order to justify the scooters as legally "abandoned" before that deadline.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 12 Jan 2019 @ 8:45am

          Re:

          If by "ignored" you mean "mentioned both of those things in the first sentence", then yes those things were ignored.

          It may also be worth pointing out that "legal" and "illegal" are used colloquially in headlines based on the date of passage of laws, rather than the date of effect. We see this regularly throughout the political journalism field (with marijuana legalization by states, for example) and nobody (except you) seems to be confused about it.

          Additionally, if linking to another article qualifies as endorsing the entirety of the viewpoints present in that article (and not just the parts you actually refer to), then basically the entirety of the fields of journalism, social and political sciences, economics, psychology, sociology, history, even the hard sciences and engineering are going to have some major problems. The necessity of recreating centuries worth of data collection and research in order to avoid endorsing views that have since been proven wrong will paralyze those fields for decades at least (or would if anyone except you believed this).

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Jan 2019 @ 9:48am

      [Doctorow] suggests if the scooter company's distribution is not allowed by the city that people are free to take the scooters because they are "illegal"

      Show me the exact wording of the statement where he even remotely implies what you claim he did.

      Here is article by Doctorow suggesting that people steal Bird scooters if they are "illegal" (which he declares they are in the headline)

      One, the post only suggests what you says it does if you think discussing what will happen to the scooters after San Francisco’s order of removal—and the value of scooter parts—is the equivalent of advocacy for theft. Two, “illegal” is a bit of hyperbole in this instance, but not by much…well, unless you think the city of San Francisco has no right to regulate the kinds of vehicles that are and are not allowed within its limits.

      Doctorow is endorsing the suggestion of JWZ, who declared "You only have two weeks to gather up all those free microcontrollers, servos and batteries that are littering the sidewalks of San Francisco!". The two weeks in which to steal scooters JWZ is referring to is actually the grace period before the city of San Francisco's deadline after which the scooters would be impounded

      Have you ever heard of humor or hyperbole? The whole point of the “illegal litter” language used by both Doctorow and JWZ is to point out how San Francisco told Bird to get its scooters out of the city. Even if their language implied that people might steal the scooters during the grace period, they did not openly encourage people to do so.

      yes, IMO Cory was suggesting that people steal scooters based on JWZs suggestion to do the same

      One, you don’t need to tell us it is your opinion, because that makes me think it might not be your opinion. Two, neither Doctorow nor JWZ suggested that people steal the scooters. Three, talking about illegal acts that people might do is not an endorsement of, or encouragement to commit, those acts.

      as much as I support opposing copyfraud

      …says the guy who routinely writes off copyright/DMCA abuse to silence protected speech as “anomalies”…

      I also oppose the attempts of people here to pretend Doctorow wasn't suggesting stealing Bird scooters.

      We are not “pretending”. We are outright saying that you are so paranoid about people, and so willing to see crime everywhere, that you have imagined a small bit of hyperbolic language about San Francisco banning Bird scooters to be a signed confession of “endorsing theft”. None of what either Doctorow or JWZ said rises to the level of compelling an illegal act, never mind endorsing it. But even if they did endorse illegal acts, that leaves you with an important question: What will you do about it besides complain?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2019 @ 11:45pm

    I don't understand how this impoundment/storage/sale of rental scooters works. These kind of auctions in general tend to be one of two kinds, such as property confiscated from thieves, or stolen and (later) abandoned property, in which the legal property owner is unknown and typically can't easily be traced. The other kind being towed cars that have a value less than the impoundment costs (often exorbitant but that's a scam in itself) or an owner who can't ever come up with the money needed to get it back as that price increases daily, or simply junk vehicles abandoned by the owner.

    But with these Bird rental scooters, the authorities obviously know exactly who the owner is from the start, a for-profit company which presumably has the money, determination, and ability to get those scooters back almost immediately. Why then is that not happening? It would seem like any decent-sized company would have the muscle to make deals with the police and private companies that impound stolen and abandoned property. Assuming that the scooter has not been used in a violent crime, why couldn't the police simply call Bird directly and have them come over and pick it up, perhaps for a small fee or fine? Does reporting the scooter as stolen help Bird get it back, or ensure that they will probably never get it back due to all the red tape?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Jan 2019 @ 7:17am

      Re:

      You assume their fees are small. San Fransisco Car towing involves 'full recovery' rates which when the towing is the main source of the expense means that the value of the scooters will be rapidly outstripped. Not to mention that the fees were later halved for low income drivers and Bird certainly isn't eligible for that discount - when they set the fees to full recovery thresholds - do the math.

      Really if you want to make money from abandoned Bird scooters you should open up a towing company and make money towing them for the city and then once they refuse to pay for their underwater scooters buy them up cheap for scrap. Bird knew what they signed up for.

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

  • identicon
    Big Daddy Warcucks, 12 Jan 2019 @ 7:00am

    I'm not understanding this scooter thing.

    Why do these electric scooters get the right wing extremists all spun up?

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

  • icon
    crade (profile), 14 Jan 2019 @ 8:04am

    If the system worked and this was really such a stupid move for a lawyer to do there would be strong enough repercussions that they would stop doing this and we wouldn't be facing a plague of settlement letters and other bogus copyright infringement claims.

    Currently all they need to do is weigh the likelihood of someone caving without a fight against the minor annoyances pushback like added exposure that pushback might bring. One of the big problems with our current systems is that it *isn't* stupid for a lawyer to send these. (Now sending one to Cory is a whole different story)

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2019 @ 10:03pm

    And it looks like Bird apologized to BoingBoing for taking the post down.

    out_of_the_blue was full of shit, who knew? That's a M. Night Shyamalan twist right there...

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


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