This Week In Techdirt History: August 4th - 10th

from the back-in-the-day dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2014, while President Obama was defending the CIA's increasingly exposed use of torture on the basis that they had a "tough job", James Clapper was defending the redactions in the torture report and calling them "minimal" — but Senators were calling it "incomprehensible", because even 15% redaction can hide all the critical details.

Meanwhile, comic artist Randy Queen was giving a crash course in DMCA abuse, using takedowns to censor blogs that were critical of his work, then claiming that posts criticizing this were defamatory, then doubling down yet again by trying to DMCA the posts about his DMCA abuse.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2009, a Washington Post writer started an online journalism dust-up when he complained about Gawker "ripping off" his reporting with a blog post discussing and heavily linking to one of his articles. Other bloggers quickly pointed out that, in fact, the mainstream press "rips off" bloggers constantly, spurring more people to dig in and illustrate the entitlement mentality driving big media's complaints about blogs, and finally the suggestion that perhaps they should run their own blogs about their own reporting if they are so upset. Amidst this, the Associated Press was still digging in on their plan to DRM the news, with their text licensing calculator that would gladly charge you for any text whether it came from the AP or not, and ironically leveraging Creative Commons licensing language for their ill-fated DRM tech. We suggested the agency would be better off finding other services to offer newspapers, while competitor Reuters stepped up defended linking, excerpting and sharing.

Also this week in 2009, we published a long rebuttal to the RIAA's factually-challenged boasts about the Joel Tenenbaum verdict.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2004, long before Joel Tenenbaum, we were wondering why the RIAA gets to hold parents responsible for their kids' downloading. The US was using trade negotiations to export the DMCA and software patents to Australia, as it likes to do, Hollywood succeeded in driving a DVD backup software company out of business, and for no particular reason the FCC happily voted that VoIP systems should be required to have wiretap backdoors for law enforcement — a fitting week for Tim Wu to write a post exploring how different regulatory schemes create a "copyright gap" that impacts the telephony and content industries in vastly different ways. We also got an important appeals court ruling that found websites devoted to criticizing companies are not commercial speech and thus do not constitute trademark infringement.

Filed Under: history, look back

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  1. icon
    Leigh Beadon (profile), 11 Aug 2019 @ 11:39am


    Have you ever considered publicly defending your policy, describing your policy in detail, sharing with your own community the transparent details of how your censorship operates?

    Well let's see. Our policy is: we allow completely open, anonymous comments without requiring the creation of an account or even the provision of a temporary email address - one can simply type anything they want in the box, hit submit and (barring a few spam filters that try to keep the deluge of spam out of our comments, and can occasionally misfire) it will show up on the site.

    Perhaps we do need to offer a defense of this policy. After all, it is extremely rare, practically unheard of on the modern web - in comparison to most blogs, and all social media, our comment section is one of the most open and least moderated on the web. It's true that some people think this is crazy of us, and that we should be doing more to block/ban people like you, since to most of our commenters you don't add anything of value and in fact detract from the quality of discussion by poisoning it with bad-faith questions (which appears to be your goal).

    To those people I would defend our policy thusly: we get so much great content from completely anonymous commenters (they won both first place spots in this week's comments post, which will be appearing shortly!) that we're willing to put up with the people who abuse the system for the purpose of trolling and disruption. We love the anonymous portion of our audience and are committed to accommodating them, and we have plenty of readers who have very good reasons for wanting to remain anonymous when they engage here. We value them more than we value the idea of blocking off some trolls.

    Beyond that, we don't have much in the way of a "policy". We do have a very basic voting/reporting system that can result in some comments receiving small badges of recognition, while others have a single click placed in between them and the reader. That can't be what you're referring to though, since only a paranoid weirdo or a disingenuous troll would complain about that as "censorship".

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