from the punchline:-she-wasn't dept
Phew! Another pirate stymied!
by Mike Masnick
Thu, May 1st 2014 8:13pm
by Michael Ho
Thu, May 1st 2014 5:00pm
by Mike Masnick
Thu, May 1st 2014 3:34pm
The disparity between the founders’ copyright of 14 years and modern copyright terms that last longer than anyone could ever be alive, is particularly glaring to modern audiences. This is because there has been more research on the cost of these ridiculously long terms, but also because today everyone is a content creator in a way that average people were not in the early 20th century. Justifying why our personal e-mails, Facebook posts and tweets should be protected under copyright for our lifetimes plus 70 years doesn’t seem to meaningfully fulfill the constitutional mandate of promoting the progress of the sciences.The paper also takes on the current negotiations on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, in which some have looked to extend copyright even further, while others (including the US) appear to want to lock-in the current life+70 as a minimum, even as many (including the head of the Copyright Office) have suggested that we may want to think about cutting back copyright term length. The report shows how things like the TPP can interfere with legitimate copyright reform:
Further, social norms on those forms of creation differ extremely far from what the law is. Of course, this does not justify large-scale piracy, but social norms are such today that forwarding an e-mail from a friend is not perceived as a potential legal problem. However, under many readings of the copyright statutes, your e-mails are copyrighted and forwarding an e-mail without permission, especially if the e-mail says not to forward it, could be copyright infringement, making one liable for a $150,000 fine.
If the White House signs a treaty that makes such reforms impossible, that would have significant deleterious effects on the reform effort. By removing any prospect of reform from the table, it would be a nearly unprecedented policy coup for the content lobby in their attempt to effectively repeal the Constitution’s Copyright Clause.Of course, this doesn't even get into the fact that part of the reason copyright terms are so long is an international agreement from over 100 years ago: the Berne Convention Treaty, which is a massive impediment to necessary copyright reform. And yet, rather than fix that, it appears that the US government is seeking to extend it even further through other agreements.
The TPP, as leaked, is a clear illustration of policy laundering. Special interests can’t defend life+70 copyright terms in the United States, so instead they use an international treaty-making process to tie Congress’s hand. The content lobby has done this effectively with numerous other treaties; this has been their modus operandi for decades. But unlike other treaties involving copyright and patents, this treaty process has been subject to unprecedented secrecy: even members of Congress initially were unable to access the treaty
by Mike Masnick
Thu, May 1st 2014 2:17pm
If you take an issue like drugs, for example, the United States does extraordinary work in research and development, and providing medical breakthroughs that save a lot of lives around the world. Those companies that make those investments in that research oftentimes want a return, and so there are all kinds of issues around intellectual property and patents, and so forth.Um. You know why those complaining may "lack knowledge of what is going on in the negotiations"? Perhaps it's because the USTR -- a part of the Obama White House -- has insisted that the entire negotiations take place in complete secrecy with no transparency at all. If President Obama doesn't want conspiracy theories about the agreement, and wishes that its critics were more informed about the negotiations, he can change that today by instructing the USTR to release its negotiating positions and promise to make all future negotiating positions public.
At the same time, I think we would all agree that if there’s a medicine that can save a lot of lives, then we’ve got to find a way to make sure that it’s available to folks who simply can’t afford it as part of our common humanity. And both those values are reflected in the conversations and negotiations that are taking place around TPP. So the assumption somehow that right off the bat that’s not something we’re paying attention to, that reflects lack of knowledge of what is going on in the negotiations.
But my point is you shouldn’t be surprised if there are going to be objections, protests, rumors, conspiracy theories, political aggravation around a trade deal. You’ve been around long enough, Chuck — that’s true in Malaysia; it’s true in Tokyo; it’s true in Seoul; it’s true in the United States of America — and it’s true in the Democratic Party.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, May 1st 2014 1:16pm
One possible answer is that the current system actually makes them more than they'd save by switching. As Businessweek pointed out, airlines often allow some passengers to pay extra to board early and skip the general unpleasantness. If the entire boarding process was faster to begin with, many people might not pay extra to skip it.In fact, that same BusinessWeek article notes that boarding times are getting much longer over time, and also details how various airlines seem to revel in making the whole process as confusing and annoying as possible -- while offering fees to folks who want to "upgrade" to a better experience.
For passengers, though, this makes no sense. Most of us are waiting in line longer than necessary, and those who pay extra are sitting on planes longer than necessary. No one is getting to their destinations any faster, and everyone is paying higher base prices for tickets, because airlines have to pay extra to the crew for their time used during these delayed turnarounds.
Thu, May 1st 2014 12:16pm
I spent a lot of the last week shaking my head at the commentary on the Supreme Court and its (lack of) technical expertise. Much of the criticism came in response to the oral arguments in Aereo, and broke down in two areas: it either misunderstood the nature of Supreme Court oral arguments and their transcripts, or mistook familiarity with a handful of Silicon Valley products with actual tech savviness.
But in a series of cases this week about law enforcement searches of cell phones, we caught a glimpse of the Supreme Court’s real technology problem. Here's what it comes down to: it's not essential that the Court knows specifics about how technology itself works—and as Timothy Lee argues, that might even tempt them to make technology-based decisions that don't generalize well. However, it is essential that the Court understands how people use technology, especially in areas where they're trying to elaborate a standard of what expectations are "reasonable."
So when Chief Justice Roberts suggests that a person carrying two cell phones might reasonably be suspected of dealing drugs, that raises major red flags. Not because of any special facts about how cell phones work, but because (for example) at least half of the lawyers in the Supreme Court Bar brought two cell phones with them to the courthouse that day. Should those attorneys (along with the many, many other people who carry multiple devices) reasonably expect less privacy because the Chief Justice is out of touch with that fact?
Contrast that with Justice Kagan’s point about storage location in the same argument. Justice Kagan suggested, correctly, that people don’t always know what is stored on their device and what is stored “in the cloud.” The actual answer to that question should be immaterial; the point is that it’s absurd for a person’s privacy interest to hinge on which hard drive private data is stored on.1 Instead, the important fact here, which Justice Kagan recognizes, is that the distinction between local and cloud storage just doesn’t matter to many people, and so it can’t be the basis of a reasonable-expectation-of-privacy test.
If you’re feeling less generous, you might take Justice Kagan’s point as evidence that she herself doesn’t know where her files are stored. And in fact, that’s probably true—but it’s not important. You don’t actually need to know much about file systems and remote storage to know that it’s a bad idea for the law to treat it differently.
That’s not to say that technical implementation details are never relevant. Relevant details, though, should (and almost always do) get addressed in the briefs, long before the oral argument takes place. They don’t usually read like software manuals, either: they’re often rich with analogies to help explain not just how the tech works, but what body of law should apply.
What can’t really be explained in a brief, though, is a community’s relationship with a technology. You can get at parts of it, citing authorities like surveys and expert witnesses, but a real feeling for what people expect from their software and devices is something that has to be observed. If the nine justices on the Supreme Court can’t bring that knowledge to the arguments, the public suffers greatly. Again, Justice Kagan seems to recognize this fact when she says of cell phones:
They're computers. They have as much computing capacity as laptops did five years ago. And everybody under a certain age, let’s say under 40, has everything on them.
Justice Kagan is not under 40, and might not have everything stored on a phone (or on an online service accessible through her phone). But that quote shows me that she at least knows where other people’s expectations are different. Chief Justice Roberts’s questions show me exactly the opposite.
The justices live an unusual and sheltered life: they have no concerns about job security, and spend much of their time grappling with abstract questions that have profound effects on this country’s law. But if they fail to recognize where their assumptions about society and technology break from the norm—or indeed, where they are making assumptions in the first place—we’re all in trouble.
Reposted from ParkerHiggins.net.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, May 1st 2014 11:14am
In a letter to members of a parliamentary committee obtained by Süddeutsche Zeitung, government officials say a personal invitation for the US whistleblower would "run counter to the political interests of the Federal Republic", and "put a grave and permanent strain" on US-German relations.Because the American government is apparently so insecure that it can't handle Ed Snowden testifying to the German Parliament? Really? Sometimes, when you look at world diplomacy, it looks like a bunch of elementary school kids. What happened to mature adults who can disagree about things without it causing an international incident?
by Mike Masnick
Thu, May 1st 2014 10:13am
We’ve structured this as a series of matched-contingent goals. We’ve got to raise $1 million in 30 days; if we do, we’ll get that $1 million matched. Then we’ve got to raise $5 million in 30 days; if we do, we’ll get that $5 million matched as well. If both challenges are successful, then we’ll have the money we need to compete in 5 races in 2014. Based on those results, we’ll launch a (much much) bigger effort in 2016 — big enough to win.Lessig has put together a video explaining all this as well:
The ultimate aim is to spend enough to win a majority in Congress committed to fundamental reform by 2016. We’ve spent the last year gaming out how much that would cost. I think it is feasible and possible — if we can take these first steps successfully now.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, May 1st 2014 9:06am
Thu, May 1st 2014 7:46am
The Techdirt comments section is to thank for this one. After we just talked about Chase Bank appearing to close the personal bank accounts of a bunch of employees in the adult performing business, a few of you pointed us to reports that this may just be Chase Bank dancing to a federal piper. That report has expanded upon Teagan Presley, a former porn star, and her comments upon finding out she was suddenly no longer a Chase customer.
When Presley went to the bank in person to ask why, she was told it's because she's considered "high risk."So, the obvious question to ask next is what makes her "high risk"? After all, Chase Bank really likes money, even when it is generated by doing some pretty crappy things, so what's the deal? Well, the latest is that this may be a part of the US Department of Justice's "Operation Choke Point" program, in which the government has apparently decided that some extremely legal businesses don't get to exist anymore, but since they can't just disappear companies and industries in good standing, they've decided to route around the whole "freedom" thing and get the financial industry to act as contract hitmen.
"And then they told me that they canceled my husband’s account too, because our social security numbers are linked," Presley told VICE News. "They told him that it was because I'm a notorious adult star. Which is funny, because I'm kind of a goody-goody in the business, and I'm not even doing porn anymore."
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed Thursday, American Bankers Association CEO Frank Keating wrote that the Justice Department is "telling bankers to behave like policemen and judges."Let's not mince words: a program that was built upon the goals of stopping financial fraud has devolved into a massive government overreach into private businesses that are operating within the law. The way it works is that the DOJ informs financial institutions that certain industries are more likely than others to be involved in unauthorized charges of consumer credit and bank cards. They likewise inform the banks that the DOJ is going to keep a special super-awesome close-eye on these industries, with the implication being that there will be a great deal of prosecutorial action, subpoenas, and scrutiny on those industries, not mention penalties on the institutions that work with them. The intention of the government, it would seem, is to make the banks unwilling to deal with the government harassment and simply cut anyone in those industries off from the financial institutions. Nobody is happy about this.
"Operation Choke Point is asking banks to identify customers who may be breaking the law or simply doing something government officials don't like," Keating wrote. "Banks must then "choke off" those customers' access to financial services, shutting down their accounts."
Keating said the highly secretive operation was launched in early 2013. That's when porn stars started to complain to the media that their bank accounts were being shut down without explanation.
Even the former chairman of the FDIC, William Isaac, wrote in American Banker magazine this week that Operation Choke Point is "way out of control," adding that 23 bipartisan members of Congress wrote a letter to the DOJ stating that the operation is driving legal business into the ground. That includes banks themselves.It's worse than that. The federal government is lording over legal industries operating within their respective states' laws and single-handedly directing banking institutions to cut their legs out from beneath them. It would be bad enough if we were just talking about business accounts, but personal accounts are getting swept up in this as well. That's how you end up with individual performers in the adult film industry suddenly finding themselves unable to open up a bank account. This is done, by the way, in the name of morality. It represents a violation of a free and legal marketplace by a government that has as much moral authority as can fit in a thimble.
Camden Fine, president of the Independent Community Bankers of America, wrote a letter to the Justice Department in early April, saying that Operation Choke Point makes it too tough for small community banks to compete with the big chains.
In 2011, the FDIC listed 30 "merchant categories that have been associated with high-risk activity," likening pornography to Ponzi schemes, racist materials, "lifetime guarantees," and sales of fireworks and tobacco. At a March hearing before a Senate Banking subcommittee, the Washington Post reported, Senator David Vitter (R-La.) said "there is a determined effort, from [the Justice Department] to the regulators... to cut off credit and use other tactics to force [payday lenders] out of business. I find that deeply troubling because it has no statutory basis, no statutory authority."This should be terrifying to business owners in every industry. Sure, this time they're going after some companies that you may not like, be they porn, or payday lenders, or people making racist materials, tobacco, or fireworks. But if those industries are operating within the law, they have the right to exist. The law is the only measure by which the DOJ should be invoking banking policy. The federal government doesn't get to pick and choose which businesses exist outside of their legality. If the federal government wants to make porn illegal, they should try to do so. They won't get very far, but they should try. This underhanded attack on free enterprise is simply un-American.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, May 1st 2014 5:44am
One of the common themes that these revelations keep re-emphasizing is that the intelligence community keeps insisting that they won't abuse their powers because of their strong "oversight." And yet, every time we get a chance to look more closely at the actual oversight, we find that the oversight is almost non-existent. The intelligence community is as cagey and misleading in private classified sessions as they are in public.
[Julian] Huppert, the member of Parliament, served on a committee that reviewed – and recommended against – a push from the British government for more powers to access private data before the Snowden materials became public last year.
At no point during that process, Huppert says, did GCHQ disclose the extent of its access to PRISM and other then-secret NSA programs. Nor did it indicate that it was seeking wider access to NSA data – even during closed sessions held to allow security officials to discuss sensitive information. Huppert says these facts were relevant to the review and could have had a bearing on its outcome.
“It is now obvious that they were trying to deliberately mislead the committee,” Huppert told The Intercept. “They very clearly did not give us all the information that we needed.”
by Mike Masnick
Thu, May 1st 2014 3:43am
In this short film, I sought to creatively reinterpret the original events. (I’ve not been able to locate any original video recordings, so I’m unsure how closely my actors’ appearance and delivery resembles the original participants.) My primary rule was the performance had to be verbatim -- no words could be modified or changed from the original legal transcripts. Nor did I internally edit the document to compress time. What you see is, word for word, an excerpt from what the record shows to have actually unfolded. However, I did give the actors creative range to craft their performances. As such, this is a hybrid of documentary and fiction. We’ve taken creative liberties in the staging and performance to imbue the material with our own perspectives.This is actually a pretty cool way to make use of new digital tools to bring certain news stories to life. While this may just be amusing right now, it'll be interesting to see how else it's used going forward.
Explore some core concepts:
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|10:44||Come On Elon! Tesla Stupidly Bans Owners From Using Self-Driving Teslas For Uber (48)|
|10:39||Daily Deal: Complete PMP Project Management Certification Training Bundle (1)|
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|08:23||Vox Seems Kind Of Upset That We're Building Gigabit Networks With Bandwidth To Spare (33)|