from the long-and-short dept
One of the tiresome refrains of our detractors around here is that we are too critical of the government but uncritical of Google (neither of which is true). John Fenderson won first place for insightful this week with a simple response to all comparisons between Google and the NSA:
Google is optional. The NSA is not. End of story.
Meanwhile, when we discussed the fact that 99% of misconduct cases against New Jersey cops are being dismissed by Internal Affairs, one commenter suggested that it's because those claims are all flimsy. Second place for insightful went to an anonymous commenter who responded with an extensive list of Techdirt posts about clear police abuses. This is a rare case where I'm not going to reproduce the comment here, since it's very very long, but anyone wanting to navigate Techdirt's bad-cop coverage should check it out.
For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got two thorough comments explaining interesting and important concepts. First up is an anonymous commenter musing on what the copyright industries have in common with the NSA:
The copywrong industry now suffers from the same problem as the government and the NSA. They've lied so long no one believes them anymore.
The movie industry has had consecutive banner records, block buster years, with one break in between that wasn't a block buster year. That one was something like 5% or so under being a block buster. It's not piracy that is killing them at all or there would not be banner years.
The music industry is a victim of it's own policies. Especially having turned all it's management over to politicians and lawyers rather than artists who understand what the artist is going through and how to fix that. You can't run an industry with a club and then not expect people to abandon you.
The copyright industry has gotten it so wrong that its become the copywrong industry. Beyond those with greedy hands stuck out, no one else much cares what they demand and want. Its not applicable in most peoples lives as something they need to pay close attention to. It shows up as constant legal threat letters and court cases.
A good law doesn't need enforced because everyone thinks it is wrong. A bad law is ignored no matter how many are jailed or taken to court.
And next we've got Seegras who responded to comments from the EU Advocate-General by explaining the philosophical and functional underpinnings of copyright:
Copyright is, and was, ALWAYS about publishing. And never about "receiving" or "getting" something.
Now, just about every copyright law on earth is about this. Except the german one, they recently included a paragraph where they made "downloads from an illegally published source" illegal. Which is of course an epitome of stupidity, because no one except a judge can tell whether something was "illegally published".
Of course, nowhere in the European Union (which is actually a series of directives aimed at harmonizing the laws of the different countries), there is anything written about "receiving". So this Advocate-General obviously don't know his law.
Furthermore of course, everyone is a copyright holder. I have a blog, I post photographs on the internet, thus a lot of what I am doing is copyright protected. Now, what happens if you download a picture of a cute cat from the internet, which somebody put up there, without having it made himself? If the AGs view of the law was only remotely correct? Yep, copyright violation. Because nobody ever gave you an explicit permission. In fact, if the AG were right, we'd find hundreds if not thousands of files (especially emails!) on his computer which would constitute a copyright violation according to his own misinterpretation of the law. I could even make him break the law by e-mailing him something which I do not have the necessary publishing rights for. Ridiculous.
Or let's take another angle: How do I now some TV-station has the necessary rights to show a movie that was obviously made by someone else? Do they need to publish all the contracts they have with the movie studio? Because if they don't everyone can call "copyright violation". And the movie studios, do they need to publish all contracts with the people that actually made the movie, because otherwise anyone can call them for "copyright violation"? It's probably not what the AG was thinking of, which just shows he wasn't probably thinking at all...
In other words, its totally, completely, utterly impossible to know if _anything_ is "legally published". Yes, it's possible for the copyright-holder to recognize his own work, and then for a judge to decide whether that claim has any merit. But before that happens, nobody can really know.
And that is the reason, (most) copyright laws are not about the receiving but only the publishing end.
Over on the funny side, first place goes to mattshow for pointing out the real downside of the FBI's decreasing focus on "law enforcement":
Most tragically of all, the number of agents assigned to investigate files with a paranormal or supernatural element to them has fallen from 2 to 0 since 2008.
In second place we've got bmarsh, who read our post about Australia's transit authority reporting a teen hacker to police for trying to help them with a security hole and embraced the wordplay that we let slip by:
The transit department, "throwing someone under a bus?"
For editor's choice on the funny side, we've got two quick one-liners that made me laugh. First up is an anonymous commenter, upon hearing the news that Insane Clown Posse is suing the FBI for branding their fans as a gang:
So THAT'S why the weather's been so frigid - hell has frozen over, I'm actually on the Juggalos' side on something.
And last but not least, Grammar Terrorist replied to some friendly corrections from another commenter with a joke that probably isn't new, but was new to me:
Every time you make a typo, the errorists win.
That's all for this week, folks!