You may recall, from last month, that a hacker (who many have accused of working for the Russian government) got into the Democratic National Committee's computers and copied a ton of stuff. All of the emails that were obtained (a little over 19,000, from seven top DNC officials) are now searchable on Wikileaks, so there are tons of stories popping up covering what's been found. The Intercept, for example, appears to be having a field day exposing sketchy behavior by the DNC.
But one point that hasn't received as much attention: the DNC appears to have flat out lied right after the hack happened. In its statement on the hack, the DNC had insisted that no personal donor info got out:
The hackers had access to the information for approximately one year, but that access was wiped clean last weekend, The Washington Post reported, noting that the DNC said that no personal, financial or donor information had been accessed or taken.
Except, well, no. There had been reports, driven by the hacker, that the files absolutely did include personal donor info, and now you can see some of that for yourself. For example, it took me all of about 5 minutes to find a list of donors and their email addresses, which I won't be sharing here, but I'm sure others can find as well. And, then, of course, you can find things like this discussion about a potential donor, Niranjan Shah, with "ties" to disgraced and convicted former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, noting that there were "pay to play" accusations associated with him. The DNC noted that they "could be ok" with Shah donating to the DNC, but that the administration might not want him to show up at their events. And, of course, there are emails detailing specific donations by specific people.
There are claims that some emails contain credit card data, though I haven't seen that myself. Either way, it certainly appears that in the rush to "nothing to see here" the leak of the info, the DNC simply lied about what was leaked.
Ever since Larry Lessig announced his campaign for the Presidency a few months ago, we noted that it wasn't just a long shot, but seemed more like a gimmick to get the (very real) issue of political corruption into the debates. I like Larry quite a bit and support many of his efforts, but this one did seem kind of crazy. I'm glad that he's willing to take on crazy ideas to see if they'll work, because that's how real change eventually comes about, but the whole thing did seem a bit quixotic. That said, the last thing I expected was that the Democratic Party would be so scared of him as to flat out lie and change the rules to keep his ideas from reaching the public. Yet, that's what it did, and because of that, Lessig has dropped his campaign for the Presidency. You can see the video of him explaining this decision below:
An article from one of his advisers, Steve Jarding, explains the situation in more detail. We already knew that the Democratic Party had tried to keep him out of the debates by not "officially" welcoming him to the race -- as it had done with candidates like Jim Webb and Lincoln Chaffee who had raised less money and were polling lower than Lessig. And many polling operations hadn't included Lessig in their polls because they relied on the DNC's official welcome to start polling.
In response, Lessig had dropped his original gimmicky promise to resign the Presidency after getting campaign finance reform through Congress. Based on that, it was expected that the DNC would recognize his campaign. In the meantime, more polling operations started putting Lessig in their polls, and he was polling over 1% -- which was the threshold that the DNC had clearly told Lessig's campaign was necessary to cross to get into the debates. In fact, Lessig's campaign had specifically asked and gotten confirmation on the rules:
The DNC's rules for candidate participation in their debates were pretty straightforward--or so we thought. In August, before the Lessig campaign began, DNC Chair, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, announced the standards for being included in the debates. As she described the rule, a candidate had to have 1 percent in three DNC sanctioned national polls, "in the six weeks prior to the debate."
Yet, about this time, Lessig's campaign manager received a troubling email from the DNC, suggesting the debate participation standards were different. The email included a memo that stated that the three polls had to be "at least six weeks prior to the" debate--contradicting what Wasserman-Schultz had said that they could be "in the six weeks prior to the debate." To try to clear up the contradiction, I arranged a call with the DNC. On that call, the DNC political director confirmed to me the rule was as the Chair had stated it--three polls finding 1 percent "in the six weeks prior to the debate."
But... then the rules magically changed, despite the fact that it shows that the previous debate wouldn't have allowed some candidates if the DNC had followed the same rules:
And indeed, that is precisely the rule that was applied in the first debate. As CNN specified in a late September memo, to qualify a candidate had to poll at 1 percent in the "polls released between August 1, 2015 and October 10, 2015." The first debate was October 12.
So, we believed we had our guidelines. And as such, we worked hard--and spent our campaign's resources--to meet this clarified goal. It wasn't easy, as most of the national polls didn't even include Lessig's name. But then a week ago, a Monmouth poll of Democrats nationally found him at the qualifying percentage. Then an NBC poll found the same. HuffPost Pollster now lists three polls at 1%. Since the Monmouth poll, no poll that included Lessig's name found him with anything less than 1%.
The new rules, which seem solely designed to block Lessig out:
Late last week, the DNC again changed the rules for participation in the debates. Just at the point that it seemed Lessig was about to get in, the DNC has shut the door.
We were informed of this change in a phone call late last week that I had with the DNC political director. During that call, I was told that the DNC participation standard for the debates was for a candidate to be at one percent in three polls conducted, "six weeks prior to the debate"--not the clarified rule cited earlier by Wasserman-Shultz and the DNC political director that a candidate had to be at one percent in three polls conducted "in the six weeks prior to the debate." To further make the point, the political director confirmed the new rule in a follow-up email to me.
Under this new rule, Lessig obviously cannot qualify for the November 14 debate. He would have had to qualify four weeks ago! Under this new rule, all the work--and expense--of the past four weeks has been for naught. The door has been shut. By DNC mandate, Larry Lessig won't be participating in the Democratic Party debates.
This seems pretty fucked up. Yes, politics is a nasty business, but let's face it: Lessig had no chance to win, but could have had a real impact on the campaigns and what followed by participating in the debates. And he did everything by the rules... and still got fucked over for it.
If Debbie Wasserman-Shultz and the Democratic National Party wanted to do a job highlighting just how corrupt the process is, they just did a great job.
from the yeah,-THIS-makes-everyone-respect-copyright-MORE dept
Here we go again. Less than 24 hours ago, content-protection bots killed a livestream of the Hugo Awards, thanks to the brief appearance of fully approved clips from an episode of Dr. Who. The whole situation was completely absurd to anyone harboring the tiniest vestige of common sense, but IP-protection software isn't built on common sense: it's built on algorithms.
The video, posted by the official YouTube account for the convention, DemConvention2012, was blocked, according to YouTube, for ostensibly infringing on the copyright of one of many possible suspects:
This video contains content from WMG, SME, Associated Press (AP), UMG, Dow Jones, New York Times Digital, The Harry Fox Agency, Inc. (HFA), Warner Chappell, UMPG Publishing and EMI Music Publishing, one or more of whom have blocked it in your country on copyright grounds.
Sorry about that.
When contacted by Wired for comment, Erica Sackin, an Obama campaign staffer who works on digital outreach, had no knowledge of the outage, asked this reporter for the url and then upon seeing the takedown, said, "I'll have to call you back."
The video has since been updated to state that "This video is private." There's probably quite a bit going on behind the scenes at the moment, but fortunately Wired snagged the complete list of claimants for future reference.
Take a good, long look at that list. There's a few of the usual suspects in there, including AP, UMG and Warner, entities not known to be shy about claiming content that isn't theirs.
Now, these entities aren't directly responsible for this takedown. This is more of an automated match situation, but it still doesn't change the fact that the inherent stupidity of the action, automated or not, does absolutely nothing to lock down stray, unmonetized content and absolutely everything to highlight the ridiculous nature of copyright protection in a digital age.
If Google can work with copyright holders to produce content matching software, it seems like it might be possible to designate certain accounts or entities as "off limits" from the wandering killbots. If the stream is authorized by, I don't know, the party of the current President of the United States, maybe, just fucking maybe, everything's "above board."
Sure, defining legitimate, pre-approved accounts may prove to be as difficult as determining which content is infringing and which isn't, but this should be the sort of thing that content holders should be working toward, rather than simply moving from disaster to disaster, smugly secure in the knowledge that filthy file sharers are getting content-blocked thousands of times a day.
Nice going, huge list of content holders. Your boundless, maximalist enthusiasm is just another nail in the coffin containing what's left of copyright's reputation.