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Posted on Techdirt - 25 May 2019 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: May 19th - 25th

from the so-that's-what-happened dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2014, we watched as the proposed NSA reform bill — the USA Freedom Act — got watered down by the House to the point that every civil liberties organization pulled its support for the law, and it started to look like Reps. Rogers and Ruppersberger had pulled a fast one on us all. The House inevitably passed the now-useless bill (even without the votes of half of its original co-sponsors), so attention had to turn to the Senate and other ways of fighting back against the NSA, like a small victory in freeing the NIST from collaborating with the agency on encryption standards.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2009, various Attorneys General were still on the warpath against Craigslist (even those who had successfully busted criminals on the site) after it gave in to pressure the previous week. While some tried to draw odd conclusions from Craigslist's cooperation, the company was also fighting back and suing for declaratory relief against one AG. And we had to wonder as they did: why Craigslist, not newspapers or other websites?

Meanwhile, Perfect 10 was shot down yet again in an attempt to hold search engines liable for image thumbnails, while Joel Tenenbaum's lawyer was gearing up for a likely defeat with plans to defend downloading as fair use. And we read one pro-copyright book that surprised us by relying heavily on... Techdirt comments to make its case about how bad the pirates are.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2004, Jack Valenti was feuding with Quentin Tarantino over the latter's failure to condemn movie piracy, Italy was getting ready to put people in jail for file sharing, and California was considering doing the same. Google was making waves on two fronts: then-brand-new Gmail's unprecedented offering of 1GB of storage was spurring the competition to at least pretend to do the same (while a typo on Gmail itself led some people to think they might be getting a terabyte), and the Google IPO was leading absolutely everyone to try to find a way to benefit from the hype (not least the list of underwriters, which was basically all of Wall Street). But, the guy who had been selling fake "pre-IPO shares" to Wall Street insiders was one of two scammers facing jailtime, too.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 21 May 2019 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 212: Breaking Facebook, With Mike Godwin And David Kaye

from the facing-the-book dept

The topic of what (if anything) to do with Facebook was hardly fading from public discourse anyway, but it received a bump when co-founder Chris Hughes called for the company to be broken up. This week, we've got two returning guests on the podcast with plenty to say on the subject — UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression David Kaye, and famed internet lawyer Mike Godwin — to discuss the many sides of the Facebook question.

Follow the Techdirt Podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe via iTunes or Google Play, or grab the RSS feed. You can also keep up with all the latest episodes right here on Techdirt.

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Posted on Techdirt - 19 May 2019 @ 1:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the stuff-you-said dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is a very simple anonymous response to a lengthy complaint about Section 230:

Freedom of Speech is more important than your feelings. Period.

In second place, we've got a comment from an exchange on our post about the recent end of our long-running legal dispute. One commenter asserted that we were shown to be "de facto wrong on defamation law", to which Adam Steinbaugh pointed out the district court ruling saying otherwise. The original commenter claimed that because it cost money to mount that defense and achieve that initial ruling dismissing the case, that still somehow means we were wrong about the law, leading Matthew Cline to put forth a rebuttal:

If you defend yourself against a lawsuit and win, the fact that winning cost money doesn't make you wrong.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a comment from Stephen T. Stone taking on the now-tired complaints about social media companies violating free speech:

Using a service such as Facebook is a societal privilege, not a legal right. If someone could legally sue that service over a ban — and have a court overturn that ban — it would upend the First Amendment’s protections for association. As for “true diversity” and ideologies and such in yuor last paragraph: (A) Prove that multiple platforms are collaborating with one another to deny specific ideologies a place on those platforms, and (B) recognize that true neutrality/“diversity” would burden a platform with hosting speech and speakers that the administrators of said platform have already chosen not to host.

Next, we've got a thorough response from James Burkhardt to the claim that disclosure of classified material is treason:

Disclosure of Classified material is not, by the constitutional definition, sufficient for the charge of Treason. For instance, a non-citizen (someone who does not owe allegiance to the US) could disclose classified material and can not, by definition, be charged with treason.

Moreover, while disclosure of classified material might fit the definition of treason, there are a number of other requirements and restrictions within the consitution and the law established by congress:

Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason...

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

Disclosure of classified material could be considered adhering to the enemies of the US, however proving that requires a showing of intent, and whom you disclose the information to can significantly change that analysis. Which is why we have the crime of espionage, which Courts have barred from allowing an intent analysis.

Moreover, International law (these were extraterritorial murders, after all) and the UCMJ explicitly do not allow "I was just following orders" as a defense against the killing of non-combatants and that such orders should be disobeyed. Under this principle, disobeying the commands of higher ups and exposing the continued killing of non-combatants would appear to be the right action to take. Courts do seem to have disagreed, but that ruling was not in place when the events in question occurred.

Over on the funny side, we've got a double-winner in Stephen T. Stone. In first place, it's a summary of the general desire some folks have to make platforms responsible for everything, and get anything they don't like taken down:

Ah yes, the Defamatory Intent Prevention and Sequestration of Harmful Internet Topics Act.

In second place, it's a response to the Miami plastic surgeon who sued patients for negative reviews:

It’s all in how you say it.

He went from “It’s the Boob God!” to “it’s the boob, God…” with one lawsuit.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with That One Guy expressing a general sentiment about the week:

Journalist admits mistake on 230 and corrects original article...

USPTO is actually right for once...

Alright, who turned on Hell's air conditioner?

And last but not least, we've got CSI: Houston with a response to the critical question of whether apathy is better or worse than corruption and/or incompetence:

I don't know and I don't care.

That's all for this week, folks!

15 Comments | Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt - 18 May 2019 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: May 12th - 18th

from the how-many-roads dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2014, we took a look at how the administration's terrible track record on transparency had made lawsuits a default part of the FOIA process, and got an example of how FOIA requests were resulting in agencies sharing less information than they would otherwise. Congress was busy pretending SOPA was actually the law even though it wasn't, the DOJ was trying to downplay its lies to the Supreme Court while also arguing that Americans have no fourth amendment protections for communication with foreigners. Meanwhile, a dangerous court ruling affirmed Europe's right to be forgotten and, predictably, opened the floodgates for abuse. We were also fresh off the Google/Oracle ruling declaring APIs to be copyrightable, which spurred Automattic to pledge that it will not claim such copyright.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2009, we learned that the recently-discovered fake medial journal published by Elsevier to boost Merck products was not at all an isolated incident. We also saw the beginning of an incredibly important lawsuit that would eventually invalidate the patenting of isolated genes, as the ACLU teamed up with cancer patients to sue Myriad Genetics. It was a question that should have been addressed much earlier.

Meanwhile, Sony's CEO was admitting the company should have taken a more "open" approach to digital music, but they comments were pretty similar to what he'd said years earlier, and the CEO of Sony Pictures was almost simultaneously out saying he thinks no good has come from the internet, at all, period. Universal and YouTube were working on their collaboration to create Vevo, Jammie Thomas refused to settle with the RIAA, and France finally approved its three strikes system for copyright infringement — an approach with problems well illustrated by Ed Felten's modest proposal about applying it to print media as well.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2004, phone networks were still being stupidly hesitant about selling phones with WiFi because they viewed it as a threat instead of an opportunity, much like newspapers did with text messaging. TiVo was fighting to regain some dominance in the DVR market, IBM was making an early foray into web-based office software suites, and an enterprising scammer bilked several people who should have known better out of millions of dollars by telling gibberish lies about moneymaking opportunities tied to a Google IPO. The press was still misreporting fines for distributing music online as fines for downloading, while the creator of a Japanese file sharing system was worryingly arrested for abetting copyright infringement. And, with the school year nearing its end, we got a handful of stories about students getting in serious trouble, and even arrested, for trying to hack their grades.

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Posted on Techdirt - 12 May 2019 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the fair-comment dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is Thad with a thought about the YouTube ContentID fail that took down Beat Saber videos after the game was featured on Jimmy Fallon:

And, lest we forget, filters like these are now mandatory in the EU.

I say "like these" -- actually, most companies don't have Google's resources. Filters are now mandatory in the EU -- and most of them will be worse than ContentID.

In second place, we've got Cdaragorn responding piece-by-piece to a comment about Section 230 and free speech:

The US is out of step with the rest of the world

That doesn't make us wrong or them right.

That's called republication

No it isn't. They didn't republish it. They pointed to the spot someone else published it. If you can't be honest with what's actually happening nothing you have to say about it is worth listening to.

Not in cases of libel

Libel is not something contained anywhere in the Constitution. That document does in fact place the value of expression above any harm that might come from it. Libel is a stupid concept created by people who aren't willing to deal with having their feelings hurt. It's dumb and has no place in a civilized society or anywhere else quite frankly.

Section 230 only follows the rules set forth in our Constitution.

Actually it does not. It creates an exception to 170 years of libel law

Actually, it does. The libel laws you're referencing are what violate the rules set out in the Constitution. The Constitution is very clear on the fact that the freedom to speak is VASTLY more important than any harm that might come from that speech.

This point isn't even addressing the issue Section 230 addresses, though. Section 230 doesn't say libel is ok. All it says is you have to punish the person who ACTUALLY SAID THE THINGS YOU DON'T LIKE. Anyone else pointing out what someone else said is never wrong and is not adding to the harm. It's just part of the harm caused by the original hurtful statements. The only possible excuse for going after the platform is greed since they are far more likely to actually have money than the speaker is. That is not something that should ever be allowed in the law.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with one more comment — anonymous this time — correcting misconceptions about Section 230:

A. Nobody is harmed by 230. They're harmed by the content posted by an individual.

B. The harmful content is not the expression of the platform. It is the expression of the individual who posted it.

C. The Constitution places the value of expression above those it might harm. Section 230 only follows the rules set forth in our Constitution.

So what is it? You want the Constitution amended again to suit your feels?

Next, we've got a comment from That One Guy responding to someone who compared a ruling against flashing headlights to warn about speed traps to drug lookouts and pimps:

Telling people not to speed, versus lookouts for drug or sex trafficking... you know, there's some sort of difference here but I just can't put my finger on it, almost as though it's a really bad comparison...

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is an anonymous take on the Beat Saber video situation:

Dirty pirates....

Obviously those @BeatSaber guys are just dirty pirates trying to steal Jimmy Fallon's show from NBC.

I for one am glad they got the #BeatDown they deserved. This is what happens when you kids try to steal from those intertube things, now get off my cloud.

In second place, it's an anonymous response to a line in a post noting that "ICE agents aren't known for their warmth":

Ice generally isn't known for warmth.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we return to our post about the flashing headlights ruling, where Gary noted an issue with the wording of the law:

347.07  Special restrictions on lamps and the use thereof.

(c) Any flashing light.

Congratulations Wisconsin! Your police have just argued the use of turn signals to be in violation of state law.

Finally, we've got Rico R. with a response to the Conan O'Brien joke lawsuit:

Serving copyright infringement lawsuits be like...

Knock knock.
Who's there?
I copied.
I copied who?
You know who you copied... See you in court!

That's all for this week, folks!

31 Comments | Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt - 11 May 2019 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: May 5th - 11th

from the chronicled dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2014, the push for one of two NSA reform bills went somewhat sour as the better bill was watered down so much it got the support of NSA apologists and passed out of the House Judiciary Committee. Meanwhile, the new NSA boss was making extreme understatements about the agency's situation while the former boss (who was also setting up a cybersecurity consulting firm) was defending everything he did. In the UK, at least, parliament finally admitted Snowden's revelations revealed that oversight of the GCHQ was broken.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2009, anti-Google hysteria reached a fever pitch with comparisons to the Taliban, a grandstanding attorney general was threatening Craigslist's management with criminal charges, and pharma giant Merck was caught having created a fake science journal to praise its products. Some folks were making wild estimates about an unknowable number to support their copyright agenda, claiming the leak of the Wolverine film cost millions at the box office, the RIAA was demonstrating the meaninglessness of its recent promises by continuing to file lawsuits, and we saw the formation of a famous copyright nonsense triangle when Cat Stevens stepped in to say Coldplay copied him, not Joe Satriani. We also took a look at all the ways Italy had been demonstrating a very troubling view of the internet.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2004, while lots of people were grappling with the unresolved legal implications of WiFi, one smart commentator was cluing in to the fact that camera phones provided the public a way to fight back against surveillance by watching the watchers and filming things like, say, police misdeeds. The mess that was (and is) the patent system was getting some mainstream media attention, as was the ongoing failure of record labels to adapt to the internet (them being too busy suing a grandmother who decided to fight back). The Google IPO had everyone excited about the company (enough to start gobbling up every domain name with "Google" in it), while a meaningless but amusing clerical error led to Microsoft patenting a new breed of apple.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 7 May 2019 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 211: Politicians (Usually) Don't Understand Technology

from the shocking,-I-know dept

The regulation of technology is an extremely important issue that impacts all our lives, but it tends to take a back seat in the world of mainstream politics, and when it does come to the fore, the lack of knowledge on display among elected representatives can be... disheartening, to say the least. In some ways that's starting to change as a generation of people who grew up with modern technology gets more and more involved in politics, but we're still a long, long way away from having a majority of tech-savvy (or even tech-literate) lawmakers. This week, we're joined by lawyer and pioneering law blogger Denise Howell to discuss the challenge of even determining whether a politician knows what they are talking about when it comes to tech.

Follow the Techdirt Podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe via iTunes or Google Play, or grab the RSS feed. You can also keep up with all the latest episodes right here on Techdirt.

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Posted on Techdirt - 5 May 2019 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the winning-words dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is Nathan F with a simple question about the Supreme Court's request for the White House to weigh in on API copyrights:

Why would they ask the Executive Branch (the supposed enforcers of the law) as opposed to the Legislative Branch who actually wrote the law and what their intentions were?

In second place, it's That One Guy suggesting that Epic's offer to ditch exclusive games if Steam raises its developer cut is essentially a bluff:

If anyone honestly thinks that Epic will just throw away what is at the moment their only real advantage should Steam call them on their bluff I've got some positively amazing bridges and/or lunar plots of land to sell them.

Get rid of the exclusives and better cut for publishers/developers and Epic is left with a significantly subpar platform on the customer side, and a notably smaller customer-base on the publisher/developer side, putting things right back into the 'Why should I use/sell through Epic again?' stage. Bribing publishers and coercing buyers are basically all they have so far, there's no chance in hell they'd give that up, and while it would be nice to be proven wrong I do not expect to be in the slightest.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with Jeremy Lyman responding to the idea that Trump totally condemned the white supremacists at Charlottesville:

"Condemned totally" yeah, except for their method and message, and the "fine people" who were there to promote both. People don't just walk around supporting confederate icons with that many tiki torches by accident.

Next, it's Gary with a simple rebuttal of the assertion that Section 230 has been "unresolved for two decades":

Or you could say that without lying, "Section 230 has been upheld countless times over 20 years."

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Thad with a response to the claim that Twitter bans "intelligent conservatives":

Makes sense. That would explain why I see so few intelligent conservatives on Twitter.

In second place, it's Anonymous Anonymous Coward with a comment about the man who had to convince a court that his hash brown was not, in fact, a phone:

I sure hope Mr. Stiber learned his lesson. In the future, get the Egg McMuffin, it looks nothing like a cellphone.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with another comment from Gary, this time regarding the saxophonist who is the latest to launch a shaky lawsuit over Fortnite:

This just in: Lisa Simpson is now sueing Leo Pellegrino for stealing her classic sax moves as seen on The Simpsons.

And finally, we've stderric with a summary of the trail of destruction left by deputies in pursuit of $50 worth of marijuana and one pill:

The police may have assaulted a couple, stolen their belongings, and destroyed their business, but at least we can rest safe knowing that we live in a stable society free of the corrupting influence of drugs.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 4 May 2019 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: April 28th - May 4th

from the insert-star-wars-joke dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2014, while Senators Feinstein and Chambliss were taking yet another shot at a new, concerning cybersecurity bill, they were also backing down on attempts to require transparency from the administration regarding drone strikes. The German government blocked Ed Snowden from testifying before parliament to mollify the US, we learned that the UK'S GCHQ had hidden its access to the NSA's PRISM database from its parliamentary overseers, and we were wondering why Verizon's pushback against bulk records requests was so much weaker than it could have been. This was also the week that John Oliver's Last Week Tonight debuted, with its first episode featuring an interview with Keith Alexander that we couldn't help but notice might be the toughest interview he'd yet faced, even with all the jokes.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2009, dumb tweets about swine flu led to an early preview of concerns about disinformation on social media. The BBC was happily promoting MPAA propaganda about movie piracy while claiming it was being balanced, German publishers were demanding ISPs block file sharing sites, France was still trying to adopt a three strikes law even as Nicolas Sarkozy was paying up for his own copyright infringement, and in general legacy industries were showing a real sense of entitlement with regards to the internet (not that piracy freak-outs regarding technology were anything new). The USTR finally got Canada bumped up to its Priority Watchlist for intellectual property (for some reason), Warner Music made the very foolish decision to issue a DMCA takedown of a presentation by Larry Lessig, and we learned just how bad the revolving door is with the revelation that former RIAA lawyers now working for the government only had to stay away from issues impacting their former employees for one year.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2004, we took a look at the one-sided file sharing propaganda being foisted on school students by the entertainment industry — and boy did it ever seem like brainwashing. The Senate was looking at four different intellectual property bills including one that would let the FBI start filing civil suits for its entertainment industry buddies, and one that would expand California's ban on video cameras inside movie theaters. TiVo was pushing advertiser dollars onto the web, an attempt to force cable companies to offer a la carte channels fell through, self-publishing was shedding some of its stigma as it got easier, and the first federal charges were brought under the recent CAN SPAM laws. This was also the week that, after much anticipation, Google officially filed for its IPO — which of course everyone had to weigh in on, including us.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 30 April 2019 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 210: Cory Doctorow On Anti-Circumvention (And More)

from the dmca-fiction dept

Whether it's from his novels, or his work for the EFF and others, most of you probably know all about Cory Doctorow. He last joined the podcast two years ago to discuss his book Walkaway, and this week he's back to talk about his latest book, Radicalized — a collection of four novellas, the first of which is directly based on the issues with the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions. Check out the episode for a discussion about the book, anti-circumvention, tech companies, and more.

Follow the Techdirt Podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe via iTunes or Google Play, or grab the RSS feed. You can also keep up with all the latest episodes right here on Techdirt.

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Posted on Techdirt - 28 April 2019 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the lingua-franca dept

Our first place winner on the insightful side this week is Stephen T. Stone with a response to one commenter's silly conspiracy theory about commenters' accounts:

You have issues. But let’s start with the whole “I hate Techdirt so much that I’m going to constantly surf the site and obsessively collect data on all its users to show Techdirt how much I hate it” thing and work our way out from there.

In second place, it's an anonymous response to another very stupid idea — the comparison of copyright infringement to rape:

...except that procreation isn't given to US citizens as a limited right; it pre-exists.

If you're making a comparison, copyright abuse (taking copyright that belongs to others for a fee) is way closer to prostitution than copyright piracy is to rape culture.

If we were just dealing with individual people, you might have a point. But asking permission of a company to use information they bought... usually doesn't go well, especially if you're not making a significant amount of money off of the proposal from which you can pay them residuals that offset the cost of tracking the license.

Trust me, I did an experiment at one point where I was doing a copyright-exemption-supported presentation of the state of copyright, but as part of the exercise, I went and asked a bunch of major and minor players for permission to use their works (since it's always good to ask, even if you legally don't have to). The likes of Sony never even responded, the small artists were delighted and gave their blessing, and some of the others like Warner sent me pages of legal documents where I had to outline exactly how much I would be charging, how large the audiences would be etc. (when I had already given them all the pertinent info). Once they realized this was journalistic reporting and I wasn't going to make ANY money off it, they didn't just say "oh, well then, you don't need our permission." Instead they demanded I cease and desist.

So. The symptom here might be Silicon Valley, but the problem is entrenched copyright behemoth corporations.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a response from Thad to those who would dismiss Werner Herzog's comments about piracy because they dislike his work:

Herzog? Whether you personally like him or not isn't really relevant; he's a highly respected auteur in his field.

Which, frankly, is irrelevant. It doesn't matter if it's Werner Herzog or Tommy Wiseau. The quality of an artist's work is orthogonal to his opinions on copyright infringement.

Next, it's an anonymous response to Scribd's attempt to vaguely claim that its hands were tied when it took down the public domain Mueller report:

I hate writing like this. It's not unfortunate. They're choosing to disable the content prior to contacting the alleged copyright owner. There's no law in the US (yet) that requires anything like ContentID or BookID. You only have to respond to DMCA requests, which it's clear none of these were.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is bob with another comment about the Scribd situation:

the real issue here is

[This comment was held for possibly infringing on someone else's copyrighted work. Please check back later after a human has reviewed the other thousand comments in the queue before this comment.]

In second place, it's our response to Universal's bogus takedown of the "Your Life Work" video series:

I love that series, my favorite was the one intended to guide workers into a career as an executive in the entertainment industry, titled "The Unrepentant Asshole".

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with an anonymous proposal for fixing Scribd's BookID system:

Clearly, the BookID system failed, as public domain material was allowed to be submitted. Luckily, the simple existence of BookID suggests a solution: a public domain filter. Before a work can be registered with BookID, it should be run against a filter of the entire body of public domain works, to eliminate errors. Luckily, as unlike the ever-growing body of copywritten works, the public domain is fixed and unchanging, that filter should be much easier to create. Of course, I would be remiss if I ignored the possibility of copywritten works being added to the filter's filter, so the public domain filter would need its own filter as well. Then I suppose that filter would again require a public domain filter, and so on down the line. I remain confident, however, that we will reach the asymptote of filtering filters prior to exhausting all computational capacity on the planet.

Finally, we've got Coogan unpacking the logic behind a federal agent's claim that overnighting a taped package via FedEx is suspicious:

"Lots of boxes with 'Amazon' on them, captain."

Amazon -> South America -> Columbia -> Cocaine

"Looks like we're working late tonight, boys!"

That's all for this week, folks!

9 Comments | Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt - 27 April 2019 @ 12:45pm

This Week In Techdirt History: April 21st - 27th

from the what-went-down dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2014, James Clapper was busy giving speeches to students to try to prevent any admiration of Ed Snowden, and working hard to stop members of the intelligence community from talking to pretty much anyone. Homeland Security was warning parents that typical teenage behavior might be a sign of terrorist radicalization, while a court was telling the DOJ it must release the memo that described the justificiation for a drone strike on a US citizen.

Meanwhile, we were wondering why the US government was getting involved in the Aereo case (on the broadcast industry's side of course), though at least it appeared at the time that the SCOTUS justices understood the gravity of the case, even as so many people persisted in describing Aereo's compliance with copyright law as circumvention of copyright law.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2009, while the entertainment industry was doing its best to celebrate the recent verdict against the Pirate Bay, some folks in Sweden noticed that the judge in the case appeared to have ties to the copyright lobby, while journalists were beginning to realize that Google can do anything The Pirate Bay could. Meanwhile in the UK, British Telecom was voluntarily blocking the site as an act of unnecessary self-regulation.

We also took a look back at ten (failed) years of the V-Chip, and witnessed the end of an era when Yahoo announced it was killing off Geocities.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2004, we witnessed both slightly good and worryingly bad omens regarding the future of patent reform — but we also saw the birth of the EFF's excellent patent-busting program. A lawsuit over liability for Napster's investors was headed to court, while the RIAA was ditching its absurd amnesty program for file sharers, various groups were trying to automate the booting and blocking of file sharers — though there were early signs of a shift in piracy from file sharing to stream ripping. We also saw the first person ever charged under a seven-year-old internet stalking law.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 23 April 2019 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 209: The Past & Future Of Section 230

from the vital-law dept

Of all the laws we discuss here at Techdirt, probably none comes up as often or in relation to as many things as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. It's not an exaggeration to describe it the way Professor Jeff Kosseff does in the title of his new book, The Twenty-Six Words That Created The Internet, offering a detailed history of this vital piece of law. This week, Jeff joins us on the podcast for an in-depth discussion about where Section 230 came from, and where it's going.

Follow the Techdirt Podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe via iTunes or Google Play, or grab the RSS feed. You can also keep up with all the latest episodes right here on Techdirt.

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Posted on Techdirt - 21 April 2019 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the chitter-chatter dept

This week, both our winners on the insightful side come in response to our post about Zoe Keating's detailed look at the problems with last year's Music Modernization Act and its impact on independent musicians. In first place, it's Rico R. highlighting how little many musicians even knew about what was happening:

I'm an independent musician, and this is the first time I'm hearing about this comment period on the Music Modernization Act, and it's almost over! I say this with the utmost respect, but if Techdirt, a non-major small-time news operation, is the first time I hear about a potentially troubling implementation of updated copyright law in a way that directly affects me, there's a major disconnect between legacy gatekeepers and actual creators. I have to wonder if legacy players are hoping that smaller independent artists (like myself) just don't do anything so they can make money off of works they don't own or represent. And they say that copyright law is designed to protect small creators like me? Yeah, right!!

In second place, it's Mason Wheeler with an opinion about word choice when describing how the new copyright process is designed to "help divert money to the big music publishers and away from independent artists":


As important as it is to call out publishing interests on their continuous abuse of the word "steal" WRT copyright infringement, it's equally important to apply it appropriately instead of using euphemisms. So let's call a spade a spade here: the process is rigged to allow big music publishers to steal money from independent artists. The NMPA has designed a system in which they get to take money that rightfully belongs to independent artists, and stuff their own pockets with it instead. That's legitimate theft.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got a pair of comments about the idea that YouTube could moderate all its content. First up, it's Bamboo Harvester with a point about a key obstacle we didn't mention:

You missed...

...a big one. He's assuming all the video is in English.

You're not going to get multi-lingual reviewers for minimum wage.

This clown needs to see the team involved in a "live" (ten to thirty second transmission delay) TV broadcast.

Next, it's a response to that comment from JoeCool with even more to add:

It goes even further than that. Not only is the language an issue, but the content as well. Is this medical video okay, or is it endorsing snake oil? Is this engineering video okay, or is it con artists trying to sell a perpetual motion machine? Is this biography okay, or it is libelous/slanderous/defamation?

It goes on and on and on... you'll need at least as many experts on EVERY subject to sort and vet each video.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is an anonymous response to a regular critic, regarding claims about leaving the comment section:

No, really, I'm seriously leaving this time.

Did you hear me? I'm leaving!

Just checking in. I wasn't sure if maybe the internet was out and you didn't see that I was leaving.

Guys, it's really difficult to feel self-important when you ignore how significant it is that I'm leaving.

You're all stupid poopyheads and I'm taking my ball and going home! Maybe.

In second place, it's renato with a response to the Tennessee sheriff who claimed his department uses an MRAP to protect children:

Finally someone has thought about the kids.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with Bobvious, who responded to the proposal that the Right To Be Forgotten's alternative name could be the Right To Erasure:

Nominative Antonym: Right to be Streisanded.

(To be honest I'm not 100% sure what a nominative antonym is, and Googling just gets me lists of antonyms for the word "nominative", but right to be Streisanded is apt!)

And last but not least, we've got NoahVail with an alternative proposal to trying to force YouTube to moderate everything:

Baby steps

Before we leap into a huge endeavor like mods reviewing every upload, maybe we should trial the "Review Process" on a more reasonable scale.

I suggest having politicians read and understand every law, before they vote on it.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 20 April 2019 @ 1:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: April 14th - 20th

from the so-it-was dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2014, the world was dealing with the Heartbleed bug and turning its attention to the NSA's possible awareness of it — leading Obama to tell them to start revealing flaws but with no particular incentive to actually do so. It wasn't clear if the NSA had definitely known about and used Heartbleed, but there was nothing stopping them and people certainly weren't going to take their advice on dealing with it. Overall, the simple truth was that the government pays to undermine, not fix internet security. Meanwhile, the Guardian and the Washington Post won Pulitzers for their coverage of the Snowden leaks, which made a lot of folks angry including Rep. Peter King and CIA torture authorizer John Yoo.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2009, the BSA was using the spate of stories about Somali pirates to talk about software piracy in a stunningly tonedeaf fashion, NBC was crafting its plans to make Olympic coverage worse and more expensive, the Associated Press was admitting its attack on aggregators looks stupid to the "untrained eye" while failing to explain why it shouldn't look stupid to everyone else too, and a hilarious but frightening warrant application got a college student's computer seized in part for using "a black screen with white font which he uses prompt commands on". DMCA abuse was chugging along as usual, with an activist group using it to hide exposure of its astroturfing and a news station using it to cover up video of it embarrassingly falling for an April Fool's story. And long before the Snowden revelations, not only were we already seeing revelations about the NSA's abuse of power, we were already unsurprised.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2004, the internet was still beginning to embrace some of the innovations that define it today: location-based services were on the rise, with Google launching localized ads and mobile phone navigation systems threatening to oust expensive dedicated hardware (something also happening in other areas like event ticket handling), and more and more people were going online wirelessly in one way or another. Of course, along with this was the rise of some more problematic trends too, like patent hoarding houses and DRM. In California, the first two arrests were made under a new law banning all kinds of video cameras in movie theaters, while one state senator was seeking to completely ban Gmail (which was still new) for some reason — though at least the legislature shot down another ban on violent video game sales to minors.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 16 April 2019 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 208: A Free Speech Chat With FIRE

from the content-moderation-and-more dept

It's time for another special cross-post from a different podcast. Mike was recently a guest on the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education's So To Speak podcast, for an interview about Techdirt, free speech, content moderation, and a range of other topics. If you didn't catch it there, you can listen to the whole interview here in this week's episode.

Follow the Techdirt Podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe via iTunes or Google Play, or grab the RSS feed. You can also keep up with all the latest episodes right here on Techdirt.

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Posted on Techdirt - 14 April 2019 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the said-and-done dept

This week, Mason Wheeler scored a first place win on both the insightful and funny sides. For insightful, it was a response to our mention of Jack Valenti's famous "Boston stranger" comment in the launch of our new Sky Is Rising report:

Valenti was probably right... just not in the way he thought.

During the 1960s, the population of Boston was between approximately 640,000 and 700,000 people. Statistically, approximately half of them would have been women, and between approximately 65-70% of Americans were children during that time. A bit of quick math gives us approximately 100,000 adult women.

All those possible targets, and the Boston Strangler murdered a grand total of 13 of them.

The VCR was to the American film producer as the Boston Strangler was to the woman home alone: very scary to talk about, but the amount of actual damage done was negligible.

In second place on the insightful side, it's Rekrul with a response to the German publishing company claiming ad blocking is copyright infringement:

Various sites want to try and force you to unblock ads, I wonder why none of them are willing to assume liability for any viruses or malware rogue ads might deliver to users, or help pay for the user's bandwidth wasted by the ads.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a comment from Matthew Cline aiming to deduce just what was meant by the mention of Linux in the charges against Julian Assange:

Paragraph 9:

The portion of the password Manning gave to Assange to crack was stored as a "hash value" in a computer file that was accessible only by users with administrative-level privileges. Manning did not have administrative-level privileges, and used special software, namely a Linux operating system, to access the computer file and obtain the portion of the password provided to Assange.

So, assuming the allegation to be true, Manning booted a machine using a live CD to get around security restrictions on the harddrive within the machine. Meaning that though manning didn't have administrator/root access to the machine, she 1) had physical access to it, and 2) either the machine had no BIOS password, she knew the BIOS password, or she could open up the computer's chassis so as to reset the BIOS password.

In other words: what kind of crappy security practices did they have in place?

Next, it's Federico with a sarcastic comment about the growing entertainment industry:

Their cut of the profits

Ah, you point to the overall revenue but you forget that greedy Google is getting all the profits with its scandalous margins!

https://www.sony.n et/SonyInfo/IR/library/ar/ar_sony_2000.pdf

In the golden days (1999), Sony was making a nice 5 % profit margin on its Music department. Now (2017) it's only... 16 %!

You wouldn't know how expensive it is to develop streaming platforms and digital restrictions management, compared to printing discs and shipping them around the world.

Over on the funny side, our aforementioned winning comment from Mason Wheeler is a quick take on the ongoing trademark battle by the people behind the Emmys:

Wait wait wait... this group actually named themselves the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and go by the acronym NATAS?

Have they never stopped to look carefully at that? Possibly even spell it backwards?

At this point, nobody should be surprised at their evil behavior!

In second place, it's Shufflepants supplying important new material regarding Manning's use of Linux:

They also released the actual footage submitted into evidence as proof of Manning and Assange hacking with their specialized software:


For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with Thad responding to the objection that a Media Matters study can't disprove anti-conservative bias on social media, due to the group's own bias:

Fortunately, we have Republican senators to provide us with unbiased conclusions.

And finally, we've got David honing in on the real reason the DOJ is going after Assange, based on how the judge in his failure-to-surrender trial described his actions — "the behaviour of a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interest":

Ah, this is what it is about

Trump fears competition.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 13 April 2019 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: April 7th - 13th

from the it's-back! dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2014, former NSA and CIA boss Michael Hayden was getting pathetically aggressive, calling Dianne Feinstein too emotional to judge the CIA torture report (which we were only learning about via piecemeal leaks), and calling congressional staffers "sissies" while accusing Ron Wyden of not acting like a man. At the same time, Mike Rogers was still pushing his "Ed Snowden is a russian spy" angle, while Snowden himself was saying the NSA lied in its claim that he didn't raise concerns through proper channels, and telling the Council of Europe about how the agency spied on Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

Meanwhile, Hollywood was piling on to the already-dead Megaupload with a far-reaching lawsuit that packed in multiple attacks on the internet in general, and was quickly followed by the RIAA filing a virtually identical suit of its own.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2009, Amanda Palmer was sharing insights into how her fans support her work while Trent Reznor was taking his business model experiments into the mobile space, and a new service was announced that would let musicians pre-fund their releases (and it's not around anymore — but two weeks later, Kickstarter would launch).

The Associated Press announced its plans to sue news aggregators, Fox fired a movie columnist for reviewing a leaked copy of Wolverine, old-industry guard like U2's manager and Andrew Lloyd Weber were out trashing the internet, and Hollywood's favorite lawmakers were preparing for the next big copyright expansion push.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2004, we saw the first court ruling to state that online content aggregation was legal, setting the stage for later tantrums like the AP's, and the outrage of some publishers today. Gmail was the new kid on the internet block and people weren't sure how they felt about it (or whether it violated EU data privacy laws), just as mathematicians weren't quite sure how they felt about proofs that rely on computer calculations — while some clueless analysts were very sure about how much they hated the "fad" of camera phones. Google and Yahoo both stopped accepting ads for online casinos, seemingly out of the blue until we learned of some nasty letters recently sent out by the DOJ.

This was also the week that we saw the beginnings of a terrible idea that simply refuses to die, and rises like a zombie every now and then to this day: the WIPO broadcast treaty.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 9 April 2019 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 207: MEP Julia Reda Explains What's Next With The EU Copyright Directive

from the post-vote dept

Unfortunately, as you know by now, the EU Parliament approved the current (disastrous) version of the EU Copyright Directive, which is now on track to become the law of the land. It's not good, but things aren't quite over yet. For this week's episode, we've got returning guest MEP Julia Reda — who has been a key force opposing the terrible articles in the Directive — to talk about what happens now.

Follow the Techdirt Podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe via iTunes or Google Play, or grab the RSS feed. You can also keep up with all the latest episodes right here on Techdirt.

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Posted on Techdirt - 7 April 2019 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the said-and-done dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is Stephen T. Stone with a summary of the situation with sites clamping down on sexual content, largely out of fear of FOSTA liability:

Ah, yes, America: a country where you can show someone’s head being sliced in half with a giant axe without people thinking twice about it, but you can barely show a glimpse of a woman’s bare breast in any context without “think of the children”-type calls for censorship.

Christ, this country is repressed.

In second place, it's an anonymous commenter with another point about that situation, specifically Amazon's questionable takedown practice:

The problem I have is with them keeping any earned money when they terminate the account. That money should be paid.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with one more comment about sexual content takedowns, with Thad clarifying why this is different from the usual private platform situation when it comes to "censorship":

I think the pertinent question here is, are these companies choosing not to associate with people saying these things because they're worried about legal liability? Because if that's the case, then there's a pretty good argument that this is a government restriction on speech, not a private one.

Next, we've got PaulT with a reaction to learning that some Australian senators signed their problematic new social media/violent content bill without even reading it:

Sigh... I can understand emotional overreacting, but even the dumbest political should be made to read the things they try to make the rest of us obey before they sign it into law. Any law that's passed should be null and void the moment the people with the job of reading it admit that they failed to do their job.

If I ran to sign contracts at work without reading the T&Cs because I had an emotional reaction to something, I'd at least be disciplined if that came out, if not fired. Even if the end result turned out to be what I assumed it would be, but especially if there were things in there that would needless cripple the work of colleagues. Why not these people?

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Rocky with a response to another commenter's quip that EU lawmakers — having slipped and admitted that Article 13 will force sites to have upload filters — might wake up to a horse head in the bed:

And then Paramount will sue them for infringement because they "pirated" a scene from The Godfather...

In second place, we've got Bamboo Harvester arguing that a ridiculous report about the cost of photo piracy was just the tip of the iceberg:

You're just not...

...doing the math right.

Each view is a theft.

Average person blinks 1,000 times a minute, so that's 1,000 views per minute stolen.

Except... Most people have TWO eyes, so the number of views is doubled.

By their numbers, that's 640,000 Euros per minute per person viewing any given image....

(Though in truth I don't think the average person does, in fact, blink seventeen times per second.)

For editor's choice on the funny side, we've got a comment from ArkieGuy about the same report, wondering if our commentary on some of its content was bolstering its message:

So, does TechDirt have a license for that fancy chart? If not, today's number just went up by €532.5! /s

Next, we've got Get off my cyber-lawn! hitting the report's inflated numbers with a classic callback:

The author must have studied economics at Prenda U!

That's all for this week, folks!

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