"Yet, despite the Batmobile's ever-changing appearance and functionality, and despite its expression in comic and film form not being identical to custom real-life productions by a car enthusiast, the court ruled against Towle and essentially claimed the very idea of the Batmobile was deserving of copyright protection."
You understand how comic books WORK, right? How they have artists and writers constantly interpreting and re-interpreting the different elements within them? How is anything you said in that paragraph any different between the Batmobile and Batman himself? This page (http://cdn.screenrant.com/wp-content/uploads/batman-infographic.jpg) has at least 35 different and distinct costumes that Batman has worn throughout the years. If I draw a character that is recognizably Batman, but uses a color combination that DC has never used, am I somehow NOT violating copyright there? By the same token, if I create something that EVERYONE RECOGNIZES AS THE BATMOBILE, and the only reason it has VALUE is because people recognize it as such... well, honestly, that doesn't sound like stretching copyright law to me. That sounds like the fundamental protection that copyright is supposed to extend to creators.
I honestly don't even understand how you can write this article - which fundamentally recognizes that "Batmobile" is something that everyone reading this will understand without explanation. The *idea* here is that a billionaire playboy who fights crime as a superhero has a cool car. If you want to make your Techdirt car - which a souped-up crimefighting car in the style of the Batmobile but with Techdirt regalia in place of the bats - THAT is the idea/expression dichotomy. Making a Batmobile, that everyone recognizes as a Batmobile (and seriously, spend 30 seconds googling Mark Towle, the first image that comes up is him standing in front of an AWESOME replica of the Adam West Batmobile) is copying the expression. Just because there might be some differences in detailing cannot make a difference.
I also think it's fundamentally weird that you seem to take umbrage with the idea that the batmobile is an inanimate "character". Does copyright protection somehow not cover characters unless they are animate? So the Mach 5 from Speed Racer (btw, another car which Mark Towle has copied, with a license this time, which is why it's on my mind) isn't protected? Cinderella's castle? The Enterprise, the Millennium Falcon, an X-Wing fighter? All of these things, because they're not animate, can't be copyrighted? I'm not sure what the legal basis for this is, but I would love to read the case law you're basing your statements on.
Do I think DC is WISE in shutting this guy down? No, they should probably offer him a license - the stuff he does is AWESOME. But if he's making money selling people batmobiles, I'm not sure there's any reasonable argument that they're not within their rights to shut him down.
"Incredibly, the DOJ hits back on that claim by saying that because Apple licenses rather than sells its software, Feng was actually using Apple's property, and thus it is not too far removed:"
Far from being incredible, this is actually a really smart and plausible legal argument, because they're just using Apple's own words against them. Apple has opened the door to this type of argument by being one of the pioneers of the legal fiction that we don't own the toys we buy from them - a fact that this site rails against on a fairly regular basis.
Look, it's a lousy situation all around. If this argument works, it strengthens the DOJ's position on forcing companies to break encryption AND strengthens Apple's position on licensing - two big losses for the populace. Just because Tim Cook happens to be the hero of the hour because his company's financial interests momentarily align with the public's privacy interest, don't forget that doesn't magically make Apple good guys. They've fought really hard for the right to screw their fans in many different ways - don't feel bad for them because one of the legal mechanisms they use hurts THEM as well as us. In the end, we're the ones who are losing.
I don't get this site sometimes. Are you trying to tell me that when this applicant tries to sue someone for trying to sell panties with "NO FUCKS GIVEN" there wouldn't be an EQUALLY OUTRAGED article up here blasting the fact that the trademark had been granted?
Of course you would. This application is utterly ridiculous. It's a common phrase, containing material that - whether this rule makes sense or not - is smack dab in the center of a rule that disallows the word "fuck" in trademark applications.
Your argument that - somehow - the context renders the word "fuck" not obscene here is ridiculous on its face. It's the transgressive nature of USING the word fuck in this context that gives the phrase "I don't give a fuck" its linguistic power. Does it sound really, REALLY silly for a patent examiner to have to explain that using the word 'coitus'? Yes, absolutely. (Anything that uses the word coitus sounds ridiculous.) But that doesn't magically grant your argument validity.
Maybe the PTO should let the word fuck into trademarks. I don't know, frankly, and I don't care. But that's the rule right now, this application clearly falls within the ambit of the rule, and letting your hatred of the PTO overwhelm your common sense doesn't help anyone. Techdirt is better than this.
So... Rockstar has defended itself in court against a bunch of nutjobs. This makes them "first amendment heroes"? How? Since when? Did you think that, if they were "first amendment bad guys" they would have just shut up and paid Lindsey Lohan (I think) millions of bucks?
You know it's possible to report on interesting news in this area without the parties being either heroes or villains, right? Rockstar ain't no hero, never has been. Are they villains? No more so than any other company in the same situation, probably.
"If you're begging for more gun regulation, this seems to be a good way of working backwards towards it."
Like an unfortunately percentage of Libertarians who make it into the public eye, Wilson is much more interested in thumbing his nose at "the man" than actually achieving any useful change. This IS an important issue, and a really important conversation to have. By letting a narcissistic kid like Wilson drive it, the only guarantee is that everyone on every side will wind up with a worse outcome than we'd get otherwise.
I think there's a special circle of hell for people who make their arguments so badly, that even though I generally agree with your point, I find myself being forced to disagree with you. Wilson is clearly going there.
If that's what you want - and it's a perfectly reasonable thing to want - push for a law that actually criminalizes improper access to law enforcement databases. Don't push to accept the misuse of an already vastly overbroad law.
Cody Wilson is the kind of idiot libertarian who is more interested in giving "the establishment" the finger than actually exercising any common sense... and actually trying to ACCOMPLISH anything. This is a perfect example. You want to ship out 3-d printers? Wonderful. Do that. You want to scream at the top of your lungs "HEY THIS MACHINE PRINTS OUT GUNS" while you're doing it? Why are you surprised when a company like FedEx doesn't want to deal with the hassles you cause?
Does the fact that a 3-d printer can make a gun make it against the law? No. Does marketing your 3-d printer as a gun factory make reasonable people at least start wondering if they'll be legally liable for shipping it? YES. FedEx is right, juvenile libertarian is a moron, there's just nothing to see here.
You missed my point entirely. Read my post again. Yes, obviously, the fact that we're paying them is significant. Or did you think that when I said "this is a newsworthy item" I meant that any article about any company anywhere whose employees were acting like human beings act would be newsworthy? (hint: I wasn't.)
But it's significant WITHOUT the ridiculous assertion that private employees DON'T do the exact same kind of thing. So why not leave that assertion out, and make the article that much more worthwhile?
Also - oh my god, I'm on a computer that doesn't have NoScript... the ads on this site advertise gold bullion? Libertarian tinfoil hat indeed.
"A novel way of looking at the loss of Mr Tran's once valuable trademark to genericide."
Well... you clearly don't understand what the world genericide means... what makes you think that you know better than Mr. Tran about the "value" of any potential trademark?
"It surely will mean more growth, and hopefully Mr Tran will see some of that growth himself. Hey, as long as Mr Tran is happy, good for him."
What your sneering tone doesn't really seem to pay any attention to is the fact that we have evidence that not getting into the trademark game is working for Mr. Tran. You don't have to say "hopefully" he'll see some of that growth. He's seeing a huge amount of it. Did you read the article?
Oh wait, you're just a troll. And I fell for it. I lose an internet.
This whole line of commentary is fundamentally weird to me. I feel like much of the time, people here are so overwhelmed by government overreach in the last decade or so that it becomes the lens through which everything is viewed - which means that you miss real, immediate, and obvious threats in favor of a parade of horribles involving the government. Yes, it is terrible to think that in the future, the cops could have an army of private informants sitting in everyone's living room, listening all the time. But that's hardly the worst-case scenario.
You know what IS the worst-case scenario, to me? Not some theoretical (and admittedly likely!) hobgoblin of the cops, or FBI, or CIA getting their hands on that data. The worst-case scenario is the one that has a 100% chance of being true - that SAMSUNG has the data they're collecting. That a private company - with no responsibility to me, no safeguards or checks, and an explicit motive to monetize every drop of that information would be spying on me in my own house. There is no action the US - or any other - government has taken which is so bad it hasn't been matched by some corporation out to make a buck.
It feels stupid to have to say this, but I will - OF COURSE I don't want the cops, or FBI, or CIA, to have access to this data. OF COURSE I wish I lived in a country where the 4th and 5th amendments were better-respected. But as an average, everyday Joe, I will walk my data over to the NSA myself before I hand it over to Samsung.
Really, though - if you buy a TV, or phone, or whatever, explicitly advertised as spying on everything you say... what else do you expect?
Mike, I feel like you're missing the point when you write, at the end, that Judd and others still think they're guilty even after they're cleared of all charges. I think even that seemingly-damning statement relieves Judd of the worst part of this.
He knows damn well the people involved aren't guilty, and doesn't care. Innocence, guilt, protecting the public are nowhere on his radar. This abuse gets him three things. Fame, money, reputation. Of course, he has to put up the front that people are guilty - but no sane person could believe that's what's happening here. He's ruining people's lives for his personal benefit; he's a psychopath, and like so many instead of being put away he's put in a position of power.
but let's try to get our heads on straight here. The assumption from the beginning, by many in the IT world, has been a very reasonable one - that we're not dealing with messages from a server here. Given the federal government's generally TERRIBLE infrastructure, many sites have pathetically tiny email systems. I worked at a DoD site - considered a tech center - where users were given 30 megs of storage space. Because of the nature of the work I was regularly sent individual attachments which would fill up my inbox. EVERYONE had outlook .PST files on their individual computers. Is this a stupid way to do things? Yes, absolutely. Do I know for certain that the Lerner emails that are missing are from a personal hard drive? Absolutely not. But it seems extremely likely.
To Mr. 5-months-is-enough-to-delete-incriminating-emails - I know 30k emails SOUNDS like a lot. It is not. It's probably about 15 days of work for someone who had never done that kind of thing before, probably half that for someone who actually has some familiarity with document review.
Disaster recovery guy? It sounds like you've got an IT background, but it's possible that you're not familiar with disaster recovery - but it doesn't work like a drive mirror. The things you're talking about bear no relation to the reality of how tape archiving works.
But from my point of view, the biggest problem here is that by even talking about server problems and email infrastructures, you're fundamentally buying into the idea that there's a scandal here. We've been through literally YEARS of Issa bullying everyone in his arm's reach, trying to manufacture a scandal whether there was one or not. And what's come out is that the IRS took the somewhat lazy tack of focusing on groups whose names clearly indicated that they intended to violate the laws pertaining to their nonprofit status. Which, to be honest, seems reasonable to me. But then again, profiling always SEEMS reasonable when it's against people you don't like, and I generally don't like liberal or conservative groups who pretend to nonprofit and nonpartisanship.
So it's profiling, and that's wrong, and I'm absolutely willing to let that principle stand over my own feelings of "yeah, not too bothered by this." But where's the coverup? What's the point? The scandal - such as it is - is out in the open. Occam's Razor is that this is stupidity and laziness.
But who knows? Maybe it'll come out - if Issa keeps pushing to keep himself in the news... oops, I mean, if he keeps tirelessly investigating this - that the White House ordered the IRS to use their powers to TAKE AWAY THE TAX BREAKS of a bunch of fairly insignificant progressive and tea party groups. Truly, a plan worthy of Lex Luthor.
Some dumb guy makes up some dumb stories about how smart he is. I, and you, and probably everybody who comes to this website has met a dozen like him. They're obviously fake - anyone who understands enough about this world to understand what he's saying can see that he's pretty transparently full of crap.
I got a great laugh out of the first article - it's fun to see someone like that laid out for the chump they are. The second article really made me wonder why you would bother to spend so much time digging. I mean, again, it's obvious that what he's saying is BS. More proof doesn't make it much more obvious, it makes it ever so slightly more obvious. Maybe four nines instead of three - awesome if we're talking uptime, not that useful if we're talking about 'sure this guy is a BSer.'
At this point, though, like I said, it just feels weird. You should know as well as I do - liars don't stop lying when you show them proof that they're lying. They lie more. And that's exactly what he did. No amount of proof is going to make him renounce a lifetime of lies.
Yeah, it kinda stinks that some idiot is getting famous off of a pack of lies, and it kind of stinks that it's happening in an area tangentially related to our little corner of the world. But I feel at this point you're running the risk of creating some weird double-inverse Streisand, where by trying to debunk something which is not at all debunkable - because everyone who cares enough to listen can see it for themselves, and the people who don't, don't - you're just making it more likely that it will get heard. And in the meantime, you're wasting your own time doing it.
Yeah, assuming that the admakers are incompetent when THIS possibility is on the table is foolish - they're clearly trying to trick people into believing that the "grassroots" point of view is against regulation.
"but who gets to decide which group is too extremist to be heard from?"
I'll volunteer for the job. I am honestly willing to say "if you're proud of all the beheadings of innocent people you're doing, we as a society can draw a line there." Honestly, I'm just not worried about slippery slopes - I feel like reasonable people can probably understand the basis for the "beheadings" objection and not extend it to Catcher in the Rye.
Yes - and I'm trying to make the point that there are much better targets in the federal government - IE the many, many agencies that hide their FOIA denials behind walls of doublespeak. Look at the letter. That is actually an example of a FOIA denial officer doing the job the DoE claims they put him or her there to do - push back on an improper denial of a FOIA request. Maybe the existence of denial officers leads to more frequent denials; the one data point i have suggests that's not the case.
DoE officials are like everyone else in the world; they don't like being made fun of. And historically the likeliest response - if this winds up all over the news - is that they will rename the denial officers something less honest. That's in nobody's best interest, so rather than making the cheap jokes, I'm just suggesting we take a second to look at the facts. Whether they're hostile to FOIA requests or not, it is better that these guys have the title that they have.
DoE has a specific chain of command with specific responsibilities. They title them honestly, and before a denial goes out it goes in front of someone who has expertise in that particular task. As someone who works extensively with the VA, and their army of NON-specialists, I fail to see why this is a bad thing.
Obviously I see why it's an easy and funny target to make fun of. I just fail to see why it's a bad thing. It sounds like this is a reasonable position with a smart portfolio - to be the central point of contact for denials, and to, if necessary, push back on denials issued by overzealous officers. Who is more likely to improperly redact embarrassing info - the guy who works two cubes down from the office of the person who will be embarrassed, or someone in an office far away, who doesn't know the people involved?
Until you show me some evidence that DoE rejects FOIA requests at a higher rate than other agencies - or just a higher rate than you might expect - I'm going to call this "good but unfortunately honestly worded policy" rather than something similar. Unfortunately, I couldn't easily find (in the 30 seconds I dedicated to the task) a comparison of FOIA denial rates by agency.
Here's the problem - the DoE is being honest, and they're getting laughed at (at best!) for it. That means - assuming that a DoE higher up hears about this - that next year the honest title goes away, in favor of "Senior FOIA officer" or something like that. Nobody benefits from that.