Brent Ashley’s Techdirt Profile


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  • Jun 24th, 2021 @ 6:58am


    Yes, Excolo Law, you are TA

  • Apr 23rd, 2021 @ 5:15am

    Variation on a theme

    This reminds me of 9 years ago with my daughter's Art History textbook with no images. (see istory-text-that-has-no-photos-due-to-copyright-problems.shtml)

    Art and technology by their very nature take a combinative form, building new by adapting and improving elements of old. Copyright, a legal fiction to assign restrictions to the otherwise natural flow and recombination of ideas, is supposed to be meant to promote advancement by giving time-limited ownership as incentive to creators to increase their motivation to share. Instead it is commonly used to inhibit sharing, to impede improvement and innovation, and with ever-increasing terms, to essentially permanently assign ownership.

    Copyright reform is long overdue.

  • Oct 21st, 2019 @ 7:30am

    Reframe the issue

    Imagine a campaign that calls for doing away with end-to-end encryption for banking, healthcare, business VPNs, and Cloud. That's the same end result, and people need to understand that calling for one is equivalent to calling for the other.

    Of course the risk would be that somehow this patently ridiculous straw-man notion gains momentum in this bizarro world political climate.

  • Jun 29th, 2019 @ 9:55am


    I'm perplexed that the scope of this encryption debate always seems to be limited to encrypted messages between humans that the govt wants to be able to see, or file and disk encryption used by miscreants on their phones and computers. That's just the bathwater, and it's full of babies whose loss would have much greater impact. Outlawing (or invalidating the efficacy of) encryption is nothing less than the outlawing of secure communication. The entire world's business and financial systems rely on the confidential transfer and storage of information. The very same highly-placed people who press for broken encryption would stand to lose everything in very short order. The entire payment card industry (PCI) knows the value of encryption; how is it that these folks can have missed the boat? You can't talk about encryption and not know that the scope of the conversation encompasses the very foundations of commerce. Corporate and personal information would be free for the taking in a world where secure communication is made ineffective. Passwords transferred and stored without valid encryption are practically worthless and will soon be found and published, as they already are in places where people do not use effective security measures. Why are people not asking the proponents of these measures how they expect to continue to trust online banking, corporate WANs, DRM and a host of other technologies they rely on to remain stable and powerful, when compromised? Even if they think the master keys are secure in their own govt hands, surely in this polarized political climate they should see the problems inherent in the process of transitioning from one regime to the next. You may not trust the keyholders down the road.
  • Apr 11th, 2019 @ 11:25am

    Re: Re: When everybody is special, nobody is special

    MacOS is not a derivative of Linux. It comes from the BSD side of the Unix family tree.

  • Apr 11th, 2019 @ 8:58am

    When everybody is special, nobody is special

    Anyone with an Android phone or a Chromebook is running a Linux-based kernel. Even the poorly-named Windows 10 "Windows Subsystem for Linux" has the GNU toolset, although it's not strictly Linux because it doesn't use the kernel.

    I guess we're all suspicious hacker types now.

  • Aug 4th, 2017 @ 5:16pm

    Re: Re: Fulsome support

    Perhaps you mistake my observation of an absurd reality for a call to action. In the current bizarro political climate, I would not suggest attempting such reverse psychology gamesmanship, as you might well get exactly what you are pretending to ask for.
  • Aug 4th, 2017 @ 12:24pm

    Fulsome support

    I think the fastest way to get legislators to abandon all attempts to pursue secondary liability would be to lobby wholeheartedly for it, but make sure it also applies to the manufacture and sale of firearms.
  • Jul 6th, 2017 @ 4:36pm

    Enough rope

    I find it odd that the very people who are advocating taking away his petard are those who would be most glad to see him hoist himself by it.
  • Mar 15th, 2017 @ 7:27am

    It's about changing your diet

    When I dropped all my cable and switched to antenna and Netflix, my TV watching habits changed.

    It's no longer imperative for me to have immediate access to every thing that I could possibly see. If I don't have access to a sporting event or a TV show, I simply don't see them. Maybe I talk to my family or take the dogs for a walk. Maybe I wait for the movie or show to come out on Netflix in 6 months. It's the behavior change that makes it work, not any attempt to make the experience the same as before.

    Changing your viewing habits is like changing your diet. If you are choosing the chocolate-chip-cookie-dough diet bar instead of an apple, your head isn't in the right space to make it work.
  • Nov 11th, 2016 @ 10:20am

    (untitled comment)

    Still half expecting to hear Shkreli lined up as head of the FDA
  • Nov 9th, 2016 @ 6:44am

    11: Global Warming Solved

    Now that it's clear that there is a way to harness and focus the unlimited natural resource of stupidity, we will never need to rely on fossil fuels again.
  • May 31st, 2016 @ 9:59am


    "...the law needs to change".

    Then they'll just find/create/manipulate/overextend/ignore a different law. Impunity isn't picky when it comes to post-facto justification or umbrella prosecution, any law that can be stretched to fit will suffice.
  • Apr 4th, 2016 @ 8:55am

    Picky picky

    This line of inquiry is all just NIT picking.
  • Mar 29th, 2016 @ 3:47am

    If that's the goal

    This presumes that the goal of the current security developments is actually to reduce the effects of terrorism as stated. If it turned out that the real goal was to increase power and perpetuate revenue, we might find that there is little appetite among those in control for a rational approach to saving more lives. Perhaps the current strategy is serving their goals already.
  • Jan 6th, 2016 @ 10:21am

    Re: Re:

    Of course you can cut the cable entirely, if you are in a sufficiently large metropolitan area and don't need to watch sports. I have over 20 channels via antenna, and none of my streaming is from the Canadian cartels. In Burlington, I have DSL from TekSavvy on a dry loop, so Bell's involvement exists at an infrastructure level but is entirely incidental. If you are not addicted to a) the usual pap that passes for entertainment or b) the notion that you have to watch first-run everything, you can be quite comfortably entertained without indenturing yourself to the BigCos.
  • Dec 28th, 2015 @ 10:49am

    504: Bad Gateway

    Once you get them hooked on freebasicing, it's only a matter of time before they slingshot to methenger.
  • Dec 11th, 2015 @ 11:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Just Deserts

    I'm a bit confused by your response in that it draws meaning from my statement that wasn't expressed or intended and then takes affront and chides me for that very thing.

    Again, I grant that "deserves" is loaded so as a consequence of creating a brief and glib quote I failed in expressing blunt tautology rather than pointed blame. Sorry bout that.

    I am not spouting defeatism - my point is that the outcome can and hopefully will be more positive than current prevailing opinion projects

    If the outcome is negative, attributing the cause to those who steered the outcome in that direction is not victim blaming. Perhaps the system as become broken enough that no steering will be enough. I hope not.

    The reason I haven't made direct suggestions on making the government better is that as I'm not American it is not my place to lecture. I'm not telling you what to do, I'm indirectly suggesting that analyzing cause and effect is part of the solution, since I have observed that "more of the same" does not usually turn things around when current practices have been proven not to work.

    I'm still optimistic that America can find a positive path through the political minefield.
  • Dec 8th, 2015 @ 8:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Just Deserts

    I see, you read my use of "deserved" as me righteously telling them off for their potential failure, whereas I meant it more as a straight analysis of cause and effect without judgement attached. I should have anticipated your reading of it; it's a loaded word.

    My point was meant to be that the American political and power distribution system seems to have strayed off course. American society can collectively do something to correct the trajectory or they can allow it to career further on its current path, and the outcome and their fortunes will depend on the electorate's own efforts and ability (or not) to turn it around.

    In Canada, we have recently seen a shift in the political winds, brought on largely by the population deciding against one style of politics and opting for another. We too in the scheme of things will get the government we deserve, and I hope it's worthy of the faith that has been put in it.
  • Dec 8th, 2015 @ 2:11pm

    Re: Re: Just Deserts

    How is it bullshit? The sentiment works no matter which side you're on.

    By whatever measure you want, if America elects someone who proves undesirable, it's because a) they wanted that person and their values or b) their system has become broken and it allowed the undesirable candidate to win despite their collective will, in which case they are the authors of (i.e. are deserving of) their failure.

    If America elects someone who turns out to be good for them, it will be because they succeeded despite extreme obstacles and they will deserve their success. If this new leader manages to lead a corrective path (for any of a number of definitions of corrective), all the more deserving.

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