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  • Mar 30th, 2015 @ 12:49pm

    Re:

    Reading comprehension 101: "but it also may include using BitTorrent and a Plex media server to pirate all of their favorite HBO and Showtime shows.

    Note the key word, "and." The part before the "and," "BitTorrent" is the source of the content. The part after the "and," "Plex media server" is the method used to view the content. At no point did the author indicate that media servers were used to pirate the content itself, and even the most basic understanding of the terms used would make this obvious.

    It's sort of like saying he used a hose and a bucket to wash his car, and then you yelling "Hey! You can't get water from a bucket! It's up to a human to put water in it first!"

    Sigh, seconded.

  • Mar 30th, 2015 @ 12:41pm

    Re: Re: It's not just what they left out, but what they stuck in...

    Really? I've never actually found a rate where the internet alone options was literally cheaper than internet + cable, at least not beyond a short promotional period. Either way nobody is forcing you to hook up the TV portion.

    Maybe that's because I don't get the minimum internet access (my house uses a ton of bandwidth between my wife and me). We ended up getting a cable/internet package because it was only slightly more expensive than just internet, and we were switching from Time Warner to Hawaii Telecom, and even with the cable our internet was cheaper than our previous bill (yay competition). Most people aren't lucky to have two real options, let alone one that's actually better than the other.

    It's interesting to see they're giving out cable at a loss.

  • Mar 30th, 2015 @ 12:35pm

    Re: "I don't advocate this behavior (did I need to say that?)"

    Is this statement intentionally ironic? Because it broke my meter.

  • Mar 30th, 2015 @ 12:31pm

    Re:

    Right, but if your economics section ignored criminal activity's effects on your bank I think you might have trouble balancing your checkbook.

    Again, false equivalency. Comparing piracy to bank robbery is sort of like comparing jaywalking to grand theft auto.

  • Mar 30th, 2015 @ 12:27pm

    Re: Re: Why?

    This. I live in Hawaii and Prime pays for its yearly cost in a few months.

    Streaming is just a bonus, although honestly I rarely use it (they never seem to have movies I actually want to watch).

  • Mar 27th, 2015 @ 3:19pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    And if China accused you of breaking one of their laws in a U.S. company you owned, I'm certain you would gladly walk directly into the PRC's court, right? I'm sure a country who's legal history includes the logic of "if you weren't guilty, you wouldn't have been accused of being guilty" will give you a fair trial.

    Either way your entire idea is stupid. He is on legal bail in New Zealand, one of our closest allies. If the USG had legal grounds to require extradition, he would be here. He's about as likely to get a fair trial as Edward Snowden would. If you think the U.S. courts aren't influenced by political pressure you are horribly naïve.

  • Mar 27th, 2015 @ 1:25pm

    Re: Net Neutrality vs Competition

    The real arguments should be –

    Well, those are all questions, not arguments. Were they intended to be rhetorical? That only works if the underlying assumptions of the question is assumed to be true (which in this case is very debatable).

    Why is COMPETITION to provide broadband Internet being quashed?

    Several reasons. First, internet access is a natural monopoly. Without getting into too much detail (before Austrian school psychos get up in arms) this essentially means anything with extremely high fixed costs and low marginal costs. This creates an severe disadvantage for any new company to enter the market as they first have to deal with the fixed costs. Google Fiber is an obvious counter-argument, but with Google's massive capital the fixed costs become significantly less of an issue and the horrendous, overpriced service offered by competitors is easy to defeat through marginal costs.

    Second, the existing broadband options have used legislation and agreements with one another to essentially remove competition. The economic argument against this is that a "rational and self-interested" free market will naturally gravitate towards favoring the small, consumer-friendly business as they can offer the best product and consumers will chose them over the competition. In practice, however, it's much easier for the big company to just buy out, make deals with, or use legislation to eliminate this advantage. It's basically a non-aggression pact; competition hurts both of us, so we'll agree to stay out of each other's way, and if everyone is giving crappy but necessary service, consumers will buy it anyway.

    Who is doing the quashing?

    The ISPs, with the assistance of well paid and/or extremely gullible government "friends." Make no mistake, the ISPs are not in competition, and have no natural incentive to be. They've divided up their territory and are finding more profit in abusing consumers than attempting to compete against each other (after all, they'd have to deal with the pesky fixed costs just like anyone else would to compete).

    How do we, as consumers, fight the identified forces that are limiting COMPETITION in the broadband Internet space?

    We can't. Unless you're in an extremely niche business or lifestyle the internet is a requirement for modern life. You need it for work, you use it for play, you use it to socialize. Around 80% of Americans use the internet and that number gets bigger every year (and virtually all have options for access).

    This is important because the two main economic weapons consumers have, choosing where to buy and if to buy, are removed by the current ISP situation. If you only have one real option for internet (or even a couple equally bad options) you can't choose to take your business elsewhere. "Elsewhere" doesn't exist where you live. Likewise, unless you're in the 20% that doesn't want internet access, choosing not to buy isn't an option. And that 20% isn't even a consideration for ISPs because someone uninterested in internet access is unlikely to buy in because the service or price improved.

    You say we need to "fight" for more choice and competition, but you don't say how. You can't improve competition by going to the competition; if you could, there wouldn't be a problem! And for the vast majority going without access isn't an option either (and clearly it isn't an option for you, considering you are posting this on a website).

    So what can consumers do? Start our own ISP? Good luck with that. If you can miraculously find the money and set up the infrastructure, and afford to offer a better, cheaper alternative to the local incumbent, and defeat an entrenched ISP with essentially unlimited money to destroy your business via litigation, legislation, and "temporary special deals" for existing customers, by all means, go for it. I'd be shocked if you got past the "I need a loan for this" stage.

    So really, what's your option? Consumers can't compete with the ISPs. Consumer's can't buy something else or nothing. We can talk bad about them, I guess, but the worst company in America and friends don't really give a rat's ass.

    Oh, right. There's an obvious one; we can petition the government to help. We can have a governing body that regulates ISPs to prevent anti-competitive behavior and remove some of those weapons ISPs have to abuse their consumers. The internet is a communications tool, so maybe the FCC should be the one to do it. After all, they already regulate phones, right? Makes sense. They'd need some sort of authority to regulate ISPs though, like, I don't know, Title II, the same one that authorizes regulation of cell phones companies.

    Someone should really suggest that. It may not be a perfect solution, but it's a step in the right direction.

    Sorry, I got distracted. Why is net neutrality a straw man fallacy that doesn't address competition again? I must have missed that somewhere.

  • Mar 25th, 2015 @ 8:12pm

    Re:

    I'm not 100% certain, but I'm fairly sure profit from space photography is not part of SpaceX's business model.

  • Mar 25th, 2015 @ 8:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Digital versus Physical goods.

    Or, you know, double that. Something around there. I'd check, but it's not like I have instant access to facts, now do I?

  • Mar 25th, 2015 @ 8:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Brick?

    Many newer systems capable of accessing online services (such as the Xbox One, Playstation 4 and iPhone) have internal hardware-based unique identifiers, allowing individual systems to be tracked over a network and banned from accessing certain online services. Banned systems usually continue to operate for purposes unrelated to the online service, but they are often considered "bricked" by users of the online service.
    And if a device loses expected functionality, for instance due to being banned or having its IMEI removed from the network, it is considered "bricked." In fact, the entire controversy over remotely "bricking" phones was to prevent them from accessing the network, not prevent them from booting.

    While using "bricking" may not be the common understanding of the word it is accurate to say a device that has expected functionality removed due to a firmware change or error is "bricked."

  • Mar 25th, 2015 @ 12:31pm

    Re: Re: Brick?

    "Bricking" refers to a software issue that removes all functionality from a device, making it essentially a "brick."[1] Normally this applies to complete functionality removal, in other words, the device no longer works at all for any purpose.

    That being said, the "jailbroken" Kindle is being bricked by this update. After the update, the Kindle can no longer be rooted, which means that the core functionality gained by rooting is lost. If, for example, I had a smart phone that I expected to be able to surf the internet, but an update removed that functionality and only let me make calls, I would consider that a bricked phone; the partial functionality removes key uses for which I purchased the device.

    So if I bought a Kindle Fire expecting an inexpensive Android tablet with good reading capability and suddenly the "tablet" part of the equation was removed I'd be pretty upset, especially since the Fire is not really any cheaper than other equivalent Android tablets. They advertise it as a tablet, and while they mention their proprietary OS, it is "built on Android with enhancements." What if I want some of those enhancements, but not everything? What if I want stuff other than their 100,000 apps in their appstore? Their is nothing in their hardware that prevents me from doing so; it's purely a software lock.

    Therefore, if I bought the device knowing I had these options, and then the company removes those options, that device has lost its core functionality due to a software issue, not a hardware one. Which is the definition of "bricking."

  • Mar 23rd, 2015 @ 5:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I didn't think "progress" needed to be defined, but since I'm apparently the one to take the time, the object of the Copyright Act of 1790 was the "encouragement of learning."

    It also only lasted 14 years and you had to register your creation with the Copyright Office, and could be renewed for an additional 14 years, but hey, that's the same as over a hundred years automatically, right? Beyond the lifetime of everyone for which the creation is relevant makes complete sense.

    /s

  • Mar 23rd, 2015 @ 11:02am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Er, it's the copyright clause, in section 8. Fat finger?

    I'm pretty sure it was a rhetorical question pointing out the purpose of patents are, according to the U.S. Constitution, to "promote the progress" not "prevent the competition."

    People love getting hung up on the little details of rules that support whatever it is they like while forgetting the entire point of the rule in the first place.

  • Mar 20th, 2015 @ 2:26pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    This needs to be repeated more often. Complete focus on short-term profits has destroyed the world economy. We really need to get out of this "slash-and-burn" mindset where we milk every company for maximum profit until they collapse, then move on to the next. While doing so makes a few people rich, most people are just losing out and the economy as a whole suffers.

    I don't really see this happening with Google any time soon but I suppose anything is possible.

  • Mar 20th, 2015 @ 2:22pm

    Re: No contradiction here

    The article isn't about a contradiction in the facts of the case. As Mike points out in the original article:

    The case involves what appears to be a fairly straightforward question: can a patent holder demand royalties after a patent has expired. The obvious answer to this question is "hell no." And, in fact, that's exactly what the Supreme Court itself said in 1964 in Brulotte v. Thys Co.
    Nobody is arguing that this is wrong or even a contradiction (the opposite, in fact, which is why the case has gone nowhere). There is some case law that makes it slightly unclear (hence the only reason it's in court at all) but Mike pointed that out as well.

    The issue is the irony of Disney's statement that "modern developments underscore the need to protect the public domain [from patent royalties] that would accumulate forever." This is from a company that has heavily lobbied for extensions of copyright terms from the more reasonable 28 or 42 years to 75 years or life of the author plus 50 years then to 95/120 years or life of the author plus 70 years. This was specifically designed to prevent its own intellectual property from entering the public domain.

    So, for a company that his historically fought tooth-and-nail to prevent their own products from entering the public domain to point out how important it is to ensure other people's products enter the public domain in a reasonable amount of time is hilarious.

    It's like North Korea calling out the United States for human rights violations. Technically they're correct, however, their own policies make the accusation ironic considering the stance of the source.

    That's all that happened here; Mike called out Disney for encouraging a stance that, historically, they've done everything they can to avoid. It's ironic, nothing more. Disney is going to win their court case (and should). They still have a stranglehold on Mickey Mouse for perfectly legal (but ridiculous) reasons.

  • Mar 20th, 2015 @ 2:01pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Ok, read this next bit really slowly:

    If anything, modern developments underscore the need to protect the public domain from the aggregate toll of patent royalties that would accumulate forever.
    - Disney Lawyers
    Now, put that into the context of a company that has lobbied heavily throughout it's entire history for extending the duration of intellectual property protections.

    Now, go back to the quote where they talk about protecting the public domain from trolls that want their royalties to "accumulate forever." Now think about how Disney has spent millions of dollars trying to ensure that their own ownership of Mickey Mouse accumulates forever.

    I know, sometimes irony is a difficult thing to grasp. This is complicated, high level stuff, and it's not something that was even argued in court! I know it's hard for you to accept that there are truths that haven't been determined by court precedent. Sadly, irony is not yet settled case law (but probably should be).

    But it's real, and it applies here. You're completely hung up on the details of this specific case, in that the patent had already expired, so clearly the royalties should not continue (which is obvious to you, obvious to Mike, and obvious to the courts).

    But that isn't relevant to the irony; the point is that Disney has claimed in court that extending patent protection indefinitely is a bad thing when they've argued for extending copyright protection since the company founded. I know you can't see it, but that's your lack of imagination and intelligence, not Mike's.

    Sorry.

  • Mar 19th, 2015 @ 6:51pm

    Re:

    The point is that we have two situations. The first situation is one where Disney lobbies heavily for copyright extensions designed to keep their creation out of the public domain. The second situation is, after licensing someone else's patent, Disney is arguing that it's important for creations to enter the public domain.

    Of course the positions are consistent, from a greedy "what's best for me" position. They like extensions to intellectual property when it's their intellectual property, but they like when things enter the public domain so they can scoop them up (and then probably try and protect the rights from others).

    The point is that it's ironic that one of the biggest lobbyists arguing to extend IP protection for as long as possible is currently arguing in court that they should be able to utilize an expired patent without paying royalties to the creator.

    Either way, you are again looking at things purely from a legal standpoint and not from a reality standpoint. This article makes perfect sense to someone who isn't only looking at the legal arguments. Legally, Disney is "correct."

    But that doesn't mean they're not still giant hypocrites.

  • Mar 19th, 2015 @ 6:30pm

    Re: Re:

    I guess my point is that if you leave something unsecured on your public-access property with no sign or lock indicating it is not for public use then you would naturally assume other people could use it. That would be like having a water fountain outside your business and then arresting people for using it because it's for "employees only" even though there's no sign or other restriction on use.

    Complaining to the police costs nothing for the business, but they shouldn't even be able to complain about it. The police aren't free and hopefully have more important things to do, like stop or deter actual crimes. My issue is that using a public outlet shouldn't be a crime unless you've made it obvious that it's not for public use, and if it isn't a crime, the police should not be allowed to get involved.

    This is a double standard and it needs to be exposed and forbidden. No regular citizen would be charged with a crime for using public outlets; in fact, using public outlets to charge phones and computers is incredibly common in coffee shops, book stores, and other small businesses. I've never seen anyone ask for permission or seen a sign allowing it, both indoors and outdoors.

    The homeless have enough issues without adding ridiculous legal charges.

  • Mar 19th, 2015 @ 6:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Where's the DRM?

    DRM is sort of like most of the major broadband companies; a crappy service that everyone hates but is the only way to get the product they want. So they deal with it because there isn't a viable alternative.

    The sad part is that DRM does almost nothing, for physical products or software. Physical products are easily broken by mechanical or electronic fixes, and software is easily broken by hex editors and a bit of creative thinking (or not even that much, since most software DRM uses similar methods that are equally easy to crack).

    The fact is that if you give a human being an object they'll eventually be able to take it apart and modify it. The only way to prevent people from messing with your stuff is to simply not give it to them or scare them into not messing with it. That's why the only "effective" DRM is the type used in MMOs; since the game server is owned and managed by the developers it's very difficult, if not impossible, to replicate the game by breaking its DRM (you can hack accounts to gain access or even create your own server, but you won't be replicating the standard user experience). Other than server-reliant video games virtually all other software I know of has either been cracked or has the potential to be cracked.

    For anyone who's used a crack (before all the "pirate!" cries I'd like to point out that cracks are often used on legally purchased software) you know that they are easy to use and rarely cause issues. DRM likely causes more issues for paying customers than it does for pirates.

    DRM feels good to the executives who demand it. It's an easy way to pretend they're doing something to prevent "theft." In reality DRM does nothing to protect against copyright infringement; it's easily circumvented and copyright infringement is illegal (or legal) regardless of DRM.

    DRM has one other purpose: abusing the anti-circumvention clause of the DMCA in order to make otherwise legal uses of a product illegal. And while it hasn't really held up well for physical products it certainly makes legal uses of software into a litigation landmine. The goal is to create a chilling effect on legal, but not necessarily supported, uses of your product.

    Pirates aren't concerned with this. Competitors, however, are very concerned. People attempting to innovate legal-but-not-supported uses for existing products can easily be shut down or frightened into inaction by DRM.

    Which, of course, is the whole point. Maybe there are some executives out there that truly believe piracy is "killing" their industry but they're the dumb ones. The rest preach anti-piracy but their real goal is anti-competition. After all, competition makes you have to do irritating things like deliver a decent product at a reasonable price while treating your customers well.

    Meanwhile they will point out imaginary "losses" to piracy to keep legislators and the public focused on a scapegoat that literally cannot be "beaten." It's a fantastic system for them; whenever the debate moves towards the anti-competitive, anti-consumer practices they've built their business on, they can just call all their opponents "pirates" and gain imaginary moral high ground. And it works.

    The biggest losers in all of this, of course, are artists. It's easy to convince them that people are stealing their work and then be the "good guy" that will protect them from all the "bad guys" by going after those mean old pirates. All you have to do is sign up with us and give away us 70% or more of your profits along with all your rights to your work. You even have a 1% chance of being one of our sponsored "stars" decided by our executive boards. What a fantastic deal!

    Is anyone surprised they don't want this money train to end?

  • Mar 19th, 2015 @ 11:08am

    (untitled comment)

    Um, I have a question...what are those outlets for? I've plugged electronic devices into external outlets on numerous occasions. It's not like I'm unplugging another device, there usually isn't a cover and/or lock, and certainly no sign. If you have a public building with exposed outlets with no "Not For Public Use" sign I find it ludicrous that you can complain about people using them.

    This is simply another case where the homeless get charged with laws that don't apply to other citizens, such as how long you can stand in one spot or what businesses you can enter.

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