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Posted on Techdirt - 22 May 2018 @ 9:30am

Last Chance! The Kickstarter For CIA: Collect It All Ends At Midnight!

from the collect-it-now dept

This is it — the last day of the campaign! If you haven't yet backed our project to revamp and produce the CIA's declassified training game, today's your last chance to check out the Kickstarter page for CIA: Collect It All and secure a copy.

The campaign closes tonight at midnight! Don't delay!

CIA: Collect It All on Kickstarter

We've had a huge influx of last-minute backers thanks in large part to The Verge's review of an advance copy of the game, so if you're not yet a backer, help us keep that momentum going — and if you are, please tell your friends! CIA: Collect It All comes with over 150 high-quality playing cards, with physical copies available for $29 (shipping to 170 countries), the print-and-play PDF version for $10 (anywhere, of course!) and a five-copy bundle for retailers or groups who want to team up to save on shipping.

We are planning to continue accepting some additional pre-orders before we complete the game, but we don't have that set up just yet, and we still have no plans to continue production beyond a single print run — so if you definitely don't want to miss out, back the campaign before it's too late!

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Posted on Techdirt - 21 May 2018 @ 12:00pm

One Day Left To Get Your Copy Of CIA: Collect It All On Kickstarter!

from the time-is-running-out dept

If you haven't yet heard about CIA: Collect It All, here's the short version: the CIA recently declassified a top secret card game that it uses to train new recruits, and we're making a version that you can play at home. The game puts players in the shoes of analysts leveraging a variety of real-world intelligence gathering techniques to solve global crises. It comes with over 150 high-quality playing cards, and is also available as a print-and-play PDF.

And you've got less than 36 hours to back the Kickstarter campaign and secure your copy!

CIA: Collect It All on Kickstarter

We currently have no plans to continue production of the game beyond this first print run, so now might be your only chance to get your hands on CIA: Collect It All. For more information on what the game's all about, check out our recent Kickstarter update all about gameplay, as well as the latest episode of the Techdirt Podcast.

We're continuing to work on playtesting the game, redesigning the cards, and filling in the redacted text from the CIA documents. We're really excited to get this game into everyone's hands, so check out our Kickstarter before the campaign ends tomorrow at midnight.

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Posted on Techdirt - 20 May 2018 @ 12:45pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the sayin'-stuff dept

This week, both our winning comments on the insightful side came in response to our post about some police realizing that SESTA/FOSTA has made their job harder. The curiously-named any moose cow word won first place with a simple statement:

FOSTA and SESTA, like most "morality" legislation, is much more about sweeping problems under the rug and pretending they don't exist rather than doing anything substantive to address the real underlying issues.

In second place, it's an anonymous response to a strange comment questioning why we worry about one bad law when there are lots of bad laws:

OK: I'll bite.

We get annoyed at just this one today to bring awareness to it, so that it can be changed. Without public awareness and public shaming of public figures, we will not have change.

So why go after one when there are 500,000+ more laws?

Because each journey starts with a single step. Once THIS law is taken care of, there are 499,999+ laws, and we can work on the next item.

Your attitude only results in things getting continually worse. It is the attitude the Russian troll farms use to promote apathy.

Be part of the solution and pick a law you feel is unjust, and see it through to being removed.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got a pair of responses from our two frequent "That" commenters to our post about the congressional push to protect police with hate crime laws — both addressing the common arguments about police having a dangerous job. First up it's That One Guy:

Yeah, no-one's arguing that it's a risk free job, but here's the thing: The ones in it either knew that ahead of time that it carried risk and accepted that anyway, or they were so clueless that that fact flew completely over their head, and they need to quit immediately and let someone with a working brain take their position.

I face heightened risk every time I wake up and get out of bed. I face heightened risk every time I get in a car. Countless things cause 'heightened risk', if they can't deal with a historically safe job because it carries anything higher than no risk then they most certainly have no business in a profession that carries extra risk and is already well protected by the laws.

This is yet another boot-licking, 'All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal that others' move that will widen the gap between the public and police once more, which, ironically enough, stands to make things even riskier for police.

And next it's That Anonymous Coward:

Pretty sure the number of people ending up dead or beaten after interaction with cops is much higher than the number of dead cops.

They know the job is dangerous...
A woman might knock on your window requiring lethal force.
A car might backfire requiring pursuit & 40+ bullets fired while standing on the hood of the car.
The house of an innocent person the warrant isn't for might get uppity wondering why these jackbooted thugs broke in.
A baby might need to be flash banged for officer safety.
A dog might wag its tail in the vicinity of a cop requiring its execution.
A young officer might freak out & blow someone away in their panic & require being comforted before anyone seeks help for the person who was shot.
A driver might reach for his ID after being instructed to & be shot by a cop for following directions.
A body cam might be turned off or have the audio muted after a citizen is shot by a cop so they can get the story right.
A department might run a fucking black site that the CIA would be proud of torturing citizens until they admit to crimes to make the pain stop.
A department might steal millions in military gear handouts & just hand them out to various citizens around town.

But yes, please codify what a large percentage of the population already know... Cops are a special group who can do no wrong, can not be held responsible for their actions, and can repeatedly lie on the stand... but sure lets give them another law to use against critics or them uppity citizens who know their rights & the law.

Good faith exceptions.
Using stereotypes of demons to justify murder.
Abusing citizens.
Throwing them into paddy wagons & giving them a rough ride to teach them a lesson (or paralyze them for life).

Perhaps a better use of time & resources would have been a hate crime law protecting citizens from cops. I mean, we have the higher body count & we didn't have to pad the numbers by including desk riding doughnut gobbling warriors who had a heart attack.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Thad making a small correction to Mike's point that a certain rabidly anti-regulation commenter on Techdirt sounds like a high-school student:

That's not fair.

High school students know how to use quotation marks correctly.

In second place, it's Jinxed with another comment about SESTA/FOSTA:

Perhaps Techdirt reach out to one of the authors of the bill?
Here, I'll help:

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out on our post about breathalyzers inflating results by as much as 6%, where one commenter suggested this isn't really a problem and McCrea quickly corrected that notion:

And we should prosecute everyone who does 50mph in a 55 zone a speeding ticket be "Oh, he wasn't "SPEEDING" when crashed into you isn't any solace."

Personally, I find you far more than 6% short of being reasonable. Only 6% over the fine line of sanity. Only 6% short of a full deck? Only 6% dimmer than a burnt out bulb?

Geez, first time in two years I've logged into to make a comment. I guess I only respond to 6% of the trolls.

Finally, since it's one more chance to shamelessly plug our Kickstarter campaign for CIA: Collect It All (which ends on Tuesday!), we've got a comment from last weekend's post about the game. In response to an angry commenter who seems to think selling a physical product undermines our opinions on digital economics, That One Guy got sarcastic:

Wait a tic, you mean it's possible to make money off of something despite it being freely available, thanks to someone adding value to the free part(in this case by saving you the trouble of constructing them yourself)?

You are blowing my mind here man, who could have ever thought you could make money off of something that people could get for free? That you can in fact compete with free?

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 19 May 2018 @ 12:00pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 167: CIA: Collect It All

from the kickstarting-a-card-game dept

We're nearing the end of the Kickstarter campaign for CIA: Collect It All, our polished and fully-playable version of a formerly top secret card game used by the CIA to train new recruits. In this special Saturday edition of the podcast, the three of us working on the project — myself, Mike, and Randy Lubin of Diegetic Games — sit down to talk all about what players can expect from CIA: Collect It All.

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 - 13 May 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the talk-it-up dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is John Snape with an unorthodox suggestion about the police:

Liability Insurance

Surgeons have liability insurance, so if they mess up they can compensate their patients. If they mess up too much, they are no longer surgeons, since their premiums will skyrocket.

It's time for all law enforcement officers to get the same. Instead of government entities paying out settlements, the insurance for the officers will pay out. When their behavior is too egregious, they will no longer be able to afford insurance and they'll no longer be a police officer. And if they're shunted off to a different department a few counties over, their premiums will follow.

Good police officers will keep their low premiums and keep their jobs.

(Clever, though in the long run putting police behaviour in the hands of private insurance companies is probably a dangerous strategy...)

In second place, we've got an anonymous comment on our post about copyright holders moving up the stack:

Malware and putting everyone at risk is the bread and butter of copyright enforcement. Rootkits in your CDs, campaigning against encryption, demanding all removal of privacy and anonymity. How else are they going to demand their pound of flesh from low-hanging fruit?

The world could go to hell tomorrow and copyright enforcers will still worry that someone, somewhere might have access to a few numbers they think might have been illegitimate. Seriously, if a report was put out that hands contribute to copyright infringement, their people would be roaming the streets wielding axes while looking for wrists to sever.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got a pair of comments that emerged in the debate on that post. First it's That One Guy with a response to the idea that only illegal sites get hurt by copyright maximalism:

Must be nice in that world of yours

Of course, because as everyone knows mistakes just simply don't happen when it comes to what is and is not infringing, and people certainly would never abuse the law for their own ends.

Next, we've got an anonymous correction of the incredibly silly and backwards assertion that copyrights on scientific research fund libraries:

For your infomation, the academic publishers charge libraries excessive amounts for bundles of journals. Indeed they have become so expensive that many university libraries can no longer afford to pay for all the journals in the fields that are taught at the university.

Also, the people posting to Sci Hub, and using it for obtaining papers are the authors and editors of the journals, who are not paid by the publishers, and for some publications have to find page fees to get published.

In this case, the freeloaders are the academic journals, who do very little of the work of publishing a journal, but who make all the profits that there are in scientific journals.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is an anonymous comment on the subject of paywalls:

7 reasons this clickbait is behind a paywall.

Pay our membership fee to find out why number 4 will SHOCK YOU!

In second place, we've got Roger Strong addressing the trademark battle over the word "cocky" with a callback to another legal-threat-sending author:

If only our trademarks were made of glass how much more careful we would be when we threaten.

  • some other cock, paraphrased

Speaking of Roger Strong, he was all over the funny leaderboard this week, so for editor's choice on the insightful side we've got a pair of additional quips from him. First, it's a call back to some David Fincher-directed 90s advertising in response to our list of AT&T's many transgressions:

Oddly, none of these were predicted in AT&T's You Will commercials.

Finally, it's a quote that was particularly apt and useful in some of this week's comment threads:

"I don't think I've ever seen your specific kind of crazy, but I definitely admire your total commitment to it."
- Capt. Jack Sparrow

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 12 May 2018 @ 11:00am

The Clock Is Ticking: Get Your Copy Of CIA: Collect It All On Kickstarter!

from the tick-tock dept

Last month, we launched our Kickstarter campaign to turn a formerly-top-secret CIA training game into something you can play at home. We hit our goal much sooner than we expected, and now we're less than two weeks away from the close of the campaign — so if you want to get your hands on a copy, hurry up and become a backer!

CIA: Collect It All comes with over 150 high-quality playing cards in a premium box, and is also available in a digital print-and-play version. The game pits you and your friends against each other in a race to solve as many global crises as you can by leveraging clever combinations of the many varied and creative techniques used by real intelligence agencies, from satellite imagery to hacking to good old fashioned espionage.

CIA: Collect It All on Kickstarter

We recently added international shipping options for 170 countries, but we still have no plans to continue producing the game after sending it out to our backers, so this might be your only chance! If you don't want to miss out, head on over to our Kickstarter campaign and secure your print-and-play or physical copy by backing us as a Digital Analyst or a Field Agent.

The campaign ends at midnight (pacific time) on Tuesday, May 22nd! Stay tuned over the next week and a half as we bring you more information here on Techdirt, or become a backer and get the inside scoop from our Kickstarter updates. And thanks to everyone who has already helped us make CIA: Collect It All a success!

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 8 May 2018 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 166: How The Courts Created The Surveillance State

from the panopticon dept

The US has been something of a surveillance state since long before the Snowden revelations that showed the full extent of some of the NSA's activities. A lot of this is made possible — often unintentionally — by decades-old court decisions regarding technology. It's a problem. This week, reporter Cyrus Farivar — whose new book Habeas Data digs into this judicial history — joins us to discuss how courts created the surveillance state.

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 May 2018 @ 10:00am

International Shipping Is Now Available For CIA: Collect It All On Kickstarter!

from the get-it-while-you-can dept

As most of you know, we recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for CIA: Collect It All — our fleshed out and polished version of the CIA's training card game that was recently obtained under a FOIA request. Two days later, we hit our funding goal, and now we've more than doubled it!

Before we knew just how much interest there would be, our plan was to limit shipping to the US — but the requests from other countries came pouring in alongside the pledges, and so now we're happy to announce that CIA: Collect it All is now available in 170 countries!

CIA: Collect It All on Kickstarter

As we warned from the start, international shipping isn't cheap, but we've tried to secure the best rates we possibly could. If you were waiting on availability in your country before backing the campaign — or if you pledged for the digital print-and-play version but would like to upgrade to a physical copy — now's the time. There are a few major countries we are unable to ship to (such as Brazil and Russia) due to limitations of our fulfillment partner, and unfortunately there's nothing we can do about that right now, so we apologize if you're still left out.

There's just over two weeks left in the campaign, and we still have no plans to produce more than this single print run of the game — so if you want to get your hands on a copy, now's the time to back us on Kickstarter so you don't miss out! We're overwhelmed by the support for this project (huge thanks to everyone who has backed it already), and we're excited to bring this formerly top-secret CIA training game to so many people around the world.

CIA: Collect It All on Kickstarter

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Posted on Techdirt - 6 May 2018 @ 12:00pm

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 That Anonymous Coward with a response to ICE's warrantless raid of a private farm:

We have to trample your rights to protect you!!!
Stop squirming, we're tasing you for your own good.

Perhaps ICE would like to explain why if they were looking for the wife, they decided to detain someone else.

This 'Merika is what you signed up for when you demanded to be protected at all costs & surrendered your rights to create a safety bubble.

While you might think they only use it on bad people...
They violated the farmers rights, the rule of law, & harassed someone working legally.

Perhaps it is time to stop pretending they are super soldiers that are our only defense against the horde. That perhaps all of the cover they;ve been given time & time again for their actions have turned them into those willing to abuse anyone who crosses their path b/c nothing bad happens to them.

In second placee, we've got an anonymous response to a copyright apologist on our post about the EU commission's call for public comment on mandatory content filters:

Copyright was and is the tool by which traditional publishers seize control over a creators work, and via which the publishers get rich while most creators starve.

For most of human history creativity has been funded by either live performances and/or patronage. With the Internet, patronage supported by many small donations has become possible, and is used by many creators to fund their next work. With patronage, copyright is not necessary, so long as plagiarism can be dealt with, and the ability to create new works is a unique ability that people will pay to support.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got a pair of responses to Microsoft defending the case that put a computer recycler in jail for manufacturing Windows recovery disks. First, it's Doug Wheeler pointing out a key detail:

No sales = no loss

Another point that keeps getting glossed over is that Eric Lundgren never sold any discs. He had them made at the request of Bob Wolff who, after receiving them, didn't want them and stored them in his garage. There they sat until, in a sting operation, an undercover government agent purchased discs from Wolff.

Next, it's Uriel-238 with a simple, one-word response to our point that nobody tries to shut down used book stores:


Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Ninja with some abstract jokes about China's censorship of history:

"If historians discover facts that conflict with the official narratives, the facts must go."

World Historian: "This [insert Chinese govt-approved martyr here] has a long documented history of being a dipshit."

Chinese historian: "This [the same martyr above] was a hero that could come back from the dead and who could shot energy blasts from his hand to purify Japanese barbarians!"

We the Nerds: "So that's the Chinese name for Goku?"

Trump (because why not?): "COFVEFEFE!"

In second place, we've got a little scenelet from Roger Strong about drug tests:

Cop: "You've tested positive for opiates..."

Citizen: "It was probably the bagel I had."

Cop: "...and cocaine, marijuana, steroids, other drugs, and also you're pregnant."

Citizen: "It was an everything bagel."

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start by returning to the China story, where one anonymous commenter had fun with a translation idiosyncrasy referring to "the departments of culture, press, radio and television, film, Internet information, and so forth":

I wonder what the department of so forth does. It sounds like it could be a great place to slack off.

And finally, we've got a math quip from DOlz in response to the trademark dispute over square donuts:

Silly people

It’s not donuts are square, it’s pie are square.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 5 May 2018 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: April 29th - May 5th

from the stuff-that-happened dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, while the MPAA was being accused of tampering with evidence in Finland, and a bunch of movie studios were fragmenting the streaming market by pulling films off Netflix, Chris Dodd was trying to claim he supports helping the blind while refusing to approve of the copyright exceptions that would do so. Meanwhile, the government was clashing with technology on many fronts, from increased censorship requests to Google to the DOJ wanting to fine companies that don't let it wiretap users to ICE raiding mobile phone repair shops.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, the RIAA was employing the questionable strategy of giving music services a bunch of publicity by suing them and the ugly strategy of aggressively targeting college students, while a court was thankfully rejecting its "making available" argument about copyright law. We took a look at all the problems copyright was causing for documentary filmmakers, and the smear campaign against Larry Lessig and free culture in general. And, for something that looks amusing in hindsight, many people were predicting that the mobile web was a huge threat to Google's dominance.

Fifteen Years Ago

Both of this week's stars were in the news in 2003 as well. We got a look at how the MPAA stays one step ahead of consumer rights organizations, while the RIAA was settling an earlier round of lawsuits against students, and also creepily sending threatening IMs to file sharers. Amidst this, Apple officially launched its online music sales for the first time — we were lukewarm on the idea, and of course at this point it was still laden with DRM.

Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 1 May 2018 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 165: Is 'Free' Bad?

from the tech-and-society dept

In the last few years, a lot of the conversation around technology in general has shifted its focus from excitement about the obvious benefits to concern about its downfalls and side effects. It even feels like there's a general sense that "technology is bad for society" in a lot of places. This comes with a lot of associated myths, including the prominent idea that "if you're not paying for something, you're the product being sold" — an idea that is, at best a massive oversimplification. So on this week's podcast we're discussing the changing cultural attitudes towards technology, especially free online services and the many myths and misunderstandings about how they operate.

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 - 29 April 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the grapevine dept

This week, our first place comment on the insightful side comes from That One Guy, responding to some of the details of the murder charges against a cop who tasered a teen riding an ATV:

'This? This is why people don't trust you.'

The officer went on to state he had "no sympathy" for the dead teenager.

So, funny thing about sympathy, it's one of those 'reciprocal' things. If you make clear that you don't give a damn about the suffering and/or death of those around you, don't act surprised when no-one cares if you're the one in a tight spot.

A cop displaying this story of mindset should be fired immediately(psychiatric evaluation would probably be appropriate as well), as that's the sort of thing that can have serious negative impact on the relationship between the public and police. If the public in that area are aware that the police are willing to just shrug off a dead teen, the odds of them wanting anything to do with them are going to take a serious hit, and the odds of them being willing to help the police are going to be even lower.

Poisoning the relationship between yourself and those you interact with and might need the assistance of is an incredibly stupid move, and not something any boss, cop or otherwise, should let pass.

Another unidentified officer is captured saying, "Don't run from the State Police. You'll get fucked up."

Translation: "If you 'run' from the cops that is absolutely grounds to be murdered on the spot."

Because that is exactly the kind of person I want to see armed and given extensive cover by their employers and the legal system, someone who appears to have no problem with the idea that running away from a cop(which, given they only turned on the siren after the fatal shot was likely not the case here) is justification for on-the-spot execution.

Bessner has a history of using excessive force and has been reprimanded before for using his Taser inappropriately, including using the device on handcuffed suspects. The investigation into Bessner's conduct shows that over a four-year span ending in 2017, he had 40 use of force incidents, 17 pursuits and five car accidents.

Given he was still employed at the time of the murder I would have to assume that the number of punishments handed out for such a 'colorful' history that were more than a slap on the wrist could be counted on a single hand, likely a closed one.

For second place, we head to our post announcing our card game on Kickstarter, CIA: Collect It All (which is going strong, so hurry over to Kickstarter if you want a copy) where on commenter expressed surprise that these were "physical CARDS that I can't steal like a computer game". A response from ryuugami quickly corrected that idea:

You are confused. It's the exact opposite.

You can't "steal" a computer game (unless you find a boxed copy, of course), but you can steal a physical product such as these cards.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a response from Pixelation to the bizarre Washington Post editorial comparing expensive broadband bundles to hotel courtesy services:

What she doesn't say in her argument...

If a hotel started charging like that, we would go to the one down the street. Good luck with that kind of choice with cable/internet.

Next, we've got an anonymous comment summing up the glaring issue with Microsoft's stance on the computer recycler who is going to jail for manufacturing Windows recovery discs:

Software companies:

For years: "You don't buy the software! You buy a license to use it!"

Suddenly now: "NO WE DIDN'T MEAN THAT"

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is a question/suggestion from Jinxed about our Kickstarter card game:

Will there be a redacted version, making the challenge more difficult?

(Though that got lots of laughs, we are now actually examining the possibility of adding some redacted "wild cards" into the game mechanics!)

In second place, we've got a comment from hij about the computer recycler that Microsoft got convicted of a crime:

First Conversation With Cell Mate

cell mate: Welcome to hell. What are you in for?
Lundgren: Helping people.
cell mate: Me too. RIAA?
Lundgren: Microsoft.
cell mate: ah.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with a callback from Ninja in response to the student loan refinancing company that created a fake person to spread its message:

Newbies. Prenda would like to introduce you Alan Cooper.

And finally, we've got one more comment about our CIA card game (which — last shameless self promotion in this post, I promise — you should go back on Kickstarter), in which drewdad suggests a solid alternative name:

How did this not get named "Intelligence: The Gathering"?

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 28 April 2018 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: April 22nd - 28th

from the past-and-present dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, while Prenda was facing new court orders and getting angry (but still trying to pull its same old tricks, we also saw lots of DMCA and copyright abuse all over the place. Fox managed to take down Cory Doctorow's book about censorship with a bogus DMCA notice, a copyright troll was suing over the wrong movie, and Google's problematic handling of DMCA requests led to a bad takedown being even worse. There were a couple victories too, though, such as an appeals court overturning the verdict denying Richard Prince's fair use defence of his appropriation art, and a court rejecting a dentist's attempt to use copyright to censor negative reviews.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, an AT&T lobbyist was soothsaying about the supposed dire future of broadband capacity, Cablevision was caught blatantly lying to customers about the switch to digital TV, and Bill Gates was making some simply bizarre claims about open source software. News companies were considering hitting back against MLB's attempts to restrict reporters, while ABC was trying to do a similar thing by restricting coverage of the presidential debates. And Neil Gaiman was weighing in on J. K. Rowling's ongoing copyright crusade against a Harry Potter guidebook.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2003, the DOJ was stepping up to take the RIAA's side in its fight against Verizon, and a district court got on board and ruled in the RIAA's favor, while Penn State was succumbing to the industry's demands to help it crack down on student filesharing, and a whole bunch of record labels decided to sue the venture capitalists who backed Napster. We also got a look at the budding friendship between Hollywood and the FBI. In more positive news for the history of copyright, though, this was the week that Creative Commons went global.

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Posted on Techdirt - 25 April 2018 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 164: Getting News Without Social Media

from the the-pros-and-cons dept

Social media can be an extremely powerful tool for gathering, finding and sharing the news. It can also be... a bit of a disaster. It would be nice if such an important question had a simple answer, but they never do, do they? So this week, we're discussing and dissecting whether or not social media is "good" for the way we consume the news.

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 - 22 April 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the the-things-we-say dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is an anonymous commenter with a response to the Goldman Sachs analyst asking whether curing patients is a sustainable business model:

If curing patients is not a sustainable business model then perhaps health care should not be a for profit endeavor.

Obviously, treating the symptoms will be much more profitable than curing the disease, however - what kind of an asshole verbalizes such revolting thoughts. Everyone has dumbass ideas, but most refrain from embarrassing themselves with same.

In second place, we've got a comment from That Anonymous Coward in the discussion about his own recent Twitter suspension:

The easiest solution is to make people use the tools they have been given.

Dislike a word? Filter it.
Think that users a tool? Block them.

Reporting shouldn't be a weapon, it should be more like 911 when something serious is happening... not because McD's is out of fscking nuggets.

Because everyone has a different level of comfort its impossible to have a single approach, and in trying to do it you just piss both sides off a bit more each time.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got a comment about the MPAA's quiet shutdown of its legal movie search engine. We noted that to succeed the company must innovate, and Personanongrata spelled out in more detail why they feel like they don't have to:

Au contraire, MPAA can continue to hire lobbyists to shape the "law" in the industries favor while using the states security agencies (eg FBI, DHS) and courts to investigate industry related violations of the "law" at tax-payer expense.

MPAA can also retain swarms of attorneys to harass/intimidate/litigate.

Next, we've got an anonymous upgrade to our suggestion that pre-1972 sound recordings need to be unified under federal copyright law:

Or how about we just put them in the public domain now? If someone hasn't made money in 46 years or more, the next 46 years are unlikely to be much more profitable.

Over on the funny side, our first place comment comes from Roger Strong in response to our post about a copyright troll accusing Google, Popehat and BoingBoing of "black hat SEO":

This guy doesn't care about his reputation. What he's desperate for is attention and relevance. Before trying to trash him via SEO, remember the old saying:

"If only our tongues were made of glass. How much more careful we would be when we speak."

  • John F. Kennedy

In second place, we've got Capt ICE Enforcer with another response to the MPAA's search engine shutdown:

Not good

Great. Now I need to find a pirate site to show me where all the legal content is...

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with Pixelation applying some Apple branding to the company's leaked memo warning employees not to leak stuff:

Oh, the iRONY.

And finally, we've got an anonymous comment about the New Hampshire first amendment ruling that said it's okay to call a patent troll a patent troll:

Reminds me of the Brit who was haled into magistrate's court for calling a noblewoman "pig". The magistrate fined him.

"So that means I can't call a duchess "pig"?" he asked.

"No, you can't," the magistrate explained.

"But can I call a pig "duchess"?


So he strolled out of the courtroom, nodding to the plaintiff and saying "Good day, duchess."

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 21 April 2018 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: April 15th - 21st

from the it-happened dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, as the fallout for Prenda Law continued, we shifted our focus to the cybersecurity bill CISPA. While the White House was threatening to veto it if the privacy issues were not addressed, the House was rejecting all the amendments that might actually do so and its sponsors were ignoring the fact that it would render online privacy agreements meaningless. Sponsor Mike Rogers (whose wife, surprise surprise, stood to benefit hugely from the bill) made his infamous comment about the only opposition being 14-year-olds in their basement, prompting rapid and widespread backlash. We knew from history how the bill would be abused, and the only amendment that was being truly considered was pretty toothless. Then, of course, the bill was passed by the House, with 288 supporters.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, the threat to privacy was the DHS's domestic spy satellites — but more was happening on the copyright front, such as J. K. Rowling trying to use emotional appeals to block a Harry Potter guidebook and push silly legal theories like the idea that spoilers are copyright infringement. And Warner Bros. was threatening the filmmaker behind the movie Troll, which he was seeking to remake, because it happened to have a character named Harry Potter ten years before Rowling's books were written. Hollywood was starting to turn its attention to 3D movies as a way to revive cinemas, the recording industry was seeking more money because it deigned to let people transfer media between devices, and we took a look at how everyone overvalues content and undervalues services.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2003, it was the ten-year anniversary of the release of Mosaic, the first "major" web browser. The entertainment industry was succeeding in its crusade against piracy within various organizations, with CIO Magazine telling corporations to worry about the legal issues of employee downloading, and a bunch of Naval Academy students being disciplined for sharing music. Copyright fears were holding back books about hacking and internet security research and — in an early precursor to the sort of sharing that would be formalized by CISPA a decade later — the government was asking corporations to hand over details on their infrastructure and just trust the agencies to keep it safe.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 17 April 2018 @ 1:31pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 163: Teaching The Law Via Podcasts

from the learning-experience dept

Law isn't simple, and truly learning about it takes more than a few short primers or even an in-depth guide or two — which makes it the perfect topic to explore via the medium of podcasts. This week, we've got a pair of guests who are doing exactly that: Ken White of Popehat fame, who recently launched the Make No Law podcast about First Amendment issues, and Elizabeth Joh, co-host of the What Trump Can Teach Us About Constitutional Law podcast. Instead of picking their brains about the law itself, we've got an episode all about their experience using podcasts to teach people about legal issues.

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 - 15 April 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the say-something dept

This week, our first place comment on the insightful side is a long one from Stephen T. Stone, responding piece by piece to a comment that was packed full of errors about Section 230, the first amendment, and... everything:

You must expand on why and how wrong.

Well, if you insist…

NO LAW in the US has ANY other valid purpose than to serve the interests of We The People.

And the last time I checked, CDA 230 makes it possible for We The People to run and moderate websites and web-based services of all kinds without facing legal liability for anything posted by a third party to those sites/services.

Corporations having total and arbitrary control over the now-dominant speech outlets just simply CANNOT be a valid interpretation.

Dominant or not, corporations—and the people who ultimately control them—do have total and arbitrary control over those outlets for speech. Twitter, Facebook, and their ilk are not public utilities; being booted from Twitter for breaking their rules is no different than being kicked out of someone’s home for yelling about chemtrails. The right to free expression does not guarantee you forced usage of a privately-owned platform, regardless of who owns the platform.

"natural" persons now have a vital First Amendment Right on "platforms"

A person’s First Amendment rights do not extend to forcing a platform into hosting speech. The platform’s owners have every right to decide what speech it will and will not have associated with that platform. (Sidebar: The usage of SovCit lingo might be a clue that the poster is talking out of their ass.)

In order to be protected by Section 230, companies like Facebook should be “neutral public forums.” -- Simply right.

What Mr. SovCit fails to address here is the idea of “neutral public forum”. What does the phrase mean in this regard?

Masnick ALWAYS asserts that Corporation are to be de facto censors, and any "natural" persons can just try to find some tiny outlet on which to rant.

Well…yeah. Again: The First Amendment does not guarantee the access to or usage of a given platform. The government cannot block you from using a platform; the platform’s owners and administrators, on the other hand…

DE FACTO and DE JURE I have Right to comment here while within common law

What you have, Mr. SovCit, is a right to speak your mind. Techdirt admins are under no legal obligation to host your speech, regardless of your assertion of “common law”. If you know of any legal statute that says you can force Techdirt to host your speech, your argument would look a lot better if you could cite it. (SovCit lingo is not a legal statute.)

a business will have to make it truly private with code if don't want me to use it

Now I see the mistake: You confuse "privately-owned" with "private". A privately-owned platform can be both open to the public and capable of “censorship”/moderation that fits with the sociopolitical ideologies of that platform’s owners. A White supremacist forum owned by the Ku Klux Klan, for example, can be open to the public while still retaining its right to delete any posts that insult the concept of White supremacy, the Klan, and White people in general.

…how’s that, did I expand on the wrongness of that post well enough?

In second place, we've got an anonymous response to the suggestion that Netflix is on the same grounds as any other filmmaker at Cannes:

The rule change requiring cinematic release. After Netflix entered films last year, the French cinemas complained which led to the cinema release rule being introduced this year. So Netflix has reason to feel aggrieved at the change, which seems targeted at it.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a response to Anonymous Anonymous Coward to the perennial and incorrect idea that voting is a prerequisite to having an opinion on politics:

Whether one votes or not, whether one performs military service or not, whether one does or doesn't do something else that some pinhead thinks should be required, just being a citizen allows for all the freedoms the Constitution provides, including being able to speak their minds.

Even you snowflake.

Next, we've got a response from Jeff Green to the EU copyright proposal that would stop people from using Creative Commons on their own work:

The proposal strikes at another "fundamental right". If intellectual property is property, which is of course debatable, the law should not ban its owner from giving it away freely.

I would be more than a little upset if the EU were to tell me that I wasn't allowed to give my money away to a charity or a friend.

Over on the funny side, we head to our post about Ted Cruz's many muddled ideas about online platforms, in which we called the Fairness Doctrine "incredibly silly". That garnered a pair of rebuttals, one reasonable and the other... not. Thad's reply to the latter won first place for funny:

What a COMPLETELY ignorant thing to say. If you had been around, you would have KNOWN how effective it was. There would BE no Fox News propaganda if it were still here.

Kind of ironic to call somebody ignorant when you don't seem to realize that the Fairness Doctrine only applied to broadcast TV, not cable.

This site is about to go off my RSS feed page, now that I know what a simpleton is in charge.

Stop, don't, come back.

In second place, we've got an excellent reply from hij to our post about the deranged and exaggerated way people think about Facebook:

So, you are saying our relationship status with Facebook should be listed as "complicated?"

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with another reply to Netflix leaving Cannes, this time from Anonymous Anonymous Coward:

It sure seems like Cannes is working at its own exercise of the right to be forgotten.

And finally, we have an anonymous comment responding to the headline of our post about Trump signing SESTA/FOSTA into law:

Despite Repeated Evidence That It's Unnecessary And Damaging, Trump remains president.

Fixed that headline for you, Mike.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 14 April 2018 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: April 8th - 14th

from the the-way-it-was dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, Ken White returned to fill us in on the massive fallout from Prenda's hearing (as predicted), while the folks involved scrambled to get out of trouble — often by throwing each other under the bus. Paul Hansmeier played innocent, as did John Steele in his filing, both of them trying to turn the blame onto Brett Gibbs, who hit back with his own defence. And while Prenda and Paul Duffy fought hard to block any new evidence from being brought into the case, Judge Wright was having none of that and accepted new evidence from Morgan Pietz.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, we found out that e-voting problems were in some cases even worse than people thought, but while Congress was failing to do anything about it, some states were hard at work on fixing things. Meanwhile, we got a pair of examples of people using litigation instead of, you know, actually competing: ConnectU's settlement with Facebook, and Mattel/Hasbro's ongoing attempts to get rid of Scrabulous. And we had a big, long post looking at the deluge of amicus briefs in the Supreme Court's critical Bilski case on software and business model patents.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2003, there was lots of talk about spam, including the legal landmine for employers created by porn spam, and the overall fact that the battle against spam was not going well. One spammer tried to sue an anti-spammer for signing him up for a bunch of spam via his publicly posted business address, but the court very quickly smacked that down. And then the Senate introduced an anti-spam bill, though there was no reason to believe it would accomplish much.

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Posted on Techdirt - 10 April 2018 @ 3:29pm

Ted Cruz Gets Section 230 All Wrong, While Zuck Claims He's Not Familiar With It

from the nobody-looks-great dept

There's plenty to say about Mark Zuckerberg's first congressional hearing this week (like Senator Thune's thinly-veiled threat of more SESTA-like laws, or Senator Cantwell's strange, unfocused tangent about Palantir and WhatsApp) but one exchange stands out as so utterly ridiculous that it bears special note.

Senator Cruz used his time in an attempt to shift the focus onto Republican fears that Facebook is a liberal propaganda machine, and specifically tried to box Zuckerberg into declaring whether Facebook was "a first amendment speaker expressing your views", or a "neutral public forum" — and then explicitly claimed that being the latter is a prerequisite of CDA Section 230 protections.

This is blatantly untrue, as that language appears nowhere in the law, and Section 230 is (as we've reiterated many times during the SESTA debate) designed to encourage moderation. But Zuckerberg's reply was, well, absurd:

"I'm not that familiar with the specific legal language of the law that you speak to, so I would need to follow up with you on that."

That's the CEO of Facebook — a service that not only relies on Section 230 to a staggering degree, but just played a major role in developing and supporting a law that drastically alters it — professing ignorance on the letter of the law, as though it were some obscure statute that only his legal department would be fully familiar with.


Now, to be fair, Cruz was trying to box him in with a loaded and ultimately meaningless question — and when you're being grilled by a panel of Senators, you've got to be pretty choosy about if and when you're actually going to say "you are incorrect, that's not true" in response to one of their questions. But... could anyone in that room possibly believe him? Or any of the rest of us? SESTA — which, again, Facebook played a major role in — had already been mentioned several times during the hearing, even alongside expressions of appreciation that Facebook helped refine and ultimately supported the bill. Even if we somehow contorted our brains to believe he is genuinely unfamiliar with the language (again: uh-huh...) that would just paint an equally terrible picture in which Zuck has been only vaguely aware of his company's policy positions all year.

So, that was weird. Senate hearings like this are, of course, mostly theatrical — but that clunky bit of dialogue certainly eviscerated any remaining suspension of disbelief.

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