Leigh Beadon’s Techdirt Profile


About Leigh BeadonTechdirt Insider

Leigh Beadon, formerly Marcus Carab, now a full-time member of the Techdirt team.

Located in Toronto, Ontario.



Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 17 January 2017 @ 1:15pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 105: The CES 2017 Post-Mortem

from the let's-do-it-again dept

Last year, we got a lot of positive feedback on our episode taking a look at the Consumer Electronics Show with the help of journalist Rob Pegoraro. So this year, we've brought Rob back for another look at the highs and lows of CES.

Also: we're getting ready to record our first exclusive patron-only episode for our supporters on Patreon, which means it's time for those who backed us at a level of $5/month or more to submit questions for the Q&A portion. If you're one of those patrons, you can now find a post calling for questions in our Patreon feed and submit yours in the comments. If you're not, but you want to submit a question or just get access to the episode once it's released, now's the time to support the Techdirt Podcast on Patreon.

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 January 2017 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the yakkety-yak dept

We've got a double winner this week, with two comments from That One Guy taking first and second place on the insightful side. First up, it's a response to the news of farmers facing 12 years in prison for selling seeds:

'Buy from us or go to jail, your choice'

So if they use the same seeds they always have, they face insane fines and jail time. Or they can buy from scum like Monsanto, every single year, if they want to be able to sell anything, which is going to take a hefty chunk out of any profits they might have been able to make, and give said scum huge 'negotiating' ability since the farmers either buy from them, buy from them, or buy from them.

Oh yeah, this is absolutely going to help the farmers... right into bankruptcy. That it came as a result of 'If you want help, you get it on our terms' that essentially handed over the farming industry to private companies just makes it even more disgusting.

Next, it's a response to the congressman who took it upon himself to remove some police-critical artwork:

Head, meet desk
Why do otherwise reasoned individuals-despite evidence before them to the contrary-become reflexively critical of police?
Pretty sure it's the 'evidence before them' that causes people to be 'reflexively critical of the police', in particular the police unions which are 'reflexively defensive of police', no matter what they do, and making it clear that they prioritize their own over the public.
How can a member of Congress jump to the twisted conclusion that it is okay to hang a painting that adds to the divide in our country and attacks law enforcement?
Likewise, if he wants to talk about the 'divide' between the police and the public he needs only look into a mirror, and his beloved boys and girls in blue who decided to treat the public as the enemy and act accordingly. Or the legal system which bends over backwards to give them 'rights' that members of the public could only dream of.
Public safety requires a strong two-way partnership.
In which case maybe tell the police to stop treating the public as the enemy and stop defending the absolute worst among you. Just a suggestion. If the public doesn't feel like it can trust the police a 'partnership' isn't going to happen.
At a time of our country facing rising crime...
The FBI would beg to differ, but hey, what do they know right?
... we need to make it clear that depictions of law enforcement officers as pigs in our Nation's Capital are not acceptable.
Because nothing supports a 'strong, two-way partnership' like saying one side isn't allowed to be criticized.
The dedicated men and women who put on a uniform daily, who serve to protect our communities, deserve all the support the community can possibly provide.
They get as much support as they earn. If that's not 'enough' then it's on them to demonstrate that they deserve more.

Meanwhile, we always knew the "fake news" freakout would be most powerful as a tool for suppressing unwanted truths, and this week we got a good example when the president of the National police Union dubbed concerns over asset forfeiture to be exactly that: fake news. Our first editor's choice comment on the insightful side comes from That Anonymous Coward in the form of some extrapolation:

I'm sure that the cases of cops raping minors is just fake news.
I'm sure that the cases of cops getting witnesses killed is just fake news.
I'm sure that the cases of cops stealing from cop charities is just fake news.
I'm sure that the cases of cops covering up & lying in shootings is just fake news.
I'm sure that the cases of cops beating handcuffed people is just fake news.
I'm sure that the cases of cops running black sites is just fake news.
I'm sure that the cases of cops claiming unarmed suspects made them fear for their lives is just fake news.

Only thing I think I am sure of is this guy is a liar, who is issuing statements devoid of fact to score points with a barrel that defends its bad apples.

Next, we've got Thad with an excellent summation of another freakout — "Russia hacked the election":

Thanks, Mike; I think this is a pretty good rundown of the central dilemma here, which is that (1) Russia is probably responsible for the attacks but (2) the intelligence agencies have done a piss-poor job of providing evidence of that, and a reasonable person should not accept something as true just because the CIA said so.

(With a side dish of (3) saying that Russia attempted to influence the election is not the same as saying Trump won because of Russia, and (4) we should evaluate stories like this based on facts and not based on our own political leanings.)

Over on the funny side, we start out on our post about a woman's problematic lawsuit targeting search engines over revenge porn results. Mattshow won first place by noticing an especially bizarre part of the filing:

What about the part of the filing where it states that

"21. That at all times hereinafter mentioned, GOOGLE was and still is a web search engine operated by MICROSOFT."

Microsoft must have been thrilled to learn this!

For second place, we head to our post about Donald Trump's latest attacks on press freedom, where some discussion of his pick of Rudy Giuliani to head up cybersecurity efforts was discussed, and Roger Strong offered the only viable defense of his bona fides:

Seems plausible. Judging by his claims over the last couple years he's obviously an expert in virtual reality.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out by giving Roger Strong one more nod, since that wasn't the only Giuliani quip he had up his sleeve:

In His Defense...

I'm sure that Rudy Giuliani's judgement on cybersecurity is every bit as good as his judgement on who should be made President.

And finally, in response to Verizon's argument that nobody really needs unlimited data, TechDescartes played a classic substitution game:

Find and Replace

"So, while unlimited air may sound attractive, there is no practical effect of oxygen limits on the majority of users. Understanding this should bring rationality to a discussion that is often held on a “gut feeling” level. Keeping adequate partial pressure of oxygen while allowing all users to share the limited commodity we call air is the fair way to deal with breathing. And ultimately, that is what is beneficial for air-breathing humans."

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 14 January 2017 @ 12:00pm

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

from the the-gloaming dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2012, plans were coming into place for the SOPA blackout that would happen the following Wednesday. Reddit was the first to announce a site-wide blackout, and the next day they were joined by the Cheezburger network of sites. Then came the announcement that would really shift the tides: Jimmy Wales stated that he was in favor of the blackout, and asked the Wikipedia community to decide.

Meanwhile, it was a big week for SOPA/PIPA supporters being caught infringing content themselves. CreativeAmerica appeared to crib much of a pro-SOPA mass email from Public Knowledge's anti-SOPA equivalent, then offered a denial that inadvertently underlined exactly why SOPA was so dangerous. CreativeAmerica also teamed up with the MPAA to place a pro-SOPA opinion piece in the Salt Lake Tribune, which turned out to be a bit of a remix from the text past lobbying efforts. And then SOPA sponsor Lamar Smith himself was discovered to be violating the Creative Commons license of a photo used on his website.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2007, the big news (especially in retrospect) was Tuesday's unveiling of the Apple iPhone after a flurry of rumors and hype. There was a hiccup when it turned out Apple hadn't yet secured the rights to the name, but as we know the ascendance of the device was unstoppable. There was also a weak attempt to use the iPhone as an example of why patents are necessary, which was much less convincing than the new study showing no link between patents and innovation.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2002, long before the days of SOPA, the DMCA was still a source of real debate — with attacks on the anti-circumvention provisions still showing promise. Apple was fresh off a somewhat-less-revolutionary announcement of a new iMac, and an early leak debacle showed just how tight a relationship they seemed to have with the press. Satellite radio was showing promise, SMS was failing in the US for reasons that were getting boring to hear about, online pizza delivery was becoming a competitive space, and Taser was working on its first consumer model.

One-Hundred And Twenty-Three Years Ago

We've used the example of telephone switchboards many times in talking about how job-destroying innovation can often yield an explosion of unexpected new jobs, and this week we mark a turning point in that piece of history: on January 9th, 1894 the first battery-operated telephone switchboard was installed in Lexington, Massachusetts by the New England Telephone And Telegraph Company.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 10 January 2017 @ 1:15pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 104: The Pros And Cons Of Pros And Cons

from the butting-heads dept

On the surface, the idea of "pro and con" debates seems like a good way to ensure an issue is fully explored. But is it truly a productive approach? This week, we debate the nature of debates and possible alternatives to the adversarial approach.

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. If you're a fan, consider supporting us on Patreon to access special bonus episodes.

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Posted on Techdirt - 8 January 2017 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the 2017-starts-rolling dept

This week, the RIAA was pushing a lot of nonsense about the "value gap" in music and the need for laws to protect its business. Nasch won first place for insightful by reading things through a more sensible lens:

The funny thing is most of it makes perfect sense if you interpret it rationally rather than in RIAA crazy-talk.

Issues like the “value gap”

The gap between what the labels take and what artists get

and obligations of intermediaries will continue to dominate the legal landscape.

Intermediaries meaning record labels - they're between artists and audiences.

Ideally, the Byzantine legal structure today would give way to a system where creators are fairly compensated and competitors are on equal footing.

Sounds great!

Those who have an interest in music could come together to figure out solutions.

You don't want a Byzantine legal structure? Go back to the original 1790 copyright law. Simple.

While litigation can be an important tool, it often takes a long time and the results are unclear.

This is harder to square. I haven't seen much evidence that litigation is ever an important tool in this business, but the second part is certainly right.

Solutions between business and industry partners can clear a path through thorny legal issues.

Could be.

The combination of partnership and technology can go a long way to ensuring a healthy music ecosystem.

Absolutely agree.

In second place, we've got a second response to the RIAA — this time from DannyB, offering a simple distillation of the real question and its real answer:

Q. How can a musical creator be fairly compensated?
A. Don't sign up with an RIAA record label!

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we'll start out with one last tidbit from that post — this time another interpretation of the RIAA's words, but one that's a little less generous and sadly much more accurate:

"... competitors are on equal footing... "

Translation... "We want our business model protected by law, so we can destroy any competition."

Over on the funny side, we start out with the story of a man's Smart TV getting hit by ransomware, where one commenter wondered if that doesn't call the whole "Smart" label into question. Roger Strong won first place for funny with a truly excellent response:

Maybe it decided it was so smart that it didn't have to listen to security briefings.

In second place, we've got a comment from our round-up of 2016's top comments, where we were randomly yelled at to shut down this "stupif" blog, prompting an anonymous response:

Protip, when insulting people make sure to spell correctly or you will look stupif.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we've got a pair of quick quips in response to Sarah Palin's recent about-face on Edward Snowden. The headline in full was "Sarah Palin Now Thinks Julian Assange Is A Really Nifty Guy", the wording of which understandably tripped up David:

Sarah Palin Now Thinks

You almost had me there.

Finally, we've got a silly and pleasing anonymous gag:

I can see Russian hackers from her house.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 7 January 2017 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: January 1st - 7th

from the new-years dept

Five Years Ago

This week we finally move from 2011 to 2012, but as far as the news goes little has changed: it was all SOPA, all the time. There was growing confusion around which companies actually supported the bill, with some like EA trying to avoid taking a position altogether and others, like some game developers, clashing with their own industry groups like the ESA over how to respond. The ESA was a strong supporter of the bill, and initially had the firm backing of Capcom — but Capcom soon tried to back down and worm its way out of the spotlight. Grover Norquist, a huge supporter of strong copyright law, also tried to get some distance from SOPA and PIPA. Al Gore came out with some thorough and strong opposition, and Senator Ron Wyden was planning a filibuster.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2007, everyone and their brother was jumping on the MySpace-clone bandwagon, with Disney launching a limited and unimpressive platform and even Toyota announcing plans to do the same. A tech company somehow managed to get a patent that basically covered all digital downloads and proceeded to sue everyone, while the RIAA was fighting its own fight to keep its wholesale digital download prices on the hush-hush. The movie industry was still flailing around with even more DRM and an unwelcome addition to the high-def DVD format wars, and we saw the latest crazy attack on YouTube in the form of an accusation that the site aids and abets vandalism.

Fifteen Years Ago

Speaking of DRM, this week in 2002 one congressional representative pointed out that it is probably illegal under a 1992 law — but I guess that idea didn't fly. There was lots of buzz about the future of "interactive television" but that idea didn't exactly soar either. The beginning of 2002 also marked one of only two times in history so far that the number of domain names online had gone down (presumably after cybersquatters and domain prospectors abandoned their domains after the tech bubble burst). And though the technology was still in its early days, folks were beginning to worry about facial recognition software.

Sixty-Three Years Ago

But now here's a real example of technology in its early days. I'm rarely surprised to find out that an area of tech has been around longer than I thought and than you might expect, but I was genuinely surprised to learn that all the way back on January 7th, 1954, IBM used one of its mainframe computers to do the first demonstration of computer translation, taking Russian sentences encoded to punch cards and producing print-outs of English translations. Of course the system was quite simple, the sentences carefully chosen, and the scope extremely limited — but it worked, and placed the first example of such technology much earlier in the history books than I would have guessed.

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Posted on Techdirt - 1 January 2017 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of 2016 At Techdirt

from the a-whole-year-of-comments dept

Happy new year, everyone! It's time for our annual look back at the highest-scoring comments of the year, and this time around we've got first and second place winners in both categories then a special third-place entry. (If you want to know this week's winners, here's first and second place for insightful, and first and second place for funny.)

Most Insightful Comments Of The Year

For 2016's first place winner on the insightful side, we only have to head back to September, when terrorism scares in New York and New Jersey prompted Hillary Clinton to call on Silicon Valley, once again, to nerd harder and find a way to stop radicalization. Norahc racked up the votes with a smart rebuke:

Nerd Harder?

Perhaps if in her role as Secretary of State, she had "diplomat harder" we might have found a way to prevent the radicalization of people. Then again, that would entail people like her (including the other candidate) having to do real work instead of demanding other people work harder.

Next, we go all the way back to February, where we have the only one of this year's winners who appeared on last year's list. That One Guy took first place for insightful last year, and this year he made it to second place with a response to the latest (at the time) claim that people don't need faster broadband:

"No one needs that much, no one will ever use it!"

Saying that no one needs a 25 Mbps connection because a single user/service won't use it completely is rather like saying that there's no point in building multi-lane roads or highways because a single car will never be able to take up more than one lane.

Funniest Comments Of The Year

At this point, there's a well-established tradition among commenters here at Techdirt that most people reading this post are probably familiar with: whenever we are critical of Google (which is not too infrequent an occurrence) at least one commenter must sarcastically chime in to accuse us of being Google "shills", in order to highlight the absurdity of the small community of trollish commenters who make the same claim sincerely. It happened many times this year, and one such time — after we expressed some serious irritation at a major fail by Google's link shortening service in September — gave JD the chance to win funniest comment of 2016:

Just more proof ...

Clearly this is just more proof that Mike Masnick is a Google shill.

Many people have bemoaned the celebrity deaths of 2016, to the point that it's getting pretty tiresome — but there's no denying that the loss of David Bowie back in January hit plenty of people pretty hard. Amidst the calls for radio stations to do all-day tributes and the like, we took a moment to point out that US copyright law generally makes such a thing impossible. Our second place comment on the funny side comes from an anonymous commenter who, in thinking even further about the bigger picture, beautifully highlighted the extent to which so much of copyright law just makes no sense:

The saddest thing is that Bowie only has an incentive to write new music for 70 more years.

The Special Third Place But Kind Of First Place Winner!

In last year's annual roundup, we highlighted the top three comments on each side plus an extra comment that had only ranked on the combined votes scale but not in either category. This year, something a little different happened: one comment came in at third place on both the funny and insightful sides, and in doing so also came in first place on the combined votes leaderboard. It came way back in January, when cryptographer David Chaum announced worrying plans to help build a backdoored encryption system to please agencies like the FBI, which would supposedly be kept safe by being controlled by nine server administrators around the world. A-Non Mouse spotted a tiny detail that was equal parts funny and insightful:

Who holds the keys?

"...nine server administrators..."

Let me put that another way:


Amusingly, another commenter immediately replied to ask: "Is this the best comment of 2016?" Well, according to the combined votes for funny and insightful, it was indeed.

That's all for this week year, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 26 December 2016 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the christmas-edition dept

This week, we saw a disturbing argument from a top US surveillance lawyer that technology has made the Fourth Amendment "outdated". One anonymous commenter won first place for insightful by refuting this as directly and bluntly as possible:

The 4th amendment doesn't become null and void just because you have an easier time violating it.

In second place, we've got a response to the crazy South Carolina anti-porn bill that would mandate filters on all devices and charge people $20 to remove them. Machin Shin wondered how exactly that would play out:

Maybe it was his intention all along "But any manufacturer or seller that didn't want to install the system could pay a $20 opt-out fee for each device sold."

To me that pretty much says "$20 tax is being added to every internet device" because charging an extra $20 is a lot easier and cheaper than jumping over the impossibly high bar set for filtering the entire internet with 100% accuracy.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a comment from Jeremy Lyman on the subject of the monopolies and anti-net-neutrality actions of the big ISPs:

If other video providers don't like it, they're all free to build national wireless data distribution networks and unfairly leverage them as they see fit.

Oh, wait. No. No, they're not allowed to do that at all.

Next, after a tiresome and daft commenter made some simplistic and binary assertions about regulation and capitalism, Chuck responded with a thorough and measured response on the subject:

I'm just going to go ahead and say this plain: I am not most Techdirt readers, but actually, YES, I do hate Capitalism and I am pro-regulation.

Now, to be fair, I actually don't hate Capitalism. Capitalism, though, is like faith. If you have BLIND faith, that's a bad thing. It shows a complete and total lack of understanding of the nature of humanity. Faith, giuded by evidence and reason, can be a good thing. Like faith that the president won't start a nuclear war tomorrow. Sure, he totally could, but I have faith, based on the fact that he hasn't for 8 years and his policies are all diplomacy-first, that he won't.

BLIND Capitalism is no better. "Greed is good" may be a joke to most people, but to an alarmingly large part of the richest, both here in the US and the world abroad, these are words to live by. Capitalism is a system of risk and reward, and that's actually a BAD thing. It actively encourages people who can afford to risk their money to do so, and rewards them with even more money. The people who have to gamble the clothes on their back and the food in their bellies in order to "make it" lose more often than they win, and usually because the people who are already established can afford to shut them down with very little risk to themselves.

Moderated, tampered Capitalism can be very good. A system like the Nordic Model - which is neither free-market Capitalism nor outright Socialism - is the ideal system. It is not a difficult system to find fault in, but then neither is ours, and the difference is their elderly are more well cared for, their children are smarter, and they are overall happier people. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as it were.

And yes, I am pro-regulation. I am actually pro-unionization. Unions and regulations fill the same role, which is to keep corporations in check. Without one or the other, companies have zero logical reason not to engage in the worst possible behavior in search of the almighty dollar. We don't need both unions and regulation, but since American is (now) one of the least unionized nations on earth, I'm happier with more regulation than neither. Unions are still the ideal solution, but regulation is a decent stand-in.

So yes, in a certain sense, I hate Capitalism and I am pro-regulation, if you want to be overly simplistic about it, but like most things, it's more complicated than that. In truth, I love workers and I am pro-union. But that may be such an unimportant nuance (to you) that you can't see the difference.

There is still a difference, though.

Over on the funny side, our first place comment comes in response to a dental firm that attempted to route around safe harbors and take down bad reviews by abusing trademark law (only to be SLAPPed down). One anonymous commenter posited what reviews might look like under such a regime:

Dr. [Name] did my [dental procedure]. Both Dr. [Name] and his assistant Miss [hygienist] were courteous and the [dental procedure] was done in [time period]. I have recommended him to both [family member's name], my [family member's relation] and to [coworker's name].

In second place, we've got another response to the South Carolina anti-porn bill, this time from a confused anonymous commenter:

But I was told it was democrats who wanted to regulate every aspect of our lives!

For editor's choice on the funny side, we remain on that post, where one commenter suggested that solving the issue might be as easy as re-installing Windows 10 to remove bloatware. David saw a contradiction in that idea:

"Getting rid of bloatware" does not jibe with "re-install Windows 10".

And finally, we've got one more response to the question of regulation and capitalism, but this time it's That One Guy taking a slightly more sarcastic approach:

Absolutely right, there are only two options, an all Encompassing Government with All the Power and No Government At All!

No middle grounds!

You're either for everything the government does(and you're wrong), or anything the government does is wrong and to be fought at all costs. No exceptions and no grey in between, it's literally impossible to think that some things the government does is good and some things are bad, and the first should be encouraged while the second should be called out and fought against.

Entertaining venting aside, when you want to discus what people actually say, in the articles and in the comments, you might find people willing to listen instead of just brushing you aside as dishonest.

That's all for this week, folks!

Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt - 24 December 2016 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: December 18th - 24th

from the christmas-eve dept

Five Years Ago

The anti-SOPA momentum continued to gain steam at an exponential rate this week in 2011. Both polls and wildly successful petitions were demonstrating that Americans across the political and demographic spectrum were opposed to the bill. And the list of high-profile voices realizing SOPA was a bad thing was growing by the day: the cable news networks figured it out, a CBS opinion piece went as far as calling for MPAA boss Chris Dodd to be fired over his position on it, and a Reuters columnist explained why SOPA is a cure worse than the disease. Long-retired political cartoonist David Rees picked up his pen again to oppose the bill, MythBusters' Adam Savage explained why it could destroy the internet, and Ashton Kutcher spoke up as well. Scribd launched a creative and aggressive campaign to educate its users, and all sorts of major internet infrastructure players started coming out of the woodwork to oppose SOPA. And, in a major surprise, the Heritage Foundation broke its pattern of support for the MPAA and opposed the bill too.

Moreover, the bill's supposed "support" was crumbling. Gibson Guitars and several other companies that were listed as "in favor" stated that they said no such thing. Law firms started removing their names from those lists too. And, in a high-profile example of successful public pressure, GoDaddy reversed its position and withdrew all support.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2006, the recording industry was pursuing its more traditional strategy of just suing everyone. The RIAA dropped a case against a mom because it couldn't draw blood from a stone, and turned its attentions to her kids, while a bunch of record labels ganged up and sued Allofmp3.com despite already pressuring Russia into going after the site for them. Meanwhile, with even folks like Roger Ebert calling for eliminating movie release windows and giving customers more options, there was a mixed response from the industry: some folks, like Xbox, were offering actually good video download services, while others like Morgan Freeman (for some reason) were offering crappy competition.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2001, Universal began releasing copy protected CDs in the US to block people from ripping MP3s (or... playing the CDs in Mac computers or DVD players, because that's how you make a good product). A few days later, of course, the protection was easily cracked. Meanwhile, much like 2006's crappy Hollywood-built online movie services, the record industry's new MusicNet and PressPlay offerings were by all accounts pretty terrible, which might explain why music listeners across the board were mostly ignoring them. At least we also saw the seeds of some more successful digital innovations too: people began to notice that Netflix was a strong survivor of the dot-com bubble burst, and rumblings were afoot about selling games for mobile devices.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 20 December 2016 @ 1:00pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 103: Is The Internet Of Things The Future, A Total Mess, Or Both?

from the listen-and-learn dept

The internet of things has been taking plenty of flak ever since the first time someone floated the idea of a connected fridge or some-such in the 90s — but despite the knee-jerk instinct to scoff at such things, the truth is there are all sorts of interesting possibilities emerging from all these "pointless" connected devices. Of course, there are also some serious security concerns... This week, we discuss the IoT and what the ever-increasing presence of such devices means for the future.

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. If you're a fan, consider supporting us on Patreon to access special bonus episodes.

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Posted on Techdirt - 18 December 2016 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the double-funny dept

This week, the recording industry called on Donald Trump to protect and enhance their beloved copyright, and in response came both of our winning comments on the insightful side. In first place, we've got Jeremy Lyman responding to their talk about "rights guaranteed in the Constitution to those who, with the genius of their mind, form the cultural identity of our great nation":

Careful, that's dangerously close to spilling the beans about copyright's actual goal of populating the Public Domain!

When you guys want to have a serious conversation about rolling back the length of copyrights and how to actually get some works to enter the Public Domain, I'll agree to start talking about how to ensure your farce of a "culture producing" monopoly is actually respected. Hint: they're related.

In second place, we've got PaulT expanding on Mike's comment in the post that whining about not getting fair compensation is just complaining about the price set by the market:

It's worth being even clearer before the usual gaggle of fools comes in and whines about piracy not being part of the fair market.

There are numerous strands of pricing that the actual free market has set. These range from a fairly high level for limited edition physical goods, to an extremely low per-play level for streaming access. These are the things that are being talked about, they just happen to compete with piracy, as has every format since recorded media could be made by the general public.

What the record companies are whining about is that the free market means that they cannot charge a price that's too high. You can't charge the same for a bog standard CD or album download as you can for a special edition vinyl. You can't charge the same for a digital single as you would for a CD single. You can't charge the same for a single stream as you would for a purchase.

The other factor is that the market trends toward the lower priced items, as with anything that's become a commodity (and yes, pop music is essentially a commodity). So, as the market naturally trends away from people buying numerous albums over and over in different formats and toward people paying to rent single tracks from any device at any time, so the profit margins have disappeared. They want to charge $20 for an album of songs, but the average consumer is only willing to pay $10/month for a Spotify subscription, if that.

"Fair compensation" means to them that you pay what some would have paid in the 90s when they controlled virtually all of the production, distribution and marketing channels, and they want that to return. Piracy's just a good excuse.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we'll go ahead and look at two other great comments on that post. First, it's Mitch Stoltz dutifully underlining the flaw in the constitutional claims:

Every time the entertainment cartel says that copyright is "guaranteed in the Constitution" or somesuch, let's remind them that the Constitution gives Congress the authority to pass copyright laws, which is not the same thing. The Constitution also gives Congress the authority to grant letters of marque, but that doesn't guarantee me the right to be a privateer.

Next, we've got an anonymous commenter honing in on yet another piece of the industry's language — its demands for a free market via... the market restriction of copyright:

Free market? On music? One of the few things where there is a strictly enforced monopoly? 'Free Market Government Enforced Monopoly': oxymoron of the decade.

Over on the funny side, we've got a double winner, with Roger Strong taking both first and second place! We start out on the story of PwC responding to some researchers who found a security vulnerability with a legal threat and a tone-deaf statement about how "unlikely" the "hypothetical" exploit was, where he took first place by expertly parodying their statement by changing a few key words:

The "Rebel Alliance" did not receive authorized access or a license to use the Death Star plans. The plans are not publicly available and are only properly accessed by those with licenses, such as Empire military staff working with trained Empire engineers," said the spokesperson. "The bulletin describes a hypothetical and unlikely scenario regarding a two-meter thermal exhaust port -- we are not aware of any situation in which it has materialized," the spokespersons said.

Then, we head to the story of Verizon's short-lived assertion that it would not push out a new update designed to brick faulty Galaxy Note 7 phones, because they didn't want "to make it impossible to contact family, first responders or medical professionals in an emergency situation" in the holiday travel season. Roger was in fine form here as well:

Or any other vital assistance.
(Note 7 bursts into flames)
"The beacons are lit! Gondor calls for aid!"

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out on our story about the UK's new and ridiculous anti-porn laws that can be used to kill social media accounts, where one anonymous commenter served up a sublimely childish and amusing jab:

Block internet access to the parliament; it's full of dicks and boobs.

And finally, we've got Donnicton taking a moment to celebrate Team Prenda finally getting their comeuppance just in time for the holidays:

I'm going to be telling my family to return all of the Christmas presents they've bought for me, because this is already the best Christmas I've ever had.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 17 December 2016 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: December 11th - 17th

from the a-look-back dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2011, everyone from Rupert Murdoch and Chris Dodd to sixteen former Judiciary Committee staff who had become entertainment industry lobbyists (hello revolving door!) was pushing to get SOPA passed. At the same time, Wikipedia was explaining in great detail why SOPA hurts the internet, and we heard the first rumblings of the now-famous Wikipedia blackout in protest.

Meanwhile, some creators were smartly focused on being creative and finding new business models: this was the week that Louis CK launched direct-to-fan sales of his latest special via his website, and set the comedy world on fire with its staggering success.

Oh, and Mike published his 40,000th post on Techdirt!

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2006, people were beginning to slowly understand the fact that the iTunes store was just a loss-leader to help boost iPod sales, though several analysts were not quite getting the point. Other stores like eMusic were showing the power of DRM-free music but the record labels weren't listening, and even though folks like Bill Gates seemed to understand the dangers of DRM, they weren't doing anything about it. Meanwhile, the sex.com debacle continued, the Netherlands blazed a trail in switching from analog to digital TV broadcasts, and laptops were beginning their ascent as desktops began their decline.

Fifteen Years Ago

Five years earlier in 2001, some were already calling for the death of the PC industry and its replacement by the next big thing (though that may have been somewhat overstated). NY Times Magazine took a great look at the year's most interesting ideas, though perhaps the most problematic post-9/11 trend was the obsession with finding silver-bullet technological solutions to big problems. Tech was getting smarter, with some of the first forays into music recognition technology and the military suddenly becoming interested in the role of robots in war. (And today we have ContentID and drone strikes...) In slightly more pleasant forms of progress, Apple was realizing that Macs need more games (a problem that is a lot closer to solved today).

One-Hundred And Fifteen Years Ago

Just a brief historical nod this week: it was on December 12th, 1901 that the first transatlantic wireless transmission was received by Guglielmo Marconi at Signal Hill in St. John's, Newfoundland.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 13 December 2016 @ 1:00pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 102: Can We Really Colonize Mars?

from the where-no-one-has-gone-before dept

Elon Musk got plenty of attention recently for announcing his plans to colonize Mars. But that's not exactly a new idea -- so we wondered if it was really a different, exciting and realistic plan, or just a reiteration of the standard far-flung dream. To answer that question, we brought in three experts: Amy Shira Teitel (a space and flight historian and creator of YouTube's Vintage Space videos), JPL's Fred Calef (a Mars geologist and "keeper of the maps" for Mars rovers), and the New Space Intiative's Tanya Harrison (who worked on Curiosity and several other Mars missions). The result was a fascinating discussion about Mars and whether or not we're actually headed there any time soon.

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. If you're a fan, consider supporting us on Patreon to access special bonus episodes.

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Posted on Techdirt - 11 December 2016 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the sticks-and-stones dept

This week, after we took a look at the latest assault on the public domain (this time coming from CBS), TheResidentSkeptic won the vote for most insightful comment of the week with his definition of the public domain:

The Public Domain exists for content industries to pull stories, characters, and inspiration FROM.

It does NOT exist for their stuff to go TO. Ever.

/ well.. that's what *they* believe, anyway /

Meanwhile, there was also an attack on fair use underway, this time from a short-sighted newspaper association. One anonymous commenter won second place for insightful by responding to the idea that "fair use should be reoriented toward its original meaning":

Ok. Just as soon as "Copyright" is reoriented towards it's original meaning. Stowe vs. Thomas seems like a good starting point.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with an anonymous comment summing up many of the failings of the FBI:

The FBI have become witch hinters, and like all witch hunters they never make a mistake when they accuse someone of being a witch.

Next, while we have no plans to expand comment voting at the moment, we can at least use the editor's choice to highlight the occasional suggestion, such as this anonymous response to a comment bemoaning the ever-growing length of copyright:

It always bugs me that insightful and funny are our only two positive options. Your comment is both of those, but also depressingly accurate. We need a sadface of some sort. Not for shit we disagree with, but for shit we wished we didn't.

Over on the funny side, both our top comments come in response to the FBI's investigation of a journalist over an obvious joke. That One Guy won first place with an on-point movie reference:

M.I.B. said it best

'No Ma'm, we at the FBI do not have a sense of humor we're aware of.'

In second place, it's Baron von Robber being inspired by the stupidity on display:

Think I'll have to update my Nigerian Prince emails..

TO:Alt-right distro;FBI.gov

For editor's choice on the funny side, we've got a pair of responses to the attempts by the Pirate Party to form a new government in Iceland. First, one anonymous commenter offered a prediction that actually probably belongs on the insightful side, since it's hardly unrealistic:

And next year the country of Iceland will be slapped on the USTR special 301 report for being a pirate haven!

And finally, we've got Niall asking what people really want to know:

But where do they stand on important issues: frozen food retailers vs plucky small countries?

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 10 December 2016 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: SOPA, China, Dajaz1 & The Hypocrisy Of Copyright

from the a-closer-look dept

Five Years Ago

Today we're dedicating this post to another focused look at the events of this week in 2011, in the midst of the SOPA fight and some other important developments on the copyright and internet freedom fronts that highlighted the government's and the industry's hypocrisy on the issue.

Firstly, the backlash against SOPA/PIPA continued to grow. Anti-virus firm Kaspersky dumped its association with the BSA over the organization's support for SOPA, while the American Bar Association was having an internal fight over how to react to the bills; human rights groups and people with disabilities spoke up to point out how much SOPA could hurt them, constitutional scholars explained why it doesn't pass First Amendment scrutiny, a former White House technology advisor explained the disastrous effect it could have on privacy, and Paul Vixie declared that he would stand against the bills even though they'd probably help his business.

With all this backlash, how was SOPA still standing? For one thing, big media firms were donating plenty of money to the bill's sponsors, and spending plenty more buying astroturf support since the public overwhelmingly opposed them. And surprise, surprise: two congressional staffers who helped write SOPA got comfy industry lobbyist jobs. Plus, there were still plenty of nonsensical and/or hilarious arguments for the bill, and bizarre claims about being able to ignore its worst provisions. When Chinese internet users laughed at the US for considering its own Great Firewall, the MPAA boss shockingly upped the ante by holding China's successful censorship up as a shining example.

And that's where we begin to see the amazing hypocrisy inherent in SOPA, for that very same week Hillary Clinton was speaking out against internet censorship — something the State Dept. has always done alongside the government's ongoing attempts to regulate the internet domestically. And this was also the week that the details of the embarrassingly terrible Dajaz1 domain seizure came out, revealing that the government censored a blog for over a year for no good reason. The site deserved a huge apology, but ICE avoided admitting anything while the RIAA outright refused to apologize and stood by the seizure. Meanwhile, yet another website was in similar limbo: the court dismissed the case against Puerto 80 and Rojadirecta but refused to give back the domain, leaving the company to try to explain to everyone why the seizure was unconstitutional.

Oh and speaking of the RIAA? They were also nosing their way into the Righthaven fight, because I guess their reputation wasn't tarnished enough. And amidst that, just for fun, they also had the gall to claim they already solved the piracy problem years ago.

Give them an inch and they'll take a mile, then publish a press release demanding 10 and fund a "grassroots" organization that calls it half a million inches. Little has changed in five years, and as we approach yet another copyright reform fight, it's good to look back on SOPA and remember how stalwart we're going to have to be.

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Posted on Techdirt - 6 December 2016 @ 1:05pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 101: Where Do You Get Your News?

from the apart-from-here-of-course! dept

The news industry has been in an ongoing state of upheaval ever since the dawn of the internet. In addition to the many ways that technology changes reporting and publishing, there has also been a profound effect on how people find their news. This week, we step away from the big debate about echo chambers and filter bubbles, and talk about evolving news-finding habits and what they mean for the industry.

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. If you're a fan, consider supporting us on Patreon to access special bonus episodes.

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Posted on Techdirt - 6 December 2016 @ 8:23am

CBS Sues Public Domain For Existing

from the or-something-like-that dept

Okay fine, CBS hasn't sued "the public domain" — but at this point I suspect that's only because they haven't figured out how to do so. In the mean time, they're suing a YouTube channel for copyright infringement after it posted sixteen public domain episodes of the Andy Griffith show. How, you ask? Isn't the public domain the, uh, public domain? Apparently not if you get creative with your lawsuit:

The episodes at issue in the suit fell into the public domain in the '90s because the copyright-renewal application was rejected for being filed too late and, according to the suit, that's one of the reasons Heldman thinks his posting them was legitimate.

... CBS attorney Jonathan Zavin argues that, because CBS holds valid and existing copyrights for the first 79 episodes of the series, the "copyrighted characters and numerous other original creative elements" that appeared in those episodes would still be protected in the middle episodes.

"Accordingly, the newly-added elements, and only the newly-added elements, of these Middle Episodes which did not previously appear in the first 79 episodes of The Andy Griffith Show (which remain protected by statutory copyright) have fallen into the public domain in the United States," he writes.

This is of course not the first time we've seen such an attempt to nibble (or chomp) away at the edges of the public domain. Other examples include the high-profile fight over Sherlock Holmes, and the recent loss over Wizard Of Oz promotional materials. But each is subtly different, and together they form a trifecta that snuffs out giant swathes of the public domain.

In the case of Sherlock Holmes, we've got the rule that early works falling into the public domain can be freely used, but if you're building on them or adapting them, you can't incorporate character traits or story points from later works that are still under copyright. While this still raises a huge host of "perpetual copyright" concerns, at its core it seems... somewhat reasonable. The Wizard Of Oz situation is similar, stemming from the idea that just because some materials from the film have fallen into the public domain doesn't mean everything else is fair game. But, it pushed the borders: the court didn't simply say that building on the public domain material with other still-copyrighted material from the film becomes infringing, but that building on it with anything or changing it in any way makes it infringing.

Those two rulings already represent pretty big victories for public domain haters, but you'll notice they are missing something. In both cases the courts, despite constraining the public domain in extreme ways, had to concede that just directly publishing the unaltered public domain material itself — the early Holmes stories, or the unregistered publicity materials from Oz — is not infringing. How could it be? They are public domain.

So along comes this new lawsuit, attempting to put another nail in the coffin. The episodes posted on YouTube weren't somehow expanded to draw upon material from other episodes, or for that matter from anywhere else. They were public domain material being posted in full online. And now CBS wants the court to say that's infringing because other episodes of the show are still under copyright, and that even though these 16 are in the public domain, they still count as derivative works of previous episodes. So, magically, posting public domain material to YouTube — something that should be completely and inarguably legal — becomes unauthorized distribution of a derivative work.

It gets crazier, too. You might think CBS would be satisfied pushing this theory on the basis that the episodes infringe on the very first episode, or perhaps a select handful that establish recurring characters and themes. Nope! The lawsuit claims that the 16 public domain episodes are derivative works of each of the 79 still-copyrighted episodes, individually. They are asking for nearly $12-million dollars — the maximum statutory damages per work infringed, multiplied by all 79 episodes.

Let that sink in.

And so once again we see the utter collapse of the idea/expression dichotomy. Copyright is supposed to apply to the fixed expression of an idea — such as each individual episode of a show, and the scripts and other materials underlying it. But if we slide the dividing line over a bit and say that "the character of Andy Griffith" or "the town of Mayberry" count as fixed expressions, then we have an absurd situation where basically nothing related to the show can be public domain until everything is (a day or two before forever, most likely). If we slide it further and say that one expression of those ideas can infringe on every single other expression of them individually, then I don't even have the words for how broken the system has become. It's a perversion of the entire idea of the public domain, and an utter betrayal of the already-lopsided contract that is copyright.

With any luck, the judge will reject this nonsense. So far, despite being pretty cooperative with the demands of rightsholders, courts have stopped short of saying "you cannot publish that public domain material at all", because even the most copyright-friendly judge seems to recognize that's a bridge too far. But even if CBS doesn't get all their wishes, I won't be surprised if the eventual ruling continues to chip away at the public domain, delineating new restrictions that have no reason to exist or planting landmines of legal language that will be unwittingly detonated by some future public domain miner.

But hey that's all secondary — the important thing is making sure nobody gets to watch sixteen episodes of a half-century-old TV show for free, right?

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Posted on Techdirt - 4 December 2016 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the the-comment-is-mightier-than-the-sword dept

This week we, like most other websites, had to re-register with the Copyright Office for DMCA safe harbor protection. Our most insightful comment of the week came in response to our post about this, where aerinai suggested this system should work both ways:

So I have to register every 3 years for safe harbor protections... lets do the same thing for copyright!

... just saying...

Next, we head to our post about the Internet Archive's plans to back itself up in Canada just in case Trump messes with it. A lengthy argument broke out over accusations that the fears around a Trump presidency are "so crazy it is becoming comical", and Roger Strong won second place for insightful by providing some context:

a) It would have been "so crazy it is becoming comical" to suggest that President-elect Bush II would turn the country into a mass torture state. Or kidnap people by the hundreds from around the world - over 100 from EU soil alone - and hold them for years - some now halfway through their second decade - without trial. Or launch a pre-emptive war. That would last over a decade and only make things worse. Or that he'd do away with habeas corpus.

b) It would have been "so crazy it is becoming comical" to suggest that many of the very people responsible for a), would be telling people that the NEXT winning candidate from their own party was an unstable loose cannon.

c) It would have been "so crazy it is becoming comical" to imagine a winning candidate having openly bragged how he would punish the media for "negative" - meaning accurate - reporting. Openly and regularly pointing at the media during his rallies and declaring them the enemy and worse.

d) It would have been "so crazy it is becoming comical" to imagine a winning candidate choosing the leader of a white supremacist fake news site to be his new Karl Rove.

Nevertheless, here we are. With c) especially in mind, you're saying that it's "so crazy it is becoming comical" to take Trump at his word and based on his actions.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a comment from nasch that digs into some constitutional nuance to explain why non-citizens still have rights:

The Constitution doesn't grant rights to the citizens of the US. To an extent it recognizes rights all people are considered to have (insert caveats about the time of the founding fathers), but primarily it specifies and limits the powers of the federal government. For example, the 1st doesn't say that US citizens have the right to freedom of religion, speech and assembly, it says the government may not make any laws abridging such rights.

Next, after we noted that the ongoing election recount fight is making everyone involved look bad, Michael wasn't especially surprised:

If you think the recounts make Clinton and Trump look terrible, you should have watched their campaigns.

Over on the funny side, we start out on our post about border patrol's aggressive handling of a Canadian journalist, where one commenter suggested that it's probably best to avoid travelling to the US at all right now, leading Jeremy Lyman to win first place for funny by shooting down that solution:

I dunno, not entering the US is suspicious behavior. CPB should probably investigate...

In second place on the funny side, we've got another more flippant response to the accusations of "crazy" Trump worries, this time specifically to the question of whether we "sleep under your beds in fear now". One anonymous commenter had an answer:

No, we're in our closets waiting for Obama to come take our guns...

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out on our story about some rightsholders brazenly referring to their trademark as a "lottery ticket", where crade found it hard to judge them too harshly:

People get rich using patents this way left right and center.. So it's understandable they got confused.

Finally, in response to a post raising concerns about the future of telecom megamergers under a Trump presidency, That One Guy defended the coming monopolies:

Having to decide between being ripped off by Company A or being ripped off by Company B is hard, a totally unnecessary hassle for customers. Mergers between already massive companies are therefor absolutely pro-customer as they remove yet another road-block between US customers and their 'Best In The World' internet service, and as such should absolutely be allowed.

It's all about how best to serve the public after all.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 3 December 2016 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: November 27th - December 3rd

from the reflections dept

Five Years Ago

And so the SOPA/PIPA fight continued this week in 2011. The chorus of opposition grew larger: first the New York and LA Times both came out against the bills, then the Wall Street Journal joined them — though the world of smaller publications was way ahead of them; DNS providers, educators and best-selling author Barry Eisler all expressed their serious concerns, and even Stephen Colbert did a segment on the bills.

On the flipside, an ex-RIAA boss was ignoring all criticism and claiming it's just an attempt to justify theft, the MPAA pretended to take concerns seriously but didn't, several tech companies that still supported the bills were being called out for it, NBC Universal was muscling partners into signing "grassroots" support of the bill, a very questionable consumer group released a very questionable pro-SOPA study, and Rep. Lamar Smith attempted to defend the bill by equating infringement with child pornography.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2006, the explosion of YouTube was still causing all sorts of chaos. The misplaced blame game was extremely popular, obviously with copyright and infringement issues but also with weirder things like blaming YouTube for lockpicking videos. Google was trying to pay off entertainment companies to leave it alone, experts were grappling with the liability issues around linking and embedding, and the Wall Street Journal was tragically confused about the copyright issues involved. Meanwhile Wal-Mart was trying to get into the online video game itself, but not exactly knocking it out of the park.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2001, the chaos was around audio, and there was a huge disconnect since new devices like the iPod did not work with new subscription services like Pressplay. Ringtones were becoming the next big thing while a judge with little technical understanding was trying to stop KaZaA, and smarter folks were already pointing out how the industry dropped the ball on digital music. Meanwhile, while Ed Felten was spared the aggression of the RIAA for publishing research on SDMI cracking, another court was upholding the ruling that banned publication of the DeCSS code.

Two-Hundred And Six Years Ago

I've mentioned before that I love a good hoax, and on November 27th, 1810 the city of London was witness to a classic. In order to win a bet that he could make any home in the city the most talked about address within a week, Theodore Hook sent out thousands of letters on behalf of a random house's owner, requesting services and deliveries. The results were utter chaos:

At five o'clock in the morning, a sweep arrived to sweep the chimneys of Mrs Tottenham's house. The maid who answered the door informed him that no sweep had been requested, and that his services were not required. A few moments later another sweep presented himself, then another, and another; twelve in all. After the last of the sweeps had been sent away, a fleet of carts carrying large deliveries of coal began to arrive, followed by a series of cakemakers delivering large wedding cakes, then doctors, lawyers, vicars and priests summoned to minister to someone in the house they had been told was dying. Fishmongers, shoemakers, and over a dozen pianos were among the next to appear, along with "six stout men bearing an organ". Dignitaries, including the Governor of the Bank of England, the Duke of York, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lord Mayor of London also arrived. The narrow streets soon became severely congested with tradesmen and onlookers. Deliveries and visits continued until the early evening, bringing a large part of London to a standstill.

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Posted on Techdirt - 27 November 2016 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the wild-words dept

This week, when a State Senator made some chilling statements about banning first amendment activity in the name of protecting companies, there was plenty of backlash. Our most insightful comment of the week was a response from Roger Strong pointing out that bigger fish have made similar overtures:

I don't want to name names here, but a certain President-elect has called for everyone to boycott Apple until it gives in to the FBI over encryption. He's also called for boycotts of Starbucks, Macy’s, Univision, Mexico, Oreos, Fox News, and Glenfiddich scotch over things like supporting the wrong tennis player and changing a cup design.

All I'm saying is that given the stock market roller coaster ride after the election, perhaps Senator Ericksen is a visionary for calling him an "economic terrorist."

Meanwhile, in our conversation about the Burlington Police and the possible impostor abusing the DMCA on their behalf, one well-meaning commenter made the perplexing statement that they had been "waiting for" someone to abuse the DMCA in this fashion — and Norahc won second place for insightful by setting them straight on that front:

That actually started about 3 seconds after the law was signed and before the ink was dry.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we head to the ongoing debacle of e-voting machines and potential election hacking. This highly politicized nightmare is full of hyperbole on all sides, but we've got two level-headed comments that strip away the rhetoric and lay out the facts. First, it's TechnoMage, making the point that it's definitely possible for this kind of tampering to happen:

I hate to sound like a 'truther' conspiracy theorist... but I have my masters in CS focusing on Hybrid & Embedded systems...

And I can pretty much guarantee that if someone with enough money and motivation wanted to... they could steal an election on the state level. Several states (PA is one of them IIRC, I know TN is one too but it matters less for this election since it isn't a 'swing state' ) to this day have e-voting machines that have -0- paper trail, and so once you vote... you have no idea what bits are being flipped inside the machine...

XKCD got this right years and years ago... if your voting machine needs to run anti-virus... that is like your kindergarten teacher telling you he always wears a condom while teaching... "sure... its 'additional safety'... but he should NEVER EVER NEED IT"... https://xkcd.com/463/

2004 Ohio had voting 'irregularities' existed where the DEEPEST BLUE areas voted for the most liberal judge in living memory... and Bush on the same ballots... Hell, 2 voting officials went to jail in Cleveland for 'mishandling of voting material' or w/e the 'exact' charge was https://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/1/25/294599/-

But in ohio that year... none or almost none of the voting machines had paper trails.. (I know because I was the head elections official for my local precinct on election day)


Everyone (except those who are: 1) paid to think otherwise, 2) job requires them to not think so) 'knows' this is a possibility/threat to Democracy... but when one political party gains an advantage from anything that suppresses voter turnout, and screams all the time about "Voter Fraud" ... Any talk bringing up Voting machines and "Election Fraud"(completely different than voter fraud, and much more dangerous) becomes politically tainted...

Next, there's Thad further underlining the fact that even if it's unlikely to have happened this time, it needs to be addressed, and the politics need to be set aside:

I remember there were Trump supporters here a few weeks ago saying that the election was going to be rigged by hacking voting machines.

I ask those commenters: do you hold the same opinion now that you did then? Is your opinion of these allegations the same as it would be if the shoe were on the other foot, and the election had been called for Clinton but e-voting experts were raising red flags about the outcome?

Same question goes for Clinton supporters, of course.

Speaking for myself: my opinion is the same as it was a few weeks ago. Voting machines are certainly vulnerable. Attacking voting machines is not a reliable vector for influencing an election, and in cases where I've seen voting irregularities occur, they've likelier been caused by malfunctioning equipment than deliberate sabotage. And an election can't be influenced in this way unless it's already close.

I will have to see evidence before I believe that voting machines were compromised (or failed in some other way, eg due to malfunction or human error). It is possible; it is unproven. No matter your political persuasion, you shouldn't believe something just because it feels right to you; you should wait for evidence.

I'm with Mike here: I'm unconvinced that the election results were tampered with, but our voting machines are terrible either way, and need to be replaced. I'm increasingly of the opinion that good old-fashioned pen and paper is the only way to go.

Over on the funny side, in first place we have another response to State Senator Ericksen — this time from Anonmylous wondering who such an anti-protest law would hit the hardest:

This will be great news for a whole slew of businesses and peoples throughout the US! Its awesome to see Republicans finally opening up and protecting those they traditionally have tried to oppress! It'll be wonderful to see police able to arrest people protesting outside of abortion clinics at last! I can't wait to see those sad members of Westborough finally arrested for protesting at films and other public venues that support homosexuals and godless heathens like Kevin Smith! Oh and finally, FINALLY, no more protesters outside of Planned Parenthood locations.

Maybe this whole Trump presidency really is signalling the turning of a new leaf for the Republican party!

In second place, we've got a response to the woman who is suing Google over a mean blog post about her, with Chris ODonnell trying to find the right words:

If only there was a phrase to describe the folly of hiring an incompetent lawyer to draw attention to words on the Internet that you want removed.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out on one of our few posts about the crazy ongoing Theranos scandal, where Coyne Tibbets served up some satire so dry and on-point that not everyone was even sure it was satire:

Theranos is a shining example of the free market dream: enormously profitable. Too bad it's being ruined by regulation and a bunch of libel-mongers.

And finally, we head back once more to the comments from the State Senator, where an anonymous commenter pitched a new slogan for him:

Make America Shut Its Cakehole Again!

That's all for this week, folks!

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