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Posted on Techdirt - 20 August 2017 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the out-of-order dept

We're going to pull another switcheroo this week and present things out of order, so that it's easier to give our first-place insightful winner its proper context. Thus, we start with our first editor's choice for insightful — a comment from DannyB responding to the MPAA's latest anti-piracy messaging with an important point about convenience:

Tech Dirt has pointed this out in the past.

Pirated movie: Insert disk, push play, enjoy moie.

Purchased movie: Insert disk, push play.
FBI warning
Homeland Security warning
Other warning
Unskippable ad for a movie released three years ago
Unskippable ad for a movie released five years ago
More warnings
More unskippable ads
Finally the movie starts, and you have already finished your popcorn.

And now, we move to our winner for most insightful comment of the week — a reply to that comment from Thad that added one more thing to the very beginning of the list:

That's assuming your disc is from the "correct" region and plays at all.

In second place on the insightful side, we've got a response from Doug to a former FCC Commissioner calling net neutrality a "two-year old experiment":

The internet has always been neutral. We've only recently been forced to defend neutrality. What's new is the attacks on it.

And for our second editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got a response from Roger Strong to the idea that patents are a proud, quintessentially American tradition:

Oh, spare us.

Patents have been around since ancient Greece. The English patent system, evolving from early medieval times, was the legal foundation for the Industrial Revolution.

One more time: NO-ONE HERE IS OPPOSING PATENTS. THEY'RE OPPOSING PATENT ABUSE.

THAT is what America leads the world in. THAT is what's driving efforts for an open platform. Any good thing implemented in bloody awful way is going to lead to opposition.

It's not like you - as an inventor - can invent something and reap the rewards any more. Trolls will patent every conceivable use of your invention - ESPECIALLY the obvious ones - and then charge YOU to use it. There are tens of thousands of patents on image compression alone. Create something truly new in the camera or smartphone or web browsing field, and image compression is just one of the things you'll be sued over.

And so patents are trading cards for large corporations. You need a massive portfolio of patents to play. When Samsung tosses BS patent claims at Apple, Apple has wealth of BS patent claims that they can toss at Samsung products.

That doesn't even cover the endless overbroad patents, where someone obtains a patent on something very specific, and declares it to be a patent on ALL internet commerce.

THAT is why America has so many patents. And now China has been taught how to play the game.

The folks boarding the Titanic's lifeboats weren't anti-ship. They weren't making a statement about row boats being better than ocean liners. But then no-one was standing up on the deck screaming straw-man arguments that this was the case.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Michael Barclay with an observation about our description of the incredibly complex Snopes legal fight:

This is so complicated, even the TL;DR would be too complicated.

In second place, we've got an anonymous response to a commenter who was incoherently angry about... something to do with the comments, as usual:

Yes, all websites publish their anti-spam techniques so that people can bypass them.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with a comment on our post about errors in a recent story about the DNC hack, which hinged on broadband speeds and reminded TechDescartes of something else entirely:

As everyone knows, "10Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream is all one needs."

And finally, we've got an anonymous comment that offered a small grammar lesson to someone who asked "how many less faces" we would see at white supremacist rallies if their speech was curtailed:

Dammit, when it's an abstract concept, you use "less." Less time, less money, less trouble. When it's something you can count, like Nazis, the word is Fuhrer.

Er, that is, "fewer." I meant to say "fewer Nazis."

That's all for this week, folks!

4 Comments | Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt - 19 August 2017 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: August 13th - 19th

from the so-it-went dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2012, while Amazon was realizing it had little choice but to get in on the patent portfolio buying game, Google was launching a prior art finder to help stop bad patents — though some worried it might be used by trolls to find targets. Meanwhile, Google also made the controversial decision to start filtering searches based on DMCA notices received by the site, but of course even this wasn't enough to satisfy the RIAA and MPAA.

Also this week in 2012, we launched the Techdirt Insider Shop!

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2007, the proliferation of DVRs and digital video made us ask if the concept of a "TV channel" still made any sense. Of course, the digital video side was still struggling, with all the official offerings pretty much sucking in the eyes of consumers, and with Google Video shutting down and eliminating videos people thought they had bought, and the P2P networks continuing to strive to go legit under the weight of lawsuits,and Universal Music thinking it can still release CDs in different countries at different times (okay that last one is music not video, but still). Given how amazingly well the copyright regime was going for the entertainment industries, is it any wonder the Senate was looking to impose the same thing on the fashion industry?

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2002, we saw one reporter fired for having a blog and another fired after a congressman got mad about an email. Not great.

And now, a brief world tour: South Korea was facing the same tensions over music sharing as the US; Europe was implementing its own version of the DMCA; Indian telecoms were trying to get instant messaging banned; Norway was struggling to find a judge who was tech-savvy enough to try the creator of DeCSS software; and in a story that is rather appropriate given current events, Russia charged an FBI agent with hacking.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 15 August 2017 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 134: The Problems With SESTA And Why Section 230 Matters

from the save-safe-harbors dept

Recently, we've been writing about SESTA, Congress' latest attack on Section 230 of the CDA, and helping to organize a campaign against it. But there's still a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation out there regarding the bill, so this week we're joined by Daphne Keller from Stanford's Center For Internet And Society and Emma Llansó from the Center for Democracy and Technology to dig deeper into the problems with the bill and why protecting Section 230 is vital.

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 August 2017 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the chitter-chatter dept

This week, following the huge overreaction of Canadian telecoms to the site TVAddons, some commenters expanded on the ways in which this is not truly about piracy. Ryunosuke was one such commenter, and his explanation won first place for insightful:

I agree, Piracy, like a black market, is a symptom of a system that is not working. Something that is in demand is not being properly vented, in this case, entertainment. Between high costs and bloated legacy channels, and the general asshole attitude of the gatekeepers like this entire article points out. People are looking for... alternative methods of consuming entertainment and culture.

Meanwhile, after a federal court stripped immunity from a sheriff, That One Guy won second place for insightful by mildly celebrating while pointing out how depressingly low the bar appears to be right now:

*"[A]s an officer charged with enforcing Louisiana law," Sheriff Larpenter "can be presumed to know the law" ... More to the point, "[p]olice officers can be expected to have a modicum of knowledge regarding the fundamental rights of citizens."

Now if only more courts were willing to apply such a standard, things would be ever so much better.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we return to the first post for another comment on the real reasons beyond piracy, this time from an anonymous commenter:

It more a case that any hint of copyright infringement gives them an excuse to destroy a legal competitor. Piracy is not the real problem, but rather the increasing number of self publishers, and the technology that makes finding and viewing that content easy. If somebody is watching self published content, they are no longer eyeballs to be counted for the purposes of gaining advertising revenue.

Next, we head to our post about North Carolina's weird and misguided "Restore Campus Free Speech Act", where a surprising number of commenters failed to see that the law was a far greater attack on free speech than any of the behaviours it supposedly sought to correct — but Stephen T. Stone offered a refreshingly nuanced and levelheaded look at the situation, responding piece-by-piece to one such comment:

One of the issues is that free speech has turned from stating your opinion to yelling down the opinion of others.

That is still protected speech, though. And nothing is legally preventing the shouted-down from shouting back or expressing themselves through other avenues of expression.

Free speech use to be a positive. Haul out your actual soap box, stand in the middle of the park, and yell out your opinion as loud as you like. People might laugh, people might point. but you could do it.

You still can. The only thing stopping most people is the fact that complaining on the Internet offers immediate satisfaction and fewer consequences than does going out in public and yelling in the middle of a public park.

Now you try to bring your soap box and people beat you up for showing up and expressing an opinion they don't like.

In fairness, the opinions that get people punched often resemble the kind of rhetoric that would go over well at a Klan rally. Justified? No. Understandable? Hell yes.

People seem to have confused unpopular speech with illegal speech. Instead we have a mob rules problem.

Admittedly, yes, heckler’s vetoes and whatnot are a legitimate threat to the freedom of expression. That said, not all speech is “equal” in terms of having legitimacy—e.g., racist propaganda, screeds about how women are biologically inferior to men and should thus leave tech jobs to men—and protests against such speech should be protected.

I also respect her rights to express her opinions - providing that those opinions are legal.

Holding any given opinion, even ones about illegal activities, is legal. Acting upon opinions about obviously illegal activities, on the other hand…

That universities have to cancel her legal speech because of mob rules is a really sad thing.

We could have a nuanced discussion about whether universities that receive public funding should have the right to exercise discretion when choosing who to invite on campus as a speaker. That said, universities should also be able to consider factors such as student safety and the overall legitimacy of a person’s ideas and opinions before allowing that person on campus to speak. How much would you really fault a university for disinviting, say, an advocate for the revival of racial segregation?

Yes, the mob is expressing their opinion. But their free speech ends where it impinges on the free speech of others.

Being denied a platform—or being protested while on that platform—does not necessarily infringe upon the free speech rights of a given person. That person can go find another platform and speak there.

When the schools have to shut down events because of threats of violence and destruction of school property, something is really wrong.

Inviting speakers who advocate for horrible ideas (e.g., advocating for legalized rape) and threaten the safety of other students (e.g., outing a trans student against their will) is just as wrong.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is DannyB with a response to Bob Murray's argument that the ACLU is too biased to file a brief in his lawsuit against John Oliver:

John Oliver should move to dismiss the case on the grounds that Bob Murray is too biased to bring this lawsuit.

In second place, we've got a response from Thad to a bizarrely angry commenter on our post about the latest developments in the monkey selfie case. I won't try to offer the entire context of the very long thread, but suffice to say Thad noticed something about one angry comment in a long string of angry comments:

...did you just misspell your own name?

(The answer is yes. Yes he did.)

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with a comment from Roger Strong that racked up lots of insightful votes as well, posed as a mock conversation illustrating the fragmentation of digital content:

Question: I'm already paying for cable, including several CBS channels. Does this mean I'll get Star Trek: Discovery?

Answer: No. They created a CBS streaming channel for that, "CBS All Access." Outside the US it's available on Netflix.

Question: Cool! So I can just pay a bit extra for Netflix and...

Answer: No. It won't be in Netflix in Canada.

Question: Oh. That must be because CBS All Access has announced that they're coming to Canada. So if I pay for a subscription to CBS All Access, I won't have access to a library like the one on Netflix, but at least I'll get Star Trek: Discovery?

Answer: No. In Canada CBS sold the rights to a specialty channel, so it won't be on CBS All Access. You'll need to pay an extra $80 a month - nearly $1000 a year - above and beyond what you're already paying for cable.

Question: Oh. Well I'm already paying for streaming access to the Star Trek library via the Shomi account that came with my cellular service. It was one of their big selling features. It'll be available there, right?

Answer: No. The cable/cellular companies shut down Shomi, and you know it. They still charge you for it because you're on contract.

Question: Does this cartoon by The Oatmeal mean anything to you?

And finally, we've got a brief but pointed comment from Radix about Eric Bolling's lawsuit against Yashar Ali, responding specifically to the demands for "relief as is just and proper" and "not less than $50 million":

Pick one.

That's all for this week, folks!

17 Comments | Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt - 12 August 2017 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: August 6th - 12th

from the it-happened! dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2012, we saw a couple interesting leaks. The fair use text from the TPP was made public, and we discovered (with little surprise) that the US proposals were about weakening fair use, not strengthening it. Meanwhile, a leak of MPAA documents revealed their plans to use sock puppets to smear Richard O'Dwyer, the TVShack operator that the agency was trying to extradite from the UK. And speaking of questionable extraditions, we wondered why New Zealand prosecutors were trying so hard to prevent the release of videos of the raid on Kim Dotcom's home — but were again unsurprised when some portions were released and even NZ police admitted it was "over the top".

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2007, school boards were finally slowly starting to get over their fear about kids and the internet, folks were pushing hard for a ban on all the "internet hunting" that wasn't actually happening, and the New York Times was getting ready to pull the plug on its failed premium paywall experiment, TimesSelect. Meanwhile, in a display that is mostly just sad when you look back on it, Blockbuster bought Movielink from Hollywood for a pittance, hoping it could transform it into a real player in the digital media space.

Fifteen Years Ago

Blockbuster was at it this week in 2002 as well, finally eyeing competition from Netflix (still just a mailing subscription service at the time) and considering launching something similar, while the TV industry was fighting to try to make DVRs useless alongside the introduction of digital TV. We also enjoyed a three part series from Wired about the insane radio dominance of Clear Channel. And we took an interesting look at EULAs, which weren't quite as bad then, as evidenced by the surprise and concern over a new Windows EULA that allows Microsoft to update your system when it chooses.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 8 August 2017 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 133: These Scammers Picked The Wrong Guy

from the quite-a-story dept

If you're a fan of the Reply All podcast, then you're probably still processing the story they told in a recent two-part episode about the insane lengths that host Alex Goldman went to track down a phone scammer. If you haven't heard the story, and you think you've seen all there is to see on the "messing with scammers" front... well, you're in for a surprise. We strongly suggest you listen to the Reply All story first — then listen to our conversation with Alex about the whole saga on this week's episode of the Techdirt Podcast.

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 - 6 August 2017 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the say-it-with-me-now dept

This week, three of our four winning comments came in response to the ACLU's amicus brief filing in Bob Murray's lawsuit against John Oliver. First up, our winner of most insightful comment of the week is TheResidentSkeptic giving Murray some advice:

Dear Bob

When you realize that you are in the process of digging yourself into a hole, there are 2 approaches to consider.

1) STOP DIGGING
This is known as the "sensible" approach, and is recommended.

2) DIG HARDER, DIG FASTER, DIG DEEPER
This is known as the "Carreon" approach, and we request that you refrain from using it as we are nearly out of popcorn.

Thank you.

Later on that post, a commenter accused us of attacking or harming the miners by opposing Murray's position in this lawsuit. Roger Strong won second place for insightful with his response:

John Oliver made a point of sticking up for the miners; documenting Murray's opposition to black lung regulations, his dishonest reaction to the mine collapse that killed several miners, and more.

In fact the "Eat Shit, Bob" originated not with Oliver, but with one of those miners. It was written on a cheque returned by an employee, which was shown in the show. A $3.23 cheque sent to the employee in return for accepting increased production over safety.

Likewise Mike Masnick's articles on the subject can only work in favor of the miners, helping to end Murray's history of barratry to avoid responsibility for miner safety.

I'd label you a liar, but it's hard to accept that your apparent level of incompetence is real. Your lies are well-documented as such, in both text and video in links at the top of this page. You casually dismiss the sins of a coal mining corporation - which include $millions in political funding to influence government, but dismiss its critics as "globalists." Is this some kind of performance art project?

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with an anonymous response to UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd and her anti-encryption comments, pointing out that politicians benefit from encryption too:

UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd,

There are two reasons you want end-to-end encryption, even if you don't realize it:

1. Encryption helps to ensure you are talking to the person that you believe you are talking to. It's not a guarantee, but it's the closest thing we've got. Without encryption, you might think you're talking to your mum, but you're really talking with an NSA agent. Or ISIL.
2. Encryption helps to ensure that the things being said between you and your mum remain between you and your mum. Otherwise, the Daily Mail can easily see everything you type each other and put it on the front page every day, if they so desire.

Now you know!

Next, we've got a comment from That Anonymous Coward on the court ruling against official government social media accounts blocking/banning members of the public:

Those with power seem to forget that being offended isn't a crime. If your job is to represent everyone, you have to take the good with the bad.

A much saner person might have tried to get to the bottom of his complaint, or if they felt he was unhinged ignored him. The fact is rights were violated, even if only for a few hours (most likely before someone who understands the basics of the laws of the land pointed out you fucked up) they were violated.

While we have allowed "free speech zones" & tried to pass laws to make it a crime to make elected officials feel bad, hurting someones feelings isn't a crime. The job includes praise & unhappy comments.

Had this been her personal personal page, she would have every right to tell him to use the offical channels & if he persisted ban him. You made this page your semi-offical page & issues work related statements, I'm sorry if the digital town square you picked allowed people to call you out, but its the job.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner comes from Baron von Robber in response to the psychiatrist who filed a lawsuit over a wordless one-star review. Perhaps you can guess what the comment was:

*

In second place, we've got our third comment on the ACLU filing in the Bob Murray lawsuit, and it's actually a response from Machin Sin to our first-place-for-insightful advice about knowing when to quit:

You do realize your telling the head of a mining company to quit digging right?

For editor's choice on the funny side, we've got a pair of comments from a thread on the post about encryption and the UK Home Secretary. One commenter reiterated the important point that terrorism is nowhere near as big a threat in real terms as fearmongering often makes it out to be, to which one anonymous commenter sarcastically retorted with a classic reference:

Well, obviously the reason that there are no bears stomping through the middle of the city is that the Bear Patrol is doing its job!

Not to be outdone, however, TechDescartes had another suggestion:

Actually, no, it's because they are using end-to-end encryption, so you can't see them.

That's all for this week, folks!

6 Comments | Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt - 5 August 2017 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: July 30th - August 5th

from the as-it-happened dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2012, it was Olympic time — which also means, time to be frustrated with NBC's exclusive coverage. One journalist who was highly critical of the network ended up getting his Twitter account suspended, then eventually reinstated, with the end result (of course) of a massive Streisand Effect. Meanwhile, a leaked document revealed the unsurprising fact that the IFPI had no plans to share any money it got from The Pirate Bay with musicians, the MPAA was hosting movie screenings to get cozy with congress, and for some reason Homeland Security was getting in on the YouTube takedown game.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2007, as had been the case for many years and still is to this day, e-voting machines were found to have terrible security. That particular report came from California, but was quickly followed up by a similar one from Florida, and then a source-code review that also uncovered numerous vulnerabilities. And yet election officials, as always, defended the machines — perhaps because of so many of the officials used to work at the companies that make them?

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2002, people were digging deeper into the many horrors of the bill that would make it legal for Hollywood to hack your computer in its crusade against piracy. Not that this was the only bad internet bill being considered — Congress was also looking into making even more stringent anti-circumvention laws than those in the DMCA. The same DMCA that, the very same week, was being used by HP to threaten security researchers who revealed a vulnerability in their software (though they later backed down). Amidst all this, we were glad to see some attempts to wake academics up to the dangers of the DMCA.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 1 August 2017 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 132: Is There Any Smartphone Innovation Left?

from the not-so-smart-anymore? dept

Smartphones have been one of the most world-changing innovations of our time — and for a long time, smartphone design was a hotbed of innovation. But more recently that innovation seems to have stagnated. So where does this technology go next? That's the subject of this weeks episode, in which we try to figure out whether smartphone innovation is still happening.

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 - 30 July 2017 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the think/laugh-laugh/think dept

This week, we wrote about the Albuquerque prosecutor who was extremely unhappy about respecting the accused's right to a speedy trial, leading one anonymous commenter (going by Yes, I know I'm commenting anonymously) to win most insightful comment of the week by cringing at the way he used a key phrase:

When the prosucuter talks about "accused criminals", he is not fit for the job because `innocent until proven guilty'.

We're going to go slightly out of order today and slip in our first editor's choice for insightful in here, since PaulT replied to that comment to expand on it and how how meaningful it is:

Yeah, it's kind of a litmus/Rorschach test - how do you read that phrase and apply it to your job? If you read it as "people accused of being criminals" and act accordingly, you're fine. If you read it as "criminals who have been accused", you're not fit for the job.

In second place on the insightful side, we've got an anonymous response to the Winnipeg man who had his ASIMIL8 license plate recalled by folks who thought it was about racism, not Star Trek's Borg. One commenter suggested that the Borg counts as a race, but another saw it very differently:

Correction, multiple species. There were very inclusive of any sentient species. Very, very inclusive.

(It says something about Star Trek fandom that this comment racked up far more votes for Insightful than it did for Funny).

For our second editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got a comment from TKnarr with his ideas on how to move forward with the FCC on net neutrality:

I think what Senator Wyden needs to do is to call for open hearings to "fully document the problems Title II classification has created for the broadband industry and to provide a solid foundation for the FCC's rules changes". Don't phrase it as trying to cut Pai off at the knees, phrase it as if you're trying to get the evidence he claims is there completely and clearly in the record.

Then when the broadband people are done saying how it's hampered their investment in expansion and upgrades, pull out their own statements to investors and read out the relevant sections with the text projected clearly. Ask them whether, given the discrepancies, they've lied to investors about their business situation and plans or not and to provide good reason why this matter should not be referred to the SEC for prosecution. Don't involve the FCC here at all, just use the results the next time he tries to trot out his "hurt investments" line to counter him with "But the broadband companies themselves said before Congress that it didn't hamper their plans at all.".

Over on the funny side, we start out with what appears to be the conclusion of the Olive Garden/All Of Garden legal spat, with the former apologizing and blaming its IP enforcement contractors. But Anonmylous won first place for funny by wondering if the saga still has an epilogue:

Is no one else wondering about Branden? He is now completely silent on this and that worries me. Did they fire him? Transfer him to Janitorial? Has he been kidnapped and sold to slavers in Southeast Asia never to be heard from again, his family left to wonder why he never came home, little Susie Forcements left to grow up without a father?

What have you done with Branden, Darden?

In second place, we've got a comment from Rapnel, who was tripped up by the wording of our headline about Arby's response to a Twitter troll:

I came here for puppy sandwiches.

...

I left disappointed.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with an anonymous comment about the Hungarian teenager who was arrested after he found and promptly reported a website security flaw that let him buy train tickets from the Transit Authority at any price we wanted:

This doesn't sound like hacking. It sounds like haggling. Not his fault that the developer made the site a bad negotiator.

And finally, we return to the post about the Borg license plate, where K`Tech asked an excellent question:

Was it on a Nissan Cube?

That's all for this week, folks!

9 Comments | Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt - 29 July 2017 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: July 23rd - 29th

from the stuff-that-happened dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2012, we started out by reporting on something that happened late on the previous Friday: the feds admitted that they violated the fourth amendment with their surveillance programs. We noted how Congress had lost all perspective with its moves to prosecute journalists as if they were spies, and that it was worrying how the Senate Intelligence Committee seemed more interested in stopping whistleblowers than figuring out why they blew the whistle. Meanwhile, the ACLU lost a fight to get the courts to recognize common sense and agree that widely published leaked documents should no longer be treated as classified.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2007, the RIAA was continuing its push to get radio stations to pay up for playing music by finding people to claim that radio play makes people buy less music. Meanwhile, a disturbingly RIAA-friendly change snuck into the Higher Education Reauthorization Act, potentially cutting funding from schools that don't filter P2P traffic (but was thankfully pulled soon after). The UK government, amidst various forms of copyright insanity, at least realized that extending copyright durations on 50-year-old songs was pointless. And the EFF kicked off a now-famous legal battle when it sued Universal Music for issuing a YouTube takedown over a clip of a little kid dancing to music.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2002, we saw one of the most insane attempts to prop up Hollywood of them all: a bill that would exempt them from hacking laws in their expeditions to find pirates was introduced in Congress. Meanwhile, the huge uncertainty caused by recent changes to royalty rates was threatening the future of webcasters, leading to a bill being introduced to save them. And a silly Texas company that had turned itself into a JPEG patent troll got some serious pushback from the ISO standards body.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 25 July 2017 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 131: Is The Economy More Important Than Democracy?

from the or-vice-versa dept

The economy is important — very important. But is that because it matters in and of itself, or because it's the engine for achieving the things we really do care about? Here at Techdirt we've always been strong advocates of the free market, but we've never been absolutists about things like regulation, and we believe it's very important to explore these issues in detail. This week on the podcast we're joined by James Allworth, co-host of the Exponent podcast and author of a recent post entitled Prioritizing Economics is Crippling the U.S. Economy, to discuss entrepreneurship, democracy, the economy and more.

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 - 23 July 2017 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the free-comment dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is a simple anonymous comment, saying something that shouldn't need to be repeated so often but for the weird anti-regulation absolutists who need to be reminded over and over:

Regulation isn't bad. It's a tool. Using the tool wrong is bad; Over-regulating and under-regulating are bad. The government shouldn't control what you see on the Internet (which isn't Net Neutrality, by the way), that would be bad regulation. Being able to enjoy a nice meal without having lethal amounts of harmful chemicals in it is good regulation.

For second place, we head to our post about the dispute between the San Diego and Salt Lake Comic-Cons, where one anonymous outside observer described how it all looks to someone with no horse in the race:

Hello. I'm a random asshole on the internet. :D

As far as I know, I have never had any connection of any kind with either party involved. I've no plans ever to visit the USA, much less either convention in the future. As far as I can recall, I've never so much as visited either of their websites. I have no particular interest in the case participants in any way at all.

They do not exist in my world. While I've heard of Comic Cons, this case is literally the only reason I now know they take place in either city.

Nonetheless, I'm rooting for SLCC. Not because of anything SLCC said, but simply because of what SDCC did.

SDCC started a legal fight on what seems - to the outside eye - to be very questionable grounds.

SDCC engaged in what seems - to the outside eye - to be behaviour designed to silence legitimate reporting.

SDCC has now successfully obtained a court order that seems - to the outside eye - to be little more than poorly-justified censorship.

Don't piss on the planet and tell us it's the Great Flood, SDCC - this is all your own damned fault. If you don't like the world calling you cunts, then stop acting like cunts, you daft fuckers.

It's not exactly rocket science, now, is it?

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got a pair of responses to the findings of the oversight board saying that NYPD officers are still violating the public's right to record them. First, we've got Discuss It, who noticed a pattern:

Odd this keeps happening with the people that are supposed to enforce the law. I know that when my employer tells me a policy and I violate it, the least I can expect is time off without pay at best, and termination is more likely.

Odd that a policeman can't grasp the concept. Perhaps they are too stupid to be allowed to carry a weapon. Those things are dangerious and if they can't understand "People can record you" then I would assume they are too stupid to understand the concept of fire lines, back stops, and "What is behind what you shoot at?".

Next, we've got That One Guy with some questions about how exactly this will be fixed:

"It's unrealistic to expect the number of violations to hit zero, but some disciplinary changes need to be made if these policies are going to have much effect on officer behavior."

If by that you mean 'heavily fine all first time violators, along with mandatory 'yes the public can record you, get over it' classes' and 'fire all repeat violators' then yes, this could be cleared up nicely with 'disciplinary changes'. The only way they'll stop is if they personally face penalties for their actions, until then they'll feel free to make up rules and laws on the spot to suit their own whims.

Over on the funny side, our first place comment comes in response to the glorious letter sent by Vincent Malone in response to threats from the Olive Garden over his blog. That letter ended with a request to respond in limerick form, and A Non-Mouse decided to take on that challenge:

There once was a man Branden Forcements
who confused some reviews for endorsements
His threats that came after
caused so much laughter
that perhaps he should seek new employments

In second place, we've got an anonymous comment on our article about the unique copyright story of George Romero's Night Of The Living Dead:

I just wish he’d hurry up and get on with the whole “reanimated corpse” thing, because we’ve been waiting for a couple of days now and I’m starting to think this whole “Romero is the father of zombies” thing doesn’t hold much weight.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we'll start out by throwing in one more limerick, this time from Doug:

Oh Vino, don't know what came over me
I wrote with such haste I just couldn't see
That to eat at our joint
Is kind of the point
Of your whole blog and your joie de vivre

And finally, we've got an anonymous response to our headline asking Is James Woods A Hypocritical Asshole?

This violates Betteridge's law of headlines

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 22 July 2017 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: July 16th - 22nd

from the memba? dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2012, we saw some copyright insanity when BMG issued a YouTube takedown on a Mitt Romney campaign ad for including a clip of Obama singing an Al Green song, and then the next day went on to take down the original clip, because even the President was a pirate in the eyes of the entertainment industry. Thankfully, by the end of the week, YouTube decided the videos were fair use, and restored them. Meanwhile, Viacom was blacking out web clips as part of a spat with DirecTV, leading Jon Stewart to blast them on their own network and get them to reverse the decision for at least some clips. And in New Zealand, the judge in Kim Dotcom's extradition trial spoke out against the TPP and copyright extremism, which forced him to step down from the case (even though the same thing never seems to happen to pro-copyright judges).

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2007, the RIAA finally found itself on the hook for legal fees in one of its aggressive lawsuits, despite its usual strategy of dropping cases whenever that looked like a possibility. The head of an LA news agency who made headlines by being the first person to sue YouTube for copyright infringement decided he might take his misguided fight to Apple as well. The MPAA was speaking out against net neutrality because it might interfere with anti-piracy enforcement, Clear Channel was trying to use the Sirius-XM merger as a reason to get looser restrictions on terrestrial radio ownership, and Microsoft was making promises about future Windows editions as damage control after the poor reception of Vista.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2002, webcasters were appealing the new royalty rates that would cripple them, tech executives were seeking a better starting point for a conversation about piracy with Hollywood, and Universal was doing the kind of thing Universal does and appointing a new "senior vice president of anti-piracy". At least one analyst was looking at broadband adoption in a more positive light than usual at the time, while others were not too sanguine on the future of 3D TV — but we also took a moment to celebrate how it's often unglamorous technology that changes history the most, on the 100th birthday of the air conditioner.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 18 July 2017 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 130: Is It Bad If Facebook Copies Everything Snapchat Does?

from the fast-following dept

You may have heard the joke: the best way to do product design for Facebook is to get a job at Snapchat. We've all seen how, after failing to buy the company, Facebook has wasted little time in building its own versions of most of Snapchat's key features. So... is this a problem? That's the subject on this week's episode, were we discuss the ins and outs of this kind of copying and what it might mean for the future of social media.

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 - 16 July 2017 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the heard-it-through-the-grapevine dept

This week, after we talked about a worrying DMCA ruling for Zazzle, one commenter suggested that selling merchandise eliminates safe harbors, and compared it to an anime fan site. An anonymous reply won most insightful comment of the week by laying out the problems with that comparison:

Your comparison is a little silly, Zazzle isn't a "fan site" where the material has an obvious source.

A user uploads an image to Zazzle, claims to have the right to use that image, and requests that Zazzle prints that image on a mug, all through an automated process.

You then expect Zazzle to be liable down the road if it turns out that the user did not, in fact, have the proper rights?

That's an untenable position.

Of course, the original commenter there was clearly trying to be thoughtful and polite. Not so with a response to our post about ICE's order to remove all undocumented immigrants, where a commenter whined about us "lefties" saying "to hell with the law" — leading Roger Strong to win second place with what I believe qualifies as an "epic smackdown":

In 1990 President George H.W. Bush’s "Family Fairness" policy gave deferrals to 1.5 million spouses and children of immigrants given amnesty by Reagan in 1986.

In 2003/2004 it was Bush II's turn to push for immigration amnesty. Almost half the Republicans in the US Senate were public supporters of AgJobs bill.

The Republican platform committee independently made immigration amnesty part of the Republican platform in 2004. (PDF link to the platform. Refer to the "Supporting Humane and Legal Immigration" section, where they say "We don't support amnesty" while describing their amnesty.)

Bush II tried again in 2007. ("Republican former President George W. Bush's effort to create a path to legal status for immigrants in the United States unlawfully failed in 2007")

In the 2008 election it was McCain that wanted immigration amnesty.

In July 2010 it was Sarah Palin's turn on the Bill O'Reilly show. Her plan was to make all illegal immigrants register. Those that don't would be found and deported. Those that DO register would be allowed to continue to work in the US.

Rick Perry wrote an op-ed in the newspaper saying that he was open to Amnesty. He's given speeches supporting an open border. "We must say to every Texas child learning in a Texas classroom, 'we don’t care where you come from, but where you are going, and we are going to do everything we can to help you get there.' And that vision must include the children of undocumented workers." [...] "President Fox’s vision for an open border is a vision I embrace, as long as we demonstrate the will to address the obstacles to it."

In 2012 New Gingrich favored an amnesty for illegal immigrants who "may have earned the right to become legal."

In 2013 Ted Cruz fought for legalization (work permits and green cards but not citizenship) for 11 million illegal immigrants.

Oh, those gosh-darned lefties.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got a response to the Australian prime minister's word salad on the subject of encryption backdoors and our own not-quite-right thoughts on it, with an anonymous commenter drawing a critical distinction:

Definition of backdoor

"A back door is typically a flaw in a software program that perhaps the -- you know, the developer of the software program is not aware of and that somebody who knows about it can exploit" [...] That bit of word salad suggests that at least a tiny smidgen of actual knowledge made it into his brain. A backdoor is an exploit.

That's not true. "Backdoor" normally refers to something that was known to the developer, and intentionally coded. What he's describing is a bug (and an "exploit" would be a program that takes advantage of that bug). One could say that's a de-facto backdoor but it would be at least a little unusual.

Next, in response to the FCC's claim that it can't do anything about impostors or bots submitting comments on net neutrality, ThaumaTechnician wondered how they could be so inept:

Clueless/lying politicians demand that cryptographers perform magic and defeat mathematical laws by creating mischief-proof crypto back doors, meanwhile they claim that it's impossible to perform standard, run-of-the-mill zombie hunting that's been standard practice as far back as at least the old BBS days.

Well, nerd harder yourselves.

Over on the funny side, our first place comment comes in response to Rob Reid's new book being half-released for free on Medium. One anonymous commenter felt this kind of strategy might be too much of a good thing:

No, absolutely not. I refuse.

My to-be-read list contains more than 500 books right now, and hasn't actually gotten any shorter since high school when I was reading close to a book per day. Do you have any idea what will happen if I have access to a large number of convenient, but not finished books? I'll go insane and never finish anything ever again...

Thanks internet. Thanks a lot.

In second place, we've got a brief anecdote from Carrie underlining just how much the norms of television are changing:

True Story. My friend's 5-year-old, raised on iPads with Netflix, said this yesterday:

"You know how Grandma's TV has something called...channels? Yeah, I think it's called channels. And there are breaks where they play commercials?"

That comment came in response to our post about NBC intentionally misspelling the names of shows in order to hide bad ratings from Nielsen, which is where we'll remain for our editor's choice on the funny side — a one-two punch from a pair of anonymous commenters, starting with:

Are you saying

that NBC has been caught with "fake views"?

...followed by:

alternative ratings

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 15 July 2017 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: July 9th - 15th

from the years-gone-by dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2012, we saw the folks who had recently been defeated by the internet try to sneakily get their way. In Europe, that took the form of resurrecting the all-but-dead ACTA inside the Canada-EU Trade Agreement (and writing clueless columns, of course). In the US, it was Lamar Smith trying to sneak SOPA through in bits and pieces in other bills, seemingly having learned nothing from the experience. The public wasn't oblivious though, and soon a backlash led to some of the problems of CETA being fixed and Smith's new bill falling apart.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2007, webcasters lost their fight to delay a big royalty hike when the court denied the requested stay, but then SoundExchange surprised us all by actually being just a little bit decent and holding off on actually enforcing the royalties. Sony BMG tried to redirect some of the blame for its rootkit fiasco by suing a company that supplied one of the pieces of copy protection software, while the silly DRM game of AACS was serving only to annoy legitimate customers. And surprise, surprise: a study found ripped DVDs weren't even a big source of piracy compared to file sharing.

Fifteen Years Ago

The battle over webcasting had already begun five years earlier in 2002, when it was clear that the labels wanted internet radio stations to go away. Meanwhile, after much concern about various pieces of bad internet legislation, it looked like Congress wasn't going to be moving on any of it anytime soon — but that didn't mean we could ignore a new bad bill that would basically eliminate people's fair use rights, which was unsurprising at a time when it looked like only one person in all of Congress really understood or cared about user rights.

Also this week in 2002, in a move that would further cement them both as tentpole internet platforms for years to come, eBay bought PayPal.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 11 July 2017 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 129: Rob Reid On Writing & Publishing A SciFi Novel In 2017

from the book-club dept

If you read our post yesterday, you know that Techdirt friend Rob Reid is releasing his latest novel, After On by publishing the first near-half of the book for free on Medium. As promised, today we're joined by Rob on the podcast for a discussion about the book, the launch, and what it's like to publish science fiction in 2017. And don't forget to get your copy of the book!

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 - 9 July 2017 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the anonymous-schmanonymous dept

We've got a double-winner this week, taking first place on both the insightful and funny sides. The comment came from kallethen in response to the State Department's strange and worrying attempt to spark a fake Twitter feud about the history of intellectual property in America, and pointed out that one of their prime examples was a strange choice:

Okay, is anybody else laughing at how they picked Ben Franklin as an example? Who, as I recall, did not seek to patent his inventions because he believed all should benefit by them?

In second place on the insightful side, we've got a response to AT&T's claim that people can simply choose not to have broadband. One anonymous commenter pointed out the company's own assertion that this isn't true:

AT&T's own commercial: "Food. Water. Internet. We need it to live."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqdahzSUNL4
Sorry for linking an AT&T ad.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with one more response to the State Department's propaganda plans, from an anonymous commenter who decided to play along:

Linus Torvalds made an open source operating system #MostAmericanIP

Jonas Salk eschewed $7bn and gave away the polio vaccine #MostAmericanIP

(Though as was quickly pointed out, Torvalds in fact created a kernel, not an OS. But the point still stands.)

Next, we've got a solid anonymous response to the all-or-nothing debates about "regulation" that some commenters try constantly to instigate:

Very few people supports absolute anarchy and very few people supports regulation that codifies every little detail.

With that in mind:

"pro regulation" and "no regulation" are mostly just rhetorics, with no value for specific topics. They are sufficiently unspecific to rally around like "change" and "make america great again" to not be a hinderance for dumbing down a discussion and beating the adversary on experience!

Over on the funny side, we've already had our first place winner above, so we head to second place where an anonymous commenter got understandably catty about constant demands from some commenters that we cover different topics that they think are more important:

You're free to start your own blog. You can call it. Neckbeards and fedoras. A users guide to the internet.

For editor's choice on the funny side, since it's been a very strong week for anonymous commenters so far, we continue with one more anonymous response to AT&T:

As a parent, I don't force my children to eat the dinner I make. They have options: take it or leave it.

What do you mean you are going to call the Department of Social Services about my starving children...

And finally, in our only entry from a logged-in user this week, we've got stderric with a comment for which I won't supply the context because it works in so many situations where someone has gone on a paranoid rant seeing political assertions that aren't there:

The post would make a lot more sense to you if you could read it in Standard American English rather than Regional Paranoid Lunatic.

That's all for this week, folks!

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

This Week In Techdirt History: July 2nd - 8th

from the stuff-that-happened dept

Five Years Ago

Charles Carreon kicked off this week in 2012 by continuing to dig deeper, while Matt Inman and IndieGogo hit back. He then tried to intimidate a parodist with a bizarre list of threats and a DMCA takedown. But by Tuesday, he had dismissed his lawsuit (while still claiming victory somehow), only for things to take a truly bizarre turn when an apparently fake lawsuit was filed against him under Inman's name.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2007, Russia shut down Allofmp3, a new legal spat raised the question of whether embedding a YouTube video can be infringement, and restaurants were beginning to really grapple with independent, amateur reviewers. The MPAA and RIAA were still up to their dirty investigative tricks while the NFL was trying to dictate the contours of fair use. And this was the week that Bill Gates ceased to be the richest man in the world.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2002, the RIAA was just starting up its campaign of going after the individual users of P2P sharing networks, while webcasters were being driven underground by onerous new royalty rates and a Danish court deeming it illegal to deep-link to a newspaper website. As WiFi continued to ascend, ISPs like Time Warner were starting to crack down on open hotspots — and as text messaging continued to ascend, the Methodist Church was joining the early crowd of people decrying it for getting in the way of social interaction.

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