Melissa Ruhl’s Techdirt Profile


About Melissa Ruhl

I research the organized chaos that is technology in law and politics. My pet topics swing around privacy and surveillance, open access education models, the future of social networking, and creatively inclusive gaming. My BA in philosophy shapes the way I think about societal conundrums and my MA in history informs the context from which they are created.

Outside of blogging and creating sci-fi stories, my favorite pastimes include hiking on the Oregon coast, playing with my two cute kitties, and gaming for ridiculously long stints.


Melissa Ruhl’s Comments comment rss

  • Apr 4th, 2012 @ 7:56pm

    Not bundling could mean more revenue

    Like sehlet, I canceled my cable because I couldn't get the channel I wanted.

    I've always thought that if they didn't bundle (but also didn't do what Mike suggested and raise prices on desirable channels) more people would purchase channels. More people purchasing channels means more happy conversation, which is the most effective kind of advertising out there.

    I just don't get how the bundling method makes economic sense for them.
  • Mar 23rd, 2012 @ 9:54am

    Nice try, Mr. Dodds.

    Of course it's actually the opposite from what Dodds is claiming. The creative flourish that Internet echoing encourages has actually given so many more people a chance at realizing their film creation dreams than the distant, elite Hollywood ever did.
  • Mar 16th, 2012 @ 3:13pm

    Good job Internetites, once again

    I think this is awesome. Once again, democratic pressure from Internet outrage made a tangible difference.

    This reminds me of my alma mater, the University of Oregon, which was indebted to Disney for its mascot, a relationship that has before inflamed into controversy when the UO admin freaked out that some fans used the mascot in a video. Disney and the admin became such a source of ridicule and the viral video couldn't be stopped that in 2010 Disney and the UO made a more reasonable agreement.

    TechDirt on the issue:
    The original video:
    UO and Disney making a new agreement:
  • Mar 15th, 2012 @ 5:28pm


    And it's idiots like this dude who devalue the importance of citizen litigation in a democracy by creating a collection eye roll...
  • Mar 15th, 2012 @ 5:24pm

    Re: Other than Jewish/Christian Religious Traditions...

    I read several books five years ago or so on the history of Progressive reformers who worked with women fleeing from polygamy, so I have a somewhat cloudy memory of the outlawing of polygamy in the States. Clearly, the Protestant Progressives had a significant bias in seeking to help Mormon women fight against a practice they strongly denounced. Religion was most definitely a motivator for social and political change. Though religion may seem an insufficient reason to us now, Protestantism has a long history of intertwining itself in American law. There were political reasons Protestants fought Mormons, but also polygamy seemed to be only about sex, so its immorality seemed self-evident to Protestant reformers.

    More fundamentally, I would argue, polygamy became politically toxic because definitions of marriage were changing. So-called companionate marriage, in which a husband and wife chose each other out of love, was a significant change going into the Progressive Era (late 1800s to early 1900s, maybe 1880-1914). Though the man and the woman each had their separate roles in marriage, each was seen--at least ideally--as an equal partner. Polygamy stood in the middle of this powerful cultural change as a relic of the past; it smacked of a time when women did not have the "moral authority" necessary to make the house a home.

    To summarize: from a Progressive woman's perspective polygamy's evils mostly centered around Christian morality and marital empowerment.

    I know less about the political movement against polygamy, but this Wikipedia entry on the LDS church's official declaration against the practice might be a helpful starting point.
  • Mar 12th, 2012 @ 11:39pm

    (untitled comment)

    I do think Amazon is a bit big and scary, but guess what? It's because they're a fantastic company and they do what they do well. With their books in general, I can always find what I want, I get awesome suggestions that broaden my understanding, I can browse and catalogue easily and so decrease impulse buying. With their Kindle Store, I like that I can loan some books, I like that I can instantly have a book suddenly in my hands, I like that I can back up my books with their cloud service. I would someday like to get a tablet, maybe an iPad, but for now I prefer having my reader since I can read distraction free.

    My point is Amazon is awesome. Clearly, a lot of people agree with me. Turow is so obviously talking from what he thinks are his own best interests.
  • Mar 12th, 2012 @ 11:18pm


    I think it's fantastic that we are essentially getting ad free blogging on TechDirt. If they do some subtle advertising, I could care less. At least it's interesting. :)
  • Mar 11th, 2012 @ 11:45am

    Re: Re: Democracy thrives with an educated populace, right?

    To a certain extent security is secrecy, but taken too far secrecy becomes paranoia and eventually insecurity. Also, I don't think they should necessarily disclose their methods for handling security breaches, but rather the type and quantity of the breaches themselves.
  • Mar 8th, 2012 @ 10:54pm

    Democracy thrives with an educated populace, right?

    I don't understand why the DHS/DoD/NSA doesn't want this to be a more public discussion. It is not as though the government is a lone lighthouse up against universal crashing waves of evil. There are so many facets of government and national security that the best way to form a more complete national defense would be to have a more informed populace. If we know how to protect ourselves, we will all be safer. Instead, their talk of a strawman/boogyman just paralyzes people into inaction. Stupid.
  • Mar 8th, 2012 @ 10:42pm

    At least Rush is revealing the true ugliness of it all

    Bahahah, I'm a new fan of dating ads! Lame? No. Marvelous? Yes!

    This whole advertiser rebellion has been so refreshing to me. As an American and as a woman, I cannot express enough how deeply disturbed I am at the contraception and abortion debate...if you can call it that. I absolutely cannot believe I live in a world in which my state could mandate governmental rape, which is exactly what the transvaginal ultrasounds are. And that's just one of the ridiculous issues plaguing discussion of women's health.

    I'm actually kind of glad Rush decided to be an idiot because he revealed the true ugliness bubbling just under the surface.
  • Mar 7th, 2012 @ 2:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Defining creator of a collaboration

    Yeah, definitely larger games/developers do have directors often. But it is significant that with the boom of the mobile gaming market the norm is increasingly studios with 10 or fewer people. I'm not sure, however, if the necessary corollary is chaos.
  • Mar 7th, 2012 @ 1:57pm

    (untitled comment)

    Interesting and motivating interview!

    The web has created a world in which a politician's constituents and a politician's lobbyists are by no means the only voices motivating opinions and votes, which is awesome. It is also so encouraging that entrepreneurship and an open Internet are slowly becoming nonpartisan issues explored by many stripes of politician.

    I wonder about his comments concerning legislation never dying in DC and ACTA being such an example...I wonder what the future of government and democracy will look like in a world where local and global are so interconnected. The SOPA/PIPA legislation was local to the US with global ramifications. The Jan 18 protests were global in participation and impact. ACTA is both an international piece of legislation and the representation of a global democratic movement against old monied elites. Etc., etc., right?

    Sen Moran's comments certainly painted a dynamic possible future.
  • Mar 7th, 2012 @ 5:11am


    There is a difference between tools and product. You would have copyright ownership over the tool you have created, but not every instantiation of that tool in the works of others. Assuming you either ask people to buy or borrow your tool with recognition, you maintain ownership over your tool while they utilize it to better their project.
  • Mar 7th, 2012 @ 5:07am

    Re: Defining creator of a collaboration

    That's a very interesting and complicated question. In the video game industry, I think the issue is complicated even further by the fact that there isn't often the equivalent of a director overseeing the project. Of course, if the individual engineers or artists or designers creating the game retained a tiny bit of IP from each game, there could be logistical nightmares when an individual leaves the company in the middle of a project...Maybe the best companies give their employees a little bit of ownership over their IP? But what would "a little bit of ownership" look like legally?

  • Feb 14th, 2012 @ 10:19am

    (untitled comment)

    Very interesting article.

    I can see how this argument also applies to the higher ed industry. I think some educators can feel threatened by the amount of information that is online because they think it threatens their own legitimacy. On the contrary, paying tuition buys the right to sit in a class or office with an expert. Anyone can and always has been able to buy a textbook or read an encyclopedia; though it is easier to do this now, it has always been possible. It is up to the higher ed experts to deliver the content in a coherent and relevant way. Thus the product.

    That said, we are definitely living in an exciting era in which this separation between product and content can truly be realized. If there really will be a student loan bubble soon to be a'poppin,' then we'll have to understand quite a bit more about the content/product argument in that arena as well.
  • Feb 1st, 2012 @ 5:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Catchy Comment Title...

    Very exciting! I look forward to the site's debut.

    I can definitely see that there would be a difference between academic and private research and development. At least in my department, there was a heavy bias against any online publishing, but we definitely have an older department. Perhaps the graduate students just haven't been exposed yet. I know that many of the top schools are encouraging their professors to publish openly. We'll see!
  • Feb 1st, 2012 @ 5:17pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I'm also an Oregonian and I definitely agree that people here are proud to have Wyden speak out for such an important cause. The cynical side of me says SOPA/PIPA lost support not because the protests made politicians realize the problems with the bills, but because they worried about their image and electability. Yet the Internet does back people like Wyden who actually have integrity. That's one of the big reasons Ron Paul has such strong support for young people and Internet communities.

    Just to further add to the evidence that our political system is sick but has potential to mend, I'm currently assisting with a course at the University of Oregon called Internet, Society, and Philosophy and on Jan 20 our Congressional representative, Peter DeFazio, visited the course to discuss SOPA/intellectual property issues. Our local paper highlighted the applause Defazio received, "for noting wryly that unlike some of his colleagues, he has the 'unfortunate habit' of reading bills before deciding whether to support them." I really believe that if we, the Internet, continue to act to support politicians and causes with integrity we can make some concrete change.

    Oh Politico. I've had so much faith in you!
  • Jan 31st, 2012 @ 7:35am

    Re: Catchy Comment Title...

    The problem is that if you are planning on making a career in academia, you will be required to publish and many academics (read people who will hire you) look down on online publishing.

    Have you read Danah Boyd's 2008 article on open access publishing at the university? I've always thought this was an excellent read.
  • Jan 30th, 2012 @ 3:16pm


    The issue is not so black and white. See, for example, this article from last week on Techdirt er-to-piracy-if-only-it-would-listen.shtml

    "The tech industry keeps sending Hollywood the tools it needs to save itself... and Hollywood keeps "waiting" for some miraculous savior, while missing all of the tools it's been offered to save itself:
    All I can think is: we gave you the Internet. We gave you the Web. We gave you MP3 and MP4. We gave you e-commerce, micropayments, PayPal, Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, the iPad, the iPhone, the laptop, 3G, wifi--hell, you can even get online while you're on an AIRPLANE. What the hell more do you want from us?

    Take the truck, the boat, the helicopter, that we've sent you. Don't wait for the time machine, because we're never going to invent something that returns you to 1965 when copying was hard and you could treat the customer's convenience with contempt."

    Further, many people think, myself included, do not think the current copyright system is supporting the artists or the creators. Something needs to change and SOPA/PIPA weren't the answers.
  • Jan 30th, 2012 @ 1:47pm

    (untitled comment)

    It sure seems like anything can happen now that we've seen legislation derailed by Internet activism. I was talking to my sister-in-law about SOPA/PIPA when she was here for Christmas about our frustrations regarding people's ignorance of the bills. Within three weeks, intellectual property became a household issue. I think we could be in a brave new world of activism, which I could see reddit leading.

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