Chris Meadows’s Techdirt Profile


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  • Mar 22nd, 2015 @ 3:36pm

    Selfie stick = modern-day mace

    You know, in medieval times, a long stick with a weight on the end was called a "mace" and swung around to whap your enemies with. The angular momentum imparted by the length of the stick means the weight on the end can get up some pretty good speed and do some serious damage.

    Ban such a thing in venues where lots of people might get crowded together and there's some serious potential for doing harm by accident? Uh, yeah, let's do that.

  • Dec 19th, 2014 @ 7:02pm

    Enough stories about these fake lobsters...

    John Hodgman explained that these crustaceans are actually johnny-come-latelies, and the original form of the lobster was a furry creature more like a sea otter. Jonathan Coulton wrote a song about it.

  • Dec 15th, 2014 @ 8:06am

    "Passwords" folder

    Just to note, it's more likely that the "Passwords" folder was created by the hackers as a handy place to put all the various passwords files they found in various locations as they rifled through the stuff to create the information dump they uploaded.

  • Dec 2nd, 2014 @ 1:06pm

    Re: Re: We don't need to get into mindset

    True enough, but those twelve ordinary "reasonable" people on the jury unanimously determined that, given the specific circumstances, they found Elonis's postings to be a credible threat. And they were made fully aware of the context of the thing, including hearing Elonis's "it was just expressive rap lyrics" argument. If those twelve people weren't convinced, I'm not either.

    Remember, the SCOTUS case isn't necessarily over whether he's guilty in that context, it's over whether the criteria used to find him guilty should be relaxed because he claims it was written for no other reason than to be expressive rap music, and expressive rap music should be protected.

    I don't believe anyone who posts threatening statements that specifically refer to and terrorize another person should get a free pass just because he claims "artistic merit." There are certain standards we hold to in society, and those include not openly threatening other people. It doesn't matter if you're "serious" or not; the crime is inherent to the threat itself. Just like it's illegal to point a gun at someone, even if you don't plan to shoot them and even if the gun isn't even loaded.

  • Dec 2nd, 2014 @ 10:54am


    It's not a matter of him handling it by writing a song about it. He could have written all the threatening songs he wanted about it, if he wrote them down in a little notebook and kept them to himself, for example.

    It's a matter of him posting that song to his Facebook. The right to free speech is not a right to menace other people. Saying "My ex-wife is a (b-word)" is one thing. But you don't get to say you'd like to kill her in a way calculated to make her fearful that you really plan to, even if you do it in rhyme. (You can't tell me that guy wasn't trying to be clever and leave himself an "out" for in case he got arrested for threatening her. "No, no, look, it rhymes, see? It's just a rap! There's nothing threatening about a rap!")

    The current state of the law is that we have twelve ordinary, average people on a jury, who look at the statements including their context, and judge from that whether they think they actually constitute a credible threat. And they have to be unanimous about it. That's not exactly a low bar. It's hard enough for a couple of people to agree about where to go to dinner, let alone twelve to agree on a decision with severe consequences for a man's life where there's any ambiguity about it.

    This is the system we have now. It's a good system. I'd like to keep it. Free speech doesn't mean the right to say absolutely anything you want, including things harmful to other people.

  • Dec 2nd, 2014 @ 10:20am

    We don't need to get into mindset

    The way that the current test for threatening speech works is that 12 jurors perform the "reasonable person" test. Would they, as reasonable people, find the lyrics threatening in that context? Furthermore, they have to find them so unanimously; if there's any doubt, they have to acquit. This doesn't get into the mindset of the perpetrator or the victim. It doesn't require the court or the jury to try to be mind-readers, and doesn't give a free pass to anyone who makes a statement that a reasonable person would assume to be a credible threat if they say afterward, "Oh, I didn't mean it."

    You can't tell me that Elonis wasn't trying to make a cute end-run around the law. "I want to throw a scare into this woman because she made me feel bad, but I want to leave myself an 'out' so I can claim I wasn't actually serious if I get arrested. I know, I'll make it look like a rap and claim I'm just 'expressing myself'!"

    We really don't need to put juries in the position of trying to read minds. What we've got now is a great balance between free speech and rule of law. There's nothing magical about Facebook that means anything people post there can't be considered credibly threatening, whether it rhymes or not.

  • Dec 1st, 2014 @ 12:40pm

    Re: Re: Another way Europe thinks it can legislate the global Internet...

    It's specifically being removed as of the start of next year. That's the problem.

  • Dec 1st, 2014 @ 6:06am

    Another way Europe thinks it can legislate the global Internet...

    Have you heard about the new VAT MOSS regs, which state that everyone who sells to an EU consumer, even if they're located outside the EU, is required to collect and remit the proper VAT from the consumers, as well as hold onto two non-contradictory sources of information concerning customer location for each order, for ten years? What's more, in order to do that and comply with EU privacy regs, their business servers have to be located in the EU.

    Ridiculous. And unenforceable, unless the operator of such a business should decide to visit the EU somewhere down the road.

  • Oct 11th, 2014 @ 9:55am

    Re: Moxie

    Yeah, and it's the source of the expression, "You got moxie" so often heard in hard-boiled detective and gangster dramas.

    Tastes kind of like a less-sweet Doctor Pepper.

  • Aug 19th, 2014 @ 1:22pm

    Re: Re: It's not ABOUT the Onion, people

    As many dogs and people as they've been killing lately? It looked all too plausible. Even I thought it was real until I clicked through to the editor's defense.

  • Aug 19th, 2014 @ 1:06pm

    It's not ABOUT the Onion, people

    Why does everyone fall into assuming that Facebook thinks most users are too stupid to discern that an Onion article is satire?

    That's not what it's about.

    In the last year or so, a new brand of "satire" site (I quotate "satire" because it's not clear to me that they really deserve to be in that category) has sprung up that specializes in writing outrageous stories that are just plausible enough to be believable.

    They give themselves names that aren't obviously satirical ("National Report," I'm looking at you), and do pretty much everything they can to hide the fact that they're satire. As nearly as anyone not intimately familiar with the site can tell, they're real news.

    Their whole purpose is trolling people to get outraged and send their real-looking fake news stories viral, so they can make a fortune on ad revenue. (Say what you will about "You won't believe what happened next!" clickbait sites like Buzzfeed, at least they aren't trying to con their readership.)

    Most recently, we saw this in a National Report fake story about a cop who got in an argument with a breastfeeding woman and ended up killing her baby. When people realized it was fake and got upset, the paper's editor was all, "Hey, don't hate on us, hate on the real cops who are nasty enough that you found this ridiculous story believable in the first place."

    It would be more convincing if it weren't that his site and others like it built their whole business model on tricking and outraging people.

    This kind of thing is why Facebook users actually asked Facebook to make it easier to distinguish satire articles. And why, thus, Facebook is doing it.

    And thank goodness they are, at last. If I don't ever have to deal with another manufactured-outrage fake news story in my friend feed, it will be too soon.

  • May 29th, 2014 @ 6:13am

    Don't blame Amazon for DRM

    By putting DRM on its digital products—ebooks and audio books—Amazon gets the legal backing of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's anti-circumvention restrictions on its products. This isn't for the advancement of public policy goals, either; Amazon gets to create the private law it wants to be enforced. Thanks to DRM, Kindle users are no longer free to take their business elsewhere—if you want a Kindle book, you must purchase it from Amazon.

    Point of order here: Amazon does not require publishers to put DRM on their e-books. Tor hasn't for two years, Cory Doctorow and Baen never have, and plenty of self-publishers don't. It's a choice individual publishers make for themselves, and so far most of the Big Five have chose to use it.

    If the publishers are looking for someone to blame for Amazon's DRM platform lock-in, they need to look in a mirror.

  • May 28th, 2014 @ 6:18pm

    Under a bus?

    Curious how Amazon is throwing customers under a bus here. If they gave in to Hachette, it would probably end up resulting in higher prices as agency pricing went into effect again. I suspect most customers would prefer a little pain now for a lot less later.

    It's also worth noting that Amazon made its announcement last night not in the form of a press release, but on its forum. The subtext is that Amazon is speaking directly to its customers about what's going on, rather than speaking over their heads to the press. They even apologized for the inconvenience and suggested how people can order the books under dispute if they want them in a timely manner.

  • Dec 17th, 2013 @ 12:44am

    Not sure what the problem is

    I'm not really seeing the problem here. If any restaurant did take her up on this offer, she'd be pretty much required to state up front she was compensated for her plugging it. If she didn't, she'd be in big trouble with the FTC, who recently issued very specific rules that if you got comped in return for a plug on your blog, you have to say so.

    As far as I know, it's a pretty common practice for blogs to approach companies with products they want to review offering a review in return for a complimentary product. This blogger seems a bit audacious, but then her offer is couched in PR-speak, to which average consumers these days tend to have a poor response.

  • Sep 29th, 2011 @ 7:37am

    (untitled comment)

    Perhaps if we're lucky this case will go all the way to SCOTUS and set a nationwide precedent that it's allowed.

    Of course, if we're unlucky it will go all the way to SCOTUS and set the wrong precedent.

  • Aug 12th, 2011 @ 8:29am

    (untitled comment)

    The article I read suggested the DA's decision was a bit more pragmatic than realizing Gizmodo hadn't done anything illegal. The subtext I got, reading between the lines, was that they still thought Gizmodo had acted illegally in receiving stolen property, but Gizmodo was prepared to use a first-amendment freedom-of-the-press defense that could drag on into a lengthy, highly-publicized legal battle that would just end up Streisand-effecting them into greater publicity. Even if the DA's office eventually won, it would have been at too great a cost for any possible benefit.

  • Feb 1st, 2011 @ 4:45pm

    (untitled comment)

    Technically, it's not that they want all content to be sold through in-app purchases. It's just that they want in-app purchases to be available if out-of-app purchases are. And in-app purchases would pay 30% to them.

  • Jan 25th, 2011 @ 7:35pm

    It matters how old you are

    "My friend Jim Griffin always says that anything invented before you’re 20 was there forever; anything invented before you’re 30 is the coolest thing ever; and anything invented after that should be illegal." —Cory Doctorow

  • Dec 9th, 2010 @ 10:59pm

    We may be looking at this all wrong

    Whatever you say about Righthaven, you have to admit that they're not pulling an RIAA, making threats to people they believe will readily cave and pay them more money than it cost to send the copyright notices.

    They're going after one of the most pugnacious bloggers in the whole blogosphere, the guy who stood up to an ex-Clinton aide and won. (What are they thinking? Are they thinking?)

  • Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 11:47am

    It didn't apply to the pedophile book either

    Amazon pulled it only a couple of hours after making the announcement, leading to speculation that the announcement was a knee-jerk boilerplate Amazon sends out in the event of a complaint about any book (such as, say, a Tea Partier complaining about Amazon selling Obama's book, or a fundamentalist complaining about Amazon selling books about Satanism) whereas the decision to pull the pedophilia manual was made by someone high-ranking enough to be able to use his own judgment.

    When you get down to it, Amazon rolled right over on the pedophile book, too.

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