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  • Jul 2nd, 2015 @ 11:07am

    Happy July

    Happy July everyone. Karl's mind numbing post pretty much can't pass without a comment - it's either this one of the other "blocking municipal networks" post further up the page.

    Karl, have you considered the mess most municipalities have made with the simple idea of water distribution? The average loss of water in these systems is 16%. They pay for the water systems in general mostly by being able to charge whatever they want within reason, as they are sole supplier.

    Municipal broadband sounds fantastic. The reality is much more like "let's spend a bunch of money we don't have, for a network that will need to be maintained, and will need to be upgraded, and will eventually be out of date (likely while the bonds are still getting paid off) and all let's not talk cost to the consumer, because we know how this goes: Unreasonably cheap to the point that it eradicates the market place, followed by huge increases when they finally figure out what it's costing them to do all of this. It's not cheap, it's pretty much on part with setting up a cable company or an electric grid. It's not chickenfeed, and even more expensive if you do fiber to the home.

    Letting government workers on any level be responsible for your connection to the internet is insanity. It will be expensive, over prices, have high maintenance costs, poor customer service, and generally will be out of date at some point.

    Just like a normal ISP, at probably twice the price in the end.

    So happy July to you, and I do hope like hell you get stuck with broadband run by the local people who can't manage to get the timing right on the local traffic lights.

  • Jun 4th, 2015 @ 7:07am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Wikileaks crosses the line again

    Hi Mike, glad to see you never change! Deflection, and not addressing the main point at hand. Do you think wikileaks is crossing the line here?

    As for morality, the problem of you picking winners and losers is that the choices are based on your preferences and your beliefs, and not on the rules of society. In essence, you make the moral judgement to follow only laws and regulations that suit you, and to hell with the rest. When I (or others) try to bring up the questions of morality in relation to living in an orders society, you defect and say "moral arguments are invalid!". Yet, the US (and much of the rest of the free world) only works well when we live under a somewhat common set of laws and a more or less common moral system.

    You choose to ignore certain laws. You don't seem to see a problem with Wikileaks paying people to violate trust or even specifically break the law to obtain documents. How would feel if I said "I want your car, I have no moral issues with theft" or "I want your money, after all, it's just a little black hat hacking". Under the law, each of those situations are the same.

    Ross Ulbricht recently has found out that feeling that he could pick and choose which laws did and did not apply to hime was a bad feeling. His morality of picking winners and losers was a fail.

    "Nowhere do I say that all moral arguments don't make sense. I'm just saying that if you have a situation in which everyone can be better off, there is no "moral" argument that everyone should be worse off."

    Better is an even more slippery concept than morals. Define better? Mark Zuckenberg defines better in giving free internet to the masses, even if it's a limited subset of mostly his own product. Is his version of better morally better than your version? Better is in the end just a moral judgement, and thus any argument for or against is a moral argument. Your real point seems more to be "my morals are better than your morals, so quit complaining!". Your statements as a result are more of less self cancelling. Better is a moral judgement (are Americans better with more guns?). A moral judgement generally needs to stand up to moral arguments.

    Anyway, all the way back... can you answer the simple question: Do you think Wikileaks has gone too far, and if not, why not (without being moral)?

  • Jun 3rd, 2015 @ 8:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Wikileaks crosses the line again

    It has been 1 month. This post was too good to pass up on. It shows just how far the whole thing has sunk, and how close we are to civil war. We are already picking and choosing the laws we will obey and the ones we won't, how long before we start to choose that for others as well, at gunpoint if needed?

    Seriously, you (and your other troll friends) need to just stop worrying about me, and start worrying about yourselves. Clearly you are no longer in control of your own anger and emotions, and feel you must attack anyone who disagrees with you. How long before you start to do that at gun point?

    See you next month, sucker.

  • Jun 3rd, 2015 @ 5:37pm

    Re: Re: Wikileaks crosses the line again

    Oh Wise Paul, the man with an answer for everything...

    So why not just shoot them? Clearly you have no issue with breaking the law to "get them", so why not shoot them? Car bomb? Nuclear device? Hold their families for ransom? Poison the water or perhaps just burning the buildings down with everyone in it. After all, you have already established that since they are not moral people, you don't have to have morals either.

    Are you claiming to be morally superior? How do you measure that, exactly? How do you explain it here on Techdirt when Mike himself repeatedly points out that moral argument are invalid?

    Wikileaks feel that they are above the law, that their "great calling" making them immune from the law. They are in a similar position, which is at what point do they start killing people or holding them for ransom in order to "get the documents"? They are already proving they are willing to bribe people to break the law (that is what this "reward" is), so how long before they go full retard and start posting up "dead or alive"pages?

    That's the funny things about morals and the law. Once you provie you are willing to break the law, it's becomes a subjective question of personal taste. Are you willing to accept that the guy next to you perhaps feels morally superior enough to kill or maim to get the goods on someone?

  • Jun 3rd, 2015 @ 3:05am

    Wikileaks crosses the line again

    These guys (and girls) really need better lawyers.

    Paying a "reward" for someone to break the law or violate confidentiality seems to get them very close to enticing someone to break the law and paying them to do it. That could turn into conspiracy charges, and would likely land right on the head of Julian Assange.

    It doesn't matter how good or how bad the agreement is, paying someone to either violate a sworn (or signed) confidentiality agreement or otherwise obtain a copy through illegal means is a really, really bad idea.

  • May 6th, 2015 @ 7:01am

    Re: Re:

    I couldn't resist this stinky piece of pseudo science, sorry. Someone I know sent it to me with some pretty sharp comments about the slant.

    For that, I will see you in two months, unless your next piece on TorrentFreak is equally as bad.

  • May 6th, 2015 @ 3:20am

    (untitled comment)

    Anti patent and anti copyright think tank comes out with a study that "proves" what they are saying. Don't think they started with the conclusion and worked backwards?

    God, Techdirt is a cesspool of stupidity at times.

  • May 3rd, 2015 @ 10:33pm

    pre-infringement... it's all how you look at it.

    I followed this story with interest because I feel that it's the perfect example of how to twist facts to suit an agenda.

    An injunction isn't very unusual. Injunctions are sought all of the time to stop people from doing bad things that they have threatened to do. That can be anything such as stalking, threats, or people who insist on returning to places they are barred from. Injuctions can be used to stop strikes or other harmful actions, or even stop a company or individual from selling or buying an asset, depending on circumstances.

    Since HBO and Showtime have exclusive broadcast rights and are the only live coverage provider, they have existing contractual rights without considering copyright at all. That is to say anyone saying "we will live stream the fight" would be in direct violation of the signed contract between HBO, Showtime, and the promoters of the fight. For anyone to claim to be offering the fight live is directly in violation of that exclusive agreement, and is certainly a valid basis for an injunction.

    Copyright doesn't even really enter into it, except to say that IF, after everything, they do stream it, they would be in violation of copryight at that point but only in addition to violating the exclusive agreement reached between HBO and the promoter.

    The injunction doesn't need copyright to go forward. The results of ignoring the injunction would involve copyright.

    Twisting the story to say it's about 'pre-suing for copyright violation" is to ignore the concept of contract law and terms of exclusivity. I am sure it plays well around here (and on Torrent Freak, who lived up to their names by totally freaking out about this). It shows some serious twisting of facts to try to make a point, and it's a solid fail.

    Carry on.... see you guys next month.

  • Apr 23rd, 2015 @ 3:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: No, it's not always about Google

    Oh, one last thing:


    You may want to reconsider your billion dollar numbers, unless they had an amazing amount of sales since Monday.

  • Apr 23rd, 2015 @ 3:07am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: No, it's not always about Google

    "So, you're saying that no current record contract includes royalties? I assume you have a cite for that claim, as that sounds rather ridiculous?"

    I didn't say that. Royalties are paid "before profit" and not after. They are percentage of gross, or sometimes the percentage of a fixed net (ie, the costs towards the net don't change). Royalties are generally not paid on profit, they are paid on income.

    "So do the studios. Universal Studios, part of a huge multinational corporation, has just taken in over $1 billion worldwide for a single movie (Furious 7),"

    Yes, and Google took in 15 plus billion in the same quarter. Scale is important here. Universal may or may not make about 8% of the income of Google (we won't mention Facebook and other online billionaire companies in the discussion).

    You can read here if you want to understand better (just read slowly do you don't miss anything):


    " I don't give a crap what Google does individually when it's something that's standard for all corporations."

    You need to understand that this is not standard for all corporations. It's something created quite recently all considered by tech companies who were looking to move money from high tax areas (where they do business) to low tax areas (where they do almost no business).

    Nobody was claiming unique evilness - only scale. I would think a Tech blog would be more interested in the goings on at Tech companies, not old line movie companies.

    Anyway, enough fun for this month, you can talk to yourself now, see you sometime in May or June.

  • Apr 23rd, 2015 @ 1:54am

    Re: Re: Re: No, it's not always about Google

    Nice to see you are still around Paul. You still have reading issues, I gather, but that's a different issue for next month.

    "So, by that logic, musicians who signed a contract for royalties, rather than a fixed fee upfront, had bad legal advice and only have themselves to blame if they can't feed their families from work they did 50 years ago?"

    You don't know the difference? Royalties are a "before the net" thing and not an after the net thing. Record gets sold, band gets royalties. They aren't waiting for profit. Most bands also get a major up front that has to get paid off first, but that is a very different game. Bands generally are not on "net profit only" basis.

    "That's a interesting view coming from you. I'll bear that in mind in other threads."

    Only keep in mind that you didn't understand (again).

    "Ah, so you admit that studios are using the same tactics as Google!"

    I never said otherwise. My original point is only that the studios and such do it on what is a very small scale. Google does it with BILLIONS of income, not millions. Moreover, they aren't using offshore to move money around to avoid tax as much as to avoid paying certain people and to profit others. Google (and other big companies) do it to avoid paying tax, which harms all of us.

    Go have a look how much search and ad business Google does in your country, and then try to figure out how much tax they paid in your country. If your country has higher corporate taxes (more than 5%) then you can almost be certain that most of the money went offshore long before tax time. This harms you directly, why worry about how a studio counts their beans when it doesn't really harm you?

  • Apr 22nd, 2015 @ 11:32pm

    Re: No, it's not always about Google

    I think you went a long way to make a point that is entirely irrelevant. You almost got back on track, but you lost your way.

    If people sign deals for "percentage of net" without knowing what is involved in going from gross income to net profits, then they had pretty bad legal advice up front. Movies like Star Wars franchise films are rarely net profitable for many reasons. One thing is licensing (characters, screen play, and the like) which is an upfront and ongoing cost. A percentage or even a fixed amount per unit sale / rental / distribution is paid on all of the income from these movies. Done right, it means that the rights holders are generally the ones making most of the money long before the net is calculated.

    It's pretty much the same deal that large corporate entities use to shift income off of their books, by creating expenses that need to be paid to offshore companies that hold rights, provide accounting and administrative services, and the like. Essentially, they "let" the offshore companies bill them for enough to syphon off much of the income long before the question of profits come into play.

    What you call "hollywood accounting" is just "big business accounting", nothing more and nothing less. Producers, actors, and others sign contracts for percentage of net without having an idea what the gross to net calculations will be.

    Hollywood does have one good trick however, which is where major players in a film get a percentage of gross over a certain level of sales or income. As an example, a movie might cost 50 million to make, and at 150 million of income, the leading actor(s) split a percentage of the income over that point. Producers and directors are often on this sort of deal, which not only pays them handsomely in the short term for a films success, but keeps on paying them in the future as long tail sales keep coming in. Since it's calculated BEFORE the net generally, it means less actual profits. If you have a handful of different players (investor, producers, directors, stars, writers, etc) on this sort of plan, when combined with licensing and such it can pretty much render any project as unprofitable on a net level.

    Again, big corporations have different variations on this sort of idea, but the song remains the same - it's all accounting, and it's all about avoiding paying the little guy or "the people" their due. Uncle Sam has no choice, the tax laws generally address net profits and not gross income. Actors and producers do have a choice, and those who (foolishly) take net percentage deals get pretty much the same thing Uncle Sam gets... nada.

  • Apr 22nd, 2015 @ 7:33pm

    Re: Re: Oh Google?

    I agree with you completely. There is no intent for deflection, only to point out that the workings of a private contract between a studio and a producer is really just not important when compared to the massive amounts of tax that are avoided by corporations in the US and around the world.

    I don't worry about jaywalking when someone is shooting at me. Priorities. Getting all uppity about the jay walking it to miss the scale of the offence under the circumstances. There are bigger fish to fry (including the studios and record labels that do the same sorts of tax avoidance tricks). Let's focus on what matters to the people, not the private dealings of the rich and stupid.

  • Apr 22nd, 2015 @ 5:38pm

    Oh Google?

    For a tech blog, you seem to be very much attached to the mundane - the literal small fry.

    No great investigations into Google? We know that they have used every tax dodge and offshoring option possible to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. Many major tech companies have done similar things (did anyone look at Facebook's results yesterday?). They didn't rip off some overly entitled producer or artiste, but rather screwed the public directly.

    From what I understand, the taxes avoided by these corporations in the US alone would be enough to pay for a college education for everyone currently in the education system.

    Who cares about hollywood accounting? It's small potatoes in the real world.

  • Apr 20th, 2015 @ 3:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 1201 time?

    "that remaining 10% would still be a huge amount of excellent new works."

    The sentiment is nice, but an unproven concept at best. I am never a big fan of the strip mining mentality that seems to exist, hoping to find a gold nugget while ignoring the effects of the mining itself. The 90% crap figure you suggest is both painful and a whole lot of discouraging poor quality content to wade through.

    "Make copyright duration based upon publication date"

    Again, great sentiment, but the results would be the same: The copyright expiration would be extended to meet the requirements of the mouse and others, and thus the results would be the same as you have today.

    Requiring registration to have copyright is wasteful, expensive, and creates an incredible amount of doubt in the public's mind as to what is and what is not copyright. Today's system is simple: Someone has copyright on it (even if it is a monkey). There is absolutely no doubt in anyone's mind right now that a work is copyright.

    Perhaps better would be a "public domain registry" where creators could register their work(s) as in the public domain and free of copyright. Such an official move would certainly be a lot more clear than the near endless variations of creative commons licenses that always seem to have some sort of hold back or hidden restriction in them.

  • Apr 19th, 2015 @ 10:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: 1201 time?

    Philip K Dick. All the movies produced after his death. Careful curation and control by the rights holders his incredible trove of stories from being pillaged and plundered in a very short period of time, and instead we have been treated to a selection of exceptional movies. Had the work gone into the public domain upon his death, it's likely many schlock movies would have been made and killed the desire to make the stories into higher end movies.

    Also, the "upon death of author" would lead to the inevitable BS legal defense of "I didn't publish without permission, I read on the internet that he was dead".

  • Apr 19th, 2015 @ 7:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: 1201 time?

    Umm,more like "citation needed" to show how this is getting in the way. I don't see very many, except for hackers upset that they can't break into something... the security types I can understand, but the rest? Not feeling it. So Citation needed for really good uses that merit such a widescale change to the 1201 protections.

  • Apr 18th, 2015 @ 11:40pm

    Re: Re: 1201 time?

    Yes, and SCOTUS made that ruling without knowing the implication of a thing called "internet" and "perfect digital copies". It was a narrow victory for the VCR, but it is pretty clear that in the current circumstances, the decision would have swayed the other way. What saved the VCR was basically the degrading copies, that a copy of a copy wasn't the basis of widespread copyright violation. With perfect digital copies, the infringing uses of a VCR style device is much more widespread, and the courts decision could very likely have gone the other way.

    There are very, very, very few instances where the restrictions in 1201 get in the way of meaningful work. Security experts are perhaps the exception, but that is still a fairly narrow concept that doesn't require throwing out the baby with the bathwater to fix.

  • Apr 17th, 2015 @ 8:13pm

    1201 time?

    I gather by the posting of multiple articles attacking 1201 in different ways this week that this is the new Techdirt Agenda play. How transparent.

    The bill in question SOUNDS wonderful, but it opens up a can of worms. In particular,you hit the question of "non-infringing purposes". As an example, ripping a game or DVD or whatever that has DRM, and putting it on your own hard drive would appear to be okay. What if you upload it to a "backup" service? What if that "Backup" service allows others to access you files? At what point did it becoming infringing?

    What happens if your "non-infringing" backup gets put on your network share drive, and your roommates or family members take a copy and share it with their friends. At what point was it for a non-infringing purpose?

    Further, it would be clear that this change would make "ripper" tools entirely legal (ie, they would not be against 1201 because there would be "non-infringing uses"). Yet clearly, people would use these tools to rip stuff and put it on torrents or otherwise "infringe". What a change to 1201 would do would be to tip the balance that currently exists.

    Wyden as always is really good at hopping on the bandwagon with things like this, introducing ANOTHER bill that clogs up the congress with unpassable legislation. There is little indication of wide bypartisan support for such a bill, if anything the US generally wants to protect IP and not make it many times easier for casual infringement to become the norm.

  • Apr 15th, 2015 @ 3:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Federal Law...

    The point is that the money is the product of the alleged crime. When someone robs a bank, they criminal can't keep the money to pay for a lawyer. Why should it be different if the money was obtained by selling drugs, or selling illegal weapons?

    Remember, by your logic, the bank robbery is only alleged until he is found guilty in a court of law. By that standard, he should be allowed to keep the gun he used, the money he obtained, and the car he stole to make the get away, as all of it hasn't been proven in a court of law. He should be allowed to drive that car to court, carry the weapon, and use the money to pay for his defense.

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