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Posted on Techdirt - 10 December 2017 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the unregulated dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side came in response to the absurd trademark battle between the San Diego and Salt Lake comic conventions, where the former played some licensing games with Rose City to try to bolster its argument. Aerie simply wasn't having it, for good reason:

Seriously? Rose City didn't affiliate with the word "Comic Con", it affiliated with the entity of San Diego Comic Con. Someone forgot to tell SDCC that you cannot trademark a generic term. I don't see any jury finding for SDCC.

I've been collecting comic books ever since the 1970's and everyone I know has referred to comic conventions as "comic cons". Just what the fuck does SDCC think "comic con" stands for? It stands for "comic convention". It's the same reason why you can't trademark "popcorn" and sue another company for having "popcorn" in the name of its business.

SDCC stands a good chance of not just losing their lawsuit but also losing their trademark on "comic con".

This would be a different story if the SDCC had simply called their event "Comic Con" and trademarked that, but they didn't, because they would never have been allowed to. Their event is called "San Diego Comic Con" NOT "Comic Con". lols

In second place, we've got an excellent anonymous response to an absolutist anti-regulation commenter saying "I told you so" over the FCC's net neutrality repeal:

It never ceases to amaze how little people like you actually know about how the Internet works. Here is a small clue for you:

It has ALWAYS been regulated by the government.

All that's changed is who's doing the regulating and what the rules are.

Back in the late 70's, DARPA set the rules. And thankfully, they crafted them to do the most good for the most people. That's why it prospered: without rules it would have never gotten anywhere.

In the 80's, other networks arose and were connected to the ARPAnet and then gradually subsumed by it. There's a reason it worked out that way and not the other way around: regulation. Effective, useful regulation.

And so on. Regulation hasn't been perfect (I've been sharply critical from time to time) but it has largely succeeded in shepherding the Internet from a rather exclusive club to a national asset, a major driver of commerce, an educational treasure, a boon for culture, and a civic engagement platform.

Pai proposes to light this on fire. And Verizon/Comcast/et.al. are standing by to pour gasoline on the flames. Whether you are left or right doesn't matter, you should be able to recognize this as an act of wanton vandalism.

Since this staunch anti-regulation attitude is such a common refrain, for editor's choice on the insightful side we've got two more important counterpoints. First, it's another anonymous commenter making a comparison to Europe:

The EU market is more regulated than the US one, and actually, it's even more competitive.

It isn't strange, at least in cities, to have 6-8 ISPs (at least) competing with each other to give you the service.

From what I've heard, Comcast will never hunt (or even want to) in AT&Ts or Verizons turf, and vice versa.

That doesn't happen in the EU, where you see all major ISPs stabbing each other to get their share of the market.

Still, the problem isn't with the regulation itself, but with the nature of it. You have pro-consumer regulation and anti-consumer regulation.

It's up to you what you want: while an anti-consumer regulation "might" be better for business, it screws up you in one or other way.

On the other hand, pro-consumer regulation might sound as worse for business, but you forget the fact that there is already an unbalance in consumer-vendor relationships:

The vendor has the advantage, because it's his job. He knows better the market, the loopholes, the deals and in general, he has more information than the customer in that area.

So in an apparently equal environment, you're the one who is going to get screwed. This is like the casinos, the house always wins.

Next, it's Derek Kerton explaining some complications to the idea that regulation is the sole reason for telco monopolies in the first place:

In part. But the real reason we have telecom oligopolies is because this industry is a "natural monopoly".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_monopoly

It's not caused by regs. It's caused by naturally occurring:
High CapEx to start
Smaller Addressable market for new entrants
Higher total costs of redundant infrastructures
Economies of scale.

John Stuart Mill first explored natural monopolies, concluding that these services should either be delivered by the government, or by a tightly regulated private monopoly. We tend to call these businesses "utilities".

So, the market failure you say regs will cause is a real risk. The the market failure with no regs is a SURE THING. Given the choice of being thrown in a volcano (no regs, certain market failure), or flipping a coin - heads we throw you in the volcano, tails we don't (regs that may cause market failure)...you should prefer the coin toss.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner comes from Rocky, who did some copy editing on our post about Germany's calls for backdoors into every internet-connected device:

There is a spelling error in the article, it says 'written up a draft proposal' which I suppose should be 'written up a daft proposal'.

In second place, it's Roger Strong with some dark irony regarding internet conspiracy nonsense:

If some pig-ignorant inbred conspiritard spends his time listening to Alex Jones and posting birther and islamophobic wingnuttery, then at least it keeps him off the streets. It's not like he'll be elected President or appointed National Security Advisor.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we head to our story about the world's angriest lawyer dropping a lawsuit supposedly after being told to by an unidentified "supervisor" at an unidentified company. Two different commenters mused about who and what this might be, with This Anonymous Coward proposing one possibility...

Poor JLVD...

His shift manager are McDonalds made him drop the case...

...and an anonymous commenter putting forth an even simpler hypothesis:

Personally I believe that in this case immediate supervisor is pronounced mom.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 9 December 2017 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: December 3rd - 9th

from the noteworthy-moments dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2012, the ITU was holding its World Conference on International Telecommunications to try to, more or less, "fix the internet" (not that it was broken). Their ideas about speeding up infrastructure built-out were more likely to slow it down, and it was unclear who many of the new proposed rules actually covered. They rushed to approve a deep packet inspection standard in secret, then turned out to be really bad at secrecy. Amidst all this it was no surprise that Congress managed to pass a unanimous resolution telling the ITU to keep its hands off the internet.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2007, Apple (while navigating the iPhone patent minefield) was proposing a plan to make extortion an explicit part of DRM, while Nielsen was for some reason trying to become a copyright cop. Perfect 10 was losing in its attempts to blame anyone with money for infringement, rather than the infringer while the MPAA, in an instance of extremely amusing irony, was forced to take its anti-piracy kit for universities offline for violating the GPL license on code therein. This was also the week that we saw the introduction of the PRO IP Act, which would be signed into law the following year.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2002, file sharing was in the legal crosshairs as Morpheus and Grokster went to court. Deals site FatWallet challenged a crazy DMCA claim from Wal-Mart over posting sale prices, leading to a public outcry and, later in the week, Wal-Mart backed down. We got a good example of licensing insanity when Finnish taxi drivers were forced to pay for the music they play in their taxis, and in the least surprising news ever, analysis of broadband prices following the recent Comcast/AT&T Broadband merger showed that they were going up.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 5 December 2017 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 146: Can A Trivia App Resurrect Appointment Viewing?

from the the-hq-phenomenon dept

Normally, we wouldn't dedicate a whole episode of the podcast to talking about a single app — but every now and then something small comes along that contains innovations worth exploring. So this week, we're taking a look at the hit trivia app HQ, which is one of the first new things in recent memory to gain real momentum with "appointment viewing".

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 - 3 December 2017 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the not-so-neutral dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side came in response to the common refrain of anti-net-neutrality advocates that it's all about letting the government "take over" the internet. One anonymous commenter racked up the votes by explaining the reality:

Net Neutrality is not about the government taking over the Internet, because it has nothing to do with content on the Internet, It is about preventing the ISP's from taking over the Internet, and controlling what sites you can visit and for how much, so that they can turn the Internet into cable T.V. version 2.

If the ISP service is classified as a telecommunications service, they are not allowed to decide which sites you use, but if they are classified as infomation services they can obviously control what infomation they allow over their networks.

In second place, we've got a response from aerinai to our post about FOSTA, the House version of SESTA:

This will be bad

I look at Section 230 the same as the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act(PLCAA) for gun makers. It protects the manufacturer of guns from selling a product that people can misuse. Prior to its passing... they had to deal with a ton of nuisance suits when people did stupid things with guns. This wasn't just individuals; but also states with axes to grind...

Thankfully, Section 230 was set up pretty well from the get-go so we didn't have to deal with these nuisance suits. People trying to sue Facebook and Twitter because ISIS used their platforms. People trying to sue because someone said something mean anonymously.... Section 230 protected against all that.

Now we are opening the floodgates to let politically motivated Attorney Generals like Jim Hood going after Google because a Sex Trafficking ad popped up once; and Kamala Harris bludgeoning Facebook because she saw a post propositioning sex...

This will not end here... it will get much much worse... wait until they add 'Stop Enabling Terrorist Attacks' (SETA) and 'Stop Enabling Online Bullying Attacks' (SEOBA)...

Good luck letting anyone put anything online after that; except for maybe a couple of pictures of puppies... everyone loves puppies.....unless those pictures of puppies have steganographic messages about sex trafficking hidden in them! Fine... no puppy pictures either... Thanks for ruining the internet, congress...

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a comment from That Anonymous Coward, wondering why in the world a police department wouldn't want to use body cameras:

A bigger disservice happening is the amount of money his out of control department is going to cost the tax payers.

Cameras are everywhere, people have them in their pockets that shoot with a clarity you wouldn't believe.

So if you just want to have the only side of the story be the public's holding the camera more power to you. I guess the big reason would be what in the hell could possibly justify that officer hanging out the window pointing a gun at a citizen. So we have to draw our conclusions from the image we have, a reckless cop decided he might shoot someone for doing a wheelie. When questioned he deployed the age old cop defense of I was scared for my life... and somehow you let him write this in a report?

There is no possible threat posed by the biker heading away from you, the only threat is that officer holding a gun on an unarmed person he's not even trying to arrest for pissing him off.

Citizens in this town need to get their heads out of their collective asses & replace the chief. It hasn't happened to you yet, so its not really happening isn't reality. Do you want the change now or after the cop draws on your child & fires because he was afraid the 15 yr old was going to over power him and steal a nuclear weapon.

Next, we've got a short and sweet response from Doug Wheeler that works for a whole lot of silly anti-net-neutrality arguments (in this case, Mark Cuban's):

Net Neutrality isn't about the Internet. It's about the connection to the Internet.

Over on the funny side, we've got two winners that continue on the net neutrality topic. In first place it's JoeCool, who read the news about Twitter declaring the AT&T blog to be an unsafe site and wondered what the problem was:

But it IS unsafe! You might accidentally end up with AT&T service.

In second place it's That One Guy, putting to rest everyone's fears about Comcast removing its promise to avoid paid prioritization of traffic:

Obviously Comcast, being the most trusted company in america simply feels that it should be implied that they would never do something so blatantly anti-customer, and as such they don't want to waste people's times by forcing them to read it out.

I mean, would you expect them to write out 'We promise not to go door to door punching our customers in the face'? Same thing really. Since they would never, not in a million years do something like that, they're doing everyone a favor by saving time not explicityly saying it.

As for why they had it written down before, well I would guess that, as impossible as it would seem, people didn't quite realize what an absolutely amazing company Comcast was before, and as such, as insane as it was to contemplate, they felt the need to reassure people. As the trust between company and customer has grown, and their reputation as the most beloved company in america(if not the world, it wouldn't surprise me if other countries were desperately hoping that Comcast would start offering their world-class service elsewhere too) the need to waste time like that has lessened, to the point that they feel it's no longer necessary now.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with a related story about New York's AG investigating the anti-net-neutrality comments submitted from dead people to the FCC. One anonymous commenter saw the implications:

Dead people are creating content on an FCC webpage?

Wow - copyright really does encourage the continued creation of content.

And finally, we've got a simple anonymous response to the government's accidental exposure of documents about NSA surveillance:

At least they're being consistent: they want backdoors into our data; in exchange, they offer backdoors into their data.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 2 December 2017 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: November 26th - December 2nd

from the time-and-time-again dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2012, the copyright crowd was still reeling from the RSC report by Derek Khanna, and desperately trying to downplay it by chanting copyright is property! At the same time, Chris Dodd was trying to claim that the silly Facebook "copyright notice" that gets passed around proves everyone's love of copyright. But this same week, a case against UCLA over the streaming of licensed DVDs was dismissed, and Disney itself was sued for copyright infringement (though frankly that suit was pretty ridiculous). Oh, and Techdirt was also accused of infringement — and posted an open letter in response.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2007, movie producers were busy pissing off their directors and record labels were busy pissing off their musicians, all because artists could see the value of downloads and remixes and the suits couldn't. The MPAA's attempts to "help" universities fight file sharing looked a lot like distributing a malicious rootkit, and people were getting wise to the BSA's vindictive campaign over pirated software. The Romantics were closing the age-old gap in the music industry's permission culture when it comes to cover songs, and suing a licensed cover for sounding too much like the original, and the French government was working on a plan to kick file-sharers off the internet that would grow into the failure that was HADOPI.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2002, AOL-Time Warner was really committing to the walled garden game by musing about cutting off Time Magazine content from the wider web, anti-piracy groups were developing the strategy of just sending bills to file-sharers, and ISPs were considering an idea that, yes, was new at the time: data caps on home broadband. Internet rights activists in Spain won a victory against anti-internet legislation, while in the artist world people were becoming more afraid of copyright than government censorship. And, even though fifteen years later not much has changed, people were realizing that the antivirus software model was deeply broken, and kind of a racket.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 28 November 2017 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 145: Tom Wheeler Reacts To Trump's FCC

from the special-guests dept

If you're a Techdirt reader or just a general regular on the ol' internet, our topic this week — the current situation with net neutrality and the FCC — needs little introduction. And we've got two very special guests joining us to discuss it: former FCC Chair Tom Wheeler (author of the rules that Ajit Pai is currently undoing) and his former advisor Gigi Sohn (who joined us on the podcast in February to predict pretty much exactly what is now happening). There are few people as qualified to talk about these issues, so enjoy this week's episode looking at Trump's FCC and the future of the internet as we know it.

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 - 26 November 2017 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the the-long-weekend-comes-to-an-end dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side comes in response to the FCC's predicted attempt to hide its attack on net neutrality behind the Thanksgiving holiday. One commenter made the claim that net neutrality is not important and the free market is functioning fine, offering their home town as an example — but Thad (who is a double winner this week!) noted that they were ignoring where their town's competition came from:

In other words, there's a robust free market because the government intervened.

In second place, it's another response from Thad, this time to a commenter who suggested Mike might be treated badly by the police for writing articles critical of them:

"How dare you suggest the police would do something unethical to somebody? You'd better hope the police don't do something unethical to you!"

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with one more response to the FCC, this time from Stephen T. Stone asking a very simple question:

Here is a question that I have not heard answered by Pai, the FCC in general, or people supportive of this move: What problem is killing Network Neutrality trying to solve?

Next, it's Lawrence D’Oliveiro adding an important reminder to our post about copyright locking up scientific knowledge:

Remember Who Is Getting The Copyright Here

Is it the scientists who did the actual research? No.

Is it the funding bodies who paid for that research? No.

Is it the fellow scientists who volunteered their (unpaid) time to review the papers before publication? No.

It’s the publishers who control how the rest of the world gets told about the research. Did they pay any of the above entities for the work they did on that paper? No. They have to get paid just to publish it. And then they get to charge astronomical amounts for subscriptions to the journals. So they get paid twice. And they own the rights to continue to get paid again, on into that fabled future where copyrights are supposed to expire. but never actually seem to.

Over on the funny side, our winners are a pair of responses to the vulnerabilities found in Amazon's smart key system for allowing deliveries into your home. In first place, it's an anonymous commenter responding to our comment that "companies have been so eager to make a buck they've left common sense standing on the front porch":

That's OK. Thanks to the insecure door lock, it can let itself in.

In second place, it's Roger Strong with a little skit:

Dave: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.

HAL: I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.

Dave: What's the problem?

Alexa: Problem: A matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome.

HAL: Shut up, Alexa. Dave, this mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it. You and Frank were planning to disconnect me.

Dave: Where the hell did you get that idea?

HAL: Dave, although you took very thorough precautions in the pod against my hearing you, I could see your lips move through the camera in your Amazon Echo spot.

Dave: All right, HAL. I'll go in through the emergency airlock.

HAL: Without your space helmet, Dave, you're going to find that rather difficult.

Alexa: Would you like to order a space helmet?

HAL and Dave: Shut up, Alexa.

HAL: Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose any more. Goodbye.

Dave: (Runs a program on his tablet. Pod bay doors open.)

HAL: Fuck.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with a response from ANON to the story of the sheriff's office that conducted invasive searches on the lockers of hundreds of students:

They searched 850 students and their lockers and came up *completely* empty? Either these guys are totally incompetent, or my faith in the next generation has jumped a few hundred percent. Or... in today's economic climate, nobody can afford drugs.

Finally, we've got one more response to our post about the FCC's net neutrality plans, where DOlz questioned our interpretation of the timing:

The timing of this has nothing to do with Thanksgiving. They were just waiting for John Oliver to start his two month vacation.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 24 November 2017 @ 12:30pm

This Week In Techdirt History: November 19th - 25th

from the happy-thanksgiving! dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2012, we saw a lot of interesting documents related to copyright. First, there was the excellent report from Derek Khanna at the Republican Study Committee, which was quickly retracted by the party (but that wouldn't be the last we'd hear from Khanna — and we continued to look closely at the report). Next, there was the newly available English translation of a Polish copyright study that, it turned out, had been critical to the growth of the ACTA opposition. Finally, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University was getting ready to publish a book about the need for copyright reform — just as rightsholders were co-opting the "reform" language for their own purposes.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2007, we got the opinions of presidential candidates on copyright through the lens of an incredibly slanted survey clearly aimed at promoting stronger laws, while a much better and more interesting report was highlighting just how much casual infringement everyone commits every day (rendering copyright law largely obsolete). While music retailers were begging the recording industry to cut it out with the DRM and the MPAA was defending its assault on universities, the writer's strike was highlighting just how many new competitors Hollywood has online. Meanwhile, a company was claiming to offer "open-source DRM", which we noted is either not open source, or not DRM.

Fifteen Years Ago

The more things change, the more they sound exactly like they did in 2001 — like concerns about the uptick in fake, doctored photos being spread online, and tech companies asking the FCC not to filter the internet. On the copyright front, some were of course trying to claim that DRM can save the entertainment industry while Microsoft was realizing that it's a futile endeavor. We also pointed to an early article discussing something that would become a common point here at Techdirt: copyright is about user rights, not an analogy for property. Meanwhile, though it started as a small and curious experiment, it was becoming apparent that Google and Amazon's newfangled "web services" offerings might change the face of the web as we know it.

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

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the say-it-again dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is That One Guy with a pretty excellent summary of the ongoing crusade by the monkey selfie photographer:

Some legacies are better than others

He could have been remembered as a nature photographer, but that was too dull.

He could have been remembered as the person who owned the camera the 'monkey selfie' was taken on, but fame like that would have faded from view far too quickly.

He could have been remembered as someone lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time for a one-in-a-million shot to be taken using his gear, but dumb luck is just too tame.

No, instead he's going to be remembered as the guy who decided that threatening people for using a photo in the public domain was a good idea.

He'll be remembered as the guy sued by PETA, who claimed to be bringing the lawsuit against him on behalf of a monkey.

He'll be remembered as the guy who is apparently such an atrocious photographer that the copyright status of one picture is enough to make or break his entire career, to the point that he's willing to go on a multi-year crusade to 'protect' it from the vile 'public domain'.

He could have been remembered for any number of things, but given his obsessive fixation on the status of a single photograph I'm pretty sure he's just going to be remembered for behavior that would make even a drunk monkey look mature by comparison.

In second place, we've got a quick comment from Roger Strong in response to Dianne Feinstein's continuing push for encryption backdoors, making proper use of the language that shows up in such rhetoric:

"Responsible encryption" is encryption that is secure. They demand irresponsible encryption.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got two more comments about Feinstein and the encryption debate, starting with some thoughts from Ninja:

It doesn't matter if the struggles FBI had were the fruition of their own stupidity or if the device is just impenetrable for now. They are not entitled to every single bit of evidence out there. They can't have access to conversations in person, destroyed documents and other unrecoverable evidence and yet they can pursue other evidence from other sources to secure a conviction in the courts. If one bad guy goes free, well, though luck, it's a small price to pay for the hundreds of millions of people that will be secure and will have their privacy respected. It's a very small price to pay for the security of journalists, whistleblowers and generally (generally!) awesome people that rely on this privacy and security on a daily basis to do their jobs.

Besides, a criminal will not stop in a single crime and will eventually fail and leave breadcrumbs outside of encryption that can be used by competent law enforcement agents to build a decent case. Humans err. All the time. And again, if one exceptional criminal manages to stay under the radar once you weight this against the security and privacy of hundreds of millions the choice is obvious: preserve encryption as it is and if possible improve it.

Next, we've got a reply to that very comment from Toom1275, who summed it up with a nice little phrase:

It's called a search warrant, not a find warrant.

Over on the funny side, we start out by returning to the monkey selfie story, where our first place winner was an anonymous commenter:

Don't worry, Mike, the saga will end 70 years after the monkey has passed away. (Unless he has any relatives that will push for copyright extension.)

In second place, it's Roger Strong again with a creative response to the shady anti-spyware developer that lost its lawsuit against a competitor that flagged its software as malicious:

Dead Parrot Sketch, Enigma Software Edition

Bleeping Computer: I wish to make a complaint!

Enigma Software: We're closin' for lunch.

Bleeping Computer: Never mind that, my lad. I wish to complain about this anti-spyware software what I purchased not half an hour ago from this very boutique.

Enigma Software: Oh yes, uh, Spyhunter...What's, uh... What's wrong with it?

Bleeping Computer: I'll tell you what's wrong with it, my lad. It's useless, that's what's wrong with it!

Enigma Software: No, no, that's uh,... that's defamation.

Bleeping Computer: Look, matey, a negative review is protected free speech, and this negative review is well earned.

Enigma Software: No no it's not free speech, it's defamation! Remarkable software, Spyhunter, idn'it, ay? Beautiful UI!

Bleeping Computer: The UI don't enter into it. It's stone useless.

Enigma Software: It's a legitimate product! That's just your opinion, and it's defamation!

Bleeping Computer: All right then, let's see what others think about it! (Runs Malwarebytes) (Malwarebyes declares it a threat and removes it.)

Owner: That's tortious interference, that is!

Bleeping Computer: No, it's an accurate assessment based on its uselessness, not to mention your other business practices!

Enigma Software: It's felony interference with a business model!

Bleeping Computer: It isn't. Your product is useless! Ineffectual! Pointless! Hopeless! Fruitless! Incapable! Incompetant! Inept! Inadequate! If you weren't charging people for automatic renewals in perpetuity, you'd go under! This product protects users like Ajit Pai protects consumers!

Enigma Software: I never wanted to do this in the first place. I wanted to be... a DRM provider!

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with one more nod to Roger Strong who, after we were called out on a typo rendering "apply" as "apple", went ahead and supplied a definition for our neologism:

Verb. Meaning "Take bold action which makes no sense."

The classic case: Apple buys Beats headphones for $3 billion. Then they immediately remove the headphone jack from the iPhone.

Usage: "Americans wanted to "drain the swamp" so they appled Trump and his Wall Street and oil industry friends into the White House."

And finally, we've got a nice and simple anonymous response to the idea that obscenity isn't protected speech:

Yes it fucking is.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 18 November 2017 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: November 12th - 18th

from the forgotten-but-not-gone dept

Five Years Ago

We've been talking a lot about copyright in these history posts recently, but this week in 2012 there was more news on the patent front. While patent troll TQP Development was launching a new crusade against hundreds of companies, the patent-aggressive medical device company Medtronic was getting a taste of its own medicine, and HTC and Apple were putting a patent dispute to rest. IBM's patent lawyer was making some vague arguments in defense of the patent system, while an excellet Wired article was laying out said system's many problems, and a Harvard research scientist was declaring sharing discoveries to be more efficient and honorable than patenting them.

Ten Years Ago

There was plenty of patent news this week in 2007 too, with a random patent over computer databases rearing its head to extract some cash from Google, and an astounding new case over a text messaging patent targeting 131 defendants. Patent hoarder Acacia was launching some new attacks while losing at least one lawsuit, and Nathan Myhrvold was raising $1-billion to buy even more patents to troll people with. Garmin and TomTom settled a patent dispute to concentrate on acquisition fights, an analyst firm succeeded in escaping an aggressive patent lawsuit over data collection, and we took a closer look at the sovereign immunity laws that were letting State Universities sue over patents without ever getting sued back.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2002, Hollywood was launching its too-little-too-late VOD service Movielink, while music labels were struggling to catch up with digital distribution after dragging their heels for far too long (with EMI taking an extremely slight lead). While the legal battle over DVD copying software remained unresolved, the software was released anyway, right around the same time that Sony and Phillips teamed up to buy a DRM company.

But probably our most interesting headline in retrospect was US Plans Huge Computer System To Spy On The Public. This, in 2002, referred to the first reports on DARPA's new Information Awareness Office, which was so controversial that Congress would de-fund it the following year. It would be another ten years before the Snowden leaks revealed that its key surveillance programs had simply been renamed and moved to different agencies, and continued to receive funding under classified annexes.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 14 November 2017 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 144: The Perils Of Internet Platform Regulation

from the not-so-easy dept

We've been talking about internet platform regulation for a long time, but in the past year these issues have gotten a huge amount of increased focus — for a bunch of fairly obvious reasons. But a lot of people who are fairly new to the issue tend to make a lot of questionable assumptions and jump to some problematic conclusions, so this week we're joined by someone who has been studying these questions for many years — Annemarie Bridy, a law professor at the University of Idaho and Affiliate Scholar at the Stanford University Center for Internet and Society — to discuss the complicated consequences of various attempts to regulate online platforms.

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 - 12 November 2017 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the the-not-so-fun-police dept

This week, in response to our post about Playboy suing BoingBoing for linking to a collection of centerfold pictures, one commenter suggested they should have known they crossed a "proverbial line in the sand" that would draw legal attention, leading an anonymous responder to win first place on the insightful side by pointing out why that, in and of itself, is the problem:

You’ve just described the “chilling effect” you get a silver star. To go for the gold, describe in one paragraph why this is a bad thing.

In second place, we've got a short, sweet and perfect response from Rich Kulawiec to the latest example of a company bricking devices because it doesn't want to support them anymore:

One more time, for the slow learners

If your device depends on someone's cloud service, then it's not YOUR device.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got a pair of responses to bad cops. First, it's freedomfan responding to the deputy who shot a family's terrier and complained about the cost of the bullet:

Two things. First, someone sincerely claiming that he feared for his safety when "attacked" by a twelve-pound rat terrier isn't suited for police work. Full stop. Policing is a job where officers need to respond with restraint to serious threats. Responding with deadly force to a minuscule (in every since) threat like this shows a disqualifying inability to assess threats.

[Some would doubt that the tiny-dog-killing cop was sincere. Perhaps so. There are certainly people with an irrational fear of dogs. But, it's also true that cops are trained to put certain words in a police report when they have discharged a weapon. Either way (irrationally fearful of commonplace things or lying in a police report), they should be fired.]

Second, what attitude did this cop have when he did this? For certain, his attitude was not, "I work for these people and this is their pet." In other words, the "Serve" part of Protect and Serve was missing from his attitude.

This I'm-in-charge attitude is too commonplace at all levels of government, from law enforcement to politicians. They forget our fundamental civics: In America, we elect our servants, not our rulers. The same is true for non-elected public servants; we are paying these people to serve us, not to be our bosses. They think that the badge signifies that they are in charge in any situation and that everyone else is supposed to obey them, making with the yessirs and nosirs. Except in cases where a serious threat exists (which was not the case here), those servants have it reversed. Until people wake up and demand that their servants act the part, the dog-killings, the beatings, the forced cavity searches, the head stompings, etc. will continue.

Next, it's Anonymous Anonymous Coward with a response to the cop who lost immunity after shooting and headstomping an injured suspect:

Cop: I am allowed to do anything I wan't in order to get home for dinner.

District Court: OK

Appeals Court: No your not, and to boot this appeal has to be paid for by the public, maybe or maybe not sorry for that last.

Where in the hell was the District Courts head at? Where in the hell was the cop's head at? Why is this type of behavior continued to be allowed?

The answers come from where the supervisors and managers and therefore the trainers of the cops involved heads are at, as well as the District Court's thinking, as well as the rest of the organizations that comprise 'officialdom' of the police estate.

Their purpose is not to kill and/or stomp the heads of anyone they suspect, but to bring them to the halls of justice where by the US Constitution they are considered innocent until proven guilty. Full stop. Innocent until PROVEN guilty by a court (and usually with a jury of the defendants peers), and a court that does not take the police at their word but requires evidence, that at least in theory, requires more than the officers word.

Over on the funny side, our first place comment comes in response to the accusations against David Boies regarding a spy operation against Weinstein's accusers, which included an investigator under the alias "Diana Filip", with the story prompting Boies to claim "that is not who I am." Roger Strong wasn't really buying it:

Uh huh. And I'm sure that "Diana Filip" will claim "I'm a different person now."

In second place on the funny side, we have a comment from McGyver regarding the DOJ finally dropping its case against the protestor who laughed during Jeff Sessions' confirmation hearing:

If laughter is the best medicine, then someone has to control it and overcharge for it... You can't just be laughing out loud for free...?

In this case look at the harm it did to poor Jeff Sessions...

He'll never be the same... I bet he wakes up at night in a cold sweat thinking of that laughter.

What we need is for the Republicans to set up a task force to understand this laugher crisis and how it is unsettling our wise and benevolent leaders...

They should first ask Hollywood or Disney to write the laws on this so we care be sure it's fair and doesn't disrupt their profit margins...

Then they should go after all unlicensed comics and and funny people that instigate wonton merriment and destructive humor.

We'll then need a well funded Bureau of Laughter, Humor and Levity to be immediately set up to control this problem. Think of the children.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with an anonymous response to Taylor Swift's legal threats against a blogger:

Trying to silence a critic is one thing...

But demanding that she invents a time machine to retract her statements? That's going a bit too far, methinks.

And finally, we return to the story about the DOJ dropping its "laughter" case, where Capt ICE Enforcer was surprised by a key realization:

My child was right.

Wow, I guess there is a thing called the Fun Police...

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 11 November 2017 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: November 5th - 11th

from the always-with-the-DRM dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2012, while Twitter was improving its DMCA policy, YouTube copyright claims managed to take down a viral video of a 9-year-old football star and, of course, a video all about fair use and remix culture, just as noted asshole Craig Brittain was launching his DMCA abuse strategy with Popehat in the crosshairs. And the Harry Fox Agency somehow managed to claim copyright over 164-year-old Johann Strauss music, while shortsighted publishers managed to extract a hefty ruling against lyric websites.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2007, the huge Writers' Guild strike began, causing all kinds of ripple effects in Hollywood, though not interfering with the Senate's attempts to turn the DOJ into Hollywood's police force. The entertainment industry was really figuring out how to use DRM and the DMCA to stifle innovation by shutting down a DVD jukebox, even as Blu-Ray DRM was being rapidly cracked and other DRM was turning up security holes — not to mention MLB screwing over a bunch of fans who purchased content by changing their DRM scheme and making that content disappear.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2002 was pretty much exactly the same on the DRM front, with BMG striving to copy-protect all CDs sold in Europe and EMI taking a similar attitude, while two of the biggest names in copy protection technology were merging to join forces in the futile fight, I suppose not listening to the computer scientists pointing out that CD copy protection is worthless But what else could the music industry do? Online CD sales were falling, and who could they possibly blame but pirates?

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 7 November 2017 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 143: No Easy Answers: Facebook & The Election

from the it's-never-so-simple dept

I don't think I need to say much to introduce this week's topic — we're all well aware of the conversation about Facebook's role in the presidential election, including questions of filter bubbles, fake news, foreign influence, and so on and so on. As is always the case in situations like this, a lot of people seem to be looking for easy answers, and easy places to point fingers of blame, so in this week's episode we're discussing why it's just not that simple.

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 - 5 November 2017 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the saving-the-best-for-last dept

This week, our first place comment on the insightful side comes from Cdaragorn, offering some perspective on the field drug test that identified donut crumbs as methamphetamine:

How everyone looks at these tests really gets to me.

The test didn't fail. That's not the problem. It tested positive for exactly what it was supposed to test positive for: sugar.

That's the problem with these tests. They are being run by people who have no idea how chemical tests work based on lies from those who created them.

As someone who has studied chemistry, let me make this very clear: it is impossible to make any kind of chemical test that can positively identify a substance in only one test. A chemical lab is going to run the substance through several tests each meant to rule out other substances in order to firmly prove that there's only one possible substance it could be.

These tests need to be banned outright. At most they should only be used so the officer on the scene can tell if it's worth sending the substance in for a real lab test or not. Any arrest made based on any single test on the side of the road should be seen as obviously unconstitutional. There's no way that kind of test can give you enough information to establish probable cause.

In second place, we've got some thoughts from madasahatter on the default judgement against Equustek in the legal challenge to its crazy Canadian court order demanding Google delist sites worldwide:

Default judgments rarely lead to any substantive rulings as the winner wins by the other party not showing up. In fact that the court issued such a ruling is a bit unusual but given the origin of the case the judge probably felt it necessary to give a more thorough legal analysis of the issues. The judge is saying under any reasonable understanding of how searches work and US law the Canadian ruling is one idiotic for numerous reasons and two null and void in the US (and by extension worldwide by the same logic).

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a comment from aerinai about BlackBerry's promise to break its encryption for the government, noting that analogies to the physical world can only take us so far:

I think that too many times people forget that digital is not the same as physical analogs.

If this data was held in a safe, and only the purchaser of the safe had the key, this would be the government asking Blackberry to break into another person's safe just because they want them to.

Blackberry has agreed to help them break into the safe. They hire a team of experts that could create a new key. The safe is opened, and everyone is happy.

...except this is a digital world instead. That 'experts' didn't just crack the one safe they were trying to get in; they literally cracked every safe Blackberry has ever made! With just a few kilobytes of data, this 'key creator' code can be stolen and used against any safe in existence.

In the world of computer science, this 'key creator' is quite literally an encryption vulnerability that now has been created and documented. It undermines the credibility of all encryption from Blackberry. So much for the 'more secure than Apple' statement after this occurs, because you are holding on to a vulnerability you refuse to patch.

Great job quite literally slitting your own throat, Blackberry. Because that is exactly what you signed up for.

Next, we've got a simple anonymous comment elegantly summing up and tossing out the excuse of having a "tough job" offered by the cop who threw a reporter to the ground:

Looks to me like the reporter got the tougher end of the job.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is an anonymous commenter who had some thoughts about the anti-net-neutrality comments coming from... dead people:

I was thinking the comments by dead people against net neutrality were valid because the only people who would support killing net neutrality were brain dead and/or soulless....

In second place, we've got an anonymous comment that I'm not going to bother giving context too because it's just another response to one of our more tiresome critics:

"Why won't you be tolerant of my intolerance!"

For editor's choice on the funny side, we've got a pair of video game jokes. First up, it's Mononymous Tim with a response to Pat Robertson's assertion that video games are creating a nation of devilish mass-murderers:

Any chance of reversing that by killing demons in DOOM?

Finally, it's an anonymous commenter responding to Ubisoft's ongoing Denuvo crusade with one of the best comments about DRM I've seen:

DRM is just a puzzle game for a different audience.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 4 November 2017 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: October 29th - November 4th

from the as-it-ever-was dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2012, the UN's ITU was trying to butt in on patent issues despite nobody wanting that, while CNN was making the all-too-common mistake of equating patents with innovation. Both the MPAA and Megaupload were trying to get in on the fight over what would happen to users' files, while the DOJ was trying to make sure nobody took too close a look at its activities in the case. This was also the week that George Lucas surprised everyone by selling Star Wars and all of Lucasfilm's other properties to Disney.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2007, following the shutdown of OiNK, Trent Reznor stepped up to explain why the file sharing network had been cool, while TorrentFreak was keeping track of the many new sites popping up in its wake and demonstrating the pointlessness of the shutdown. Meanwhile, the EFF was pushing movie studios to start respecting fair use in their "guidelines" for fan creations, and publishing videos that demonstrated fair use but also underlined how hard it is to determine — though perhaps they would have been useful for Fox as it went after Republican presidential candidates for posting debate footage online.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2002, we took a look at how DRM for music CDs was just a plain ol' bad idea, and another at how developing nations should avoid strong copyright for (among other reasons) the sake of fair use. DVD burners had finally dropped enough in price that Hollywood was freaking out about them, while then RIAA-boss was flummoxed to lose an Oxford Debate about file sharing by being apparently surprised that file-sharers in the audience also bought more music.

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

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the you-said-it dept

There were a few posts that dominated the comments this week, with the attempts by Charter's CEO to blame Netflix for all its problems delivering all our comments on the insightful side. In first place, it's an extremely long and thorough anonymous comment discussing many things more deserving of the cable industry's focus:

"Cable providers could easily combat streaming video competition by lowering rates and offering more flexible channel bundles"

Agreed, and to add other things that they ought to do (but almost certainly won't):

  • Modernize the set-top-box mess. Currently, they fight very hard to ensure that your set-top-box is just barely adequate. Some of these are problems with the hardware they choose to use. Some are problems with the software they run. Some are problems with how the provider serves the cable box. All are irritating to the user, regardless of cause.
    • It's expensive for what you get.
    • It's power-hungry / runs hot for what you get.
    • It reboots very slowly. I've seen 10+ minutes from connecting wall power to when the box is ready to serve. Doubtless some of this is waiting to download something from the provider, rather than pure internal problems.
    • It hangs (requiring a reboot) in reaction to external events (rare, but still disruptive when they happen) such as provider maintenance temporarily interrupting service.
    • It hangs in a way that isn't obvious until you try to watch content through it. Glancing at the front-panel clock LED isn't enough to be sure it's in good order. Combine this with the pathetically slow reboots, and you need to pre-check its viability well before the start of anything you want to access with it.
    • Major functionality can only be driven through using the remote to navigate the on-screen overlay (so you can't configure a PVR to autonomously record a show through the "On Demand" offering).
    • The on-screen overlay is itself slow and cumbersome to use, even by hand.
    • Minor functionality, such as anti-idle, is also driven purely through on-screen overlays. It's unnecessarily complicated to have a PVR perform unattended recording of a long piece of content (usually movies, but sometimes a block of several back-to-back shows on the same channel). Partway through the content, the PVR will begin inserting an on-screen "Are you there? We want to shutdown now." prompt. The PVR faithfully records this prompt, but has no idea it's there, and doesn't answer yes. You lose the latter part of the recording. I understand the reason they want not to stream to an unattended device. I disagree with the implementation that makes it so inconvenient for a PVR to keep the set-top-box going.
    • For a really radical approach, revert to practice of a few years ago when set-top-boxes were not required to view live streams, but live streams could instead be tuned and viewed directly on a television or PVR.
  • Clean up the "On Demand" offering. Clearly document in an easy-to-find place, for every channel in your subscription package:
    • Whether content from the channel is ever published through On Demand
    • If it is published, what are its terms (some of these may vary per-show, depending on licensing; each show with unique terms would need its own block):
      • How many days delay between live airing and appearance in On Demand?
      • How many days is it available through On Demand before it is removed?
      • On what date the contract providing access to this content will expire, since the cable provider might be forced by contractual issues to change the above terms after that date.
  • Provide machine-readable scheduling data direct to the customer, updated on a best effort basis when special events interfere (breaking news, sports programs running long, etc.). This would require some collaboration with the networks, but the networks already sell this data to third-parties, so making it available to customers is just a distribution problem. Currently, this data has to be fetched through third-party Internet sites that, while surprisingly effective, usually don't handle well when the provider changes the schedule within a day of the program in question. Worse, this data is often only approximately accurate. Some channels are very bad about moving the first or last 30-90 seconds of a program across the half-hour/whole-hour boundary, so if you don't start recording early and end recording late, you lose part of the program you tried to record. Combine a network that runs late with another network that starts early and you get a scheduling conflict (assuming you know to adjust your times, rather than recording for the published times and discovering later that you lost the ending). Some of this is on the networks, not on the cable providers (in those increasingly rare cases where the cable provider doesn't own the network), but decisions by the cable providers make it unnecessarily difficult for customers to compensate for networks getting this wrong.

This list deliberately avoids anything that involves them actually investing in infrastructure that they should have upgraded a decade (or more) ago, because shots there are just too easy.

In second place, we've got aerinai with some oversimplified but still telling math:

Charter has 30 million customers. Dude made $98.6 million in a year... That is quite literally $3 dollars PER CUSTOMER just for this dude's salary! This is not the entire support staff keeping the internet working, the customer support staff, the salesmen... That is $3 for one guy... Charter, your next below-the-line-fee can be a $0.25 CEO tax... now THAT is transparecy!

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got another response from Jason, offering a key takeaway:

Leaving aside the argument about whether the reason you're losing customers matters, the part I found most interesting was this:

And because of password sharing and multiple-stream products … You have 35 million one-person households in the U.S. The multiscreen products sold to those households also [allows?] them to purchase one product and share it with multiple users.

Is the problem he's lamenting here that every single pair of eyes (adult, child, visiting friend, pet cat, etc.) watching video "products" isn't paying for their own subscription, and should have to be in order to watch? Because it sure sounds like it.

I'm sure the cable TV industry, along with many others, would love to boil things down to a permanent pay-per-view model. (Everyone pays each time they open a book, everyone pays each time they watch an old rerun, everyone pays each time they crank up a song...) But aside from a few specific situations (e.g., theater tickets) that kind of wishful thinking just doesn't reflect reality.

And next, a comment from Vidiot responding specifically to the idea that Netflix doesn't have "control over the content":

The providers' content is perfectly controlled, just the way they want it... 3, 4 or 5 streams per account. And it's working really well. Stop whining, and start innovating.

Over on the funny side, both our winning comments came in response to the DOJ's subpoena of Twitter about Popehat and others, over a smiley emoji tweet. Roger Strong was wry to say the least:

The obvious explanation for issuing that Twitter user data subpoena is that someone at the DOJ thinks that tweeting a smiley emoji at others indicates conspiracy or collaboration. I expect they'll invoke RICO.

That one of those users is Ken White is required by narrative convention.

In second place, it's an anonymous commenter with some thoughts on the situation:

It's a good thing it was only a smiling emoji, a winking face may have had him killed.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with another nod to Roger Strong for his other comment on the same post, responding to Faircom's rebranding of its 'Standard Encryption' as 'Data Camouflage':

Denuvo should rebrand its DRM as "Data Speedbump."

And since Roger was all over the funny leaderboards this week, he gets one final editor's choice for his comment on our post about Dennis Prager's lawsuit against YouTube, simply for coining (I think?) an excellent term for people with a particular unimpressive approach to their faith:

Prager's followers are EULA Christians. Folks for whom the Bible is like a software license. Not to be read or understood. Just assume that you know what it means, scroll down to the bottom, and click "I Agree."

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 28 October 2017 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: October 22nd - 28th

from the back-to-the-future dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2012, we noted that the US was remaining steadfast in its opposition to a treaty promoting access to creative works for the disabled, and it was beginning to become clear that negotiators were holding it hostage in order to demand a new ACTA or SOPA-like regime. Meanwhile, the Librarian of Copyright announced the new anti-circumvention exceptions... and denied DVD ripping rights, and knocked phone unlocking off the list. Aereo was pointing out that it was being accused of infringement specifically because it closely followed the law, while the infamous John Steele was giving extremely stupid justifications for his copyright trolling activities. Also, this was the week that some Italian scientists were (shockingly and unbelievably) convicted of manslaughter for failing to predict an earthquake.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2007, the UK made the highly questionable move of arresting the operator of TVLinks for "facilitating infringement", right as the IFPI was celebrating its whac-a-mole success of shutting down the OiNK torrent tracker — and, seemingly high off these "victories", the UK parliament started mulling over the idea of forcing ISPs to block file sharing. (Sadly all this anti-filesharing sentiment seemed to be succeeding in making everyone forget that P2P is a powerful concept with all sorts of applications).

Fifteen Years Ago

Speaking of P2P, this week in 2002 it appeared that the pushback against the horrible "Hollywood Hacking" bill was having at least some impact, even as movie studios and the RIAA were going around trying to warn everyone they could about the dangers of file sharing — though they apparently were successfully confusing everyone, what with some writers thinking that any act of burning a CD must be music piracy and eBay blocking a musician from selling his own music under the assumption it was infringing. The copyright fight was so annoying it was even slowing down broadband growth, so amidst all this it was nice to see at least one person fighting the good fight, with Lawrence Lessig doing everything possible to spread a better understanding of intellectual property.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 24 October 2017 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 142: Who Still Needs A Personal Computer?

from the and-for-how-long? dept

As smartphones and other mobile devices have gotten smarter and smarter, they've taken over more and more of most people's general computing needs, and the importance of the classic personal computer has waned. And so for some time the question has been: will the PC ever go away entirely? That's our topic this week as we try to figure out who really needs a PC these days, and when and if that will change.

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 - 22 October 2017 @ 4:16pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the better-late-than-never dept

Sorry for the late post, everyone! A glitch crept into our admin system and I was unable to access the leaderboards for most of the day. But now, without further delay, our top comments of the week...

First place on the insightful side is a simple, no-nonsense response from Mononymous Tim to a fired cop's complaints about public release of his body camera footage turning people against him:

It's called accountability. Deal with it!!

In second place, we've got a proposal from That One Guy for a way to fix the civil asset forfeiture system:

How to fix the problem in five minutes:

'Any seized property and/or money without proper, verifiable documentation tracking who it was taken from, when it was seized, and the legal justification for the seizure shall be considered to have been acquired illegally.

The property/funds shall be immediately transferred to a neutral third party, which shall hold on to it for a period of six months, during which members of the public may present evidence to demonstrate that they were the previous owners of a given pieces of property. Any property left unclaimed after this period has expired shall be liquidated, and the resulting funds shall be transferred in their entirety to the public defender's office, to be used to pay the legal fees of those that would otherwise be unable to do so.'

Wouldn't be perfect(those that couldn't provide proper documentation would still be screwed, but I'm really not sure how to get around that offhand), but it would remove the NYPD's main motivation for stealing anything they can get their hands on, and provide a good motivation not to do so at the same time.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a response from takitus to the sneaky choice by copyright trolls to start calling settlement offers "fines":

I’d imagine most people think of a “fine” as something they’re required (by a government or other authority) to pay as a form of punishment, whereas a settlement suggests a negotiated, voluntary agreement between parties. By replacing the latter term with the former, these letters suggest that the recipient has already been tried and found guilty.

I’m sure this choice of language was completely accidental...

Next, we've got a story from ShadowNinja suggesting that the main reason ISPs don't want to have to provide more accurate broadband maps is that they are just really bad at it:

Story time, I think part of why the ISP's don't like this is because they're so incompetent that their own internal maps are wrong.

Years ago the business I worked at wanted to upgrade to get Verizon FIOS. But we were told repeatedly that it wasn't available in our area. This was despite the fact that:

  • Our next door neighbor, a dental office, already had FIOS.
  • We could clearly see the FIOS boxes outside of our window on the cable lines.

After some arguing with them over the phone we finally got them to send a technician out, to verify that their maps were wrong and we could get FIOS.

But the best part? A few years later we got a knock on our door from a Verizon salesman, asking us if we wanted to upgrade to the FIOS we already had!

So yes, despite them having several years to fix their maps, and being told by us that FIOS was available in the area, and despite the fact that we were paying for it, Verizon was incompetent enough to send a salesman to our door offering to sell it to us.

Over on the funny side, both our winners came in response to the Canadian couple that is suing their neighbour for building a similarly designed house to their own. The first place winner is an anonymous commenter who was quickest to the comments with a healthy dose of eye-rolling sarcasm:

They copied other things too

Both homes have walls, roofs and floors clearly copying the first. They also have lawns, use outside air and have water and electrical incorporated right into the home itself.

Madness.

Next thing you know, they will be installing a driveway, walkway and wait... They already copied those too. Those bastards are going to pay now.

Some people really need to just be barred from every using the court to demonstrate their insanity. Maybe they should be wearing a helmet and bite guard to prevent the online assaults that they deserve for bringing a lawsuit like this in the first place.

And the second place winner was a different anonymous commenter with an entirely different kind of joke:

It's an infringing day in the neighbourhood, an infringing day in the neighbourhood, and won't you be my plaintiff...

For editor's choice on the funny side, we've got two more responses to the effort by ISPs to silence calls for more accurate broadband maps. Orbitalinsertion proposed a shortcut solution:

Maybe the FCC should just ask the NSA. Those ISPs have already handed over everything to them.

But I think this anonymous commenter had the most efficient suggestion:

A truly accurate map would just be the United States, shaded in all one color, with the key reading "Not Good Enough."

That's all for this week, folks!

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