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Posted on Techdirt - 18 August 2018 @ 12:00pm

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

from the so-that's-what-happened dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, the White House incredibly put James Clapper in charge of independent NSA review, then tried to change its tune a bit when people rightly pointed out that this was insane. Meanwhile, Rep. Justin Amash discovered that the House Intelligence Committee had withheld important NSA documents from the rest of Congress, and that the White House knew it. Then, the latest leak revealed that the NSA abused the rules to spy on Americans thousands of times every year — since there was no real oversight, the FISC court just relied on the NSA's own statements to determine what was legal, and agents were told to withhold information from those in charge of oversight. Senators Wyden and Udall hinted that this was just the tip of the iceberg, while NSA defenders claimed the abuses were evidence of the system working well and that the numbers were impressive compared to the amount of spying the NSA does.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, Italy tried and failed to block all access to The Pirate Bay, with the predictable result of a spike in Italian traffic to the site. Universities were realizing that the RIAA was taking advantage of them in its crusade against file-sharing students, while one teenager targeted in a lawsuit managed to get damages reduced with an "innocent infringement" defense. Nintendo was freaking out about memory cards for the Nintendo DS, while Tiffany was continuing its futile efforts to hold eBay accountable for counterfeit products by appealing a court ruling that said they weren't (and this same week, a Belgian court was ruling the same thing).

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2003, eBay was only just starting to become the ecommerce platform of choice with folks setting up entire businesses on the site. ISPs were the ones fighting back against the RIAA, along with one accused file-sharer who was hitting the agency with a countersuit arguing that sharing does not equal distribution. There were early rumblings of "personalization" as the future of search engines, and the fairly new technology of MMS picture messages was being put to use for networked security cameras and medical emergencies. And nearly seven years before the iPad, there were lots of tablet computers hitting the market, but nobody wanted them.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 14 August 2018 @ 1:49pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 178: Old Tweets & Your Permanent Record

from the dangerous-history dept

There has long been anxiety around the "permanent record" of the internet, and recent public shamings based on old tweets have brought that fear to the forefront for many people. But the mass deletion of old tweets also means throwing out huge amounts of potentially valuable information. Is there a technological solution? A cultural one? This week, we're joined by returning guests Cathy Gellis and Parker Higgins to discuss a proposal for fixing the problem without sacrificing the permanent record.

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 Free Speech - 14 August 2018 @ 10:43am

Free Speech Pro-Tip: You Can Yell Fire In A Crowded Theatre

from the new-gear-from-techdirt dept

Free Speech Pro-Tip, By Techdirt

New gear from Techdirt, now available on Teespring »

No discussion about free speech gets very far without someone busting out the idea that "you can't yell fire in a crowded theatre". It's a phrase that's irritated actual free speech experts for years: it adds nothing to the discussion, and it's not even true — there are plenty of times when you can (not the least of which being if the theatre is actually on fire!) Moreover, the phrase itself is a relic of an old, awful, and overturned Supreme Court ruling that put someone in jail for criticizing the mandatory military draft in the First World War. The inimitable Ken White dug into the phrase's uselessness and horrible legacy in a 2012 Popehat post and, more recently, an episode of the Make No Law podcast.

And now you can help fight back against this dangerous idea with new gear from Techdirt! The Free Speech Pro-Tip is available on t-shirts, hoodies, mugs and stickers from Teespring.

Order yours today, and be sure to check out our storefront for other great Techdirt gear!

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Posted on Techdirt - 12 August 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the so-they-say dept

This week, both our top comments on the insightful side come from our post about the MPAA's latest attack on free speech under the guise of saving it. In first place, it's a simple anonymous point made in response to a critic:

I'd just like to point out that Section 230 doesn't prevent anyone from defending themselves from defamation. It just keeps the focus on the actual speakers, instead of the platforms they use.

In second place, it's Stephen T. Stone boiling down the real lesson about struggling Hollywood companies:

To twist an old axiom: If a business model can be destroyed by the Internet, it deserves to be destroyed by the Internet.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got two more comments on that topic in response to other posts this week about the evidence that innovation and legal alternatives are the best way to reduce piracy. Firstly, though this really shouldn't still be necessary, it's an anonymous commenter responding to the ol' comparison to shoplifting and theft:

The supermarket analogy is only barely applicable, because you can't simply instantly and with minimal cost replicate a head of cabbage.

It also fails on the comparison of shop-lifting to piracy, in terms of the logistics of it and realities of it.

Shop-lifting, as a physical action, also denies the ability of a different consumer from purchasing the item that was shop-lifted. The downloading of a copied song does not have this effect.

Shop-lifting, as a physical action, can be caught and stopped by enforcement with a very, very, very low degree of false positive, and for those cases with a false positive, there is an immediate and costless method of redress for the accused (show the receipt, be let go). Preventing shop-lifting has a cost footprint in and of itself ... and even with enforcement, the big players actually account for projected loss of revenue to theft in their annual planning. Even with enforcement, the physical action of shop-lifting is accepted as something that cannot be 100% stamped out, and the amount of enforcement and the focus on enforcement gets balanced against the cost-effectiveness of it, and whether or not it will drive people away.

From the perspective of person hoping to profit off their creative work, there would be no reason not to view piracy through a similar lens - what is the most cost-effective method to reduce it? If enforcement is proven to not be cost-effective, and to potentially actually hurt your bottom line, why would you want to continue with it?

Why not instead pursue tactics that will bring in money rather than drive it away?

Next, it's an anonymous caveat to the idea that pirating a work always means you value it:

That's not necessarily true. At most I'd say it could be an admission that your work might have value, but I wouldn't know that until I've seen/read it. I might be willing to pay a modest fee to trial the work if what I knew of it was sufficiently interesting, but then if it was utter crap I would be less upset at the loss of money and possibly willing to view a future work from you. However, if I paid full price for crap, good luck ever getting any money from me ever again.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is a response from Capt ICE Enforcer to our post about Alex Jones, platforms, and free speech — which, admittedly, did have a lot of preamble:

Gosh. Even the TLDR was TL.

In second place, we've got a response to our post about the cops who lost their qualified immunity over their handling of a Trump rally:

Just an "isolated incident" involving a "few bad apples"

Nothing to see here, people, move along, move along.

And no one had better mention feeling less safe at the sight of a cop, either. That is the /real/ crime, not trusting the police to keep you safe.

Not a mob of 250 cops sending innocent people into another violent mob, to meet whatever fate had in store for them there. That's ok, because #Bluelivesmatter (more than yours), and #Backtheblue, as well, because if you don't, fine, upstanding police might not be protected enough by all the special protections they have.

Playgrounds and suburbs are already a war zone, the police remind us, although where the craters and mangled corpses in jumbled wreckage are, I have no idea.

Back the Blue; it's good for them, and okay for you.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we've got a groaner and a cheap shot. Let's start with the former — Pixelation summing up our post on the problems with West Virginia's cellphone voting initiative:

So what you're saying is...

they're making a bad call?

And now, the cheap shot — from Thad in response to the suggestion that, in order to understand the difference between profit and artistic quality, one should "just look at Batman v. Superman":

I most certainly will not.

That's all for this week, folks!

18 Comments | Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt - 11 August 2018 @ 12:00pm

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

from the rear-view dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, we learned that lots of government agencies were trying to access that sweet, sweet NSA data — and that the DEA was not only getting it, but being instructed to cover up where it came from. Some data even made it to the IRS, with the same instructions. Once all this was revealed, the DOJ decided it should perhaps be "reviewed", which was small comfort. Then, it was revealed that the NSA scans all emails in and out of the country, and we got a look at the loophole the NSA uses to claim authority to spy on Americans. It turned out this loophole was created on the same day that the FISA court smacked down the NSA for violating the fourth amendment — a ruling people were eager to see, and the DOJ agreed to release a redacted version.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, copyright expert William Patry shut down his excellent blog because covering copyright issues had become "too depressing". To see what he means, look at other events that very same week: the Jammie Thomas trial was turning into a huge mess, Blizzard was trying to block a bot-maker from open-sourcing his code, a fight between TorrentSpy and the MPAA was turning into a major privacy battle thanks to some email spying, and Uri Geller was suing someone for debunking his psychic claims using an eight-second copyrighted clip. Mac clone-maker Psystar, facing a major lawsuit from Apple, was fighting back with an antitrust claim, and a Sony executive was apparently so aware of the failings of legal offerings that he encouraged customers in Australia and New Zealand to pirate PSP games.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2003, people were beginning to dig deeper into just how spammers make money and discovering it doesn't require a lot of customer sales as long as you can keep selling lists of spam targets — and because of this chain of list sales, even well-known companies were profiting from spam. Of course, there also were at least some people buying penis enlargement pills, too. Meanwhile, both Red Hat and IBM were fighting back against SCO's IP lawsuits, while the RIAA was still fighting hard to get info on filesharing students and generally warring with the EFF. And in an example of how much free culture terrifies some people, when Creative Commons reached out to MP3.com about partnering to give artists the option of using CC licenses, the company angrily responded by not just declining but demanding CC "cease and desist" from contacting any artists on MP3.com.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 7 August 2018 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 177: Why People Don't Trust Capitalism Anymore

from the market-based dept

The tides of public opinion on economics seem to be shifting, and criticism of the very idea of free markets is on the rise. The conversation is messy, confusing, and transcends many traditional political boundaries — so we've got an expert source to help us dig in. EconTalk host Russ Roberts joins us to look at why so many people don't trust capitalism anymore.

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 August 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the chinwag dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is an anonymous commenter offering up a hands-on perspective on Mark Warner's proposed internet platform regulation:

We've run a community news site for over 15 years. We deal with any requests from users within minutes.

Black and white issues are easy. It's the gray areas, the ones that requires human thinking to assess whether an insult is defamation, that cause the headaches.

Is a local politician a public figure? Sort of, but not quite in a small town.

An observation - the worst offenders always quote our policies back at us pointing out the loopholes they've found to support their damage. No one else notices policies.

And finally, Section 230 saved us when one organization's board member wrote truthful embarrassing things on our site, and another board member sued us all. We had NO WAY to know the truth of what someone was posting to our platform until after the lawsuit. We weren't there when the alleged, (and ultimately true and newsworthy) activities took place.

In second place, we've got a reply from That One Guy to the somewhat strange criticism that Karl shouldn't call cable companies "ISPs":

Still, Karl Bode insists on calling them ISPs.

Because it is a factually correct statement that if they're offering internet service they are an Internet Service Provider by definition. That they also do other stuff is irrelevant, they still fall into the category of ISPs.

Readers: Next time you think "ISP" don't think "bad guy", think "good guy". Next time you see "cable company" or "telephone company" think "bad guy".

So don't broadbrush ISP's, but do broadbrush cable and/or telephone companies, got it.

If you're going to complain about one person doing something, it might help if you didn't turn around and do the very same thing in turn.

If the distinction is confusing, you're with Karl. If it's pretty simple and you get it, Karl is on his own planet.

Alternatively, to those that can understand context(like say the fact that 'ISP' is mentioned once in the article, and in a way and with a link such that it's really clear who's being referred to), there's no confusion at all.

Seriously, stop assuming your potential and/or current customers are idiots, there's already more than enough of that on display by other companies.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start with a comment from Ryunosuke about the recent mass hysteria over Twitter's supposed "shadowbans":

Wedding cakes: "Companies have the right to refuse service to anyone!"

Twitter Shadowbanning (even though it isn't): "THIS IS DISCRIMINATION!"

Next, we've got a comment from aerinai pointing out the danger of hastily regulating specific technological innovations:

Deepfake today -- Dynamic Video Option Tomorrow

The thing I am upset about this deepfake controversy is how a couple bad actors did some bad things with it and now everyone is in a moral uproar over it. This is a new technology that has a lot of potential LEGITIMATE uses. For example:

- A movie where you can cast yourself and friends in a role
- Recast a movie with specific actors/actresses (who doesn't want to see Christopher Walken as Han Solo!)
- Shooting pilots and pitching ideas using cheap talent and augmenting your preferred candidates instead
- Instead of reshooting scenes after an actor either dies/does something stupid and gets fired, just use this technology in its place

TECHNICALLY... as it is worded any of the above would be for failure to take down deep fake or other manipulated audio/video content."

Quit demonizing a SPECIFIC technology just because a few people did something bad with it...

Over on the funny side, our first place winner comes after Mike pointed out to one of our regular and vocal critics that, without Section 230 protections, Techdirt wouldn't be able to allow him to freely comment. Thad (who has created an account since that comment!) considered this point carefully:

But there'd also be a downside.

In second place, it's Stephen T. Stone composing some creepypasta about the Slender Man copyright fight:

With sincere respect to the Holders Series...

In any city, in any country, go to any mental institution or halfway house you can get yourself into. When you reach the front desk, ask to visit someone who calls himself "The Holder of the Master Copy". The worker will stand, then point to a door at the far end of the nearest hallway. As you walk toward the door, you will hear the sound of people talking to themselves echoing through the hall. You will not understand the language, but you will feel an unimaginable fear deep in your soul.

Should the talking stop at any time, stop and quickly say aloud, “I need clarification on Fair Use.” If you still hear silence, run out of the building as fast as you can and do not stop for anything; do not go home, do not stay at a hotel—just keep moving and sleep where your body drops. You will know in the morning if you have escaped.

If the voice in the hall comes back after you utter those words, continue on. Upon reaching the door, you find that it is unlocked. Enter the windowless room and all you will see is a person in the corner, speaking an unknown language and cradling something. The person will only respond to one question. "How do we fix copyright?"

The person will stare into your eyes and answer your question in horrifying detail. Many go mad in that room. Some disappear soon after the meeting; a few end their lives. But most do the worst thing: They look upon the object that the person is holding. You will want to as well. Be warned that if you do, the rest of your life will be filled with cruelty and unrelenting horror.

Your life will be forfeit to lawsuits that will never end, even after you die.

That object is 70 of 1998. The being known as “The Mouse” already has many others. They must never come together.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out on our post about Universal sending a takedown notice over a video of some Prince fans singing Purple Rain. DOlz understood that they simply had no choice but to stop such a dangerous video:

After seeing that video I no longer felt the need to buy any more of Prince’s music. After all I’d just gotten it all for free in that short clip.

And finally, we've got Anonymous Hero with a response to our assertion that "you would think that a Congressional Representative, preparing to take legal action against a company, would at least take the time to understand what happened":

Why would I think this? Is there a historical precedent of which I am unaware?

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 4 August 2018 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: July 29th - August 4th

from the on-and-on dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, between Keith Alexander joking about how he has the number of congressional reps and the Senate being very unimpressed with James Clapper's evasiveness, it appeared the tide in congress was turning against the NSA — as was public opinion. Of course, the congressional reps who voted in favor of NSA surveillance had one obvious thing in common: they received twice as much money from the defense industry.

Meanwhile, as congress ironically considered declaring national whistleblower day, Bradley Manning was convicted (but acquitted of the aiding the enemy charge) in a verdict that we knew would have massive chilling effects. But of course, cable news only granted this five minutes of coverage on average.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, one final ruling confirmed that the RIAA had to pay legal fees in one of its misdirected file sharing lawsuits, while the IFPI was halfheartedly apologizing for taking down a song from a blog that the artist wanted up, and ISPs in the UK were acting as copyright cops. Another of the RIAA's targets stood up to challenge the constitutionality of the Copyright Act itself in an interesting but ill-fated defense. And the MPAA, while cluelessly claiming that The Dark Knight owed its success to anti-piracy efforts, sued to sites and raised the critical question of whether embedding is infringement.

Fifteen Years Ago

Five years earlier in 2003, one senator was launching an inquiry into the RIAA's legal practices, while the organization itself was getting a new leader. We took on the myth that copying is theft, and the misguided industry focus on "replacing" CD sales with legal downloads — which wasn't going to happen, but that wasn't the point. People did know about legal download services of course — but one study showed they didn't care, much like how teenagers were losing interest in going to the movies.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 31 July 2018 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 176: The EU's Copyright Threat To The Open Internet

from the crossover dept

We've got a crossover episode this week, all about the EU's disastrous moves on the copyright front. Mike recently joined the Building Tomorrow podcast to discuss the subject with Paul Matzko and Will Duffield, and now you can listen to it here on this week's episode of the Techdirt Podcast.

Follow the Techdirt Podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe via iTunes or Google Play, or grab the RSS feed. You can also keep up with all the latest episodes right here on Techdirt.

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Posted on Techdirt - 29 July 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the speak-now-or-forever-hold-your-peace dept

This week, our top comment on the insightful side comes in response to FBI boss Chris Wray's invocation of the old "if we could put a man on the moon" argument for encryption backdoors. An anonymous commenter won first place by expanding on the Matt Blaze quote we brought up in response:

"..."if we can put a man on the moon, surely we can put a man on the sun."

Now, THAT analogy is actually quite good for broken cryptography. Backdoored encryption would be very much like putting us ALL on the sun. It CAN be done but with a similarly low projected survival factor.

In second place, we've got an anonymous response to a comment questioning our criticism of the idea that embedding can be infringement by asking if maybe the internet does need fundamental changes:

Sure, the internet could be improved.

Preferably not by people who don't understand how it works.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got a pair of responses to Denuvo getting its DRM-cracking nemesis arrested. First it's some anonymous sarcasm:

Where will we find another person with the decades of experience that are necessary to crack Denuvo's copy protection now? Surely there isn't a fundamental flaw with DRM that requires at some point for the data to be decrypted in order for it to be used, meaning that any bright individual with the right tools and technical acumen can see what is happening and work around it.

No, it's the children who are wrong.

Next it's TKnarr with some thoughts about their incentives:

Remember that their plan isn't to protect their DRM against cracking. It's to protect their ability to sell their DRM to game companies. I'd even bet that their financial people see the DRM being cracked as a revenue opportunity: version N of it being cracked means the game companies have to shift to version N+1, which being a major version upgrade requires buying a new license.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is an anonymous commenter with another take on Chris Wray's encryption comments:

We put a man on the moon, so why can't we make 1+1=3?

In second place, it's Stephen T. Stone with a simple take on Denuvo:

This plan is about as effective as their DRM.

For editor's choice on the funny side, first up we've got an anonymous response to the NYPD's latest failure to document its bad behavior, but it's pretty generally applicable:

'We've tried nothing and are all out of ideas.'

Finally, we've got an anonymous commenter with a solid response to grammar trolls of all stripes:

A language prescriptivist and a language descriptivist walk into a bar.

The descriptivist says "Ow!"

The prescriptivist complains that walking "into" something implies ending up within it, and continues whining about the grammatical inaccuracy while his brain slowly leaks out of his ears from the head injury.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 28 July 2018 @ 12:00pm

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

from the looking-back dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, the congressional backlash against the NSA kicked into high gear with an amendment to end phone data collection from Rep. Justin Amash. Naturally the NSA's defenders flipped out, Obama opposed the amendment by insulting congress, and Keith Alexander called an emergency briefing to lobby against it. After a heated debate, the amendment narrowly failed thanks to "no" votes from 217 representatives — including several democrats led by Nancy Pelosi because, hey, you might be in communication with terrorists, right?

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, we saw the first legal battle specifically over whether people sending DMCA notices must consider fair use, while the IFPI was taking down music that the creators wanted up, the MPAA was spouting doubletalk in its war against DVRs, and Viacom had to apologize for sending a bogus DMCA notice to YouTube after promising not to. Amidst all this, we saw the introduction of the Senate bill to create a copyright czar position (which Victoria Espinel would end up filling).

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2003, the RIAA's lawsuit dragnet was sweeping up bewildered parents and grandparents. Some folks claimed there were protests in response, but this seemed pretty dubious — except online where some sites were blocking RIAA and MPAA IP addresses (Techdirt declined to participate, preferring they have access to our arguments against them). Meanwhile, movie studios got ready to launch a series of file-sharing guilt trip ads, a Spanish lawyer began following the RIAA lawsuit model, and software company SCO made the staggering claim that all Linux users are pirates.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 24 July 2018 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 175: Building Communities Outside Facebook

from the it's-important dept

One thing we've talked about for a long time at Techdirt is the importance communities for media outlets, including our own. These days, it feels like a lot of media companies are giving up on this work altogether and outsourcing it to social media platforms — but that means foregoing some of the most powerful aspects of the internet. This week, we're joined by Josh Millard, who recently took over MetaFilter, to talk about building online communities and not relying on Facebook.

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 July 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the chatterbox dept

This week, both our winning comments on the insightful side come in response to our post about various stories of cops causing huge problems for restaurants in retaliation for some invented or vastly exaggerated slight. In first place, it's an anonymous anecdote:

The other night, my family and I were eating at a hamburger place-type family restaurant. Four cops came in to get their dinner. I was shocked to realize that I suddenly felt LESS safe, not more.

Restaurants aren't the only reputations cops have ruined.

In second place, it's Ehud Gavron with a maxim, and a worrying claim:

There are two types of cops...
Bad cops...
...and those who allow them to continue being bad cops.

P.S. The FBI interviewed me one morning because, among other things, I'd posted this comment on TechDirt previously. Yeah. That happened.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start with one more comment from that post. This time it's Stephen T. Stone responding to accusations that we at Techdirt are anti-police, pro-drug-addict, and a bunch of other nonsense:

I do not dare say I speak for everyone here, but in regards to my personal positions…


If acknowledging the faults and wrongdoings of police officers make me or anyone else here “anti-police”, so be it. I would rather be “anti-police” than someone who blindly accepts the word of the cops every time.


Yes, I am in favor of measures such as clean needle exchanges and the legalization (and regulation) of all drugs. What of it?


Acknowledging the mistakes of the United States is not being “anti-American”—it is acknowledging that this country has a long history of fuck-ups leading back to the days of the original English colonies that became the first 13 states.

for unlimited immigration

I am in favor of a less cruel immigration system.

for whatever technicality will let criminals escape justice

People accused of a criminal act have civil rights, too. If the justice system decides to infringe upon those rights, those who did the infringing have only themselves to blame if the accused—regardless of their actual guilt—walks free.

advocate of corporations using alleged "First Amendment Right" to control the "platforms" meant to be The Public's outlets

You have confused “private” for “privately-owned” again. Just because Facebook is open to the public does not mean it has any legal, moral, or ethical obligation to let anyone use the platform to spread speech with which the Facebook owners/administrators disagree. The same goes for Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, and any other privately-owned Internet service that is open to the general public. If you believe in the notion that the government can force the admins of Facebook, Twitter, etc. to allow certain people or certain types of speech on those platforms, you have done nothing to prove that the government has such a right.

Here it takes three examples and condemn millions of persons.

Techdirt and numerous commenters here “condemn” the police in general because of the numerous examples of LEOs overstepping their authority or outright breaking the law while on the job. To ignore the wrongdoings of police to uphold some sort of ridiculous “Blue Lives Matter” mindset is to give the police a free pass on any kind of wrongdoing, up to and including murder. If you want to do that, go join a police union.

Techdirt was never the site you believed it was.

No, it was never the site you believed it was. You are not everyone else, and you do not speak for everyone else.

Next, we've got an anonymous comment that excellently sums up the real reason the entertainment industry is scared of online creative platforms:

When a corporation can only produce a few hours of video a day, the 500 hours plus a minute being uploaded to YouTube looks like a major threat. Piracy is the means by which they hope to stem that flood, by making the legal risk of missing and infringing upload so high that the sites cannot function without becoming publishers themselves, and damming up that flood.

Piracy itself is not doing them a lot of damage, and maybe is a minor benefit, but those self publishers are stealing away their audience and income.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is an anonymous joke that just had to happen after Mike shared an email that attempted to blackmail him via knowledge of an old and "unimportant" password:

So you use "important" site passwords for adult video sites? Interesting...

In second place it's another anonymous commenter with a sarcastic response to the latest evidence that pirates buy lots of media when there are compelling legal options:

But Timothy, making a good service and actually competing and being successful commercial enterprises is hard! Computers and network bandwidth and physics and all the things that make digital content convenient, reliable, and accessible can't be bribed like politicians can!

Won't anyone think of the poor middlemen negotiators who would be out of work if these corporations had to actually compete?

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with a comment from Michael sharing a similar experience:

They threatened to sent it to 9 of my friends. Since I don't have 9 friends, I was skeptical, but I figured if they sent it to 9 people, at least one of them would become my friend because I am pretty awesome on camera.

And finally we head to the appeals court ruling which offered at least some hope of defeating the ridiculous notion that publishing standards incorporated into law can be stopped with copyright, in the form of a perfectly chosen literary reference:

But, Mr Dent, the laws incorporating those patented standards have been available in the local planning office for the last nine months.

That's all for this week, folks!

25 Comments | Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt - 21 July 2018 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: July 15th - 21st

from the on-and-on dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, as new leaks made it clear that NSA surveillance went even further than everyone thought, we got disturbing comments from NSA boss Keith Alexander about the need to "collect it all" (which also happens to be the name of our CIA card game which you can still preorder...) and from a former top agency lawyer who blamed the 9/11 attacks on civil libertarians. But the backlash grew too, with the EFF filing a massive lawsuit along with several other groups, and one congressional rep trying to strip the NSA's funding while another aimed to repeal the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, a closer look at the Viacom/YouTube lawsuit revealed Viacom's focus on finding out what Google employees uploaded as a sneaky way to hopefully eliminate some DMCA protections. Apple launched its much expected lawsuit against Mac clone maker Psystar, and a UK law firm went big on the pre-settlement shakedown game with over 100 lawsuits against file sharers. A court ruling about bots in World of Warcraft set a dangerous copyright precedent, and we saw some amusing DRM irony when Ubisoft broke its own game then fixed it by issuing a third-party DRM cracking tool as an official patch. And, sadly, despite an earlier rejection, the EU brought up copyright extension again and voted to bump the term of performance rights up from 50 to 95 years.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2003, while the MPAA was fighting a bill just to spite the EFF, the RIAA was going nuts with its subpoenas to identify file sharers at a rate of about 75 per day. Two Catholic Universities quickly caved and turned students over to the RIAA, and while some studies suggested that file sharing was diminishing, there were also a lot of people passionately defending it.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 17 July 2018 @ 1:43pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 174: How Private Agreements Recreated SOPA

from the down-the-stack dept

One of the most dangerous aspects of SOPA and other copyright proposals is the idea of moving enforcement and liability further down the stack of technology that powers the internet, even all the way to the DNS system. Although SOPA's DNS-blocking proposals were heavily criticized and the bill ultimately defeated, the idea of deep-level copyright enforcement has lived on and been implemented without changes to the law. This week our returning guest, law professor Annemarie Bridy, discusses how private agreements have quietly recreated some of the worst parts of SOPA.

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Posted on Techdirt - 15 July 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the grapevine dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is an anonymous commenter responding to the idea that if you support creators and innovators, you can't criticize copyrights or patents:

I'm pro-copyright and pro-patent. Artists and inventors should absolutely be able to profit from their creations. However, the creation belongs to the world as soon as it's released to the world. That's something that many current rightsholders seem to forget. Copyrights and patents are just a deal the Constitution and the People are striking with those creators so that they get to try (and TRY is an important point - they aren't entitled to money just because they create something) to make money off of the creation for a while before everyone gets to use it freely.

I think copyright and patent have worked well for a long time. However, I think current corporate interests are trying to lock up the creations for longer and longer periods of time, which wasn't the intent of the Framers. I think that slapping "on a computer" on a previous invention is not innovation. I think that making an insignificant change to a drug to get a new patent is not innovation. I think that making billions from other people's creations once they've gone public domain and then doing everything possible to prevent your creations from entering public domain so that others cannot do the same is cheating the Constitutional deal. I think that negligently, erroneously forcing the removal of other people's creations from the Internet in an effort to prevent infringement of your own creation is greedy and elitist (why should protection of your creation be so favored over the creations of others?).

It's not dishonest or disingenuous to support creator's rights while opposing the current legal implementation of said rights. The corporations that support that implementation and wish to intensify it do not promote the advancement of society, the "Progress of Science and useful Arts" - they are only interested in promoting the flow of money into their bank accounts.

In second place, we've got a double winner with an anonymous comment that also took first place over on the funny side. It comes in response to an AT&T executive comparing the forthcoming plans for HBO to childbirth:

The reason Stankey likes to compare childbirth to innovation is because he has zero experience with either.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a response from JarHead to the idea that copyright infringement has ruined modern music:

Nope. As an amateur musician myself, I had an in depth talks about this with my musician friends, and even a label rep at one time.

The reason is, wait for it, sunken cost.

I've read somewhere that the cost to the label to introduce new musician to the market is up to $3 million. With this kind of money, the label want those investment to return. So how to ensure that? Make use the tried and true formulas and not deviate from it.

That formula includes every aspect of of music, from songwriting, composition, to mixing/mastering techniques to maximize profit. Dunno about the newer generations, but for those of you in your 30s or above, ever felt that bass is becoming much more prominent in current day music, as opposed to, say, the 90's? There's a reason for that, and it is economic.

So claims about how music degenerated because copyright infringement is bunk. It is because music nowadays are economically driven instead of creatively driven.

The return of patronage system and the internet are actually the cure of of that disease. Sadly, copyright which originally intended to spur innovation and creativity, now is the bane.

Next, we've got a simple suggestion from Carlie Coats for adding some fairness to takedown systems such as Europe's Article 13:

Just to be fair...

False takedown notices should be subject to the same penalties as copyright infringement.


Over on the funny side, we've already had our first place anonymous winner above, so it's straight to second place. In our post about Denuvo's DRM failures, one commenter made the bizarre assertion that computers are "not useful", to which another commenter replied with a concise story of all the many ways computers have been useful in their life. DB chimed in with a classic rejoinder:

But... what have they done for you lately?

For editor's choice on the funny side, we remain on the Denuvo post for a moment where one anonymous commenter looked at their marketing history and future:

Denuvo slogans through the years

2014: Denuvo, we can't be cracked!

2015: Denuvo, we can't easily be cracked!

2016: Denuvo, you can still at least get a good sales window at product launch.

2017: Well, at least we don't make it less convenient for your paying customers.

2018: Ok, so we make it less convenient for your paying customers.

2019: If you are calling for a late payment, please contact our bankruptcy lawyers at 1-800-223-4332

And, finally, we've got one more anonymous comment, this time in response to a heartfelt complaint about the creeping expansion of copyright:

This complaint is too similar to some one else's complaint. Please cease and desist or face $500,000 in fines.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 14 July 2018 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: July 8th - 14th

from the looking-back dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, as dissection of the NSA leaks continued, we began to take a closer look at the secret FISA courts — which the DOJ didn't want anyone knowing about, even as a former FISC judge explained that he quit the court because it was out of control. We began to understand more about just how much the agency could learn from metadata, and saw the emergence of the silly argument that Facebook usage means people don't care about privacy. The NSA faced cultural backlash, with recruiters smacked down by university students and a disinvitation from the DEF CON conference. Then, the leaks revealed the NSA's cozy relationship with telcos and Microsoft — collaboration the agency cutely referred to as "team sports".

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, it became more and more clear how the entertainment industry was trying to use ACTA to sneak through copyright extension, and we balked at the capitulation of some computer makers to the RIAA's demands by disabling sound recording capabilities. We saw a mixed ruling in a case over limitations on the DMCA's anti-circumvention clause, a ruling from a German court saying that open WiFi owners are not responsible for file sharing done by users, and a massive backlash against Sweden's internet spying bill.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2003, we saw an important ruling in favor of displaying thumbnails of copyrighted images. The RIAA launched an expected lawsuit against a Spanish site that claimed to offer legal downloads, a group of webcasters was threatening to sue the RIAA if they won't renegotiate royalty rates, and Kazaa failed with its wild swing at an antitrust lawsuit against the entertainment industry, while we took a look at the growing industry of folks getting rich by selling anti-filesharing services.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 10 July 2018 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 173: Sci-Fi & Scenario Planning

from the future-foretold dept

Eliot Peper is a novelist who uses thorough research and creative thinking to produce science fiction that can feel more like eerily-accurate prognostication. Exploring possible futures with real insight has always been one of sci-fi's greatest strengths, and this week Peper joins Mike on the podcast to discuss his work, methods, and ideas about tomorrow.

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 - 8 July 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the say-something dept

This week, our top comment on the insightful side comes in response to the disturbing discovery that cops have been instructing paramedics to inject people they arrest with ketamine. Stephen T. Stone won first place, though in fact his comment was reiterating one line from a longer comment by I.T. Guy in response to someone explaining that ketamine is commonly used for people in mental health crises:

Being agitated because you are dealing with dickhead cops is in no way "a mental health crisis".

In second place, we've got an anonymous comment pointing out the perennial problem with the copyright industry's support from thousands of artists:

That would be the thousands contracted to labels, but what about the millions who publish on the Internet and do not want a contract with the labels, or to send more money there way.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a comment from Derek Kerton about Europe's copyright battle:

I couldn't get past this:

"The primary focus of this legislation is concerned with whether or not the internet functions as a fair and efficient marketplace"

Is that really what the people of Europe want from their Internet? A "fair and efficient marketplace". People want the Internet to give them communications, information, access to infinite sites and information, and also to entertain them. No citizens would mention "Fair and efficient marketplace" on their wishlist, only profiteers and businesses would.

There's nothing wrong with businesses wanting a "fair and efficient marketplace" of the Internet, but it's not right for their needs to over-rule and dominate what the citizenry actually wants.

Next, we've got a response from Thad to the idea that, in US politics, progressives are the real authoritarians:

That's why so many progressives voted for the billionaire who lives in a tower with his name on it and gets angry when Congress and the courts don't do what he wants, or when the press criticizes him.

Over on the funny side, our first place comment is another win for Stephen T. Stone, who brought up a recurring joke on our post looking back at the death of Google Reader:

Good ol’ Alphabet Masnick, shillin’ for Google by [checks notes] lambasting Google over its decision to shut down Google Reader.

On that same post, one commenter insisted that they hate the idea of an RSS reader having social integrations because they don't care what others are reading or want anyone to know what they are reading. An anonymous commenter won second place for funny by spotting the problem with that assertion:

And yet here you are, giving us your opinion about what you just read.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with a comment from Kaelis about Verizon's ongoing failed attempts to woo millennials:

Verizon's media acquisition strategy has been less "Go90" and more "Go 90s."

And finally, we've got an anonymous suggestion for Kim Dotcom:

Perhaps Kim Dotcom needs to legally declare himself

a macaque monkey, then he can get PETA to fight for ever on his behalf......

once they've established the copyright of all the files, of course.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 7 July 2018 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: July 1st - 7th

from the how-it-went-down dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, we kicked things off with the latest Snowden leaks revealing that the US had used bugs for surveillance on its allies, and that the PRISM program was huge and complex. George W. Bush stepped up to defend the NSA while President Obama tried to smooth things over with Europe, FISA court judges were upset about the scrutiny, and the Washington Post published a sad editorial calling for the leaks to stop. Then James Clapper shockingly admitted to lying to congress, but was apparently off the hook with nothing more than a staged apology.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, while Sony was further fragmenting the movie download market and NBC was once again failing to offer compelling Olympic coverage online, EMI was showing off its promised "new approach" to the internet by suing more platforms over piracy. Bono joined his manager in blaming ISPs for the destruction of music, while we wondered if the recording industry would play by its own proposed three-strikes rule but for faulty DMCA notices. Meanwhile, the RIAA argued in the Jammie Thomas case that evidence of actual distribution shouldn't be necessary to sue for infringement, while Viacom convinced the court that YouTube should hand over logs of the IP addresses and usernames of people who watched videos.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2003, the FCC launched its national do-not-call list, which was so popular that the website to sign up quickly went down. Some people quickly started calling for a similar plan for spam, while others questioned how well it would really even work for calls. Speaking of spam, one spammer won in court this week since spamming is not "trespassing", but another submitted a guilty plea in his case because it certainly can be fraud. Spam was, overall, getting worse and costing money, while the world braced for the expected onslaught of text messaging spam.

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