Leigh Beadon’s Techdirt Profile


About Leigh BeadonTechdirt Insider

Leigh Beadon, formerly Marcus Carab, now a full-time member of the Techdirt team.

Located in Toronto, Ontario.



Posted on Techdirt - 23 August 2016 @ 1:00pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 87: An Interview With Kim Dotcom's Lawyer

from the from-the-front-lines dept

Ira Rothken is a lawyer on the front lines of many major legal battles relating to copyright and piracy, including defending Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom and, most recently, taking up the defense of Kickass Torrents operator Artem Vaulin. This week, Ira joins us on the podcast to discuss the ins and outs of these and other cases where the entertainment industry has come down hard on consumers and innovators.

Follow the Techdirt Podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe via iTunes, 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 - 21 August 2016 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the insecurity dept

This week there was a lot of reaction to the DNC's creation of a Cybersecurity Board that doesn't include a single cybersecurity expert, and both our first place comments (as well as a couple editor's choices) came in response to that post. On the insightful side, the top comment came from an anonymous commenter who asserts some personal experience in the DNC's failure to consider the right candidates:

Yes, there are. I'm one of them. (30+ years experience at multiple Fortune 500 companies and several major universities. Spent the last eight years building and defending a medical database system that grew from 10's of gigabytes to half a petabyte. And so on.) I applied for the open security expert position at the DNC and heard nothing back. Not even a "no thank you". Nothing.

And with all due respect to these folks: now is not the time to craft policy. That's a lengthy and careful debate. Now is the time to deploy systems that are as secure as possible given time constraints -- noting that there's an election in three months and that something that solves 90% of the problems for 90 days is better than something that solves 99% of the problems but won't be operational until 2018.

In second place on the insightful side we've got another anonymous comment, this time in response to the fact that there may be a third Oracle/Google copyright trial over the Java API:

At this point, why would anyone use Java or Oracle for any project?

Seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start with a comment from John Fenderson, who brought up an excellent semantic point that explains Comcast's "Premium" offerings:

You're just reading the wrong definition. "Premium" meaning "high quality" is the third definition in my dictionary. The first is "An amount paid over and above the regular price".

I think Comcast is going with the first.

Next, we head back to the DNC's Cybersecurity Board, where CanadianByChoice suggested the lack of expertise was by design:

This was the only way they could be reasonably certain that the Advisory Board would give the advice they want to hear.

Over on the funny side, Blaine took first place with his own encouraging message for the DNC:

I'm sure they can do it.

The politicians just need to politician harder!

For second place, we head to our post about the news that PayPal blocked a payment simply because the memo included the word "Cuba", which made one anonymous commenter wonder who suffered the most:

Cuba Gooding Jr. must HATE PayPal.

I mean, way more than the average person does.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out on our post about DirecTV's latest dirty dealings, where YakkoWarner knew the real solution was all that wonderful consumer choice:

Yeah, they'd be much better off signing up with one of their many competi-- um....

Finally, we return one last time to the DNC's Cybersecurity Board, where one final anonymous commenter saw the silver lining in a cybersecurity board with no cybersecurity:

Well, perhaps its better this way. It leads to a more transparent government body...

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 20 August 2016 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: August 14th - 20th

from the time-passes dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2011, the MPAA got hilariously and incoherently angry about a GigaOm post pointing out that file sharing continues to grow. After we criticized their response, they came back yet again with a string of empty "sharing is theft" arguments — and TorrentFreak couldn't help but notice that some of the criticisms applied to similar things the MPAA itself had said not long before.

Meanwhile, police were busy hating photographers — both those that film the police themselves and those that take snapshots of things with, uh, no aesthetic value... apparently. Some people were defending the UK's attempts to fight riots by shutting down social media, as UK cops got in on the act by shutting down a social-media-organized... water gun fight. All the while, new research showed that trying to stop protests with internet censorship just creates more protests.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2006, the RIAA was oh-so-friendly when it decided to delay one of its lawsuits by 60 days. Why? The target of the lawsuit died, and the agency wanted his family to have some time to grieve before they were deposed. After this got a bunch of (negative) attention, they actually had the gall to use the phrase "abundance of sensitivity" when they caved and dropped the lawsuit outright. Hollywood was continuing to drive file sharing further underground, there was a copyright fight over copy protection on VHS tapes, and Jack Thompson was demanding a pre-release copy of the new game Bully so he could pre-emptively freak out about it (even more than he already had).

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2001, a group of judges who recently objected to monitoring software on their computers were rebuffed, a group of Mac-loving students rebelled against their school's choice to go PC, and a Thai newspaper started flipping out about the generalized (and mostly made-up) dangers of computers in general. Though pop-ups were already a target of general hatred, the notion of full-length TV-style video ads on websites was a novel and questionable one (with the hatred already clearly visible on the horizon). And one company was out there bizarrely trying to help people copyright their DNA to protect against unwanted cloning.

One-Hundred And Thirty-One Years Ago

When we talk about patent history here on Techdirt, we're usually pretty focused on the US, but this week we can mark an important date for Japan's system. On August 14th, 1885, Japan granted its first seven official patents under the well-named Patent Monopoly Act. Number 1 was for anticorrosive paint, and numbers 2-4 were for tea processing machines.

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Posted on Techdirt - 20 August 2016 @ 9:00am

Awesome Stuff: A Recycling 3D Pen

from the repurposed-plastic dept

Three years ago, the 3Doodler pen became a huge hit on Kickstarter, and for a brief period it seemed like these handheld 3D printing tools might be the next big gadget. But after that initial rush, they never fully took off, and not everyone was satisfied with the performance of the pen itself. Nevertheless, the idea is a compelling one, so for this week's Awesome Stuff we're taking a look at an interesting new offering with an important twist: the Renegade pen.

So what's the key innovation that makes the Renegade interesting? Simple: instead of feeding off of normal 3D printer filament, it prints by recycling the material from any old plastic bottle.

Normal 3D printing is a slow, precise process — most pieces are thoroughly designed and tested in digital form, and iterated as little as possible in printed physical form. But 3D drawing with a freehand pen is a much looser exercise: it's only fun if you can experiment and mess around, and that burns through a whole lot of filament. The Renegade comes with a special cutting tool that lets you quickly and easily cut any bottle into long strips of plastic that feed into the pen, replacing expensive filament and diverting some garbage to a more useful purpose. It can also work with plastic shopping bags and other odds and ends like plastic file folders.

The creators have a working prototype, but of course it remains to be seen just how satisfying and fun it will be to use once it's actually in your hands — 3D pens probably still have a little ways to go before they are truly viable as a general-use tool or toy. But if you're interested in the technology and want a chance to try it out, the Renegade might just be the smartest and most cost effective way to do so.

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Posted on Techdirt - 16 August 2016 @ 1:00pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 86: Have Platforms Killed The Open Internet By Replacing Protocols?

from the open,-close dept

The internet is built on a solid foundation of open protocols: TCP/IP, HTTP and SMTP especially, plus more modern entrants like RSS and BitTorrent. But even those aren't so new anymore, and it seems like the era of the open protocol might be coming to an end, supplanted by the drive to create proprietary closed platforms. This week, we discuss whether the open protocol is dead, and what that means for the future of the open internet.

Follow the Techdirt Podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe via iTunes, 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 - 14 August 2016 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the incumbent-panic dept

This week, the Association of American Publishers started complaining about Sci-Hub and tossing around stock concerns about "intellectual property". Mason Wheeler won first place for insightful by honing in on the difference between IP and copyright:

Intellectual property is not the point of copyright; it's the mechanism of copyright, the means it uses to accomplish its purpose, which is to encourage people to create useful things and bring them to the public domain.

When a mechanism starts doing things that run counter to its purpose, we declare it "broken" and either throw it out or take it to a specialist to repair it.

Meanwhile, we were expressing concerns about the rise of discussion around the supposed "value gap" in online music services, and TheResidentSkeptic won second place for insightful with a redefinition of the term:

The "Value Gap" they need to be concerned about is the one between what they value their content at and what consumers value it at.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, first we've got one more response to that post, this time from aerinai focusing on the specific ridiculousness of complaining about a choice in platforms:

What I don't understand is, if YouTube is not valuable to them, then they have the choice to not put their music on YouTube. ContentID gives them the freedom to restrict OTHERS from doing the same with their content... So how can you yell "This service is not making me enough money! Its not even worth it to have our content on here!" and yet simultaneously still keep your music on it.... If they want better terms, start their own site and pay others what they think is an appropriate rate... but that takes work, so nahhhhh.....

And yet another industry was getting mad this week — the newspaper industry was complaining about John Oliver's failure to solve all their problems. That Anonymous Coward experienced some deja vu:

Gee an out of touch industry that ignored things were changing, and expect others to fix their problems... Where have I seen this before??

Over on the funny side, the first place comment comes in response to the EFF's call for a truth-in-labelling law for products with DRM. The idea has some merit, however Inwoods couldn't help but be immediately suspicious of one of the examples offered in justification:

"Adam J installed Microsoft’s Groove"

Bullshit. No one in the history of the internet has ever done that.

In second place, we've got another response to the fight between newspapers and John Oliver, this time from an anonymous commenter who joined the many people confused by Tribune's recent rebranding:

tronc? Isn't that what you give to a dead horse so it doesn't feel anything when you flog it?

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with one final response to that post from an anonymous commenter who saw the whole thing as something of a death rattle:

You know when an industry is in trouble when they want comedians to give them business strategies.

Finally, we head to the amazingly-not-over fight about the infamous monkey selfie. After a primatologist defended the the supposed copyright on the grounds that Macaques are super smart, Gumnos wondered if turnabout was fair play:

Does the opposite apply?

“Your honor, these representatives for {PETA,big media} are really, really dumb, so we move to declare their copyrights as void…”

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 13 August 2016 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: August 7th - 13th

from the slightly-shorter-than-usual-edition dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2011, London was caught in widespread rioting, and naturally some officials were quick to place the blame squarely on... BlackBerry, since messaging and Twitter were being used to incite and organize rioters. One MP went as far as to call on BlackBerry to shut down its messenger service (as if that would help), and then Prime Minister David Cameron decided it might be good to ban suspected rioters from social media. They sure did handle it well, huh?

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2006, Sony was continuing its proud tradition of utterly failing when it comes to DRM, this time deciding to delay the launch of the audio/video download store for the PSP because they couldn't implement the copy protection in time. All the customer backlash against bad DRM seemed to be prompting other DRM-pushers to start changing their story. And then of course there was the battleground for the next generation of DRM media: the fight to replace DVDs with a new emerging standard was just heating up (and would evolve into the Blu-ray/HD-DVD wars, and eventually today's Blu-ray supremacy).

Fifteen Years Ago

Five years before that in 2001, copy protected CDs were a relatively new idea and it was still unclear how pervasive and protected they were. Meanwhile, the DOJ was starting to investigate the online music services that the recording industry set up (in the wake of said industry's destruction of several independent online music companies). We also saw a decision that would change the face of two giant brands: a judge told the World Wrestling Federation that it had to stop using "WWF", and hand wwf.com over to the World Wildlife Fund.

Seventy-Two Years Ago

Some of the earliest computers were put to work in World War Two, and among the most famous is IBM's Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator — better known as the Harvard Mark I, after it was officially presented to the university on August 24th, 1944. It was described as having "brought Babbage’s principles of the Analytical Engine almost to full realization, while adding important new features."

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Posted on Techdirt - 13 August 2016 @ 9:00am

Awesome Stuff: Time Is Running Out For Two Techdirt T-Shirts!

from the tick-tock dept

Normally we only have one t-shirt available at a time, but thanks to a big order that rebooted one of our Teespring campaigns, this weekend there are two to choose from! First, there's our new Vote2016() t-shirt, which is only available until Monday night:

Then there's also our highly popular Takedown t-shirt, which is available only until tomorrow night:

As usual, in addition to men's and women's t-shirts for $20, we've got hoodies at the low price of $35. For the Vote2016() design, you can also pick up a high-quality sticker! After these campaigns end, we can't be sure when they'll relaunch — so hurry up and grab your Vote2016() t-shirt or your Takedown t-shirt (or both!)

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 9 August 2016 @ 1:04pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 85: Is Your Algorithm Racist?

from the and-what-can-be-done-about-it? dept

Algorithms have become a powerful force in the world, but for all the impressive good they do, they sometimes show some worrying tendencies. Algorithms that discriminate are a problem that nobody's found a solution for yet. This week, we discuss why some algorithms appear to be racist, and whether there's anything that can be done about it.

Follow the Techdirt Podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe via iTunes, 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 - 7 August 2016 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the say-it-again dept

This week, we noted how the stupid ban on Olympic tweets was harming athletes, and expressed hope that someone would fight back against the IOC. Jason won most insightful comment of the week by suggesting things go a step further:

Or, while we're dreaming, how about hoping we just give the IOC what it really seems to want, and no one talk, post, tweet, watch, or think about the Olympics anywhere, ever?

In second place for insightful, we have michael with a personal-experience response to the surprising study showing internet trolls are even worse when they aren't anonymous:

I also thought trolls hid behind anonymity. But then I joined NextDoor, which is like Facebook for your neighborhood or community.

The open racism, confrontational attitudes, and flagrant trolling by neighbors I'd never met (and I live in a pretty close-knit community) and whose name and address are prominently displayed on the site was shocking.

Turns out it's not the anonymity; it's just that some people are assholes.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with another response to the Olympics' various stupid and questionable bans, where Whoever pointed out some of the legal intricacies:

Treaty is quite explicit, and limited.

In second place on the funny side,

The Nairobi treaty defines trademark protection for the Olympics. The interesting thing about this treaty and its implementation under US law is that it is limited to a small number of marks, and many that the USOC or the IOC claim people cannot use are simply not included in the treaty and law. For example "Rio" is not protected:

2. Which Olympic trademarks are protected in the United States?

The Olympic trademarks protected by U.S. statute (36 U.S.C. § 220506(c)) include the name “UNITED STATES OLYMPIC COMMITTEE”; the symbol of the IOC, consisting of five interlocking rings; the words “Olympic,” “Olympiad” and “Citius Altius Fortius,” and also the words “Paralympic,” “Paralympiad,” “Pan-American” and “America Espirito Sport Fraternite,” or any combination of these words; the emblem of the United States Olympic Committee, consisting of an escutcheon having a blue chief and vertically extending red and white bars on the base with five interlocking rings displayed on the chief; and the symbols of the International Paralympic Committee and the Pan-American Sports Organization, consisting of a torch surrounded by concentric rings.
https:/ /www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/36/220506

Next, we've got an anonymous response to the fact that even the RIAA's usual defenders were pointing out that it's lying about YouTube piracy:

Yet more evidence that piracy is merely the excuse that the legacy content industries uses to attack those that allow publishing without going through them, by trying to make a legal case against them. They cannot attack the individual self publishing content creators, as they are too numerous, but they can attack those who facilitate self publishing.

That same post is the source of our first place winner on the funny side. After one commenter showed up making broad and bizarre assertions about "regulation", another anonymous commenter couldn't resist mimicking his jumbled and repetitive approach:

Let me see if I understand what you're saying.
Regulation regulates regulations, but regulations are relegated to regulating the regulators. So, if we want to regulate the regulation of regulators, we have to put regulations into place that will regulate regulating regulations?
Do I have that right?

In second place on the funny side, we've got an analogy from MDT in response to the Manhattan DA's latest demands for encryption backdoors-but-we-won't-call-them-that:

We are not saying that every safe should have a second door on it. We are only asking for every safe manufactured to have a fixed combination that is given to the police for use when we need it. We will absolutely guard this police combination that opens all safes, and we will not allow criminals to have it. We will make it illegal for anyone other than police to use it, which will make it secure and safe and ensure no one but the 'good guys' can use that bypass combination code.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we've got another analogy for the DA, this time from an anonymous commenter and much more straightforward:

We're not saying we want 1+1 to = 3, but does it always have to = 2? I'm sure the smart mathematicians could come up with something if they really wanted to.

Finally, we head to our post about one Minnesota carpet cleaning company that did fight back against the Olympics, where we noted that the IOC had overstepped its legal boundaries, and Ryunosuke suggested a more appropriate phrasing:

and by "overstepped their legal boundaries" you meant pole hurdled, triple jumped, and pole vaulted over it, right?

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 6 August 2016 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: July 31st - August 6th

from the the-more-things-change dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2011, we saw the surprising ruling that MegaUpload could be guilty of direct infringement in a lawsuit brought by Perfect 10. Another court shut down online movie rental site Zediva, establishing the bizarre fact that the length of the cable apparently makes a difference when it comes to infringement. On the flipside, in another Perfect 10 case, we got the excellent and important ruling that copyright infringement doesn't automatically mean irreparable harm.

In the UK, the copyright world was in flux following the Hargreaves Report, with the UK Business Secretary stepping up to back many of its recommendations and even go beyond them. Soon, the UK announced surprisingly good copyright plans based on the report — though it didn't address ridiculous copyright term lengths. At the same time, BPI was using a ruling against Newzbin2 to push for much broader copyright censorship powers, while the UK's pioneering copyright trolls were facing sanctions.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2006, inspired by the success of YouTube, the big media companies were racing to crowd the market for video sharing platforms with their own official offerings, creating a huge mess. MSN was actually a leader in the online video space, but it wasn't clear if that really mattered. DVRs were sort of changing how much TV people watch, and digital filming was changing how actors act.

Also this week in 2006: Norway was considering banning iTunes, Germany was trying to stop software resale, and a Minnesota ban on selling video games to minors was declared unconstitutional; the music industry was ironically starting to see CDs as a threat while also trying to sell people music on DVDs for some reason; and, following a semi-victory in the Grokster decision, the RIAA officially commenced its legal action against Limewire.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2001, the music labels were excited about their new digital music plans even though it was easy to predict that they wouldn't work out that well. Of course, popular piracy alternatives had big problems too, such as KaZaa installing browser-hijacking adware as a business model and leading to an awareness of the plague of "parasite-ware". DVRs were already changing people's viewing habits back in 2001, and one company was already working on a 3D television — except it turned out to be a complete hoax.

Three-Hundred And Thirteen Years Ago

We often talk about free speech and satire around here at Techdirt, so this week let's look back at an iconic moment in the history of those concepts. It was on July 31st, 1703 that novelist and pamphleteer Daniel Defoe (of Robinson Crusoe fame) was arrested and put in the pillory for distributing a satirical pamphlet, on charges of seditious libel. Legend has it the people pelted him not with fruits but with flowers — but the truth of this is shaky at best.

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Posted on Techdirt - 6 August 2016 @ 9:00am

Awesome Stuff: Don't Miss Our New Vote2016() T-Shirt

from the syntax-politics dept

Limited time offer: Support Techdirt and get a Vote2016() t-shirt or hoodie!

Yesterday, we launched our latest t-shirt/hoodie on Teespring: a common sentiment about the 2016 election expressed in code:

It's only available until Monday, August 15th so be sure to order yours soon! T-shirts are $20, hoodies are only $35, and this time we've also added a sticker option for $4. Support Techdirt and get your Vote2016() gear today!

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Posted on Techdirt - 2 August 2016 @ 1:00pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 84: Is It The 'Pokemon' Or The 'Go' That Matters?

from the killer-app-or-one-hit-wonder? dept

Pokémon Go is an undeniable phenomenon, and the first mass-appeal hit from the world of augmented reality — a technology people have been expecting would transform gaming for years. That leaves a big question, though: is its popularity a sign of the future for AR, or is the game an isolated phenomenon that owes more to the popularity of its brand? This week, we discuss what we can learn from Pokémon Go, and whether we can truly learn anything at all.

Follow the Techdirt Podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe via iTunes, 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 - 31 July 2016 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the vax-attacks dept

This week, Yahoo was facing accusations that it wasn't entirely honest about its ability to recover communications that it claimed were deleted. That Anonymous Coward won first place for insightful by expanding on the problems with the situation:

Parallel construction should never be acceptable. To violate any alleged protections citizens have, and then build a fantasy way to explain how they obtained it to hide the actual source seems to be an affront to Justice.

But then we let court officers lie with no downside, Judges refuse to shame prosecutors who violate the law in order to secure a conviction against someone they knew was innocent, they throw out all the rules to get the bad guy and when caught they dismiss cases rather than admit what they are doing is wrong.

This isn't how the legal system is supposed to work, and its looking like the rot has spread to far for us to save it. No bandaid is going to fix this, we need to cut out the bad parts to save the system.

Meanwhile, after we made the point that the content of the leaked DNC emails is relevant and important regardless of whether or not it was Russians who obtained them, one anonymous commenter won second place for insightful by agreeing wholeheartedly:

I've been yelling this article's point at my computer screen all weekend. If the DNC hadn't done nefarious shit and communicated about it over an insecure medium, there'd be nothing for whoever, Russian-sponsored or otherwise, to hack and release! This is shooting the messenger - the same way Edward Snowden was blamed for endangering Americans when it was the illegal and nefarious actions by the government that he exposed that had done that.

I don't care if the email leaks came from Satan himself. If the content is factual, it's relevant.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start with another aspect of the DNC email hack: the claims by the party that Wikileaks is full of malware. Mcinsand pulled out the political dictionary:


Apparently, 'malware' is a new term for inconvenient truths.

Next, we've got a response to the defamation threats from an anti-vax film distributor trying to squash criticism, which will be the source of both of our top winners on the funny side. But before that, PaulT offered an excellent summary of anti-vax psychology, and why it's not all just about pure stupidity:

There's 2 things at play here. One is ignorance, of course. The other thing is the thing that's harder to deal with, and the thing that these anti-vaxxers are deliberately altering for the worse - perception.

In my parents' era, it was easy to see the benefits of vaccines, and the dangers on not having them. Smallpox was real, measles was killing people and most knew people who had suffered and been disabled by polio (my uncle's right arm was useless from a young age from the disease). Meanwhile autism was a relatively new diagnosis and wasn't properly understood.

Fast forward to today - smallpox is dead, destroyed by vaccination. Nobody really knows anyone who's suffered with diseases like polio, while things like measles have been weakened so that it's often lumped in with less dangerous diseases. Measles is an inconvenience in the minds of parents who haven't been exposed to the scarring, blindness and death a strain can cause. However, they are well aware of autism and most likely know people who have been diagnosed somewhere on the spectrum.

This is why anti-vaxxer propaganda is so dangerous. It preys on the fears of parents who are scared their child might be autistic, but are ignorant of the very real dangers that come with lower levels of vaccination. The biggest problem is that even discredited frauds like Wakefield and outdated talking points like mercury in vaccines can somehow convince some people better than verifiable science.

But enough of the dry analysis — first place for funny goes to Vidiot, who illustrated the backfire that comes with frivolous defamation threats like these:

Like a Warner Bros. cartoon

Lesson number one: When you load up the defamation cannon, you can probably expect that the biggest explosion won't be coming out of the front end.

In second place, we've got Dale Evans, who saw right through our ploy:

PR firm propaganda, paid for by Big Pharma $$$

Nice propaganda effort, this article, web page, and the fake comments included. Shows you what Big Pharma profits $$$$ can purchase in the way of public relations firm services. Pretty convincing. Very God-less and immoral. These PR firms should be shut down and their staff sent to prison!

For editor's choice on the funny side, we head to the news that Russia's state internet censor accidentally blocked its own security certificate authority and took down its own website, where we have two quick-and-dirty jokes in response. First, it's Berenerd wondering what the problem is:

Seems like its working as it should, blocking those bad propaganda sites

And last but not least, it's Lord Lidl of Cheem (lord who of where?) with a slightly tortured but still amusing twist on a classic:

In Soviet Russia, site ban bans ban.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 30 July 2016 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: July 24th - 30th

from the changes dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2011, we saw a variety of studies and other sources pushing back against the common "wisdom" on copyright and piracy. People were beginning to point to the signs that weaker copyright can encourage cultural output, that piracy can actually increase the quality of content, that pirates are the best consumers, and that file sharing is good for artists.

Of course, on the flipside, we saw the idea/expression dichotomy gutted when a judge allowed a photographer to sue Rihanna. PayPal agreed to help cut sites off at the behest of the IFPI, a UK court ordered a telecom to block sites at Hollywood's behest, and the music industry was pushing for infringement red flags in Google search results.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2006, Kazaa began walking down the Napster road of going straight (and becoming irrelevant). Meanwhile Metallica, author of Napster's destruction, was finally accepting that fans want music online, and entering the iTunes store. TorrentSpy was trying to fend off Hollywood, the RIAA was dropping cases over the fact that an IP address is not a person, the industry was cracking down on karaoke bars, and amidst so much dastardly piracy, the Pirates of the Caribbean sequel was still thriving. YouTube was changing the way people interact with television, and gimmicky technology was changing the way people interact with a game of Monopoly.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2001, still fresh off the heels of Napster's destruction, it was bizarre to see Metallica's website boasting about their love of "sharing" music. Some people were predicting that all the Napster copycats cropping up in its wake would soon be dead thanks to more effective copyright schemes (and though many of the clones did die, music piracy lives on...) The folks in DC were apparently very happy with the DMCA despite its increasingly obvious problems, most notably last week's arrest of a hacker that went over so poorly Adobe started backing down. But perhaps the most noticeable way technology was changing the entertainment industry was naturally, from the inside out: a lot of cliche movie plots were rendered nonsensical by things like cellphones, and TV news and sports broadcasts were undergoing a drastic webification.

Seventy-Six Years Ago

There's a lot of talk about Mickey Mouse in the copyright world, but this week we can celebrate a competing character who also evades the public domain thanks to copyright extension: Bugs Bunny, who was introduced in the short A Wild Hare on July 27, 1940. (The all-time classic Bugs short What's Opera, Doc? would have entered the public domain two years ago were it not for the 1976 Copyright Act.)

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Posted on Techdirt - 30 July 2016 @ 9:00am

Awesome Stuff: Not Much Time Left To Get A Takedown T-Shirt!

from the tick-tock dept

Last week, we launched our latest t-shirt (and hoodie!) on Teespring: the Takedown tee. Now the campaign is nearly at an end, so if you want one you've only got until Monday, August 1st at 8:00pm PT. Otherwise you'll have to wait for the campaign to restart, which could happen soon or it could take ages — so don't delay!

Men's and women's t-shirts are $20, hoodies are only $35, and everything's available in a variety of colors. Hurry up and get yours today!

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 26 July 2016 @ 1:13pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 83: 'Disruption' Is Not An Excuse For Lying

from the the-bad-side-of-a-good-thing dept

Silicon Valley has produced lots of disruptive technologies — ways to solve problems by upending entrenched industries and, often enough, routing around protectionist regulations. But not all regulations are meaningless, not all industries are easy to disrupt, and sometimes "fake it until you make it" becomes plain old lying. This week, we discuss what happens when "disruption" goes wrong.

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Posted on Techdirt - 24 July 2016 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the what's-the-word dept

One of the biggest stories this week was the shutdown of Kickass Torrents and the arrest of its owner, all of which we pointed out had questionable basis in actual law. That One Guy won most insightful comment of the week with the theory that this doesn't matter at all:

The fact that the charges don't line up with what's actually in the law doesn't matter really, as that would be distantly secondary at best. The purpose isn't so much to enforce the law regarding copyright infringement as to show what happens to those that annoy the USG and those buying politicians.

Site destroyed, owner arrested, message sent.

Much like MU winning the legal case would be something they'd like to be able to crow about, but they've already accomplished what they set out to do, and if all it cost them was some 'creative' interpretation of the law that's a price they're more than willing to pay.

Meanwhile, after Donald Trump threatened his disloyal ghostwriter with defamation claims, eaving won second place for insightful by drawing a comparison:

Erdogan, American Edition?

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with some thoughts from PaulT on China's plan to ban ad blockers:

The more interesting thing would be to see if anyone exploits the rules to distribute malware that does real harm or has other unintended consequences that causes real problems for the Chinese government. With malicious ads being increasingly common, security is one of the larger reasons people are using these things.

I mean, I wouldn't want to be the person trying to exploit the opportunity even I were that way inclined. But an extra 159+ million people being added to a pool of targets, where the entire pool is barred from defending themselves against you, must be very tempting for certain people.

Next, we head to our post about the court that has offered no remedy to someone whose vehicle was illegally searched and then subjected to civil forfeiture after drugs were found. One commenter suggested that there's no way the alternative — returning all the property — is acceptable either, but Uriel-238 questioned that premise and its assumptions:

"I don't think they should just give the drugs, or the vehicle used to transport them back.. full fucking stop."

I do. The state is way out of jurisdiction once they have conducted an illegal search, and -- how shall we say it: it imposes a substantial social cost for there to be any impetus for the police to engage in unreasonable search and seizure, since the temptation to do so is so great on its own. The police are not even trustworthy holding contraband in their evidence lockers or destroying it.

Once we allow law enforcement to gain actually profit from overreach, they're going to do so. Excessively. There are number historic examples of how this goes down.

No, the proper order in this case is for the police to return to him his belongings (including any contraband) in recognition that the state and its agents are not above law either.

The suspect should be compensated for time lost due to the police overreach and then let to go about his business

We need to stop thinking of the police as a caste with a moral high ground over the rest of us. Indeed, if anything they have clearly proven that human beings are incapable of holding that elevated level of power without corruption and indulgence. They just aren't.

The US police is supposed to operate under the principles of policing by Sir Robert Peel (at least they still teach Peelian Principles in cop school and say these are our foundational principles. The police is the people. The people are the police. It's still supposed to be that way. It's not.

Rather, our law enforcement agents are so removed from common civilians now that they regard common civilians as the enemy, they defend their own corruption openly and plainly. They prey commonly on innocent civilians as highwaymen and brigands. They act as nothing more than yet another street gang, merely one backed with state funding.

Over on the funny side, we start out with the news that the German government is suing the US government over copyright infringement by the Navy. First place for funny goes to Machin Shin, who couldn't resist the simple joy this story provides:

I saw this on another site as I wandered around the net. I still think the best part in all this is that we can now call our Navy a bunch of pirates.

Meanwhile, after Turkey blocked Wikileaks, Mason Wheeler won second place by noting the irony in the source of some of the criticism of Turkey's censorious regime:

Wait, wait... a European high court talking about censorship laws breaching the fundamental human right to information?

That's incredibly ironic. I know there's a good reason to say so, but I must have... forgotten.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start on our post about Nick Denton joining the ranks of people fighting to defend comments on blogs and news websites. TechDescartes registered his self-invalidating disapproval, the only way he could:

I disagree

You shouldn't let people comment on stories.

And finally, because every advertising algorithm is bound to cough up amusing results from time to time, Mason Wheeler spotted something fun on our post about Apple declining the invitation to be Senator McCain's punching bag:

In today's episode of Techdirt Advertising Theatre...

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 23 July 2016 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: July 17th - 23rd

from the memories dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2011, the battle over the PROTECT IP bill continued, with the MPAA utterly failing to address the concerns of experts and the creators of the internet and the Copyright Alliance vaguely trying to "set the record straight" by responding to an un-linked, un-cited post written against the bill. We pointed to a variety of examples showing why we shouldn't rush to approve PROTECT IP, but it seemed like the lawmakers were pretty confused about what it was to begin with — one senator thought it was about an internet kill-switch, and another had it all confused with net neutrality.

Also this week in 2011, we saw the beginning of what we now know to be a very sad story: federal prosecutors filed felony charges against Aaron Swartz for downloading documents from JSTOR. We couldn't help but notice that, despite so much rhetoric about theft and infringement, there was no mention of copyright in the indictment. Indeed, there didn't seem to be any legal or moral basis for the charges whatsoever. But that didn't stop the Copyright Alliance from throwing their hat into the ring with a post full of terrible analogies — nor did it stop lots of people from uploading JSTOR research to file-sharing sites in protest.

Ten Years Ago

It's easy to forget that once upon a time YouTube was new — and that was the case this week in 2006, when it was still independent and so young that its very first copyright lawsuits were just beginning to materialize. Interestingly, this same week, the MPAA was getting hyped about new technology for detecting infringing video (though perhaps they should have focused more on innovations that aren't designed to fail).

We were also pleased to see a very rare beast: an honest debate about net neutrality. Not just that — there was also a great John Hodgman-helmed explainer segment on the Daily Show, and a creative reimagining of the debate that made it all about sidewalks instead of networks.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2001, though Napster was basically dead, it didn't seem to have helped the recording industry very much (and who could have predicted that?) Over in the UK, they decided the best way was to start young, and began teaching kids about the evils of file sharing in elementary school. Meanwhile, the high-profile arrest of a Russian programmer for breaking encryption was shaping up to be a major test to copyright law. And amidst all this, copy-protected CDs were starting to show up in record stores.

Also this week in 2001: Microsoft was discovered stopping a charity from distributing computers over licensing issues; the top-ranked legal advisor on an advice website was a fifteen-year-old kid; Fandango made the first brave foray into the now-normal practice of printing movie tickets at home; and people were still trying to figure out how (and why) to get video onto cellphones.

One-Hundred And Seventeen Years Ago

NEC isn't a big trendy consumer name — at least not outside Japan. But its a gigantic supplier of the network equipment that powers so much of our digital world — and it was on July 17th, 1899 that it was launched as the first ever Japanese joint-venture with foreign capital.

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Posted on Techdirt - 23 July 2016 @ 9:00am

Awesome Stuff: Don't Miss Our New Takedown T-Shirt/Hoodie!

from the censorship! dept

Did you hear? Yesterday, we launched our latest t-shirt on Teespring. It's a re-vamped version of our classic DMCA tee: the Takedown T-Shirt. In addition to men's and women's t-shirts for $20 each, we've reduced the price of hoodies to $35 and added some new color options including royal blue and forest green!

This initial run is available until Monday, August 1st, after which point your only choice will be to reserve one and wait until the campaign reboots — so if you want to get your hands on one soon, don't delay and order yours now!

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