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

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the fair-comment dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is Thad with a short first amendment refresher regarding PEN America's lawsuit against Trump:

Reminder for the slow class:

The First Amendment restricts the government from punishing speech.

The President is part of the government.

The President is not allowed to punish people or organizations for saying things he doesn't like.

This is completely different from Techdirt, or Twitter, or Facebook, or Google, or any other private entity, punishing people or organizations for saying things they don't like. That's legal. Because those are not government organizations.

(Pedants who think they are being clever may note that the First Amendment only mentions Congress; it doesn't say anything about the President. Well, here's the thing about that: if Congress is not allowed to make a law giving the President the power to punish people for speech he doesn't like, then the President doesn't have that power.)

In second place, we've got an anonymous comment musing about what could be a significant factor in lots of police abuse and justice system failures:

I believe a part of this attitude is caused by people believing in the Hollywood version of law enforcement. In which the Hero Cops are never wrong and a trial is just a formality in which the Bad Guy only ever gets acquitted if his Sleazy Lawyer gets him off on some technicality.

That was in reference to an accidental admission by NYC prosecutors that they abuse the bail system to punish innocent people, and for editor's choice we've got two more thoughts on that from some regular commenters. First, it's That One Guy with an additional question:

'They're a serious threat to the public... right until they pay'

In addition to what they inadvertently admitted, that they are deliberately(and illegally) setting bail too high in order to keep people in jail until trial, the argument that posting bail is a threat to public safety merely brings up another question:

If someone is an actual danger to the public, why would there be a bail amount set at all? If someone is suspected or assault and/or murder can they walk until trial so long as they have enough money?

If someone is a demonstrable threat to those around them the simple act of paying does not magically make them not a threat, so if there is real evidence that someone poses a threat to the public why would any level of bail be set, rather than a case made to the judge that the accused presents a threat to those around them and as such it would be much safer to have them behind bars until trial.

This is of course a rhetorical question, as it's pretty clear that they don't think the people are actually threats, the point is instead that even assuming they were being honest they'd still have a hole large enough to drive a semi through in their argument.

Next, it's That Anonymous Coward expanding on the impact this has:

One of the other reasons to keep them locked up is so they take the plea. Locked up you need to get someone to cover rent, watch kids, feed pets, beg your boss to not fire you... gee all of those pressures seem like a reason innocent people might take a plea to have hope of salvaging their life before it gets destroyed waiting for their day in court where they roll the dice with an underpaid overworked public defender who might have all of 2 minutes to look at your case & no time or budget to actually put on a defense.

The punishment starts with the accusation and gets multiplied at every step to keep the system churning quickly. There can be video of you 5 states away, but that won't matter until you get a day in court and that could be months away. You get a hearty GTFO, dumped on the street & have to find out what happened to your stuff & try to rebuild your life.

What people think the justice system is & how it works is so very different than the reality. Some people are mad their tax dollars give the accused a public defender, because they wouldn't be in jail if they were innocent (because the 15 times I heard about people released from jail after being found innocent were flukes & that never happens now).

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is murgatroyd with a reaction to the appeals court ruling saying that Georgia's laws are not protected by copyright:

Oh, great. Because of this, Georgia no longer has any incentive to create new laws! I hope Mr. Malamud is happy.

In second place, we've got a quick anonymous response to another commenter's utterly baffling rant about "open source" and China:

Let’s add open source to the veritable dictionary of words you don’t understand. Along with veritable, dictionary, and words.

For editor's choice, we start out with a reaction from Vidiot to the tiny class action settlement payout for Vizio customers:

$13? That's one of the biggest class action awards I've seen. Still holding a check from TD Bank that's supposed to make amends for lobby-located coin counting machines that chronically undercounted the contents of my pickle jar full of pocket change. I haven't needed the 56 cents yet.

Finally, we head back to last week's comment post, where I noted that stderric's winning comment was passing along a John Oliver joke. He defended himself, asserting:

Think what you will, but I consider "Humor Curator" to be an honorable enough pursuit :)

(As the person putting this post together right now, I agree!)

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 20 October 2018 @ 12:30pm

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

from the what-was dept

Five Years Ago

There was plenty of NSA apologia again this week in 2013. Keith Alexander was claiming that he was protecting civil liberties by violating them and playing the fear card by claiming people will die due to the Snowden leaks, while the lawyer who helped give legal cover to Bush's warrantless wiretapping was claiming everyone will grow to love the intrusive NSA, and Dianne Feinstein was playing the 9/11 card (and being debunked by the ACLU).

Meanwhile, the latest information from the leaks revealed that the NSA was collecting email contact lists and instant messaging friend lists overseas with no oversight, that the agency was involved in the drone strike program, and of course that the agency was in fact drowning in a glut of data.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, the president finally signed the ProIP bill and created America's copyright czar position. We took a closer look at the MPAA's lawsuit against RealNetworks (and how it was all about controlling innovation), while the RIAA was appealing the mistrial ruling in the Jammie Thomas trial, and a German court was finding Google Images thumbnails to be a copyright violation. Unexpectedly, the McCain campaign sent a letter to YouTube urging them to consider and protect fair use when processing DMCA requests, and YouTube offered up the excellent response that they can't give the campaign special treatment, but they hope McCain will fix the law. Meanwhile, Larry Lessig was giving his own impassioned defense of fair use and remix culture.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2003, the EFF found another person who was wrongly accused of file-sharing and sued by the RIAA (they wouldn't be the last), just as the RIAA was commencing round two of its shakedown scheme by, as promised, offering people a chance to pay up before being sued (how nice of them). We also took a closer look at the RIAA's lawsuits against Grokster and Morpheus, and how their true ambitious goal was to overturn the Betamax precedent that makes video tape machines legal. Also this week, Brewster Kahle was fighting against the DMCA in an attempt to preserve old software.

Meanwhile, lots of companies and industries were really struggling to adapt. Some people were discussing possible futures for usual-consumer-electronics-leader Sony after Apple beat it to the punch on smartphones, print publishers were basically dragging their heels about this whole internet thing, and Polaroid reached the highly questionable conclusion that its future was in digital photo kiosks.

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

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the so-they-say dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is Gary with a response to the Texas cops who seized an anti-GOP sign from a homeowner's lawn:

Makes sense

Because the people who shout "Snowflake" the loudest are the most easily offended.

Some people, however, oddly presumed that the sign — which is uncomfortable to say the least, but intentionally so to make a point — must somehow violate some law, and our second place winner comes from Will B. in response to that idea:

Cite statute, please, bearing in mind that this cartoon was A) A cartoon, not an image of a real child, B) in no way explicit, and C) clearly protected political speech.

"Art depicting sexual acts with children" when defined broadly can include classics like Lolita, which to the best of my knowledge isn't banned anywhere in the US. Explicit pornography involving real children is banned. (And of course, having sex with a real child is illegal - supposedly. Unless the person having sex with real children is a Republican politician. But no, this sign is clearly what's wrong with America...)

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got two more comments from that post. First up, it's Stephen T. Stone with another response to the "this can't be legal" argument:

By that logic, all the Christians who say “all LGBT people are pedophiles” would be breaking a few laws—but I have yet to see any of those Christians arrested, tried, and convicted of a crime for doing that.

Some people took a slightly different (but equally wrong) tack, arguing that the police were simply doing their job of keeping the peace by removing something likely to incite anger. Gary nicely outlined how misguided this is:

You understand that is the Exact Opposite of the job the police are supposed to perform, right?

They should be there to say, "We'll keep an eye on your house because some people are grumbling." Not, "Well it'd be a damn shame if your house gets vandalized."

That sign was not any sort of illegal graphical content - otherwise the police department would have said so clearly, instead they denied any sort of legal force.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is the fifth and final winning comment from that post, which in one thread unsurprisingly veered to specific conversation about Brett Kavanaugh's unhinged senate performance. Stderric took the top spot though truly it was John Oliver doing the heavy lifting:

As John Oliver observed, "I hate to say it, but I’m starting to think that men might be too emotional for the supreme court."

In second place, it's Killercool taking on the question of whether hockey teams should prefer their players go to bars rather than play video games:

Look, if you aren't drunk and getting in fights, why even play hockey?

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with an anonymous thought about Verizon's latest ridiculous commercial:

Missed opportunity to post this ad on Go90 and have their highest rated comedy ever.

And finally, we've got Agammamon with a response to the real-life "wicked witch" who is fighting back against Warner Media's trademark bullying:

I'm going to assume that she's doing this to get enough discovery to get together a list of names to be cursed.

Otherwise she's not a very wicked witch.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 13 October 2018 @ 12:00pm

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

from the what-went-down dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, the US government shut down. Former CIA director Morell used that as an excuse to skip an NSA surveillance review board meeting, while James Clapper warned that failing to pay the agency's mercenary contractors might lead to security problems. The TSA similarly used the shutdown as an excuse for letting a nine-year-old sneak on to a flight, and a lawsuit by tech companies over NSA surveillance was put on hold. Outside the government, some folks were having fun with the shutdown, such as the Russian pirates offering to host the NASA website, someone submitting a bug report to GitHub describing how "government occasionally shuts down", and Good Old Games started offering some free thematically-appropriate games to furloughed government workers.

But hey, at least Congress's members-only gym was deemed essential and kept open.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, it was still the early days of the global financial crisis. Many self-serving and/or bizarre explanations popped up, blaming things like short selling and Wikipedia edit wars or, most strangely, flickering computer screens (according to author Tom Wolfe). Cooler heads took a closer look at the real causes: leverage and derivatives and a toxic, complex financial system.

Meanwhile, bogus stats and arguments were coming strong from the US Chamber of Commerce and members of congress in a push to get the president to sign the bill creating a copyright czar. At the same time, a judge ordered an injunction against Real's DVD copying software and for some inexplicable reason kept it secret, then extended it.

Also, long before the Snowden leaks and following Congress's capitulation on warrantless wiretapping, early leaks were already documenting NSA surveillance abuse.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2003, as we took a look at the role of music retailers in the industry's failure to adapt, the record companies were trying to ape the success of DVDs by adding "extras" to CDs. That's extra content — not extras like BMG's new DRM system, which a researcher discovered could be defeated by holding down the shift key while inserting the disk. SunnComm, the company that made the laughably useless DRM, naturally announced plans to sue the researcher for besmirching their good name — but reversed course in less than 24 hours in the face of public outcry. The software industry, on the other hand, was just beginning to dip its toe into the waters of a DRM approach that would gain much more traction (even while still being quite easily circumvented): product activation codes.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 9 October 2018 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 186: Free Speech & Content Moderation (Panel Discussion)

from the long-term-impact dept

For this week's episode of the podcast, we're featuring a recent panel discussion from Mozilla's Speaker Series. Mike Masnick sat down with Guillaume Chaslot from Algo Transparency, hosted by Mozilla Fellow in Residence Renée DiResta, to talk about the challenges of online content moderation and its implications for freedom of expression. Enjoy!

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 - 7 October 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the comment-is-king dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is John Roddy with a fairly straightforward reply to a tiresome complaint:

You keep getting flagged because you regularly openly lie about everything, make excuses when you're proven wrong, and hurl baseless insults every time you get called out on it. You are welcome to start participating if you can prove that you're able to behave.

In second place, we've got a response from kallethen to the idea that internet platforms don't deserve perpetual licenses to user content because they aren't paying:

I wouldn't say without paying. Their payment of the created content is the provision of computer resources (hardware, software, internet, IT, etc) to allow the created message to be shared. It's not a payment of money, but of service. You are specifically using "Internet Corporation" because you want your message to be shared, and they are providing the means of sharing it.

If you don't want "Internet Corporation" to have a licence, then don't use that corporation's service and provide the computer hardware, software, and internet connection yourself to broadcast your message.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with an anonymous response to the idea that there's no good reason for such licenses to be perpetual:

Maintaining a historical record is a good enough reason for me. You might disagree, but claiming that "no justification exists" is blatantly false. You just don't think said justifications are good enough.

Next, it's a response from Iggy to the broadband industry labeling itself an engine of innovation:

An "engine of innovation"? HAHAHA, if these telecoms were anywhere near as innovative as Google, Amazon, or Apple, we'd have free gigabit connections by now.

It took lawsuits just to get third party phones to connect to the phone network. It took a DOJ breakup of Bell just to make low cost calls possible. In 1995, Bill Gates predicted TV over Internet, but its only in the last few years did speeds catch up and it took the 2015 Open Internet Order protect online TV from throttling.

The industry is all but anti progress. Comparing them to innovative companies is laughable.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Get off my cyber-lawn! with a response to the Association of Independent Music celebrating some pretty silly numbers in its supposed antipiracy victory:

US Navy successfully prevents over 2,000 Somali Piracy Actions!

Okay, not really but at least 2000 ships went into that part of the world and weren't pirated so....WINNING!

In second place, it's an anonymous comment about the NSA's malware and exploits making it out to the public:

If only works by the Federal government were not public domain, the NSA could have had a copyright on this malware and then copyright law could have saved us from this horrible event. The hackers would be pirates for copying the software without approval, assuming they were brave enough to defy copyright law in the first place. Remember, violating copyright is the worst computer crime you can commit, so even elite hackers are wise to steer clear.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with Chris-Mouse offering one more thought on the Association of Independent Music's antipiracy campaign:

Ready! Fire! AIM!

That sounds about right for the recording industry.

And last but not least, we've got an anonymous comment about the Spanish prosecution of a man who apparently insulted God and the Virgin Mary, according to offended religious lawyers:

Should be "attempting to insult"

If they've found evidence that God was insulted, they're really burying the lede on that story.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 6 October 2018 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: September 30th - October 6th

from the what-was dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, as we discussed how the NSA had essentially built its own "shadow" social network, we learned and then confirmed that the agency was collecting GPS data from mobile phones. A We The People petition calling for a pardon for Ed Snowden was being quietly ignored, while Michael Hayden was joking about putting Snowden on a 'kill list'. We also learned that the NSA was storing all metadata for at least a year, and performing man-in-the-middle attacks with the help of telcos. Plus, it was working hard to compromise Tor, despite James Clapper's claims that they were just trying to "understand" it.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, the House followed the Senate in creating a copyright czar position, even as it let orphan works legislation die and the Senate moved on to more international piracy shaming. Cox was quietly adopting a copyright three strikes policy and lying about it being required by the DMCA, a comprehensive review of the RIAA's lawsuit strategy showed just how much of a failure it was, and The Pirate Bay was launching its own copyright lawsuit to expose the absurdity of the system.

Fifteen Years Ago

Five years earlier in 2003, in the early days of the RIAA's lawsuits, another 63 people gave in to its shakedown letters this week, while the agency concluded a Senate hearing by promising to at least leave a little time in between the letters and the lawsuits in future — but at least one senator wanted much more substantial change. There was talk about compulsory licensing for music and a lot of questions about how it could be abused depending on how you define "music" — not to mention talk about how the cost of making music was going way, way down. It was also around this time that the practice of bundling TV, internet and phone service was picking up steam.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 2 October 2018 @ 1:32pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 185: Building New Senses (Plus The Possible End Of The World)

from the extra-sensory-perception dept

This week, we've got a special cross-post from Rob Reid's excellent After On podcast. After a conversation between Mike and Rob about the possible end of the world, we pivot to the full episode of After On in which Rob talks to neuroscientist David Eagleman about his fascinating work using technology to create new human senses. We hope you enjoy it!

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

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Posted on Techdirt - 30 September 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the it-is-written dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is That One Guy in response to the police actually admitting fault in a SWAT raid on the wrong address, for once:

This? Do this more often. Do this ALL the time

Well now, if police acted like this all the time I and many others would be much more likely to cut them some slack on a regular basis when they screw up other times.

They screwed up and they owned it.

No attempt to shift the blame, no attempt to drag the innocent person through the mud and/or try to shift the narrative from 'SWAT team raids wrong house' to 'vile (probable) criminal shoots two cops for what are surely heinous reasons.'

While it's unfortunate, as noted in the article, that this isn't the default, and it is therefore a pleasant surprise when police actually show some personal responsibility like this, it is still a pleasant surprise nonetheless. Now if it can start happening with such regularity that it stops being a surprise, and is instead treated as what it should have been, 'just how it works', that'd be great.

In second place, we've got ryuugami responding to another situation in which the FBI put US citizens on the no fly list for refusing to become informants:

Land of the Free, Home of the Brave.

You'd think the people charged with protecting a country and everything it stands for wouldn't keep undermining that country and everything it stands for with their every breath, but here we are. Again. *sigh*

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a response from Gary to Twitter's ongoing moderation woes:

Silly But

But this is what happens when they are put under pressure to "Do Something" about fake news.
"Something" was done.

Next, we've got a comment from crade about the infuriating and essentially meaningless "left/right" political dynamic of the content moderation debate:

So basically as soon as left leaning people start making companies suddenly the right thinks capitalism doesn't work and the govn't should be controlling how big companies operate because they aren't being "fair" enough to everyone.

This is modern conservative thinking?

Am I the only one who finds all the whining about being treated unfair by the big internet companies and how we need to "do something about it" extremely... left?

Over on the funny side, our first place winner comes after an occasional Techdirt formatting bug struck last week's comment post, resulting in the right hand side of the text being obscured behind the page sidebar. Justok made an excellent joke:

Censorship of the RIGHT.

In second place, we've got DannyB responding to the should-be-obvious finding that yes, giving cops the finger is protected speech:

Some cops need to have their patrol duty restricted to patrolling only safe spaces where they won't be offended.

For editor's choice on the funny side, first we've got Baron von Robber with a take on Alex Jones's social media bans:

Alex Jones is a crisis actor pretending he got banned. He's really hiding in a pizza parlor basement with some martian kids.

And finally, we've got an anonymous response to the invocation of a Kim Dotcom quote in support of the argument for why Google, Twitter, Facebook et al need to be controlled:

I too studied under noted US constitutional law professor and justice Kim Dotcom.

That's all for this week, folks!

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

This Week In Techdirt History: September 23rd - 29th

from the that-which-was dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013 we learned that, despite the White House's denials, the review of NSA surveillance was indeed overseen by James Clapper. The NSA was complaining about how it had to spend time closing leaks while its apologists were out in force, with some trotting out the old "privacy is dead" argument and, of course, incoming FBI director James Comey saying it was all good and legal. The critics were out in greater force, though: the New York Times called for the NSA to be barred from requiring surveillance backdoors, the president of Brazil blasted the US in front of the United Nations, Senator Leahy gave a speech condemning the agency's practices, and a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced comprehensive surveillance reform legislation.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, while companies were waking up to the absurd trademark restrictions around the Olympics, Major League Baseball surprised us by backing down from a takedown notice in the face of a well-crafted fair use defense. A Spanish court upheld the idea that deep linking is not infringement, a Ugandan composer was suing the government for copyright infringement over the national anthem, and the European Parliament rejected the idea of three strikes laws for file sharing. Back in the US, the judge in the Jammie Thomas case declared a mistrial, the Senate passed the bill creating a copyright czar, and Arts+Labs emerged as a new anti-piracy lobbying supergroup.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2003, we talked once again about how infringement isn't theft, and also how in fact what the RIAA does is a lot closer to stealing. Of course, studies unsurprisingly showed that file sharing wasn't going away, and smarter upstart record labels were starting to see it as an ally, but the RIAA was still stuck keeping an eye on innocent people. We also took a look at how the MPAA's mistakes were uniquely flavored and different from the RIAA's, but the BSA was taking a direct lesson from the RIAA with its offer of amnesty to confessed pirates (and its doom-and-gloom soothsaying about software piracy).

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 25 September 2018 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 184: Life Insurance, Life Surveillance

from the living-well dept

A major insurance company recently announced that it would offer discounts on life insurance to customers who wear activity trackers and log data showing they live a healthy lifestyle. This understandably freaked out some people, but there are interesting aspects to the idea as well. There's plenty to consider, so this week regular hosts Mike, Hersh and Dennis discuss whether this is an exciting innovation, a worrying expansion of surveillance culture, or both.

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 - 23 September 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the words-were-said dept

This week, both our winning comments on the insightful side come in response to Ajit Pai's whining about California's net neutrality effort — and, more specifically, in response to a commenter making the silly blanket statement that all regulation fails and governments cannot do anything right. In first place, ShadowNinja with some counterexamples:

Black and white statements like that are always wrong. There's literally tons and tons of government programs that worked great and didn't backfire in the long run. Here's just a short list of what things I can think of off the top of my head that you can thank the government for, that you can't say anything bad about how they backfired.

  • Having safe food that's not laced with poison or other things that will make you sick.
  • Knowing that up to $250,000 worth of assets will the safe in the event of your bank going under thanks to FDIC insurance required by law.
  • Not having rivers and oceans that literally catch on fire because of how polluted they are with harmful chemicals/etc. that businesses dumped in them (yes, this really happened in the US).
  • Having much cleaner air because of the same environmental regulations, and not having air so polluted that people have to wear smog masks just to go outside, and some wealthy literally go on 'clean air vacations' where it's less polluted (this is the reality today in China in a number of cities thanks to lack of regulation).
  • Knowing that any car you purchase has passed rigorous government safety inspections when it was designed, and any used car you purchased was inspected as well to make sure that it's still safe to drive. Such regulations are responsible for a consistent decline in automobile accidents (which has long been the #1 killer in America).

In second place, it's Jeremy Lyman with a similar point:

I bought a gallon of milk in the grocery store last week, and I actually got a measured gallon of the listed substance for the posted price. It also didn't make me ill when I consumed it.

https://www.fda.gov/downloads/food/guidancecomplianceregulatoryinformation/guidancedocuments/food labelingnutrition/foodlabelingguide/ucm265446.pdf

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/ cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=101.7


I'd wager that the government does thousands of things right in your life, it's just transparent when it's running smoothly.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with one more comment from that post, this time from Anonymous Anonymous Coward and directed at one of Pai's statements:

He know what the truth is, it just won't fit in his mouth.

"Of course, those who demand greater government control of the Internet haven’t given up."

Pai's disingenuous characterization is not very subtle. In fact the demand is not for government control of the Internet, but for control over internet providers, no matter what flavor.

Control to keep the expected dumb pipes dumb. Control to encourage actual competition to keep quality high and prices low.

Control to keep those offering service honest in their advertising and billing practices.

Control to separate content from access.

Control to keep corporations from overly influencing Government in their favor rather than the owners of this country, the people.

Next, we've got a quick comment from Gary about an attempt to use the GDPR to hide a public US court document:

And also weird how the ISP is putting the pressure on the website. It's almost as if there should be some law to limit intermediary liability...

Over on the funny side, our first place winner comes after we clarified what happened with the Apple movie "deletion" kerfuffle, which turned out to be about dumb regional copyright restrictions. One commenter feared they might have to give back an earlier "most insightful" award for a comment on the subject, so Anonymous Anonymous Coward checked the criteria:

Did you move to another country?

In second place, it's one more response to the Ajit Pai post, this time from Chip in full parody mode targeting a particular commenter:

I "told" you that This would "happen"! Idiots! Sycophants! MINIONS!

I "told" you that when there were REGULATIONS, that "meant" that SOMEDAY there would be Elections, and other "people" might get "elected" and Undo the REGULATIONS. You did not Praise me for my BRILLIANCE in "understanding that Elections "exist" and sometimes different Parties get Elected, which doesn't matter anyway because oth Parties are the "same", as you would know if you were Interested in Truth and in "history" such as GEORGE WASHINGTON'S FAREWELL ADDRESS, which is one of Many historical Things that I have read because I am very "very" Smart.

The "regulations" in California are BAD, and the FCC's repeal of the REGULATIONS from Wheeler is also BAD, and Wheeler's regulations were "also" BAD. That is OBVIOUS to anyone who is very VERY "smart" like "me". Don't you Sycophantic "idiots" Get it? Someay in California there will be an ELECTION. And different PEOPLE might get "elected". And those different "people" might repeal this "law". You're all so Stupid! Stupid! for not recognizing my obvious GENIOUS in understanding that sometimes different "people" get Elected to things. You did not learn about History like I learne about History, at Smilin' Jim's Unaccredited Forth Grade Academy.

Every Nation eats the Paint chips it Deseves!

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with another comment from Gary, this time in response to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce engaging in some trademark bullying over the Hollywood sign:

Hey isn't Hollywood that obscure California city that all those film studios moved to in order to escape draconian patent lawsuits from Edison?

And finally, it's an anonymous comment about Tanzania's plan to outlaw the fact-checking of government statistics:

Statistics show that 100% of leaders who demonize fact-checking are honest and deserve to be reelected.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 22 September 2018 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: September 16th - 22nd

from the for-the-record dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, we learned that in addition to communications the NSA was keeping millions of credit card transaction records, and then we finally got a look at the secrett FISA court ruling that permitted bulk phone data collection, in which it was revealed that Verizon and AT&T never fought back. The court also made the untrue claim that all of congress already knew all the details, and of course we wondered why the ruling was ever secret to begin with. Meanwhile, Michael Hayden was making some crazy claims about terrorists using Gmail and the US's right to spy on the internet it invented, while also making some childish prognostications about Ed Snowden's likely future of alcoholism — though other defenders of the agency were sticking to the same tired talking points, plus the new euphemism that Snowden's activities were "masked by his job duties".

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, Apple made the decision to block a competitive podcast app from the App Store, leading to significant backlash, while a court in Germany was getting in on similar action in its own way by banning VOIP on the iPhone at the behest of T-Mobile. NBC was bragging about its ability to lock down online Olympic footage, the movie industry was making yet another attempt to build the mythical "good" DRM, and the cops were continuing to bring in the RIAA to help with investigations where it would clearly be biased. There was a glimmer of light for online entertainment though: this was also the week that BandCamp launched, and its easy-to-build pages quickly became one of the best tools for musicians to distribute their work online.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2003, as file-sharers were going deeper underground, a study showed that most online copies of movies were coming from industry insiders — which perhaps explains the industry's insane plan for self-destructing DVDs. While RIAA head Carey Sherman was struggling to defend the agency's lawsuit strategy (and totally missing the point), the Senate was gearing up for hearings over the lawsuits, and considering a bill to close the DMCA's special subpoena powers — also a major issue in the ongoing court battle between the RIAA and Verizon.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 18 September 2018 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 183: No Easy Answers For Content Moderation

from the aint-so-simple dept

We've done it — we've solved the challenge of content moderation! (Checks notes). No, wait, sorry: we haven't. But what we have done is invited Kate Klonick, law professor and author of the excellent paper The New Governors: The People, Rules, and Processes Governing Online Speech, to join us for an in-depth discussion about how we got here and why there are no easy or simple answers for content moderation.

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 - 16 September 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the writin'-words dept

This week, both of our top comments on the insightful side come from our post about Apple deleting purchased movies from people's devices after losing the rights. In first place, it's Gwiz responding to the idea that people should known they are only licensing digital content, not buying it:

Then why does the button say "Buy" and not "Rent"?

As far as I'm concerned, when the terms of sale indicate that I am "purchasing" a digital copy, then that is exactly what I am doing. I will take "my copy" and do with it as I please, which includes removing any DRM and making backup copies.

This is exactly what I do periodically with my Kindle and the wife's Kindle. I save un-DRMed copies of everything to my laptop with Calibre.

In second place, it's Thad responding to the assertion that copyright law is more to blame than Apple:

But Apple implemented a system that allows purchases to become unavailable when the work is no longer for sale. That is on Apple.

There are other digital distributors that do not operate under those same terms.

To pick one example: Rifftrax no longer sells the two 1960s Doctor Who movies that used to be available on the site; it lost the rights to them. However, if you purchased them when they were available, then you can still stream or download them.

To pick another example: The Square Enix game Last Remnant was recently removed from Steam; it's no longer for sale. But if you bought it when it was for sale, you can still download and play it. If you bought a Steam code from a third-party seller, you can still redeem that code.

Rifftrax is located in the US. Valve is located in the US. Both companies are subject to exactly the same copyright laws that Apple is. And yet, they don't take away their customers' purchases when those items are removed from their stores.

There's plenty to criticize about US copyright law.

But this? This is Apple's fault. Not solely Apple's fault, but Apple's certainly not blameless.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we'll carry on the trend with two more comments from that post. First, it's Bergman with another rejection of the "it's just a license" idea:

If it was a rental, the price shouldn't be the same as a purchase. If it was a purchase, then Apple owes a refund since they charged for a purchase, not a rental.

And what if the customer(s) just licensed their money to Apple?

Next, it's Get off my cyber-lawn! painting an even broader picture of the ridiculousness of how digital goods often work:

I went onto a large, popular e-book website last month and looked up a book I wanted to purchase (still popular, still in print). I got an "out of stock" response for a freaking E-BOOK!

Its bad enough that you want to charge me as much OR MORE money than for a print copy, but then you tell me you are fresh out of 1s and 0s for that particular item?

And THAT is what contributes to a "pirate" culture.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is TheResidentSkeptic with an attempt to sort out government demands of social media companies:

At least the rules are getting clearer...

1) If you block posting of any user content, we will fine you.
2) if you fail to remove objectionable content within 1 hour we will fine you.
3) if you remove or otherwise censor any content, we will fine you.
4) If you don't block objectionable content from being posted, we will fine you.

or, to put it simply, "Send us all your money"

In second place, it's That One Guy expanding on the proposal that the SDCC's trademark war over the term "Con" could present some promotional opportunities:

Several opportunities in fact, given SDCC convinced a judge that shortening 'convention' to 'con' belongs only to them. Really, legal thuggery paired with trying to monopolize a word with multiple connotations, one of them not so pleasant? The jokes practically write themselves.

'When you think 'con', think SDCC.'

'SDCC: For when you want a first-class con.'

'Why settle for a lesser con where they might not know what they're doing when you can let the SDCC show you how a con-job really works.'

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with Stephen T. Stone, who has a question about Valve's latest foggy explanation of who it will ban from Steam:

Defining what separates a good faith effort to sell a game from a "troll" involves a "deep assessment" of the developer, Valve says, including a look at "what they've done in the past, their behavior on Steam as a developer, as a customer, their banking information, developers they associate with, and more."

So when do they ban games published by EA?

And last but not least, we've got an anonymous commenter catching another commenter out on an amusing typo about, er, rampant piracy:

Wonton piracy is only practical if you can get the goods fresh. Nobody wants stale wontons.

That's all for this week, folks!

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

Congress Shall Make No Law. Techdirt Shall Make T-Shirts.

from the emojiment dept

Get your First Emojiment gear on Teespring »

This week, we launched our latest line of Techdirt Gear in our Teespring store. It uses Twitter's free Twemoji icon set, licensed under CC-BY 4.0, to bring you an emoji-fied version of the First Amendment to the US Constitution. Some people might just see random symbols, but others will see some very important words. Indeed, it serves as a litmus test for how well people know their civil rights! The First Emojiment is available on t-shirts, hoodies, mugs and stickers — get yours today!

And for the true pro, we also recently launched our Free Speech Pro-Tip gear to help correct a particularly pernicious myth about the First Amendment:

Free Speech Pro-Tip, By Techdirt

Get your Free Speech Pro-Tip gear on Teespring »

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Posted on Free Speech - 12 September 2018 @ 9:00am

The First Emojiment: New T-Shirts & More By Techdirt

from the make-no-law dept

Get your First Emojiment gear on Teespring »

You know the words — or at least you should! Introducing the latest line of t-shirts, hoodies, mugs and stickers from Techdirt: our emoji-fied version of the First Amendment to the US Constitution, available now on Teespring. The design is based on the Twemoji icon set, licensed under CC-BY 4.0.

Also, be sure to check out our recently-released Free Speech Pro-Tip gear and all the other great designs in our Teespring store.

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Posted on Techdirt - 11 September 2018 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 182: Anonymity In The Media & Online

from the someone-said dept

Anonymity is back in the news in a big way, especially since the New York Times published an explosive opinion piece by an anonymous White House official. Here at Techdirt — proudly one of the few blogs that still allows completely anonymous comments with no sign-up — we've talked about anonymity for a long time in the context of the internet. On this week's episode, Mike and regular co-hosts Dennis Yang and Hersh Reddy talk about the benefits, challenges, and overall importance of anonymous speech.

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 - 9 September 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the speak-up dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is E. Zachary Knight, responding to our post about Google moderating our post about content moderation with his own experience:

Yeah, Google Ads' automated moderation tools are garbage. Just a few months ago, they blocked all ads on my site because according to them we were committing copyright infringement. I tried appealing but was denied instantly every single time. I tried removing a few embedded Youtube videos, one of which was copyright claimed by Warner Bros, but that was not the issue. Finally, after no help at all from Google on this, I found out that they considered me linking directly to the mp3 of my own podcast was what they considered copyright infringement. The only way to fix the issue was to remove all links to, again, my own podcast.

In second place, we've got Michael with a response to the latest social media regulatory mess in Germany:

Facebook, Google, and Twitter are actually loving this.

They can afford to navigate this mess. Nobody else can. Germany has handed them a massive gift - no startups can complete. Sure, Germany may eventually make it impossible, but until that happens, it has really just made it impossible for anyone else.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a comment from Lebron Paul 2020 about the Louisiana police using a hoax antifa list, taking special note of where the list proliferated:

Uum, question...

"The hoax was promoted on Neo-Nazi websites like Stormfront"

Soooo... how'd these cops come across this document? Asking for a friend

Next, it's Stephen T. Stone with some thoughts on Nintendo's war on ROM sites:

Did crushing Napster help the RIAA push the genie of illicit MP3 filesharing back in the bottle? How about the MPAA putting “watermarks” on DVD screeners? Denuvo has a few stories to tell you about its DRM, and I believe they all end with, “And then it was cracked, too.” Nintendo could literally sue every ROM site out of existence *right now* and it could still not prevent the sharing of ROMs.

So long as the Internet exists, people will find a way to share files that corporations have a much harder time stopping. So long as human nature is what it is, filesharing will be a hydra: Cut off one head and two more shall take its place. Nintendo can kill ROM sites; it cannot kill both human nature and technological protocols. If your personal dogma tells you otherwise, you might want to reëxamine those beliefs.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Capt ICE Enforcer responding to the ninth circuit declining to review the monkey selfie case:

Oh no, now the monkeys have no reason to take pictures. Why, Oh Why!

In second place, it's John Roddy wondering about the insane attorneys fees award in the Comic Con trademark dust-up:

Sooooo, if I embrace the power of puns and start referring to this case as a literal "comic CON", can they sue me for trademark infringement as well?

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with a response from the sarcastically-named I Agree! to the assertion that Germany's social media regulation problems are indicative of all regulation of everything, everywhere:

Exactly. Take for the example, the regulations (i.e. laws) against killing people. They started off as a well meaning attempt to protect the innocent, but now I can't even go and kill the people that obviously need killing. Bah!

And finally, we've got one more anonymous thought about the ironic AdSense moderation of our post about the impossibility of good moderation:

Rule number 1 of content moderation

Don't talk about content moderation

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 8 September 2018 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: September 2nd - 8th

from the depths-of-time dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, the NSA revelations continued with the discovery that the US was launching hundreds of cyberattacks and that AT&T had employees embedded in the government to provide real-time phone call searches. The various excuses and half-measures were coming frequently, with a former agency boss saying surveillance is important but the NSA should just lie less, President Obama saying the NSA needs more checks and balances while simultaneously claiming the existing ones are working well, and the agency itself asserting that it only spies on bad people while leaving open a giant loophole that covers spying on everyone else.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, there were two huge launches from Google: they introduced the Chrome browser, and the Android Market for apps (which they touted heavily as being more open than Apple's App Store. AT&T was bragging about the pursuit of patents while US Customs was raiding trade show booths over patent infringement. Facebook was, rather heavyhandedly, blocking all links to the very useful resource of BugMeNot. And we were starting to see how the proliferation of GPS-enabled devices was becoming a tool of the police.

Fifteen Years Ago

There was a big launch this week in 2003 as well, with the folks behind Kazaa (who had also recently made the ill-advised choice to send DMCA notices to Google) launched the soon-to-be-nearly-ubiquitous Skype. It was also the very early days of the RSS protocol, and our post questioning whether it was a bit overhyped somehow got us lumped in with the supposed "RSS backlash". Meanwhile, the RIAA was preparing to upgrade its legal campaign from subpoenas to actual lawsuits, while also offering a hilarious amnesty program for anyone who would sign a file sharing confession and delete all their songs.

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