Posted on Techdirt - 5 March 2014 @ 10:02pm
With the release of the latest South Park video game, titled The Stick Of Truth, we recently remarked on how silly the attempted censorship of the game will be for releases outside of North America. The reason, of course, is that the full version of the game is and will be available for download outside of the approved channels. While most of the censorship stories revolve around some of the more sophomoric jokes in the game, which I of course love, leave it to Germany to teach us how fickle the sensibilities of some governments are.
Apparently the game was supposed to be released in the land whose motto is "Unity and Justice and Freedom" this week, but that's been delayed because the game's publisher, Ubisoft, accidentally produced copies of the game for Germany that still include images of the Nazi swastika. Such images, as you might be aware, are verboten.
Users are posting on Steam's forums that the German (and Austrian) versions of the game have been hit with an 11th-hour delay. The reason? That those versions contain "an unconstitutional symbol", and mean the game's release in those two markets is TBA.
Let me say this first: I get you, Germany. The embarrassment over the systematic murder of an enormous Jewish, homosexual, and gypsy population isn't the kind of sting that goes away easily. But here's a piece of advice: limiting symbols and speech in this manner isn't productive and certainly isn't in the spirit of the 86a section of the Strafgesetzbuch
. Attempting to limit humor regards to your own past won't get you anywhere. Open dialogue is what admonishes fascism.
Take Americans, for example. We straight up murdered tens of thousands of Native Americans and then had the balls to refer to our policy as our "Manifest Destiny." Now we have football teams filled with the decendents of African slaves playing under the moniker of our Native American victims so we can sell beer to everyone else. And, sure, when you really think about it that way, it isn't funny.
But South Park is
funny, and anyone that really wants to see a swastika enough to put forth a little effort in Germany can do so via a myriad of avenues, including downloading illegal copies of The Stick Of Truth
. A constitutional requirement to omit parts of your history won't do you any good and may no longer be useful to your society.
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Posted on Techdirt Wireless - 4 March 2014 @ 2:09am
Well, it's time to catch up on the latest iteration of dumb criminals being dumb with technology. Past stories, including frat brothers portraying their crimes on social media, criminals attempting to pass off ice blocks as iPads, and robbers bragging about their exploits on YouTube all enjoy the commonality of the criminals being tripped up by their own hubris rather than the trappings of misunderstood technology. Not so in this latest example.
In this case, we have a couple who have built their relationship around love, the fraternity of unfortunate looks, and the ability to be nabbed for stealing a smart phone by its auto-uploading feature. Victoria Brodsky of Brooklyn was at a street fair when her phone and wallet were lost to pickpockets. Having once planned to cancel her credit cards and phone service, she felt the spurs of Cowboy Justice at her sides when the alleged thieves began using her phone to engage in a little amateur self-porn, not realizing that the photos were automatically uploaded to Brodsky's Dropbox account.
“It’s one thing to steal, but they’re celebrating,” said Brodsky of the 26 pictures and one pornographic video that showed up in her account between August and September.
The photos started innocently enough with pictures of the woman and the man, but then a batch of racy selfies appeared on Sept. 1. The man and woman make kissy faces in some, and then disrobe. They lie naked on a mattress, staring into Brodsky’s phone.The final post of the day was an X-rated video of the couple half-heartedly engaged in a hardcore sex act.
So, hey, you know that whole "pics or it didn't happen" thing? Yeah, don't go looking into the articles for these pictures. Just...don't. They aren't appetizing. But they do teach all of you would-be phone-thieves out there a valuable lesson. Before you go snapping off horrible photos of you snapping off on one another with that cell phone you just stole, you might want to poke around the account settings so that your, ahem, exploits aren't uploaded to your victim's account.
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Posted on Techdirt - 3 March 2014 @ 11:03pm
They say that really well done parody is close enough to the truth to be funny. That's certainly correct, but it can occasionally create some problems, as we've seen in the past. Parody can anger the target of the scorn, it can lead to charges of defamation, and parody news stories can occasionally infect even the, ahem, most fair and balanced cable news stations. I guess the point is that not everyone has enough of a sense of humor to find some parody funny, or even to realize that it is indeed parody.
The latter is the case with this story about Annapolis Police Chief Michael Pristoop, who had diligently prepared before testifying before a state panel on the potential for legalizing marijuana.
In researching his testimony against two bills before the Judicial Proceedings Committee, Pristoop said, he had found a news article to illustrate the risks of legalization: 37 people in Colorado, he said, had died of marijuana oversdoses on the very day that the state legalized pot.
“When he said it, everyone in the room dropped their laptops,” Sen. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Montgomery) said in an e-mail.
Proving, of course, that stupid can in fact cause physical harm and property destruction. See, the problem is that Pristoop's source for his marijuana massacre was The Daily Currant
, which is a comedic parody magazine. The article and its claims were a joke. So, it appears, were Pristoop's efforts at vetting the sources he found on the always treacherous interwebz. Similar grades should be assigned to Pristoop's abilities at admitting error.
“I apologize for the information I provided concerning the deaths. I believed the information I obtained was accurate, but I now know the story is nothing more than an urban legend,” Pristoop said. “This does not take away from the other facts presented in opposition to legalization or the good work of the Maryland Chiefs and Maryland Sheriffs Associations.”
An urban legend is a fictional story circulated through a community that might be a tad unsure of whether it is indeed fiction. Ghost stories, in other words, or the threat of high school seniors hazing incoming freshman. Those are urban legends. The Daily Currant's article was a joke made up whole cloth for the purposes of making people laugh. Anyone with a modicum of interest and education into the health risks associated with marijuana use would know that immediate death simply isn't one of them.
Fortunately, others in the police departments of Maryland have a better handle on this whole humor thing, as evidenced by Maj. Scott Baker.
“His numbers are up in smoke,” Baker acknowledged Wednesday — a sly tip of the hat to Cheech & Chong’s 1978 stoner movie.
Funny, I was going to make a comment about how Pristoop's facts were half-baked...
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Posted on Techdirt - 3 March 2014 @ 2:45pm
Let me let you into the helmet for a moment. Given all the nonsense surrounding the various United States alphabet agencies and their various watchlists, I've grown thankful that I have a fairly uncommon name. Between the potential for antagonistic abuse by scorned lovers, the opportunity for clerical errors to result in life-changing refusals of admittance to the United States, and the general crap-show that is the no fly list, it's somewhat nice to have a rather unique identifier. It almost cancels out the mispronunciations, lacking nicknames like "Geigner-counter", and seriously non-stop questions about what life is like running the Treasury Department. Almost.
But stories like this one offered by reader Richard really cement my gratitude for my evil-sounding German surname. I could, as this story goes, have an incredibly generic name and live in a foreign country and find myself having to wade through all kinds of red tape just to get a few electronics parts. This is the story of David Jones and his quest to get a couple of parts from a local distributor in Australia.
Through the website I ordered some local in-stock parts from the Element 14 warehouse in Sydney, for pickup at the trade counter. Usually they are very efficient and have the parts ready for collection before I have time to drive there. But this day I gave them a few hours extra. When I got there my parts weren't ready and it took them a bit of time to figure out that my order had been placed “on hold”.
But they enquired further with someone else and the word came back that it wasn't the parts that had been flagged, it was my NAME that was flagged. And they said it was a US government watch list of some description. I was stunned, and it seemed like they didn't quite understand why I was so shocked at this. Because, you know, the whole world has to just sit by and let the US government dictate everything at will.
Flagging David Jones? What could go wrong? I hear he has a really terrifying locker and was part of a terrible Beatles knock-off band a couple of decades ago. On the other hand, harassing foreign citizens with common names out of an over-abundance of name-recognizing caution is probably going to make everyone look foolish, on top of all the work it certainly must create. On top of that, the helpful employees of Element 14 were confident they could just work around the flag to begin with. So the efforts aren't just silly, they're futile on top of it. Oh, US government, don't ever change.
Not that Mr. Jones was as amused as I, of course.
So let's see if I have this straight – An Australian subsidiary, owned by a UK parent company, listed on the UK stock exchange, has an ordering system that automatically matches generic names against some US Government watch list, and flags those orders and puts them on hold, for parts that are already stocked in Australia, are likely not made in the US, and likely have come from the main UK warehouse. Call me stupid, but something doesn’t seem right with that…
No, Mr. Jones, we don't think you're stupid. We think you're cunning, an evil mastermind terrorist from Australia, because we've seen so many of those. Or maybe it's one of the other bazillion David Jones' plotting around the world. You can't expect us to know. It's not like we're reading everyone's emails or something...
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Posted on Techdirt - 28 February 2014 @ 4:13pm
Several weeks ago, Tim Cushing wrote about a case in New Jersey featuring an officer accused of abusing a cyclist who failed to engage his dash-cam during the incident. As noted in the piece, the value of having optional tape of any incident occurring between an officer and the public should be obvious. On the one hand, the public is already under a great deal of public surveillance, which can often times be used as evidence in any criminal proceedings. Tape featuring law enforcement action is valuable both ways, first in holding our public servants to account should they fail to behave appropriately and second to exonerate them if they are accused of wrong-doing.
In this latest story, also in New Jersey, we see an example of the former. Marcus Jeter was met by police at the home he shares with his girlfriend after a domestic violence call made to police. Once there, police reportedly spoke to Jeter, who says he left amicably after briefly talking to officers. It's worth noting that no charges were ever filed for that domestic incident. What happened next, however, is another matter entirely. Jeter was pulled over by officers shortly after leaving the site of his home.
The New Jersey DJ, 30, was arrested in a 2012 traffic stop and charged with eluding police, resisting arrest and assault. Prosecutors insisted that Jeter do prison time.
The plea deal offered to Jeter was five years of prison time, for resisting arrest and assaulting police officers. Those were the charges levied in the officers' report. Those charges, as would later be determined by an active police dash-cam, were utter bullshit.
The video, which prosecutors say they never saw before filing the initial charges, shows Jeter holding his hands above his head.
"The next thing I know, one of them busts the [car] door and there is glass all over my face," he told ABC News station WABC-TV about the arrest. "As soon as they opened the door, one officer reached in and punched me in my face. As he's trying to take off my seat belt, I'm thinking, 'Something is going to go wrong.'" Jeter says the cops continued hitting him, telling him not to resist arrest.
Oops. As it turns out, there wasn't any resisting of arrest and the only assault occurring was when the officers beat the hell out of Jeter. On top of that, the officers in question elected to omit surely-unimportant details of the arrest from their reports, such as when one of them careened over a median into Jeter's vehicle, which was also shown in the dash-cam footage. On top of that, police had their weapons drawn almost immediately, despite the fact that Jeter had pulled over to the shoulder as requested and remained in his vehicle, terrified.
Thanks to Jeter's attorney filing a request for records, which included the footage, the charges against Jeter were dropped and charges were instead filed against the officers. Those charges include aggravated assault, conspiracy, and official misconduct.
Now, we can and should respect law enforcement, but that respect doesn't come without the public's right to verify our public officials are behaving honestly and judiciously. Let there be no argument: the public has a right to the footage of officers in action.
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Posted on Techdirt - 28 February 2014 @ 12:14am
We've seen several examples of how Yelp and online reviews can impact a company's behavior. Sometimes that impact takes the form of the company in question going nuclear on the reviewers and subsequently crying "hack." Other times companies attempt to get reviewers into hot water through criminal charges. Or a company can just attempt to charge negative reviewers a couple thousand bucks, because that makes business sense. Mind you, none of this has slowed down the practice of the internet punishing poor behavior through negative reviews, including times when those reviews take on a farcical and/or creative tone.
Such is the case with with the owner of the Chicaro Club, a restaurant and bar in Oklahoma. See, Gary isn't what you'd call the most progressive business owner on the planet.
Last week, when a KFOR-TV reporter asked the owner of an Enid, OK, restaurant/bar about allegations that he wasn't exactly the most open-minded businessman in town, he admitted, "I've been in business 44 years, I think I can spot a freak or a faggot... I really don't want gays around. If I reached over there and slapped the sh** out of you, you should be offended," he explained. "But to call someone a 'chink' or someone call me a bigot, that doesn't bother me."
Ha! Racism and bigotry! Good one, Gary! Now, while Gary's speech and behavior are wholly reprehensible, that whole freedom of speech thing protects such asshattery. But it's a good thing it also protects the creative reviewers of Gary's establishment
over at Yelp, too, because they're going to town on him as a matter of protest. Some highlights for you:
The mandatory "pants check" at the entrance was a little off-putting at first, but I totally understood once I got to the men's room. Definitely the hottest underwear party I've ever been to, and Gary takes the cake (and the FROSTING) as the best pivot man in the history of circle jerks! - Bruce M.
As a polysexual demiromantic Peruvian atheist that physically identifies as handicapped and ethnically identifies as a Cambodian transgendered sea turtle, it's understandably hard for me to find a place to fit in. This place was my safe zone. I'll never forget my first time. As a young newly open entity (I don't believe in labeling myself), I was looking for a place to feel free. The chick-fil-a had recently been shut down by the board of health and I was heartbroken. I found this place by coincidence. I had met this wonderful man on grindr, and mid-coitus, he stopped and asked me if I had ever been to Chicaros club. I told him I hadn't, and off we went. - Alex R.
Awesome place. My girlfriend and I stopped in and at first we were a little worried that all of the gay guys there might not be down with a couple of lesbians hanging out. My fears were quickly dashed! Not only was everyone super nice, the owner joined us all in a rousing rendition of "We Are Family"! The best part is that, after he found out that I was on welfare, the owner comped my entire meal and gave us a complimentary steak! What a guy! - Allison B.
Yes, the reviews are sophomoric, delightfully so. And, yes, this is just trolling to piss off Gary. But this is the internet people. Protest via trolling with a little public shaming dashed in is what the internet is for. Fortunately, there are enough serious reviews mixed in with the jokes such that I wouldn't expect any unsuspecting homosexuals to accidentally go to the Chicaro Club to hit on Gary.
All that's left is to see how Gary chooses to react to his new-found fame and glory. If he's a man of his word, he won't care one bit. If my faith in humanity is justified, hopefully he'll keep on not caring as he goes out of business due to a chronic lack of customers.
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Posted on Techdirt - 27 February 2014 @ 8:07pm
I suppose it's because Rockstar Games' opus, Grand Theft Auto 5, is equal parts sandbox game and Rorschach test that makes it such a likely target for people who incorrectly think that the game's makers appropriated their likenesses. We already saw one such publicized story in which Lindsay Lohan was reportedly looking into suing Rockstar over the game's cover art and a character so completely and insanely lascivious that one would wonder why someone like Lohan would want to actively attempt to associate herself with it. In any case, she was wrong on both charges. Even if she were right, the portrayal was clear parody (though, again, not of her specifically).
Well, meet Karen Gravano, wife of the man who brought down John Gotti, and instigator of a $40 million dollar lawsuit against Rockstar for GTA5's portayal of a minor character in a side mission, utilizing the relatively new and insane concept of publicity rights.
The ripped-off character is Antonia Bottino, said Gravano’s lawyer Thomas Farinella. The animated hottie is rescued by the game's main character after getting buried alive off a dirt road. She then recounts how a murder charge was pinned on her father and how the family was forced to be “moving around safe houses in rat-hole hick towns where no one comes looking,” according to an online synopsis of GTA V. Her fictional dad, former Gambetti family underboss Sammy (Sonny) Bottino, eventually became a snitch, acquiring many enemies. He would not allow her to participate in a show called “Wise Bitches,” an obvious takedown of the VH1 reality show.
Here, again, we see the problem posed both by GTA5
's depictions of pop culture and the Rorschach nature of the characters. Are there aspects of the character that have a vague and likely parodied similarity to Gravano? Sure, you could convince me of that. But, as with the Lohan "character", the character has many other characteristics and story backgrounds that do not
jive with Gravano's. Such as what happens to her in the game. She never claims in her filing to have any further commonality with the character in the games' actions. In fact, one of the similarities she cites, her mobster father not allowing her to appear on a reality show, would be directly refuted by the fact that Gravano appeared on a reality show until its fourth season
. What this appears to be, again, is a parody character consisting of a composite of real life people featured in pop culture. You know, like every
character in the Grand Theft Auto
series is. That's the whole point. To somehow look at a parody that features a vague nod in the direction of a public figure and think that should result in $40 million? That's just crazy.
Furthermore, this all revolves around the theory of publicity rights, something we've covered
before. This is a legal concept ill-defined at best, where the limitations on bringing a suit are only those of money-seeking attorneys. You can imagine what a problem that continues to be, particularly in light of the clash such a concept has with rights towards expression. Think of it this way: if a public figure can sue over the use of their image and/or story simply by claiming the use is commercial, an accusation that can be stretched unbelievably thinly, any expression dealing with that figure will resulting be sanitized. Documentaries on controversial figures would be out the window. Artistic interpretations of importnat people gone. No measure of intellectual property was designed with that kind of censorship in mind.
So, to conclude, we have a bad theory of law being practiced upon a target that is likely not guilty of it in the first place. That's the kind of legal hijinks that you get when you allow people to believe they can own their own history. Congratulations, IP!
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Posted on Techdirt - 27 February 2014 @ 11:34am
There appears to be something of an arms race going on between the NSA and its British counterpart, GCHQ, and the arms in question appear to be who can violate the most people's rights in the creepiest manner possible. While the revelations about the NSA have been met mostly with an infuriating series of shrugs from the American public, GCHQ has been hard at work in the realm of dirty tricks, DDoS attacks, and their smear campaigns against anyone they don't like. It's one of those agencies that cause many to question exactly who they see as the enemy, given how many downright dastardly actions the agency takes against its own country's citizens.
Well, if this latest report is correct, GCHQ may not see British citizens as the enemy so much as it sees them as its own personal playthings. I'm not sure what else to take away from reports that GCHQ intercepted and viewed Yahoo webcam images in bulk.
GCHQ files dating between 2008 and 2010 explicitly state that a surveillance program codenamed Optic Nerve collected still images of Yahoo webcam chats in bulk and saved them to agency databases, regardless of whether individual users were an intelligence target or not. In one six-month period in 2008 alone, the agency collected webcam imagery – including substantial quantities of sexually explicit communications – from more than 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts globally.
Forget the silly theater employed by America's TSA, British intelligence actually employed the surrepticious collection of nudie images of their own citizens. If I were a British citizen, I wouldn't know whether to be exponentially more self-conscious or disappointed that I hadn't put on what I can assure you would be one hell of a naked show for these privacy-invading bastards. Yahoo, understandably, is pissed
, indicating that it had no knowledge of this program and that this is an entirely new level of violating its customers' privacy.
Now, if this attempt to realize the fictional telescreens in Orwell's 1984
seems to have an exreme potential for abuse, you probably don't even know the half of it.
The agency did make efforts to limit analysts' ability to see webcam images, restricting bulk searches to metadata only. However, analysts were shown the faces of people with similar usernames to surveillance targets, potentially dragging in large numbers of innocent people. One document tells agency staff they were allowed to display "webcam images associated with similar Yahoo identifiers to your known target".
Optic Nerve was based on collecting information from GCHQ's huge network of internet cable taps, which was then processed and fed into systems provided by the NSA. Webcam information was fed into NSA's XKeyscore search tool, and NSA research was used to build the tool which identified Yahoo's webcam traffic.
What does this mean? Two things. First, there is no safeguard keeping images of America citizens out of the grasp of Optic Nerve
. Second, this isn't just GCHQ, it's the NSA, too. They're also holding onto and using these images, which certainly include British citizens and likely include American citizens as well. Let's not mince words: the cooperation between the two agencies likely means that the NSA has webcam images of American citizens in their storage houses. And some of those images probably include naked Americans. If that
doesn't scare the hell out of you, nothing will.
Now, GCHQ boldly attempted to address the issue by building a facial recognition component that excluded images that didn't include a face. You should already see the inherent problem in this: any private communication that may include nudity and
a face would still be snared. Plus the technology, to put it mildly, barely works. And, on top of all this, this somehow came as a surprise to GCHQ.
Sexually explicit webcam material proved to be a particular problem for GCHQ, as one document delicately put it: "Unfortunately … it would appear that a surprising number of people use webcam conversations to show intimate parts of their body to the other person. Also, the fact that the Yahoo software allows more than one person to view a webcam stream without necessarily sending a reciprocal stream means that it appears sometimes to be used for broadcasting pornography."
Oh, yeah, what a shock that people would use video communciation in a way that included nudity. Nevermind that the first thought that proceeds any technological advancement in the hisotry of mankind involves a form of the question, "How can we use this to see more nudity!?!?" It may seem like a small point, but do we really want to trust an agency that doesn't realize how personal our communications are in collecting those same personal communications? No thanks.
The question has always been when will that final straw have been placed on the peoples' backs such that they are unwilling to put up with this government abuse any longer. If the government peeking into your homes through your webcam doesn't do it, nothing will.
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Posted on Techdirt - 27 February 2014 @ 12:08am
As you may remember, we've taken a bit of an interest in Ukraine lately. Frankly, it's not all that common that you get to see a popular revolution take place right there on your television/computer screen. So, as you're probably somewhat aware, the Ukrainian people have dismissed the creepy Orwellian threats of the former government, discarded the false promises they made, and have taken the first step to establishing a new government.
The Parliament voted to oust Yanukovych, a key demand of protesters. It appointed seasoned lawmaker Oleksandr Turchinov as a new speaker who will take on Yanukovych's duties until new elections in May. Turchinov, a longtime ally of opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, has promised a new interim government by Tuesday.
"We have a legitimate source of authority in Kiev, which is the democratically elected Parliament and a democratically, constitutionally elected speaker of parliament, who is acting president," Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, who helped broker a peace deal between the government and the opposition, said on CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS.
Now, it should be noted that this might not be completely over yet. First, Viktor Yanukovych, the now-ousted President of Ukraine, still claims he is the rightful leader of the country, though he does so from hiding. In addition, essentially the entire nation of Ukraine is casting Russia a wary eye, waiting for Vladimir Putin to gallop in shirtless on his steed and sweep all of this change away. Those fears will eventually be cast aside as well, however, just as were those of the old Ukraine government.
This is how we concluded our last post on the false concessions made by the government to protestors after absolutely violating their freedom of speech.
This, I fear, won't be enough to send the protesters back to their homes. A new government with the same President is only "new" as a method for parody and derision. An attempt to turn on the free speech of a people isn't going to be forgiven in exchange for lesser resignations.
That probably goes for Russia at this point as well. This entire fight has been over trading with the West or remaining beholden to Russia's promise of foreign cash injections: the way Ukraine has been pulled for decades. Fortunately, in this time, the people of Ukraine not only had the will to change their government, they had the ability to organize and export their story to the world via the internet, ubiquitous camera phones, and a citizen press. In other words, twenty years ago, this might not have been possible. Now it's eminently so.
Other nations looking to tamp down on free speech and a free internet may want to take note of the consequences.
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Posted on Techdirt - 25 February 2014 @ 11:57pm
In the pantheon of dumb criminals we've covered at Techdirt, we've already handed out awards for dumbest criminal, best dumb criminal in college, and criminal with the most hubris ever. While most crimes wouldn't qualify as "funny" per se, I have to admit that I rarely am genuinely angry at any of these idiots. It's more along the lines of head-shaking and chuckling at the stupidity of it all.
But not with this guy, who somehow thought it'd be a laugh to videotape himself threatening people with a pellet gun and pretending to rob them, then uploading the videos to the internet. His victims, obviously, didn't know it wasn't a real firearm. The criminal, obviously, is a sociopath.
Twenty-one-year-old Daron Stinson is facing a host of felonies after he "pretended" to rob and shoot at frightened pedestrians with a pellet gun that looked like a handgun. In one video he points his gun at a 51-year-old man salting a sidewalk and demands the man load it in his trunk. Stinson also posted multiple videos on Instagram of himself shooting the pellet gun as his victims react with terror.
I'm not posting any videos of Stinson's uploads, because I don't want to give even a moment of time to his horrifically unabashed asshole-ish-ness. Seriously, it's these types of people that make me want to believe in Hell, just so I have some place to put them.
"He considers it funny," Rodney Stinson, his father, told NBC 10. "He does a lot of other things. Nothing with the gun is funny. Nothing. I don't consider it funny."
Well, good for you. None of us do, either. Fortunately, thanks to his own uploads, Stinson was arrested and will hopefully be facing a prison sentence and the life-long stigma of being a convicted felon. I can't help but think back to a recent post about an innocent child being shot dead in Georgia for the crime of holding a Wii controller
, yet this jackass doesn't get nabbed in Philly until he uploads videos of his own crimes to the internet?
Enjoy prison, jerk!
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Posted on Techdirt - 25 February 2014 @ 11:07am
At some point, governments around the world are going to start learning that attempting to stifle free speech and communication via protests and the internet is almost always going to backfire on the offending government. Previous iterations of this plotline have been demonstrated in Ukraine, Egypt, and several other Middle East nations that participated in the so-called "Arab Spring."
Well, welcome to South America, governmental hubris, because there are now reports of the government shutting down the internet in Venezuela, where protests against the government and threats of toppling it have been raging.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation made note that Venezuelans working with several different ISPs lost all connectivity on Thursday of this past week. Users lost connectivity to the major content delivery network Edgecast and the IP address which provides access to Twitter’s image hosting service while another block stopped Venezuelan access to the text-based site Pastebin.
CONATEL director William Castillo suggests that the internet cuts were not due to the protests directly. CONATEL is the country’s media regulation network, and Castillo suggested via Noticias24 that online attacks were being waged. CONATEL, he suggests, blocked linkes "where public sites were being attacked."
Even though the attempt to shift blame for internet shutdown on outside hack attacks is a very common kind of government bullshit, it might just be believable, if only that same government wasn't also going around and shutting down television stations that were saying things
the government didn't like. In the case of NTN24, a Venezuelan cable news channel, the government isn't even trying to pretend the shutdown isn't politically motivated.
Venezuela’s president said that a Colombia-based cable news channel was ordered to be removed from cable lineups in Venezuela because of its coverage of an antigovernment protest. President Nicolás Maduro said Thursday that the channel, NTN24, had tried to “foment anxiety about a coup d'état.” He said that he gave the order to pull the channel because “No one is going to come from abroad and try to perturb the psychological climate of Venezuela.”
No, no, of course not Senor Maduro, you're perfectly capable of perturbing the psychological climate of Venezuela all by yourself. As with Egypt, and Tunisia, and most recently Ukraine, this won't work
. In fact, it's likely again going to have the opposite effect of provoking the protesters even more than they've been already. At some point the lesson will eventually be learned that in an era where free speech and citizen press have been expanded exponentially, attempts to shut both down won't be tolerated.
Perhaps President Maduro would like to speak with Viktor Yanukovych, if he wasn't in hiding from people on whom he attempted to put these exact same restrictions.
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Posted on Techdirt - 20 February 2014 @ 7:06pm
We've seen some fairly extreme examples of police involved in shootings that were, shall we kindly say, questionable. Whether it's charging the target of police firearms with assault over injuries incurred by bystanders, officers being given the opportunity to see the evidence in question of shootings before making their statements, or officers simply looking to destroy said evidence, there appears to be an epidemic of trigger finger in our nations protectors, even as the danger involved in their jobs dips to historic lows. It's difficult to know just what is responsible for these stories. Are we simply able to hold LEOs to task due to more ubiquitous video surveillance? Is there an officer education problem? Is a police force more militarized than ever naturally going to exhibit more aggressive behavior?
Whatever the cause, we had damned well better figure it out, because the stories keep rolling in. The latest is the tragic tale of a Georgia teenager who wanted to serve his country and instead ended up getting served with a fatal wound for the apparent crime of having a video game controller in his hand.
The family of a 17-year-old shot and killed by a Euharlee police officer has hired an attorney, and they say he had a remote control in his hand. They say it was not a gun.
Christopher Roupe, 17, was in the ROTC at Woodland High School and wanted to join the Marines. His friends said he looked after them.
The officer who shot him reportedly exited the home shortly after shooting Roupe, sobbing into her hands, a clear sign of remorse. Hell, it sounds weak, but mistakes happen, even tragic mistakes like this. Remorse is the proper response. The response offered in the officer's report of the incident, however, is not.
A female police officer told GBI investigators that Roupe pointed a gun at her when he opened the door.
“We don't know where that statement came from. The eyewitnesses on the scene clearly state that he had a Wii controller in his hand. He heard a knock at the door. He asked who it was, there was no response so he opened the door and upon opening the door he was immediately shot in the chest,” [attorney Cole] Law said.
Open the door with a controller in your hand and get a bullet in the chest. Then, to have the report deviate so completely from the eyewitness accounts just adds salt to the family's wounds. At some point people are going to have to realize that, despite what your favorite news program would have you believe, violent crime continues to diminish, while shootings by police have remained static. That simply doesn't make any sense.
That a young man who wanted to serve was caught by another officer with a trigger finger should sound the alarm that it's damned time something was done.
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Posted on Techdirt - 20 February 2014 @ 2:50pm
For a long time, people have argued over whether or not corporate lobbying was legalized bribery or protected speech. It's a fascinating argument to me, personally, mostly because I don't understand why we're arguing over such a silly question. Let's just pretend I came up with some kind of awesome prose that dutifully began with a reference to the fact that NSA supporters in our government were paid off by defense contractors, deftly moved on to mention that roughly half of our proud public servants in Congress jump ship for lobbying gigs, and finish it all off with me just shouting the name Chris Dodd at you, and we can all get back to the business of not doing anything to stop this obvious bribery. Or, rather, we can get back to it in a moment, right after I tell you all about how Comcast gives the subcommittee controlling the FCC roughly all of the money.
Comcast has been among the top corporate donors to members of Congress, and following the money shows that they have been focusing their giving on members of the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, which has jurisdiction over the Federal Communications Commission.
-House members of the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology received $853,525 from Comcast from January 1, 2001 - December 31, 2012.
-Contributions from Comcast to House members serving in the 109th, 110th, 111th and 112th Congresses total $6,678,446 from January 1, 2001 - December 31, 2012.
-Representative Greg Walden, R-Ore., Chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology has received $53,000 from Comcast from January 1, 2001 - December 31, 2012.
-Representative John Dingell, D-Mich., has received $100,775 from Comcast from January 1, 2001 - December 31, 2012 more than any other member of the House of Representatives. He is a member of the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.
These numbers may not seem staggering, but you're thinking about them in terms of corporate levels, not government bribery. In the game of bribing the folks directly involved in overseeing the overseeing body that Comcast has to worry about with their Time Warner merger
, they're amongst the top contributors
. That's all that matters, not the totals. Anyone else see a problem with this?
Now, what everyone is really waiting for is to see if the Justice Department is going to get involved and scream "antitrust." However, please, please
keep in mind that this subcommittee we're talking about was elected to represent the people of their districts and the nation as a whole. And Comcast is outbidding you. And tons
of companies are outbidding you. It's difficult to see how corporate lobbying doesn't create a massive conflict of interests, with this serving as a prime example.
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Posted on Techdirt - 20 February 2014 @ 11:54am
The concept of the idea/expression dichotomy in copyright law has essentially served as a long-running joke. The concept is that you can't copyright a general idea or concept, only the specific expression an author develops. For instance, you might have the idea to write a story about a group of four friends traveling on a journey together, bonding and accomplishing tasks. That idea cannot be copyrighted, but the somewhat like expressions known as The Wizard of Oz and Stand By Me can. They're similar in only the most general ways, but both can coexist without the need of lawyers and suits. Unfortunately, we've seen example after example of this dichotomy being actively ignored in the more noble interest in making tons of money off of another person's expression. Some folks seem to think that they can own an idea.
Well, let's make room on that list of folks for Sachin Gadh and Jonathan Sender, who are suing Spike Jonze for his film Her, which they say he stole from them. Giving the story a bit of the old conspiratorial air is the fact that the writers originally pitched their screenplay, called Belv, to the same agency that represents Jonze. They were told at the time that the agency didn't accept unsolicited manuscripts (this is extremely common). So, what evidence do Gadh and Sender offer for the theft of their mind-gasms?
The legal papers stated, "In both 'Her' and 'Belv' the main character carries around the love interest in his front shirt pocket." It continued, "Both 'Her' and "Belv' examine the human psyche through interactions between the character and the computer." In addition to the two examples, the document also cited, "The main character in 'Her' is heartbroken after a failed relationship and seek solace in a computer. In 'Belv' a cell phone comes to life after a microwave mishap and becomes a witty wing man for dating."
Let's take these in order. First, the example of where a character carries the device that contains the digital being that is his love interest is silly. I mean, if you had to depict someone carrying around technology with them, how would you do it? There's, like, five places where that can happen, assuming we don't want to get gross with this. As for both films examining the human psyche by interacting with a computer, take five seconds to count up how many films you could say did the exact same thing and see what your total is. I made it to four, including 2001: A Space Odyssey
, The Matrix
, and The Terminator
. Then I mentally added the book I wrote three years ago, Digilife
, to the equation because it's both a great example of the same concept and it serves as a wonderful reminder to all of you that you can buy it in the Insider Shop
Finally, I'm at a complete loss as to why the authors decided to include that last bit that essentially describes how these films are totally different
. One involves a computer offering solace after a failed relationship, the other turns into a wingman after what I can only assume is an unfortunate microwave popcorn mishap. That's like comparing Eat, Pray, Love
. They aren't the same.
The point of all this is that some understanding must be reached that any similarities you might struggle to find between two expressions don't amount to copyright infringement. Even as some unfortunate rulings have been made in courts essentially protecting ideas like characters and settings, when you have to work this hard to liken two expressions, you don't have a case.
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Posted on Techdirt - 19 February 2014 @ 7:23am
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a friend in the copyright discussion in Perfect 10. In case you're not familiar with it, Perfect 10 is a company that at one time produced wanking material before turning to the far more noble endeavor of entertaining the hell out of us by suing everyone on the planet for copyright infringement. I say they're a friend, because they appear to be going to some length to establish good caselaw by losing suit after suit after suit. Their work is exemplary, really, in terms of their inability to win anything at all.
And they're at it again. This time, they have decided to sue LeaseWeb, most notable as the hosting provider for Megaupload.
In their complaint, Perfect 10 accuses LeaseWeb of providing hosting services to several websites that host pirated copies of their images.
“Defendants host and provide Internet connectivity and other essential services to websites, including infringing websites operated in California that have infringed tens of thousands of Perfect 10 Copyrighted Works,” the complaint states.
According to Perfect 10, LeaseWeb currently hosts at least eight websites in the U.S. which store their work without permission; Imgchili.net, imgchili.com, imgtiger.com, imgserve.net, Poringa.net, ultraforos.com, ultraforos.net and Galleryworld.info.
Well, hey, Perfect 10, thanks for letting all of us know exactly where we can find your smut for free, I guess. We have a couple of problems, of course. First, they're suing the hosting provider, indicating that LeaseWeb is "directly responsible" for the infringement done on the aforementioned sites. Then, probably because they realize what a problematic argument that is to make, they mention that LeaseWeb hosted for Megaupload, as though just mentioning the infamous website was some kind of legal trump card. It isn't.
But the problems don't end there. To start, Megaupload is arguing that they regularly comply with DMCA notices sent its way.
“All infringing files Perfect 10 has ever reported to Mega have been removed within hours. We keep track of all DMCA notices and could identify all notifications from Perfect 10 and we have verified that all reported links were disabled within hours."
Some may find that claim dubious, but it doesn't even matter. The point is that hosts typically forward DMCA notices sent their way to the sites in question, who are responsible for taking the content down. LeaseWeb is a hosting service provider. One, by the way, that is hosting sites that aren't even located in the United States.
Leaseweb told Tf that the company hasn’t been served yet, and points out that most of the sites mentioned are hosted by the Dutch LeaseWeb Netherlands BV.
“We use the Dutch Notice and Takedown procedure for LeaseWeb Netherlands BV customers which gives an equivalent protection as the DMCA, we therefor do not see why the US would be the correct forum,” the company states.
So, while Perfect 10 is humbly asking for a mere $188 million
in damages, they're likely doing so in the wrong country, against the wrong party, and throwing around an infamous website name like some kind of bower card. That isn't how the law works, but I encourage them to keep at it, since their track record suggests every lawsuit they file results in a winning token for our side.
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Posted on Techdirt - 18 February 2014 @ 12:47pm
Ever since Edward Snowden leaked information about the massive government surveillance being done both domestically and abroad by the NSA, the refrain that such leaks have put people in danger and harmed national security have been ongoing. Supporters of the NSA have specifically noted that leaks about section 215, the PATRIOT Act section that the NSA believes gives it the power to collect all telco traffic records, will prove to be absolutely catastrophic to our safety. Spy bigwig James Clapper himself wrote to Ron Wyden that section 215 leaks "will do significant damage to the intelligence community's ability to protect the nation."
Now, in a move that will surprise nobody, since Clapper is a proven liar, he has reversed course and says that the government should have told the American people about section 215.
“What did us in here, what worked against us was this shocking revelation,” he said, referring to the first disclosures from Snowden. If the program had been publicly introduced in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, most Americans would probably have supported it. “I don’t think it would be of any greater concern to most Americans than fingerprints. Well people kind of accept that because they know about it. But had we been transparent about it and say here’s one more thing we have to do as citizens for the common good, just like we have to go to airports two hours early and take our shoes off, all the other things we do for the common good, this is one more thing.”
Unbelievable. So the very same disclosure that turned Edward Snowden into a traitor and was going to do so much harm to American security is something Clapper says he should have done
in the first place? With such an admission, where is the backlash against the continued prosecution of Snowden in the court of public opinion? Where is the embarrassed apology for lying to Americans about the dangers of the disclosures made previously? Lies, I might add, designed to scare the living hell out of people and chill speech, disclosures, and journalism
I typically try to find some humor in every situation, but this kind of flip-flopping is bullshit on a level hitherto unseen. The credibility gap between Clapper and his ilk versus Edward Snowden might as well be the Grand Canyon. I'm a bit amazed the man has been allowed to keep his job, never mind his still being allowed to make media statements.
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Posted on Techdirt - 18 February 2014 @ 2:16am
Talk with someone who is from an older generation or someone who does not spend much time playing video games and you'll often hear a common refrain: games aren't art. Or, perhaps you'll get a qualifier, claiming that games aren't a serious form of art, or speech. For some of us, the silliness of those statements has been evident for a long time, particularly given that the courts have stated the opposite. That said, perhaps the problem has been the lack of a definitive example at which to point. Other forms of art have these examples that clearly denote the realm of artwork. The literary world is littered with examples, such as Salman Rushdie and the controversy around The Satanic Verses. Music is also rife with examples, from Bob Dylan to the Pussy Riot fiasco in Russia. Film too has its heroes in speech and art.
I submit that the plight of Iranian nationals attempting to make a game about the 1979 revolution ought to be gaming's example. The story is a fascinating one involving several folks who have taken to hide their identities in order to remain safe while making a game that is likely to result in tension with their home governments. The story focuses on one Iranian who is working under the name Phoenix.
"I started working professionally when I was 17," Phoenix said, in an e-mail exchange mediated by Khonsari. "I wanted to become an animator and thought that was the closest I was going to get to working on games, as there was no gaming industry in Iran to support that kind of work. I yearned to work on video games; I love them and dreamed of working on them…I just didn't think it was possible."
But it eventually dawned on him that a game like 1979 Revolution would change his life in more sinister ways. The ephemeral nature of the Iranian government's thought policing means that Phoenix doesn't exactly know if he's being targeted. Nevertheless, he didn't want to risk being wrong. After all, in these kinds of scenarios, you never know that you're a person of interest until it's too late. "I'm not sure if anyone is coming after me," Phoenix said. "But I need to be cautious not only for my own safety, but also for that of my family. Also, Navid was written about and if they associated me with him it could be trouble for my family."
The Navid mentioned is Navid Khonsari, who is headlining the 1979 Revolution
project. Iran, now actively trying to foster an image of a kinder, softer version of the same theocracy that put a contract on Salman Rushdie's head, has already dubbed Khonsari a spy and refused him any admittance to his home country. There hasn't been any word yet about death sentences, but several team members on the project, including Phoenix, aren't taking any chances.
Meanwhile, the game, which is still being developed, is already getting tongues wagging. Many commentators are skeptical about the historicity the game will attempt to portray, or the political motivations of the developers, or the fairness of the portrayal of all sides within. If this sounds familiar, it should, because this is the kind of discussion reserved for fictional artwork and speech surrounding the serious topics of our day. In other words, this game, and the plight of its artistic developers, ends the discussion about games as serious speech and artwork. If we believe that the makers of this game deserve protection from the Iranian government's attempts to silence their speech, or discourage their activism, then we're already thinking about this whole story in the framework of art and expression.
That said, it would be a mistake to denigrate the sacrifice these artists are making for their craft.
As for Mr. Phoenix, he doesn't know when it'll be safe to go home again. "There was no space for growth or to further my life experience," Phoenix said. "Don't get me wrong: there are many artists in Iran who are thriving and I have much respect for them. For me, it was about experiencing the world beyond Iran. My hope for this game is that people will learn what happened and have greater understanding for all people. From learning about their experience in the game, they might be more compassionate rather than dismissive."
Sounds like an artistic hero to me, one who deserves commendations and support for his art and speech.
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Posted on Techdirt - 17 February 2014 @ 8:04pm
I have to admit, I'm kind of thankful the Church of Scientology exists. I mean, between their inability to photoshop their own rallies and their dedication to using IP laws to simultaneously silence criticism while Streisanding themselves into internet oblivion, the jokes practically write themselves. I personally know this, because whenever I see that a close friend or family member is having a bad day, I simply tap them on the shoulder, say "Church of Scientology", and then we both laugh and move on with a much better, funnier day. For me, it's the futility of it all that is so hilarious, and I'll be Xenu'd if they just can't keep making the same mistakes.
Take the story Rich Kulawiec writes us about, for instance. It apparently starts with a hapless Amazon seller called Hannah's Attic And Place accidentally offering his wares for pennies on the dollar due to an errant youngster. When some customers placed orders, they were subsequently informed that the pricing had been a mistake. This grated upon one buyer, who complained in the reviews section. And then the complainer found out that the seller was a hardy little David-Miscaviage-in-training, with all the awesome threatening behavior one would expect from such a person.
My favorite part about this letter is how it goes from zero to crazy in less than a hundred words. "First, let me apologize. Then let me tell you all about the horrific things I'm going to do to you for having an opinion!" Delightful. Here's what's most fun about this: despite nobody knowing for sure that this seller is a Scientology whackjob, despite nobody having any actual confirmation that a simple online review has resulted in attention from the infamous SeaOrg buckets of crazy, that organization has made themselves such a wonderful caricature that it all just might be possible. After all, we can be damned sure that Scientology has unleashed horrific evils on all of us before.
Now, while the seller has since gone to some lengths to delete everything they could from Amazon, one would think that both Amazon and law enforcement would be quite interested in folks threatening buyers. After all, the Church of Scientology might have many celebrities, and regular folks, constantly filling their coffers in exchange for having someone twist their thetans or whatever, but they've tangled with the U.S. government before and got a nice black eye over it. And to really incur retribution in America, making waves for a billion dollar corporation like Amazon ain't gonna win you any favors, either.
In the meantime, Hannah's Attic And Place (we must not forget about the place!) and their threats have gone viral, Streisanding around the interwebz to make sure everyone knows what jerks they are. That's so much more effective than the simple negative review they were trying to get taken down in the first place. Oh, Scientology, never stop being crazy.
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Posted on Techdirt - 14 February 2014 @ 1:44pm
We've made the argument before that it's about time we all took a hard look at copyright law and the DMCA, since both are regularly used as censorship tools. There are those that believe that this happens infrequently, but that just simply isn't true. It's used to censor criticism, to censor other people's original creation, and to censor negative reviews. It's a problem and no amount of pretending otherwise is going to wash.
But the problem really gets my blood boiling when the censorship in question is censoring scientific knowledge and criticism. All the more so when the criticism is aimed at a group of people that are quite likely actively putting anyone listening to them seriously in danger. Take, for instance, the story that jameshogg writes in about, in which well-known scientific debunker Myles Power is having a series of videos he produced debunking a documentary called House of Numbers DMCA'd by the producers of the documentary.
In case you can't watch the video, here's the skinny on the situation. House of Numbers is a documentary that essentially makes the claim that HIV and AIDS isn't really, you know, a thing. It's part of a conspiracy theory that's been traveling around for some time that AIDS isn't what doctors say it is, that anti-viral medication doesn't effect whatever the disease actually is, and so on. In other words, it's a big bucket of crazy that, unfortunately, some unsuspecting people take seriously, quite possibly putting themselves in harm's way if they take the message of the film to heart. Myles Power is a scientist who creates videos debunking this kind of thing. He, if I may say so, should be appointment YouTubing if you have any interest in science versus popular myths. He created a series of videos showing both why the claims in House of Numbers are bullshit, as well as the tactics the filmmakers employed in order to pretend people said what they actually hadn't. All of this, of course, falls squarely in the realm of fair use. That didn't stop several people who either produced or were featured in the documentary from filing DMCA claims against him and getting the videos removed.
The first DMCA filed against me was from Liam Scheff who starred in part 5 of my video series. Liam believes that my videos are not protected under fair use because they are not made for educational purposes, but instead for propaganda. Over the last week, Liam has been constantly posting on my Facebook and has called me a retard, a cunt, a little bitch and, of course, a paid shill. Yet at the same time believes that I have been slandering him. What is also bizarre is that even though Liam has made it clear of his intentions to drag me through the courts, at the same time he does not think I am a real person but part of Myles Power inc. Liam later went on to remove his DMCA, but by filing it in the first place he has left himself open to legal action.
As soon as part 5 was restored, it was taken immediately down by Martin Penny and the people at Knowledge Matters, who then decided to file 2 more DMCA takedowns against part 1 and 2. I want to take this time to remind people that there are multiple copies of House of Numbers uploaded to YouTube. If Martin Penny and the people at Knowledge Matters truly thought I was infringing copyright, then why are they not going after people who uploaded the entire movie? It is very clear that these people are trying to silence my criticism. For those who don’t know, Martin Penny is the Executive Producer of House of Numbers and a multimillionaire from Leeds who used to be the CEO of GHD. What’s interesting is that Martin is now a chairman at OHS Ltd – one of the leading health, safety and environmental consultancies who have worked for the NHS.
This is censorship in its purist form, and it's using the law to get away with it. There may be legal repercussions to be had for some of this, but how often do we actually see those attempting to ignore fair use and censor speech get punished? It's all the more egregious given that what they're attempting to censor is the debunking of a conspiracy myth that has the very real potential to hurt people. Anyone with a modicum of interest in science and the dialectic method would welcome such a conversation, not attempt to stifle it under the guise of copyright law.
Meanwhile, as Power notes, the person doing the censoring is the chairman of a consulting group that is advising the National Health Service in England. A censoring AIDS denier is advising the NHS. Let that sink in for a moment. Then, ask yourself it it's about time we took a hard look at whether the DMCA is doing more harm than good.
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Posted on Techdirt - 14 February 2014 @ 1:51am
Clothing maker Lululemon appears to be schizophrenic. I know, weird, right? But that's the only conclusion I can come to for a company that started off by mocking Olympic trademarks, then dipped into the realm of suing other designers over patents on designs for yoga pants (side note: when will this yoga fad thing be over?). In one moment it's "Trademark? Lulz!" and the next they're bludgeoning poor Calvin Klein with a freaking yoga pants patent. But it might be time to do a wellness visit on the company, since it appears to have completely lost its damn fooled minds.
See, Lululemon hates when people resell their clothing more than ants hate sociopathic children with a new Sherlock Holmes play set. Previously this manifested itself with a sternly worded FAQ on their website and very strange stocking techniques that amount to a not-making-much-of-our-shit strategy. That appears to have changed, however, since recently reports of customers attempting to sell clothing on eBay being harassed by Lululemon employees and banned from buying more products on the website have come flooding in.
Several customers told Business Insider they had been confronted by company representatives after attempting to sell items on eBay, and even more are complaining on the brand's Facebook page. Many said they have been blocked from buying items from the company's website. The policy is frustrating to customers because of Lululemon's stringent return policy, which only allows returns of unworn merchandise within 14 days of purchase, even if the item was a gift.
Let's be clear here: Lululemon policies make it nearly impossible to return clothing, regardless of the reason for the return, even it was a gift. Anyone looking to unload these items, new or used, on the secondary market is facing confrontation with the Lululemon Gestapo and then being blocked from purchasing more stuff from their website. Should it not strike you immediately, this is insane
. In many cases, the items being sold are no longer produced or in stock by Lululemon. They aren't even attempting to compete with these sellers. On top of that, many of these sellers are, of course
, loyal Lululemon customers. This isn't taking your ball and going home, it's taking your ball and then lighting the other kids on fire. Which, I'm told, isn't a nice thing to do.
Both Kristin and her husband were loyal customers who have "closets bursting with Lululemon," she said. She decided to sell the item on eBay because it didn't fit and she had missed the return window. Kristin says she was unable to persuade Lululemon to unblock her IP address from the online store, and felt the company treated her "like a criminal."
"They said we are welcome to shop in their stores, and in that case, I should have donated the item," she said. "But part of the appeal of purchasing Lululemon products is that it does hold resale value."
Not anymore, Kristin. Lululemon appears to be telling you quite clearly that what you thought was appealing about their clothing doesn't actually exist. Pretty nice of them, actually. Now you're free to spend your money on apparel by companies that don't have an eight-year-old's understanding of the right of resale and how to treat customers.
Eric Lewis, founder of the blog LuluMen, said he was also chastised by the retailer for trying to sell a pair of pants he bought at a recent warehouse sale in Canada. After the college student posted the pants online, he said a Lululemon representative phoned him to say his actions were against policy and he would be banned from its website if he continued selling items on eBay.
"Why is Lululemon targeting a student who is selling some used items on their own eBay account?" Lewis asked. He estimates he's spent $10,000 on the brand's clothing in the past five years, but has sold fewer than 10 items on eBay.
Who can say, Lewis? But I'd highly recommend running an experiment designed to see if any other clothing companies are as insane as these folks. It's an easy experiment that mostly just involves buying from anyone other than Lululemon and seeing who manages to treat you like a human being.
Now, perhaps you're thinking that there must
be some rational explanation for this. I mean, Lululemon wouldn't do something so obviously harmful to their own business without a competent reason, right?
A company spokeswoman told Business Insider that the policy is for the good of customers, and is meant to protect them from buying counterfeit products. "Bottom line, if it doesn’t come from us, we can’t educate, we don’t know the history of the garment, and we can’t guarantee its’ authenticity," the spokeswoman, Alecia Pulman, said in an email.
Ah, yes, scary counterfeit products that nobody is actually fooled by are the reason this is good for your customers. Unless their names are Kristen or Lewis, you mean? Or anyone else who dares to sell something they bought legitimately on the secondary market? Wait, who is this helping, exactly? Because I can promise you this won't help Lululemon's brand image.
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