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  • Sep 29th, 2016 @ 4:40am

    (untitled comment)

    For the location of the lawsuit, there are a few things to consider here:

    Youtube, aka Google, are an American company based in California. They are the source of the material, and thus, there is at least a "toe in the water" in that state.

    Further, the mentioned website appears to be hosted on Amazon's platform, with an IP that points to their Ireland data centers - but that can and does easily change. A new instance could be fired up anywhere. Filing in the UK (which is still part of the EU last I checked) seems reasonable.

    Pretty much every ripping tool faces the same issue. This one faces a bigger legal issue because there are only race circumstances where what you would be ripping would be something you have the rights to. So there are limited legal uses, many potentially illegal uses. It's hard to imagine it standing up to a legal challenge, even if the guy did show up.

  • Sep 29th, 2016 @ 2:04am

    Re: Not sure how 230 is relevant here...

    Nice to see I am not the only one that caught this.

    Good affiliate programs will shut down the accounts and lock out affiliates who mislead the public, cheat, or lie to get signups. Fake news sites are intentionally misleading consumers into believing a product has a good reputation and has not been found to be a scam. Affiliate programs that support that sort of nonsense should be dealt with by the FTC.

    "Section 230's year-of-woe keeps going" because people are trying to use it to cover and excuse all sorts of bad behavior. No, section 230 is not a cover for affiliate program scammers nor does it somehow magically make the program not responsible for the actions of the people they both pay and help with fresh "news" stories.

    It's sort of shocking to see a lawyer not grasping something so basic.

  • Sep 28th, 2016 @ 3:44am

    Re: Re:

    Paul, I try to keep the thoughts and points as narrow as possible so you can digest the ideas without being overwhelmed. Apparently it works.

    My feeling is that IP addresses should be like phone numbers or cars - you own the car, or it's your phone. What happens on that phone (or in that car) should be at least in some part your problem.

    Someone comes to your house for a party and spends all night making long distance calls to the Japanese time line... should the bill payer just be able to walk away saying SODDI?

    IP addresses do mean an end point, a point of control away from the ISP. If you choose to permit others to use your internet connection, should there not be at least some responsibility?

    Then again, I am also a believer that parents should be responsible for their children and their children's actions (at least to the point where they are adults). So if your home internet is "shared" with your teenagers who decide to set up a file server for pirated music, shouldn't the parent have some responsibility as a result?

    It's tricky topic, and not simple.

  • Sep 27th, 2016 @ 5:03am

    (untitled comment)

    This assumption leads to blunders like ICE raiding a Tor exit node because it thought an IP address was some sort of unique identifier."

    This is exactly why you shouldn't run a TOR exit node, plain and simple.

  • Sep 27th, 2016 @ 4:28am

    Re: Re: Due What?

    " the court cannot and should not order someone that is not a party to a suit to do anything."

    In absence of the defendant taking any action (this is a default judgement) the court can be petitioned to take action to stop what it has found to be unacceptable. If the court didn't take this action, it's judgement would be meaningless and would have accomplished nothing.

  • Sep 27th, 2016 @ 4:19am

    Re: Old joke

    "These days, you COULD get your shows directly from the production companies. The idea of local stations isn't needed at all, in that case. Yet it persists."

    Outside of the rise of Netflix, there are very few new content aggregation companies that have both enough eyeballs to qualify and a business model that makes it pay off. Making the best ever TV show that is only seen by a very few people is not going to have enough income to justify making it. Netflix moved in original productions when they reached a point of having enough income to afford to do it, and a business model that could support it, potentially cheaper than their other sources. It also gives them a market differentiation point.

    As for the TV seasons, they are actually married to the school cycle. TV shows run as new episodes from pretty much September to April or so, which is the time when it's coldest, when people are more likely to be at home, and more likely to watch TV.

  • Sep 27th, 2016 @ 1:50am

    Well Duh

    You have to be pretty new to running a website or ignorant as f-ck not to realize that a huge percentage of the traffic to any given site is bots, scrapers, caching systems, and a huge collection of script kiddies banging away at every site online hoping to find one they can deface with their logo, their name, and "N3rd Hrd4r" in the middle of the page.

    You also have to be a little bit ignorant if you don't realize that advertising has always faced this problem the difference between potential eyeballs and actual views - and this all the way back to the beginning of each of commercial newspapers, magazines, radio, and televsion.

    Think about it. A newspaper distributes 100,000 copies per day, but how many of them are actually opened? How many people actually read ALL of the pages? Those numbers are hard to figure out, because there are so many variables. It's one of the reasons why ads closer to the front of a newspaper are considered most valuable, as they are most likely to be seen.

    Television has the same issue, in a different format: We know the general rating for shows and have a pretty good idea how many people see them, but except for those people meter things that actually measure who is in the room at a given time, there is no way to know how many people have been exposed to a given ad, or if they actually paid attention at all if they were in the room.

    Radio also suffers from this: People listen to the music, but zone out on the ads. Many people have the radio on all day but don't actively listen. Are they really hitting the ads?

    The ad world has always dealt with this in a pretty straight forward manner, a sort of quiet acceptance that some significant part of the audience may never see your print ad, may step out to pee when you tv commercial comes on, and may have the radio on but be ignoring it. It's always been an accepted part of the model.

    The internet is support to be more certain, which is why CPM was the original ad model. The ad model that has made Google rich (and everyone else poor) is charging by the click thru, using various information to filter out useless, automated, or repetitive clicks. But even that is a bit of a crap shoot, and many advertisers have lost their ass paying for clicks that don't convert into income.

    There was a story quite a long time ago about how retail website operators were getting all worked up about people who would come to their site, put something into a shopping cart, and then never finish the transaction. Mentally, they had a view of their physical stores with millions of shopping carts with single items strewn all over the place, and they were unable to shake the image. The reality was that it was more like someone window shopping, sometimes putting stuff in a shopping cart to check for a possible discounted price, shipping charges, or what not. The retailers thought they were losing valuable sales, when they were instead just confusing browsers (and bots) with actual potential buyers.

    For Techdirt, the solution has been a combination of begging (fund raising for "special" coverage that didn't seem any different from anything else done, selling t-shirts, and basically writing shill posts that ad blockers can't particularly filter out very well. Oh, that and the OPM (other people's money) projects where "sponsors" paid for posts (notice that disappeared pretty quick), for Insight (that is one dead website), or as sponsors of a think tank which is mostly just more of the same (with two whole blog updates in a year, woohoo!). It proves that there are ways to collect money, but doesn't really show any of them as valid long term business models. Rather, there seems to be a fair bit of sheep shearing going on.

    So advertising may not be an exact science, but it is self selecting... ;)

  • Sep 27th, 2016 @ 1:18am

    Due What?

    I love this article because it almost entirely misses the point, which is that Yelp should not have a choice in the matter because they are only the host - not the author of or the owner of the comments / review in question.

    To give you a real world example, it would be a like a magazine being ordered off the shelves (stolen images, or whatever), and a small news stand saying "you can't do it, because we didn't get due process!". They don't get that choice. It's the same manner as the operator of the printing press not getting to second guess the courts and print things even after they are ordered not to. They don't get a choice in the matter, the ruling is against the author and NOT the website in question.

    Using section 230 to keep such reviews / posts up would essentially neuter the courts. A judgment (even a default one) should not suddenly be moot "because 230". That would essentially make libel online a form of protected speech above and beyond what is allowed in the first amendment. It would leave the choice to private companies rather than to the courts are to what is and what is not acceptable.

    I am suspecting a solid ruling in support of the original judgement.

  • Sep 26th, 2016 @ 1:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It's a syncopate style situation. We like to hear what we already think, even if what we think is wrong or twisted. It is basic human nature. We like to be told we are right.

    It's the reason why people who seem extreme to many (Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones, or even George Noory) seem perfectly sane and perfect to their believers. Those people want to believe it's the truth, and when they hear it or read it in the media, they feel a solid connection to the "truth".

    The problem for mainstream media is that they don't tend to say what people want to hear, and instead just tell them the truth (or the closest thing to it). It's why Foxnews overtook CNN, it's not about the news, they figured out how to present the news in a manner that engaged a certain segment of the population by playing to their fears and desires.

    So Techdirt is fairly popular, and in the same manner that Mike has his list of go-to sources for his slant, he is also one of the go-to guys for others looking for the slant. It's natural and normal. Techdirt plays well to the "ain't got nothing to protect" crowd.

  • Sep 24th, 2016 @ 1:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "While you are one of the idiots that are often wrong about everything I think the point is that it's easy for me to tell. Your posts come off as arrogant, putting yourself 'above' anyone as if you somehow have a superior understanding of what's right and wrong than everyone else when clearly that's not the case at all. Even when people point out how wrong you are you absolutely refuse to acknowledge it, ever. But people see right through your nonsense."

    Slow clap. You almost had some valid points and then you destroyed it with a massive, hateful personal attack.

    "Techdirt, OTOH, exists in a much more organic environment where competition thrives and it still retains viewership."

    By telling the read what they want to hear, and not worrying about the fuller truth. Your long rant pretty much missed the point entirely, but hey, after the personal attack, I didn't expect any less.

  • Sep 24th, 2016 @ 5:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Nice deflection, too bad it's not exactly true.

    Plenty of people read the site (duh!) but not everyone takes him seriously. It's like learning politics from Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones. They both are "fairly popular" but only the extremists take them seriously. Everyone else points and laughs.

  • Sep 23rd, 2016 @ 8:30pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Ahh, the elephant in the room, pointing out the blindly obvious, which is that even Techdirt is pretty much forced to shill (the marketplace ads as posts) and the various "limited time" t-shirt things... oh yeah, and the crowdfunded "reporting" thing that turned out to be nothing more than business as usual.

    Techdirt is a fairly popular website. Being one of the top 10,000 sites in the US (according to Alexa) you would figure that it could easily be profitable. But the marked increase in adverposting and t-shirt campaigns says otherwise. That is with a minimal staff, and with costs shared with a number of different companies and of course the think tank.

    The truth is that few mainstream websites on the internet are very profitable. The ones who make big money (say TMZ) do it in no small part by moving to traditional media distribution (the daily TMZ show) to really bring in the income. Online isn't as huge a money maker as all of that.

    The newspapers' arguments are valid. Pre-internet, they ruled the roost. If you wanted aggregated eyeballs, and you wanted to get a message out, advertising in your local newspaper was actually a pretty good way to do it. Ditto for local radio and local TV. Those were effectively your three choices.

    Now the online world is dominated by Google and Facebook. Between the two, they represent 75% or more of the online ad revenues, and have the majority of the eyeballs. Newspapers have lost their dominant spot, and more over, with hungry online companies willing to sell space for pennies instead of dollars, they have also seen their ad revenue models collapse. They still get lots of eyeballs, but you can get many of the same views much more cheaply online.

    Should they have adapted? Well, to what, exactly? Subscription model? Techdirt says no, walled gardens are bad! So where should they do? Sell lots of t-shirts? Put cameras over reporters shoulders and charge people to watch the streaming live video?

    it's nonsense in the end. The newspapers aren't wrong but they also need to understand that the proverbial toothpaste is out of the tube, there is no going back.

    The real problem is news is replaced by opinion, entertainment, and self-reflecting information sources that are often wrong about everything. It's why we have riots about police shooting armed suspects. It's not about understanding why, it's about a feedback loop of misinformation and twisted stats used to make things matter. It's pretty sad.

    As you sow, you shall reap. Read them and weep.

  • Sep 23rd, 2016 @ 8:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "I directly addressed the implicit idea that the parents should be responsible for the actions of their adult children. Most especially the one in the article, who statistically is likely to be in his 30s, not a young driver, although the articles didn't specify his age."

    Had you researched even a small bit, you would know his name (tino) his age (30s) and that he had been arrested for a prior DUI but got out of it because it appears the officer was not available to testify - similar to his mother! My lack of sympathy for a parent doesn't mean that my concern stops at a family relationship, it would apply to even me being foolish enough to loan you a car (or even enough for a bottle of two buck chuck, but I digress)

    "I didn't say they should be given back the car. I said that they should be liable for costs incurred. "

    Glad you don't work for the government on these things, otherwise things would be so fucked. The car is the thing incurring the costs. You don't give back the asset until the costs are paid. End. Adding it to the defendant's tab would be meaningless, considering the defendant doesn't have the same motivations to get it back. In other words, the state would never get paid for the work it did (including towing and storage, legal fees, etc) just to process the car. Your answer is a huge failure to understand the basics of the law.

    "I'd prefer the tactic that prevents crimes from happening, thanks. That involves holding the people responsible liable for the costs of their crimes, not the nearest convenient innocent scapegoat."

    Your failure to understand the law would be appalling if I did't know your history better. Let's just say you don't understand the basic concepts of ownership versus use, or legal process on seized property used in the commission of a crime. Sorry, but without you having a basic understanding, it's a pretty hard discussion to have.

    "No, you really didn't. Deflection, goal post moving and ignoring the salient point in favour of those you can avoid do not count as answering."

    Not at all. I stand where the law stands, you stand out in the middle of nowhere waving your arms and trying to act like the law doesn't exist. Like I said, without you getting a basic understanding of the laws in question, it's really hard to have a discussion, and apparently very hard for you to understand the answers.

  • Sep 23rd, 2016 @ 8:20am

    Re: Re: Does 230 come into play with surrogates?

    " And "blindingly hosting" is amusing. That's precisely what CDA protects"

    Exactly my point. The question is simply does Muckrock ONLY host, or are the active participants in the collection, curation, editing, combining, or whatever of the documents collected?

    The metnion of facebook or youtube is a misdirection. It's not about any of that - it's specifically about what Muckrock does or does not do beyond providing hosting.

    See, as an example, Muckrock appears to combine those "user posted content" documents into stories. Those combined stories wouldn't normally be protected by section 230 in and of themselves. The source documents, perhaps, but not the stories written based on them. They would have a better first amendment claim on their stories.

    The other question is that of FOIA abuse. That is where a group of people coordinate to ask for the same or similar documents (different wording for the same thing) hoping to get responsive documents where any blacked out parts might be exposed on another version of the document (different blocked information). Using such an approach to obtain information may be legal, but it would most certainly both break the spirit of the act and provide more than enough reasons for agencies to start denying requests or to provide full redacted documents to avoid any issues.

    Do I think the lawsuit has merit? Nope. I just don't think that section 230 is the answer, and if it is, then section 230 is broken.

  • Sep 23rd, 2016 @ 4:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "But... not really. The action of loaning a car does not answer the question posed to you, which was whether you believe that a parent should be held directly responsible for the actions of their grown adult offspring."

    You miss the point - it's not parent / child, it's someone loaning a car to someone who is potentially drunk (and has been stopped for it before). If I know someone has been stopped by the cops before for drunk driving, I am not going to be loaning him my car just for fun. Knowing the facts, it's perhaps not the best choice, right?

    "Another non-answer. What about the people who own cars they can run and maintain... right up until it's impounded and they're asked for an amount that exceeds the value of the car?"

    If the car is that valuable to you, then don't lend it to others who won't take as much care with it. Problem solved.

    "Yes, so why no the person who actually committed the action that caused those costs to be incurred? "

    The owner of the car could very well go to court for civil action to recover the losses (I have done this at a car hire firm I managed to for a while). Legally, the car cannot be given back to the person who committed the offence, as they are not the owner and cannot claim it. Basic law.

    "They're arguing that the innocent party should be held responsible for the rest of that reality. "

    Nope. They are saying "your vehicle was involved in a crime. We had to impound it. We had to tow it. We had to store it. We had to do legal process on it. This is what it costs to get it back". Are their fees high? Yes. Too High? Probably yes. Illegally high? Nope. They are certainly enough to discourage people from casually lending their cars out.

    "Once again, you seem to be avoiding any response to the actual points raised in either the article or the followup posts, just random blather in an attempt to distract."

    I answered all of them. You just don't like the answers because they confuse your small mind. Sorry about that.

  • Sep 23rd, 2016 @ 3:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: wow

    Well, first you are playing a game. It's not a comparable situation, nice try. The Post was, well, post crime and not before it. Quite simply, there is nothing the Post could do that would have stopped the crime (where as loaning car to someone who is drunk might not be such a good idea).

    Second, the Post's involvement is different. They don't have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight on this one. At the time, they probably thought they were doing something good to inform the public. They probably didn't reaize at the time that Snowden was using them in the same manner that Assange has used the media to push his agenda. They thought they were doing good journalism, instead Snowden was meat puppeting them.

    They were manipulated, sadly as much by their own greed and desire to "break the big story" as Snowden. But overall, it's just a perfect victim being hit by the perfect conman.

  • Sep 22nd, 2016 @ 11:01pm

    Does 230 come into play with surrogates?

    This situation presents a real problem. While Muckrock in theory does not get the FOIA documents themselves, they do seem to play a significant role beyond blindly hosting them.

    One thing I see is organization and focusing. Does Muchrock (or staff, employees, editors, etc) provide any "aim" or provide a target list? Do they in any way organize people to go and make these requests?

    Another thing I see is curation: Does Muckrock take the posted documents and collate, curate, or otherwise edit them together to "get rid of the blackouts"? In other words, does Muckrock edit and republish the results?

    I ask this because I don't spend time on the site and it's not clear on a cursory glance how they actually work. But it would seem that if any of what I raised is true, then section 230 may not apply (no matter how much EFF wishes it does).

    I also think that this may be the sort of case that leads to changes in the law to stop those who seek to hide bad acts behind section 230. At minimum, Muchrock appears to be encouraging a certain amount of abuse of the FOIA, and that's not good for honest, regular citizens trying to get information. It's like getting stuck at the ATM behind the guy with 11 cars and 120 bills to pay. He ends up hogging all the resources.

  • Sep 22nd, 2016 @ 9:46pm

    Zero Rating Versus Net Neutrality

    I love stories like these, because I think it plays to a popular misconception about net neutrality: It's about what is coming into the network, and not about what is happening inside networks.

    The reasons the FCC won't get involved is very simple: Zero rating an internal service (because it's sourced inside their own network) doesn't violate the rules of net neutrality. It's inside the network, an internal product.

    The FCC isn't being stupid or ignorant. Rather, they realize that they are already massively stretching their mandate to even get a toe onto the net neutratlity base, and they aren't going to risk getting called out on the play by trying to act like they are fully on control. It's very likely any attempt to stop "internal product" zero rating would lead to a massively legal action that would leave the FCC hurting. The courts would very likely ask the FCC to provide the EXACT legal mandate that allows them to decide, and since they won't be able to provide it, they will get shut down pretty quick.

    The companies will respect (marginally) they concept of net neutrality to avoid rocking the boat, which might get congress to act. But for now, they know that the FCC is floating on legal quick sand, and could sink at any time if they make quick moves. So the providers dance around, and the FCC can't react in any way to would make it worse for them.

    Thus, zero rated internal services. Good luck fighting it.

  • Sep 21st, 2016 @ 1:53pm

    Re: Re: wow

    There is no claim that it diminishes their responsibilities here - only that they finally have figured out that they were not doing ground breaking journalism, just that they were used as a conduit for a guy who had a major axe to grind, I guess.

    It is sort of like a little old lady suddenly realizing that the "nice man" helping with her investments was helping her to defraud the bank. It doesn't change the end results!

  • Sep 21st, 2016 @ 3:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: wow

    See, you don't realize the problem: Snowden didn't just discuss monitoring Americans, rather he released all about the legal (but unsavory) world of communication spying around the world, and the people involved. That helps the enemy (and hurts the US) by outing sources, making methods well known, and generally giving the enemies of the US an advantage they did not have before.

    They knew the US might be listening - now they know exactly how and to what extent.

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