I’m Dennis Deems, a composer, songwriter, and playwright living and working in almost total obscurity. These are my favorite Techdirt posts of the past week.
Would you like DRM with that?
I’m depressed. I mean, we all had a good time making fun of EA during their disastrous launch of the eagerly-anticipated SimCity. But now the dust has settled, guess what’s the top-selling video game at Amazon.com – in spite of nearly two thousand (85%) 1-star reviews. Yeah. I guess they’ll be wiping the egg off their face all the way to the bank. If you’re one of the dozens of gamers unreservedly loving the new SimCity, EA is happy for you. If you’re among the rest, EA is happy to have your money, and still trying to convince you that the game they made is the game you actually wanted. To that end, overnight, they have decided that DRM is not good, so they don’t use it. Norman, collate!
Here’s some straight talk about the real purpose of DRM, in case you were unclear. (Hint: when you press play, would you like to watch that movie you paid for? Are you sure you wouldn’t like to sit through five minutes of unskippable advertising first?)
Ordure in the court
I have two new heroes. I found them in a place I never expected: at work in the realm of law and lawyering.
It would be a sad week that went by without any news from our favorite law partners. You’ll recall that Judge Otis Wright – one of my aforementioned new heroes – invited the Prenda Law team for an informal meet-and-greet in his courtroom. Key players Paul Hansmeier, Paul Duffy, and John Steele did not appear – sleeping off a SimCity all-nighter I guess – but they sent attorneys to appear for them. Also invited to the shindig was Peter Hansmeier, brother of Paul. Like his brother, Peter was a no-show, but didn’t even send a lawyer to collect his party favors. Nobody can figure out why, as long as he was hiring lawyers and stuff, one brother didn’t help the other out. But someone found Peter’s note to the judge asking to be excused, claiming on company letterhead to have no connection with the company. So we now have a new catch-phrase for anyone attempting to weasel out of something unpleasant: “Hey, don’t look at me — I live in Minnesota!”
Orin Kerr is my other new hero. We saw him last week answering questions in a House Judiciary Committee hearing. When it was suggested that we should allow malware that attacks a remote user of a computer, so long as that user is a hacker, Kerr patiently explained that “you don’t know who the hacker is.” He knew what he was talking about, and he seemed like a genuinely nice guy the whole time. This is someone I would want on my side, speaking in my defense, and now here he is, taking on the defense of a guy who by most accounts isn’t so nice, but is being sent to jail for the equivalent of copying numbers out of a telephone directory. I think this is an extremely important case, and Kerr makes all the right arguments.
I can’t say this post was fun to read, but the subject is important. It’s an analysis of a proposed reform to the CFAA. This law really needs reform, but this proposal is like solving the problem of squirrels in the attic by releasing a bunch of pit bulls. There are links to more analysis, and you should read as much of it as you can take. It’s all very depressing, so when you’ve had enough, move on to the item below. It will lift your spirits, I promise.
A sweet, bracing shot of 80-proof WTF. I could waste a couple hours trying to come up with a new joke on the subject, but I’m pretty sure they’ve all been made already. Suffice it to say, this story fills the void in your life you probably didn’t even know was there.
Copyright: like getting free money for doing nothing
Google helps readers find stuff online that’s worth reading. Therefore, Google should give money to the publishers of said stuff. At least that’s how it works in France and Belgium. You might be tempted to argue that Google provides a useful service for free, and the publishers should be gracious if not grateful, but that would make you a dirty freetard. Now Portugal publishers want in on that sweetheart deal. I don’t think anyone saw this coming, right?
Here are two stories that take place on Kickstarter which illustrate the power of copyright to stifle creativity and to stop cool things from happening, just because somebody feels like it. The first story is an obvious case of fair use. But you can’t prove that your use is protected by the fair use doctrine unless you go to court. Going to court is super-expensive, time-consuming, and in the meantime, good luck finding distribution for your film. That story has a happy ending: the Kickstarter project has met its goal.
The second story is about a nerdy, misfit kid who lived under the stairs, discovered he was a Wizard and became super-powerful and rich, but then he joined forces with a snake-tongued dark lord, and now he bullies people who try to use common magic words that he thinks should belong only to him.
Censorship is working for you!
Apple wants you playing Angry Birds. Think Different, so long as your thought is one which doesn’t make Apple uncomfortable.
Why do so many people imagine they can use the legal process as a tool to silence their critics??
Fun with the legislative branch
NASCAR drivers wear the logos of their corporate sponsors on their driving suits. It brings an element of pageantry to what would otherwise be a dull affair of a dozen guys simply driving fast cars around and around in a circle for four hours while seventy thousand other people sit and watch. Someone has started a White House petition requesting that members of congress be required to wear the logos of their corporate sponsors. Obviously this will never happen, and if the White House even responds I’ll be amazed, but reading the story put a smile on my face.
This one is kind of cute. Senator Orrin Hatch wants to create a new Ambassador who will travel the globe spreading the Good News of strong intellectual property laws. It’s awfully nice to see a senator use his power to help the underdog for a change.