Devonavar’s Techdirt Profile


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  • Apr 17th, 2017 @ 10:34am

    Re: Re: Contest submission link

  • Apr 15th, 2017 @ 11:52pm

    Contest submission link

    Before I submit my essay ... Do you want it submitted to the generic contact form linked to in the article ( or should I use the official news submission page? (
  • Dec 15th, 2015 @ 11:20am

    (untitled comment)

    "The capabilities we’ve built allow us to break down any byte that is carried across our network and have all or a portion of that sponsored"

    That's great news! I'd like to find someone to sponsor all of my 00000000 bytes.

    Or ... maybe we can find a sponsor for all the "0" parts of the bytes and all the "1" parts. That would be great.
  • Aug 25th, 2015 @ 1:57pm

    This is number inflation

    "Airbnb says will cost the city $58 million in tax revenue over the next 10 years."

    This is number inflation to make the number sound bigger than it is.

    $5.8m / year isn't nothing, but it's definitely NOT "an immense amount of revenue" in the context of a municipal budget that likely runs into the $100m or $1b range.

    If the city thinks they can get $5.8m of value by outlawing long-term AirBNB rentals, power to them. I don't know their motivation for regulating >75 day stays, but I can think of plenty of reasons why they would want to make sure that long-term guests are treated (and taxed) as residents rather than tourists. I would imagine that $5.8m / year probably covers the expense of one or two legal disputes that could otherwise be avoided under existing regulations.
  • Jul 21st, 2015 @ 10:13pm

    I can't see how this is Markham's fault

    There's nothing right with paying a suspended police officer for three years before firing him ... but none of this actually seems to be the fault of anything Markham did. Sure, Markham's being a douche rubbing people's face in the wrongness of it, but ultimately, it wasn't *his* decision to abuse the system.

    He was suspended, and whoever signs his paycheques decided to keep signing them. Presumably, there are policy and systemic reasons at fault for that.

    The fault here is entirely with Markham's superiors, and probably several generations of administrators who instituted these policies. We can probably toss in Markham's union as well on the assumption that they lobbied for these policies.

    Markham is guilty of nothing more than benefiting from a corrupt system and being a douche about it (and, presumably the misconduct that led to his firing, but that's not in dispute). I actually sympathize with him for having the salary rescinded ... if he was already given the money, I think he has a valid beef if they clawed it back after the fact.
  • Jul 21st, 2015 @ 2:56am

    I'll make you a deal...

    Dear USTR,

    I will make you a deal. You can repeal my data privacy laws in BC if I can repeal your PATRIOT Act.

    The PATRIOT Act provides an unfair competitive advantage to American companies because it authorizes the indiscriminate surveillance of non-American data while limiting such surveillance within American borders. As such, it provides greater data protection within America's borders, and this represents a foreign trade barrier for British Columbian businesses.

    I trust that this will not be a problem, as you obviously understand the importance of eliminating barriers to free trade, and of maintaining consistent global standards for data privacy.
  • Jul 17th, 2015 @ 10:43pm

    Re: This is a GREAT idea...

    BTW, bittorrent gets an honourable mention as an open protocol (even though the official client is closed). But, I don't see it as a fully successful example because its adoption is largely techie-oriented; bittorrent never quite hit mainstream critical mass.
  • Jul 17th, 2015 @ 10:40pm

    This is a GREAT idea...

    ... with some serious challenges towards implementation.

    We need to look at examples of existing protocols to see how this can be implemented and what challenged there might be.

    People have already mentioned Usenet and IRC as historic examples, but I think e-mail is an even better example (although, technically e-mail is implemented as several protocols, not just one).

    Here's the problem. All of these protocols pre-date the commercial internet. And, only e-mail still has critical mass in its adoption. And we're not exactly seeing much growth in the e-mail space these days.

    I would love to see a public "tweet" protocol, along with a public "like" protocol, a public "share" protocol, etc. etc. I think this would solve some fairly serious openness and neutrality issues that I see on the internet. But, I don't see how such a thing would get adopted. I don't see why for-profit internet companies would be satisfied with developing a front-end for a public protocol when they can get more data and more control by making the whole thing proprietary. And I don't see how a new protocol would gain mass adoption without the marketing and UI resources that a commercial organization can throw at the problem.

    E-mail as a protocol is in popular use because it had first-mover advantage; it was developed before the internet was widely used by laypeople, and laypeople adopted it because it was *the* standard for person-to-person messaging at the time laypeople started using it. Laypeople adopted it because there was literally nothing else, and good UIs were developed for e-mail because we understood that laypeople needed to learn how to use e-mail, and we didn't fully understand how business models worked on the internet yet. Gmail has basically set the standard for modern e-mail UIs, but it's hardly a profit centre for Google; it's unlikely gmail would work if it was produced by a stand-alone developer, especially now that encryption is making it harder for Google to snoop on the contents.

    I don't see how a *new* protocol would gain widespread adoption without the support of a very well-developed UI, and I don't see how that UI gets developed in an open-source context. The track record for good open-source UIs is not very good. There's a reason why open source's biggest successes are in the infrastructure that powers the net and not in the consumer software that everyday people use. It's because open-source design philosophy appeals to techies and tinkerers (i.e. me, and most of the Techdirt crowd), not everyday people who want a "one click" solution.

    If we need commercial companies to develop the UIs for mass adoption, how do we convince these commercial entities to develop for an open protocol, rather than one they control completely? There's an obvious business advantage to developing a proprietary solution that lets them capture the whole ecosystem rather than just a part. I don't think I agree that just focussing on the UI and community allows the same level of profit as a proprietary protocol, and I especially don't think it's easy to convince the VCs and Angel investors who would be funding these commercial ventures.

    I hate to throw out problems, because I LOVE the idea of adopting truly open protocols for social media. I'd like to see this become a reality. But I think the fundamental challenges here are marketing and commercial ones, not engineering ones. I'd like to see a case study of successful consumer-oriented open-source projects. I think Wikipedia is one of the only examples I can think of off the top of my head...
  • Mar 30th, 2015 @ 8:46pm

    Destroying Television

    "...this is going to "destroy television as we know it." ... Except, Canadian law professor Michael Geist points out ... the idea will probably save consumers money"

    These two things are not mutually exclusive. This will save consumers money. It will also attack one of the few remaining sources of funding for Canadian production. It will almost certainly kill off all the "long tail" channels that don't have the viewership to actually sustain production. These are specialty channels that produce content for local niches. The Conservatives have already gutted most of the public funding for CanCon; spending requirements for Broadcasters are one of the few sources of Canadian funding left, and that will die with the broadcasters.

    The practical effect of the CRTC's decision is that Canadian television will be replaced by American television, because it's far cheaper to re-syndicate foreign content than it is to produce local content.

    I don't think it's unreasonable to say that Canadian television "as we know it" is probably going away. The bigger question is whether this decision had anything to do with that ... TV as a medium is being superceded by streaming content anyway, and Canadian producers have been facing the fact that producing solely for a Canadian audience is uneconomical for almost a decade now.

    I think it's disingenuous to argue that this won't adversely affect what's on Canadian TV. Less money for broadcasters DOES mean less money for creators, and while it's true that creators will keep creating, it's also true that the scope of what they can create will be more limited with fewer broadcaster funds to go around.

    The only question after that is ... does anyone actually care if Canadian TV disappears.
  • Mar 20th, 2015 @ 12:10pm


    Surely generating patents via algorithm should automatically fail one or both of the tests for novelty or obviousness.

    If an algorithm can "invent" something, how can you say that it's not obvious ... In theory, the patent system is supposed to protect the "intuitive leap" that makes an invention non-obvious.

    We all know that this isn't really how innovation works anyway, but it seems to me that the idea of creating patents algorithmically fails even within the flawed narrative of the patent system.
  • Mar 20th, 2015 @ 12:03pm

    Re: generating photos is not hard

    It's not the capability to produce random images that's the problem. It's the mathematical improbability of generating anything that isn't gibberish.

    You can prove this by looking at encryption. Encryption works because to break it, you have to iterate through all possible keys to find the one key that was used to encrypt the data.

    With a typical 128-bit key (the equivalent of about 16 characters, or 2-3 words), iterating through every possible takes on the order of thousands or millions of years, even with the world's most powerful computer clusters.

    If you're talking about generating readable text or images, you are talking about many orders of magnitude more than that.

    People have done calculations on how long it would take for 1,000 monkeys on 1,000 typewriters to generated even a coherent sentence. I suggest you go read up on that.
  • Feb 26th, 2015 @ 9:16am

    British Columbia

    I'd love to know if you found any numbers about the film industry in B.C.

    We *invented* the film credit back in the '80s ... I think we've done well on it.

    I also think the requirement that all reimbursed labour is Canadian probably helps prevent the dollars from trickling away. We only have to compete with other provinces, not every state...
  • Jan 29th, 2015 @ 12:53pm

    Re: Re: The is a cultural problem

    I'm not necessarily speaking of US law ... the Statute of Anne *was* designed to solve a control problem for artists (really: publishers).

    The Realpolitik of Copyright law *does* stem from artists rights, even if your Constitution doesn't acknowledge it.
  • Jan 26th, 2015 @ 4:22pm

    The is a cultural problem

    What this really boils down to is a cultural problem.

    I sympathize with artists here. I completely understand why an artist would want to be able to choose how her music is released. This is partly what copyright is designed to achieve: Control for the artist.

    At the same time, it's unreasonable to expect YouTube (or anyone) to negotiate individual agreements with every single artist. That way lies licensing hell, and it is what is preventing any (non pirate) organization from building a truly convenient music service. Copyright is *also* meant to achieve the promotion of arts and culture, and allowing artists to withhold their works from YouTube (or anywhere else) does not achieve this.

    Here's the thing. YouTube should NOT be in the position of dictating terms here. They are not a neutral party.

    What is needed is a universal set of public rights for how publicly released culture is treated. The deal should be this: If you publish, the public gets rights to the work. The work needs to be available, universally, to anyone who wants to use it or build on it. This makes publicly released music and art *public* goods, which they are ... any cultural artifact is valuable because it is *public*. There's no such thing as private culture; that's called personality.

    And, if cultural works are public goods, anyone who wants to gain privately (i.e. profit) off of them has to pay taxes to the public. The public can then compensate the artist commensurately. Alternately, we can also allow private licensing agreements that exempt purchasing entites from the public tax in exchange for channeling direct compensation towards the artist.

    This is basically a blanket licensing scheme, with one major change: Instead of charging the public for the artistic works, the costs are bourne by people who want to profit off of these public goods. YouTube is welcome to show advertisements next to the songs, as long as they pay taxes that go back to the artists. You could also impose tracking requirements so that no PRO is needed to determine who the money goes to. If you profit off a piece of public culture, you are required to identify that piece of public culture, and the author gets a tax kickback for their effort.

    This would take the power out of the hands of the distributors and middlemen and give it to the artists in one fell swoop. Because an artist is fundamentally entitled to compensation on the basis of publishing their work, the only middlemen who can make money will be the ones that can either drive traffic (thus accruing more licensing taxes back to the author) or that can sign up licensing deals from other users (e.g. advertisers / commericial licensing deals).
  • Jan 22nd, 2015 @ 11:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Is Disney's work next in 2017?

    I don't know ... copyright is a political hot potato ... I don't actually think it would be political feasible to change copyright that quickly, even for Disney. Especially with an election around the corner where no party can be sure of a victory.
  • Sep 24th, 2014 @ 5:11pm

    Under what theory is this illegal?

    I'm curious to know under what theory this is illegal?

    It can't be copyright ... titles aren't creative enough to be considered copyright.

    So ... trademark?

    But trademark only applies in commerce. And, the "Rocky" movies are not in the industry of hosting runs, which should mean that the Rocky trademark shouldn't applies to runs. At least, not until they host an actual run.

    So ... shouldn't the charity have rights to the trademark by virtue of the fact that they were there first?

    So ... not trademark?

    Then ... what?

    How IS the Rocky 50K Fat Ass Run illegal?
  • Sep 24th, 2014 @ 5:08pm

    How can this be illegal?

    I don't know much about the series, but there is a Rocky Run in the movie that is set in an actual place? And now the actual place isn't allowed to hold a run?

    So, let me get this straight ... a fictitious movie is allowed to appropriate part of reality, but reality isn't allowed to appropriate it back?

    That's twisted.
  • Sep 17th, 2014 @ 12:26am

    Yes, I do worry about this stuff

    As a frequent traveller to the US, I *have* started worrying about these things when I cross the border. Maybe not cash specifically (I don't have that much), but your country is far less friendly than it used to be, and your relationship with your police is ... one of fear.
  • Sep 17th, 2014 @ 12:24am

    I don't think it's a stretch to see why these companies are upset

    I don't think it's a big leap to see why the companies are upset: The campaign more or less fingers the brands as "sources" of litter, and it's understandable they wouldn't want that to contaminate their brand.

    I'm glad the legal case is in the favour of the city here ... I don't think their right to integrity of brand should trump their responsibility for using packaging that turns into litter, but I don't find it even slightly surprising that they are upset about it.

    Kind of makes me want to create a campaign that specifically calls these brands out for the type of packaging that they use (and the lifestyle that they encourage).
  • Aug 25th, 2014 @ 9:36am

    The War on Terror is over...

    The War on Terror is over.

    America lost.

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