I can see that this one may be difficult to appreciate, particularly for non-Britons and even for British readers younger than a certain age.
I can't be arsed to read the full judgment - it's about Katie Hopkins and someone I've never heard of, so fuck it - but I shall say how this comes across to me, from this article.
"[...] it is, to my mind, an inescapable conclusion that the ordinary reasonable reader of the First Tweet would understand it to mean that Ms Monroe “condoned and approved of scrawling on war memorials, vandalising monuments commemorating those who fought for her freedom.” That is a meaning that emerges clearly enough, making full allowance for everything that seems to me relevant by way of context [...]"
To my mind, this is the single most important sentence in the article. The offending tweet does give me that impression and it's what basically hangs Katie Hopkins in the eyes of the judge. Since many of Ms Hopkins followers could see the allegation (however inexplicitly given), but not the replies, it was extremely bad for Ms Monroe's reputation.
To understand just why it's such a bad thing, I shall have to digress somewhat...
Forgive me for saying so, but on the whole, Americans do not seem to understand war. You - like we Brits - are very good at exporting it to other countries, but you don't seem to really have a grasp of what real war - in your own country, with your own houses and neighbours and families being randomly gassed, incinerated or blasted into flying chunky pieces - is actually like.
I'm a Londoner. I wasn't around during World War II, but I grew up in it's shadow. My childhood home was part of a terrace - a row of attached houses - and my back garden should have overlooked a mirror image of similar houses. Instead, it enjoyed a wall of corrugated iron, behind which was a street-length pile of utterly demolished rubble known as a bombsite. Behind that was another row of buildings, still standing, but wrecked beyond any hope of repair or habitation. The destroyed streets were eventually bulldozed and rebuilt into a rather nasty modern housing estate, some time in the 1980s.
It's my understanding that, during the war, the German Luftwaffe bombed over forty thousand of my people out of existence and wounded around a hundred and forty thousand more. Impossible numbers of people were reduced to homeless refugees. To this day, there are odd corners and bits of London, here and there, that have still not been rebuilt, three-quarters of a century later.
I don't know - and don't want to know - how many families were wiped out fifty feet from my childhood home. Unless they were originally war refugees from somewhere else, I doubt too many Americans have ever had to think such a thought.
Leaving aside the relatively-new and very special horrors that today's political corruption and vile oil wars have brought to the world, when we send soldiers out to kill and die in our name, we do it very seriously, to keep that kind of shit from ever coming to our door again.
And when we build a memorial to the ones that died, we take it very, very seriously indeed.
Vandalising a war memorial is a Very, Very Bad Thing in the eyes of some of us. Anyone genuinely advocating such behaviour could very easily find themselves with no career, no home and quite possibly no head attached to their shoulders.
I've no idea how Laurie Penny - the columnist who apparently did actually say Very Stupid Things - still has a job anywhere. If she ends up unemployed and homeless, I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.
There are more than a few pubs where - if she goes there and says the same things - she just will not make it out alive.
Ms Hopkins' tweet was undoubtedly harmful to Ms Monroe. In all likelihood, Ms Monroe felt she had no real option but to go to court. Once there, the damage to her reputation would have become far more severe if she'd lost.
Britain's libel laws are appalling, no question there at all. One day, we might actually get around to fixing them. But under that bad law, the court has rendered the only verdict that could possibly be considered just.
The business about hurt feelings is a little weirder, even for me, but I suspect the judge just wanted some excuse - any excuse - to crank up the damages, so Ms Monroe can be clearly be seen to have won and Ms Hopkins can be clearly seen to have lost badly - and to try and make sure she thinks twice before tweeting anything quite so pointlessly stupid and damaging again.
I've ordered a Restaurants t-shirt and am looking forward to the return of Nerd Harder, now I've got a proper excuse to buy the thing. It would be nice to get it in a slightly more sci-fi-loon-friendly font than last time, but if not, no big deal. I'm buying it either way, seeing as it's now very much in a good cause.
I wish TechDirt the best of fortunes in its battle against the litigation-abusing assholes who plan to do it harm.
“Simultaneous release, in practice, has reduced both theatrical and home revenues when it has been tried [...]”
Interesting comment. I'm in the UK and I've not seen much in the way of simultaneous releases here. I'm only aware of two: Doctor Who: Day of the Doctor and Sherlock: The Abominable Bride, both produced by the BBC.
By all accounts, both shows were a big worldwide success for the BBC, with good cinema ticket sales and excellent broadcast ratings. I watched and enjoyed both at my local cinema and the reviews were generally quite favourable. I don't have any idea about subsequent DVD/BR sales, but I'd be quite surprised if either one flopped.
I can't speak to how well simultaneous releases have gone for other producers, but based on the limited evidence of my own experience, I can only guess that Mr Fithian has been sucking his own magic mushroom just a little bit too hard to be believable here. :P
Goddamit, what a fucking annoying mess of issues. :P
In FB vs Power, I felt (and still feel) that FB behaved more or less correctly - and that the CFAA was used in more or less the way such laws should be used: to protect both the service and its users from harm.
Now we have that exact judgment seemingly being used to try and protect a game from cheaters. My feelings are annoyingly ambivalent here.
On the one hand: the objectionable service is apparently a cheat-bot and I really, really want to just say "fuck 'em, they deserve what they get". I have no shred of sympathy for those individuals and organisations who fuck up games for everyone else.
On the other hand, it's the bloody CFAA being invoked, a ridiculously aggressive law that is profoundly not the right tool for the job. It's just too heavy-handed, by far.
The only thing I'm certain of is that America needs better laws.
This needs to be examined. It looks like Ms Highsmith is saying one thing and the LoC is saying another.
If Ms Highsmith did commit her works to the public domain, then she may not have standing to sue over copyright, as such.
If Ms Highsmith did not, in fact, commit her works to PD, then I suspect the LoC needs to be added as a joint defendant, since they appear to be claiming she did.
Getty is not off the hook, either way: their demands for money for images they don't own is a clear, fraudulent assertion of ownership, regardless of any tricky word-games they might play to give themselves plausible deniability.
As far as Ms Highsmith is concerned, she's - at bare minimum - a victim of attempted fraud and undoubtedly entitled to sue on that basis.
As far as the FBI is concerned, Getty is engaged in systematic, wholesale criminal fraud, certainly on a nationwide basis and possibly worldwide. Whether they've an appetite to prosecute or not, there are Getty executives who need to go to jail for this.
... And with that, the most obvious troll on the thread becomes very obvious indeed.
Can I give you some free advice? If you're going to troll a site like Techdirt, you might want to be a bit more savvy than that.
I've never intentionally trolled anyone else myself, but I do like to know how it works, so I can generally avoid getting sucked into anyone else's dramas. You might find some observations helpful...
• Create and Embrace the Right Identity. The best kind of traitors are the ones who stab you in the back, when you least expect it - not the ones nobody ever turns their backs upon. Put some effort into it. Create and articulate a name and personality that suggests a genuinely interested commenter, not just some random clown who can't even be bothered to register.
I mean, who's 'Lesath' supposed to be? You're either named after the star in the stinger of the Scorpio constellation, or you're named after the obscure Death-Eater in the Harry Potter books. Neither one suggests anything other than a troll.
Even if I didn't know the name up front, I have Google, same as everyone else. You might as well have called yourself Trolly McTrollface, for all the good it's done you.
• Know Your Website and Your Targets. On a younger site full of twelve-year-olds, your tactics might work quite well, at least for a while. On an ancient site like Techdirt, especially with an old hand like me, it all falls apart straight away.
You'll rarely get much drama out of trolling someone who knows what you are the minute you click 'submit'. The only reason you got any reply at all is because I've been in a good mood for the last two days and I'm feeling both wordsome and magnanimous. Normally, I'd have ignored you completely.
• Know Your Topic. Don't just skim the article, read it properly and - more importantly - look into the links given and the background from elsewhere, so you can engage with people in a convincing way.
Mr Masnick tells the honest truth only about half the time in his articles. The rest of the time, as here, he'll selectively omit or misrepresent facts to shape the story into the narrative he wants to sell.
(I don't condemn him for that, by the way - this is how professional American journalism seems to be done, as tragic as it is.)
Leaving aside the fact that this is a six-year-old, largely done and dusted case, there's huge potential for drama in that dishonesty alone. It's wasted potential, because you didn't know what you were writing about, beyond Mr Masnick's own words.
• Use the Right Tactics. It's not 2006 anymore: for the most part, the old strategies just won't cut it, unless you're dealing with preteens or one of the more ridiculous kinds of zealot.
Cheap tricks like cognitive dissonance don't hold up anymore: too many people know exactly what they're seeing, when they see it - and will write you off as a troll, right then and there, no more drama.
As for you panicking and flinging insults around, like the Messiah in Preacher flinging his own shit through the bars of his cage... no. Just no.
The best approach seems to be to try to present yourself as a protagonist in an ensemble, one who simply disagrees with another poster, rather than an endless antagonist.
Look at Whatever, the pensionable troll below. He almost has the right idea about identity, but he does nothing except disagree. Does anyone take that seriously? Of course not. No-one ever cares what he has to say. He's tedious and incapable of invoking any real interest in his words.
There's no drama in being universally ignored. Perhaps you can do better.
That about covers everything, I think. I'll let you have the last word, because you're a troll and, well, trolls gonna troll, as one might say. Do think about what I've said, though, Lesath.
Facebook's actual 2009 ToS for commercial companies is probably floating about somewhere. You want it, you go fetch it, Lesath. No-one owes you an errand boy.
In any event, the T&C's ceased to matter, once Facebook kicked and banned Power.com: a revoked agreement has no force.
FB has no problem with users doing stupid things with their private passwords - users do that sort of thing all the time, on every service. Dealing with that is an expected and normal cost of online business.
FB had - and no doubt continues to have - problems with commercial companies who damage part of the social network, put the network's security at large-scale risk, evade network spam-controls and leave FB to pick up the complaints for said spam.
FB has a bigger problem with idiot companies who refuse to stop abusing the service, even after those idiot companies have admitted there's issues.
It has a bigger problem again, with idiot companies who do an end-run around FB's IP blocks - and an even bigger problem yet again, when those idiots shout their mouths off in the press about how they think they're protected by fair use and can do what they like.
When you've got two companies involved in delicate negotiations, having the chief idiot go to the New York Times and say the equivalent of "fuck you, Facebook, we got in by the back window and y'all can't do nothing" is not a smart move.
As far as corporate executives and lawyers are concerned, them's fighting words. Even Power.com must have known that.
Bear in mind that FB had nothing like this much of an issue with other network aggregators and FB-modifying addons, all doing the same job, that existed before, during and after Power.com's time.
Even when FB gets stroppy - and it still does, from time to time, with some third-parties - it typically asks for changes before breaking out banhammers. Actual legal action seems to be extremely rare.
Say whatever else you like about Facebook - and we could all call them all kinds of bastard over privacy issues - they don't appear to be prosecution-happy by any convincing measure.
My analogies are fairly on-point. Yours, not so much, I'm afraid.
Techdirt and other sites push this case as being:
[...] Facebook is basically using the CFAA to block what was really just a service trying to make Facebook more useful to users.
... and many commenters here - yourself included, I think - are assuming that this is a fair description of the matter.
Unfortunately, if you read the actual judgment, which Mr Masnick helpfully links to at the top, you'll find it's not really what the case was about.
Power.com was a website designed to combine all of a users social networks into one big network. Potentially, that's a great idea. Very useful. So far, so good.
The problem was that it did this in the most idiotic way possible.
Looking at the judgment and at previous reports, the first issue is that in order to use the "more useful" service, users had to give Power.com all of their usernames and passwords for all of their social networks.
All of which were then stored permanently on Power.com's own website.
I mean, what the fuck. That's not just bad design, that's utterly fucking retarded.
You don't need to be a security expert to realise that one data breach at Power.com would have resulted in all it's users losing access to all of their social networks in one go - and very likely fuel a massive storm of spam and / or malware across all of those networks.
They could have stored the information locally, on users' computers, or they could have used Facebook Connect - you know, those little widgets on dozens of sites that allow you to share stuff, if you want to - but they just didn't want to.
The second issue was the spam. If users were unwise enough to share Power.com with friends, it would create and send emails to the users' friends and contacts - and the 'reply' field in the emails claimed the emails were from "The Facebook Team", rather than from Power.com or from the user.
Presumably, Facebook had to deal with most of the spam complaints, rather than Power.com.
I'm not certain about the point, but it seems like the only way for FB users to stop a power.com user from spamming them would be for them to unfriend and block the unwise users, hurting FB's network.
FB blocking the site seems like a very reasonable response to that.
In the latest judgment, an earlier finding of liability for being spammers has been overturned, but only on a legal technicality. There's no real doubt they were guilty as hell, by any common definition.
Facebook apparently reached for the nuclear option only after a month of correspondence, trying to get them to stop. The most they could get out of Power.com before the lawsuit was basically "yeah, we might switch to Facebook Connect in a month, maybe, if we feel like it".
I'm no big fan of Facebook, but for fuck's sake. You can't intentionally create this many risks and problems for a big company and not expect to get kicked around for it.
I'm all in favour of the little guy standing up for fair use, but this really doesn't seem to be one of those kinds of cases.
Quite frankly, given all the above, I think Power.com got off lightly.
If I hold a party at my house - with an open-door policy and the whole street invited - I still have the right to throw people out and keep them out if they misbehave.
Morally and legally, I have that right, I value that right and I expect that right to continue in the future.
Likewise, if I run a pub, a shop, a post office or anything else, if patrons won't follow the rules and behave appropriately, I'll want them to leave. In many cases, it would even be my legal obligation to ensure that they do so.
Other party-guests don't have any moral or legal right to over-rule my wishes and let the unwelcome, abusive drunkard in via the back door - and the unwanted customer has no right to climb into my shop via an unlocked window.
For something closer to home, there isn't a crowdfunding site or torrent site anywhere that doesn't have rules that will get you banned if you break them. I think even Techdirt won't hesitate to swing the banhammer, if you spam links to child porn all over the comments.
In this specific instance, the idiots at Power.com were offered every warning and multiple opportunities to either follow the rules or walk away entirely unharmed. If they'd possessed even a single working brain-cell between them, there's every chance they might still be a going concern.
They chose to ignore those chances and continued to take the piss out of Facebook, instead. The outcome for Power.com is entirely on their own heads, 100%. Their stupidity is no excuse.
All that said, I agree with Mr Masnick about the CFAA: it's a terrible law that seems to escalate everything to DefCon 1 as soon as it's invoked - and from the judgment in this case, the sequence of events seems to have been warnings, followed by a C&D, followed by a multi-million dollar CFAA case.
It's a bit extreme, like watching someone use a three-tonne, rocket assisted, concrete sledgehammer, fired out of an exploding, radioactive shark, to kill one small, annoying bee.
While it's unclear if Power.com would have actually been smart enough to step away, I do think a less ridiculously over-powered law, the equivalent of a lesser tresspassing law in the real world, would have served the situation - and the American public - a little bit better. :)
Oh, I'd say Eurostile is well beyond "vastly overused": at this point, it's practically ubiquitous, the Arial of almost anything and everything vaguely technical or sci-fi-ish.
It's becoming annoying how popular it is, but it is the current default because it works well. I look forward to something replacing it, or at least competing well, but I don't think Furore has the right stuff, not on the current showing.
It's not that I don't like Furore, as such, it just seems to me like it tries too hard and misses - on it's own, I think it's much too anaemic for big-dick logos (or slogans, as here), but much too funky and angular for anything much smaller than that.
It might sit a lot better as part of a larger design, rather than carrying all the visual weight on it's own shoulders, so to speak.
Just my own opinion, obviously - I can't pretend to have the slightest idea how anyone else feels about it.
Thanks for your reply, Leigh Beadon. If there's ever a better, sexier Nerd Harder 2.0, I'm definitely up for throwing some money at it. :)
Thank you for your reply. Umm... perhaps you could explain it in a little more detail than that? I don't understand how two or more parties can communicate with each other, via encryption, unless one of those parties - at some point - supplies enough information to the other(s) to allow messages to be decrypted.
Before Snowden, anyone predicting the revelations that were ultimately exposed as being the truth would have been considered a delusional paranoiac. Today, not so much.
The entire debate around encryption has never struck me as being anything other than so much smoke and mirrors: a carefully stage-managed, multi-national effort to focus public attention on something trivial and away from the things that actually matter.
It wouldn't be the first time, either: the entire Clipper Chip thing was apparently much the same kind of bullshit.
We know from Snowden that the Five Eyes and their friends have hacked into every last corner of modern communications infrastructure. Between them, they have the ability to syphon and store copies of every last bit of data transmitted by virtually anyone, virtually anywhere.
Since any person making a communication that's encrypted or relates to encryption - and especially TOR - is automatically considered suspicious by every government, there's surely no reasonable doubt that the agencies involved share all their data on such persons with each other, freely and quite legally.
If all those agencies have recorded and shared every encryption key created by every party in the chain as soon as it was sent, how is TOR supposed to be in any way secure?
I'm not sure Camden County's policy was a 'stupid' policy, as such. I can envisage too many scenarios where they might find it very useful.
Consider: prosecutors and other county employees get access to explicitly detailed accounts of every sexual and violent activity involving a minor across the entire area, complete with the unredacted names and addresses of every child involved.
Whether they want to sell that information to predict-a-crime software peddlars, sell or trade it to local child prostitution and pornography rings, keep the information and get off on it during their lunch-breaks, or any combination of the above, this policy is clearly a goldmine for them.