After doing a bit of research, I think this article might need a little revision. You've discussed §474.14 as the offence, but looking through the link you gave, it seems that §474.17 is actually the one Alchin was prosecuted under. Perhaps someone's made a mistake, or there's a numbering mismatch between different versions of the legal code.
474.17 Using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence (1) A person commits an offence if: (a) the person uses a carriage service; and (b) the person does so in a way (whether by the method of use or the content of a communication, or both) that reasonable persons would regard as being, in all the circumstances, menacing, harassing or offensive.
It's still quite vague, but not as totally incomprehensible as the article suggests. Alchin's conduct seems openly intended to hit all three of the "menacing, harassing or offensive" buttons, which is presumably why the police and courts were happy to give it house room. Other, less abusively-targeted instances of trolling would seem far less likely to trigger police involvement.
The three year sentence is - I think - the maximum federal sentence, not what Alchin's likely to get. I know Ken the Popehat Guy gets annoyed about that sort of reporting, so I thought it was worth a mention. From my cursory research, it also seems that different states in Australia have different sentencing guidelines. Now that Alchin's pleaded guilty, I suspect he'll get a few months at most.
Even if it is a big sentence, I can't pretend I think he doesn't deserve it. If I saw someone behaving this way in real life - approaching a group of women and girls and proceeding to make appalling comments and veiled threats of violence and rape - I'd call the police, at minimum. Moreover, I hope I'd have enough strength of character to beat the living shit out of him with the nearest convenient blunt instrument while I was waiting.
Fuck this guy's freedom of speech: there are words and then there are Fighting Words. "It's different because it's on a computer" isn't an excuse any of us gets to use - especially not here.
In Alchin's specific case, it's hard to see what counterspeech would deter his behaviour. He has no debate or point of view, as such. By his own admission, he's just someone who finds gratification in abusing and frightening women online. Given the language used, I suspect he was typing with one hand and masturbating with the other. Even the maximum sentence might have no effect on him, once he gets back out.
Mr Masnick, exactly what words do you think would change the behaviour of someone like that?
Oo, a VPN! That'll be useful against a multinational intelligence network with a near-infinite budget and virtually-unlimited world-wide surveillance capabilities. :D
Seriously, I'll never understand why anybody thinks anything digital is in any way safe for anyone, at this point.
Golden Frog - and all it's competitors - are worth exactly nothing to anyone with more than basic media piracy in mind.
Based purely on what's in open view, via Snowden, et al:
• they're hoovering everything from every network; • they've hacked the living shit out of every bit of kit in existence, either selectively or generally; • they're free and clear to malware themselves direct access into every piece of equipment tangentially related to basically anyone they like, based on absolutely nothing at all; • they're institutionally-built to have absolutely no regard for any kind of human rights - and especially not for privacy.
In the face of all that, how can any sane person imagine that there are any digital safe spaces anywhere? I take it as a given that all available VPN networks have probably been compromised by agencies for multiple governments.
I remember a time when such thinking was the recourse of the rampant paranoiac. Today, I consider it nothing more than standard operating procedure.
If you have real secrets to keep, then every phone and computer, every bit of equipment with a microphone or a camera, every last games console and smart TV: these things are The Enemy.
"It always seems most far-fetched that the "organization" has an unlimited supply of yes-men who are extremely good and follow orders like robots."
The survivors of atrocities perpetrated by any number of countries - notably Germany and Japan in WWII - might disagree with you. Quite vehemently, in fact.
As far as I can see, the only time the world's most vile monsters have trouble finding supporters and enablers is when they are clearly losing.
The rest of the time, there's no shortage of people willing to line up and swear that this or that atrocity is in everyone's best interests... and, equally, no shortage of people willing to pick up guns and machetes - or strap on bombs - and prove to the world just how much they love and believe in their favourite monsters.
For all their crimes - and they are crimes, I've no doubt of that - groups like the NSA and GCHQ are a long way from being the world's most evil organisations: they should have few difficulties in finding staff willing to commit exactly these kinds of crime and keep their mouths shut.
If the organisation uses a bit of sense and compartmentalises itself so that only a few can see the bigger picture, it becomes even easier.
The fact that Snowden and the other whistleblowers constitute less than 0.1% of those people who all had the same knowledge of criminal behaviour would seem to prove the point: this can be done, it has been done, it is being done.
Nobody wants to called a traitor. Nobody wants go to jail forever. Nobody wants to disappear and later turn up dead, assuming a recognisable body-part ever turns up at all.
[I'm waving and smiling to GCHQ, here. :D]
In fiction, as in the most paranoid, delusional fantasy, as in reality, the rules are all the same.
When your employer has the power to make you and your entire family vanish without a trace, or disappear into the justice system with allegations of terrorism or child abuse or some other damn thing, you keep your mouth shut.
Snowden is the rarest of exceptions. The rest of us are exactly robots.
I agree that there's nothing wrong with being fair and even-handed, but unfortunately, Mr Masnick's article doesn't appear to be either one of those things.
I came to the matter with no knowledge or preconceptions about the Fine Brothers, but just from reading the article alone, I had the impression that Mr Masnick was grasping for any straw he could to defend these guys.
It doesn't read like an honest article, it reads like something from a lawyer who knows full well that his client is guilty and that every shred of evidence is against them.
That impression is only very strongly reinforced, rather than being refuted at all, by the responses here and on other sites.
The IP-sharing idea Mr Masnick is gushing over may be a reasonable idea in the hands of reasonable people who can reasonably be said to own what they're selling.
In this case, however, the Fine Brothers appear to be attempting to leverage a trademark to claim ownership and sell a piece of an idea they didn't originate and cannot possibly claim any ownership of in law.
Mr Masnick, for whatever reason, has chosen to defend a pair of indefensible, idea-ownership-claiming, IP-abusing scumbags.
I don't see anything moderate or reasonable about that.
PS: Mr Masnick himself has shown no difficulty in taking extremist positions when it suits him, such as on the topic of free speech, where he's openly said that more-or-less anything goes, as far as he's concerned, just so long as there's a right to reply.
I don't think I've ever heard of the Fine Brothers before reading this article.
While I'm certain your article in favour of the Fine Brothers was well-intentioned, the benefit of the doubt is something most of us generally only give to those that have no history of IP abuse.
The Fine Brothers don't fall into that category - quite the contrary, in fact - and the most reasonable assumption is that this is a land grab, or so it seems to me.
Also, we live in a world where every authority we know of - be it political, military, security, police or religious - is publically seen to be corrupt, motivated only by greed and self-interest, concerned not with the greater good, but only what they can get away with.
Hollywood - which the Fine Brothers seem to be living next door to - is a primary source for much of that corruption, with a reach that extends vastly beyond its own economic borders, so to speak.
In such a world - and particularly in this instance - profound cynicism and conscious, deliberate paranoia are not so much to be expected as they are mandatory. They're basic survival traits for every content-creator - and strongly recommended for everyone else.
When rendering such a questionable verdict on the issue, Techdirt can hardly be considered above suspicion. Why would you imagine otherwise? Why would you even want it otherwise?
On the plus-side, this little escapade does at least clearly show the USTR in it's true colours.
Up to and including the first graphic, all their pronouncements on the topic can be argued to be matters of opinion, or the result of valuing certain sources of information above others.
By posting that second graphic, however, a graphic that responds to complaints by doubling up on misinformation, they can no longer claim they're attempting to tell the truth. It's bullshit and they clearly know it.
The USTR is visibly and actively attempting to deceive anyone who listens to it - and plausible deniability has finally left the building.
Last time I looked, both the FBI and the US courts were US organisations. The internet, by contrast, is worldwide. I don't recall the rest of the entire fucking planet granting either of them the right to supply child porn to it's citizens.
I doubt it will actually happen, but by the strict letter of law, I suspect rather a lot of important people in the US should rightly be facing extradition hearings and criminal charges in dozens of countries.
Given what they've done, I doubt too many people in the US would miss them, either.
I followed the link. What a speech. I thought politicians were bad, but they can't hold a candle to this guy.
For those who can't be bothered, it's much as Mr Geigner says: Rothenberg talks about diversity, freedom of speech and a great many other things. He has a single legitimate point to make about some of the more questionable ad-blockers out there, but that's it as far as truthful and useful contributions are concerned.
To be clear, I don't currently work in the tech industry and have never had anything to do with any ad-blocking companies, beyond installing and using the things.
I am, however, the person in and amongst my family and friends who knows the most about computers, which means I'm the one they turn to for help when things go wrong. I'm the mug who has to sit there and plough through one anti-malware solution after another, through full system reinstallations, in the worst cases, all to clear off the crap that Rothenberg and his industry friends make a large part of their money from supplying.
Rothenberg talks about his industry earning billions of dollars and about extortion by ad-blocking companies. He doesn't talk about how much of those billions were earned from enabling criminal activity by real extortionists using his industry's networks to deliver malware.
Rothenberg talks about diversity and equality. That's actually fine by me, since he and his friends - be they black, white or sky-blue pink - are all equally a shower of parasitic shit-ticks who all equally deserve to go out of business and spend the rest of their miserable lives in equal penury.
Curiously, he doesn't seem to mention how many millions were earned supplying ad services to sites and companies peddling racist, sexist and homophobic propaganda.
He talks about freedom of speech, but doesn't seem to have a problem with his industry taking millions for crapflooding the internet with armies of corporate trolls and astroturfers, who shout down legitimate, grass-roots public speech in comments - and spam the likes of Amazon with endless fake reviews designed to actively defraud potential customers.
He talks about his industry needing to clean up its act - but until it actually does so, it's all so much hot air, designed to obscure the fact that they are still causing chaos, still enabling criminal activity, still engaged in fraud on a massive scale - and still making millions upon millions from doing so.
All the signs are that the next fifty billion will be just as dirty as the last one.
Mr Rothenberg likes to portray himself and his industry as pooor, misunderstood victims, but I think I understand them perfectly well: they are the enemies of free speech, equality and democracy; they are the enemies of law and justice; they are the enemies of truth and legitimate business.
They are fraudulent criminal scum of the worst kind. The sooner they all go to jail, the better.
Whether you call a spade a spade or a shovel, it's all the same damn thing if you're using it to dig up shit about people.
It's the capture of genuinely private information that's the problem, not merely its examination by human eyes.
The potential for chilling effects, for industrial espionage, for blackmail are all at the point of capture, not at the point of use.
A breach of Data Protection law is still a breach. An indecent image of a child is still an indecent image. A copyright offence is still an offence.
In the UK, there can be few, if any, parts of our legal system that will tolerate this kind of semantic evasion. It won't wash.
Causing a computer to leak classified information to some insecure computer somewhere else is a criminal offence, perhaps even a terrorism offence, regardless of whether another human being ever sees it or not. The intelligence services themselves wouldn't have it any other way, so why should anyone else?
Anyone who believes the load of utter crap coming out of Theresa May's fat face right now needs their head placed under surveillance.
A few people here seem to be missing an obvious thing: mass surveillance in the UK is not really about national security, law-enforcement, controlling the general public or anything remotely similar. These things are implicated and involved, certainly, but they're generally not the goal, as such.
No, mass surveillance here is really about just one thing: getting the taxpayer to hand over money by the fuckload for a fundamentally useless task.
From the point of view of the intelligence community, it's about getting the cash to build gigantic new datacentres, staffed with tens of thousands of people. They might not be doing anything useful, but the responsibility of keeping everyone organised does ensure that the bosses of GCHQ get to enjoy salaries an order of magnitude higher than otherwise.
From the point of view of industry, it's about getting paid billions of pounds in taxpayers money for the same new datacentres. Unlike the intel community, however, they're unlikely to be satisfied with mere maintenance: as lucrative as those contracts may be, there's undoubtedly always far more money to be had from building new datacentres, stuffed to the gills with the finest brand-new computers available to humanity.
From the point of view of anyone senior in Her Majesty's Government, it's about getting enormous payoffs from one of the companies above. Whether it's an extra-large brown envelope stuffed with cash, or a non-executive directorship at the company, the rewards far exceed anything they can earn legitimately, particularly given how few of them have any discernible professional skills beyond public lying.
As a special bonus, since by definition there will always be more information in existence than they have access to, any failures to prevent torrorism can always be attributed to a lack of new powers and responsibilities and the new datacentres that go with them. No-one need ever apologise for anything, because it's forever and always going to be a previous government's fault, for not building enough new datacentres when they had the chance.
I think that basically sums it all up. There may be a few people in the halls of power who actually care about doing a good job or being in control, but if so, they're Britain's best-kept secret. People who work for parliament only care about money - and they invariably fill their departments with friends and family who think the same way. There's no reason to think GCHQ, MI6, etc, are staffed by anyone more concerned with the public good than their employers.
This is Britain, PLC. Where greed and total self-interest are the only things that matter.
Sorry, old chap, but no. The games Project Manager, Senior Designer, Legal & Music Co-ordinator, Audio QA Lead, Lead Character Artist and a Consultant are the offending reviewers - and those are just the ones who were easily identified.
Regardless of whatever virtues the company may possess, that's too much to be passed off as rogue employees or the result of either poorly-formulated or poorly-communicated policies.
If I'm pushed to make a judgment-call, I can only judge this to be an intentional astroturfing effort, as an active policy choice of the company, however subsequently concealed.
I've no way of knowing how many other reviews were faked by employees who were smarter and used sockpuppets, or how many more of their games they've done this for, or how many of those unidentified fake reviews remain untouched.
All I do know for certain is that there are no circumstances under which I will trust a good review of a Harmonix game in future.
I think Irell & Manella have been very, very shrewd here, targeting what is probably the single weakest point in the RIAAs construction as a legal entity.
The RIAA is trying to have it's cake and eat it, when it comes to the copyright status of remastered works - and that's something that could easily backfire in spectacular fashion in the courts. The down-in-the-weeds nature of the various arguments they're making - as well as the fact that they're making mutually contradictory arguments in different cases - seems very likely to lead in turn to a great deal of secondary litigation, from a great many interested third-parties.
The very last thing they want at this relatively early stage is for any court, anywhere, to start looking at what they've done in toto and start applying duck tests calrifying the issues - whether they win or lose, it will cost them a fortune later on, either in derived settlements or verdicts.
If they've any sense at all, I think avoiding as much judicial scrutiny as they can get away with is now probably the RIAAs number one priority in this case.