Leigh Beadon’s Techdirt Profile


About Leigh BeadonTechdirt Insider

Leigh Beadon, formerly Marcus Carab, now a full-time member of the Techdirt team.

Located in Toronto, Ontario.



Posted on Techdirt - 26 June 2016 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the rights-and-the-lack-thereof dept

This week, we were horrified by the story of Ashely Cervantes, an 18-year-old who customs agents subjected to vaginal and rectal probes by a local doctor in a search of nonexistent drugs. TexasAndroid won most insightful comment of the week by pointing out the staggering addition of insult to injury in the case:

On top of everything else, the hospital had the gall to bill her for their "services". Calling them slime buckets is an insult to slime.

Speaking of bogus searches by law enforcement, we actually saw something positive on that front too this week, when a court refused to uphold evidence seized during a bogus traffic stop. Daydream took second place for insightful by lamenting the fact that this was news at all:

Everyone, take a moment to consider why something that should be normal, a court rejecting illegally acquired evidence, is notable enough to feature on Techdirt's front page.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start with the unfolding saga of CBS/Paramount and the Star Trek fan film Axanar. After one commenter suggested that calling it a "fan film" is "offensive to the people who own the rights", and Mason Wheeler responded with an indignant rebuttal highlighting the critical difference between compensation and permission:

Then screw them. The idea that you can "own the rights" to culture itself is offensive on a far more fundamental level.

If Paramount said "we own Star Trek and so if you want to make a fan film, you have to pay us 5% and display a prominent notice that this is a fan work and not actually affiliated with Paramount," that would be one thing. But saying "no, you can't build on this, so shut the whole thing down" is crossing a line that no one should ever have the right to cross.

Meanwhile, after a surprising win for Led Zeppelin in the jury trial over alleged copying in the iconic Stairway to Heaven, one commenter (quite fairly) pointed out that the band does have a history of failing to credit their sources of inspiration (and more than inspiration), and that in this particular case they seem to have "tweaked the notes enough to get away with it". While there's a solid argument that Led Zeppelin hasn't always been the most upstanding moral citizen as far as giving credit where it's due, jupiterkansas rightly rejected that particular condemnation:

"tweaking the notes enough to get away with it" is basically how all music is made.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Oblate with a fitting reaction to the fight over Axanar:

Didn't Paramount watch their own film?

To paraphrase:

The fair use rights of the many fans outweigh the needs of the few qur petaQ at Paramount.

For second place, we head to yet another grapple over rights, this time between Dweezil Zappa and the other heirs to the Zappa estate over his right to name his tour "Zappa Plays Zappa". The tour has now been renamed "50 Years of Frank: Dweezil Zappa Plays Whatever the F@%k He Wants — The Cease and Desist Tour" which is just great, leading Mike to request a tour t-shirt from anyone who might be able to pick one up. Crade wondered if this was just a clever reason-to-buy ploy by Dweezil:

stupid? or genius!

The whole thing was a setup to sell Mike a shirt.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start by taking a break from copyright and trademark fights to look at our old friend: ridiculous design patents. This time it was General Mills staking a claim to tortilla bowls, of all things, which led Mark Wing to rejoice about this great age we live in:

It's an exciting time to be a lover of Mexican food with all this innovation in the tortilla sector.

Finally, we head to the disturbing reasoning from a judge who said the FBI can freely hack people's computers since people get hacked by regular ol' hackers all the time. This seemed odd to say the least, but David explained it using a perennial piece of reasoning:

You don't want the criminals to have the drop on the FBI, do you?

If crimes are outlawed, only criminals will be able to commit crimes.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 25 June 2016 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: June 19th - 25th

from the history-of-histories dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2011, amid lots of IP chaos, we offered up a two-part history of the many "killers" of the music industry, first in the analog era and now in the digital one. Undeterred, Universal Music was in the midst of going to war with popular hip-hop blogs and websites for posting tracks (most if not all of which the artists wanted posted). If you doubt that last bit, consider that one of the targets was 50 Cent's own official website. There was also a lot of buzz about the awesome new social music service turntable.fm, and we wondered how long it would take for the RIAA to kill it (it's gone now, by the way).

While a new filing in the Rojadirecta case elaborated on how ICE's domain seizures violate the first amendment even as Senatory Patrick Leahy was celebrating them, rightsholders in the UK were seeking their own web censorship powers. Hollywood was busy too, with the MPAA lobbying to get law enforcement to behave as its own private police force and trying to convince ISPs to become copyright cops, too.

Ten Years Ago

Five years earlier in 2006, there was a very similar history lesson for the people thinking about entertainment industry legislation: Gary Shapiro of the CEA took out a full page advertisement in the Capitol Hill newspaper highlighting, once again, all the past freakouts about new technology destroying music and movies. This was important considering big legal questions like deep linking of MP3s, and mean lawsuits like Paramount suing an amateur filmmaker for making his own 12 minute version of an Oliver Stone movie. Not to mention the creepy prevalence of the MPAA hiring people to stalk and/or hack potential legal targets, and the agency's generally high levels of bullshit.

Fifteen Years Ago

It was a different time in 2001, when we could be surprised by the fact that teenagers were adopting the internet en masse or that Amazon wasn't dead yet. Doctors were still fairly resistant to using technology like email and the first IBM PC was a mere 20 years old. The hot new TLDs on the block were .biz and .info, and buyers were competing over popular picks like show.biz and sex.info, while Network Solutions was busy trying to sabotage the whole .biz enterprise. "Cyber Rage" was a new notion that would evolve into today's doxxing, swatting and other nastiness, and one group was so miffed by digital smut that it sought to send Yahoo execs to jail as pornographers.

Eight-Two Years Ago

The FCC is a big and complex regulatory body that has a massive impact on all modern communication innovation in America — and it was on June 19th, 1934 that it came into existence after the passage of the Communications Act of 1934.

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Posted on Techdirt - 25 June 2016 @ 9:00am

Awesome Stuff: Cycle Better

from the pedal-power dept

This week, for the cyclists out there, we've got a pair of new crowdfunded devices that aim to enhance your experience on your bike — then after that, we've got a shameless plug for the new Techdirt t-shirt.


Blubel is a navigation system that has been simplified and redesigned specifically for cyclists, wrapped up inside a bicycle bell that connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth. Instead of a full map-based system, Blubel boils navigation down to a straightforward directional indicator: as you ride, the ring of LEDs on the bell shift to alert you to turns and point you in the right direction. But it's also an actual bell, and what's more, every time you ring it the whole system gets smarter. Since most navigation systems are tailored for drivers first and foremost, bell rings from all Blubel users are recorded as waypoints in a shared map algorithm and used to calculate smarter cycling routes throughout the area, resulting in a community-driven navigation database. The associated app lets you plan routes and set destinations, and it also records data and gives you access to lots of metrics about your ride, much like a fitness app.


While Blubel wraps navigation tools in a bell, CLASSON wraps indication and safety tools (and some navigation assistance) in a helmet. The CLASSON helmet contains cameras which can record your ride like a dashcam or a GoPro, but that's not their primary function: they are hooked into a smart system that offers a variety of features. First, it monitors your blindspots, and activates subtle visual indicators on the helmet's visor to let you know when a car is approaching to your side — a huge boon for cyclists in busy urban environments. Next, they monitor your arm movements to translate physical turn signals into blinking turn indicator lights on the helmet, and it can detect deceleration to activate a brake light — a huge boon for night-time cyclists. Plus, similar to the Blubel, it can guide you to destinations chosen on the associated app using a simple directional indicator system also built into the visor.

P.S. Check out the latest t-shirt from Techdirt!

Yesterday, we launched a new t-shirt on Teespring, available only for a limited time!

This spin on the infamous 80s anti-piracy campaign is only available until July 4th, so get yours today (it's also available as a women's tee and a hoodie).

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Posted on Techdirt - 24 June 2016 @ 12:13pm

New T-Shirt: Home Cooking Is Killing Restaurants

from the and-it's-delicious dept

Limited time offer: Support Techdirt and get a Home Cooking Is Killing Restaurants t-shirt or hoodie!

In the 80s, the BPI launched its now-iconic campaign to combat an early form of copyright infringement: Home Taping Is Killing Music.

Of course, as it turned out, that wasn't true — music is alive and well — and the notion that taping songs from the radio for personal use should qualify as copyright infringement is questionable to begin with (even if it's not at all surprising that record labels saw it that way). Naturally, the campaign was and is ripe for parody (Techdirt friend Dan Bull even made a whole song about it) and our favorite is a simple alternative version...

And so we introduce a new t-shirt (or hoodie!) from Techdirt: Home Cooking Is Killing Restaurants:

Just like our last t-shirt, we're offering this one via Teespring as a limited-time campaign. From now until July 4th, you can get the Home Cooking Is Killing Restaurants design on a men's or women's t-shirt or a high-quality hoodie in a variety of colors — so order yours today!

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Posted on Techdirt - 21 June 2016 @ 12:45pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 78: What's Next For Online Video?

from the watch-and-listen dept

Netflix, HBO Go, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Twitch — online video is still booming. But it also still struggles under the weight of exclusive deals and content silos, and it feels like there's still plenty of innovation to be done. But where will that innovation come from? This week, we discuss the future of online video.

Follow the Techdirt Podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe via iTunes, or grab the RSS feed. You can also keep up with all the latest episodes right here on Techdirt.

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Posted on Techdirt - 19 June 2016 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the predictions-etc dept

This week, we asked a critical question: will we ever really get flying cars? There are plenty of obstacles, and Ehud Gavron won most insightful comment of the week by deploying his expertise to explain them:


Disclosure: I'm a current FAA-certificated commercial helicopter pilot.

Dreams of flying are awesome, and dreams of flying cars are great, but the regulatory reality will prevent these from *ever* flying at least in the United States.

A. Reliability and Technology
1. "Drones" and UAS devices don't have the failsafes to allow safe landing (for human passengers) in the event of a failure. All commercially-certificated aircraft *must* demonstrate power-off landing.

2. In order to provide those failsafes, "Drones" and UAS devices would have redundant systems making them too heavy to functionally lift humans and carry them anywhere.

B. Regulations
3. The FAA has control of the air from the ground up. (Yes, there are those who claim it's from 8' up, those who claim 58' up, those who claim 400' up but recent rulings support the "anything from the top of ground or structure on up"). The FAA jealously regulates its airspace -- to the point they don't want to allow military UAVs unless the pilot flying the UAV is a)FAA-certificated (which military pilots are not), and b)Is in radio contact with the appropriate air-traffic control coordinator. In other words, only a pilot can fly one and only while keeping in contact with ATC.

4. All aircraft within the national airspace system (NAS) have to be not only certificated by the FAA but also registered. These add *substantial* fees to what would otherwise be "A car".

C. Exisitng Industries Won't Allow it
5. Law-enforcement has a very big hard-on for the driver being responsible for the equipment. Thus there will never be a self-driving car... not will there ever be a car that can fly away from a road-block.

6. Insurance companies enjoy taking hard-earned money to gamble that you WON'T ever use your policy. Governmental regulations requiring the purchase of insurance provides them a captive audience of clients all of whom also gamble they WON'T ever use that policy. (Not to worry, if the policy gets used, the rates go sky high for at least three years...) That's just to insure a vehicle that at most can cause minor damage. When you put that same mass in the air, (F=ma and all that), its potential for damage is exponentially higher... and so, btw, is the cost of aircraft insurance. (At least for the helicopters we fly)

Would I love to see a vehicle that "if things got frustrating I could just pick up and fly"... sure... but that makes no sense... because if you can "just pick up and fly" why would you use the road in the first place?

Far better to build a plane that can legally drive on the highway.

Ehud Gavron
Tucson AZ

Meanwhile, we looked at the disturbing suggestions from both presumptive presidential candidates about expanding watch-lists and diminishing civil liberties in the wake of the Orlando attacks. One anonymous commenter won second place for insightful by pointing out a difficult irony in one of those suggestions:

Cognitive dissonance on Hillary's part

She wants to ban the purchase of guns for anyone being investigated by the FBI while she is running for President while under investigation by the FBI.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start with the news that AMC is suing a fan site over predicted spoilers about future plotlines. One anonymous commenter neatly summed up why they probably won't win, except they've already kind of won:

Spoiler prediction: AMC doesn't stand a chance in court.

The problem is that the penalty structure is so one sided that those that make bogus claims face no real consequences.

Next, we've got another anonymous commenter with a simple explanation of the craziness of Australian officials not letting anyone examine their e-voting infrastructure:

Proprietary code in election software is equivalent to secret law.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is WDS with a sarcastic response that pops up often when we criticize Google, as we did this week:

I don't understand this complaining about Google. Don't you know that you are only a Google puppet, and your whole sites purpose is to promote Google's agenda?

For second place, we head to the story of another lawsuit against Gawker with Peter Thiel's fingerprints all over it, this time involving a company called Ivari International over its supposed work treating Donald Trump's hair. Pixel got to the heart of the matter:

Ivari International should sue themselves for defamation if they had anything to do with Trump's hair.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start with an anonymous response to the silly trademark dispute between a soft drink and the Denver Broncos over the term "Orange Crush". One anonymous commenter was infuriated by all the wanton consumer confusion:

I'm always disappointed when I'm at the store looking for a refreshing orange pop but all I find is the Denver defensive line, that Orange Crush is way to expensive and just doesn't taste very good.

Finally, in response to AMC's absurd prediction lawsuit, Hugues raised the question of whether the lawsuit might be flowing in the wrong direction:

If you publicly predict the outcome of an unpublished TV show could you sue them for copyright infringement?

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 18 June 2016 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: June 12th - 18th

from the same-difference dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2011, things were heating up around ICE's recent domain name seizures. Several of the targeted sites were challenging the seizures to get their domains back, with one — Rojadirecta — going ahead and suing the US government, Homeland Security and ICE. Those trying to get more information via FOIA requests were met with stalling by the government (which was not out of character). Then, the government decided to up the ante and sought to extradite one of the site operators from the UK on copyright charges (despite the fact that this essentially amounted to enforcing US copyright law outside its jurisdiction, since the target violated no UK laws). Meanwhile, some people online were busy turning ICE's gaudy takedown notice pages into the new Rickroll, and China was using the copyright excuse to clamp down on freedom of speech.

Ten Years Ago

There was a big fight over net neutrality happening in 2006, and this week we couldn't help but balk at all the propaganda, from terrible newspaper editorials to celebrity endorsements and good ol' propaganda music. The issue was muddied by nonsense, and only a few people had rational thoughts to share.

The RIAA seemed to have moved into the denial phase of grief about piracy, declaring victory and saying it was "contained". Perhaps that's why it had to turn its sights on YouTube videos of people dancing to music they haven't licensed. At least they still had Canadian politicians in their pocket.

Fifteen Years Ago

There were several technologies looming on the horizon this week in 2001. Digital cash was struggling to catch on long before the revolution of the blockchain; Ebooks were poised to change everything from the way people write to the role of libraries; and SMS text messaging was taking the world by storm, but the US was a major holdout.

Also this week in 2001: we saw a prototypical net neutrality crisis, the homepage takeover ad started to appear, Apple sued the Church of Satan for its own "Think Different" campaign, and Homer Simpson's iconic "Doh!" was officially added to the Oxford English Dictionary.

One-Hundred And Ninety-Four Years Ago

Most of you surely know that the world's "first computer" is generally considered to be Charles Babbage's mechanical difference engine. It was on June 4th, 1822 that Babbage first proposed the possibility of such a machine to the Royal Astronomical Society. The project wound on for 20 years and cost £17,000, but never came to fruition, as the government abandoned it and Babbage moved on to his new analytical engine.

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Posted on Techdirt - 18 June 2016 @ 9:00am

Awesome Stuff: Speakers As Art

from the see-and-hear dept

This week, we've got three unique crowdfunded speakers that deliver sound with a hefty dose of creative design flare.

A Touch Of Bass

As our sound equipment gets smaller, sleeker and more convenient, it's hard not to take a moment to appreciate the aesthetics of old-school hi-fi — the hulking, elaborate boomboxes that weighed a ton, gobbled up batteries, and looked cool doing it. A Touch Of Bass is a project to memorialize that era of design in pieces of functional art: photographs of vintage boomboxes are printed and mounted on a shadowbox, and fitted with real speakers connected to a bluetooth sound system. The result is a detailed wall-hanging reproduction of a classic piece of technology that connects to modern devices and functions like a real boombox. There's a huge selection of classic boombox designs in a range of sizes to choose from, and the speakers themselves are a high-quality pair of woofers and single tweeter for authentic, top-notch sound.


Hazang speakers are a unique sight: elegant spherical speakers that, at a glance, look like something built long before the age of recorded audio. Each speaker is hand-crafted in North Vietnam using traditional weaving techniques to create a speaker box that's striking and unique, with a bamboo body and a hemp fabric faceplate. The high-end, high-tech guts ensure each speaker delivers superior sound, while the low-tech exterior not only looks good but is designed to serve as an excellent acoustic casing in its own right — all with a price tag which, while not cheap, is competitive for a piece of quality audio gear with such stunning design.


COSMOS isn't just a speaker: it's also a clock and an ambient lamp, and it's all based on the night sky. The face of the COSMOS is a full map of the constellations in the northern hemisphere, backlit in all their glittering glory. But it also includes a pair of special stars to indicate the hands of a clock, and it conceals a bluetooth speaker at the base. It doesn't strive to offer the high-end sound of the previous two entries, but serves more as an all-around art piece that would make an excellent bedside lamp, or just an eye-catching decoration.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 14 June 2016 @ 12:45pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 77: The Link Between Credit And Surveillance

from the cash-and-data dept

Both surveillance and the digitization of money are heavily-discussed topics, but the intersection between the two often goes overlooked. Historically, credit agencies have been trailblazers in the world of surveillance, and today we face the fact that the government can use payment providers and other financial tools as a means of enforcing its wishes. On this week's episode, we're joined by lawyer and writer Sarah Jeong, who recently wrote a four-part series on the subject, to discuss the past and future of credit, money, surveillance and the way they work together.

Follow the Techdirt Podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe via iTunes, or grab the RSS feed. You can also keep up with all the latest episodes right here on Techdirt.

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Posted on Techdirt - 12 June 2016 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the make-you-laugh-make-you-think dept

This week, both our top comments on the insightful side came in response to the story of police utterly destroying a house while in pursuit of a shoplifter. One anonymous commenter won first place by summing up the fallout of these kinds of incidents:

This is part of what turns citizens, who once believed police were protectors into believing the justice system is both rigged as well as corrupt. It's pretty evident the cops went completely berserk, the city doesn't want to be responsible for the damage, and everyone in authority is ducking and dodging making whole the injured home owner.

This home owner and many more who read about this will now believe the justice system is something you run from and attempt to protect yourself from, not call for help from... ever.

After another commenter suggested that people should exercise caution in calling the police in the first place, a second anonymous commenter chimed in and won second place:

It should be pointed out that this is not the case anywhere else in the civilized world and the only reason this seems normal to you is because you have lost control of your police force and allowed it to become an anti-citizen paramilitary organization.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a comment from Frost on the same post, expanding on the problem of militarized police:

The military-industrial complex are no doubt thrilled that they can sell even more stuff to the nation for grotesquely overinflated prices, but when you give the police military equipment, they start thinking they need military equipment. Against a lone drug use who shoplifted?

If the ACTUAL military used tactics like these they'd be censured or prosecuted, most likely. But apparently cops can do it at home with impunity.

American policing is incredibly broken. And this is just one facet, another would be the for-profit policing where the cops are literally armed bandits who stop citizens and drain their cash cards on the spot now in Oklahoma. Highway robbery, by any definition.

Next, we head to the story of the New York Times attempting to charge hefty fees for the fair use of quotes, where TheResidentSkeptic suggested that turnabout is fair play:

So then..

... everyone ever quoted in the NY Times is immediately owed $2.70 for each word of their quote. After all, if it isn't fair use to quote the times, then it isn't fair use for the times to quote others.

(leaving the NYT with 10% profit...)

Over on the funny side, our first place comment also comes from the story of out-of-control police, where one commenter noted that the only surprising thing is that the cops didn't actually kill the shoplifter, leading yet another anonymous commenter to cook up an explanation:

It was an unfortunate fluke. They were playing Angry Birds with the house, trying to kill the man by bringing the house down. They barely made it to one star.

In second place for funny, we've got DannyB with a loose summary of the Oracle/Google saga:

Let me see if I've got this right:

Oracle: Waaaaaaah! Google used a freely available open source Java implementation to build Android and made huge money! We want it! And Google didn't even use OUR java, they used an independently developed Java from the Apache Foundation! Waaaaaah!

Judge Alsup: No. Your copyright is not infringed.

Oracle: Bu, bu, but... Google used our APIs!

Judge Alsup: APIs are not copyrightable. I even learned some Java programming in order to better understand this case.

Oracle: Appeals court -- Waaaaaaaah! -- Google used our API, and they are making a Gazillion dollars, and we are only making a Jillion dollars! Waaaaaaaah!

Appeals Court: Oh, poor thing! Of course APIs are copyrightable! If it looks like some computery stuff that I don't understand, then it must be of immense value.

Oracle: Judge Alsup, we want a jury trial!

Judge Alsup: Ok, you got a jury trial.

Oracle: Waaaaaah! A jury did not agree with us. They unfairly sided with reality, common sense, and with what every single person says who knows anything about computers. Waaaaaaaah! Ignore the jury! We want money NOW!

Judge Alsup: No.

Perhaps next . . .

Oracle: Mr. Trump, we didn't get the money we wanted! Waaaaaaaah!

For editor's choice on the funny side, we've got a pair of responses to the long list of laws Web Sheriff thinks we violated by reporting on their DMCA abuse. First, GMacGuffin spotted some omissions:

These guys do everything half-assed

They didn't mention the Berne Convention, Rome Law, or Magna Carta anywhere! (Every Facebook user knows these are important ...)

In response to that, an anonymous commenter expanded the list even further:

Techdirt probably also violated the Code of Hammurabi, Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics, the Ten Commandments, and the third law of thermodynamics. The Furies and the Faith Militant are probably coming after Mike also.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 11 June 2016 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: June 5th - 11th

from the iirc dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2011, we were still looking at the previous week's hearings on pre-1972 sound recordings, where the RIAA was staunchly supporting the past extensions of copyright law while insisting that reducing copyright law would be unconstitutional, and leading us to ask would it really be so bad if The Beatles were public domain? This was all happening at the same time as the Golan case, which led us to underline how damaging it is to take works out of the public domain as well. Sadly, we also saw yet another loss for appropriation art in the courts, this time focused on a Run DMC painting.

Apple was launching its new Music Match service, with all the copyright questions it implied, but rightsholders couldn't seem to agree on how they felt about it — and alongside its competitors, it also highlighted the point that fragmenting the cloud is missing the point.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2006, the US government was pressuring other countries over foreign music sites for no obvious reason other than direct marching orders from the entertainment industry. This pressure, and the exportation of policy, was poised to stymie innovation globally just like the DMCA did at home. At least there were rumblings of more reasonable views on copyright coming from politicians in the UK and a former RIAA boss who came to her senses a little too late. Meanwhile, the copyright industries were lobbying for a pernicious legal change that would require licenses even for incidental copies such as cached files. But what the industry excelled at most was invoking the Streisand Effect on sites like AllOfMp3.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2001, we noted a trend towards centralization on the web, with fifty percent of online time being spent on four websites (AOL, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Napster). The dot-com bubble blame game was still going on and occasionally getting ugly, with violence and lawsuits. MIT had some interesting thoughts on how technology impacts linguistics, and we took an early look at how the very concept of copyright has been corrupted. Also, the Catholic Church made a digital decision: online confessions were declared not to be an option.

Finally, I think it's fair to say we were right to question Business Week's assertion that Apple "should not get back into the handheld market".

Thirty-Two Years Ago

It's one of the most famous and successful games of all time, and in some people's estimation it's the quintessential realization of what a "game" truly is. On June 6th, 1984, Tetris was first released.

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Posted on Techdirt - 11 June 2016 @ 9:00am

Awesome Stuff: Generating Sound

from the bleep-bloop dept

This week, we've got some new instruments that marry high-tech design and construction with simplicity of use and classic musical devices.

Data DUO

The DataDUO is an interesting take on a synthesizer: it's designed to be accessible and fun for kids, and to be played by two people at once, especially as a collaborative creation tool for a parent and child. One side of the device is a basic dual-oscillator synthesizer with some simple cutoff and envelope controls, and the other is a circular sequencer with a pentatonic keyboard. The result is that it's very easy to create pleasing, harmonious melodies since almost any combination of notes you can generate will sound good — and it creates a back-and-forth between two users, with one controlling the melody that gets played and the other controlling the character of the synthetic sounds themselves. It probably won't be finding its way into many professional audio workflows, but it looks like a lot of fun to play with, and definitely serves as a great way to introduce kids to the basics of synthesizers.


For the more serious synth aficionado, the Crowminius offers an experience akin to one of the all-time classics: the Minimoog. It's a tightly designed fully analog synthesizer that packs into a compact case, and offers a great array of tools: three oscillators with six waveforms to choose from, robust modulation and control options, a white/pink/red noise generator (that can itself also serve as a modulator), and a distinct filter and amplifier. The whole thing is MIDI compatible and can also be controlled with old-school voltage signals, and it's perfect for synth modders and circuit benders as it's constructed entirely out of standard electronic components so it can be easily tweaked and expanded by those with the knowhow (not to mention repaired).


Not every modern, high-tech instrument has to be a synthesizer: the 3Dvarius is a stylish electric violin with a fully 3D-printed body. The design is modelled after the iconic and unmatched Stradivarius, but at a glance it looks like something out of a sci-fi movie prop box. The body is printed as a single, solid piece that has been carefully tweaked for maximum usability and sound transmission, and it also employs an extremely high-quality sound sensor so that it doesn't need a preamp like most electric violins — meaning its sound fidelity is as faithful as possible, with no additional noise and no distortion of the sounds truly coming out of the strings.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 7 June 2016 @ 12:45pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 76: Tech Policy Goes Local

from the change-of-venue dept

The conversation around tech policy has traditionally happened at the federal level, but more recently we've seen a change in that trend, and some of the most interesting experiments — both good and bad — have started happening in state and municipal arenas. This week, we're joined by Tech:NYC Executive Director Julie Samuels to discuss why this is happening and what it means.

Follow the Techdirt Podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe via iTunes, or grab the RSS feed. You can also keep up with all the latest episodes right here on Techdirt.

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Posted on Techdirt - 31 May 2016 @ 5:00pm

DailyDirt: Insects, Insects Everywhere

from the urls-we-dug-up dept

Bugs! Most people hate them, we'll all probably be eating them eventually, and few people envy those who spend their lives studying them up close — but in truth there are few creatures on earth more varied and fascinating (not to mention critical to our ecosystems). Here are some of the latest dispatches from the world of creepy-crawlies:

After you've finished checking out those links, take a look at our Daily Deals for cool gadgets and other awesome stuff.

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Posted on Techdirt - 25 May 2016 @ 5:00pm

DailyDirt: The Eyes Have It

from the urls-we-dug-up dept

Are the eyes the windows to the soul? Probably not — but that doesn't mean they aren't darn good indicators of a whole lot of things. Scientists in a variety of fields are still uncovering new secrets within these little wet orbs, often with potentially important medical or psychological implications. Here are some of the latest discoveries made by watching the watchers:

After you've finished checking out those links, take a look at our Daily Deals for cool gadgets and other awesome stuff.

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Posted on Techdirt - 22 May 2016 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the api,-dmca-and-other-acronyms dept

This week, there was lots of discussion about the Oracle/Google fight over the Java API, and from there we get our first place winner for insightful. Phaedrus (whose underlying username, I notice, is an excellent Discworld reference) wondered about the details of the fallout from all this API copyright nonsense:

If Oracle wins case, can IBM sue Oracle for using SQL ?

Implications seem endless ...

IANAL or a Computer Scientist.

But I think Oracle is poisoning a lot of wells here, and it would be nice if one of them was their own.

Next, we head to the disturbing story of a police officer being jailed indefinitely for refusing to decrypt his devices when asked, where DigDug got understandably angry about this apparent violation of a very basic right:

5th Ammendment violation, plain and simple.

I don't give a flying fuck what that Judge thinks, the 5th ammendment covers this 100%.

Any judge that disagrees with that should be pulled from the bench by their short-hairs and hung from their ankles until they see reason.

Their punishment will be purely of their own making, all they have to do to be done with it is to enforce the Constitution they swore to uphold.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got two comments that came in response to our roundup of all the bad ideas raised at the Copyright Office's DMCA roundtable. After one commenter noted that the entertainment industries seem hellbent on destroying the internet, John Fenderson noted that their goal is more nuanced, but no better, than that:

Their goal from day 1 has been very clear, and has never wavered. They correctly view the internet as a threat to their collective control over media distribution.

They don't want to destroy the internet as infrastructure. They want to control the use of the internet as a means of media distribution. They don't really care about how they make that happen or what the fallout would be, so long as it happens.

Meanwhile, an anonymous commenter noted that it is indeed true, in a way, that most movies "don't make much money":

Any movie that makes a profit clearly hired the wrong accountant. Just look how much gross revenue the original Star Wars trilogy has brought in and it still is not profitable.

Over on the funny side, we start out on what is undoubtedly the funniest story of the week: the congressional candidate who shared a screenshot that included some overlooked porn tabs open in his browser. David won first place for funny by identifying the real sin:

Porn's okay, I don't mind. But Yahoo? That's where I draw the line.

In second place, we've got a comment from NoahVail, which probes the limits of a particular UK superinjunction:

i thought it was odd that thE streisand effect wasn't in pLay here, especially since The gag can ONly be applied to JOurnalists in tHe uk Newspapers.

then i read who the celebs where and i understood why everyone outside the uk is freaked out about mentioning names.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with an anonymous response to Louisiana's attempt to require age verification for "adult" content online, pointing out just how pointless this would be anyway:

The only thing age verification filters accomplish is teaching children how to subtract 18 or 21 from the current year.

Finally, we've got a comment from our post announcing our new "Nerd Harder." t-shirt (which you should consider picking up if you haven't already). After one commenter requested a version without the trailing period, Pixelation had an amusingly apt response:

You can figure out how to remove it. NERD HARDER!

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 21 May 2016 @ 1:30pm

This Week In Techdirt History: May 15th - 21st

from the looking-back dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2011, we saw lots of critical digital issues being debated around the world. France was playing statistical games to claim that its HADOPI three strikes law was effective (it wasn't), even as it was having to temporarily suspend some operations following a data breach; Turkey was facing protests in response to a new plan for internet censorship; Pakistan was considering banning Facebook in the country; libraries in New Zealand were considering avoiding their own three strikes law by shutting off internet access; and in the UK, the courts were expanding superinjunction laws to cover social media and considering the Hargreaves report on the state of copyright.

In the US, we were digging into the PROTECT IP act, which was really all about old media going to war with the internet. As Google pointed out, it would set a disastrous precedent for free speech (which, of course, the big media companies tried to claim meant Google thought it was above the law). The International Trade Commission was using some silly methodology to amp up the damages of "piracy" in China, the RIAA was pushing for warrantless searches of CD and DVD manufacturing plants and trying to dig through the cloud for infringement.

Ten Years Ago

Five years earlier in 2006, we were happy to see the New York Times recognizing the amazing power of a digital library of scanned books, and also pointing out how great it can be for bringing attention to commercially neglected works. The RIAA was freaking out about the ability to record songs from satellite radio in a re-hash of the old "home taping is killing music" debacle, despite having sworn it would never be opposed to private, non-commercial recording. At least Australia was smart enough to realize that people should be allowed to rip their own CDs to their own iPods. Meanwhile, some were realizing that TV downloads could be a huge commercial opportunity for Hollywood, though they'd been trying to offer movies for years and the offerings still sucked. After all, how else could they keep making $200-million movies, right?

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2001, the biggest source of prediction and speculation was the future of wireless. One report noted that the real key to unlocking the wireless revolution was a killer app that everyone wanted, while MIT was focusing on the need for devices to improve, especially in terms of their displays (though small screens were probably going to do just fine for porn) and really trying to figure out exactly where the wireless web was at, and where it was going. We also saw an extremely smart, subtle prediction that has proven largely true: that consumer choices for wireless devices would start significantly influencing their choices for more traditional PC hardware and software (hello, Apple!)

Thirty-Six Years Ago

Since the latest Star Wars movie is still fresh in many people's minds, and since we even talked about its remix qualities earlier today in our Awesome Stuff post, it seems worth noting that it was on this day in 1980 that The Empire Strikes Back was released in cinemas. It's now widely considered to be the best of the original trilogy, and one of the best films in movie history.

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Posted on Techdirt - 21 May 2016 @ 10:00am

Awesome Stuff: Art & Copyright

from the copy-everything dept

This week, we're taking a break from gadgets and tech products to look at something right inside Techdirt's main wheelhouse: a pair of crowdfunded projects related to copyright, art and remix culture.

Right To Copy Magazine

There are a lot of different aspects to the discussion around copyright, but the most important and fundamental is the fact that it's completely incompatible with the reality of how art and culture functions. Right to Copy is a magazine dedicated to exploring exactly that, and it looks like it's going to be packed with interesting content. The first issue includes stuff from frequent Techdirt staple Cory Doctorow, and a new interview with author Jonathan Lethem (whose excellent essay, The Ecstasy of Influence, you may recall), as well as a bunch of other content that will be of interest to Techdirt readers. All in all, it looks like a magazine very much worth reading, and certainly worth supporting — it's currently a one-man project, and it'd be great to see it grow into something bigger.

Everything Is A Remix: Star Wars Edition

Surely all our readers are familiar with the Everything Is A Remix documentary videos by Kirby Ferguson. Recently, he released a new edition of the series focused on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, along with a new Kickstarter campaign to support the ongoing project. There's some fun merchandise available: new Star Wars-inspired EIAR t-shirts and stickers, plus a new book (in either PDF or printed form) about Kirby's own remixing process. There's also a very cool reward for serious fans: an hour-long exclusive video chat with Kirby himself, where he'll be discussing his process and philosophy and taking questions. EIAR has been fighting the good fight for quite some time, and has been critical in spreading a deeper understanding of how culture functions and how copyright gets in its way — and I encourage anyone who cares about those topics to show their support.

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Posted on Techdirt - 19 May 2016 @ 5:00pm

DailyDirt: More Miraculous Manmade Materials

from the urls-we-dug-up dept

There's no shortage of new man-made materials being developed, and they come in all different shapes, sizes and purposes. Sometimes it's about making something old in a new way, or giving something common an extremely uncommon property — or just producing something in previously unimaginable quantities. Here are some new developments from the world of synthetics.

After you've finished checking out those links, take a look at our Daily Deals for cool gadgets and other awesome stuff.

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Posted on Techdirt - 18 May 2016 @ 5:00pm

DailyDirt: Reverse Engineering The Earth

from the urls-we-dug-up dept

Geology is the ultimate riddle. All we have is a snapshot in time — the earth as it stands today — but within that snapshot are the remnant clues to untangling four and a half billion years of planetary development. Every turned stone might answer a question, or it might raise some new ones, as these latest steps towards a complete understanding of our planet's geology demonstrate.

After you've finished checking out those links, take a look at our Daily Deals for cool gadgets and other awesome stuff.

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