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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 15 January 2019 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 195: The EU Endangers Free Speech Online... Again

from the more-of-the-same dept

The latest in the EU's string of internet regulatory efforts has a new target: terrorist propaganda. Just as with past regulations, the proposed rules seem onerous and insane, creating huge liability for internet platforms that fail to do the impossible. This week, we're joined by returning guests Daphne Keller from Stanford's Center For Internet And Society and Emma Llansó from the Center for Democracy and Technology to discuss this most recent danger to online free speech in the EU.

Follow the Techdirt Podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe via iTunes or Google Play, 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 - 13 January 2019 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the the-votes-are-in dept

Our first place winner on the insightful side this week is Gary with a comment about Georgia's ongoing attempt to lock up its laws with copyright:

Anyone that is actually and intentionally blocked from seeing the Georgia laws should get a free pass when it comes to breaking those laws, eh?

"Your honor, I actively petitioned the state beforehand to see if I was complying with the state law and was rebuffed."

In second place, it's Mason Wheeler with a linguistic take on EU regulation:

This is why we shouldn't use the passive voice

The "right to be forgotten".

Forgotten by whom? By people other than yourself.

Put into the proper active voice, this is the "right to compel others to forget about you." Which sounds ridiculously dystopian, like something out of a Philip K. Dick story.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a comment from PaulT about the copyright lessons to be learned from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's dancing video:

This is an interesting illustration of how indefinable the losses to culture could be due to overreaching copyright. Nobody would have considered that the video when originally posted might have a life of its own, let alone one that reached into the first day of the 2019 congress, but here we are.

But, the questions nags at me - what more did we lose because record labels are capable of understanding human behaviour over and above the immediate profits they think they see in front of them? I suspect that culture is poorer, because other videos got killed before they had a chance to go viral, young artists put off from pursing their work or deprive from important inspirations.

The art and politics are both relatively minor in direct relation to this video, but it's worth thinking - if Newhouse's video was taken down earlier, we may not be reading this thread. What else, perhaps of far greater input - has been robbed? Sadly, we will never know.

Next, we head to our post about Google deeming one of our other posts "dangerous and derogatory" because of some user comments, which is the source of all our remaining winners and editor's choices this week. First up, it's Scote pointing out one frustrating piece of fallout from Google scanning user comments:

This is why BoingBoing has comments on a seperate page

BoingBoing and some other sites now banish comments to a page with its own URL so the main page doesn't get dinged by Google for the comments.

I prefer comments on the same page. Techdirt articles and comments are integral to one another, so I'd be sad to see the same happen here. I wish Google would get its s*** together instead.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is an anonymous commenter who attempted to weaponize Google's system:

Ooo! Dangerous or Derogatory comments can shut down that delicious ad revenue kickbacks you get from Google because you are a Google shill?

Well here we go! time to trip that tag!

You should run with scissors!

Operate a motor vehicle after drinking powerful cough syrup!

Don't vaccinate!

Don't eat your vegetables!

Close your eyes and cover your ears before crossing the street!

That comment brought out "google shill" as a joke, but in second place we've got Gwiz with a response to someone who likes to level the accusation seriously:

Let me get this straight. If you accept a gift or a one time sponsorship from someone, you are considered a "shill" for them until the end of time, even if you constantly call them out for doing stupid shit?

If we use your (faulty) logic, we would have to assume that YOU are a Techdirt shill, since you freely accept Techdirt's "gift" of allowing you to publish your comments here.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we've got a pair of commenters who continued to riff on the pattern set by the first place winner with more dangerous and derogatory comments. First, it's an anonymous addition:

Allow the commonors to have a voice!

Text with multiple people while you drive!

Be friends with someone who lives in Iran!

Attempt to bribe a cardboard cutout!

Am I on the right track?

And finally, it's Thad making still more trouble:

Talk with your mouth full
Bite the hand that feeds you
Bite off more than you can chew
What can you do?
You can dare to be stupid!

That's all for this week, folks!

11 Comments | Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt - 12 January 2019 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: January 6th - 12th

from the back-then dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2014, the NSA more or less admitted to spying on congress, garnering a stunning response from Rep. Peter King who apparently felt that they absolutely should be, and also that Rand Paul was a fearmonger for calling for James Clapper to be prosecuted. Meanwhile, as Obama's planned surveillance reform started looking more and more cosmetic and Dianne Feinstein let slip that her reform bill is mostly about protecting existing surveillance programs, we learned that congress hadn't requested a GAO report on the NSA in years. And the House Intelligence Committee was spreading its own FUD about the impact of Snowden's revelations, while Chuck Schumer was completely incorrectly claiming that Snowden could make his whistleblower case at trial.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2009, Apple announced its big change to the iTunes store: no more DRM, but only in exchange for giving variable MP3 pricing options to record labels. Though a good move overall, there were disappointing aspects, like the 30-cents per song fee to remove DRM from already-purchased tracks, or the fact that Apple was (and remains) still a big fan of DRM in lots of other places. Veoh won another DMCA safe harbor case, this time against Universal Music, while MP3Tunes was continuing its fight with EMI. The RIAA was dumping its anti-piracy monitoring partner, but only in order to hire a different one — and folks were struggling to actually find any ISPs that had agreed to the agency's three-strikes plan.

This was also the week that we saw the beginning of the end for Google China, with the Chinese government calling out search engines for failing to block content.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2004, fresh off the passage of the CAN-SPAM act, the new anti-spam law's impact was essentially nonexistent, nearly all spam was non-compliant even when from legitimate companies, and overall it seemed like the law was mostly designed to make Congress look good.

File sharing was on the decline, though not as much as payphones, while wi-fi was beginning its meteoric rise. While it looked like "DVD Jon" was off the hook for DeCSS, even in Norway, the RIAA was hiring ex-LEOs to bust down doors and scare unauthorized CD vendors, and a Belgian consumer group was suing the industry over CD DRM.

Meanwhile, the world was getting ready for the hotly anticipated Google IPO, and just about every bank wanted in on the action.

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Posted on Techdirt - 8 January 2019 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 194: Ninja Future, With Gary Shapiro

from the moving-forward dept

Today, Mike is at the opening of the Consumer Technology Association's CES 2019 show — which means we'll have one of our CES post-mortem podcasts coming up soon! But before that, for this first episode of 2019, we've got a discussion with CTA CEO Gary Shapiro, whose new book Ninja Future takes a look at how people and businesses are dealing with innovation and rapid technological change.

Follow the Techdirt Podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe via iTunes or Google Play, 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 - 6 January 2019 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the a-new-year dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is Mason Wheeler with a response to antipiracy outfits routinely claiming copyright infringement against sites that simply report when torrents are released:

People who like to invoke 1984, take note of this. Who is it here who is attempting to do away with "crimethink" by making it impossible to even have any knowledge of forbidden ideas in the first place, in order to make it impossible to reason about them?

In second place, we've got a comment from a debate about the latest attempt to ban discussion of "controversial issues" in school out of fear of teachers indoctrinating children. One commenter was accused from bigotry for being dismissive about the story of Noah's Ark (we'll get to that comment in the editor's choice), leading an anonymous commenter to chime in:

Bigotry involves unreasonable hatred or fear. Disagreeing with non-factual religious beliefs as a basis for childhood education isn't bigoted.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got a pair of responses to the comment which started that debate by defending the law as a reasonable move against indoctrination. Gary drew a key distinction:

Yes very reasonable. Except that teaching about history and civics (part of what they are supposed to be doing per the article) requires talking about all those banned subjects.

Critical thought is one of the most important things to teach in school. Dogmatic recitation of facts means accepting whatever "facts" you have been told. Like those fact about an ark full of animals.

And Thad brought in some follow-up questions:

  1. How do you define "political or ideological indoctrination of children"?
  2. Do you believe Rep. Finchem's definition of that phrase matches yours?
  3. Do you believe Arizona courts' interpretation of that phrase will match yours?
  4. If you answered "yes" to (2) or (3), why do you believe that?

Moving on to the funny side, in first place we've got wshuff responding to the EU's failed first attempt at building a list of evil pirate sites:

98% of pirated content is uploaded with a computer using an Intel CPU. — Signed "Somebody Not In Any Way Affiliated With AMD"

In second place, we've got Bamboo Harvester with thoughts on the registration aspect of the Fortnite dance copyright fights:

Technically....

...they should have been registered with the Ministry of Silly Walks...

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with a comment from Gorshkov on why the FCC is likely understaffed:

Because it would take at least 1,600 employees just to handle the complaints about Comicast

And finally, we've got an anonymous comment about Saudi Arabia's takedown of Hasan Minhaj's show about MBS:

Is that Mohammad Bin Salman, or Mohammad Barbara Streisand?

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 5 January 2019 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Game Jam History...

from the PD-mining dept

Gaming Like It's 1923: The Newly Public Domain Game Jam

On New Year's Day, we launched a special celebration of this milestone year in which new works are finally exiting copyright and entering the US public domain: a public domain game jam.

From now until the end of the month, we're accepting submissions of all sorts of games (video games, board games, tabletop RPGs, LARPs, and just about anything else you can dream up...) based on works from 1923 that have finally become free for all to use without fear of copyright issues. There's a bunch of high-profile material to consider, and of course a whole world of lesser-known works that we hope people will dig into for inspiration.

At the end of the month, our growing panel of expert judges (including Cory Doctorow, Whitney "Strix" Beltran, Dan Bull, Rebecca Tushnet, Nicky Case, Mark Lemley, Daphne Keller, Jason Scott, Jason Morningstar, J Li, Eric Goldman, Carolyn Homer, Albert Kong) will select winners in six different categories, to receive prizes including Techdirt copyright swag and copies of our recently-Kickstarted card game, CIA: Collect It All:

  • Best Analog Games
  • Best Digital Game
  • Best adaptation of a 1923 work
  • Best remixing of multiple sources (at least one has to be from 1923)
  • Best “Deep Cut” (use of a work not listed on any of the round up articles)
  • Best Visuals

Even though we are less than a week into 2019, we've already had three submissions which you can go try out right now! But we're expecting a lot more competition — so whether you're an experienced game designer, an amateur looking to try their hand, or just someone who is really inspired by a work that has finally entered the public domain, head over and join the jam on Itch... then get to work!

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Posted on Techdirt - 30 December 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Year At Techdirt

from the the-big-one dept

It's that time again: for our final comments post of 2018, we're looking back on the comments you voted the funniest and most insightful throughout the year. As usual, we've got the top three winners from each category, plus a special outlier that racked up a lot of votes across the two categories combined. For those of you who want to see this week's winners, here's first place for insightful, first place for funny, and the double-winner that took second place in both. Now, on to the yearly round-up...

The Most Insightful Comments Of 2018

Back in July, we covered the story of a restaurant that was accused by the local police union of serenading some officers with N.W.A.'s Fuck Tha Police, only for CCTV footage to reveal that the incident never happened — one employee just mouthed the words from across the restaurant, and the police department itself had to call out the union for lying. This garnered our 2018 first place winner for insightful from an anonymous commenter:

Personal Comment

The other night, my family and I were eating at a hamburger place-type family restaurant. Four cops came in to get their dinner. I was shocked to realize that I suddenly felt LESS safe, not more.

Restaurants aren't the only reputations cops have ruined.

Our second place winner comes in response to another far more heinous incident of police insanity. In March, after a cop hit a woman's car at 94mph (on a 50mph road) and killed her infant child, the mother was arrested for negligent homicide on the basis that she didn't secure the child's car seat properly. While there's obviously no way to confirm the expertise claimed by commenter Alexander in responding to the incident, the information was convincing enough to win 2018's second place spot for insightful:

As an Automotive Engineer who has engineered seats in cars I can tell you for certain that none of them in ordinary vehicles are designed to deal with a 94mph collision. Cars disintegrate at that speed.

Those videos you see for car safety, the super slow motion ones, they occur at ~20mph. Yes, that is how much the seats move at 20mph. At 94mph they disintegrate.

Fastening the straps correctly or not would likely not have changed the outcome at those speeds. The officer is clearly grossly negligent and the mother did not contribute in any significant way to the death of her infant. I say that with confidence of someone who's signature is still on the approvals for seats still carrying children in cars today.

That cop should have his drivers license cancelled for reckless driving for a decade. If he loses his job, then stiff shit. Then talk about trying him for negligent homicide.

For third place, we head to our post in May about some copyright insanity: a director suing an actor for using a short clip of a movie in her demo reel, calling it an "unauthorized derivative work". Killercool racked up quite a few funny votes with a quick response, but not as many as the votes that made it 2018's third place winner for insightful:

I hate to tell you...

If a clip, or even several clips, from your movie is equivalent to seeing your movie, then your movie is bad and you should feel bad.

And now, on to the funny...

The Funniest Comments Of 2018

With all the often-uninformed nonsense flying around on the subject of regulating internet platforms this year, we've had plenty of comment-section dust-ups about moderation and free speech. In July, after Senator Mark Warner laid out some detailed ideas about platform regulation — in one of the few incidents of a lawmaker actually giving the issue some real thought and not getting hysterical — one regular commenter's angry rant about Section 230 led Mike to point out that, without those safe harbors, we wouldn't be able to let him comment here at all. Regular fixture Thad (and this was back before he created an account) responded to Mike's point with 2018's funniest comment of the year:

But there'd also be a downside.

Most of you probably recall in August when voting machines took another lump after an exercise at Defcon where an 11-year-old successfully hacked an ES&S machine and changed vote tallies. An anonymous commenter anticipated their response, offering up 2018's second place winner for funny:

Voting machine company: "This was a useless test of the machine's vulnerabilities. Eleven-year-olds can't vote. So your machines are safe from them getting into and changing any records. "

And if voting machine problems are a perennial story, so too are freakouts about video game violence. In February, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin decided to blame Florida's recent school shooting on... violent video games. This garnered many responses both flippant and substantive, but one anonymous commenter rose to the top and became 2018's third place winner for funny:

Minecraft is pretty popular yet I haven't notice an uptick in preteens applying for construction jobs.

And now, one more...

2018's Outlier Winner

As per usual, the combined leaderboard — based on the total votes for both insightful and funny — is primarily dominated by high-ranking comments from the individual categories. This year the third place insightful winner topped the combined board thanks to its surfeit of funny votes, while the first place insightful winner came in third by sheer force of insight. But the second place winner for combined votes got there with a pretty equal share of each, despite not having enough of either to even crack the top ten for insightful or funny alone. That's our outlier this year.

Back in July, following the merger of AT&T and Time Warner, some comments from AT&T executive John Stankey suggested the company might try to wantonly mess with success by changing the HBO formula. His most memorable statement was an odd comparison to child birth, suggesting it would be painful now but rewarding later — leading our anonymous outlier this year to sum up how he could find himself saying such dumb stuff:

The reason Stankey likes to compare childbirth to innovation is because he has zero experience with either.

And with that, we wrap up the 2018 comment season! It's been fun rounding the winners up every week, and I look forward to what's to come in 2019 (in our comments moreso than, like, the world in general...)

That's all for this year, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 29 December 2018 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: December 23rd - 29th

from the holidays-past dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, the feds were begrudgingly loosening the reins on some secrecy in minimal ways, releasing a redacted version of their secret interpretation of the PATRIOT Act (which just a month ago they said could not be revealed) and declassifying some court filings in long-running cases against the NSA while still saying the state secrets mean the court should kill the cases. The 60 Minutes journalist who turned the show over to NSA propaganda was insulting all his critics while the show was giving even more airtime to lies from national security officials (and Rep. Mike Rogers was out doing his own anti-Snowden TV appearances). And we took a look at how if Snowden returned to the US to face trial, he wouldn't be able to make any kind of whistleblower defence — and noted that even though, in private, James Clapper was saying he wasn't worried about terrorists changing tactics following the leaks, in public we had four star generals screaming at reporters and NSA apologists calling for Snowden to be hanged.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, Warner Music decided to play hardball with YouTube by removing all its music from the platform — or so it seemed. Later reports suggested that Google took the material down in response to Warner's demands for more money, because record labels just didn't have the leverage they thought in this fight. Though they were still doing fairly well in their battle to shoot down or compromise every innovative new music startup. And though it was just the previous week that the RIAA had announced an end to its lawsuit strategy, they were caught still suing — and excused their way out of it by insisting they couldn't stop lawsuits that were already in motion. Plus, a closer look at the voluntary three-strikes system the agency was touting as a replacement for the lawsuits revealed that the whole thing was more about sidestepping due process than stopping what they were doing, so at least some ISPs were pushing back.

Fifteen Years Ago

And just as three-strikes were the replacement for lawsuits, so too were lawsuits the replacement for RIAA subpoenas this week in 2003. Following the previous week's court ruling for Verizon that the agency can't just subpoena ISPs for customer info (which differed from a recent ruling for Charter, who went back to court to get that fixed), the RIAA decided to start filing lots of John Doe lawsuits first, and boy did they not waste any time getting started. There had been a lot of twists and turns in internet law throughout the year, and some more good legal decisions we feared would lead to bad laws. But at least one good decision affirmed that "DVD Jon" did nothing wrong by creating and releasing DeCSS.

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Posted on Techdirt - 23 December 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the anonymous-on-parade dept

We've got a tie for first place on the insightful this week, with a pair of comments from our post about YouTube's $100-million upload filter (and all its failings). First up, we've got an anonymous comment noting that YouTube even allows the removal of private archival videos:

On copyright takedowns of non-public videos: the University of California, Berkeley, hosts course lecture recordings on YouTube. Since 2015, the videos are not public and can only be viewed after logging in with a berkeley.edu account. Despite that, several of the videos have disappeared due to copyright claims. (Ctrl-F for "copyright".)

https://archiveteam.org/index.php?title=UC_Berkeley_Course_Captures/YouTube_ Status_Fall_2015

  • This video contains content from UMG_MK, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds.
  • This video contains content from UMG, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.

https://archiveteam.org/index.php?title=UC_Berkeley_Course_Captures/YouTube_Status_Fall_20 16

  • This video contains content from Crowley Media, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds.

https://archiveteam.org/index.php?title=UC_Berkeley_Course_Captures/YouTube_Status_Spring_ 2017

  • This video contains content from BBC Worldwide, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.
  • This video contains content from BBC Worldwide, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.
  • This video contains content from Mosfilm, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.
  • This video contains content from WBTV, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.

As time passes, even more videos from the past disappear. YouTube is not a trustworthy repository for archival videos like these.

Next, we've got a comment from James Burkhardt responding to a question about why the DMCA can't punish people who file false takedowns on YouTube:

One, Copyright ID is not a DMCA system, and does not operate under the DMCA legal framework. 512(f) only applies the DMCA Copyright notices. Does not apply to these cases. That said....

There were a flurry of lawsuits a few years ago, but unfortunately the Dancing Baby Lawsuit effectively but the nail in the coffin of that approach. The bar set by the courts over several rulings was so high that it could never be proven the copyright holder acted in a manner that triggered 512(f) penalties.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start with one more anonymous response to that post, specifically taking on our description of the entertainment industries as "going for broke" on Article 13:

It sounds like everyone else are the ones who are actually going to go broke though.

Next, we've got an anonymous comment taking a look at ICE's mission-creep into domain seizures:

I see a weird way to explain this as mission creep. As Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, they plausibly had authority preventing physical import of contraband across the border. Like most government agencies, they inevitably decided they wanted more power, so they assumed responsibility for interfering with contraband in other venues. That explains their infamous (and sadly not derided nearly often enough) panty raid. With the rise of e-commerce, it makes sense that ICE would decide to self-expand to online contraband. As with most things involving a computer, doing the job right is hard, and government agents have plenty of outs, so why bother restricting yourself to disrupting only proven dangerous contraband, when you can go disrupt alleged contraband for a fraction of the effort?

Over on the funny side, it's another win for the anonymous cowards, with first place going to a little carol about asset forfeiture:

Deck the halls with assets "forfeit",
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!
We can make a tidy profit
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!
Don we now our SWAT apparel,
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!
As we grab those goods and chattels,
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!

In second place, it's lucidrenegade, who had to do a double-take on our headline about congressmen courting lobbyist cash with tickets to a shared box at the Grammies:

At first I read the headline as "Want to Box At The Grammies With Two Bigshot Congressmen?" I'd sign up for that!

For editor's choice on the funny side, we've got a pair of responses to the already-funny story about Monster Energy's trademark attack on Monster Dip, a brand of industrial paint. First, it's not a true anonymous comment but rather one from Anonymous Anonymous Coward, who felt vindicated in some assumptions:

You hit the ball out of the park. I have never tried Monster Energy's drink because that is exactly what I though they might be selling, watered down industrial sludge. But paint works too.

I want to thank Monster Energy for clearing up any confusion as it certainly appears that they were worried about an industrial paint company siphoning off beverage drinkers, leaving no doubt about the source for Monster Energy's drinks.

Not all were so lucky — and so we finish this week off with an anonymous commenter who fell prey to this terrible source of customer confusion:

I give the new flavor by Monster a 0 out of 5... I tried the customer hotline, but there must have been some problem that day because I kept getting connected to some other beverage company... Poison Commander or something

That's all for this week, folks!

1 Comments | Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt - 22 December 2018 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: December 16th - 22nd

from the as-i-recall dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, NSA revelations continued to trickle out, such as the unsurprising fact that the agency had cracked standard mobile phone encryption, and that along with the GCHQ it was spying on UNICEF. But the backlash also started to come hard from all three branches of government: a judge ruled that bulk metadata collection is likely unconstitutional, the White House's task force issued surveillance reform recommendations that were surprisingly much more substantial than we expected (though Marcy Wheeler — then and now one of the best reporters out there keeping a close eye on the feds — wondered if this was just to stall constitutional analysis), and seven members of the House Judiciary Committee demanded a DOJ investigation into James Clapper for lying to congress (though at least one representative called this a disgrace).

The NSA was in a generally unhappy place of course, and one reporter told the story of an official calling for reforms to the first amendment because of how mean the press was being to the agency — though they must not have been talking about CBS, which turned over an entire episode of 60 Minutes to NSA apologia and propaganda, or the Wall Street Journal, whose editorial board called Snowden a sociopath and opposed any rollback of NSA programs.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, Hasbro finally dropped its lawsuit against Scrabulous, ending a long and stupid saga. EMI was in a copyright pretzel, using Coldplay's copyright to take down a mashup video that (misleadingly) compared the songs by Coldplay and Joe Satriani at the heart of a copyright lawsuit. The RIAA was still aggressively suing students, and record labels were caught disobeying a court order about how it could use student info it had acquired (by demanding money instead of only seeking injunctive relief), and then by the end of the week the RIAA had officially decided to abandon its mass lawsuit strategy — because it had negotiated secret three-strikes deals with various ISPs.

Meanwhile, more votes lost by Diebold machines in Ohio were discovered, which I mention because...

Fifteen Years Ago

...Why were Diebold machines still in use in 2008 anyway? This same week in 2003, the company's problems were already pretty clear. California was considering banning them from selling voting machines at all, and it was revealed that they had employed at least five convicted felons in management positions. More and more people were calling for a paper trail for the electronic votes, which Diebold offered to add to its machines — at a ridiculous jacked-up price because, as internal memos revealed, they figured the customers had no choice but to pay.

This was also the week that the CAN SPAM bill was signed into law, effectively legalizing spam while not being particularly effective in restricting or controlling it. Google also quietly launched its book search feature, and this alongside some other recent launches was making more people realize that Google was going to be something much bigger and different than just a web search engine.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 18 December 2018 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 193: Can Anyone Disrupt The Disruptors?

from the cycles-of-innovation dept

The innovator's dilemma, and the concept of disruptive innovation, is an idea that sits at the core of a lot of what we talk about here at Techdirt, and it has been embraced by different people in very different ways — though not always good ones. This week, for our final episode of 2018, we've got returning guest James Allworth joining the podcast to talk about the growth of disruptors into incumbents, and how they respond to the next wave of disruptors.

Follow the Techdirt Podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe via iTunes or Google Play, 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 - 16 December 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the what's-the-good-word dept

We've got a double winner on the insightful side this week, with That One Guy taking on a pair of bad excuses from law enforcement. In first place, it's his response to the Kansas Supreme Court ruling that officers can search houses without a warrant if they say they smelled marijuana:

"I love the smell of warrantless searching in the morning."

Why do I suddenly suspect that claimed weed use is about to skyrocket in the state of kansas, as suddenly cops are going to be smelling it everywhere they feel like searching?

And all of this over a substance that multiple states have been sane enough to decide should be legal. Lovely.

In second place, it's a response to the New York police union objecting to having to document their use of stop-and-frisk:

Telling objections

If simply documenting what they are doing accurately is considered a hindrance to the point that it would interfere with (what they imagine are) their jobs then that seems a pretty blatant admission that what they are doing wouldn't stand up under any scrutiny, and as such they almost certainly shouldn't be doing it.

Someone for whom a gun is standard gear had damn well better be mentally competent enough to document what they do on the clock, and if the incredibly low bar of recording their own actions is too much then clearly the job they are in is far beyond their ability. Any 'cop' who finds something that pathetically simple too difficult to manage deserves to lose their job and/or be fired for gross incompetence.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a long comment from cpt. kangarooski responding to another comment full of false claims about copyright:

[The US Constitution] recognizes the Right of Authors and Inventors to EXCLUSIVELY control their works. Period.

No it doesn’t.

The Constitution doesn’t grant copyrights and doesn’t mandate that Congress enact copyright law. It merely empowers Congress to do so, should it wish. That authority is then sharply limited in several respects. Here’s what it says:

The Congress shall have Power ... to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

You’re misreading the “exclusive right” sub-clause. It doesn’t mean that they can “exclusively control” their works as though no one else can. An exclusive right is literally a right of exclusion. That is, the copyright holder (who may not be the author) can exclude other people from engaging in certain, limited, types of behavior with regard to the pertinent copyrighted works. It doesn’t mean that the copyright holder has control. It’s the difference between a shield and sword.

This is most clearly seen in the example of blocking patents. (In short, inventor 1 invents and patents an invention. Inventor 2 later invents and patents an improvement to the invention. Inventor 1 cannot use invention 2, and Inventor 2 cannot use Invention 1. Each one excludes the other unless they come to an agreement — or patent 1 ceases to exist, which frees up Inventor 2 to do as he likes.)

Another example would be a libelous book — the copyright holder can use the copyright to prevent other people from printing copies, and his copyright is never diminished in the least during the term, but he cannot himself print the book because it’s libelous.

There can be no quarter given to those with [the view that copyright is artificial in nature and, at the very least, so-called common law copyrights do not survive publication].

Well, that’s basically all copyright scholars then. The Supreme Court too, which rejected your ideas almost 200 years ago in Wheaton v. Peters, 33 US 591 (1834), which was, ironically, about copyrighting Supreme Court opinions — they said no, it cannot be done, and found in favor of the guy accused of piracy.

Since the creators have all of the moral basis which is on bedrock Constitutional law, pirates are not going to win.

There is no moral basis to copyright. It’s amoral, like an ordinance regulating what sort of fence your house can have.

The productive part of society has given pirates every opportunity to show restraint, but there can no longer be doubt: NO ONE WILL PAY IF DON'T HAVE TO.

Your grammatical error aside, there was never any doubt and there has never been any restraint. Publishers have always been nasty about piracy — often even when they themselves were pirates.

But there’s a far easier solution. If authors don’t think they’re getting a good deal, just stop creating and publishing works. Let’s see for once and for all of there are enough authors who care to have an effect or whether society can keep humming along without them.

Next, we've got John Roddy with a good summary of the state of copyright in the culture:

Overreaching copyright laws have bred an entire generation of consumers who see no reason to respect copyright anymore. It is used to shake down innocent people for settlements in literal criminal rackets (see: Prenda), retroactively take away content you paid for (Apple, Amazon, etc.), and lock down your own property because you aren't allowed to own anything anymore.

Why on earth would you believe that making the laws even more draconian will improve anything?

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Shufflepants who took our baby-and-bathwater analogy about the EU Copyright Directive and... ran with it:

It's a nice and simple metaphor, but the real situation is even worse than that. It'd be more like, throw out any bathwater on request, and if you've already thrown out that bathwater, make sure to never let anyone else add that water back into the bath, but don't supervise the tub, don't throw out any babies, especially not babies that are made of water, except for some of the babies that are made of water, unless that baby was added to the water by its guardian, then it should stay in or if the baby's guardian gave some one else permission to put the baby in the bath, so make sure you've monitored communications between all people everywhere so that you'll know which is which, but don't do that if it's too much trouble or impossible, but if you don't we'll fine you a lot.

In second place, we've got an anonymous response to an incredibly bizarre and paranoid comment about Google's leftwing bias being proven by difficulty in finding some arcane radio frequency data:

"I don't know how to use web search terms effectively, it must be a conspiracy!"

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with a response from Baron von Robber to Joe Arpaio's defamation lawsuit that actually only earned an insightful badge, but nevertheless made me chuckle:

For a party that claims the others are snowflake, they sure melt easy.

Last but not least, we've got an anonymous response to the suggestion that the only way to effectively abide by the EU Copyright Directive would be to "hire God to do it", noting that even this idea just puts us in theological paradox territory:

Sorry, the Supreme Being is still busy creating a stone so heavy that He cannot lift it.

Perhaps, after that minor task is done, He may be willing to create an upload filter that is not an upload filter.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 15 December 2018 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: December 9th - 15th

from the things-what-was dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, we learned about how the NSA and GCHQ infiltrated World Of Warcraft and Second Life, and about how the NSA was to track people. Most big tech companies were calling for major surveillance reform while AT&T was rebuffing criticism from shareholders — but the government's plan for reform seemed mostly cosmetic and ineffectual. Law enforcement was also ramping up its collection of cellphone data and use of Stingray devices, though for the time being the feds were accepting a ruling saying they need a warrant to put GPS devices on cars. But the feds definitely didn't want to share their FISC legal filings with companies suing them over surveillance, and Keith Alexander was insisting he couldn't think of any way to keep Americans safe without bulk metadata collection.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, Warner Music was pushing for a music tax and we were explaining why that's a bad idea. Universal was continuing to wage war on Redbox, online video sites were harming themselves with geographical restrictions, and a hairdresser in New Zealand got billed for playing the radio in her shop. In the DRM world, Nokia's flopped "Comes With Music" scheme for devices had its DRM cracked, while Ubisoft finally decided to drop DRM on Prince of Persia in a highly passive-aggressive way.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2003, the deluge of online music offerings got even sillier with Coca Cola launching its own download store, even while across the industry customers were starting to question the standard pricing (and it was becoming clear that the real money was in selling hardware). Meanwhile, the RIAA hired ATF chief Bradley Buckles to head up its anti-piracy efforts, while a court was telling MPAA head Jack Valenti that he doesn't get to decide whether studios can send out DVD screeners. But Hollywood was winning on other fronts, trying to push its anti-camcorder laws to the national level, and doing well in its fight for a broadcast flag because consumer electronics companies weren't united in their opposition.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 11 December 2018 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 192: Section 230 And Political Bias

from the debate-time dept

We've got another panel discussion from the Lincoln Network's Reboot conference this week, all about the law on everyone's minds lately: Section 230 of the CDA. The debate includes law professor Eric Goldman, the EFF's Corynne McSherry, and Dr. Jerry A. Johnson from National Religious Broadcasters, offering up a wide spectrum of opinions on Section 230 and political bias.

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Posted on Techdirt - 9 December 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the fair-comment dept

This week, we covered the fallout of FOSTA, which can be summarized as "nothing positive accomplished, plus dumb new rules at sites like Tumblr". Both our winning comments on the insightful side came in response to people attacking this evaluation in various flawed ways. In first place, it's Wyrm correcting an incorrect assertion about the impact on sex trafficking ads:

Trolling or just misunderstanding?

The article doesn't attribute the raise in ads to FOSTA (ie "they raised because of FOSTA"), but notes that they still raised after FOSTA (ie "they raise despite FOSTA"). Hence, the law didn't accomplish this objective and introduced a lot of other negative side effects (censorship, more difficult investigations, ...) that were indeed attributed to this failure of a law.

It also points out that the supporters lie about the result both in effect ("raise" instead of "drop") and cause ("it dropped because of FOSTA", when the small-term drop that did occur happened before FOSTA).

I'll pass on commenting the rest of the ridiculous rant.

In second place, it's Stephen T. Stone with a lengthy refutation of those who would celebrate Tumblr's sex ban:

Stephen T. Stone (profile), 5 Dec 2018 @ 11:19am I always enjoy dismantling these little treatises—especially when they hit upon something I am intimately familiar with: sexual content in general and queer content in particular.

So what's the "problem"? Less pornography?

Nudity, sexuality, and discussions thereof also fall under this ban. And since LGBT/queer content is, by nature of our wonderful society, damn near always seen as explicitly “sexual” in nature even if it were otherwise innocuous (e.g., a gay couple kissing), that content tends to get axed first.

Tumblr was a place where queer people could have frank discussions about their sexual orientations and gender identities with other queer people and not worry (too much) about being censored in some way. Queer artists of all kinds found an audience on Tumblr that they might not have found elsewhere before Tumblr became a thing, thanks in large part to Tumblr’s reblogging functionality. So yes, the ban on mature/“NSFW”/“adult” content disproportionately affects queer people because it is their content that will likely be axed well before straight content of similar (or greater) levels of sexual activity. This whole situation goes beyond mere “pornography”; if you were more interested in growing your perspective of the world instead of trying (and failing) to make yourself seem like a superior person, you might understand that.

prostitutes are hampered and even endangered by FOSTA, with clear implication that open solicitation should be permitted

Oh, a diversion into something else? Okay, I got time to kill. So! Two things:

  1. Prostitutes who work for pimps and traffickers are explicitly endangered by FOSTA because FOSTA makes harder the job of finding those pimps and traffickers.
  2. If an adult willingly wants to exchange sex for cash, I fail to see the issue.

Several pieces bewailing that convictions for downloading child pornography gained under a warrant should be thrown out because of a mere Court Rule that hadn't been updated for the internet where actual location of downloader cannot be known in advance.

Yeah, you’re gonna have to provide links for that, because you’re either pulling shit out of your ass or exceedingly simplifying things so as to remove important context and make yourself sound superior.

Many other pieces wanting convictions of drug dealers thrown out on sheerly technical grounds, with underlying premise that the law is to protect the known guilty. Similarly, pieces cheering when such convictions are overturned on technicality.

Drug dealers are not inhuman monsters that we can lock up without trials, regardless of whether you want to believe that. They are people—and so long as we have laws that protect the rights of the people, those drug dealers are afforded both the presumption of innocence before they enter a courtroom and the same protections that the law affords to everyone else. You might wish to suspend their rights for the sake of putting them in prison; the courts, however, will not abide by your unconstitutional actions.

After the riot at Trump Inauguration causing much property destruction, with apparent organizing in advance, you resisted Facebook being required to provide evidence of what persons of own free will had published to the entire world.

What Techdirt resisted was an overreach by prosecutors to discover evidence that had nothing to do with convicting people of a crime and everything to do with finding more people to arrest on trumped-up charges because they happened to be at the protest at the same time as said destruction of property. (Also you should be happy that only property was destroyed. A car can be replaced; a human life cannot.)

According to your corporatist assertions elsewhere, Tumblr is fully within its "rights" to so manage its "platform". You claim that "platforms" can deny access for their own definitions of "hate speech", BUT YOU COMPLAIN when what's forbidden is well within traditional limitations, widely accepted as "not safe for work".

And here…we…go.

Verizon is fully within its rights to manage Tumblr however it sees fit. (Reminder that Yahoo bought Tumblr and Verizon bought Yahoo. Verizon owns Tumblr as a result. Ha Ha! Corporate vore.) Their decisions, however, can be criticized by anyone—including the very userbase that would be alienated by those decisions.

For the past few years, Tumblr had several problems. The porn bot issue aside, it also had issues with refusals to mitigate on-site harassment, rampant spreading of White nationalist/Nazi propaganda, and—yes—the child pornography problem. Tumblr management chose to sidestep all those issues until circumstances forced their hand into addressing them, then it chose to use a supposedly one-size-fits-all solution in banning “NSFW” content and declaring that to be nothing but pornography, then it enacted a shitty filter that tagged completely innocuous images as “NSFW”. Never mind when it initially removed “sensitive” content from its search results and “accidentally” targeted LGBT/queer content as a result (e.g., searching for “queer” bringing up few-to-no results).

While I understand the desire to knock pornography off the platform—high-end corporate advertisers don’t like their products appearing next to “female-presenting nipples” and all—I also understand that the “NSFW” designation (or any substitute or variation thereof) is also used to stifle legitimate conversations and information about sexuality, including educational content. It also makes creating works that either include or focus on sex much harder to share (let alone monetize). And that presents an issue for adults who want to create/experience these works, because it drives them off major platforms like Tumblr (and Twitter and Livejournal…) and back into smaller, more marginalized platforms where they cannot find/be an audience for such works.

Tumblr has every right to ban pornography, nudity, and talk of sexuality. Those of us with an ounce of goddamn sense recognize and understand this. But that does not mean we agree with the decision to do so—not if it means “hate speech” goes unpunished because it does not cross any boundaries into “NSFW” territory on first glance, and especially if queer content is the first (and possibly primary) target for the filters. We will criticize this decision for being heavy-handed, short-sighted corporate bullshit that is going to kill Tumblr faster than the spambots and the App Store lockout ever would have.

If you do not like our criticisms, well…join Tumblr and whine about it there. Come December 17th, you’ll have plenty of yelling space where all the people who were on the service used to be!

For editor's choice on the insightful side, first we've got Steven with a reminder about the constitutional basis of copyright:

"To promote the progress of science and useful arts..."

As in the purpose of copyright is to promote progress as a benefit to society. It is not for the purpose of lining the pockets of large companies who leach off the creative works of others.

Next, we've got Gwiz with a response to the false dichotomy of copyright holders versus the public:

You do realize that pretty much everyone is a copyright holder in the US, right? Please explain why only some copyright holders should have a say.

Also, this is a public matter that impacts the public. Are you really saying something along the lines of: "You drink alcohol, so you should have no say concerning drunk driving laws."? Because if you are, that is simply plum dumb.

Over on the funny side, for first place we head back to last week's comment post, where the conversation about turning comment Markdown on by default (we're going to do so soon!) continued with David clarifying the fact that we retired the option of HTML formatting:

<blockquote>I always assumed that HTML was no longer supported with the markdown ox checked, but <em>is</em> supported with it unchecked. Was I wrong in this?
</blockquote>
<em>Yes</em>

In second place, our winner is mcinsand with thoughts on Twitter's response to Rudy Giuliani's hilarious URL fail:

Perhaps Twitter's statement could get a little modification at the end:

"This incident shows how difficult it is to make software idiot-proof, especially when facing idiocy of this magnitude."

One commenter on that post accused us of being petty and nitpicking over nothing, asking if we'd also harangue an official for "improper use of an Oxford comma". Our first editor's choice on the funny side is an excellent anonymous response:

Sure, if the person using an Oxford comma incorrectly is the Presidential Advisor on grammar, runs a grammar consulting firm, and goes on a laughable, false, conspiratorial rant about how Microsoft Word grammar check is out to get him.

Finally, with winter settling in up here in Toronto, I sympathize with this anonymous commenter who opted to strategically schedule their rage over ICE/CBP's constitution-free zone in America:

Well given the time of year, I will allow ICE to dominate Buffalo. Come spring though, we will see how long ICE stays around.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 8 December 2018 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: December 2nd - 8th

from the reflections dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, we saw a spate of worrying changes around the world, with a German court telling Wikimedia that it's liable for user content, a French court ordering a search engine to make an entire website disappear over copyright infringement, and Italian politicians looking to have copyright handled by regulators, not courts — but at least in the UK, a court was also ruling that software functionality is not subject to copyright. Back in the US, just before the MPAA reached a settlement with Hotfile that would assuredly not actually help any artists, the agency was surprisingly told it couldn't use the words "piracy", "theft" or "stealing" during the trial. And there were developments in two major long-term IP court battles, with the appeals court overturning the ruling exempting APIs from copyright in the Oracle/Google case, and the Supreme Court agreeing to hear the Alice software patent case.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, before Denuvo became the leading name in the useless and annoying DRM world, it was SecuROM driving gamers nuts while failing to stop pirates — and so nobody was happy when RockStar decided to use it for Grand Theft Auto (apparently having learned nothing from seeing the high-profile failure of Spore's DRM). Warner Music was trying to talk universities into making students pay a piracy tax, while copyright apologists were arguing that schools which refuse to do so were protecting "terrorists, pedophiles, phishing-scheme operators, hackers [and] identity thieves". The MPAA, meanwhile, was trying to claim that its desire for selectable output control on media devices was a pro-innovation stance being opposed only by the luddites at the CEA...

We also saw a few key copyright developments in the courtroom: the banning of Bratz dolls (we covered this fascinating fight in a podcast this year), and Joe Satriani's lawsuit against Coldplay.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2003, the spam wars heated up as the world headed into the holiday shopping season, with spammers using new techniques to get around filters and even designing extensive spam campaigns just to annoy and hinder anti-spam companies — which were themselves becoming a lucrative industry. Alongside all this, we were beginning to realize just how much spam was coming from networks of hijacked computers. Meanwhile, with every damn tech company trying to launch an online music store, even Hewlett Packard was trying to get in on the action, while the RIAA was filing more insane filsharing lawsuits including one infamously targeting a 79-year-old retiree with no computer.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 4 December 2018 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 191: Free Speech Disorder, With Mike Godwin

from the a-closer-look dept

Last week, we published a series of posts by Mike Godwin looking at Our Bipolar Free Speech Disorder And How To Fix It (check out part one, part two, and part three). But with a topic like this, there's always more to dig into, so this week we've got Mike Godwin joining the podcast to take a closer look at his ideas about free speech in the digital era.

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Posted on Techdirt - 2 December 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the winnin'-words dept

This week, our top comment on the insightful side comes from That One Guy in response to the UK government shaking down a third party in its efforts to go after Facebook:

"And we should trust you THIS time why again?"

In their short-sighted eagerness to get data that they apparently felt was 'owed' to them it seems the UK parliament might have just shot it's foot with regards to future cases involving the company.

By going after a third party because they were too toothless and/or gutless to challenge Facebook directly, followed by blatantly flaunting the fact that the documents in question are under seal in the US Facebook can argue that handing over any information to parliament risks having it spread elsewhere, as parliament clearly can't be trusted to show restraint or consider any legal or privacy issues involved in said information.

Not only do they come out looking all sorts of thuggish, but if they thought Facebook was stonewalling/ignoring them before they pulled this stunt I suspect they are not going to be happy with the stance Facebook is likely to take after it.

In second place, we've got a comment on our post about the FBI demanding the identities of thousands of YouTube users to go after one bombing suspect, where one commenter suggested the government had good reason and James Burkhardt noted how that was ridiculous:

Actually, no. The governemnt does not have a "legitimate cause for a wide dragnet". Ignoring for the moment that the constitution bars general warrants of this sort, Mike notes, specifically, that the police have information that would allow them to easily narrow search parameters. Device IDs, IP addresses, and other information could have been included as a means to narrow the scope of the request. So in this case they should have a far smaller dragnet, and maybe expand the net after they process these results.

Then of course outside the specifics of this case, they do not have a legitimate reason to make a wide dragnet. General warrants are prohibited by the constitution, and I expect once this warrant moves past a rubber stamp magistrate into an adversarial process, it will be squashed.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got a pair of responses to perennial complaints (from a small number of parties) about our comment flagging system. First it's an anonymous response to the idea that it somehow doesn't count as "voting" since there are no upvotes to counter downvotes:

So when I vote for my Senator, it doesn't count as "voting" because I can't downvote the opposition? Fascinating argument.

And before you claim that's somehow different because "upvote vs downvote," it's not. Most voting systems work by presuming a "default" state, and then accumulating votes until the threshold of the "special" state is reached. In Senate races, the default state is "not being Senator," but if you accumulate enough votes you reach the special state of "Senator". In Techdirt, the default state is "visible comment," but if you accumulate enough votes then you can reach the special state of "hidden comment."

Next, it's a response from Gwiz to the complaint that "Techdirt's notion of free speech is to protect yourselves from what don't want to see":

That is Free Speech, you dolt.

You're free to say what you want (as long as it's actually protected speech) and I'm free to ignore you.

Over on the funny side, we've got a double winner for the first time in a while: Gary. In first place, it's his response to a discussion on last week's comments post about whether markdown formatting for comments should be turned on by default:

I almost _never_ forget to check the markdown box!

(When we first rolled out markdown, it seemed like turning it on might just trip people up — but now maybe it's time to do so, and we'll consider it!)

In second place, it's a jab at our Australian friends in response to their challenges acquiring legal media at a decent price, if at all:

TAC your comments fail to take into account the immense difficulty of translating American movies into Australian, which easily explains the delay and added expense of releases down under.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with an anonymous commenter who had an understandably defeatist response to the idea that you should fight your insurance company:

Good luck with that. Works well with any wild bears you may encounter also.

Not.

And finally, another anonymous commenter offered up a take on the strained, terminology-misinterpreting logic that folks use to declare social media companies the "public square" and subject to the first amendment:

Twitter is represented by a bird. One of the most famous birds is the Albratross. The Albatross is known in myth to be important to sailers. Who is in charge of sailers? ADMIRALS. Thus Twitter is beholden to admiralty court and needs to listen to Doug's superior arguments.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 1 December 2018 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: We Finally Start Testing Responsive Design!

from the it's-about-time dept

Try out Techdirt's new responsive design on our beta site »

It hasn't escaped our notice that the design of Techdirt is a little... behind the times. There was a spate of high-profile redesigns a few years ago, with many blogs transitioning to a more "magazine"-esque style, and although they looked great, it wasn't always the most useful choice for readers — and that's part of why we didn't end up going along with the trend. We've heard from various readers over the years that they appreciate our adherence to a traditional blog format with a chronological list of posts, and the fact that we don't force the use of photos and imagery when they don't actually add anything to the content. We're also a very small and very busy team, so when we tinker with the site, we try to focus on adding streamlined features that are immediately useful, like the ability to expand posts on the front page instead of clicking through, or to hide all ads on Techdirt. We've also tweaked the appearance of the site in small ways from time to time, and in general we prefer this incremental approach over making a splash with a big redesign.

That being said, there's something very important that we've been neglecting for far too long: how Techdirt works on mobile devices. Our "lite" format is much too basic — a holdover from an earlier era of the mobile web — while our default site is extremely inconvenient on a small screen. And so today we're happy to announce that we're almost ready to launch a new responsive framework for Techdirt, enabling the default version of the site to perform well on devices of all shapes and sizes, and we'd like your help with the beta test. We built this framework ourselves using fairly basic responsive CSS, since so many pre-packaged solutions are overly complex and/or unnecessarily reliant on JavaScript.

Click this link to switch to Techdirt's beta site and try out our new responsive design! Your preference will be saved in a cookie, and you can go back to the regular version of the site at any time via your user preferences or the prominent "Exit Beta" link in the header of every page.

You'll notice a few small tweaks to the layout of our posts, but the main change is that every page should now respond nicely to any viewport size and organize itself to be easily readable and navigable. Please give it a try on your phones and tablets (or by resizing your browser window) and let us know how your experience goes. If you encounter any bugs, or have any general suggestions or comments, get in touch using our contact form or by reaching out to us on Twitter (or here in the comments!)

If all goes well, we hope to roll this change out to the site very soon, and we've got a few more adjustments (plus a general tidying-up of the visual design) in the pipeline.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 27 November 2018 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 190: Should We Break Up Big Tech?

from the pro-tech-anti-trust dept

A few weeks ago, we featured a panel discussion with Mike and others at the Lincoln Network's Reboot conference on the podcast. This week we're doing something a little different and featuring another panel discussion from that conference, but one in which Mike wasn't involved. Instead, it's an interesting — and at times contentious — debate about one big question: do the big tech firms need to be broken up?

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