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About Leigh Beadon Techdirt Insider

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Posted on Techdirt - 16 February 2020 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the word-from-on-high dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is That One Guy with a comment in a conversation about how the First Amendment applies to government sanctions of foreign countries that impact domestic companies:

Given the first amendment(along with the others) is a prohibition on what the government can do with regards to speech, telling a company 'you are not allowed to let them speak' seems like the sort of thing that would struggle in court, though that of course would require a judge with a spine to rule on the matter, and those can be a bit difficult to find these days.

In second place, it's Thad commending our description of the UNC Silent Sam statue as, unambiguously, a racist monument:

I appreciate the bluntness.

None of this "racially charged" or "which some have called racist" or putting racist in quotation marks bullshit that's so unfortunately common in media coverage of topics like these.

We need to call racism what it is. Thanks for doing so.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with one more nod to That One Guy, in response to those who describe Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's call for a full repeal of FOSTA as support for sex trafficking:

The 'I know you are but what am I?' offense I see

The kicker of course is that those supporting the bill and/or opposing an investigation into it are actually holding positions much more sex-trafficking friendly than AOC.

When even the gorram police are saying the bill has made it harder to find sex traffickers and their victims defending the bill is not defending the victims of sex trafficking it's defending sex traffickers by making it easier for them to avoid being caught and continue victimizing people in the process.

If the politicians slagging AOC for wanting the bill rightly scrapped actually cared about preventing or reducing sex trafficking they'd be right there with her, supporting it's removal or at the very least an investigation into whether it's actually done what it's defending claimed it was for, but as was the case for those that presented the bill and defended it when the bill was being presented odds are good they don't actually give a damn about sex trafficking, and are only in it for the cheap(in both senses of the word) PR.

Next, it's James Burkhardt explaining a key issue with one Arizona legislator's proposal to strip Section 230 immunity from politically biased platforms:

The proposal doesn't punish moderation (or censorship). It punishes "political motivation", which as I highlighted above, is nearly impossible to prove. You can prove a bias exists, proving the motivation behind that bias is another thing entirely. An economically motivated bias against Neo-Nazi memes is not a political motivation, for instance.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is an anonymous comment responding to the copyright dispute over photos of a banana duct-taped to an art gallery wall:

If the copyright upon this banana taped artwork is not honored, then there will be no incentive to produce additional produce taped artwork.

In second place, it's That Anonymous Coward with a response to Chooseco's lawsuit against Netflix over Bandersnatch:

Turn to page 47 if you want to create more bad legal concepts

Turn to page 97 if you want to just get money from the deep pockets

Turn to page 32 if you weren't sure Chooseco was still in business

Turn to page 75 if you just want dragons and explosions

Close the book if you're tired of rent seeking assholes ruining building on old things to create new better things

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with Pixelation asking the all-important question about the banana photo dispute:

I wonder...

Who would own the copyright if a monkey took the picture?

And finally, we've got justok in response to the lawsuit over civil asset forfeiture being used to steal people's cars:

I had the perfect comment, but the cops seized it.

That's all for this week, folks!

20 Comments | Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt - 15 February 2020 @ 12:00pm

Game Jam Winner Spotlight: Hot Water

from the gaming-like-it's-1924 dept

This week, we announced the winners of Gaming Like It's 1924, our game jam celebrating the works that entered the public domain in the US this year. Just like last year, over the next few weeks we'll be spotlighting the winners from each of our six categories (in no particular order), and today we're kicking things off with a look at the game that won the Best Visuals award: Hot Water by reltru.

We never expect much in the visuals department from people who submit digital games to the jam, since one month is hardly enough time to produce elaborate graphical assets for a video game, but canny designers like the creator of Hot Water can surprise us by finding ways to create something visually striking with a combination of pre-made sprites, powerful choices, and attention to detail. The game, which is based on the 1924 silent film of the same name starring Harold Lloyd, has a clear and simple goal in mind: capture the distinct aesthetic and feel of early silent comedies in a retro 8-bit style video game. It's a beautiful little idea in and of itself, and one that exemplifies the fun of remixing multiple sources from throughout history: each of these two distinct and instantly recognizable visual styles occupies a similar spot in the timeline of its own medium, but they are separated from each other by more than half a century — so what happens when you put them together?

You get Hot Water, with its black-and-white 8-bit scenelets and its pixelated interstitial title cards (though a still image doesn't do the latter justice):

The gameplay (which is "soft boiled" by the designer's own admission) is your basic reaction-test obstacle course, tasking the player with dodging and jumping over benches and other obstructions to complete a mad dash to the end. It can be a little frustrating — while it's no Battletoads hoverbike or anything, the somewhat-sluggish controls and unclear boundaries on the obstacles are enough that I doubt anyone's getting to the end without a few false starts. But the manic music, and the silly and amusing little story unfolding via title cards, will make you keep trying until you reach the end of the game's one short level and receive one final little visual gag. And while the game clearly has no intentions of being anything more than the brief diversion it is, some fine-tuning and a few additional levels offering new story vignettes would quickly turn it into a full-fledged (if still simple) game. But either way, as a demonstration of what you can get by combining these two disparate vintage styles, it's a great success that makes me imagine an anachronistic arcade cabinet in a 1920s jazz club where dappers and flappers line up to play the new tie-in game for the latest Harold Lloyd movie.

You can play Hot Water in your browser on Itch, or check out the other submissions in our public domain game jam. And come back next week for the another winner spotlight!

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Posted on Techdirt - 13 February 2020 @ 9:30am

Announcing The Winners Of The 2nd Annual Public Domain Game Jam!

from the gaming-like-it's-1924 dept

The judges have had their fun, the votes are in, and now it's time: we've got the winners of our public domain game jam, Gaming Like It's 1924! We had some amazing entries this year, and we've even got a couple returning winners. Plus, we noticed a really exciting pattern: several of the games didn't just make use of newly-copyright-free works from 1924, they actually found ways to embody the spirit of the game jam — a celebration of the public domain and the creative power of remixing and reimagining — within their themes and mechanics as well. This has only strengthened our resolve to continue with these game jams each year, and hopefully expand them as the public domain continues to grow — but first, here are the winners of Gaming Like It's 1924:

Best Analog Game — The 24th Kandinsky by David Harris

As we began reviewing entries in the game jam, this was one of the first to catch our eye, and right away we knew it was something special. The 24th Kandinsky is a marvelously conceived and executed game that you could start playing right now with almost any group in any setting and have an interesting, entertaining, and above all creative time. It is a game about admiring, sharing, remixing, creating, and collaborating on art — all quite literally, and all based on the 1924 paintings of the famed abstract artist Wassily Kandinsky. Players become what one judge called "art DJs", physically reproducing and cutting up pieces of Kandinsky's work to create a new composition on a shared canvas, with some light voting-based competition so a winner can take home the group masterpiece as a prize. This is exactly the sort of public domain celebration we hoped these game jams would inspire, and a deserving recipient of the Best Analog Game award.

Best Digital Game — You Are The Rats In The Walls by Alex Blechman

The award for the best overall digital game goes to this RPG Maker experience that employs a classic technique for reimagining a famous work: switching the perspective character. You Are The Rats In The Walls takes H. P. Lovecraft's 1924 short story of the nearly-same name and, as you've probably guessed, puts the player in the shoes of the titular rats. One thing that makes this game stand out is its excellent and amusing writing, which mines a great deal of comedy from the combination of baroque Lovecraftian prose with more modern, casual dialog. But what sealed its spot as Best Digital Game was that it goes beyond the basics of the RPG Maker engine and actually adds some real gameplay mechanics — simple ones perhaps, but enough to elevate it beyond the more rigid interactive fiction it could have otherwise been.

This is Alex Blechman's second win in the Best Digital Game category, following last year's win with a quite different kind of game.

Best Adaptation — The Hounds Follow All Things Down by J. Walton

At first glance, this analog storytelling/roleplaying game based on Lord Dunsany's 1924 novel The King of Elfland's Daughter might not seem like a candidate for the Best Adaptation award, which goes to the game that most faithfully carries forth the meaning, style, and intent of the original work. And yet, something about the way The Hounds Follow All Things Down radically tears apart — then tasks players with creatively rebuilding — its source material allows it to tap in to what Charles De Lint called "the spell of legendry and wonder" that makes the novel so influential in the fantasy genre. The designer used an unusual, experimental method of procedural generation via predictive text algorithms to chop up the text of the book into curious fragments, which the players then use to construct a fictional "famous poem" within the story's setting. As such, it directly employs themes of authorship, oral history, remixing, and the way stories change over time, while strongly evoking the world of Elfland and its inhabitants.

J. Walton is our other returning winner this year, after taking the Best Deep Cut award last year with a game that similarly delivers rich meaning in strange and unexpected ways.

Best Remix — 192X by chloe spears

The award for the best combination of material from multiple public domain sources goes to this Twine-based interactive fiction that clearly had such remixing at the heart of its mission. 192X weaves together the Buster Keaton film Sherlock Jr., the Yevgeny Zamyatin novel We, and George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue — all works from 1924 (and thanks to the designer for noting that the game only uses the now-public-domain composition by Gershwin, not any of the still-copyrighted recordings). Moreover, it's another of the entries that brought the ideas of public domain material and remixing into the game itself, resulting in (as the designer describes it) "a game about the art we leave behind for the future, and what we allow the future to do with it". The writing is compelling and often funny, the interactivity is simple but designed with care and subtlety that enhances the story, and as one of our judges put it, "my hat is off to the creator for having the guts to even try to tell a Buster Keaton movie in words alone."

Best Deep Cut — Legends of Charlemagne by Abelardsnazz

There weren't many "deep cut" entries based on works that don't appear in the popular public domain day highlight lists this year, but the competitive deck-building card game Legends of Charlemagne — based on the N. C. Wyeth paintings published in a 1924 illustrated edition of Thomas Bulfinch's famous 19th century book of the same name — would be a strong contender even in a crowded field. It first caught our eye with its striking visuals that pair the paintings with perfectly complementary card designs, but its most notable achievement is having identified this wealth of beautiful imagery in one edition of a book that has been republished and repackaged many times over the past 150 years, and which could have easily flown under the radar of everyone looking for interesting 1924 publications. Wyeth's book, magazine and advertising illustrations are an iconic part of early 20th century commercial art, and Legends Of Charlemagne gives them new life as a game that will appeal especially to fans of history, legend, fantasy, and of course competitive card games.

Best Visuals — Hot Water by reltru

A video game with good graphics is a tough thing to pull off in a one-month development window, but this year we have a winner for the Best Visuals category that is absolutely dripping with visual style. Hot Water, based on the 1924 Harold Lloyd silent film of the same name, is a simple and short reaction game that could use some polish on the controls and mechanics, but its delightfully anachronistic combination of retro pixel art with silent movie interstitial title cards and a black-and-white, early-film aesthetic is instantly appealing. With the music enhancing this effect, plus a little treat at the end, you've got a couple minutes of silly, diverting, and above all visually charming gameplay that will put a smile on your face.

The winning designers will be contacted via their Itch pages to arrange their prizes, so if you see your game listed here, keep an eye on your incoming comments!

Like last year, we'll be featuring even closer looks at each winning game over the coming weeks, and you can check out all the submissions (including all the great games that didn't quite make the cut) over on itch.io. Congratulations to all our winners, and a huge thanks to everyone who submitted a game — and finally, another thanks to our amazing panel of judges:

We'll be back next year with another public domain game jam for works from 1925, and in the mean time, keep on mining that public domain! There's lots more to discover...

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Posted on Techdirt - 9 February 2020 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the thou-hast-spoken dept

This week, both our winners on the insightful side come in response to the story of Disney sucking up a third of the money raised by a school fundraiser because someone played a Lion King DVD to keep the kids occupied — and more specifically, in response to one commenter who took Disney's side, and compared the event to holding public back-yard screenings of movies. In first place, it's Nathan F drawing a distinction between that and what the school did:

If you are showing those movies as the actual event to draw the crowds for your fundraiser, no you can't do that. This is a case of one of the parents bringing something to keep the kids occupied out out of the way while they were working. The showing of the movie was incidental to the actual fundraiser and the kids had no way of influencing the outcome of the fundraiser.

The parents are going to complain about this and the kids are going to hear it. Disney running roughshod over copyright laws like this causes people to ignore said laws and their kids pick up on that and do the same.

In second place, it's Rocky with a different angle, noting that Disney still had a choice about what to do and doesn't deserve anyone's sympathy:

Having the law on your side doesn't negate the fact that you can also be morally corrupt.

A company with any morals at all would have let this slide, since the fundraiser was for helping the school pay for teachers and scholarships.

What's even worse, Disney had the stomach to go after a PTA screening of the Lion King which is a plagiarizing of Kimba, The White Lion:

Kimba is the story of a white lion cub whose father is king of the jungle. But, after his father is murdered and he is kidnapped and eventually becomes lost at sea. He, through a long journey, finds his way home only to find an evil lion name Claw, who is missing an eye and has hyena henchmen, has taken over his kingdom. They fight and Kimba eventually wins.

Disney even went after the Kimba movie Jungle Emperor Leo when the studio behind it wanted to release it in the USA. That movie started production in 1988, a tad earlier than the "original" Lion King.

All in all in regards to the Lion King and Disney, they come across as a company that has zero morals and scruples, and can in my opinion take their so called "original stories" and shove it where the sun doesn't shine, because it's all plagiarized in one way or another from other sources.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, let's round things out with a couple more responses covering other ways of looking at the situation. First, it's an anonymous commenter noting that these are the times when you see how broken copyright law is:

Alternately, we could say that if an activity seems so innocent that people have always done it, without anyone thinking twice, maybe it was wrong to make it illegal.

And next it's ryuugami noting what is perhaps the most curious thing about the story (and giving a shout-out to a sly Disney burn):

What I'd like to know is... how the hell did they even find out? I can't imagine the fundraising itself being a major news story that a Disney lawyer might encounter and wonder if there's a way to ruin it. Do they have Mouseketeers trawling social media posts for any mention of a Disney IP or what?

I did like the last quote in the CNN article:

"We would be enthusiastic about paying the license fee if Disney was willing to have their properties reassessed and pay some additional property taxes."

Over on the funny side, our top two comments come in response to the not-so-funny but ultimately encouraging story about the court that actually refused to grant qualified immunity to a cop who shot a dog that posed no threat to him. In first place, it's Pixelation with a real suggestion about disarming the police, wrapped in a joke:

Perhaps a big part of the problem is that we arm cops. When trouble arises, humans will respond with the tools at hand. When it happens to be a gun, well gee, isn't that handy. If we only gave them Billy clubs, we would hear about how many dogs they clubbed to death. I think it's time to arm our police with silly string.

In second place, it's Berenerd who took a moment to more colorfully indulge the anger these bad-cop stories tend to elicit:

Personally, I feel he should be found guilty and chained in a pool filled with piranha and give him a bloody nose. If he survives for the 20 minute bath, he is obviously innocent.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with an anonymous commenter who proposed that the cleansing of the National Archives isn't such a big deal:

There was never anything to see. You can check the archive if you don't believe me.

And, last but not least, we've got Uriel-238 noting that one previous commenter was being very unfair in a comparison he made about Disney:

Suggesting Disney is as bad as Maleficent reflects poorly on Maleficent.

That's all for this week, folks!

4 Comments | Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt - 9 February 2020 @ 11:00am

Gaming Like It's 1924: Check Out The Entries In Our Public Domain Game Jam

from the the-games-are-in dept

At the beginning of the year, we launched our second public domain game jam to encourage designers to explore all the new works exiting copyright protection in the US and turn them into new analog and digital games — and as of this month, the submissions are in! Our panel of judges is hard at work play checking out all the great games, and while they try to determine a winner, you can check them out too.

Though we didn't get as many submissions as last year (after all, this wasn't the historic year in which new works began entering the public domain for the first time in a long time) the quality and creativity of this year's lineup is off the charts. You can play them all at our itch.io page, including things like: a deck-building card game about Charlemagne based on the paintings of N. C. Wyeth, a text-based choose-your-own-adventure game based on The Most Dangerous Game, a game about remixing the art of Wassily Kandinsky, and rules for a free-form LARP based on Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain, among many others.

We'll bring you more updates as our judges get closer to choosing winners in in our six categories: best analog game, best digital game, best visuals, best adaptation of a 1924 work, best remixing of multiple public domain works, and the best "deep cut" game based on something more obscure that isn't included in the popular lists of notable newly-public-domain works. Until then, get playing, and share your own experiences and thoughts in the comments!

2 Comments | Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt - 8 February 2020 @ 12:00pm

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

from the past-present-future dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2015, Michael Hayden was saying some worrying things about the 4th Amendment, while we learned about the FISA court's rubberstamping of questionable NSA legal theories and the DOJ was staying quiet about whether it took any action against NSA analysts who spied on "love interests". None of this seemed to be scaring Canada away from pushing for its own PATRIOT-like anti-terrorism legislation. We also learned about Germany's spies sucking up phone metadata and sharing it with the NSA, while a court in the UK was saying the GCHQ's similar behavior was illegal in the past but not anymore, and UK Lords were trying yet again to sneak through their Snooper's Charter less than a week after failing to do so.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2010, copyright settlement shakedowns were getting so bad that even the recording industry was criticizing them, while News.com had to help prevent a falsely-accused grandmother from being kicked off the internet by the MPAA. We wondered if the recording industry in the UK would be willing to pay for the cost of the the ISP monitoring they were demanding, while an Australian court thankfully ruled that ISPs are not liable for infringing users — leading the copyright industry to seek a government bailout. Of course, we also saw a very bad ruling in Australia, with the court agreeing that Men At Work's Down Under infringed on the folk song Kookaburra.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2005, the RIAA was really exposing its sloppy shakedown tactics by suing a non-computer-owner who also happened to be dead. French musicians were asking the industry to stop suing fans, while rumors that online music sales were oustripping CDs were greatly exaggerated. A scandal over supposedly missing disks of classified information from Los Alamos was dissipated when it became clear that the disks never existed in the first place, a text messaging scandal was continuing to cause massive overreaction in India, and one wrong button push almost caused the complete evacuation of the state of Connecticut. We also had a post this week about the birth of Amazon Prime which, interestingly, has amassed nearly 600 comments (trickling in all the way up to 2018) from people who were confused and angry about being automatically billed for the service.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 4 February 2020 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 237: How Privacy Laws Harm Criminal Defendants

from the collateral-damage dept

Privacy laws are often well-intentioned, but rarely without terrible unintended consequences. And some of these fly right under the radar, like the fact that various privacy laws have made it harder for defense teams in criminal trials to access critical information, even as law enforcement and prosecutors don't seem to face the same problem. This week, we're joined by Berkeley Law's Rebecca Wexler, who has been tracking this issue and working on an upcoming paper about it, to discuss how privacy laws are harming criminal defendants.

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 - 2 February 2020 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the whaddaya-say dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is That One Guy responding to our post about the Supreme Court being asked to tell cops they can't destroy someone's home just because they consented to a search:

As always, 'no one is dumber than a cop' is apparently the rule

"Giving officers permission to search your house should never mean giving them permission to leave you with no place to live."

The punchline of course in that by bending over backwards to protect the cops who trashed a house the ninth circuit has sent a very clear message: Never grant police permission to search anything, because so long as they are creative in what they do they can get away with basically anything.

If the want to engage in a search of any sort demand a warrant, as that at least presents some sort of guidelines as to what they can do, and removes one of the excuses available to them if they go overboard.

"The person they were seeking had vacated the residence before officers stopped Shaniz West and threatened her with arrest if she didn't 'consent' to a search of her house."

If that is what they consider 'consent' then I dearly hope none of the judges involved in this case are ever in a position to judge a mugging, armed robbery or rape case. 'Consent' granted when faced with a threat of punishment for refusal is not 'consent' by any remotely reasonable standard.

In second place, it's Rocky asking the simple question that advocates of mandatory social media moderation never seem able to answer:

Facebook has 2.45 billion active users, how do you propose to implement mandatory moderation?

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got a pair of additional points raised in response to the mandatory moderation concept. First, it's Glen noting the global challenges:

Add to this. How to you moderate to the standards in the US, Canada, the UK, the EU and damn near everybody else?

Next, it's Stephen T. Stone with the important reminder that moderation is the point of Section 230:

The entire, original, on-the-record intent of 230 was to allow legal moderation of speech. Any change to 230 that goes against said intent will invite one of the two outcomes I mentioned. No company wants to face legal liability for third party posts, so it’ll either shut down a platform to avoid that liability altogether or leave that platform unmoderated to avoid the kind of liability laid out in the Prodigy ruling. You can’t take away a platform’s right to legally moderate speech post-Prodigy and still expect the platform to moderate speech.

Over on the funny side, we're going to flip things around, because the first place winner is in fact a reply to the second place winner. So, in second place, it's Jeffrey Nonken responding to YouTube's preemptive copyright takedown of a livestream that hadn't started:

I hereby claim copyright on everything that has not yet been created.

You'll be hearing from my lawyer. All of you. Everyone.

And, in a demonstration of the power of comedy duos, an anonymous commenter won first place by replying and outdoing the original joke:

And thus Nonken spake, "behold, for I have created all that is; for naught may be created but through me."

• Profits 36:50

For editor's choice on the funny side, we've got Norahc with a comment about Tulsi Gabbard's lawsuit against Hillary Clinton:

Who knew the Nunes Effect was a bipartisan effort?

And finally, it's an anonymous commenter zeroing in on one of the overlooked flaws in Lindsey Graham's anti-230 bill — its call for "a presidential commission of experts":

If that isn't an oxymoron in 2019, I don't know what is.

(Yes, the comment gets the year wrong, but 2020 has yet to deliver us from its truth.)

That's all for this week, folks!

49 Comments | Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt - 1 February 2020 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: January 26th - February 1st

from the prior-events dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2015, the Charlie Hebdo attack had the UK reviving interest in its "Snooper's Charter", while we learned about how the feds went to Google to snoop on the emails of Wikileaks journalists — and gagged Google after the backlash to their similar warrants against Twitter. Justice Sotomayor was calling out the DOJ for devaluing the 4th Amendment, the EU's counterterrorism coordinator finally openly said they want to force internet companies to hand over crypto keys, and China's government was getting in on the crypto-wars too — all while a privacy board review of the NSA noted that the agency doesn't know or care how effective its surveillance programs are.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2010, there were still those in the music business who believed the impossible was possible, and wanted all piracy stopped, while we noted the irony of ACTA supporters speaking out against internet-oppressive regimes, the unintended consequences of three strikes programs were cropping up more and more (as we pointed out that three strikes won't save thee recording industry), and Jammie Thomas was rejecting a settlement offer from the RIAA. And another copyright case joined the insane-damages-parade when the plaintiff was awarded $51-million over a satellite cracking app. Lord Mandelson was trying to make the UK's kick-folks-off-the-net plan even worse by making them pay to appeal decisions. But at least some folks, like Brian Eno, could see where things were going in the music industry — though others were getting a little over-optimistic about how Apple's upcoming tablet would save publishing.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2005, the government was getting involved in IBM's sale of its PC division over fears of Chinese industrial espionage. The EU was grappling over software patents while RIM was dealing with a patent lawsuit by being Canadian. There were more questions of liability regarding online posts, Microsoft decided to withhold Windows security updates from those with unauthorized copies, and the MPAA was being extremely magnanimous and doing everyone a gigantic favor by offering to give them software that would scan their machines for infringing files.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 28 January 2020 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 236: Talkin' Jomboy, New Media & Copyright

from the three-strikes dept

If you're a baseball fan, you've probably heard of Jomboy (aka Jim O'Brien) by now. And if you're not, you still might have — because he's been getting attention by building a successful new media network online with his baseball explainer videos. And of course, that includes facing some familiar copyright and ContentID obstacles along the way. This week, Jomboy himself joins us on the podcast to discuss the experience, the challenges, and yes, the baseball.

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 - 26 January 2020 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the something-said dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is an anonymous commenter who responded to a suggestion about rules for returning seized money with a simpler idea for reform:

There should be a law that money and property cannot be seized without charges being brought, and cannot be kept without a conviction.

In second place, we've got Stephen T. Stone with an evergreen comment that can be referred to every time there is another attack on Section 230:

Quick reminders vis-á-vis 47 U.S.C. § 230:

  1. Without 230, a vast portion of the Internet wouldn’t even exist.
  2. 230 puts liability where it belongs: on the people responsible for the speech.
  3. 230 doesn't protect a platform from liability in re: any speech for which the platform is directly responsible.
  4. 230 has no “neutrality” provision.
  5. 230 helps facilitate the sharing of speech on third party platforms; the First Amendment gives you the right to share that speech in the first place.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got a pair of complementary comments about online speech. First, it's an anonymous commenter with a reminder that having your odious speech privately moderated is not a free speech issue:

Except that isn't happening.

If it were, it would still 1) not be censorship, and 2) within their rights to do so.

Funny how when the right-ish side controlled most media and corporations, there wasn't a problem. Now, if you are even center, or just not extreme-right enough, you are a leftist suppressing the poor oppressed right. Even when it isn't happening.

If you mean people who are racist, sexist, and advocate violence, yeah, they tend to get moderated. Sorry if that is your "unpopular political view".

People all over the spectrum get moderated for shit, sometimes sensibly, and sometimes incorrectly. "X censors the right" is just another "War on Christmas". Bunch of whiny, spoilt snowflakes.

To go along with that, it's Stephen T. Stone again with the point that, on the other hand, even odious speech is protected from legal intervention and DMCA abuse:

Whoever filed that DMCA claim used a government-backed legal claim as an attempt to censor speech. I don’t care if the person being censored is a damned White supremacist; they don’t deserve to have their speech silenced by way of a bullshit copyright claim.

Over on the funny side, our winners are both irresistible quips about the bizarre story of Mohammed bin Salman apparently hacking Jeff Bezos' phone. First place comes from an anonymous commenter:

New phone. Who dis autocratic ruler?

And Who Cares offered up the second place winner:

The world is really unfair.
You need to be rich and powerful to get scammed by a real prince while I, a mere average Jane/Joe, only get these fake Nigerian princes.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with an anonymous comment about flawed facial recognition technology:

But we tested it...

We loaded it with the headshots of all 20 white males in the office, and it's able to recognize them consistently... so that means it should work for everyone everywhere, amirite?

And finally, it's another anonymous commenter responding to someone else who, also anonymously, suggested people make their own encryption technology because Apple's encryption "isn't really useful anyway":

Nice try Bill

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 25 January 2020 @ 12:00pm

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

from the as-it-happened dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2015, newly released documents from the Snowden leak revealed how the UK's GCHG collected emails from journalists and used compromised hardware to get data from iPhones, and how the NSA harvested data from other surveillance agencies. We also learned more about the DEA's role in the surveillance world, while the FBI was touting another of its own manufactured-then-foiled terror plots as evidence that the PATRIOT Act should be renewed.

Meanwhile, a European Parliament report called for wide-ranging copyright reform that was actually good, a court soundly rejected the attempt by Omega to abuse copyright to stop Costco selling its watches, and Cory Doctorow rejoined the EFF to lead a project to eradicate DRM. Also, James Bond entered the public domain in Canada, which is worth highlighting because we came up with a darn good headline if I do say so myself.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2010, the US was trying to strongarm Costa Rica into adopting draconian IP laws by blocking sugar from the US market, Italian lawmakers were pushing their own draconian provision to require government authorization for all video uploads, Oxford University made the bizarre decision to ban students from using Spotify, and EU trade negotiators were calling Canada's public comment period on copyright law "a tactic to confuse". BPI was insisting that UK ISPs were overstating the cost of a three strikes program, and the IFPI was loudly complaining about piracy in its annual report that conveniently omitted its own study showing file sharers also buy lots. ACTA secrecy was in full swing, with bloggers getting kicked out of consultations in Mexico and the UK government telling MPs they couldn't see the details. And in one better-than-nothing-I-guess development, the judge who oversaw the Jammie Thomas-Rasset case reduced the completely insane damages of $80,000 per song to the less astonishing (but still arbitrary) figure of $2,250 per song.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2005, radio broadcasters were gearing up to be the newest entrants in the already overcrowded world of music download stores, TV broadcasters were trying to come up with ways to compete with DVRs, and Sony's Ken Kutaragi surprisingly admitted that DRM held up the company's innovation. The "war on file sharing" nabbed its first prisoners in the form of two men who plead guilty to "conspiracy to commit felony copyright infringement", while one state senator in California was promoting the idea that developers of file-sharing programs should be jailed.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 21 January 2020 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 235: The CES 2020 Post-Mortem

from the that-time-of-year dept

Once again, it's time for the CES post-mortem! Unlike past years, Mike didn't make it to the 2020 show, but our regular guest and unrivaled CES veteran Rob Pegoraro is back with all the important details from the ground. Listen in to find out what new consumer tech, both expected and unexpected, the industry is pushing this year.

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 - 19 January 2020 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the you-said-it dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is a quick response from Joe Cool to California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez's comment that "in a perfect world" all workers would be unionized:

In a perfect world, unions wouldn't be needed.

In second place, it's That One Guy responding to the indie game developer who used torrents as a way to boost sales:

Imagine that...

Offering people a free and easy way to check out a game they might otherwise not have bothered with or even known about was enough to convince a non-zero number of them to pay for it. It's almost as though being able to try something before paying is a good way to increase sales, I wonder if any other industries have ever tried that...

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got a couple more comments from our post about that developer's experiment. First, it's tom a sparks pointing out the oft-forgotten precedent that was so common in a bygone era:

Isn't this what shareware did back in the day?

Next, it's PaulT responding to one angry commenter who insisted this would have no effect on the "1%" of people who are true pirates and "steal in every area of their lives":

I wonder. If the rate of piracy is so low, why are you so obsessed with destroying the value of products for paying customers and the rights of everybody else, on the off-chance that you might stop some piracy. At those low figures, surely it's better to do what everyone here suggests - accept that a small amount of loss is inevitable and build your business to factor that in?

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Tim R with a comment about the company selling surveillance baby seats (among other things) and specifically its offer of an "All-In-One kit":

Does that mean it includes the baby?

In second place, it's Scary Devil Monastery responding to a very angry, authoritarian commenter insisting that undocumented immigrants — and perhaps all criminals in general — do not deserve any due process:

That's harsh. I mean sure, the native tribes would like their country back, but deporting everyone descended from immigrants might just be a bit over the top.

But i think we all realized just what sort of troll you were when you started out on how "criminals" didn't deserve "due process". Because the last guy to openly advocate the "one judge, one bullet" approach in public was Joseph vissarionovich Stalin.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with an anonymous comment about another surveillance product — the surveillance tombstone:

Don't be a sicko. If this person under the tombstone camera owed the government money, and if there is even one iota of a chance this person comes back to life, the government will be in a very good position to track this undead deadbeat down.

Finally, we've got a comment from Anonymous Anonymous Coward aiming to put copyright in historical perspective:

The History of Music

300 BC to 1976, music develops.

1976 Sony Bono puts his foot in his mouth.

2014 Courts begin interpreting that all the music has been made and any 'new' music is infringing.

2019 RIAA...Noooooooo!

All dates approximate as they are more of a range than absolute.

(Though as one commenter pointed out, the start date there should be a lot earlier.)

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 18 January 2020 @ 12:00pm

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

from the what-'twas dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2015, New York's top prosecutor was jumping into the war on smartphone encryption alongside UK Prime Minister David Cameron who appeared to express a desire to undermine all encryption, while President Obama announced a broad plan for "securing cyberpsace" that looked an awful lot like a law enforcement wish-list — all despite the fact that a leaked internal intelligence community document revealed recommendations for stronger and more encryption. And the NSA was apologizing for backdooring encryption, but in a "sorry we got caught" kind of way.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2010, we highlighted an excellent open letter to rock stars telling them to stop pretending they are fighting for up-and-coming artists with their copyright demands and anti-internet rhetoric. Marvel was trying to downplay Josh Kirby's work as part of the copyright termination fight, one school was trying to claim copyright over lesson plans while another was considering an anti-piracy campaign inspired by anti-drug campaigns, Grooveshark was sued yet again so negotiation-by-lawsuit could continue, and France's three strikes agency was caught pirating a font. But one big surprise was that the administrator of the OiNK torrent tracker, after explaining why he believed his system was legal, was found not guilty by the jury in a rare win sensible copyright.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2005, in a similar nice surprise, a file sharing network in South Korea was left alone by the courts. And who would think it was the head of Blockbuster Video in the UK who would be getting the right idea about how Hollywood needs to innovate if it wants to fight piracy. A new spam tactic was causing problems for the DNS system, company IT departments were struggling with what to do about personal devices, and paid search keywords were becoming a major public relations battleground. This was also the week that Apple released the first Mac Mini and the iPod Shuffle.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 15 January 2020 @ 12:00pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 234: Mike Godwin Defends Selling .ORG

from the pros-and-cons dept

We're back! It's been a lull over the holidays and we've gone a while without new podcast episodes, but now we've got several lined up for the coming weeks — and today we kick things off with a very interesting discussion. Many of you probably know about the controversy and concern over the Internet Society's sale of the .ORG domain registry to a private equity firm, but one prominent defender of the deal is ISOC trustee Mike Godwin, and today he joins us to explain his reasoning and try to convince Mike that the sale is a good idea.

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 - 12 January 2020 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the speak-softly dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is an anonymous comment about the use of FOSTA to go after companies that are totally disconnected from the content in question, like MailChimp:

The FDA is participating in sex trafficking because it regulates the food being served by businesses to sex traffickers, QED.

Next we've got a double winner, taking the second place spot on both the insightful and funny sides. It's another anonymous comment, this time about George Gershwin's nephew clutching his pearls at the thought that someone might make rap versions of Gerswhin's songs when they enter the public domain:

If that Jonny S. Bach dude's reputation can survive being Moog-synthesized, whistled, Jazzed-and-drummed-up (not to mention being sung by musical illiterates in churches every Sunday), then Georgio will just have to take his chances with the punk-rappers. In any case, G. G. is just another corpse, and his feelings are beyond our ability to offend.

But I think Wilde's aphorism still applies: the only thing worse that being rapped-about is ... not being rapped-about.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start with another anonymous comment that serves as accompaniment to the first place winner above, with a notion about FOSTA that is less amusingly illustrative, but more likely to actually happen:

Under the same reasoning applied to Mailchimp , any ISP can be sued if they do not take a site offline when notified that is is involved in sex trafficking. That is a powerful weapon for those who would censor the Internet, especially if these cases proceed.

Next, it's Jason, who modified our description of Disney and the entertainment industry in general's angry attitude of "we gave you everything and you still pirated you ungrateful wretch":

not quite, but close

"we gave you everything we wanted to give you and you still pirated you ungrateful wretch"

That's more the actual complaint, I think.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Stephen T. Stone responding to the same incident as the previous comment, in which movies have been disappearing without warning from Disney+:

One explanation for the missing movies:

Disney thought everyone liked Pirates of the Caribbean, so they decided to help everyone become a pirate.

We've already had our second place double winner above, so it's on to editor's choice for funny with dan8mx also responding to Marc Gershwin's fears:

So, I just pulled up "Summertime" on YouTube and started beatboxing to it. I don't want to alarm anyone, but it just... worked. YouTube didn't crash, my phone didn't catch on fire, nothing.

I was assured that copyright could prevent this. Maybe I have powers.

And finally, it's Norahc getting a little suspicious after one day this week seemed to have a lot of good news:

So just today we have the CAFC smacking down a patent troll, cops being held accountable due to body cam footage, and now Florida state courts respecting the 4th AND 5th Amendments at the same time?

Did somebody move up April Fool's Day to January 7th?

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 11 January 2020 @ 12:00pm

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

from the timeline-time dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2015, the administration made the meaningless gesture of sanctioning North Korea over the Sony hack, while James Clapper was calling it the most serious cyberattack on the US to date, implying there have been no serious ones, and Neil deGrasse Tyson was offering up the incredibly helpful and realistic suggestion that the solution is to simply create unhackable systems. The MPAA was trying to get regulators to force ISPs to block sites "at the border", while still pursuing their campaign to get links to pirated content out of Google — a strategy that is both ineffective and self-defeating. And we saw more bogus DMCA takedowns, of course, both mundane and personal.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2010, there was plenty more copyright panic from companies: Ninentdo shut down a fan-made Zelda movie, Sony was not supporting its own movies for the Oscars out of piracy fears over sending out DVD screeners, music publishers forced another lyrics site offline, and the UFC announced plans to start suing individuals for piracy. And even as many indie filmmakers were realizing that releasing movies for free online has many benefits, one indie record label in Finland was insisting it wouldn't sign any new bands until the government stops piracy. Meanwhile, Bono came out in favor of using China-style internet censorship to fight piracy (even as China's efforts were failing in many ways), garnering confused support from Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic even as he admitted he didn't really know much about the subject. And we looked at one attempt by an ISP to actually fight back against bogus DMCA notices, which only highlighted how this is almost impossible.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2005, there was some debate about the nature of apparent security loopholes in Microsoft's DRM, while Bill Gates was deploying the ol' accusations of "communism" against those who call for copyright reform. Another court told the MPAA it has to actually file lawsuits to get customer information from ISPs, while the BSA was seeking to codify the just-send-a-subpoena option right into the DMCA. After an initial loss, Geico was continuing its trademark crusade against Google, while Toronto's airport was getting into the trademark threat game to stop a silly blog that posts photos of urinals. And we were completely flabbergasted by the shocking results of a critical study, which revealed the oh-so-secret fact that... entertainment industry executives were scared of file sharing.

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Posted on Techdirt - 5 January 2020 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Year At Techdirt

from the 2019-edition dept

2019 has come to a close, and now it's time for our annual round-up of the comments that racked up the most insightful and funny votes in the entire year! As usual we've got the top three in each category — and if you're looking for this week's winners, here's first place and second place for insightful, and first place and second place for funny.

The Most Insightful Comments Of 2019

Back in April, we wrote about the Music Modernization Act and the problems with legacy industry players handling the royalties for independent songwriters. This garnered our first place winner for insightful in 2019 from Rico R. who shared his personal story as an example of how our copyright systems simply don't serve smaller creators well:

I'm an independent musician, and this is the first time I'm hearing about this comment period on the Music Modernization Act, and it's almost over! I say this with the utmost respect, but if Techdirt, a non-major small-time news operation, is the first time I hear about a potentially troubling implementation of updated copyright law in a way that directly affects me, there's a major disconnect between legacy gatekeepers and actual creators. I have to wonder if legacy players are hoping that smaller independent artists (like myself) just don't do anything so they can make money off of works they don't own or represent. And they say that copyright law is designed to protect small creators like me? Yeah, right!!

For our second most insightful comment of 2019, we only have to head back a few weeks to when Teespring took down our Copying Is Not Theft gear (which you can now get on Threadless) based on confusing accusations of copyright infringement and/or some sort of unexplained policy violation. Anonymous Anonymous Coward arrived with the first comment on that post, and racked up the votes by expanding on the needlessly controversial slogan:

Not only not theft, but perfectly legal.

Recording broadcast programs is perfectly legal. That is in fact making a copy. It isn't theft and the Supreme Court of the United States of America ruled in Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc., 464 U.S. 417 (1984) that that was the law of the land. Now if one records a program and then tries to sell that copy, that would be wrong, and is definitely against the law. But this slogan 'Copying is not theft' says nothing about copying and then selling copies.

Conjecture, therefore leads me, for one, to believe that Teespring is bowing to pressure from some copyright maximalists who may or may not be threatening to remove their business from Teespring (or are pressuring them in some other way), and Teespring appears to value their volume of business (or fear whatever other threat was made) more than the volume of business from Techdirt. That tells us a lot about the integrity of the folks at Teespring.

I hope the new venue stands up better than the last one did.

Finally, for third place on the insightful side for 2019, we jump straight back to April and the release of our latest Sky Is Rising report about the state of the entertainment industries. We made reference (as we often do) to Jack Valenti's infamous claim to Congress about the VCR: "I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone." Usually we talk about how wrong that notion is, but Mason Wheeler made his way to third place by taking a different angle:

Valenti was probably right... just not in the way he thought.

During the 1960s, the population of Boston was between approximately 640,000 and 700,000 people. Statistically, approximately half of them would have been women, and between approximately 65-70% of Americans were children during that time. A bit of quick math gives us approximately 100,000 adult women.

All those possible targets, and the Boston Strangler murdered a grand total of 13 of them.

The VCR was to the American film producer as the Boston Strangler was to the woman home alone: very scary to talk about, but the amount of actual damage done was negligible.

Though that figure about percentage of children appears to have been misread from an absolute figure, the point is well made! And that's all for 2019's most insightful comments. Now on to...

The Funniest Comments Of 2019

Though named commenters with active accounts dominated things on the insightful side this year, on the funny side we've got anonymous commenters taking the top two spots. In November, we wrote about the ridiculousness of claiming that the booming revenues of music collection societies somehow indicates the need for more draconian copyright laws. One commenter disagreed and quickly deployed the common assertion that strong copyright is the only way to prevent piracy and will inevitably only increase revenues, leading an anonymous respondent to win the most funny votes in the entire year with a thematically appropriate rejection of such well-debunked nonsense:

Bro that excuse is so old and busted that it’s in the public domain under current copyright laws.

Just two weeks before that, we wrote about the frustrating story of a California man who built a haunted house in his garage then later attempted to bully a theme park with trademark threats (only managing to get himself sued for his trouble). After the post suggested that the man should add an intellectual property wing to his haunted house (now that's scary...) one anonymous commenter won second place for funny in 2019 by running with the idea:

Yeah and one of the monsters can be a 91 year old mouse that just. wont. die.

<whisper> the horror... the horror...

For our final winner, we head back to March when Steven Spielberg was making waves by lashing out at Netflix and trying to stop them from winning Oscars. His objection didn't really seem to go beyond the fact that the Netflix model for making movies was different, and after one commenter pointed out that "we've always done it this way" is generally a terrible justification for anything, Boba Fat won third place for funny in 2019 by pushing back against this judgement:

Nonsense! We've always used that as our justification! We shouldn't change it now.

And that, folks, is your winning comments for 2019! But before we go...

The Double Whammies

Though our comment rankings have always focused on the Insightful and Funny categories separately, we also keep track of which comments score the most combined votes across both. But this generally isn't worth mentioning, as the leaderboard for combined votes is usually populated with the same comments that reached the top in either Insightful or Funny, driven entirely by their votes in that one category. And when there is a comment that racks up a lot of votes in both, it's usually enough to win both individual categories as well. But this year's leaderboard is very different: not only did none of the top three comments in either category make it into the top three for combined votes, only one of them (Mason Wheeler's third-place winner for insightful) even made it into the top ten! And indeed, even if you dig deeper down into the leaderboards for Insightful and Funny, there's very little overlap with the combined leaderboard at all — for once, there were lots and lots of comments that people thought were just about equally good at being funny and insightful even if they weren't the best-of-the-best at either.

While we're not going to start digging through this whole additional category in full, this unusual pattern was worth noting, and for those who are curious here's first place, second place and third place for combined Insightful and Funny votes in 2019.

That's all for 2019, folks! Keep the amazing comments coming, and we'll be seeing you in the weekly rankings.

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Posted on Techdirt - 4 January 2020 @ 12:40pm

This Week In Techdirt History: December 29th - January 4th

from the the-year-ticks-over dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2014/15, we reveled in the tradition of governments dropping news on Christmas Eve in the hopes that nobody will pay attention to it — employed by the NSA in releasing details on its illegal surveillance of Americans and by the French government to enact a controversial surveillance law of its own. Sony was caught infringing in copyright in a stark example of how broken the system is, while we used the notion of a movie about the big Sony hack to explore the unnecessary licensing of news stories. Comcast and Time Warner Cable were doing their darnedest to convince people their merger would be just fine, even though they were in fact the least-liked companies in any industry. And we took another look at how copyright makes culture disappear.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2009/10, Amazon announced that Kindle ebooks outsold physical books for Christmas, but we noted that "sold" isn't exactly the right word for DRM-laden licensed rentals, which change the equation on the value of a Kindle and were already forcing customers to stick with bad products — and the distinction was also becoming important in the music world with questions about licenses stopping at the border. We also looked at how automakers were abusing anti-circumvention laws to force people to pay more for car repairs, and how the UK's Digital Economy Bill was projected to cost more than the highest estimates on the cost of piracy. Zynga was making copyright threats over a script for auto-playing Mafia Wars, and the Viacom/YouTube fight was hit with the embarrassing revelation that Viacom uploaded many of the videos it was suing over.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2004/05, the popular technopanic was blaming wireless technology for everything under the sun — though at least one study was putting to bed the idea that it would interfere with pacemakers. Among the biggest sources of tech excitement was "nanotechnology", which we were beginning to realize was often just a rebranding of existing fields. Meanwhile, Wired took a detailed look at just how big and organized the file-sharing community was, while one anti-piracy group was caught hiding spyware and adware in Windows Media files.

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