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Posted on Techdirt - 24 February 2018 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: February 18th - 24th

from the past-tense dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, the Harlem Shake was still taking the world by storm, and serving as a great example of selective copyright enforcement. WIPO negotiations over access to copyrighted works for the disabled were, as usual, shrouded in secrecy, while an anti-piracy group was threatening the Pirate Party with criminal charges, the RIAA was moaning about Google's lack of an anti-piracy magic wand, and ISPs were gearing up to enact the Six Strikes program. On the other hand, the European Copyright Society was arguing against the idea that linking and framing are forms of infringement, a court tossed out an attempt to block CNET from offering BitTorrent downloads, and the CCIA was making the interesting argument that Germany should be on the Special 301 naughty list... for its attacks on fair use.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, torrent users were fighting back against Comcast's traffic shaping program by amping up their encryption efforts, while Comcast was weakly defending the practice by rolling out non-experts. Australia joined the list of countries considering the idea of kicking file sharers off the internet (even as, the same week, they declared their previous $89-million internet filtering plan a failure). Meanwhile, nobody could actually explain why stopping file sharing is an ISP's responsibility — indeed, as the US freaked out about P2P, the EU was investing in it; and as ISPs were starting to insist they can't offer unlimited access, mobile operators were pivoting to do exactly that.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2003, the Lexmark printer ink case was waking some people up to the DMCA's potential for abuse. The Turner Broadcasting chairman who called all TiVo users thieves was stepping down, while Hollywood was trying to recruit piracy informants, and Congress was trying to hash out a weak "compromise" on copyright. Meanwhile, the news arrived that Overture would be buying Alta Vista, in what appeared to be another nail in the erstwhile search giant's coffin — right around the same time that people were starting to seriously talk about the idea of a Google IPO (which would arrive the following year).

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 20 February 2018 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 155: Lies, Damned Lies & Audience Metrics

from the traffic-is-fake dept

In 2016, mostly out of frustration, I wrote a post about how traffic is fake, audience numbers are garbage, and nobody knows how many people see anything. My feelings haven't changed much, and neither has the digital advertising ecosystem. And since regular podcast co-host Dennis Yang runs a digital metrics company, it only made sense for us to hash it out on an episode all about audience measurement and how it shapes online advertising.

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 - 18 February 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the yakkety-yak dept

This week, our first place comment on the insightful side is a response to the old claim that copyright is the only way to make money as a creator:

Actually, as many Youtubers have realized when you can connect with your audience, they will support you in making the next work, and this means that copyright is not really needed.

It like most bands do not make their money from copyrighted recordings, but rather from live performances, where their is a live performance tax collected by the performing rights organizations. Copyright is actually costing them money.

In second place, we've got a not-unrelated comment from That One Guy underlining the lie that the copyright lobby represents creators:

Exactly, they don't represent creators, they represent gatekeepers. An open internet helps the first, but it's a serious threat to the second, hence the repeated lies and attacks against it.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got another anonymous reply — this time to the absurd idea that a settlement proves a lawsuit had merit:

A much better question is how many are settled because it is cheaper than hiring a lawyer and proving innocence in court.

Occasionally, a commenter decides to nominate a quote from one of our posts to be a top comment. This week, one such nomination from an anonymous commenter hit third place on the insightful side, so let's go ahead and include it here as our second editor's choice:

my vote for Most Awesomely Good Comment

> and if you're going to be one of those people who pop up in our comments to say something ignorant about how if someone is here illegally they have no rights and should be booted as quickly as possible, go somewhere else to spout your nonsense. Also, seriously: take stock of your own priorities and look deeply at why you are so focused on destroying the lives of people who are almost certainly less well off and less privileged than you are, and who are seeking a better way of life.

- Mike Masnick

Those of you who saw it in the comments probably won't be surprised to learn what our number one winner on the funny side is this week. It's one anonymous commenter's anti-troll version of a rather well-known poem:

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary
O'er many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore--
While I, to the subject clinging, facts and judgment all forth-bringing,
Suddenly there came a ringing, ringing at my website door.
"'Tis some dung-laden troll, I muttered, flinging at my website door.
Only this, and nothing more.

Ah, distinctly, he is present, rampant raging and incessant,
Anthropoidish adolescent, pissing in the comment pool.
And each separate post he disses, every fact and reason misses,
Every form of law dismisses, like a madman or a fool.
Every post with rude demeaning, "all the world but he a fool."
Darkness there, both mean and cruel.

And the blighter still is bleating, all our patience still depleting,
New supplies of dung excreting, flinging at my website door.
Never "natural human" writing would so heedless be inciting
Such a meaningless infighting, and in language all abhore,
If his heart were not pure evil, to its stygian inner core:
And his talk--he's just a bore.

In second place, we've got a comment from hij about the silly anti-piracy video in which an cartoon "piece of malware" warns about the dangers of viruses and hackers:

This is why you should not trust malware. Animated or otherwise.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with That One Guy hitting peak sarcasm over the question of what harm is caused by letting works enter the public domain:

What harm? Are you daft? If the filthy public is allowed to get their greasy mitts on Michael Jackson's works what possible reason could he have to create new works? Why would he ever create so much as a tv jingle if he isn't allowed to continue to profit from his works for eternity?

Sure some individuals(who are clearly mentally deranged) might suggest that the fact that he's dead means that no amount of money will incentivize him to create anything ever again, but as this is such an obvious red herring it deserves no attention or rebuttal.

Really now, without copyright why would anyone create anything? As history shows unless people have a guaranteed profit from their works(which of course is the sole purpose of copyright, despite what those filthy socialist commies who claim that the public is the intended beneficiary might say) nothing is or ever will be created.

And finally, we've got an anonymous comment that is in fact rather intriguing — once you realize it's a clever little paradox:

Is Betteridge's Law of Headlines still true? The answer will shock you!

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 17 February 2018 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: February 11th - 17th

from the as-always dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante was praising the pervasiveness of copyright restrictions, while two former holders of the office were complaining about fair use in universities; music publishers were calling for stronger copyright by attacking the Consumer Electronics Association, the BPI was (as usual) cherry-picking stats to fearmonger about piracy, and some folks at the World Economic Forum were talking for "balance" while calling for the opposite. France's Hadopi three-strikes program was reducing piracy, but failing to prop up flagging sales, while some industry folks were seeing if they could just turn three strikes into a moneymaking system.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, we discovered there was one kind of copyright limitation Congress would actually consider... an exemption for churches that want to show the Super Bowl, apparently. Then again, that same week, they resurrected the idea of introducing fashion copyrights. And the EU was looking to extend copyright terms and blank media levies, the UK was considering kicking casual file sharers off the internet, and the Bush Administration was bragging about all the anti-piracy work its DOJ was doing. In Canada, people were beginning to speak out against proposals for an equivalent to the DMCA, while in Denmark the Pirate Bay's traffic amusingly grew following a court order to block it.

Fifteen Years Ago

Things were a little quieter on the copyright front this week in 2003, though there were still rumblings like the IFPI trying to scare a bunch of companies into policing employee piracy and the IIPA releasing all sorts of bogus and misleading stats. Meanwhile, broadband caps were still a silly new idea and customers were realizing how much they suck; precious few people were able to retain perspective on the issue of "driving while yakking"; and it was the early days of the LED lighting revolution.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 13 February 2018 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 154: Truth, Trust, Transparency And Tribalism

from the panel-discussion dept

A couple of weeks ago, Mike was in Washington, DC for the State Of The Net conference, where he participated in a panel called Internet Speech: Truth, Trust, Transparency & Tribalism. For this week's podcast, we've got the audio from that conversation with all sorts of interesting ideas about how people are dealing with fake news, trolls, propaganda and more.

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 - 11 February 2018 @ 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 comes in response to the FCC's refusal to release certain records to a FOIA request. David noted that their reason — "to prevent harm to the agency" — was a big problem:

It's not the job of the agency to prevent harm to the agency. It is the job of the agency to prevent harm to consumers. The ones paying its salaries. The FOIA act ensures that the employers of public officials have the means to make sure that the officials are doing the job they are being paid for by the people.

If that would be detrimental to the good of the agency, the good of the agency is not aligned with the good of the people and salaries are obtained under fraudulous pretenses.

Basically the answer is "Accountability? I beg your pardon, we are criminals!"

In second place on the insightful side, we've got That One Guy with a response to the perennial and patently silly accusation that we are partisan hacks:

If you didn't notice those sorts of articles cropping up as often when Obama was in office, perhaps it's because he wasn't engaging in such actions nearly as much as the current administration.

He was criticized plenty when he did something wrong, if Trump and team get criticized more it's probably because they're doing more worthy of being criticized.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a comment from Roger Strong, who took the common light comparison between internet platforms and telephone companies and expanded on it, and its connection to one of the biggest myths about CDA 230:

And there were court battles over exactly that, a century or so ago. The upshot was that the phone companies weren't liable.

Online services had battles over this before the Communications Decency Act:

In 1991 Cubby v. CompuServe ruled that CompuServe was merely a distributor, rather than a publisher. It was only liable for defamation if it knew, or had reason to know, of the defamatory nature of content in its forums. Since it wasn't moderating them, it didn't know.

In 1995 Stratton Oakmont v. Prodigy went the other way. Prodigy moderated its forums, wanting a family-friendly environment. And so the court ruled that it was liable for what was posted.

All of which could only mean one thing: Online services that chose to remain ignorant of their content were immune from liability. Those that moderated content, even in good faith, assumed full publisher liability.

1996's CDA 230 changed this. It's now safe to make good faith efforts to prevent criminal activity. Remove 230's protections, and we may go back to "ignorance is safety."

Which would be a gift to the criminals, though those who want to kill CDA 230 will deny it.

Next, though by now there is plenty of analysis of the Nunes memo from every angle, our second editor's choice is a nod to the anonymous commenter who provided one of the meatiest comments in the Techdirt discussion on the topic:

Two key points from the Nunes memo

In a stunning case of "own goal", the very end of the memo points out that the FBI had an investigation going long before the Steele memo (which isn't a memo at all, but a series of reports) came along. There are two reasons that the FBI paid attention to the Steele memo: (1) Steele has a reputation, a very good one, along with lots of experience and a sizable network of contacts (2) the contents of Steele documents matched things THEY ALREADY KNEW TO BE TRUE.

The second point bears some explanation, because most of you don't have jobs that require the assessment of raw intelligence that comes from multiple people who may be omitting things or fabricating things or deliberately embedding some truth in a web of lies. The Steele memo is just that kind of raw intelligence, which is why -- if you take the time to read it -- you'll notice that Steele himself points out the possible presence of these issues.

But when you get your hands on raw intelligence, and it gives you -- let's say -- 100 facts that you can check, and you find that 82 of them are true, 16 are unverifiable, and 2 are false -- then you have good reason to think that at least some of those 16 are worth further investigation because they may well turn out to be true. That's why you get a warrant: first, to re-re-re-verify the 82 and second, to find out about those 16. That's your JOB.

Then of course you have to make some progress. Because if you don't, then you're not going to get multiple judges to renew your warrant multiple times. You might still not be able to check all 16 of those outstanding items, but if you can check 4 and make progress on 7, then you're getting there and it's reasonable for a judge to grant more time. If you can't check any of them, then maybe you're barking up the wrong tree and the warrant you seek isn't going to help anyway.

One more thing. This isn't an edge case. Anyone who goes out of their way to pal around with intelligence agents from another country, even a friendly one, should expect that they're going to get surveilled: by us, by them, and by third parties who are of course interested in such things for reasons of their own. And anyone who openly brags about it should REALLY expect scrutiny. I have no great love for the FBI, but in this case, they did exactly what any sensible organization should do: start watching people who are heavily interacting with known agents of a hostile foreign power.

Over on the funny side, instead of a first and second place winner, we have a rare perfect tie for the top spot, both from anonymous commenters! So in no particular order, we've got a response to apologists for the aggressive use of copyright on Martin Luther King Jr.'s works:

Yes, without copyright protection there would have been no incentive for Dr. King to make speeches!

Next we've got a reply to some rant or another by one of our loopier critics:

The Techdirt logo doesn't have a gold border. Under the Banana Republic Second Circuit Court of Captain Kangaroo, I hereby place you on time out from your silly postings.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we've got a one-two punch on our story about the FCC patting itself on the back for its incredibly stupid first year. An anonymous commenter chimed in early:

Figuratively speaking. To be specific, they mandated that the FTC do the actual back-patting for them.

Then XcOM987 added a further thought:

If all goes to plan though the FTC won't have the authority to pat the FCC on the back

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 10 February 2018 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: February 4th - 10th

from the and-so-it-was dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, the EU was taking a worryingly restrictive approach to trying to fix copyright licensing, France's Hadopi was trying to get the national library to use more DRM, and Japan was planning to seed P2P networks with fake files containing copyright warnings. The UK, on the other hand, rejected plans to create a new IP Czar, though a new copyright research center seeking to restore some balance to the overall debate was facing heavy opposition right out the gate. This was also the week that we wrote about the curious privacy claims about tweets from an investigative journalist named Teri Buhl, which quickly prompted a largely confused response and, soon afterwards, threats of a lawsuit.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, the recording industry was continuing its attempts to sue Baidu and floating fun ideas like building copyright filters into antivirus software, while we were taking a look at the morass of legacy royalty agreements holding back the industry's attempts at innovation. A Danish court told an ISP it had to block the Pirate Bay, leading the ISP to ask for clarification while it considered fighting back. And Microsoft was doing some scaremongering in Canada in pursuit of stronger copyright laws.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2003, Germany's patent office was seeking a copyright levy on all PCs, while the EU was mercifully pushing back on attempts to treat more infringement as criminal. One record label executive was telling the industry it had to embrace file sharing or die, but the company line was still the language of moral panic. Speaking of which, in an interview in the Harvard Political Review, Jack Valenti was asked about his infamous "Boston strangler" warning about VCRs — and proceeded to tell a bunch of lies to claim his warning was in fact apt.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 6 February 2018 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 153: An Interview With Rep. Zoe Lofgren

from the voice-of-reason dept

When it comes to many of the legislative issues of interest to us here at Techdirt, we've always been able to count on at least one voice of reason amidst the congressional chaos: Representative Zoe Lofgren from California. In addition to playing a critical role in the fight against SOPA, she continues to be a voice of reason against bad copyright policy, expansive government surveillance, and the broken CFAA, among many other things. This week, she joins Mike on the podcast for a wide-ranging discussion about these topics and more.

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 - 4 February 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the comments-on-comments dept

This week, we've been running a series of posts dealing with discussion moderation, which garnered our top comments on both sides. For insightful, the first place winner is an anonymous commenter taking the opportunity to give Techdirt a tip of the hat:

credit where due

This seams a good opportunity to congratulate TechDirt, on what is objectively the best comment system on the net.

No scripts, no captcha's, anon allowed, and your even good about vpn users- I don't know how you guys do it, and I suspect it's allot of work, which makes it all the more impressive.

cheers fellows!

(Much appreciated, despite the typos!)

In second place, we've got another anonymous comment, this time in response to our post about the Dutch approach to asset forfeiture:

Holland is a much more socialist country; I believe the police are nationalized, or at least at the state level. So on the one hand, this means that the local beat cop has less incentive to confiscate stuff, as he won't get to see the proceeds. However...

Police Chief said the young men targeted often have no income and are already in debt from fines for previous convictions but wearing expensive clothing.

Where I'm from, that describes a lot of the rich kids with foreign millionaire/billionaire parents. It also describes a bunch of poor folks who buy knockoffs from China.

So how are the police supposed to tell if something's stolen, bought with ill-gotten gains, bought with Daddy's money, bought BY Daddy, or a cheap fake?

From their perspective, it appears they want this so they can take the stuff from punks they already know, who are racketeering etc. and displaying their gains with bling. But there's not much of a step between going after these guys and going after someone who just rubs you the wrong way, and NO controls in place to separate these two groups.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we return to the conversation of content moderation, where one anonymous commenter addressed the complaints (which frequently come from a few choice parties, in stark contrast to our winning comment this week) that Techdirt is guilty of censorship:

While you have the right to speak on this forum, you do not have a corresponding right to be heard, so quit trying to claim the latter right. Anybody who wants to can read the hidden contents, and will do so; while those who trust the communities judgment will ignore them.

Next, we've got a comment from Rich Kulawiec regarding Apple and Verizon's opposition to the right-to-repair, pointing out another vital angle to the issue:

This is also a security/privacy issue

A population that's been well-trained never to open up its devices is a population that's easily wiretapped and surveilled via unpleasant surprises hiding inside sealed cases.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Pixelation, who took a lighter approach to the platform censorship topic:

I will discuss this, but only in moderation.

In second place, we've got yet another anonymous commenter, with an idea for hitting back at anti-repair, pro-DRM companies:

I'm going to start putting DRM on my money, so when I give it to companies like this in exchange for goods and services, I get to decide how they use it.

Spoiler: They won't be allowed to spend it, invest it, put it in the bank, put it under their mattresses or buy lemonade from a stand on a really hot day. The only thing they will be allowed to do with it is return it to me, for which I will charge them a fee to do.

Of course, given what day it is, there's another important thing that must be mentioned — and so we'll turn over our editor's choice for funny to comments on the topic of [REDACTED]. First, it's the last of many anonymous commenters this week with some thoughts on trademark-sensitive nomenclature for today's big event:

"Ultimate Sportsball Contest"

"That Thing with the Commercials"

"The Concert Bookended by Burly Men"


"The Great Concussion-off"

"Synchronized Flushing"

All good, but ultimately bested by Flakbait, who has truly refined the art:

I can't wait for the November Foxtrot Lima's Immense Match between the Region East of New York Partisans and the Delaware River Accipitridae! Especially since it's being played at the Amalgamated Territories Financial Institution Sporting and Entertainment Venue in the City of Water!

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 3 February 2018 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: January 28th - February 3rd

from the old-and-new dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, something that's now the norm was fresh and surprising: Netflix released the entire season of its new show House of Cards at once. Something less pleasant was born the same week, with the W3C's first official mention of adding DRM to HTML5. We also saw Alan Cooper sue John Steele and Prenda Law, leading to a bit of a scramble by everyone's favorite law firm. Meanwhile, this was the week that the DMCA exemption for phone unlocking was eliminated, and the legal battle over Barbie and Bratz (the subject of a recent episode of our podcast) finally came to an end.

Ten Years Ago

There was lots of copyright back-and-forth this week in 2008, with U2's manager jumping on the "make the internet pay us!" bandwagon, a fresh flare-up over the copyright status of jokes, an EU court telling ISPs they don't have to hand over downloader names, Swiss officials pushing back against the aggressive tactics of anti-piracy groups, and a judge telling the RIAA (which had recently struggled to explain exactly why copyright damages need to be higher) that it should be fined for bundling downloading lawsuits. Meanwhile, as had been expected, Swedish prosecutors caved to US pressure and took action against The Pirate Bay.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2003, Kazaa pre-empted the heated race to kill it in the music industry by filing a lawsuit against record labels for misusing their copyrights. Declan McCullough was musing about the scary possibility of the DOJ going after file sharers as felons, Business Week was pushing the ol' "don't litigate, educate" line on piracy (which is half right), and record stores were trying to save their future by teaming up with digital distributors. Telemarketers were suing the FTC in an attempt to block its proposed do-not-call list, an internet cafe in the UK was found guilty of piracy, and the format war for the future of disc-bound music was raging despite nobody caring.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 30 January 2018 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 152: Free Speech & The Marketplace Of Ideas

from the more-on-that dept

Last week, Mike sparked lots of conversation with his post about rethinking the marketplace of ideas without losing sight of the importance of the fundamental principles of free speech. Naturally, there's plenty more to discuss on that topic, so this week we're joined by Buzzfeed general counsel Nabiha Syed — whose recent article in the Yale Law Journal, Real Talk About Fake News, offered a thorough and insightful look at free speech online — to try to cut through all the simplistic takes on free speech and talk about where things are going.

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 - 28 January 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the say-something dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side comes in response to our post about law enforcement's use of "parallel construction". That One Guy suggested a tweak to the language:

Wrong terminology

It's not 'parallel construction', it's 'evidence laundering'.

Taking 'dirty' evidence and coming up with a 'legal' method it could have been obtained, little different than taking 'dirty' money and running it through several transactions so that it has a 'legal' source, and for the same underlying reason in both cases: legal cover for what would otherwise be illegal.

Parallel construction might be the 'normal' term for the act, but it severely underplays exactly what is being done and makes it sound almost harmless. Call it evidence laundering on the other hand, and it's obvious right away just what's being done.

In second place, we've got a thoughtful response from Rich Kulawiec to Mike's post about rethinking the "marketplace of ideas":

Great piece; here are a few observations

1. Something I've said for years is that spam (and other related forms of abuse) are not speech, just as a brick with an attached note thrown through a window is not publication.

2. We figured out over thirty years ago that moderation was probably going to be necessary -- whether or we liked it, and a lot of us didn't. But as soon as any forum reaches sufficient size and reach, it will likely include bad actors. The lessons we learned on Usenet in the early to mid 1980's are still directly applicable today.

3. I've read Tufekci's piece. It's very good. I recommend it to everyone.

4. The people who built "social media" operations built them to monetize private information, not to provide discussion forums. It's thus unsurprising that they're much better at the former than at the latter.

5. Those same people made a catastrophic strategic blunder well before they ever plugged in the first server. They didn't plan for abuse at scale. They SHOULD have: it was a well-known problem long before any of these operations began. They SHOULD have known it was coming. They SHOULD have designed in mechanisms to deal with from the time that their operations were ideas on a whiteboard. They SHOULD have budgeted and staffed for it. They SHOULD have had robust, scalable procedures in place.

But they didn't do any of that. Instead they ignored the problem. Then they denied it. Only now, belatedly, are they started to address it, and their efforts are -- as we can all see -- haphazard and ineffective. And they're still making mistakes that we all figured out were mistakes decades ago when we made them. (For example, they're still focused on algorithms. Wrong.)

6. As a direct result of (5), these operations are largely not under the control of their ostensible owners. Not any more. They're available for weaponization by anyone with the requisite resources. This is a stunning level of negligence, incompetence, and irresponsibility -- and a reckoning for it is long overdue.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with another comment on that post, this time from Bruce C. in response to the understandably common but ultimately flawed suggestion that education is the only answer:

The attention scarcity and the DDoS effects are not products of a failed education system, they are the products of the way the brain searches for patterns in the information it receives. In a stadium full of people booing, you can't hear the guy cheering unless he's right next to you. Similarly, the ability of a useful point of view to get the attention it deserves decreases dramatically if only one person reads it because it's buried under 16 pages of comments designed to encourage mindless acceptance of whatever agenda is being pushed by the propagandists. No human has time to find a needle in an internet haystack.

Next, we've got a simple comment from DannyB that cuts through all the nonsense surrounding the encryption debate:

There are TWO choices

Pick one choice:

1. Securely encrypted devices. Hackers can't get into them. But neither can the government.

2. Insecure devices. The government can get into them. But so can hackers.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is an anonymous commenter responding to Marriott's contrition for angering China by listing Tibet and Hong Kong as "countries":

Christ. I don't get pissed off every time I see Massachusetts listed under a "State" dropdown when CLEARLY we're a Commonwealth.

In second place, we've got a comment from Coyne Tibbets regarding Rupert Murdoch's call for payouts from Facebook:

I'm confused. You say that Rupert Murdoch was asking for Facebook to give him money, but then I see that he's talking about Facebook giving money to trusted publishers. Wouldn't that be money to anybody but Rupert Murdoch?

For editor's choice on the funny side, we've got one more response to a flawed assertion regarding free speech and platform moderation, this time from Thad regarding the idea that any platform that moderates any content loses all credibility:

Yeah, sure. If a moderator deletes a post because it doxxed somebody, or bans a user who keeps dropping in to rant about how the government did 9/11 while faking the moon landing and taking away his paint chips, it's the platform that lacks credibility.

Finally, we've got another post about encryption, with Toom1275 managing to find another fresh variation of the classic "countdown" joke:

"So, we've just rolled out our 'secure encryption backdoor.' How long do you think we can keep this to ourselves?"


"Ten Ten what?"


"Wait, if this is a countdown, aren't you counting the wrong way?"


"... And now it's accelerating?!"

"...Fifty. This isn't a countdown, it's just a count - of how many malicious hacker groups already have possession of our 'secret secure master key'. One hundred..."

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 27 January 2018 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: January 21st - 27th

from the how-many-roads dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, the world continued to react to the death of Aaron Swartz, with more attention being turned towards prosecutorial misconduct, and direct criticism of the handling of Swartz's case — though US Attorney Carmen Ortiz doubled down and said her office wouldn't change anything. Meanwhile, we looked at the many other cases of prosecutors bullying "hackers", while misguided editors at the Globe & Mail were spewing nonsense and hackathons around the world were preparing to carry on Aaron Swartz's work.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, while AT&T was getting ready to filter copyrighted content at the ISP level, Time Warner was rolling out its overage charges for heavy users — and, funny thing, Time Warner-owned HBO was simultaneously putting its shows online for the first time. And Canadian lobbyists were pushing to make ISPs liable for piracy themselves. Meanwhile, we saw too trends in their infancy: adults moving into the young person's world of social media (to the consternation of many young people), and PC game companies experimenting with the freemium model that would later become a staple of mobile gaming (this was before the PC publishers figured out they could charge $60 for the game and have microtransactions).

Fifteen Years Ago

Early this week in 2003, it was the RIAA seeking money from ISPs, with then-head Hillary Rosen calling for a P2P levy — though a journalist who called the RIAA found them denying she said it, and claiming the opposite. But then, midweek, Rosen announced her resignation. Meanwhile, Microsoft was introducing its own DRM technology, while Sony was trying out some DRM that charged people $2 to copy a song from a CD. Amidst this anti-circumvention obsession, tech firms were getting more aggressive in their fight against Hollywood's DRM demands.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 23 January 2018 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 151: Facebook Won't Save Democracy

from the uncharted-territory dept

In the midst of the political chaos in America and the world at large, a whole lot of attention has been turned to Facebook and its role in modern democracy. The social network has responded by announcing another round of news feed changes, the true impact of which (if any) remains far from clear. This week, we're joined by Mathew Ingram from the Columbia Journalism Review to talk about Facebook's changes, and whether we can or should expect them to fix anything.

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Posted on Techdirt - 21 January 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the talk-of-the-blog dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side came in response to the UK's absurd cartoon-based IP education program for kids. PaulT offered some interesting additional perspective on "Nancy and the Meerkats":

This made me giggle. Meerkats have become rather popular in the UK, largely due to an entertaining series of commercials for the insurance comparison website Compare The Market (featuring a bunch of Russian meerkats discussing a website called Compare The Meerkat). The success has gone far beyond the commercials themselves, with all sorts of merchandising and other services wholly unrelated to the insurance product having sprung up. There's little reason to think that the choice of animal here is anything other than an attempt to reference something the kids would already be familiar with in positive light.

In other words, they're essentially trying to reach the kiddies about the evils of infringement by appropriating the successful work of someone else, and leveraging the audience that someone else built by copying their product.

"As TorrentFreak points out, the inclusion of a parody of Ed Sheeran is more than a bit eyebrow-raising, considering just how open to and grateful for piracy and filesharing Sheeran has been"

Not really. That would assume intellectual honesty and a level of self-awareness that someone openly lying in this way would not possess. Certainly not people willing to copy someone else's product for a propaganda piece on how evil copying stuff is.

In second place, we've got a message from SteveMB to the democrats who voted to extend the NSA's 702 surveillance program:

Memo to Congressional Democrats: The predictions of a "Blue Wave" in November are not based on enduring physical phenomena like tides and eclipses. They are based on the likelihood that voters in November will continue to be pissed off at the Trumpanzee while not becoming likewise pissed off at you. If you insist on pissing away the latter, don't come running to me for an explanation of "what happened?!"

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we're not letting the UK's anti-piracy cartoons off the hook after only one comment, so here's another response from PaulT, this time to an old and stupid analogy:

"You wouldn't download a car, would you?"

As is my usual answer to that particular piece of idiocy - if the car could be freely duplicated without any real cost and no loss of use for the owners of any other car on the road? Yes, I would. Just like many people started downloading their movies instead of being forced to sit through that unskippable crap on their legally purchased DVDs.

Next, it's an anonymous musing on what happens when the kids turn out to be, y'know, not stupid:

Imagine if one of those kids knew about the problem in the youtube system. Would they be the one to respond well to this message?

"Teacher, if copyright is important and must be respected, why did *insert favorite youtuber* get his video taken down for something he made? Did they steal the copyright from him?"

Either the teacher will have no answer; stumble for an answer in front of the kid; or they will be blunt about it.

"They don't respect our rights, but they want to force us to respect theirs."

Over on the funny side, our first place comment is an anonymous response to the latest media freakout about changes to the Facebook news feed:

If you liked this article on the dangers of relying on social media, don't forget to like and subscribe by clicking on the bell. Also retweet us, share on Pintrest, post on Reddit, message your friends using snapchat, take selfies of you watching the videos, and give us a shoutout on your "XXX reacts to this article!" video you make on Youtube.

Did I miss any "Teh Socials?"

In second place, we've got an anonymous reply to one of our regular critics whining about an "anomaly" or something (I can't be bothered to figure out what he's on about):

Congratulations you’ve found your one millionth anomaly!

For editor's choice on the funny side, we've got a proposal from DannyB for the copyright troll facing a judge who questions the very existence of their "experts":

Can't some of the experts submit depositions stating that the other experts actually exist? Then those experts can swear that the first group also exists.

Finally, we've got an anonymous commenter on our post about Kodak's strange blockchain plans, going straight to the logical conclusion of anti-piracy obsession:

Print screen is the work of the devil and needs to be criminalize at any cost.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 20 January 2018 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: January 14th - 20th

from the a-sad-week dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, we were shook by the sad news of Aaron Swartz's death. Through the week, we looked at the actions of prosecutors and investigators and the fact that in the US "anyone interesting is a felon", and at all the other crimes that would have resulted in less jail time than Swartz was facing. But we also looked at what we should learn from him moving forward, about how to build up instead of tearing down, and how "content" can't be the end-game of knowledge, and we watched as researchers posted their work online for free in tribute.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, while NBC Universal was arguing in favor of ISP filtering and copy protection tech, the recording industry was kinda-sorta getting over its obsession with DRM — and moving to other stupid ideas like digital watermarks and annoying anti-piracy voiceovers on review copies instead. The DMCA was being abused to go after bad reviews, the EFF was making the argument that "making available" is not infringement, and J.K. Rowling was trying to block a third-party Harry Potter guidebook — and amidst this we noted that it seems like most people don't actually know what copyright is for.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2003, some people thought it looked like Hollywood's copyright control was loosening a little, but we weren't so optimistic. Indeed, that very week the Supreme Court upheld retroactive copyright extension in the Eldred ruling despite Lawrence Lessig's best efforts (though there was potentially some silver lining). The music and tech industries announced a rather worrying policy agreement that would see the latter stop fighting for user rights in exchange for the former dropping its calls for mandatory hardware-level DRM, though the agreement ended up being largely meaningless and, of course, was completely spurned by the MPAA. Meanwhile those movie studios were being strangled by their own IP obsession while trying to navigate the licensing thicket to get older movies online.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 16 January 2018 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 150: The CES 2018 Post-Mortem

from the now-officially-a-tradition dept

Mike was at CES 2018 last week, and now for the third year in a row we've got our special episode of the podcast dedicated to looking at the best (and worst) innovations on show. As usual, he's joined by long-time CES veteran Rob Pegoraro — so without any further preamble, here's The CES 2018 Post-Mortem.

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Posted on Techdirt - 14 January 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the say-something dept

This week, our first place comment on the insightful side came in response to our post about the fact that copyright maximalists appear to have thrown in the towel on fighting for more copyright extensions. John Snape offered a simple and popular sentiment:

If you can't make a profit after 28 years exploiting a copyright, you're a failure.

In second place, we have an anonymous comment that also racked up quite a few funny votes, responding to Trump's latest comments about libel laws:

I don't think I'm ever going to get over the guy who says whatever it is that pops into his head complaining that you should not be allowed to say whatever it is that pops into your head.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a comment from Ninja in response to the NSA denying prior knowledge of the Meltdown and Spectre exploits, noting that this is a little hard to simply believe without questioning:

Fox denies knowledge of huge hole in the fence. Claims it would never harm chickens.

I've actually truncated Ninja's comment there, because he went on to quote an earlier comment from discordian_eris regarding the FBI and the MalwareTech case, and so rather than include it second-hand, here it is as our second editor's choice for insightful:

I'm reminded of this quote almost every time the FBI is involved in a case.

He who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second and third time, till at length it becomes habitual; he tells lies without attending to it, and truth without the world’s believing him. This falsehood of the tongue leads to that of the heart, and in time depraves all its good dispositions.

Thomas Jefferson

The FBI lies so habitually I fail to see how any judge can treat them as credible.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is another comment about the FBI, this time from an anonymous commenter responding to their latest cries about encryption being a threat to public safety:

News Flash: "FBI Says Whispering is Evil and Everyone must speak loudly into the microphone"

In second place, it's back to the story about copyright extensions, where regular parodist Mr Big Content bemoaned the sad state of affairs:

This Is What Happens When You Let Teh Pirates Make Copywright Laws

It should be a Law that anybody who has ever copied ANYTHING should be probihibited from having any say in Coppyright Laws. Then we will SEE FAIRNESS PREVAIL for teh TRUE INTELECTUAL PROPETRY OWNERS. YOU KNOW ITS MORALLLY RIGHT!!!

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with JoeCool offering another analogous take on the FBI's encryption panic:

Then the FBI lambasted the glove industry for enabling criminals to commit crimes without leaving fingerprints. The evil geniuses of the glove cartel are making the jobs of police everywhere much more difficult, and should be forced to work on gloves that leave fingerprints when used to commit crimes.


And finally, we head to our post about how a satirical false excerpt from Fire and Fury demonstrated the futility of trying to ban "fake news", where Roger Strong grasped at some threads of hope:

Some of us are holding onto hope that Trump is actually a still-alive Andy Kaufman is his greatest satire yet.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 13 January 2018 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: January 7th - 13th

from the copyright-and-wrong dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, we watched as new players tried to get into the copyright trolling game but were rebuffed by a court system getting wise to their antics — even if, at the same time, established copyright trolls were upping their insane demands. We got some great examples of copyright nonsense as Lionsgate issued a takedown on a video that the Copyright Office itself had featured as an example of fair use, and Sony released an album literally called The Bob Dylan Copyright Extension Collection in order to extend their European copyrights. Amidst all this, we published a long interview we conducted with Derek Khanna, author of the suppressed RSC copyright policy brief.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, the web of piracy was getting increasingly complex as large entertainment companies realized they could be mining the world of user-generated content. Hollywood's latest DRM efforts were doing their usual job of punishing only paying customers (though perhaps not as much as their extra-special screener DRM punished Academy members), and the UK was reforming its copyright to adopt DRM anti-circumvention laws of its own. Meanwhile, eBay was fighting back against DMCA abuse and Canadian courts struck down the latest efforts to put a piracy tax on iPods.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2003, it was the pirate tax on CDs that Canadians were starting to (unsuccessfully) fight back against. We watched as Lexmark got in on the DMCA abuse game to try to block third-party ink cartridges, while the EFF outlined the many unintended consequences of the DMCA, and more people were realizing that Hollywood just doesn't get it. At least Rep. Rick Boucher was trying to defend fair use against the DMCA's onslaught.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 9 January 2018 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 149: Barbies v. Bratz

from the a-toy-story dept

If you've been reading Techdirt for more than five years, you probably remember the conclusion of Mattel v. MGA — and if you've been reading for more than thirteen years, you might even remember when it started. This epic legal battle over intellectual property went through nearly a decade of rulings and reversals, and the resulting story is a fascinating one that ties in a lot of the topics we discuss here at Techdirt. It's also the subject of the new book You Don't Own Me by law professor Orly Lobel, who joins us on this week's episode to revisit this particular law opera and what it says about the wider world of IP.

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