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Posted on Techdirt - 2 August 2020 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the comment-library dept

This week, several of our top comments come in response to publisher Ken Whyte moaning about libraries, starting with our anonymous first place winner for insightful:

Well gee, Mr Whyte, what part of copyright law says I may not loan, give, or sell my books when I am done reading them? Hmm... Was it the First-sale doctrine? Nope, not that. How about 17 US § 107?

Ah, no, I'm wrong. You're Canadian, aren't you? I've got it! You're thinking of the Public Lending Right, instituted in Canada in 1986 (and other years in other nations), allowing authors to license works to libraries. I bet your publishing house sold some books to these libraries, didn't you? Then you're covered! What you complaining about?

And hey, Sutherland House Books was established in 2017, so I'm confident you knew that libraries existed before then. Given all the competition from libraries, I'm surprised you went into business at all!

In second place for insightful, it's Chris Brand pointing out that library books have to be bought:

You have to wonder what percentage of that "public money" that's funding the libraries goes straight to the publishers to buy books. I imagine it's significant.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with Anonymous Anonymous Coward offering one more thought for the publisher:

Is it possible that Mr. Whytes actual issue is that libraries don't buy many of the books he publishes? Maybe the problem is the books he publishes rather than that libraries exist (and aren't interested in his books).

Next, we've got Bloof summing up the misleading reporting on Nick Sandmann's settlement with the Washington Post:

Misleading was the point. The people who read the post will infer that the kid earned millions and will go on to repeat that as fact until it's accepted as such because it can't be disproven due to NDA's. No doubt the intent is to make independent journalists and smaller outlets think twice before reporting on right wing misbehaviour.

They likely paid him a few thousand to make him go away rather than run up millions in legal fees they'll never recover when they win.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is another anonymous response to Ken Whyte:

Could you say he has a loathe-hate relationship with libraries?

In second place, it's an anonymous comment about Nick Sandmann's lawyer threatening reporters who comment on the settlement:

He already got paid once by CNN for the serious crime of not doing anything wrong. That $1000 at a time isn't going to just roll in by itself, gotta keep those lawsuits coming!

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with an anonymous comment responding to the bizarre claim that the Chinese Communist Party would applaud the protests in Portland:

Yeah, they loooove protests against government wrongdoing and overreach.

And finally, it's Stephen T. Stone with a comment about an all-too-common "standard" for censorship:

“I’ll know it when I see it” is good logic for finding your car in the parking lot of a theme park, but bad logic for determining what speech is legal or illegal.

That's all for this week, folks!

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

This Week In Techdirt History: July 26th - August 1st

from the thinking-back dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2014, we saw a judge slam a sheriff for an attack on Backpage that raised serious first amendment questions, and a student succeed after an eight-year legal battle against a university over being expelled for speech. On the other side of the free speech coin, we saw the cops shut down a hologram concert because they didn't like a rapper's lyrics, James Woods sue a random Twitter user for $10-million, and of course Donald Trump continue his lawsuit against Univision (and that post contains our first mention of a certain lawyer, with the now-entertaining phrasing of "apparently, it's some guy named Michael Cohen, who isn't just out of his depth on stuff, but he appears to be actively making things worse.")

We also saw a huge bombshell in the lawsuit over the copyright status of Happy Birthday, with new evidence showing the song is in the public domain that Warner Music quickly tried to muddy the waters around.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2010, we wondered why the press was still blindly believing entertainment industry "studies", and how there were new copyrights being claimed on work by an artist who died 70 years ago. Copyright was interfering with technology both old-old and new-old, disrupting the preservation of decaying player piano rolls as well as obsolete video games. And the new round of DMCA anti-circumvention exemptions surprised everyone by including phone jailbreaking, though it left out plenty of good suggestions too.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2005, the anti-open-WiFi brigade was stirring up FUD about cantennas and the press was taking the bait. ISP Telus learned all about the Streisand Effect by blocking its customers from reaching websites supporting its employees in their union battle against the company, while offering weak excuses, and we were not exactly shocked to learn that Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs doesn't like muni-WiFi. Canada put the final nail in the idea of an iPod tax, one UK court showed it wasn't fooled by ridiculous claims of losses to software piracy, and yet another study showed that file sharers are the music industry's best customers.

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Posted on Techdirt - 26 July 2020 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the who-said-that dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is an anonymous commenter responding to the assertion that there's no financial incentive to share coronavirus vaccine research:

The ting with the pandemic is that is doing a lot of damage to economies, and the sooner a vaccine is created, the sooner economies can get on track, along with fewer deaths and people disabled out of the work force. It actually makes economic sense to share the information, just to minimize the costs caused by the pandemic, which are greater than any profit to be made from a vaccine.

In second place, it's Stephen T. Stone responding to the claim that "left wingers" are hypocritical for wanting to "outlaw firearms" while also commenting on the silence of big Second Amendment advocates when it comes to unidentified secret police invading American cities:

"left wingers want to outlaw firearms"

Flag on the play — bullshit conclusion, 15 yard penalty, turnover on downs.

You may have some “left-wingers” who want to “outlaw firearms”. But you’ll probably find far more who are okay with the idea of Americans having access to guns in a controlled way. Limits on the number of guns someone can own, limits on the kinds of guns someone can buy, requirements for licenses to legally carry a gun, restrictions on who can legally own a gun (e.g., “no domestic abusers”) — all reasonable avenues for gun control that can be debated without going into “tHeY wAnT tO tAkE mUh GuNs!” territory.

That you assume calls for gun control equal “take all the guns!” is either a genuine fault in your thinking or a disingenuous load of bullshit designed to troll people. Which one is it for you, Mr. “I refuse to say whether the law should force Twitter to host Klan propaganda”?

"complain when the right wing 2nd amendment crowd doesn't stick up for them"

Yeah, and there’s a reason for that: Said 2A crowd loves to talk a big game about standing up to tyranny and preventing dictators from rising to power and whatnot. But what happens when “their side” imposes the tyranny, when “their guy” becomes the dictator? They cheer it on.

How many “MUH GUN RIGHTS, MUH SECOND AMENDMENT” people do you think are marching with people protesting police violence? Because I would bet that the number is low, if not altogether zero. They don’t care if the cops start beating up on “the enemy”. They don’t care about fascism, about tyranny and dictators, until they feel that they’re the targets.

2A militias who don’t want to be called on their hypocrisy might want to consider not being hypocrites. Standing by and watching literal Gestapo tactics being used against their fellow citizens makes them hypocrites. Protesting facemask mandates by storming state capitols with their guns out instead of marching on the front lines of protests against state-sanctioned police violence makes them hypocrites. If they don’t want their cowardice called out, I can think of a simple solution to help them avoid being called cowards.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with Another Kevin adding an important caveat to our statement that the DHS agents arresting protesters "look for all the world like a branch of the military":

Nope. They don't look at all like any branch of the military. I'm not being pedantic. This is an important point.

If they serving with a branch of the military, their battle dress uniforms would have displayed prominently their names, their services, the insignia of their units, and their insignia of rank, as can be seen at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_Dress_Uniform#/media/File:Defense.gov_News_Photo_970806-N-4790M -012.jpg

If this were a war between nations, these individuals would not be soldiers subject to the Third Geneva Convention, but rather unlawful combatants. They are entitled to no protection accorded by wearing a uniform, since they wear merely a camouflage suit that is not recognizable as a uniform.

"Unlawful combatants are likewise subject to capture and detention, but in addition they are subject to trial and punishment by military tribunals for acts which render their belligerency unlawful. The spy who secretly and without uniform passes the military lines of a belligerent in time of war, seeking to gather military information and communicate it to the enemy, or an enemy combatant who without uniform comes secretly through the lines for the purpose of waging war by destruction of life or property, are familiar examples of belligerents who are generally deemed not to be entitled to the status of prisoners of war, but to be offenders against the law of war subject to trial and punishment by military tribunals."
(Ex parte Quirin 317 U.S. 1 (1942); STONE, CJ delivered the unanimous opinion of the Supreme Court, with MURPHY, J recusing.)

Next, it's PaulT responding to the claim that the free market will prevent excessive medical prices by driving over-chargers out of business:

The free market does not and can not work with medicine, where people need the product to live, will pay anything to do that, and may not have the ability to shop around before they need to pay.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Yakko Warner offering some support to Richard Liebowitz in his claim that there's a public interest in the continuation of his law practice:

I, as a member of the public, am strongly interested in the continuation of his law practice. Reading up on his antics provides much-needed amusement and levity in these days.

In second place, it's an anonymous commenter responding to the paranoid notion that the DHS agents have been arresting people who are getting paid to cause violence and unrest:

I don't think they were rounding up cops.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with BernardoVera offering another response to that suggestion, which was as a "what if":

What if Comet Ping Pong Pizzeria really does have a basement, and the pizzeria is really a secret pedophile ring operated by agents of the New World Order?

What if the alien Lizard people are actually wearing human-skin suits and masquerading as Democrat politicians -- and George Soros is really the Lizard Lords' front-line commander in the field?

Once you start asking such incredibly insightful and penetrating questions, you could end up uncovering almost anything, no matter how cleverly disguised under the camouflage of mere, mundane reality...

Finally, we've got Strawb with a comment about the fact that people are already losing interest in Parler since there's nobody for them to troll:

It seems it was just a...

Parler trick.

I'll see myself out.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 25 July 2020 @ 12:45pm

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

from the that-thing-that-happened dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2015, MPAA emails revealed a plan for an anti-google smear campaign run through the Today Show and the Wall Street Journal, Sony/Soundcloud pulled out the copyright takedown hammer over entries in an official remix contest, a UK court ruling flip-flopped on CD ripping for personal use, and we joined IMDb and Reddit in getting hit by a bogus DMCA takedown from a German film distributor — though this wasn't the dumbest takedown of the week, with a company representing Universal Pictures managing to accidentally DMCA the localhost IP address. Meanwhile the UK police admitted to investigating journalists for covering the Snowden leaks, the New York Times falsely claimed ISIS was using encryption and couriers because of Snowden, and a judge ordered the CIA to pay the hefty legal fees of a FOIA requester.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2010, the US Copyright Group was moving to phase two of its lawsuit shakedown plan, human rights groups were speaking out about the huge problems with the USTR's "special 301" process, and America's IP czar was pointing fingers at China. A Dutch court upheld the ruling that The Pirate Bay must block Dutch users while the Pirate Party in Sweden was launching its own "Pirate ISP", a Canadian court let Perfect 10's latest case against Google move forward, and the BSA was using totally made up stats to try to change copyright laws in South Africa. Meanwhile, we wrote about how weak anti-SLAPP laws don't help anyone, while the Senate in the US passed the SPEECH Act to shut down libel tourism.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2005, the Associated Press was blatantly misrepresenting BitTorrent, while News Corp was buying in to sketchy adware. We wrote about how the recording industry believes what it wants to believe, and asked why public schools should be doing copyright dirty work for entertainment companies. A silly but unsurprising backlash emerged against mobile phones due to their possible use by terrorists, while rumors were brewing about the iPod Video, even though most people still weren't sold on mobile video as a concept. And voters in Louisiana saw through telco threats and FUD, and voted for a muni fiber network.

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Posted on Techdirt - 19 July 2020 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the comment-period dept

This week, both our winners on the insightful side come in response to the woman who hopes to sue for half of the GoFundMe proceeds for a Starbucks barista she fought with after refusing to wear a mask. In first place, it's Grey bringing some perspective to her claim that she can't wear masks due to a disability:

As an actual disabled person....

Every person playing this fake "I'm disabled" game should spend one day in my body. If you are so medically fragile that a mask is a risk, you shouldn't be exposing yourself to the public for your own safety.


I can understand the need to feel normal. Those of us who already have their ability to interact with the world limited by circumstance usually don't enjoy additional restrictions.

I've been disabled for almost 30 years now.

I'm up to 7 shoulder procedures. Plate, 6 screws, Suprascapular nerve nearly severed on the right side due to bone regrowth. Left side anterior Bankart, right hand crushed in a press, both feet spiral fractured through the arches, jawbone dislocations, hip dislocations.

"You're so big, you can't be disabled." (6'5") I look "normal", and my life has been a string of random people trying to fight me for using disabled parking, I've had a Vet go after my (at the time ) 17 year old daughter for inheriting my genetically bad connective tissue.

I walk with a cane, sometimes 2. Can't lift them much past my hips.

I can't even wear glasses that hook down at the back, otherwise the frames cut through the tops of my ears. Straight-arm glasses are a pain to find.

I can go on. Look up Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, rest is bad luck/manager took safety off the press that would have saved my hand.

My circulation draws my blood out of my limbs, concentrating it in my torso, I get heat exhaustion anywhere over the mid 70's. A mask is sheer torture. I still wear one when I go out.

My mask ties at the base, and crown of my skull. If I can manage it, with my shoulders, anyone healthy enough to walk around can do it.

People who pull this fake disabled crap just make my life even harder.

In second place, it's Samuel Abram frustratedly pointing out some (admittedly abstracted) hypocrisy:

What chutzpah!

These people who would sue over being denied service because they were maskless would kill their parents and then beg for mercy from the judge on the grounds that they're orphans.

It's amazing that these dipshits can simultaneously think that a retail establishment should deny you service for being gay but not for wearing a mask. What doublethink.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with one more comment on that post, this time from an anonymous commenter with some other added perspective:

Due to fragrance allergies (the stuff used in most soaps, hand sanitizers, laundry detergents and shampoos), my household has always had to practice social distancing. Our reaction to the current social distancing and facemask guidelines/requirements has been "Now maybe people will gain some degree of understanding of what we have always dealt with."

Unfortunately, some people will just never understand.

(as an aside, the hand sanitizer requirements in many places now mean that we always have to wear surgical gloves in public to prevent severe reactions -- but we're fine with that; it's part of being slightly unique in a larger society.)

Next, it's Stephen T. Stone with a response to people who blame YouTube for bogus copyright takedowns:

Reminders for those who want to say “YouTube should just ignore the requests, then!”: YouTube’s takedown system is largely automated, and even if it weren’t, YouTube would likely still honor fraudulent takedown requests to avoid the legal consequences of ignoring a legit request. YouTube’s system is a branch of the poisonous tree; the trunk of that tree is the DMCA takedown system, and the root is copyright in general.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Bloof responding to the mad claim that "cancel culture" should be solved with stronger copyright:

I twisted my ankle while jogging earlier. As I limped to go sit down, I couldn't help but feel that it that never would have happened with stronger copyright laws in place and suffering is nothing compared to those of authors whose works might be looked at by people who haven't paid full price.

In second place, it's Norahc with another response to the Starbucks mask affair:

Why does it seem like those that refuse to wear a mask are among the first to don the tinfoil hats?

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with Scary Devil Monastery's reply answering that question:

It's the other way around.

Obviously the enlightened people who are on to the illuminati mind control conspiracy have come up with the mask because being forced to wear one means your hat stops working - at which point the mind control rays will have you start believing all sorts of rubbish, like for instance, that there's a pandemic around which kills more people in the US than a 9/11 every two days...

Finally, we've got an anonymous response to the promotion of libertarianism-via-photos-of-dead-pets as a solution to the failures of "smart" pet feeders:

ah, the libertarian is here folks, problem solved! all we need are a few dead pets,,

That's all for this week, folks!

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

Masks & More: Techdirt Logo Gear Is Now On Threadless

from the wear-your-techdirt dept

Get your Techdirt Logo Gear in our store on Threadless »

Lots of people have been buying our newly-launched face masks on Threadless, so we figured it was time to make the classic Techdirt logo gear available on the platform. You can now get face masks in both our logo gear styles — the standard logo and the big logo — with two different kinds of masks available, as well as youth sizes.

Plus, as with all our designs, there's a wide variety of gear available: t-shirts, hoodies, sweaters and other apparel — plus cool accessories and home items including buttons, phone cases (for many iPhone and Galaxy models), mugs, tote bags, and stylish notebooks and journals. And you can still get all our other popular designs:

As always, all the profits from gear sales help us keep Techdirt going and continue our reporting through this challenging pandemic situation and beyond. You can also check out our list of all the different ways to support Techdirt with a bunch of options for readers to help us out and get something cool or useful in return!

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Posted on Techdirt Greenhouse - 14 July 2020 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 249: The Greenhouse Privacy Wrapup

from the big-ideas dept

At the end of May, we launched the Techdirt Greenhouse — a new project to foster long-form conversations with a wide variety of experts about the most challenging and nuanced tech policy questions of our time. Since then we've been focusing on our first topic: privacy. Now we're wrapping that up and getting ready to launch a series of posts on our next subject, but first we wanted to sit down with one of our Greenhouse editors, Karl Bode, to look back on all the excellent pieces that we've published over the past few weeks. Check out the Greenhouse page here on Techdirt to catch up on the posts, then listen to the podcast for a wrapup of all the ins-and-outs of privacy policy challenges that our many great contributors brought to the project.

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 July 2020 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the cancelled-comments dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is aerinai responding to the notion that it should be no big deal for foreign students to go home and take their classes remotely:

If you are assuming that the person is from Canada, this will probably work... for a majority of the other countries out here they will need to deal with:

Latency - Trying to communicate over long distances; especially from far away countries (India, China, Australia, etc) is killer

Timezones -- Hope you don't mind them also having to get up at 2AM when they have a 2PM class

Bandwidth -- Some places like island nations are bandwidth capped due to Satellite being their only options

Firewalls -- Russia and China block access to lots of services -- same with India. Good luck watching that You Tube when Russia arbitrarily bans it...

Content Restrictions -- I can't imagine taking an LGBTQ Studies class in Russia or China...

So, that is my short list off the top of my head why this plan isn't tenable in a lot of cases...

In second place, it's mvario with a comment about one of the surprising-to-many signatories of the infamous Harper's letter:

I mostly have respected Chomsky, but that was tainted a bit with his support for Shiva Ayyadurai and his claim to have invented email. Now I question Chomsky's support of anything.

Since that letter dominated the comments this week, for editor's choice on the insightful side we've got a pair of additional responses to our post about it. First, it's Stephen T. Stone with a good summary of the main issue:

None of the people who signed that letter have any real expectation of being “cancelled”, in the sense that they will be “silenced”. They have too much wealth and sociopolitical sway to face such a consequence. The people who signed that letter interpret criticism — of any kind — as censorship and attach it to the recent “cancel culture” catchphrase so they can take jabs at leftists.

But “cancel culture” isn’t about rich celebrities and powerful politicians. True “cancel culture” is about the marginalized voices who end up shut out of jobs, opportunities, and even online culture because of harassment. It’s not about J.K. Rowling; it’s about a trans person forced to quit Twitter because of harassment they received over the faintest criticism of Rowling and her transphobia. When the people who signed that letter worry more about the silencing of those voices and less about receiving criticism, I’ll care more about what they have to say vis-á-vis censorship and “cancel culture”.

Next, it's Glenn Fleishman with a long comment adding plenty of good additional thoughts:

Harper’s fired its editor over speech among other issues

I agree almost entirely with what you wrote, Mike, and I've tweeted far too excessively about it.

But two points worth adding.

First, many of the people who have signed this letter (a letter to whom, by the way?) have engaged in actual chilling speech, punching down people less powerful, including trying to get freelancers fired from gigs, staff writers removed, and professors censured or fired or contracts not renewed. I am hoping someone creates a definitive list, because it's rather long, and particularly among people who are centrist or right-of-center against liberal and progressive speakers, as well as in particular against anyone who speaks in favor of Palestinians or an independent Palestinian state.

Second, Harper’s fired James Marcus in 2018 for what he alleges (and, having known James years ago and heard stuff around the edges of this, I believe) is being fired when he objected to the assignment of a story effectively trying to cancel “cancel culture” to Katie Roiphe, which ultimately ran in the publication. It was assigned over his protests and then he was fired. There's a lot more detail about the story, the author (long a contrarian/problematic one of the David Brooks/Bari Weiss school), and the fallout.

One other point on amplification. Mike notes:

Then comes the list of examples -- none linked, none with details.

This is one of the key problems with the essay. Read quickly, it's rather bland, not well written, and has an unclear audience. Who should take action? It's a pretty anodyne poor expression of urging more free speech, but not really, as Mike analyzed. At least two signers have already said they regret signing or that they didn't sign what was published (Boylan this morning).

However, if you analyze the short list provided, each corresponds to specific well-known incidents, or sometimes covers multiple ones. Buruma and Bennet, for instance, are both editors who were fired—because of their job performance, even though Buruma made it out to be a political hit job. (He ran a cover story that was a non-fact-checked essay by Jian Ghomeshi, who faced several credible accusations of sexual assault over decades, some of which were not upheld in court.) But the owners of the publication, the New York Review of Books, reportedly fired him because of how he managed assigning and running the story over staff objections, and he admitted to Isaac Chotiner later that he really didn't know much about Ghomeshi at all, confirming the judgment. Bennet was fired because he didn't do his job: he reportedly told the NYT publisher he hadn't read (at least the final version) of the Tom Cotton Op-Ed, even as he publicly defended it as if he had.

The inclusion of transphobic writers who have faced public backlash, with the notable top of marquee billionaire JK Rowling, also muddies what precisely is the speech that they want no consequences for.

I'd argue if the letter included specific examples, a majority of signers wouldn't have signed it. Malcolm Gladwell very glibly tweeted today that he signed because he disagreed with the opinions of many other signatories. Great reasoning, dude.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Anomylous responding to the foreign student issue with some thoughts on necessary education:

A solution

Perhaps colleges and universities could offer a single free, attendance mandatory class on public health and safety, for all foreign and domestic students. It could cover topics like washing your hands, not touching your face, wearing a face mask to prevent the spread of disease when you are sick and need to go out, or when its flue season doing the same all the time, etc. Maybe they could even name it Furtherance of Universal Intensive Corona Evasion.

In second place, it's That One Guy with a jab at the Harper's letter:

They just wouldn't stop barking...

It was the strangest thing, I was reading the article and every time I got to the quoted parts the dogs in the surrounding neighborhood started going nuts, like some loud noise that I couldn't hear was just blasting in their ears.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with our final comment about the Harper's letter (this week at least...) from Thad, who chimed in later with a new, relevant development:

Oh noes, more cancel culture: Tucker Carlson's top writer resigns after secretly posting racist and sexist remarks in online forum

Actually, I'll be honest, this one kind of baffles me. Getting fired from Tucker Carlson's show for being racist seems kind of like getting fired from NASCAR for getting a speeding ticket.

Finally, to change the topic entirely, we've got Bobvious with an extremely, delightfully nerdy joke about Intel's trademark-inspired move to ditch the numbered processors and call the 586 the Pentium:

You mean the Intel 585.9999047318529 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentium_FDIV_bug

That's all for this week, folks!

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

In Case You Missed It: The Return Of Nerd Harder Gear, Plus New Face Masks!

from the mask-harder dept

Nerd Harder gear is back, and face masks are available
in the Techdirt Gear store on Threadless »

At the end of last month, we fulfilled two of the most popular requests (one long-standing, and one brand new) for Techdirt gear: we brought back the Nerd Harder line of gear, and introduced a series of face masks featuring some of our most popular designs!

You can find all these offerings in our artist store on Threadless, with multiple products available. Face masks come in two styles (standard and premium) as well as youth sizes, and there are t-shirts, hoodies, sweaters and other apparel — plus a variety of cool accessories and home items including buttons, phone cases (for many iPhone and Galaxy models), mugs, tote bags, and stylish notebooks and journals.

All the profits from gear sales help us keep Techdirt going and continue our reporting through this challenging pandemic situation and beyond, and we're hugely appreciative of all the support. You can also check out our list of all the different ways to support Techdirt with a wide variety of options for readers to help us out and get something cool or useful in return!

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 7 July 2020 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 248: The Most Serious Threat To Section 230

from the among-many dept

Attacks on Section 230 are relentless and coming from all sides — so we've got another podcast all about the attempts to ruin the most important law on the internet. This week, we're joined by Riana Pfefferkorn, the Associate Director of Surveillance and Cybersecurity at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, to discuss what is currently the most serious threat of all: the latest incarnation of the disastrous and nonsensical EARN IT Act.

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 - 5 July 2020 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the comments-aplenty dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful — also racking up quite a lot of funny votes — is Nick-B referring Trump supporters to another recent post:

Looks like we need a *"Hello! You've Been Referred Here Because You're Wrong About Section 512 of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act"** article.

In second place, it's Rocky responding to someone offering up a predictably silly rant about social media censorship and "the point of ffree speech":

Please provide an example of your position that you can't discuss on Facebook and Twitter.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start with Toom1275 offering an explanation of the phrase "divergent views on COVID-19":

Translation: Pseudo/antiscientific bullshit

Next, it's Stephen T. Stone facing down someone who insists it's wrong to dismiss videos from Project Veritas and one should "judge the clips on their own merit":

When the people presenting those clips have a documented habit of editing the clips to mislead viewers, we will judge both. Deal with it.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is BentFranklin who couldn't resist an observation about one of the Techdirt posts recently demonetized by Google:

Sorry, I giggled when I saw that talking about tasers is "shocking content". I will go sit in the corner now.

In second place, it's Timlash taking a moment to celebrate the firing of some truly awful cops:


I'm glad we finally got rid of those few bad apples. Done and done.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we've got a pair of comments about Parler. First, it's crinisen aptly summing up the apparent image the site wants to project:

If I'm understanding it, Parler is working hard to become the space space for people who think the existence of safe spaces are a symptom of everything wrong with this country....

Finally, it's an anonymous comment focusing on the site and its supporters' bizarre obsession with blocking one particular type of content:

I miss the days when shitposting wasn't literal.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 4 July 2020 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: June 28th - July 4th

from the it-can't-unhappen dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2015, a missing document from the FISA court docket suggested that there was yet another undisclosed bulk records collection program hiding somewhere, while newly-released Wikileaks documents revealed that, despite its denials, the NSA was engaged in economic espionage, and a fresh FISA order authorised "as-is" phone recrod collections for the next six months. Just like today, the FBI was on an anti-encryption streak, fearmongering about "going dark" despite actual wiretaps almost never running into encryption. And the MPAA was launching another ad campaign against piracy... targeted at paying customers, for some reason.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2010, we looked at the list of ten questions for ACTA negotiators that were being taken to a meeting in Sweden, and unsurprisingly got more of the same old stuff for answers. We looked at an economic analysis of the Viacom/YouTube decision, and then at the new important ruling of the week: the Supreme Court's narrow take on Bilski, which let business method and software patents survive while leaving the door open for future cases that might change things — all of which required a bit of tea leaf reading to determine what the court was truly thinking about software patents.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2005, the Supreme Court issued its expected rulings in both the Grokster and BRand X cases, with a mixed bag of results — while former RIAA boss Hilary Rosen suddenly realized this kind of fight was probably harming the RIAA's future. A Taiwanese court ruled that file sharing software is perfectly legal, while Sweden's terrible file sharing law went into effect. Meanwhile, AMD resurrected its antitrust attack on Intel, and took out a bunch of ads to make its case to the public, though we wondered if the public would actually care.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 30 June 2020 @ 1:47pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 247: Trust & Safety Has A Posse

from the overlooked dept

As the debates about content moderation rage on, it is becoming increasingly clear that most people don't know a whole lot about how large internet platforms actually handle these decisions — namely, that they have teams of people who have been working and studying under the "trust and safety" umbrella for a long time. Recently, an association and related foundation were launched to help bring these experts into the public conversation, and this week we've got two of the founding board members — Adelin Cai and Clara Tsao — joining us on the podcast to discuss the actual process of addressing tough content moderation choices.

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 - 30 June 2020 @ 10:44am

Techdirt Gear: New Masks, Old Favorites

from the face-it dept

Face masks are now available in the Techdirt store on Threadless »

We've had some requests for this, and now it begins: we're adding face masks as an option for all our gear in the Techdirt store on Threadless. Not just that, we've expanded the Threadless line with our ever-popular Takedown gear and the much-anticipated return of our most successful design ever: Nerd Harder.

All the face masks are available in two versions (premium and standard) as well as youth sizes. And of course, the designs are also available on a wide variety of other products including t-shirts, hoodies, mugs, buttons, and more! Check out the Techdirt store on Threadless and order yours today.

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Posted on Techdirt - 28 June 2020 @ 12:20pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the information-comment-provider dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is That One Guy with the only sane response to seeing a jokey cartoon about police brutality in an official police use-of-force training presentation:

'What do you mean 'beating people' isn't funny? Since when?'

When your training material includes jokes about beating suspects you've given up any pretense of not being filled with and run by thugs, and the idea that it's just a 'bad apple' or two goes right out the window.

In second place, we've got an anonymous open message to the Senate in response to the latest all-out attack on encryption:

Dear Senate

You first. Break encryption on every method of communication that is used for official and unofficial use for the House and Senate. After a year of being able to review all of the important things that they are doing and verifying that it works without a problem, then consider rolling it out to the rest of us.

We have a thing called the constitution and it is there to keep this kind of law from being passed. You would have to amend that for any of these arguments to be at all valid.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with another anonymous comment about all the fresh attacks on Section 230, which I hope is overly pessimistic, but the sentiment is understandable:

It's only been three days and we have not one, not two, not three, but FIVE different bills targeting 230 all aiming to change it in ways that not only wouldn't do what they say, but just about enable the very things they claim to be against.

sigh 230 had a good run. It's just another reason why we can't have anything nice when we have people who either don't understand or are paid not to understand what they're legislating.

Next, it's another comment from That One Guy making an important point about Parler and other "free speech" social media platforms:

Just a reminder...

When someone claims that they want to force platforms to block only 'illegal' content it's important to remember that racism, sexism, all other forms of bigotry, advocating that some categories of people are inherently 'lesser', voicing support for nazi ideals and/or that the wrong side won the War to Preserve Slavery(otherwise known as the Civil war) are all legal speech and thus would be out of bounds for removal if moderation was only allowed to block/remove illegal content.

That is the kind of speech that those pushing 'neutrality' bills like this one are not just trying to protect but foist onto the public, whether people want it or not.

Over on the funny side, we've got a rare situation where both our winners are making exactly the same joke. On our big post designed as a destination for people who are getting Section 230 all wrong there were, of course, plenty of people getting it wrong in the comments — the perfect setup for some recursive humor. In first place, an anonymous commenter responded to someone who pushed back, insisting it is possible to "lose" Section 230 protections:

As it happens, I just came across a useful article to refer you to:

Hello! You've Been Referred Here Because You're Wrong About Section 230 Of The Communications Decency Act

And in second place, we've got Toom1275 offering up a similar link to someone who decided to focus on the "good faith" concept — but since that comment is just the URL of the post and nothing else, there's no real need to quote it here, so... on to the editor's choice for funny!

First, we've got Stephen T. Stone responding to our post about Parler and, specifically, a brief conditional statement about whether Parler ever gets big enough to matter:

Narrator: It won’t.

And finally, we've got Thad projecting past the Section 230 ruling in Devin Nunes' cow lawsuit:

Next up, the judge unfairly rules that you can't sue someone who didn't break any laws.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 27 June 2020 @ 12:00pm

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

from the as-I-recall dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2015, the Sunday Times in the UK was doubling down on its widely criticized article in which it parroted the government's talking points, while the GCHQ was in trouble for illegally holding onto emails (but not for collecting them in the first place). New documents released by Wikileaks revealed that the NSA had been spying on French presidents (which France was not happy with, even though it was moving to do more spying of its own), while the FISA court was tackling questions about Section 215 surveillance. We also learned about Google being gagged for four years from talking about fighting the Wikileaks investigation, including some ridiculous redactions required by the DOJ.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2010, a closely-watched lawsuit about the "hot news doctrine" was drawing interest from across the board, with Google and Twitter weighing in to oppose the return of the doctrine while a huge group of newspaper publishers were predictably taking the other side, and internet rights groups were stepping in to tackle the First Amendment issues. We saw an extremely terrible ruling in the Golan case saying it's okay to remove content from the public domain, and another very good ruling with the court smacking down Viacom in its lawsuit against Google (which left Viacom in denial).

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2005, the MPAA was refusing to give up and making yet another attempt to get the Broadcast Flag enshrined in law, while at the same time embarrassing itself with wild overhype about shutting down a DVD processing plant — which it tried to explain away by claiming it was calculating projections of future piracy. Politicians in the EU were making it clear that they really didn't understand software patents, but were moving forward with them anyway, while the US Register of Copyrights was proposing major changes in copyright law. We also saw the start of yet another important appeal about the DMCA.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 23 June 2020 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 246: The Latest Attacks On Section 230

from the the-fight-is-on dept

Last week, the attacks on Section 230 kicked into high gear with Senator Hawley's bill and the DOJ recommendations both coming out on the same day. As usual, the content of the bill and recommendations — and the discussion around them — is a huge mess, so this week we've got returning guests Emma Llansó and Cathy Gellis joining us to discuss just what's going on with Section 230 and what these proposals would do.

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 - 21 June 2020 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the awash-in-comments dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is That One Guy with some opening thoughts in the comments about schools ending contracts with police:

A matter of proportional response

You don't nail together a picture frame with a sledgehammer.

You don't break out an industrial crane to pick up a soup can that fell off the counter.

And you don't employ police to keep children in line at a school.

Police should never have been tasked to act as 'security' in schools in the first place, and the sooner they're all gone and teachers and staff take up the slack the better.

In second place, it's ryuugami responding to Devin Nunes's lawyer accusing twitter of "censoring":



... He actually said that?


What the actual fuck.

A word for Biss: isn't this whole shitshow precisely because Nunes wants Twitter to censor, and they refused, you deceitful disingenuous dumbass?

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with an anonymous commenter making plans for Josh Hawley's proposed Section 230 reform:

I will be filing against all the right wing and religious right outfits which deleted my comments, since they by far have always moderated with the most heavy hands.

Good luck, Senator Dumbass!

Next, it's TFG responding to a comment that suggested hypocrisy between people's attitudes about cigarettes and their opinions about the war on drugs, and expanding on a subsequent comment noting that ending the war doesn't mean not caring:

Correct. There is no hypocrisy here - the idea is to decriminalize drug use and etc. Proponents of ending the War on Drugs are mostly concerned with shifting how drug use is dealt with. Rather than tossing in people in jail or fining them etc. the focus shifts to helping people overcome the addiction.

Rather than pushing all the coke/meth/heroine etc. stuff into the unregulated underground and depending on police to fight it via attempts at suppression or busting the dealers or etc. etc. etc. (which have been oh so successful) you work on addressing the reasons why people turn to drug use in the first place.

All that money that goes into the DEA could be going into social services, good rehab programs, training programs, etc. to help people get out of the ruts that got them into drug use in the first place. Limited authorized recreational use of certain drugs (such as marijuana) under the exact same justification that leaves alcohol and tobacco available for legal purchase could also help.

The War on Drugs is essentially a means to enrich those who "fight" it at the cost of the victims of drug addiction, while simultaneously oppressing a subset of the population and ensure that what amounts to slave labor remains available via mass incarceration.

Over on the funny side, our winners come as a pair — in fact, the first place winner is a reply to the second place winner, but managed to beat it in the rankings by one single vote. But for the sake of clarity, let's look at them in reverse order. So in second place it's Rocky with a response to the DOJ's paradoxical recommendations for Section 230:

Oh my...

I think the only solution to comply with these proposals is to hire Schrödinger's cat to handle the moderation.

And in first place, it's an anonymous reply to that comment:

I thought you could get away without Schrödinger's cat (you know, to avoid making a Rube Goldberg machine out of your moderation) by using a quantum computer.

It didn't work out. The quantum computer calculated all possible moderation solutions and shut down the comment section. It then calculated all possible legal responses, sued itself and won. It is now vacationing in Tahiti while the appeals wend their way through court.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with another comment from That One Guy, responding to a complaint that Techdirt is covering stuff that isn't immediately and directly related to tech:

And don't even get me started on the lack of fruit by Apple...

I feel your pain, I can still remember the first time I found out that Fox News wasn't an entire channel devoted to vulpine related reporting, despite the fact that it's right there in the name.

If you can't see the noteworthiness of the current US president making bogus legal threats because they don't like factual reporting you might want to get your priorities checked.

And finally, it's an anonymous commenter who couldn't resist (understandably in my books) making a particular reference when someone referred to the insane actions of eBay executives as a "cunning plan":

Pity they weren't Blackadder fans then …

'I’m I jumping the gun, , or are the words “I have a cunning plan” marching with ill-deserved confidence in the direction of this conversation?'

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 20 June 2020 @ 12:00pm

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

from the and-so-on dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2015, we saw some hall-of-fame FUD about Edward Snowden from the Sunday Times in the UK. The piece was rapidly trashed by Glenn Greenwald, leading News Corp. to abuse the DMCA in an attempt to hide the criticism. Facing ongoing scrutiny, the reporter who wrote the piece eventually admitted that he just wrote down whatever the government told him, and the editor doubled down on this suggesting that any questions about the story should be directed to the government. Meanwhile, Bruce Schneier was making a much more reasonable point about the same core issue: that Russia and China probably have the Snowden docs, but not because of Snowden.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2010, we looked at yet another example of how ludicrous it is to expect YouTube to magically know which videos are infringing, while Rapidshare was countersuing Perfect 10 over copyright trolling, and music publishers were trying to pile on the already-dead Limewire. The Hurt Locker producers were deep in their copyright shakedown scheme, while at the same time touting their free speech rights against the soldier who claimed they used his life story. One ISP tried to get very creative and charge users to block file sharing to avoid copyright strikes — and ended up installing malware that broadcast their private information. Meanwhile, long before today's ongoing dust-up that is drawing everyone in, we covered an earlier conversation about "fixing" Section 230.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2005, we saw the latest in a long string of reports urging the recording industry to embrace file sharing, while some people were working on yet another pipe-dream of universal DRM, and libraries were developing their systems for limiting the use of digital materials as though they were physical. Amazon was trying to patent more basics of e-commerce, while a patent troll reared its head with a 1998 patent that appeared to cover transmitting any information over a network, at all. And we saw the clearest death-knell for the VCR when Wal-Mart announced it would stop selling VHS movies.

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Posted on Techdirt - 14 June 2020 @ 12:20pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the conversing dept

This week, our first place comment on the insightful side comes from aerinai in response to our post about John Oliver's show about defunding the police:

I was a skeptic...

I won't lie, the first time I heard the phrase I thought "defunding police" was a 'bridge too far' until I actually educated myself on it and learned what the proposals were. I personally don't like the name, I think it is needlessly divisive title, but honestly, the policies behind the name do make sense:

Quit sending a police officer to a person who is suicidal... send a counselor.

Don't send a police officer to take care of a stray dog... send Animal Control.

Dedicate a division to traffic enforcement that is not apart of the police department (remember, not just pulling people over, but wrecks, traffic light outages, blocked intersections, etc)

The list can go on and on and on and on. This would be better for literally everyone... except the police unions which will spin this any which way they can as an 'attack on the police', even if the police would benefit from being pulled in 30 different directions, being overworked, and understaffed.

The police have become polite society's handy man... they do everything and don't do all of it well. Defund the police for their sake as well as ours.

In second place, it's Stephen T. Stone responding to the conversation around police donning Punisher symbols:

Does anyone else see the dark humor in people sincerely asking Disney, of all companies, to file lawsuits and manipulate IP law in its own favor?

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a comment from Philosopherott about protests that turn destructive:

shooting into crowds

While the first choice of oppressors, violence is a last resort of the desperate and oppressed.

I believe we all learned what happened when shots were fired into a crowd of protestors in Boston. I believe we called it a massacre and it started this country. Riots; Boston tea party. Change occurs when the oppressed stomach no more and organize.

I applaud those who call for peace, but I commend those willing to fight for it.

Next, it's Samuel Abram with a response to Don Henley's whining about copyright law:

Henley doesn't speak for me

Some background:

I make Chiptunes, or Chipmusic. Before the internet, I took piano lessons and guitar lessons. When I started to make music with LSDJ on the Nintendo Game Boy, I used the lessons I learned in reading music and playing with scales from the aforementioned piano and guitar lessons to create my own music, which you can buy on bandcamp here. I also have my music's performance rights managed by Songtrust, and my collections agency is BMI (I decided not to use ASCAP because they went after Creative Commons which is pro-artist, if anything, so I didn't see ASCAP as representing the actual interests of songwriters). I licensed all my original music with an Attribution-Noncommercial Creative Commons License. I even have a 20% songwriting credit in the Mega Ran song "O.P." (because I created the game-boy-produced outro to that song). My royalty statements from BMI and Songtrust are usually over $2. While I'm not making a profit off of my music, I am making revenue, and I am having fun. I am also dedicating all my original music to the public domain when I die. I have played the Music And Gaming Festival, or MAGFest in 2017. I have also played Pulsewave, which was a monthly chiptune show in NYC. I am friends with all four members of Anamanaguchi, who are currently signed to artist-friendly label Polyvinyl. I am also friends with Jonathan Coulton, who actually lives near where I live, and I answer questions in my career, er, hobby with "WWJD?", or "What Would Joco Do?"

So basically, the internet made me earning money from my own music possible.

Now that that's out of the way, in no way does Don Henley represent me. It reminds me of those times when Krist Novoselic or Bono were claiming to speak for people like me when in fact they are–or were–the top 1% of musicians. I work for a living and make music for fun. While I would like to earn more money on my music, I do not–I repeat, I do NOT want to do so at the expense of ordinary kids and people expressing themselves. That's the part Don Henley misses: he thinks he's going after Google and TikTok and Facebook, but he's really saying "Fuck You!" to the users of the web sites more so than the employees or even the bosses thereof.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Toom1275 quoting one of the all-time greatest famous responses to a legal threat, as a response to Trump's attempt to claim a CNN poll is defamatory:

Dear Ms. Ellis,

Attached is a letter that we received on June 9, 2020. I feel that you should be aware that some asshole is signing your name to stupid letters.

Very Truly Yours,

D.C. Vigilante"

In second place, it's dfed responding to a different Trump claim — that protests are being hijacked by extremists:


For editor's choice on the funny side, we've got a pair of additional responses to Don Henley's comments in the Senate. First, it's an anonymous proposal:

How about we perform a test and make it a federal offence to play ANYTHING AT ALL by Don henley on anything but a 1960s gramophone?

50 years in prison per song.

Also we ban his DVDs, CDs, cassette tapes (they're KILLING music!), posters, adverts etc.

we try this from now upto 70years after Don kicks the bucket and see if it has an effect.

Theoretically his sales should ROCKET!

And finally, it's Code Monkey employing the power of remix:

I think Don's just trying to get down to the heart of the matter. Even if, even if, we don't love him anymore....

(I may owe him like, 3 cents, for that. Who knows....)

That's all for this week, folks!

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