Leigh Beadon’s Techdirt Profile


About Leigh BeadonTechdirt Insider

Toronto, Canada


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

Techdirt Podcast Episode 189: What The Hell Is Initiative Q?

from the many-Qs-few-As dept

By now, there's a good chance you've received an invitation to join Initiative Q, and also a good chance that you took one look at it and thought "wow, this seems extremely sketchy." And indeed, there's little reason (other than hopefulness) to see the strange new proposed payment system as anything but a pyramid scheme. But it's got people talking, thanks in no small part to its viral marketing scheme, so this week's episode is all about trying to figure out just what Initiative Q really is.

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.

12 Comments | Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt - 11 November 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the so-they-say dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is That One Guy with an understandably frustrated call for better penalties when cops abuse their power such as the bogus case against a Nevada man recently dismissed by the courts:

'No offloading this to the city, YOUR wallet's on the line.'

If the case is so blatantly, obviously corrupt that the court is willing to state flat out that it's clearly vindictive, sure would be nice if any penalties levied out were levied personally, rather than just another case of 'Let's screw the taxpayers while the guilty party walks.'

Everyone involved, up to and including the judge, should be hit with a hefty financial penalty for their actions here, one directed at them personally. Anything less and the court will once again be making it clear that 'personal responsibility' and 'penalties for abuse of power' are for the little people, and don't apply to those with badges or robes.

In second place, it's an anonymous response to a commenter making the absurd claim that the Mueller investigation "hasn't gotten anywhere near Trump":

Correct. Zero indictments of anything related to Trump.

George Papadopoulos, former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser (aka coffee boy)

Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chair (aka coffee boy)

Rick Gates, a former Trump campaign aide and Manafort’s longtime junior business partner (aka coffee boy)

Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser (coffee boy)

13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies (coffee suppliers)

Richard Pinedo (got caught making coffee wrong)

Alex van der Zwaan (Rick Gates' coffee boy)

Konstantin Kilimnik, longtime business associate of Manafort and Gates (coffee boy)

12 Russian GRU officers (coffee boys)

Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer (coffee boy)

Sam Patten, A GOP lobbyist who had worked in some of the same Ukrainian circles as Manafort and alongside Konstantin Kilimnik (coffee boy)

All just coffee-related workers, fetching, pouring, and delivering coffee. Persecuted because fuck coffee.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with Agammamon posing a question to DRM-peddlers:

Someone should ask the Denuvo guys "if each stolen copy is a lost sale, then how come no one made massively more money when you rolled out Denuvo? How come the sales needle barely twitched? In all the years that you've been 'protecting' that release window, how come titles with DRM aren't seeing massively more sales than titles without?"

Along similar lines, we've got PaulT responding to complaints about streaming service password sharing:

"It's people consuming something they haven't paid for."

No, it's not. Your customer has paid to have streaming to their devices. The product is paid for. You don't get to be paid multiple times for the same service because you don't like the way people use it.

If I buy a DVD and then let someone else watch my copy when I've done with it, that doesn't mean that a copy has been pirated. If I give my copy of a newspaper to the next guy in the break room, that doesn't mean a publisher is owed money If I let someone use my car while I'm at work, that doesn't mean a rental company is owed money, It's just the way life works.

If you think that it's not, it's no wonder you're seeing failing business, as you're chasing shadows.

""By the content companies going over the top without having the experience of being distributors, they’ve done that in a way without securing their content"

No, they really haven't. You need a valid login to access the content - *somebody* is paying for that access. According to the account, you will be restricted as to how you can access the content, be that which items are downloadable, how many devices or locations can be streamed from at once, etc. The content itself is secured, you just don't like the fact that someone can pay Netflix to have 3 friends access it simultaneously without collecting an extra ransom.

But, they ARE getting paid for that access.

"The reality is television can be had fairly easy without paying for it."

Welcome to... well, both the advent of free to air television before you were born and the reality of the marketplace you're operating in.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is A Non-Mouse accepting our challenge to insert your own joke about the Satanic Temple's copyright lawsuit against Netflix:

Three copyright trolls walk into a Satanic Temple. Baphomet says "Welcome home!"

In second place, it's an anonymous response to UCLA's latest attack against a critic's website:


Website critical of UCLA adds additional way in which UCLA sucks with evidence courtesy of UCLA.

For editor's choice on the funny side, first up it's ryuugami with another response to Denuvo's "every download is a lost sale" attitude:

Let's be fair, at least they said "potential" loss.

In other news, my potential loss of revenue from not buying a lottery ticket is at $10,000,000 or so. Can Denuvo help me with that?

And finally, we've got a short anecdote from Thad about people who tell celebrities to stay in their non-politics lane:

My grandma once forwarded me an e-mail ranting about how these Hollywood celebrities should shut up and stay out of politics.

It closed with a quote by President Reagan.

That's all for this week, folks!

40 Comments | Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt - 10 November 2018 @ 12:30pm

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

from the can-we-fix-voting-machines-please dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, UK officials were going a bit nuts in response to the fallout from their detention of David Miranda, first arguing that he was, in fact, a terrorist, then that they didn't know he was a journalist, and then that the Snowden leaks would help pedophiles — leading us to wonder of the State Department would condemn their stifling of journalism (okay, not really wonder...)

Stateside, Mike Rogers was claiming that more NSA transparency would hurt privacy, while also being opportunistically concerned about the privacy implications of the Affordable Care Act. The agency was positively comparing metadata searches to stop-and-frisk, and making a similar argument that curbing metadata protection would harm privacy. And of course the Inspector General was rejecting a request from Congress to investigate the agency, while the Senate Intelligence Committee advanced a bill to give the NSA more funding.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, while we were wondering why the MPAA gets to review and approve DVD players, the Copyright Alliance was fighting to outlaw remote DVRs. A UK ISP was threatening to disconnect anyone who has open wifi, the French Senate approved the three strikes law that would create the infamous Hadopi, and Italian authors were fighting for a piracy tax on DSL connections (while Italian officials were moving forward with criminal charges against Google executives over a user's video).

Today, there's a lot of concern about issues with electronic voting machines and their poor security. Naturally, if people had known about this ten years ago, it would have been fixed by now. Oh, wait...

Fifteen Years Ago

But certainly if we'd known about it all the way back in 2003, it'd definitely be fixed by now, right? It's not like we'd need advocacy groups and law clinics to fight to stop Diebold from C&D-ing people who talk about its security issues, right? Oh...

Well anyway, also this week in 2003, we saw the first big record label merger of the 21st century, with Sony and BMG turning the Big Five into the Big Four. The RIAA was bragging about the success of its lawsuits based on dubious causality, while studies showed they were somewhat effective in making people delete MP3s and really, really hate the record industry.

It was also around this time that the trend of making computers look cool started taking root beyond the world of Apple.

5 Comments | Leave a Comment..

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

Techdirt Podcast Episode 188: Government, Activism & Silicon Valley

from the panel-discussion dept

In late September, Mike joined a panel at the Lincoln Network's Reboot conference to tackle the question "will rising activism limit government’s access to Silicon Valley?" along with Trae Stephens, Pablo E. Carrillo, with moderator Katie McAuliffe. For this week's episode, we've got the full audio from that panel plus an additional introduction from Mike with some thoughts after the fact. Enjoy!

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.

3 Comments | Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt - 4 November 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the you-said-it dept

This week, our first place comment on the insightful side comes in response to our post about the ridiculous problems plaguing Texas voting machines. Crade was rightfully appalled:

"Hitting "submit" before it's ready to move forward causes problems with candidate selection"

Any software dev out there calling this user error isn't worth their salt.

In second place we've got Gary with a simple message about the cop being sued for a bogus arrest (with a small typo corrected):

Look and Learn

Every time this happens, it's essential to spread the word. Public awareness is important for keeping the police in line.

Cause they ain't gonna police themselves.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with James Burkhardt correcting a misunderstanding about our point that our election simulator game highlights how much goes on behind the scenes of public speeches and statements (this doesn't mean people shouldn't vote):

Yeah, that's actually not the point. The point was that a lot of what we see in speeches and debates is not speaking directly to people, but is rather signaling to various other groups.

This doesn't mean your voting choices mean nothing, or not to vote, but rather that this game gives us insight into how to assess candidates better.

Next, we've got


with a response to folks who still believe Bloomberg's supply chain hack story just because it seems like something that would be true:

There's an enormous difference between "the supply chain can be compromised" and "the supply chain has been compromised, in this way, at this time, with these targets." The former is, I think, beyond reasonable question (especially since "can be" is a very low bar). The latter? Not so much.

I haven't made it all the way through the STH piece yet, though it does appear to be very thorough. As a counterpoint, this piece purports to explain how something like this would be possible.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is an anonymous followup to John Oliver's segment about the political grandstanding of state AGs, and a comment that technically achieved the wrong goal:

Please vote this comment as insightful because I will not steal your pen!

In second place, we've got another anonymous comment, this time parodying the ongoing efforts by big companies to deny and/or fight against cord cutting:

"What?! How are they 'cord cutting' us! It's Satellite! It's wireless! There's no cord to cut!" -AT&T exec

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with a comment from That One Guy about the Texas voting machine issues:

'Eh, accurate voting isn't that important really.'

The Democratic Party is blaming the government for not doing more, which is a very Democratic Party thing to do. In this case, the Republicans are in control of the state and the Democratic Party has chosen to claim the Republicans don't care enough about the problem.

Come now, that's a bit hyperbolic isn't it? I mean I'm sure they are taking the matter seriously and are deeply concerned that votes might end up going to the wrong people. It's not like they're going to just handwave something as large as bogus votes during an election or anything...

The state's government has pointed out e-voting machines only need to comply with state laws, not actually be accurate and/or idiot-proof. It points to the voting machines' certification -- which last happened nearly a decade ago -- as evidence that the bare minimum requirements have been met.

... huh. You know, they may be on to something in this case after all.

One does have to wonder if they'll be singing the same tune should the democrat candidate win, or if suddenly potential 'bogus' votes will be of huge concern, leading to calls to redo the election.

And finally, because it's a joke that speaks to me in a powerful way (and many other users too, I'm sure), we've got an anonymous take on the "broken windows" fallacy:

Is that where every time I attempt to run Windows 10, it decides to do an update instead?

That's all for this week, folks!

6 Comments | Leave a Comment..

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

This Week In Techdirt History: More NSA Madness

from the closer-look dept

Five Years Ago

The ongoing fallout of the Edward Snowden leaks heated up again this week, so we're taking another break from the five/ten/fifteen-year retrospective to dig into what happened this week in 2013.

The feds had waited until late the previous Friday to quietly release details of a criminal case that used information from NSA surveillance, but this news was quickly overshadowed by new leaks showing the NSA had collected millions of phone records in Italy and Spain, in addition to the previous revelations about France, and of course about spying on world leaders. Speaking of which, Obama was denying that he knew anything about the NSA spying on Angela Merkel's phone, and was apparently quietly telling the NSA to quit spying so much on the UN (or perhaps just quit getting caught). The Merkel scandal was threatening to scuttle the TAFTA/TTIP negotiations, while the NSA was apparently pretty furious at the administration for denying knowledge — and Mike Rogers was insisting Congress knew about it to, and attacking (with video!) the lawmakers who said that wasn't the case. As for the European bulk collection targets, Mike Rogers was saying they should be thrilled that the US is helping to keep them safe, though it later turned out that those countries' own intelligence agencies were heavily involved. This was one of many conflicting messages though, with the NSA constantly revising its own exact position.

Congress, however, was trying to push back, with a bill that would stop the worst of the NSA's excesses. They had no ally in Dianne Feinstein though — she started preparing another bill that would largely codify current practices, then later decided she had changed her mind and agreed the NSA had gone too far, leading NSA officials to admit they were screwed... except then she released her bill anyway and, as expected, it looked like it might even make it easier for the NSA to spy on people.

Of course, there was still more to learn about the NSA this week. James Clapper begrudgingly declassified documents that showed the NSA believed it could spy on everyone's location data based on existing approvals (something they had previously denied they do at all). And then the latest realization from the Snowden docs: the NSA had infiltrated Yahoo and Google servers without the companies knowing. Keith Alexander was on stage at an event while the story broke, and quickly cooked up a misleading response that was later formalized with an official non-denial from the agency. While people tried to figure out how the NSA pulled it off, we figured there was one small silver lining: some tech companies were finally starting to realize they should oppose the NSA.

Believe it or not, that's not even every NSA post from this week in 2013, but it's the important news. As a final note, the creator of a parody NSA t-shirt also sued the agency over the legal threats it was sending to him.

2 Comments | Leave a Comment..

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

Techdirt Podcast Episode 187: AI, Free Speech & Human Rights

from the big-implications dept

As artificial intelligence technology marches onwards, it's raising a lot of complicated questions about free speech, privacy, and important rights. One person who's been thinking a lot about these questions is David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, who recently published a thorough report [pdf] on the subject. This week, David joins us on the podcast to discuss artificial intelligence and its implications for human rights.

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.

1 Comments | Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt - 28 October 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the comment-mining dept

This week, both our top comments on the insightful side come in response to the latest evidence that FOSTA has failed. First up, it's Paul making a simple pitch that a lot of you seemed to agree with:

This needs a John Oliver segment

John Oliver seems like the perfect guy to compile all the sound bytes and videos of celebrities endorsing this, then put them on full blast for everyone to see.

In second place, it's James Burkhardt with a response to the accusation that we never covered sex trafficking issues before FOSTA/SESTA, which is true but irrelevant:

Outrage that a situation was made worse does not preclude outrage about the situation originally. Failure to blog about the issues of the sex work trade prior to a law passing which made the situation worse does not preclude the ability to complain that a law would make the situation worse, nor that a law has made the situation worse.

And in fact, Mike has discussed relevant issues that plague the internet sex worker, if not directly noting the connection. Difficulties with payment processing and having a bank account when your income comes from even legal sex work like consensual sales of images and videos due to draconian policies and skittish bankers have been discussed numerous times.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with an anonymous comment looking closer at the data from telecom lobbyists and the FCC:

Can we also talk for a second about how utterly misleading those bar graphs are?

CAPEX from 2015-2016 went down approximately $3 Billion absolute dollars or about 4%. BUT, the bar itself shrunk by around 50% (maybe more) in the eyeball test.

(Here's an accurate representation of the spending data. This is exactly how flat the spending graph SHOULD look: https://www.meta-chart.com/share/untitled-26288).

Next, it's Chris-Mouse responding to the idea that free speech limitations are simple — just "don't be an asshole":

Please define "being an asshole" in words that won't require spending a small fortune on legal fees to have a court decide what does and does not fit your definition.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner comes in response to a commenter who objected to our use of the term "snowflake", and offered up the novel (to me and many commenters at least) idea that it's a racist slur for white people because apparently it has at some point been used that way in some circles. Toom1275 applied the same standard elsewhere:

So in your world, a comment on pastry, "I like chocolate tarts," is both racist and sexist.

In second place, it's Gary responding to someone's comment about why they won't support Techdirt:

Thanks for supporting TD with your opinions, page clicks and donating your copyrighted posting to Mike!

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with an anonymous commenter who was confused when we said journalists shouldn't try to stifle speech and pointed fingers at Breitbart:

So at what point were we going to hear about a journalist?

And finally, we've got one more comment from Gary, this time in response to the Texas high school making kids learn about how to behave around cops:

Texas is also bringing back the DARE program, abstinence-only sex ed, and a mandatory seminar about how torrenting supports terrorism!

That's all for this week, folks!

1 Comments | Leave a Comment..

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

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

from the back-in-the-day dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, the latest NSA leak showed that the agency grabbed data on 70 million French phone calls in less than 30 days, leading James Clapper to play word games in issuing a denial, while the White House was trying to assuage Angela Merkel with a dodgy promise that they are not and will not monitor her phone calls (no word on the past, though). Government officials were continuing their long history of calling journalists traitors for reporting on the leaks, while Keith Alexander said the government needs to find a way to stop them. And Dianne Feinstein was trying to paint metadata gathering as not true surveillance, garnering a direct rebuttal from Ed Snowden. Also, we learned the Senate was sitting on a devastating report about CIA torture...

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, while the EFF and ACLU were asking news networks to stop sending DMCA notices over political ads, we were wondering whether this experience would prompt either McCain or Obama to support DMCA reform. The RIAA was establishing "vexatious" as its new favorite word to lob at its critics and opponents, and a really dumb ISP takedown of a record label showed why ISPs shouldn't be copyright cops.

Meanwhile, we had a big failure at Techdirt that wiped out half a day's worth of comments, but were saved by archives from the comment search engine BackType (which would go on to be acquired by Twitter in 2011).

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2003, critics were rebelling against the MPAA's ban on screener DVDs, leading the association to finally back down a bit — though not on Jack Valenti's crowing about the moral obligation to stop piracy, or the association's new program to brainwash school children with its copyright maximalism which finally launched this week. Two different writers in the same newspaper reached opposite conclusions about the same study on file sharing, while others debated whether iTunes would put a dent in it, and we wondered if the entertainment industry's many copyright initiatives were a way of starting so many fights about complex policy that their opponents appear to be crying wolf.

1 Comments | Leave a Comment..

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

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the fair-comment dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is Thad with a short first amendment refresher regarding PEN America's lawsuit against Trump:

Reminder for the slow class:

The First Amendment restricts the government from punishing speech.

The President is part of the government.

The President is not allowed to punish people or organizations for saying things he doesn't like.

This is completely different from Techdirt, or Twitter, or Facebook, or Google, or any other private entity, punishing people or organizations for saying things they don't like. That's legal. Because those are not government organizations.

(Pedants who think they are being clever may note that the First Amendment only mentions Congress; it doesn't say anything about the President. Well, here's the thing about that: if Congress is not allowed to make a law giving the President the power to punish people for speech he doesn't like, then the President doesn't have that power.)

In second place, we've got an anonymous comment musing about what could be a significant factor in lots of police abuse and justice system failures:

I believe a part of this attitude is caused by people believing in the Hollywood version of law enforcement. In which the Hero Cops are never wrong and a trial is just a formality in which the Bad Guy only ever gets acquitted if his Sleazy Lawyer gets him off on some technicality.

That was in reference to an accidental admission by NYC prosecutors that they abuse the bail system to punish innocent people, and for editor's choice we've got two more thoughts on that from some regular commenters. First, it's That One Guy with an additional question:

'They're a serious threat to the public... right until they pay'

In addition to what they inadvertently admitted, that they are deliberately(and illegally) setting bail too high in order to keep people in jail until trial, the argument that posting bail is a threat to public safety merely brings up another question:

If someone is an actual danger to the public, why would there be a bail amount set at all? If someone is suspected or assault and/or murder can they walk until trial so long as they have enough money?

If someone is a demonstrable threat to those around them the simple act of paying does not magically make them not a threat, so if there is real evidence that someone poses a threat to the public why would any level of bail be set, rather than a case made to the judge that the accused presents a threat to those around them and as such it would be much safer to have them behind bars until trial.

This is of course a rhetorical question, as it's pretty clear that they don't think the people are actually threats, the point is instead that even assuming they were being honest they'd still have a hole large enough to drive a semi through in their argument.

Next, it's That Anonymous Coward expanding on the impact this has:

One of the other reasons to keep them locked up is so they take the plea. Locked up you need to get someone to cover rent, watch kids, feed pets, beg your boss to not fire you... gee all of those pressures seem like a reason innocent people might take a plea to have hope of salvaging their life before it gets destroyed waiting for their day in court where they roll the dice with an underpaid overworked public defender who might have all of 2 minutes to look at your case & no time or budget to actually put on a defense.

The punishment starts with the accusation and gets multiplied at every step to keep the system churning quickly. There can be video of you 5 states away, but that won't matter until you get a day in court and that could be months away. You get a hearty GTFO, dumped on the street & have to find out what happened to your stuff & try to rebuild your life.

What people think the justice system is & how it works is so very different than the reality. Some people are mad their tax dollars give the accused a public defender, because they wouldn't be in jail if they were innocent (because the 15 times I heard about people released from jail after being found innocent were flukes & that never happens now).

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is murgatroyd with a reaction to the appeals court ruling saying that Georgia's laws are not protected by copyright:

Oh, great. Because of this, Georgia no longer has any incentive to create new laws! I hope Mr. Malamud is happy.

In second place, we've got a quick anonymous response to another commenter's utterly baffling rant about "open source" and China:

Let’s add open source to the veritable dictionary of words you don’t understand. Along with veritable, dictionary, and words.

For editor's choice, we start out with a reaction from Vidiot to the tiny class action settlement payout for Vizio customers:

$13? That's one of the biggest class action awards I've seen. Still holding a check from TD Bank that's supposed to make amends for lobby-located coin counting machines that chronically undercounted the contents of my pickle jar full of pocket change. I haven't needed the 56 cents yet.

Finally, we head back to last week's comment post, where I noted that stderric's winning comment was passing along a John Oliver joke. He defended himself, asserting:

Think what you will, but I consider "Humor Curator" to be an honorable enough pursuit :)

(As the person putting this post together right now, I agree!)

That's all for this week, folks!

42 Comments | Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt - 20 October 2018 @ 12:30pm

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

from the what-was dept

Five Years Ago

There was plenty of NSA apologia again this week in 2013. Keith Alexander was claiming that he was protecting civil liberties by violating them and playing the fear card by claiming people will die due to the Snowden leaks, while the lawyer who helped give legal cover to Bush's warrantless wiretapping was claiming everyone will grow to love the intrusive NSA, and Dianne Feinstein was playing the 9/11 card (and being debunked by the ACLU).

Meanwhile, the latest information from the leaks revealed that the NSA was collecting email contact lists and instant messaging friend lists overseas with no oversight, that the agency was involved in the drone strike program, and of course that the agency was in fact drowning in a glut of data.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, the president finally signed the ProIP bill and created America's copyright czar position. We took a closer look at the MPAA's lawsuit against RealNetworks (and how it was all about controlling innovation), while the RIAA was appealing the mistrial ruling in the Jammie Thomas trial, and a German court was finding Google Images thumbnails to be a copyright violation. Unexpectedly, the McCain campaign sent a letter to YouTube urging them to consider and protect fair use when processing DMCA requests, and YouTube offered up the excellent response that they can't give the campaign special treatment, but they hope McCain will fix the law. Meanwhile, Larry Lessig was giving his own impassioned defense of fair use and remix culture.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2003, the EFF found another person who was wrongly accused of file-sharing and sued by the RIAA (they wouldn't be the last), just as the RIAA was commencing round two of its shakedown scheme by, as promised, offering people a chance to pay up before being sued (how nice of them). We also took a closer look at the RIAA's lawsuits against Grokster and Morpheus, and how their true ambitious goal was to overturn the Betamax precedent that makes video tape machines legal. Also this week, Brewster Kahle was fighting against the DMCA in an attempt to preserve old software.

Meanwhile, lots of companies and industries were really struggling to adapt. Some people were discussing possible futures for usual-consumer-electronics-leader Sony after Apple beat it to the punch on smartphones, print publishers were basically dragging their heels about this whole internet thing, and Polaroid reached the highly questionable conclusion that its future was in digital photo kiosks.

Leave a Comment..

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

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the so-they-say dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is Gary with a response to the Texas cops who seized an anti-GOP sign from a homeowner's lawn:

Makes sense

Because the people who shout "Snowflake" the loudest are the most easily offended.

Some people, however, oddly presumed that the sign — which is uncomfortable to say the least, but intentionally so to make a point — must somehow violate some law, and our second place winner comes from Will B. in response to that idea:

Cite statute, please, bearing in mind that this cartoon was A) A cartoon, not an image of a real child, B) in no way explicit, and C) clearly protected political speech.

"Art depicting sexual acts with children" when defined broadly can include classics like Lolita, which to the best of my knowledge isn't banned anywhere in the US. Explicit pornography involving real children is banned. (And of course, having sex with a real child is illegal - supposedly. Unless the person having sex with real children is a Republican politician. But no, this sign is clearly what's wrong with America...)

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got two more comments from that post. First up, it's Stephen T. Stone with another response to the "this can't be legal" argument:

By that logic, all the Christians who say “all LGBT people are pedophiles” would be breaking a few laws—but I have yet to see any of those Christians arrested, tried, and convicted of a crime for doing that.

Some people took a slightly different (but equally wrong) tack, arguing that the police were simply doing their job of keeping the peace by removing something likely to incite anger. Gary nicely outlined how misguided this is:

You understand that is the Exact Opposite of the job the police are supposed to perform, right?

They should be there to say, "We'll keep an eye on your house because some people are grumbling." Not, "Well it'd be a damn shame if your house gets vandalized."

That sign was not any sort of illegal graphical content - otherwise the police department would have said so clearly, instead they denied any sort of legal force.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is the fifth and final winning comment from that post, which in one thread unsurprisingly veered to specific conversation about Brett Kavanaugh's unhinged senate performance. Stderric took the top spot though truly it was John Oliver doing the heavy lifting:

As John Oliver observed, "I hate to say it, but I’m starting to think that men might be too emotional for the supreme court."

In second place, it's Killercool taking on the question of whether hockey teams should prefer their players go to bars rather than play video games:

Look, if you aren't drunk and getting in fights, why even play hockey?

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with an anonymous thought about Verizon's latest ridiculous commercial:

Missed opportunity to post this ad on Go90 and have their highest rated comedy ever.

And finally, we've got Agammamon with a response to the real-life "wicked witch" who is fighting back against Warner Media's trademark bullying:

I'm going to assume that she's doing this to get enough discovery to get together a list of names to be cursed.

Otherwise she's not a very wicked witch.

That's all for this week, folks!

7 Comments | Leave a Comment..

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

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

from the what-went-down dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, the US government shut down. Former CIA director Morell used that as an excuse to skip an NSA surveillance review board meeting, while James Clapper warned that failing to pay the agency's mercenary contractors might lead to security problems. The TSA similarly used the shutdown as an excuse for letting a nine-year-old sneak on to a flight, and a lawsuit by tech companies over NSA surveillance was put on hold. Outside the government, some folks were having fun with the shutdown, such as the Russian pirates offering to host the NASA website, someone submitting a bug report to GitHub describing how "government occasionally shuts down", and Good Old Games started offering some free thematically-appropriate games to furloughed government workers.

But hey, at least Congress's members-only gym was deemed essential and kept open.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, it was still the early days of the global financial crisis. Many self-serving and/or bizarre explanations popped up, blaming things like short selling and Wikipedia edit wars or, most strangely, flickering computer screens (according to author Tom Wolfe). Cooler heads took a closer look at the real causes: leverage and derivatives and a toxic, complex financial system.

Meanwhile, bogus stats and arguments were coming strong from the US Chamber of Commerce and members of congress in a push to get the president to sign the bill creating a copyright czar. At the same time, a judge ordered an injunction against Real's DVD copying software and for some inexplicable reason kept it secret, then extended it.

Also, long before the Snowden leaks and following Congress's capitulation on warrantless wiretapping, early leaks were already documenting NSA surveillance abuse.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2003, as we took a look at the role of music retailers in the industry's failure to adapt, the record companies were trying to ape the success of DVDs by adding "extras" to CDs. That's extra content — not extras like BMG's new DRM system, which a researcher discovered could be defeated by holding down the shift key while inserting the disk. SunnComm, the company that made the laughably useless DRM, naturally announced plans to sue the researcher for besmirching their good name — but reversed course in less than 24 hours in the face of public outcry. The software industry, on the other hand, was just beginning to dip its toe into the waters of a DRM approach that would gain much more traction (even while still being quite easily circumvented): product activation codes.

Leave a Comment..

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

Techdirt Podcast Episode 186: Free Speech & Content Moderation (Panel Discussion)

from the long-term-impact dept

For this week's episode of the podcast, we're featuring a recent panel discussion from Mozilla's Speaker Series. Mike Masnick sat down with Guillaume Chaslot from Algo Transparency, hosted by Mozilla Fellow in Residence Renée DiResta, to talk about the challenges of online content moderation and its implications for freedom of expression. Enjoy!

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.

7 Comments | Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt - 7 October 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the comment-is-king dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is John Roddy with a fairly straightforward reply to a tiresome complaint:

You keep getting flagged because you regularly openly lie about everything, make excuses when you're proven wrong, and hurl baseless insults every time you get called out on it. You are welcome to start participating if you can prove that you're able to behave.

In second place, we've got a response from kallethen to the idea that internet platforms don't deserve perpetual licenses to user content because they aren't paying:

I wouldn't say without paying. Their payment of the created content is the provision of computer resources (hardware, software, internet, IT, etc) to allow the created message to be shared. It's not a payment of money, but of service. You are specifically using "Internet Corporation" because you want your message to be shared, and they are providing the means of sharing it.

If you don't want "Internet Corporation" to have a licence, then don't use that corporation's service and provide the computer hardware, software, and internet connection yourself to broadcast your message.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with an anonymous response to the idea that there's no good reason for such licenses to be perpetual:

Maintaining a historical record is a good enough reason for me. You might disagree, but claiming that "no justification exists" is blatantly false. You just don't think said justifications are good enough.

Next, it's a response from Iggy to the broadband industry labeling itself an engine of innovation:

An "engine of innovation"? HAHAHA, if these telecoms were anywhere near as innovative as Google, Amazon, or Apple, we'd have free gigabit connections by now.

It took lawsuits just to get third party phones to connect to the phone network. It took a DOJ breakup of Bell just to make low cost calls possible. In 1995, Bill Gates predicted TV over Internet, but its only in the last few years did speeds catch up and it took the 2015 Open Internet Order protect online TV from throttling.

The industry is all but anti progress. Comparing them to innovative companies is laughable.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Get off my cyber-lawn! with a response to the Association of Independent Music celebrating some pretty silly numbers in its supposed antipiracy victory:

US Navy successfully prevents over 2,000 Somali Piracy Actions!

Okay, not really but at least 2000 ships went into that part of the world and weren't pirated so....WINNING!

In second place, it's an anonymous comment about the NSA's malware and exploits making it out to the public:

If only works by the Federal government were not public domain, the NSA could have had a copyright on this malware and then copyright law could have saved us from this horrible event. The hackers would be pirates for copying the software without approval, assuming they were brave enough to defy copyright law in the first place. Remember, violating copyright is the worst computer crime you can commit, so even elite hackers are wise to steer clear.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with Chris-Mouse offering one more thought on the Association of Independent Music's antipiracy campaign:

Ready! Fire! AIM!

That sounds about right for the recording industry.

And last but not least, we've got an anonymous comment about the Spanish prosecution of a man who apparently insulted God and the Virgin Mary, according to offended religious lawyers:

Should be "attempting to insult"

If they've found evidence that God was insulted, they're really burying the lede on that story.

That's all for this week, folks!

166 Comments | Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt - 6 October 2018 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: September 30th - October 6th

from the what-was dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, as we discussed how the NSA had essentially built its own "shadow" social network, we learned and then confirmed that the agency was collecting GPS data from mobile phones. A We The People petition calling for a pardon for Ed Snowden was being quietly ignored, while Michael Hayden was joking about putting Snowden on a 'kill list'. We also learned that the NSA was storing all metadata for at least a year, and performing man-in-the-middle attacks with the help of telcos. Plus, it was working hard to compromise Tor, despite James Clapper's claims that they were just trying to "understand" it.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, the House followed the Senate in creating a copyright czar position, even as it let orphan works legislation die and the Senate moved on to more international piracy shaming. Cox was quietly adopting a copyright three strikes policy and lying about it being required by the DMCA, a comprehensive review of the RIAA's lawsuit strategy showed just how much of a failure it was, and The Pirate Bay was launching its own copyright lawsuit to expose the absurdity of the system.

Fifteen Years Ago

Five years earlier in 2003, in the early days of the RIAA's lawsuits, another 63 people gave in to its shakedown letters this week, while the agency concluded a Senate hearing by promising to at least leave a little time in between the letters and the lawsuits in future — but at least one senator wanted much more substantial change. There was talk about compulsory licensing for music and a lot of questions about how it could be abused depending on how you define "music" — not to mention talk about how the cost of making music was going way, way down. It was also around this time that the practice of bundling TV, internet and phone service was picking up steam.

14 Comments | Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 2 October 2018 @ 1:32pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 185: Building New Senses (Plus The Possible End Of The World)

from the extra-sensory-perception dept

This week, we've got a special cross-post from Rob Reid's excellent After On podcast. After a conversation between Mike and Rob about the possible end of the world, we pivot to the full episode of After On in which Rob talks to neuroscientist David Eagleman about his fascinating work using technology to create new human senses. We hope you enjoy it!

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.

Leave a Comment..

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

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the it-is-written dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is That One Guy in response to the police actually admitting fault in a SWAT raid on the wrong address, for once:

This? Do this more often. Do this ALL the time

Well now, if police acted like this all the time I and many others would be much more likely to cut them some slack on a regular basis when they screw up other times.

They screwed up and they owned it.

No attempt to shift the blame, no attempt to drag the innocent person through the mud and/or try to shift the narrative from 'SWAT team raids wrong house' to 'vile (probable) criminal shoots two cops for what are surely heinous reasons.'

While it's unfortunate, as noted in the article, that this isn't the default, and it is therefore a pleasant surprise when police actually show some personal responsibility like this, it is still a pleasant surprise nonetheless. Now if it can start happening with such regularity that it stops being a surprise, and is instead treated as what it should have been, 'just how it works', that'd be great.

In second place, we've got ryuugami responding to another situation in which the FBI put US citizens on the no fly list for refusing to become informants:

Land of the Free, Home of the Brave.

You'd think the people charged with protecting a country and everything it stands for wouldn't keep undermining that country and everything it stands for with their every breath, but here we are. Again. *sigh*

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a response from Gary to Twitter's ongoing moderation woes:

Silly But

But this is what happens when they are put under pressure to "Do Something" about fake news.
"Something" was done.

Next, we've got a comment from crade about the infuriating and essentially meaningless "left/right" political dynamic of the content moderation debate:

So basically as soon as left leaning people start making companies suddenly the right thinks capitalism doesn't work and the govn't should be controlling how big companies operate because they aren't being "fair" enough to everyone.

This is modern conservative thinking?

Am I the only one who finds all the whining about being treated unfair by the big internet companies and how we need to "do something about it" extremely... left?

Over on the funny side, our first place winner comes after an occasional Techdirt formatting bug struck last week's comment post, resulting in the right hand side of the text being obscured behind the page sidebar. Justok made an excellent joke:

Censorship of the RIGHT.

In second place, we've got DannyB responding to the should-be-obvious finding that yes, giving cops the finger is protected speech:

Some cops need to have their patrol duty restricted to patrolling only safe spaces where they won't be offended.

For editor's choice on the funny side, first we've got Baron von Robber with a take on Alex Jones's social media bans:

Alex Jones is a crisis actor pretending he got banned. He's really hiding in a pizza parlor basement with some martian kids.

And finally, we've got an anonymous response to the invocation of a Kim Dotcom quote in support of the argument for why Google, Twitter, Facebook et al need to be controlled:

I too studied under noted US constitutional law professor and justice Kim Dotcom.

That's all for this week, folks!

39 Comments | Leave a Comment..

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

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

from the that-which-was dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013 we learned that, despite the White House's denials, the review of NSA surveillance was indeed overseen by James Clapper. The NSA was complaining about how it had to spend time closing leaks while its apologists were out in force, with some trotting out the old "privacy is dead" argument and, of course, incoming FBI director James Comey saying it was all good and legal. The critics were out in greater force, though: the New York Times called for the NSA to be barred from requiring surveillance backdoors, the president of Brazil blasted the US in front of the United Nations, Senator Leahy gave a speech condemning the agency's practices, and a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced comprehensive surveillance reform legislation.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, while companies were waking up to the absurd trademark restrictions around the Olympics, Major League Baseball surprised us by backing down from a takedown notice in the face of a well-crafted fair use defense. A Spanish court upheld the idea that deep linking is not infringement, a Ugandan composer was suing the government for copyright infringement over the national anthem, and the European Parliament rejected the idea of three strikes laws for file sharing. Back in the US, the judge in the Jammie Thomas case declared a mistrial, the Senate passed the bill creating a copyright czar, and Arts+Labs emerged as a new anti-piracy lobbying supergroup.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2003, we talked once again about how infringement isn't theft, and also how in fact what the RIAA does is a lot closer to stealing. Of course, studies unsurprisingly showed that file sharing wasn't going away, and smarter upstart record labels were starting to see it as an ally, but the RIAA was still stuck keeping an eye on innocent people. We also took a look at how the MPAA's mistakes were uniquely flavored and different from the RIAA's, but the BSA was taking a direct lesson from the RIAA with its offer of amnesty to confessed pirates (and its doom-and-gloom soothsaying about software piracy).

1 Comments | Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 25 September 2018 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 184: Life Insurance, Life Surveillance

from the living-well dept

A major insurance company recently announced that it would offer discounts on life insurance to customers who wear activity trackers and log data showing they live a healthy lifestyle. This understandably freaked out some people, but there are interesting aspects to the idea as well. There's plenty to consider, so this week regular hosts Mike, Hersh and Dennis discuss whether this is an exciting innovation, a worrying expansion of surveillance culture, or both.

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.

2 Comments | Leave a Comment..

More posts from Leigh Beadon >>