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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 15 June 2021 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 286: How GirlCon Is Fighting To Empower Women In Tech

from the the-next-generation dept

It's no secret that the tech industry has lost much of the diversity that was present in its early days and grown into a male-dominated field rife with sexism and gender disparity. Today, many people are work to change this — and one such effort is the GirlCon, which is holding its fourth annual conference for women in tech from June 27th to 30th this year. On this week's episode, we're joined by GirlCon co-founder Kyla Guru and co-director Vidya Bharadwaj to discuss this year's event and the ongoing fight to empower the next generation of women in tech.

Follow the Techdirt Podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe via Apple Podcasts, or grab the RSS feed. You can also keep up with all the latest episodes right here on Techdirt.

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Posted on Techdirt - 13 June 2021 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the speak-softly dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is an anonymous response to Denuvo's claim that its DRM has no performance impact on users' machines whatsoever:

It takes up 500MB, which will use drive I/O when it loads. That's a performance impact. It uses CPU cycles when it runs. That's a performance impact.

If they wanted to argue that there was a negligible, unnoticeable performance impact, that's one thing. But to deny any impact at all? That's a flat-out lie.

In second place, it's Samuel Abram with a note on our post about the "map of the internet" visualization:

Of course, the credit should be given to Randall Munroe who–in his sublime XKCD webcomic–created the idea of web sites' traffic as literal land masses.

I'm glad someone else took the mantle from him.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got a pair of comments about Ohio's bizarre lawsuit against Google. First, it's ladyattis with a summary:

It's all about control

Seriously, my subject line says it all. They're not about their principles or their ideology, it's all about control. If they can't "trust the market" to protect their peculiar set of values then they'll burn the whole thing down out of spite. It borders on abusive behavior that you see in some dysfunctional relationships (particularly from the abuser in the relationship). I don't think legal analyses will help here, I think these folks need a shrink to work over their neuroses.

Next, it's sorrykb picking up on a comparison we made in the post, noting how it would be nonsense to claim encouraging people to eat more vegetables means you want to put everyone on an all-plant diet all the time:

Of course it’s nonsense. It’s also exactly what the GOP did earlier this year.

Nonsense is their brand.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Bobvious with an update to a classic quote:

"it is difficult for an influencer to understand something when their raison d'etre depends upon not understanding it" - Upton Sinclair (Millennial Edition)

In second place, it's Yakko Warner responding to the copyright lawsuit against Roblox with an old and fairly timeless lyric:

"It doesn't matter if you're a grandma or a seven-year-old girl,
They'll treat you like the evil hard-bitten criminal scum you are."

--Weird Al Yankovic, Don't Download This Song

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with one more comment from that post, in which an anonymous commenter made another reference to an even earlier era of anti-piracy:

Still waiting for home taping to kill music already.

Finally, it's That One Guy, who reacted to a study suggesting misinformation takedowns can lead more people to believe false stories by hatching a plan:

Only one thing to do...

Time to make a series of videos pointing out how vaccines absolutely work and are a great way to cut down on avoidable death and suffering, eating healthy is a good thing along with exercise and you should always strive to verify what someone's telling you and maintain a healthy sense of skepticism. After this I'll find some way to get the videos taken down(slipping in a few seconds of copyrighted music or video should do the trick nicely) and I'll then use the fact that the videos were removed as evidence that what's in them is true.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 12 June 2021 @ 12:00pm

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

from the and-then-and-then-and-then dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2016, there were lots of stories about questionable actions by the FBI, and amidst all that, the agency turned down our FOIA request to find out how much money they spent getting into Syed Farook's iPhone. A worrying appeals court ruling chipped away at privacy while Senator Jeff Sessions was seeking to blast a giant hole in the Fourth Amendment. We learned more about the NSA's handling of Ed Snowden's concerns prior to his leak, and took a look at how despite all the supposed damage, the agency was doing great. This was also the week that Gawker filed for bankruptcy.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2011, the RIAA was arguing that changing copyright terms is unconstitutional, though only if they get shorter, while the Supreme Court agreed to hear the Golan case examining the opposite. YouTube added Creative Commons licensing options for videos while Russia's president proposed baking similar options right into copyright law. ICE declared victory in its domain seizure campaign while Homeland Security appeared to be stalling on related FOIA requests. Meanwhile, the ridiculous prosecution of whistleblower Thomas Drake was falling apart and by the end of the week, Drake took a plea bargain deal.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2006, long before ICE's domain seizures, we wondered why the US government was getting involved in takedowns of foreign music sites. We also took a look at the negative impact of the DMCA on innovation, and the way that the music industry's efforts to shut down sites often served as free advertising via the Streisand Effect — and the same was true with the movie industry, as was soon demonstrated by the MPAA going after Isohunt. Meanwhile, the copyright industries were trying to sneak through a huge and insane change to the law around "incidental copies". Blizzard relented on its attempts to block third-party World Of Warcraft game guides, the story of how Canada's "Captain Copyright" propaganda mascot might himself be a copy continued to develop, and we were surprised when some British politicians appeared to have reasonable views on copyright.

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Posted on Techdirt - 6 June 2021 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the you-said-it dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is PaulT on our post about a bizarre Washington Post opinion piece defending Florida's content moderation law, responding to parts of the op-ed and parts of our post:

"the removal of Project Veritas’s James O’Keefe from Twitter provide more than enough proof to justify the reaction."

A guy famous for lying in order to dishonestly manipulate political races is proof of a reaction? OK, but I'm not sure the thing you meant to prove is the thing you proved..

"O'Keefe was banned because Twitter claimed he was artifically amplifying his tweets"

Oh, and he was banned for attacking the platform hosting him and not for the other content of his posts? OK...

"You can't just say -- as Olsen does -- that because there are regulations on broadcast TV and radio, that there's no problem with applying similar rules to totally private systems that don't rely on public spectrum."

Well, you can say that, but it would be hoped that more people understand the completely stupid idea of doing so.

In second place, it's Stephen T. Stone with a comment on our post about Iowa prosecutors attempting to jail an activist for sharing documents with journalists:

To everyone who thinks moderation is censorship:

No, this situation is attempted censorship. Hell, it might even be a successful attempt — after all, if Viet Tran knows he has police and prosecutors watching him closely after his humiliating-to-the-state victory in court, he might think twice before sharing any documents in the future if he has the absolute legal right to share those documents.

Y’all want to talk about censorship? Here’s your opportunity. But know that you won’t be taken even the least bit seriously if you conflate this situation — this attempt at using governmental power as a way to shut someone up — with Twitter banning someone for posting, say, anti-queer slurs.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with another comment from PaulT, this time in response to someone seeking "an honest argument against Section 230":

We can only hope that day will come. I, for one, can't wait for the day where I have a reasonable argument to get my teeth into as to why innocent bystanders should be held accountable for things that happened on their property without their prior knowledge, rather than the endless whining of losers who refuse to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions...

Next, it's dan8mx responding to the claim that calling it "compelled speech" when social media companies are forced to host content is "unconvincing":

Social media companies don't want to host this stuff, but the government is telling them they have to.

I guess the "question" is: how is that not compelled speech?

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Bobvious with a comment about Trump's many bankruptcies:

And you can read all about them in Chapter 11 of his upcoming autobiography.

In second place, it's radix with a comment about Trump shutting down his blog:

This one only lost money for one month! Great success! One of the best Trump ventures of all time!

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with smbryant and a comment about repair monopolies turning farmers into activists — though it was actually two comments that are here compressed into one:

You'd think they'd be a little more careful...

...before they pissed off a bunch of people who already have pitchforks close to hand

Finally, it's an anonymous comment about the Trump blog shutdown:

Trump should sue himself for anti-Trump bias.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 5 June 2021 @ 12:30pm

This Week In Techdirt History: May 30th - June 5th

from the collected-recollections dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2016, we were pleased to see a dearth of support for the Burr-Feinstein anti-encryption bill, but not so happy about the 4th circuit rolling back its warrant requirement for cell site location info. We were also watching the fallout from the second ruling in the Oracle/Google trial and digging into just what happened in an episode of our podcast. Meanwhile, an independent musician was suing Justin Bieber and Skrillex over a sample they didn't use, just as two recent rulings from around the world looked like they might clear the copyright barriers to sampling. And one court gave a very bad copyright ruling, saying that remastered old songs can get a brand new copyright.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2011, the copyright nonsense was widespread, with an EMI executive saying people should pay again to stream their own music, and both an industry lawyer and the RIAA talking about the supposed evils of the public domain. The push was on to criminalize more infringement too, with some senators seeking to make embedding videos a felony and the RIAA wanting to do the same for music subscription service password sharing. Amidst all this, we took a deep dive into why the PROTECT IP Act would break the internet.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2006, Canada was doling out entertainment industry propaganda to kids in the form of an embarrassing new character called Captian Copyright (who might have himself been engaging in infringement), while the industry was hard at work on the next generation of terrible DVD copy protection. We took a closer look at some easily-misinterpreted statements about net neutrality from the creator of BitTorrent, and at an early example of a still-ongoing tradition: fake public comments about net neutrality. But there was no need to worry about a lack of regulation, because AT&T's chairman promised they would absolutely definitely not violate net neutrality principles.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 1 June 2021 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 285: Welcome To Money City

from the the-future-of-money dept

Earlier today, we announced the release of an open source playkit for Money City, our new game about the future of money that was designed and run for MozFest 2021. For this week's episode of the podcast, Mike is joined by two of the people who commissioned the game — Erika Drushka and Chris Lawrence from Grant For The Web — as well as our game design partner, Randy Lubin of Leveraged Play, to talk more about Money City and using games to explore serious topics and generate useful ideas.

Follow the Techdirt Podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe via Apple Podcasts, 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 May 2021 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the chitchat dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is Darkness Of Course with a response to the everpresent complaints from one... prolific commenter about supposedly being censored:

You are spamming the site with repeated falsehoods, and lies. Additionally you are insulting TechDirt and everyone in it, quite often because you do not understand the very basics of how networks, the internet, the web, web sites, and web site commenting works.

You generate spam. Many respond via the "spam flag" on the insightful/funny/copy functions/flag <- Spam filter flag.

You are a spammer. And a liar. And a nutjob. See, simple to explain, difficult for an idiot to understand.

My 1st Amend rights align with Mike's. We don't want to be associated with you: Read the 1st, Dummy. The 1st Amendment that is. If you need help, see your doctor.

In second place, it's Thad with some thoughts about the political situation in Arizona:

Under the leadership of Kelli Ward, the AZGOP has taken a hard turn toward the fringe. They've alienated voters and donors; the current leadership is somehow too far-right for the party of Evan Mecham, Fife Symington, and Joe Arpaio.

And they see which way things are going. Democrats have held a majority of Arizona's seats in the US House for years, and now both our US Senate seats have gone to Democrats. Statewide offices are increasingly going to Democrats as well (though governor has been a tough nut to crack), and while Republicans still hold both chambers in the state legislature, they've gone from supermajorities to a majority of just 2 seats in each house.

They're panicking.

And much like the GOP at the national level, they really only have two choices if they want to keep winning elections: either they can stop being racist conspiracy whackjobs and start appealing to more mainstream voters, or they can engage in mass-scale voter disenfranchisement efforts and make sure only racist conspiracy whackjobs get to vote.

They've made their choice.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with one more comment from Thad, this time on our post about FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr's op-ed in Newsweek calling for big tech to subsidize big telecom:

Reminder: Newsweek is a fringe right-wing conspiracy magazine, using a once-respectable name to deceive people into thinking it's a respectable publication.

Newsweek and the Rise of the Zombie Magazine

Next, it's another response to that same post, this time from MathFox who flipped the suggestion on its head:

I think that "big telecom" should pay "big tech" because "big tech" generates the content that drives bandwidth usage, enabling the ISP to sell high-bandwidth connections to their customers... (and collect fees for exceeding the bandwidth cap...)

If there was no YouTube, Steam, etc. everyone could still get by with a dial-in modem.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is an anonymous commenter with another response to complaints of censorship in our comments section:

IKR? I never see your inane comments like this one i can't see either.

In second place, it's Thad yet again, with a link regarding Florida's unconstitutional social media moderation law:

Evergreen: Area Man Passionate Defender Of What He Imagines Constitution To Be

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with an anonymous comment about the notion that people can be convicted of crimes based on DNA analysis software that they can't examine:

I have a secret magic box into which I can place my hand and pull out names on slips of paper that are guaranteed to be the names of pedophiles. The prosecutor of this case is one of those names. No, you can't see the box. If you see it, the box stops working. Also the pedophiles will win. Don't let that happen!

Finally, it's Bloof with a response to the suggestion that Democrats rigged elections in Arizona:

You know the people controlling Maricopa county's elections were republicans, right? So in your mind, democrats pretended to be lifelong republicans, got elected as republicans and spent years doing thankless jobs so they could unseat a republican by making voters in a democratic area vote for a democrat... Talk about cunning!

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 29 May 2021 @ 1:00pm

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

from the memory-palace dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2016, Paramount announced its intention to back down from its lawsuit against the fan film Axanar, though not before the filmmakers got their next filing in. The legal battles over the FBI's hacking tools and malware continued, while the Senate Intelligence Committee was expanding the bureau's NSL powers with a secret amendment.

This is also the week we first heard the rapidly-confirmed accusation that Peter Thiel was financing Hulk Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker, and started writing about how worrying the situation was.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2011, ICE kicked off round four of its domain seizures and we continued looking at why the whole program is unconsitutional and how the Justice Department was stalling to avoid lawsuits in response. Meanwhile, the Patriot Act renewal moved forward, with only eight Senators presenting an obstacle and Harry Reid procedurally routing around attempts to fix it, eventually leading to a successful renewal.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2006, a desperate attempt to declare open source licenses a violation of antitrust law predictably failed as the lawsuit was thrown out, while the RIAA's lawsuit against XM radio appeared to be generating publicity for the company's newest device, and TV networks and studios launched a new suit against Cablevision over its network-based DVR. People were beginning to predict the death of MySpace, Verizon was trying to claim that passing on info to credit agencies was a gift to consumers, and we noted how crime reporting would often pointlessly focus on Wi-Fi if it was even tangentially involved. Also, this appears to be the very first time we wrote about a newfangled buzzword: "crowdsourcing".

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 25 May 2021 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 284: How To Think About Cybersecurity

from the best-practices dept

The recent ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline has brought renewed public attention to cybersecurity issues. The field is always evolving, and the attack serves as a great starting point for understanding the current state of cybersecurity, so this week we're joined by three experts — Ross Nordurft and Alex Botting from Venable LLP, and Amy Mahn from the National Institute of Standards and Technology — to discuss the lessons from the pipeline attack, and how to take a risk management approach to cybersecurity.

Follow the Techdirt Podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe via Apple Podcasts, 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 - 23 May 2021 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the dye-a-log dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is David with a comment about the cop accused of beating up another cop:

So the only reason he is on trial is because he got a cop?

It would seem that beating up an undercover cop was more of a coincidence that made someone take notice. So what's with the other victims of him and his department? I mean, it's obvious that he was regularly acting in this manner while not stepping far enough out of line to warrant attention.

It seems like prosecuting only him for only this particular incidence is leaving citizens without a badge wide up for more abuse.

In second place, it's PaulT on our post about smart TV data, responding to someone who brought up the fact that they, personally, do not watch television, which isn't especially useful to the conversation:

Good for you. Always nice to know that someone will always react to an industry problem with "I don't personally use that product". That's always so helpful...

Meanwhile, you'd be even more protected if you didn't use electricity, while the privacy issue concerned here (which expands way beyond broadcast TV) will still exist for anyone who has it.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with an anonymous comment on our post about Twitch's DMCA enforcement, responding to someone who wanted to pin the whole thing on Jeff Bezos personally:

... and Bezos sounds a lot like Soros, so they're probably in the conspiracy together, scheduled for just after the the next round of the Central American Migrant Caravan and just before removing the Icelandic Prime Minister from power.

However, once you take off the tinfoil hat, you might realize that Bezos is on top of such a big pile of Things That Need Attention Now that he probably hasn't spared the time for the Twitch DMCA issue.

Similarly, folks are saying "Amazon should know better than this", which might be true if Amazon itself was paying close attention to its subsidiaries. You can see the truth of that in that we're even talking about this. Meanwhile, the people on the ground who handle DMCA issues for Amazon itself are not the same people as the people doing so for Twitch.

Not saying you shouldn't be angry about this. But be angry at the right people, for the right reasons.

Next, it's Thad responding to a question about why the DOJ apparently got involved in one of Devin Nunes's lawsuits:

Bill Barr is an authoritarian who used the DoJ to protect Trump and his cronies, and retaliate against their enemies.

That wasn't hard to see at all; they did it right out in the open.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Baron von Robber with a theory about why Nunes' voters haven't gotten rid of him yet:

The cows are smarter than the farmers there.

For second place, we head all the way back to last week's comments post, where Bobvious continued riffing on a winning comment about "left-wing fascism":

It's the sort of Democratic Republicanism you would have seen at Hitler's Bar Mitzvah, or Vladimir Putin presenting Florence Nightingale with a posthumous Ukraine Medal of Honour, along with the Flat Earth Society education videos winning a Golden Globe Award.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with a comment from Jojo about the UK's name-changed internet bill:

How they went about reforming this bill

UK Parliament: "Okay lets reform this bill."
proceeds to just change the title.
UK Parliament: "We did it. The children are now safe online!"

Finally, it's That Anonymous Coward with a comment on our post about the scammers using bogus copyright threats to spread malware:

9 out of 10 Nigerian princes agree its effective.

That's all for this week, folks!

7 Comments | Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt - 22 May 2021 @ 12:00pm

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

from the memory-lane dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2016, we were digging deeper into the Oracle/Google fight over the Java API and the challenges therein. Comcast was trying to claim that it wasn't 'feasible' to deliver TV to third-party set top boxes, a cable lobbying group was saying that more competition would hurt consumers, and a former FCC boss turned cable lobbyist was complaining that the industry was being unfairly attacked. Meanwhile, the story of the CIA Torture Report was getting even stranger, and Senators Wyden and Paul introduced a bill to stop the expansion of government hacking.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2011, we looked closer at the awful PROTECT IP act, while Google noted the assault on free speech it represented — an attitude its defenders labelled as thinking you're above the law. A Supreme Court ruling took a huge chunk out of the 4th Amendment, while the Indiana Supreme Court took an even bigger chunk out of it. And it really wasn't a good week for said amendment in general, with the RIAA calling for warrantless searches and Congress extending the Patriot Act with no concessions.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2006, we wrote about how amazing an online searchable database of scanned books could be, and how it was already helping bring attention to commercially neglected works. MLB was trying to find a backdoor way to control game data, astroturf continued to grow in the net neutrality debate, and a Canadian politician gave a rare inside look at the RIAA's lobbying/fearmongering tactics. We got a couple important court rulings too, with the Supreme Court noting that injunctions don't always make sense in patent cases, and an appeals court highlighting why making a profit doesn't disqualify something from fair use exceptions to copyright.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 18 May 2021 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 283: Debating Section 230, With WIRED's Gilad Edelman

from the it-had-to-happen dept

It's no secret that we were not at all impressed with WIRED's recent cover story about Section 230. The resulting conversation sparked a Twitter debate with the story's author, Gilad Edelman, and we thought... why not bring it to the podcast? So on this week's episode, Gilad joins Mike to discuss and debate the story, our response, and Section 230.

Follow the Techdirt Podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe via Apple Podcasts, or grab the RSS feed. You can also keep up with all the latest episodes right here on Techdirt.

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Posted on Techdirt - 16 May 2021 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the speak-and-spell dept

This week, both our winners on the insightful side come in response to our post about Dartmouth's insane paranoia over cheating, and the resultant surveillance scandal. In first place, it's That One Guy with a comment about the fact that the college appeared to be hiding its due process policies:

Nothing says 'We're on the right side of this issue and students can trust that they will be treated fairly if they come here' like trying to hide your own campus policies while pressuring students to 'admit' to cheating based upon evidence not provided to them to refute.

In second place, it's an anonymous commenter questioning why certain things count as "cheating" to begin with:

I never understood the point of memorizing formulas. Being able to recite the quadratic formula from memory doesn't mean I'm better at solving an equation.

The ability to use the knowledge properly is what needs to be tested, not simply checking to see if you can regurgitate the text.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with another anonymous comment, responding to the notion that pharma patents are important because the drug companies "take all the risks":

No. Pharma does not take "all the risks" (what risks?), and regularly makes use of publicly-funded (or otherwise not funded by pharma) research and data, then locks up not only the end product, but also previously publicly available information and data resulting from their trials. This is all bullshit and allowing it is an unconscionable and unfair subsidy to these companies. Further, they have an avenue to extend patents unfairly by otherwise pointlessly tweaking a formula or process, which somehow keeps the original process locked up.

Seriously, for real?

Next, it's Stephen T. Stone with an important addition to our frequently-made point about how the powerful abuse content moderation tools to suppress the vulnerable:

And sometimes not on purpose. When adult-oriented content (e.g., porn) gets driven from platforms, LGBTQ people are inevitably hit first and hardest by such bans because of preëxisting biases about LGBTQ content — namely, that such content is inherently sexual/adult-oriented.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is UhHuh with a comment about the latest bad Section 230 reform bill and how its requirement for publicly available reports interacts with its other requirements:

That website better have a top-notch consumer protection policy....

In second place, it's That One Guy deploying a portion of a favorite joke in response to the simple question of exactly which "conservative" views are supposedly being censored around the web:

Oh, you know...

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with a comment from JMT about the bogey man of "left-wing fascism":

Nearly as bad as Christian Satanism but not quite as bad as vegan cannibalism...

Next, it's Baron von Robber with a reaction to the news about Trump's DOJ targeting journalists to protect his reputation:

Trump projects so hard, he could run 6 movies simultaneously at a drive-in.

That's all for this week, folks!

6 Comments | Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt - 15 May 2021 @ 12:00pm

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

from the back-then dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2016, the copyright fight over the Star Trek fan film Axanar was allowed to move forward — though without the too-soon attempt to raise the silly question of copyright on the Klingon language. The UK government was pushing for ten-year jail sentences for copyright infringement, HBO was abusing the DMCA process to stop Game of Thrones spoilers, and we took a look at Minnesota's insanely broad publicity rights law. It was also the week of the opening statements in the Oracle v. Google case that would carry on for years.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2011, two important DMCA cases (IsoHunt and Veoh) were being heard by the 9th Circuit, while Limewire settled its own case, the US Copyright Group was allowed to move forward with a massive shakedown operation, and BMI was arguing that a single person listening to their own music via the cloud was a public performance under copyright law. Copyright maximalists were also opposing new TLDs for some reason and trying to get domain censorship capabilities included in the .net TLD. This was also the week that we first saw the PROTECT IP act and its extremely bad text that could gut parts of the DMCA and make linking a felony.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2006, Apple (the tech company) won its trademark battle against Apple (the record label) with help from the now-famous "moron in a hurry" defense. Movie studios were tepidly trying to embrace BitTorrent while failing to understand it, due in large part to the industry's obsession with DRM (though at the same time, the recording industry magnanimously decided it would allow people to rip their own CDs, and Sony was admitting that its DRM-laden proprietary music format was a strategic error). We took a bigger look at why the argument for the necessity of copy protection doesn't make sense, in stark contrast to the analyst who was arguing that a lack of mobile DRM will lead to billions in losses.

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Posted on Tech & COVID - 12 May 2021 @ 11:57am

Canada Still Won't Commit To Supporting A Pandemic Patent Waiver

from the inexcusable dept

Few things illustrate the broken state of our global intellectual property system better than the fact that, well over a year into this devastating pandemic and in the face of a strong IP waiver push by some of the hardest hit countries, patents are still holding back the production of life-saving vaccines. And of all the countries opposing a waiver at the WTO (or withholding support for it, which is functionally the same thing), Canada might be the most frustrating.

Canada is the biggest hoarder of vaccine pre-orders, having secured enough to vaccinate the population five times over. Despite this, it has constantly run into supply problems and lagged behind comparable countries when it comes to administering the vaccines on a per capita basis. In response to criticism of its hoarding, the government continues to focus on its plans to donate all surplus doses to the COVAX vaccine sharing program — but these promises were somewhat more convincing before Canada became the only G7 country to withdraw doses from COVAX. Despite all this, and despite pressure from experts who explain how vaccine hoarding will prolong the pandemic for everyone, the country has continually refused to voice its support for a TRIPS patent waiver at the WTO.

Last week, the US finally said that it would support a waiver. This position has issues — there's no commitment to a specific proposal, just to negotiating a new one, so the devil is very much in the details — but the top-line promise of support for the general concept is meaningful and welcome. Some suspected that Canada might finally follow suit with, at least, a similarly open-to-interpretation promise — but apparently the government can't even go that far, and has stated that it's still "weighing support":

Following a meeting with his G7 counterparts, Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau said discussion on whether to lift patents, as was done in the AIDS crisis, was “very active” but said Canada is still weighing the options.

“Canada’s position is that we need to obtain more vaccines, we need to all put more money into the COVAX program, and by the way Canada is the fourth largest contributor to the COVAX program, and we need to discuss with manufactures whether they’re prepared to make licensing arrangements to allow greater production of the vaccine,” he said in an interview on CTV News Channel’s Power Play.

This position is baffling and infuriating. Canada has already missed its chance to be a leader in the call for a truly cooperative global vaccine production strategy, and now it's missing its opportunity to at least be an early supporter among high-income countries. Meanwhile, the country's struggling rollout has convinced many citizens that its procurement has been too slow despite being the world's biggest hoarder of orders. As other countries like India face devastation, the ruling Canadian Liberal party's opposition (especially Conservative provincial premiers, who are among the most responsible for the failed rollout) are taking the opportunity to shift blame and bring dangerous isolationist dog whistles into the mainstream by claiming the country's only real problem is poor border controls. Canada is also struggling to fund development of a homegrown vaccine, and build out domestic manufacturing capacity that was sorely lacking when the pandemic hit. All of this is ample reason for Canada to support an IP waiver that would increase global supply, stem the spread of COVID around the world and especially in hard-hit places like India that traditionally have lots of people traveling to the country, and maybe even accelerate domestic vaccine production. Instead, Canada is hedging its bets and letting its struggling pandemic response become a partisan football in a political debate laced with misinformation and toxic nationalism while millions of Canadians — and billions around the world — still wait for their chance to get vaccinated.

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Posted on Techdirt - 11 May 2021 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 282: The Facebook Oversight Board's Trump Decision

from the high-profile dept

Last week, the Oversight Board made its highest profile decision yet: upholding Facebook's suspension of Donald Trump, though with the caveat that it needs clearer policy reasons to make the suspension indefinite. Unsurprisingly, a whole lot of people have a whole lot of opinions on this, and we wanted to learn more about the decision from the source. Julie Owono is an Oversight Board member and the Executive Director of Internet Sans Frontières, and she joins us on this week's episode to discuss how this decision was reached and what it means for Facebook.

Follow the Techdirt Podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe via Apple Podcasts, 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 - 10 May 2021 @ 3:36pm

The Stunning Inability Of Canada's Heritage Minister To Answer Questions About His Internet Regulation Bill

from the not-very-reassuring dept

We've written about Bill C-10, the Canadian government's attempt to bring online services under the auspices of the country's broadcast regulator, the CRTC, and the way the story about the bill keeps shifting and the promises about what it supposedly won't do keep being broken.

Now, work on the the bill has been paused after lawmakers from all four parties voted to ask the Department of Justice for a fresh analysis of its legality under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They've also asked for the bill's champion, Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault, and others to come before the committee and discuss its implications. But Guilbeault has consistently demonstrated a total inability to give clear answers (or, sometimes, any answers at all) to questions people raise about their concerns with the bill. This has been made "crystal clear" (a term Guilbeault has wrongly applied to the muddy and vague bill itself) by some of his responses over the past couple of weeks.

First, at the end of April, Guilbeault was pressed for details in an interview on the CBC, with host David Common asking why the exclusion for social media content was removed from the bill and how the Minister can still claim it won't be impacted (you can watch the full interview here). As you can see, his answer — inasmuch as it constitutes an answer — is not very convincing:

Why won't Bill C-10 impact user content on social media? Because they're "not interested" in doing that and it's not the bill's "purpose". Oh and also the bill isn't finished. The fact that an exclusion to specifically prevent regulation of social media was removed is, apparently, irrelevant. The powers granted by the actual text of the bill are, apparently, irrelevant. The idea that regulators would use the regulatory powers given to them by the bill "has no basis in reality". Just trust him.

Not convinced? Well, a few days later in the legislature, Guilbeault was pressed by an opposition Member of Parliament on the free expression implications of the bill, and he gave even less of an answer:

Yes, you saw that — Guilbeault immediately pivoted to the completely unrelated topic of reproductive rights and lobbed accusations of hypocrisy at the questioner. Those accusations might not be entirely baseless, but they are entirely irrelevant to this subject that is of extreme importance to all Canadians, not just those on the opposite side of the political aisle from Guilbeault. The Minister also accused another MP of lying about the bill, and was reprimanded in the House of Commons and pressed to withdraw his statement. The Liberal party would very much like it if people viewed opposition to Bill C-10 as a purely partisan effort coming from disingenuous and dishonest opposition politicians, but nothing could be further from the truth.

But Guilbeault's evasiveness and foundering doesn't stop there. The latest interview (watch the whole thing here), in which he changed his previous story and stated that the bill will enable the regulation of users on platforms like YouTube, might be the worst one yet:

Guilbeault manages to contradict himself in a matter of seconds. After the understandably frustrated interviewer presses him, yet again, on his promises that the bill won't regulate social media users, he emphatically insists "individuals are exempt from this la-" and can't quite make it to the end of the word "law" before cutting himself off to say "or will be, once it's adopted". Then, in the very next sentence, he says that the bill will apply to individuals who "act like broadcasters" then vaguely asserts that such people are somehow completely distinct from "everyday citizens". As we discussed in the previous post, he then goes on to be completely unable to clarify how this line would be drawn. And then, the next day, he backtracked these comments and made more insistent promises that users will not be regulated.

Even Canadians who know very little about the subject of online regulation are noticing how desperate and vague Guilbeault gets every time he's pressed for details, and are unimpressed by his obviously evasive deflections in parliament. Now even MPs from his own party are seeking answers. If the government is going to do what it should and toss out C-10 to start over with a brand new bill, it also needs to find a more capable and trustworthy champion for it.

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Posted on Techdirt - 10 May 2021 @ 10:44am

Minister Behind Canada's Social Media Bill Now Says It Will Regulate User Generated Content

from the shifting-stories dept

Update: The Minister has now attempted to backtrack these latest comments and repeated his insistence that the bill will not apply to social media users, though the impact the regulatory powers — which he says will apply to the platforms — will have on users remains unclear.

Throughout the Canadian government's legislative push to give broadcast regulators power over online services, the story on exactly what the bill would do has continually shifted, and its author, Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault, has been consistently vague and evasive in the face of questioning from other lawmakers and the media. He has repeatedly insisted that Bill C-10 is designed to target large audio and video services that act like broadcasters, but will not impact individual users of sites like YouTube and Twitch — despite the fact that the clause which would have clearly prevented this was removed and a new amendment confirms that social media will be subject to at least some regulation.

The latest development is another change in the story: in a recent interview, Guilbeault stated that the new regulatory powers can apply to YouTube channels:

"What we want to do, this law should apply to people who are broadcasters, or act like broadcasters. So if you have a YouTube channel with millions of viewers, and you're deriving revenues from that, then at some point the CRTC will be asked to put a threshold. But we're talking about broadcasters here, we're not talking about everyday citizens posting stuff on their YouTube channel," Guilbeault said.

One of the main points critics of the bill have been making is that, despite Guilbeault's insistence that it won't impact individual users, he's never been able to explain why not given the powers the bill gives to the broadcast regulators at the CRTC. This latest comment just confirms it: whatever the stated intent, the bill leaves it up to the CRTC to decide if and when to extend their new regulatory powers to a user of a platform like YouTube. He frames this as not impacting "everyday citizens" but, of course, many everyday citizens on social media can get huge audiences on par with major broadcasting operations — that's kind of the whole point, and one of the reasons people are rightfully opposed to the government regulating people's speech on those platforms. And of course, as always, the bill doesn't offer any clear, solid protections against overreach — nor does Guilbeault:

Asked repeatedly what the threshold would be for CRTC scrutiny, whether a certain number of millions of followers, or a certain amount of advertising revenue, the minister said it’s something the government will ask the CRTC to determine, but that it would be entities that have a "material impact on the Canadian economy."

This vague and almost meaningless condition isn't very reassuring, especially coming from the same person who recently insisted that the bill wouldn't impact users of these platforms at all.

Opposition to the bill is rightfully growing throughout Canada and across party lines, and there's a growing amount of speculation about the legal challenges that C-10 is likely to face if passed. If the government really wants to achieve its primary stated goal of getting major audio and video services like Netflix and Spotify to support Canadian content the way traditional broadcasters are required to (a proposal that still raises significant questions that will need to be examined), they're first going to need to unveil a completely revamped bill that actually addresses people's very real concerns and places clear limitations on the CRTC's power to ensure that it won't curtail Canadians' freedom of speech, and stop trying to feed the country a vague and shifting story interspersed with desperate promises that the bill won't do what everyone can see it will.

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Posted on Techdirt - 9 May 2021 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the words-with-friends dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is an anonymous comment responding to Trump's description of his new microblog platform as "a beacon of freedom" and "a place to speak freely and safely":

Translation: "You are free to praise and agree with Trump or you are free to shut up and go away."

In second place, it's That Anonymous Coward with some thoughts on Hollywood lobbyists fighting against IP waivers for COVID vaccines:

Does anyone still have any doubt that they value copyright more than human life?

Not a SINGLE movie can prevent or treat covid, but JUST IN CASE we should make sure people die for not being able to pony up for access to the IP.

Tell me again how the system isn't broken and I will so bitch slap you into next week.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with an anonymous response to the ol' "intellectual property promotes innovation" claim:

Wow dude. Way to be completely wrong. Modern American innovation is stunted by modern American "intellectual property" laws. Innovation is discouraged by "IP" laws that penalize/ban innovation that anyone can argue is somehow related to their own works.

It is kind of like someone took a look at the history of western science and said "These people are learning from each other, and frequently come up with ideas based on the ideas that came before. Let us have less of this."

Next, it's another anonymous comment in response to the latest example of cops behaving badly:

Cops are... really not great at putting up arguments for why they shouldn't be defunded.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is n00bdragon with another response to Hollywood opposing IP waivers:

Those researchers would never have created a COVID vaccine if they didn't expect a movie to be made about it.

In second place, it's Stephen T. Stone with a comment about the description of people who "had already decided their conclusion and was looking for strawmen to throw up and tear down in order to 'bolster' their point":

Kinda reminds me of someone around here. Oh, I wish I could think of their name. But damn it all, I can’t come up with that name right now. You got any ideas?

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with a comment from bobvious responding to the argument from Senator Tillis that we can't go sharing "government-supported research":

Come now Mike. Don't you realise that means that Senator Tillis is paying for this out of his OWN pocket??

Finally, we've got K'Tetch who did the legwork to make an ironic joke about our post on bogus DMCA scams based on plagiarized websites:

Oh for shame!

How dare you!
Don't you know I wrote this article first! back on April 31st 1957? How dare you try and claim it as yours!

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 8 May 2021 @ 12:45pm

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

from the what-went-down dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2016, we were pleasantly surprised when an Australian government commission spoke out about the harms of bad copyright law and bad patent law, while the University of North Dakota was teaching a student all about trademark abuse. The DOJ was issuing new rules on espionage investigations in the apparent hopes of avoiding embarrassment, while at the same time deploying some very questionable legal arguments in defense of the FBI's hacking warrants, and the National Intelligence Office's top lawyer was stepping up to defend bulk surveillance and the third-party doctrine. We also took a look at how the proper channels for whistleblowers were still a joke, as was the proper channel for requesting government records.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2011, Righthaven's woes continued as unsealed documents in one case had other judges questioning the legitimacy of their lawsuits, while the infamous John Steele also got slammed by a judge for a fishing expedition, and Perfect 10 sued the Usenet provider Giganews. Meanwhile, the White House published its obnoxious annual Special 301 naughty list of countries with IP laws the US doesn't like, and we took a look at just how dangerous the USTR's approach to naming-and-shaming could be.

But the biggest news of the week didn't have much of a Techdirt angle — until we saw the story of the man who unknowingly live-tweeted the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2006, there was growing buzz about whether software-as-a-service would kill piracy, while evidence continued to show that the war on movie piracy wasn't working. Epson was engaged in the fight against off-brand ink cartridges and the Supreme Court took a sudden interest in patent cases. The content industries were playing their game of sneaking bad rules into treaties, while we looked at the constitutionality of the RIAA's per-song fines. And it's always interesting to see a quiet, simple mention of Section 230 back before it was known to everyone, in this case in a post about all the lawsuits targeting Google.

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