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Posted on Techdirt - 23 February 2019 @ 12:00pm

Game Jam Winner Spotlight: Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening to Steal Treasure

from the gaming-like-it's-1923 dept

Yesterday, we announced the winners of our public domain game jam, Gaming Like It's 1923. We had a lot of great entries that deserve to be played, so for the next few Saturdays we're going to highlight some of the winning in the various categories.

This week, it's our winner for Best Digital Game: Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening to Steal Treasure by Alex Blechman.

Most of you are probably familiar with the Robert Frost poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, which was published in 1923 and as of this year is officially in the public domain. Well, here's what the introduction of this tongue-in-cheek game adaptation has to say about that:

Robert Frost's classic poem about stopping in the woods for no reason is very well written, but it's also pretty boring.

Not much happens. A dumb guy stops to look at some snow, and his horse gets weirded out by him. Dull. Yawn. Snoozeville.

Maybe that was considered an action-packed poem back in 1923, when Frost wrote it, but it's overdue for an update.

That's where you, the player, comes in. In this simple browser game, you are tasked with updating Frost's poem to sate a modern audience's craving for action, adventure, and... treasure! Verse by verse, you are presented with the poem and given the ability to swap out various nouns, verbs and adjectives for more exciting alternatives. So this:

...becomes something like this:

With some prompting and encouragement, you'll edit the entire poem in this fashion, until finally gazing upon your finished creation. Yeah: it's a very simple game, but one that made lots of us crack a smile and give it a second playthrough to see if we could do an even better editing job. It's funny, well-written and succinct, and we're thrilled to call it our winner for Best Digital Game. Check it out now on Itch, and share your best poem in the comments!

Next week, we'll take a look at another one of the winners, though you can always explore them all right now as well as all the other entries that didn't quite make the cut.

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Posted on Techdirt - 22 February 2019 @ 10:16am

Announcing The Winners Of The Public Domain Game Jam!

from the like-it's-1923 dept

The votes are in, and it's time to announce the winners of the Gaming Like It's 1923 game jam!

At the beginning of January, we decided to celebrate the long-awaited entry of new works into the public domain with a game jam, inviting designers to submit games of all kinds based on newly-copyright-free works from 1923. We got way more entries than we expected, and handed them off to our huge judging panel of game designers and copyright experts, who left comments and nominated them in our six prize categories. Now we've tallied up the votes and reviews, so without further delay, here are the winners of Gaming Like It's 1923:

Best Analog Game — Permanence by Jackson Tegu

This award goes to the best overall non-computer game, with a clear consensus emerging from the judge's review scores. Permanence is perplexing at first glance, and requires some serious prep work, but sometimes that's the cost of a game this unique and creative. Using the format of a book that can be read in two directions, it weaves the painting Metempsychosis by Yokoyama Taikan and poetry from the book The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran into an artistic gaming experience that isn't quite like anything you've seen before.

Best Digital Game — Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening to Steal Treasure by Alex Blechman

The award for best digital game goes to this short, sweet, simple, and above all entertaining take on Robert Frost's famous poem. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening to Steal Treasure tasks you with jazzing up the verse by subbing in some new material to entertain a modern gaming audience. Give it a try, or two or three...

Best Adaptation — God of Vengeance by jrgoldb

This award goes to the game that most faithfully and meaningfully adapted its source material, carrying its original intent forth into a new medium. God of Vengeance, based on the 1923 Yiddish language play of the same name, is an analog storytelling game that puts players in the main roles from the play and provides an interesting mechanical framework for improvising scenes and exploring the themes of a work they might otherwise have never encountered.

Best Remix — Will You Do The Fandango? by Lari Assmuth

This award goes to the game that made the best combined use of multiple public domain works. Will You Do The Fandango? starts with the 1923 film Scaramouche, but then draws on the whole world of Commedia dell'Arte and the mechanics from games like Apocalypse World and Lady Blackbird. The result is a high-energy tabletop roleplaying game, complete with dice and stats, in which a troupe of traveling players tour revolutionary France engaging in bombastic drama and romance — with printable masquerade masks to boot!

Best Deep Cut — Not a Fish by J. Walton

This award is for the best use of an obscure or unexpected source that doesn't appear on the typical roundup lists of works entering the public domain, and the cuts don't get much deeper than Not a Fish: a game based on a pair of 1923 science journal articles about Amphioxus fisheries in China. Like the jigsaw puzzles that inspired the mechanics, the game starts out seeming jumbled, but it quickly starts to resolve into an exploration of social and political themes you might not be expecting from the subject matter.

Best Visuals (Tie!) — Chimneys and Tulips by litrouke, and The Garden of God by DreadRoach

There wasn't a single stand-out winner for the best visuals category, and understandably so — one month is scarcely enough time to create or assemble a game's worth of stunning graphics. Instead, the award for best visuals goes to two browser-based submissions which, while they have their limitations, certainly caught our eye.

Chimneys and Tulips is a creative arrangement of four poems by E. E. Cummings, with a focus on beautiful minimalist design. Though the gameplay is somewhat lacking, a lot of work and vision went into the colorful style in which the works are presented, and while the interactive elements may be simple, they aren't arbitrary. Fans of poetry, and of typography, will find plenty to explore.

The Garden of God is a short narrative experience based on the novel of the same name by H. De Vere Stacpoole. It's built in RPG Maker MV, and most of the visuals are stock sprites and graphics from that tool — but a lot of thought and effort went into how they were used. The game has multiple unique settings and maps, and well-choreographed scripted scenes with attention to background detail.

All the winners in all categories will receive their choice of a copy of our public domain card game CIA: Collect It All, or one of our copyright-themed t-shirts from Teespring. We'll be reaching out to all the winners on their games' Itch pages, so if you see your game listed here, keep an eye on your incoming comments!

Thanks again to everyone who submitted a game — there are lots of entries worth checking out in addition to the winners. And thanks again to our panel of judges:

We'll likely be back with another game next year when, if all goes according to plan, the public domain will continue to grow!

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 19 February 2019 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 200: The (Big?) Business Of Podcasting

from the that's-a-lot-of-podcasts dept

We can hardly believe it, but as of this moment we've released 200 episodes of the Techdirt podcast! For this milestone, we've brought the increasingly-rare original team of co-hosts back together for a bit of a meta-episode all about podcasts — specifically, the recent news that Spotify has acquired Gimlet Media for the impressive and, to many, surprising sum of $230-million. Mike joined by Dennis Yang and Hersh Reddy to discuss what Spotify might be up to, and just how big the podcasting business 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.

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Posted on Techdirt - 17 February 2019 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the loose-lips dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is an anonymous commenter with a straightforward reaction to the description of ICE's fake college for busting immigrants:

Undercover investigators with the Department of Homeland Security registered the University of Farmington with the state of Michigan as a university using a fake name.

At the request of DHS, a national accreditation agency listed the University of Farmington as being accredited in order to help deceive prospective students.

The university was also placed by federal investigators on the website of ICE as an university approved by them under a government program for foreign students known as SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Program)

How does that not add up to entrapment, and fraud. All the wrong doing is on the governments side.

In second place, we've got Thad with a response to a comment comparing Cindy McCain's bogus sex trafficking report to incidents where people really did catch criminals:

"You mean like the Christmas bombing in Times Square, that was prevented by the disabled ex-Marine street vendor (they get most or all the permits to sell on the streets of NYC) who spotted the suspicious car and told police?"

The car was suspicious because it was on fire. Are you having trouble understanding the difference between telling the police that a car is on fire and telling the police that a woman has a child of a different ethnicity?

"Then there is Richard Jewell."

  1. Again, you seem confused on the difference between finding something suspicious because there is a bomb in it and finding someone suspicious because of their ethnicity.
  2. We are talking, specifically, about the post-9/11 "see something, say something" doctrine. 9/11 was in 2001. You are referring to an incident that took place in 1996.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with one more comment from Thad on that post, mentioning another detail:

...it's particularly galling considering that McCain, herself, has an adopted Bangladeshi daughter (who the Bush campaign targeted in a malicious, racist whisper campaign during the 2000 primary season). McCain knows perfectly well that people can have children who do not share their ethnicity, because she has a child who does not share her ethnicity.

Next, it's jupiterkansas with thoughts on what will happen if the EU Copyright Directive leads to new blanket licensing systems:

Judging from the history of ASCAP licensing, they'll eventually just demand every website get a license whether they host content or not - "just in case." and take you to court if you don't comply.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Chris Brand with a response to our assertion that legacy copyright industries in Europe just want Google and Facebook to pay €x amount to satisfy them due to their failure to innovate:

Don't be silly - they want a blank cheque, not one with a number on it.

In second place, it's That One Guy responding to our post about Google and Apple hosting a Saudi government app that allows men to track their spouses' movements, and to a comment that noted installing it as a third-party app is only an option on Android, not iOS:

Oh darn, self-distribution is hard enough that if saudi men want to be able to track their wives/property as easily as they currently can they'll have to put some actual work into being terrible people, how terrible...

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with a comment from kallethen proposing a potential benefit to the "hot news" doctrine:

Come on, Mike. Don't you see the missed opportunity by not supporting Hot News? Whenever the inevitable troll post comes along saying "But why aren't you writing about <insert unflattering story regarding company troll hates>", you could just blame it on the Hot News Doctrine!

And finally, we've got That Anonymous Coward with a response to Sony's copyright takedowns of its own anti-piracy propaganda:

However if you let them install a rootkit, they'll let you see it.

That's all for this week, folks!

16 Comments | Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt - 16 February 2019 @ 12:00pm

Gaming Like It's 1923: Winners Coming Soon!

from the best-of-the-past dept

Judging is almost complete! If you entered our public domain game jam Gaming Like It's 1923, or if you've been following along, get ready for the upcoming announcement of the winners in our six categories:

  • Best Analog Games
  • Best Digital Game
  • Best adaptation of a 1923 work
  • Best remixing of multiple sources
  • Best “Deep Cut” (use of a work not listed on any of the round up articles)
  • Best Visuals

If you haven't had a chance to try out any of the games, go check out the submission page where you'll find all 35 entries, with a mix of analog and digital games in a wide variety of genres and styles, all based on works that entered the public domain in 1923.

Our panel of judges has finished trying out the entries, and now we're tallying up their scores and going through their reviews to determine the final winners, who'll be receiving prizes including Techdirt swag and copies our our game, CIA: Collect It All. We'll be announcing the results in the next week or two, so stay tuned for an announcement!

Thanks to everyone who entered the jam, everyone who's tried out the entries, and of course our panel of judges!

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 12 February 2019 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 199: From Apple To The ACLU, With Jon Callas

from the range-of-expertise dept

Jon Callas has been at the forefront of computer security issues for a long time, most recently as the head of Apple's team of internal hackers that try to break into the company's own products. But just a couple of months ago he made a change, and left Apple to work on tech policy at the ACLU. This week, he joins us on the podcast to discuss the new job, computer security policy, and the latest phase of the crypto-wars.

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

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Posted on Techdirt - 10 February 2019 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the winning-words dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side (and also racking up a lot of funny votes) is MathFox with a simple take on how to stop piracy:

If you want to do something about piracy you should have the navy patrol more in the areas where pirates operate. Have ground support for cleaning out the pirate's bases.

Stopping "unauthorized copying" is hard. The Internet works because computers and routers make copies. Determining which copies are authorized is a hard problem. Remember the analog tapes where you could copy the music from your friends' LPs?

And lastly, can you tell me why corporations should decide which people can have access to "culture" and consequently other people should be denied access?

In second place, we've got The FIRE's Adam Steinbaugh stopping by to ask a simple question about the assertion that Gavin McInnes's lawsuit against the SPLC seems legit:

So there's an objectively falsifiable, legally-cognizable definition of "hate group"? What about "hate speech"?

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a thoughtful comment from bob about the impact of piracy, and how to compete with it:

I believe the damage caused by piracy is real but also not to the levels you believe. No doubt, the trade off between piracy vs paying full price for content is one that many people debate each time they look for things on the internet.

But you have to also remember price is not the only factor when people want to consume or have something. It may be a large portion of the decision but not the only thing.

For example:

  • The convenience of obtaining the item,
  • where can the item be obtained from,
  • how to store the item,
  • where the item can be used,
  • how often the item can be used,
  • how easy to share it with someone either together or loaned out for a short time,
  • how easy to resell the item,
  • trustworthiness of the seller/source, are just some of the many factors consumers take into account when purchasing something.

If your business model is only satisfying some of these issues while piracy satisfies most, maybe you should change your business model.

Studies by Copia and others show that people will pay instead of pirate if it is considered a fair price and if the manner to obtain the item is not burdensome. So companies like Netflix have found a way to adapt to the new market consumers and provide a service at a reasonable price that consumers enjoy. While companies like major record labels didn't adapt and don't provide a good enough reason all the time so naturally customers don't enjoy using their services at the price points they offer.

No matter how high a penalty you place on pirating content someone somewhere will still do it. You may get most of the population to stop pirating but that doesn't guarantee that those same consumers will, by default, still use a bad service or pay the prices for a digital item just as much as they did in previous years. Most likely they will just not consume your digital goods and the old business model won't work. So my list should also include a factor for how badly someone desires the item as a consideration.

Your suggestion to make the internet 100% pirate free will never happen. For it to be implemented would require a rewrite of protocols and network controls to such a degree that essentially you will replace the majority of the internet. So yes it would break the internet.

If the world corporations and governments did create that environment I can bet you people would not follow en masse nor willingly.

No one here says piracy is the way to go for obtaining digital goods. But they do recognize that piracy will happen and if you don't establish a business model that accounts for that variable your company will not be able to compete.

Next, we've got an anonymous response to a comment about what "the internet" needs to do to function fairly:

I'm entertained by the humanization of "the internet".

The diverse protocols & devices that make up "the internet" are working exactly as expected - they are routing around blockages & moving data without issues. The basic computational concepts of moving, copying, & renaming data are fundamental to the logical concepts of most electronic devices & thus copyright maximalists are fighting a losing battle (as are the folks trying to legislate encryption) by attempting to bypass, avoid, & control mathematical, physical, & engineering operations.

Perhaps we should engage in something that the enterprise security community has understood for years - make the options to do things the legal way far easier than the effort required to bypass the system.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Qwertygiy offering up a very poetic mea culpa after incorrectly lamenting the lack of a "preview" function in our comment section:

Welp. That it is. Right there. The very button I lamented not existing. Next to the button I had to push to send my lament of non-existence.

I'd blame it on the liquor, except I don't drink.

I'd blame it on the moon, except I'm a non-lycanthropic cis-dude.

I'd blame it on optical deformities, except I'm wearing my glasses.

I'd blame it on Mike for conspiring with Google to hide it from me until I complained about it, except I'm not blue.

So according to music, that leaves to blame it on the boogie, the rain, the stones, the sun, the bossa nova, the summer night, my last affair, or me.

Gonna have to go with Evanascence here. You can blame it on me.

In second place, it's Comboman making a joke someone had to make after Germany capitulated to France on one of the many terrible aspects of Article 13:

So the one time in modern history the France doesn't surrender to Germany and THIS is what they choose?

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with Valkor who (intentionally or otherwise) invoked one of the ur-examples of internet-piracy-as-culture in response to a link to a YouTube video about YouTube's copyright abuse problems, offered with minimal description:

Last time I followed a vaguely described Youtube link like that, I got rickrolled.

Finally, we've got Stephen T. Stone with a tagline for the latest appearance of Paul Hansmeier:

Prenda: The gift that keeps on grifting.

That's all for this week, folks!

20 Comments | Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt - 9 February 2019 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: February 3rd - 9th

from the back-then dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2014, the Snowden revelations continued with information like the NSA and FBI getting access to 40,000 Yahoo and Google accounts in the first half of 2013, and the GCHQ trying to hit Anonymous with a DDoS attack, while some new FOIA documents got us a closer look at how surveillance info is laundered via "parallel construction". Germany's Chaos Computer Club filed a criminal complaint against the German government over mass surveillance, while a Belgian prosecutor began looking into reports that the NSA and GCHQ hacked a well-known Belgian cryptographer. Meanwhile, Mike Rogers was trying to argue that Glenn Greenwald should be prosecuted for 'selling stolen material', Benjkamin Wittes was arguing that it's okay for the agency to deny spying on Americans, even if it does, and the DOJ was admitting that the NSA's phone record collection probably included congress.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2009, a researcher predicted that technology was going to render copyright completely obsolete within a year or so. This did not, of course, come true — but it's easy to see where it came from, even just given the copyright absurdity happening that very week. The EU was considering a draconian copyright proposal not unlike today's reform directive, the RIAA hired a new litigation boss with a history of 'misstating facts' in court while the DOJ was packing its ranks with entertainment and software industry lawyers, there was a proposal for new ACTA provisions that would criminalize non-commercial infringement, Blizzard successfully abused copyright to go after World Of Warcraft bots, and the Associated Press began demanding money for the photo that was the basis of Shepard Fairey's famous Obama poster.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2004, the EFF and other groups had noticed some dangerous corner-cutting in the RIAA's latest round of mass lawsuits, while the agency also appeared to be struggling to force its narrative about piracy onto the Morpheus/Grokster trial. The MyDoom virus was wreaking some havoc, causing Microsoft to set up an alternative website and, of course, causing antivirus companies to push massive damage estimates for reporters to uncritically repeat. One prediction piece about 3D printers may have jumped the gun slightly by saying they were closer than most people thought, but another was prescient in predicting that user-created video is the killer app for broadband, or at least wise to catch on to the fact that the internet is about connecting and communicating, not consuming a broadcast.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 5 February 2019 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 198: Life Without The Tech Giants

from the experimentation dept

One of the most common responses to various complaints about giant tech companies is that you can just not use their products and services. Many people have pointed out just how difficult that would really be, but Gizmodo's Kashmir Hill decided to try it for real: she cut Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple out of her life for a week each, followed by a week without any of them. Her report on that final, empty week is coming out soon, but in the mean time she joins us on the podcast to talk about what it's like to live without big tech.

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

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Posted on Techdirt - 3 February 2019 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the speak-up dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is BentFranklin with a response to the federal judge who ruled that boycotts aren't protected speech:

So Citizens United tells us that spending money is a form of speech. So not spending money is a form of silence. Is this judge saying that we don't have the right to not speak? More broadly, we see this all the time, where the right frequently insists that we spend our money in certain ways, which is now a form of compelling speech.

In second place, we've got an anonymous response to the assertion that our post about cops in schools and MS-13 fears — and its comparison to the satanic panic — was unfair:

That's not the comparison I'm reading, Mason. What I read is the Satanic Panic being compared to the MS-13 panic.

Let's start the discussion here with a simple question: are the school shootings actually demonstrably tied to gang activity?

And here's a second question: Do the school shootings justify the sequence of events that led to a kid being deported because he drew his school's mascot, and happened to not be white?

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got a pair of comments from Stephen T. Stone from our post about an independent musician's explanation of why Article 13 is bad for creators. First, it's a point about the fact that only the largest platforms can comply with Article 13:

There is a certain irony in this statement: For all the whining from the usual troll brigade about the major platforms (e.g., YouTube) and their corporate overlords (Google) being too powerful and requiring real competition to prevent monopolies (real or virtual), they are also the ones who come out in support of measures such as Article 13, which would give those major platforms more power and destroy their smaller competition for the sake of “strengthening copyright”. I have to wonder which one they ultimately want more: stronger copyright or a weaker Google.

Next, it's a response to the assertion that opposing Article 13 means trying to make it impossible to fight piracy:

I have some shocking news for you, sir, and I think you may need to brace yourself for it: Piracy already is unstoppable.

Napster came and went; piracy stayed. Limewire and its ilk came and went; piracy stayed. The Pirate Bay came and went (and came again and went again and so on), as did a number of similar public and private trackers over the years; piracy stayed. If the biggest corporations in the world and the bought-off legislators who made laws favorable to said corporations could not wipe out piracy despite having the ostensible power to do so, what makes you think Article 13 can do the job?

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is another comment from that post, with TFG cooking up a counterargument:

This example doesn't count because it's just a small independent artist talking about how things actually work from the perspective of a small, independent artist, who the articles purport to serve, and what he's saying would indicate that Article 13 won't actually help him, which is clearly impossible because people said it would.

Real artists would support the article because clearly it says it helps them out and of course they are constantly hemorrhaging money from massive amounts of piracy that can only be stopped by passing an article that will put all the control back into the hands of organizations like the RIAA. They obviously know best, and would never ever lie.

In second place, it's That Anonymous Coward with another response to the ruling that boycotts aren't free speech:

Someone had a 20% discount on their knowledge of constitutional law.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start with an accusation from Gary following our post about bogus net neutrality comments:

There you go again Mike, shilling for a free and open internet free of corporate interference. Net Neutrality hurts corporations who want to provide their services to us. Stop being so mean to them!!

And finally, it's an anonymous response to our post about the US newspapers that are eager to push their own version of Europe's snippet tax:

Google told me I'm not allowed to read Techdirt anymore. Sorry.

That's all for this week, folks!

36 Comments | Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt - 2 February 2019 @ 12:00pm

Gaming Like It's 1923: The Entries Are In

from the game-jam dept

At the beginning of the year, we launched our public domain game jam, Gaming Like It's 1923, with a one-month time limit — and now the entries are in! We figured we'd get a dozen entries, maybe two, but we're with a bunch of last minute entries slipping in under the deadline, we're thrilled to say we've got 35 games based on works that entered the public domain this year.

We've begun the judging process, with our huge panel of great judges. They need a little time with the games, but until we announce the winners in you can try out all the entries for yourself. There's a mix of card games, narrative roleplaying games, browser-based video games and all sorts of creative takes on classic (and not so classic) works. We haven't finished exploring all the entries ourselves yet, and we hope you enjoy discovering them with us!

Stay tuned for an announcement of the winners later this month. We're awarding prizes in six categories:

  • Best Analog Games
  • Best Digital Game
  • Best adaptation of a 1923 work
  • Best remixing of multiple sources
  • Best “Deep Cut” (use of a work not listed on any of the round up articles)
  • Best Visuals

A huge thanks to everyone who entered, and to all the folks helping us out as judges. Given the positive response to this game jam, and the fact that the public domain is set to continue growing (finally), we're definitely going to consider running another one in the future.

9 Comments | Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt - 30 January 2019 @ 1:30pm

Some Small But Important Techdirt Updates

from the without-further-ado dept

A couple months ago, we launched the beta test of a revamped version of Techdirt with some key new features, most importantly a responsive design for a better experience on phones and other devices. As we noted, it wasn't about diving into a big redesign, but incrementally improving the blog, for a variety of reasons.

Today, we're coming out of beta and turning on the new version of Techdirt for all users!

Apart from some small adjustments to the layout and sizing, very little has changed if you're viewing the site on a desktop or laptop screen — but if you're on a mobile device, you'll see we've changed everything to fit naturally on any size of screen. We're not blazing any trails here: this is something we've needed to do for quite a while now, and we're excited to finally launch it.

If you want to know more about the strategy behind the changes and a few details on the implementation, check out our post announcing the beta. And if you have feedback on the updated site, let us know via our contact form or on Twitter!

59 Comments | Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 29 January 2019 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 197: The Grand Re-Opening Of The Public Domain

from the it's-back dept

As our readers surely know by now, 2019 is the first time in a long time that new works have actually entered the public domain in the US! The Internet Archive and Creative Commons hosted a celebration of this fact, and this week we're joined by IA's Lila Bailey and CC's Timothy Vollmer to talk about that event and the exciting possibilities of a re-opened public domain.

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

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Posted on Techdirt - 27 January 2019 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the bloggin-words dept

We've got a double winner on the insightful side this week, with Mason Wheeler taking both of the top spots. In first place, it's a comment on the subject of fan fiction in response to Lucasfilm stepping in to defend a fan film from a copyright attack by Warner Chappel:


I'm reminded of the story Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. It's widely considered one of the greatest fan works ever created. It starts with the premise that instead of a loser like Vernon Dursley, Aunt Petunia had married a scientist instead, a good man who had raised the orphaned Harry with love and taught him about science. And then Harry gets the letter from Hogwarts, discovers magic is real, and starts using his scientific training to wreak havoc on the entire storyline.

Despite being a derivative work, it's extremely original in what it does with the story of Harry Potter, and worthy of recognition as a creative work in its own right. But according to the legal status quo, it has no inherent right to exist and is only still out there because the Harry Potter rightsholders have not chosen to exercise their prerogative to get rid of it.

There's something fundamentally wrong with that state of affairs.

In second place, it's a response to a comment on our post about Google threatening to shut down Google News in Europe over Article 11:

News sites make Google's product for it, and are asking only some TINY actual return for it.

Google's product is Google News. (Among other products. But this is the one currently under discussion.) News sites make Google's content for it, and what they're getting is the massive actual return of Google driving traffic to their sites, which they are then able to monetize.

Google will not pay even a pittance, as its prior deliberate harm to Spain shows.

That's not what it shows at all. What it shows is that without the traffic which Google sends to their sites, harm does indeed come to them. Which proves that the traffic itself is valuable, so why should Google be paying them for it?

If anything, the news sites should be grateful that Google is not charging them for the valuable traffic they deliver. If we were setting up a system in which you turned over valuable gold jewelry to me, which would make more sense? Me paying you for the jewelry, or me demanding that you also pay me money in addition to giving me the jewelry?

Obviously the latter scenario would be totally insane. So how can any sane person support the principle behind Article 11?

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got a pair of comments from That One Guy. First up, it's another response to the Warner's insanity in the Star Wars fan film situation:

Warner Chappell, now where have I head that name before... oh yeah, they're the ones who had to be sued in order to stop shaking people down for singing 'Happy Birthday', to the tune of millions over the course of several decades. Given that, why am I not surprised they made a cash-grab here as well, gotta make up for the lost millions in ill-gotten profit somehow...

Gotta love the what passes for logic they used there too. Infringe on one song that they own, and they claim ownership over the entire film, because clearly that's a proportional, sane, and not at all overwhelmingly greedy response.

Next, it's an oft-repeated but still-not-addressed fundamental problem with copyright law:

If penalties for bogus claims of infringement were even a fraction of penalties for infringement you can be sure that the number of claims issued would drop to almost nothing overnight.

Strangely enough though the penalties for that side of the equation tend to be laughably low, if they exist at all, despite the fact that bogus claims of infringement stand to do demonstrable harm, far more immediate and real than infringement, impacting creators in a much more significant manner.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is another response to Google's Article 11 threats, this time from Michael, musing on how Google could make a better-looking page within the law:

They could fill it with dancing hamsters.

In second place, it's Anonymous Anonymous Coward with an explanation for the filter company that is lobbying so hard for Article 13:

The Good Thing about High Prices for Faulty Works

There is an explanation for the high prices Audible Magic is charging. They will take fiscal responsibility for each and every false positive and false negative that the hosting company gets charged with. In addition, when some rightsholder giant claims ownership of an independents work, they will compensate that independent with an annual income for life that would make the most highly paid artists in the world envious. That's in their contract...right?


For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with a response from ryuugami to the idea that Techdirt focuses too much on law for a tech blog:

It's actually a dirt blog. Law fits in just fine.

And finally, we've got a question from Zem about the Choose Your Own Adventure publisher threatening Netflix over the interactive Black Mirror episode:

Did they end the original cease and desist letter,

Cave in and settle early. Go to page 27
Fight it in court. Go to page 15

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 26 January 2019 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: January 20th - 26th

from the what-went-down dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2014, Dianne Feinstein was defending the NSA on the basis that they are so "professional", while ignoring declassified facts that contradicted some of her statements. Then the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board released an anticipated report that destroyed the arguments for bulk collections — and noted that the FISA court didn't even bother evaluating the legality of such collections until after the Snowden leaks. TV news stations, meanwhile, seemed intent on giving NSA defenders all the air time in the world, and though NSA critics got a bit of time too, sometimes they had to cut away due to critical events beyond their control... like the latest Justin Bieber news.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2009, as usual, the recording industry was engaged in multiple battles. The RIAA was considering trying to bribe ISPs into playing along with its copyright strikes program, while its British equivalent was convincing the UK government to force them to do so, and a bunch of labels were launching the first infringement lawsuit directly targeting an ISP in Ireland. But the biggest fight was the developing Joel Tenenbaum case, where the RIAA was so opposed to it being streamed online that they appealed the judge's order (supposedly out of fear that people might remix it to make them look bad, as if they needed any help with that) — and they even sought sanctions against Tenenbaum's lawyer.

Fifteen Years Ago

The Tenenbaum case was in response to the RIAA's mass lawsuit strategy, and the same week in 2004 was a prime example, with the agency suing 532 new John Does in the hopes of subpoenaing their information. Meanwhile, Kazaa was suing the industry in an audacious move of its own. Pepsi put a bunch of kids sued by the RIAA in a commercial for their limited time iTunes promotion, while Coca-Cola was struggling to keep its ill-fated music download service up and running (it was a weird time).

The photography industry was trying to drag on the quality of camera phones, thus missing the point which is that people can do new things with them, like the early discovery that they could be bar-code scanners. And, in an event that seems worth noting given today's insane and chaotic news climate, this was around the time that dedicated "fact-checking" sites started popping up online.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 22 January 2019 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 196: The CES 2019 Post-Mortem

from the it's-back dept

It's that time again! Mike spent the week before last at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, checking out all the latest technology that companies are most eager to show off, and now once again he's joined on the podcast by CES veteran Rob Pegoraro for the CES 2019 Post-Mortem.

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

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Posted on Techdirt - 20 January 2019 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the the-word-is-out dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is Pixelation with a response to the AT&T executive bragging about the company's misleading 5G claims, with the comment "if I have now occupied beachfront real estate in my competitors' heads, that makes me smile":

You haven't occupied beachfront property. You have occupied property a mile from the water, thrown some sand on the lawn and called it beachfront.

In second place, we've got an anonymous response to the description of Techdirt as a "left-leaning publication":

It's not a left-leaning "publication". It's a realist blog site. Granted, some of the blog posts are less than realistic but, in general, this is a rather balanced site.

"Left" and "right" both suck and have no place in critical thinking on any topic.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got a pair of responses to the EU Parliament's ridiculous defense of the Copyright Directive. First, it's an anonymous commenter bringing some perspective to the situation for artists with a comparison:

The counter-argument:

In the art world if you want to exhibit your works you pay a venue to host the exhibition. They don't pay you.

On the internet you can have your works hosted for free and the venue (site) gets paid by attaching ads to the exhibition.

An exhibition is done to promote your skill as an artist, not directly to make money. Though some art may be purchased during the exhibition, in the online world your services may be contracted due to having seen your work.

Precisely how is an artist not being "fairly remunerated" on the internet? And how is it the venue/site's responsibility to make sure they are?

Next, it's James Burkhardt doing the same by passing along an artist's perspective:

So, I know an artist, Gavin Dunne aka Miracle of Sound, who is an EU Musician/Music Writer on YouTube. He has a number of revenue streams. From my understanding based on his discussions on podquisition, the Jim Sterling-lead Podcast, he doesn't see YouTube as a significant revenue source, it's an advertising source driving people to buy his music or get royalties from spotify (where he gets far more traffic) or pay him directly on patreon. One one the reasons it isn't a revenue source is how YouTube filters allow gatekeepers to claim copyright over his original works. The other is that Youtube has become more and more inconsistent in traffic volume. Nothing in Article 13 fixes that issue. Nothing in Article 13 makes YouTube a greater driver of traffic or suddenly fix its automated filtering system. Article 13 only says "You need to pay royalties, and filter out infringing content, and associate all copyright content with the correct copyright owner, and respect fair use, and do all of that perfectly without error or you pay massive fines." That doesn't help Miracle of Sound. That doesn't fix Youtube as a revenue source.

Over on the funny side, our first place comment comes from Gary in response to the trademark battle over Pinkerton detectives in Red Dead Redemption 2:


I immediately went out and tried to hire Take Two to beat up some union activists but they refused. It's hard to hire good thugs these days!

In second place, we've got wshuff anticipating the EU's next move after Google showed how empty Google News would be under Article 11:

European lawmakers are now furiously drafting Article 14, a law which will require Google to link to European news sites using snippets that Google will be required to license under Article 11.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with stderric, who offered a follow-up to that comment:

Article 15: all EU citizens granted an annual, Google-funded, two weeks paid holiday in Mountain View California.

And last but not least, we've got an anonymous response to McDonald's losing its Big Mac trademark in Europe:

"So Vincent, what do they call a Big Mac™ in Europe?"

"A Big Mac"

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 19 January 2019 @ 12:45pm

This Week In Techdirt History: January 13th - 19th

from the so-it-went dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2014, as congress was preparing to give up its authority and fast-track agreements like the TPP, and the USTR was not even showing up for hearings on the subject, the EFF and others teamed up to launch Copyright Week, for which we featured daily posts about copyright. On Monday, we looked at the reasons why the USTR and Hollywood hate transparency; on Tuesday, we dug into the loss to culture from killing the public domain; on Wednesday, we pivoted to knowledge and learning with a post all about Open Access; on Thursday, we looked at how copyright can destroy property rights; and then on Friday we wrapped it up with a look at the importance of fair use.

Ten Years Ago

Copyright was also on our minds this week in 2009, especially since it turned out the RIAA's promise to stop suing file sharers was not so solid when they filed yet another new lawsuit. Less awful but still very disappointing was the discovery that Apple's much-vaunted removal of DRM from iTunes songs also meant they were watermarking all the files with your email address. We took another look at how friendly DRM is an oxymoron, how collection societies like ASCAP and BMI harm up-and-coming singers, and the long, fraught history of copyright and music in general. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court was asking the administration for input on copyright issues related to remote DVRs, and the judge for a case challenging the constitutionality of the RIAA's actions agreed to broadcast the trial live online.

Fifteen Years Ago

Sometimes it's eerie and depressing how little changes across these five-year jumps. In 2004, the RIAA was just in an ever-so-slightly different phase of its activities following the loss of its ability subpoena file sharer information after the Verizon case: it was just trying to get ISPs to do it voluntarily, and having a hard time getting any on board. Studies suggested that the war against file sharing was gaining little ground, as piracy appeared to be on the upswing again while moving deeper underground. Over at the MPAA, the situation was similar: having just been blocked by a judge from banning screener DVDs for award shows, the agency was drumming up concern over the copies that began to show up online, which they started slowly finding one by one. Meanwhile, some folks were suggesting ways to deal with video piracy by totally missing the point of online video.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 15 January 2019 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 195: The EU Endangers Free Speech Online... Again

from the more-of-the-same dept

The latest in the EU's string of internet regulatory efforts has a new target: terrorist propaganda. Just as with past regulations, the proposed rules seem onerous and insane, creating huge liability for internet platforms that fail to do the impossible. This week, we're joined by returning guests Daphne Keller from Stanford's Center For Internet And Society and Emma Llansó from the Center for Democracy and Technology to discuss this most recent danger to online free speech in the EU.

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

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Posted on Techdirt - 13 January 2019 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the the-votes-are-in dept

Our first place winner on the insightful side this week is Gary with a comment about Georgia's ongoing attempt to lock up its laws with copyright:

Anyone that is actually and intentionally blocked from seeing the Georgia laws should get a free pass when it comes to breaking those laws, eh?

"Your honor, I actively petitioned the state beforehand to see if I was complying with the state law and was rebuffed."

In second place, it's Mason Wheeler with a linguistic take on EU regulation:

This is why we shouldn't use the passive voice

The "right to be forgotten".

Forgotten by whom? By people other than yourself.

Put into the proper active voice, this is the "right to compel others to forget about you." Which sounds ridiculously dystopian, like something out of a Philip K. Dick story.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a comment from PaulT about the copyright lessons to be learned from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's dancing video:

This is an interesting illustration of how indefinable the losses to culture could be due to overreaching copyright. Nobody would have considered that the video when originally posted might have a life of its own, let alone one that reached into the first day of the 2019 congress, but here we are.

But, the questions nags at me - what more did we lose because record labels are capable of understanding human behaviour over and above the immediate profits they think they see in front of them? I suspect that culture is poorer, because other videos got killed before they had a chance to go viral, young artists put off from pursing their work or deprive from important inspirations.

The art and politics are both relatively minor in direct relation to this video, but it's worth thinking - if Newhouse's video was taken down earlier, we may not be reading this thread. What else, perhaps of far greater input - has been robbed? Sadly, we will never know.

Next, we head to our post about Google deeming one of our other posts "dangerous and derogatory" because of some user comments, which is the source of all our remaining winners and editor's choices this week. First up, it's Scote pointing out one frustrating piece of fallout from Google scanning user comments:

This is why BoingBoing has comments on a seperate page

BoingBoing and some other sites now banish comments to a page with its own URL so the main page doesn't get dinged by Google for the comments.

I prefer comments on the same page. Techdirt articles and comments are integral to one another, so I'd be sad to see the same happen here. I wish Google would get its s*** together instead.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is an anonymous commenter who attempted to weaponize Google's system:

Ooo! Dangerous or Derogatory comments can shut down that delicious ad revenue kickbacks you get from Google because you are a Google shill?

Well here we go! time to trip that tag!

You should run with scissors!

Operate a motor vehicle after drinking powerful cough syrup!

Don't vaccinate!

Don't eat your vegetables!

Close your eyes and cover your ears before crossing the street!

That comment brought out "google shill" as a joke, but in second place we've got Gwiz with a response to someone who likes to level the accusation seriously:

Let me get this straight. If you accept a gift or a one time sponsorship from someone, you are considered a "shill" for them until the end of time, even if you constantly call them out for doing stupid shit?

If we use your (faulty) logic, we would have to assume that YOU are a Techdirt shill, since you freely accept Techdirt's "gift" of allowing you to publish your comments here.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we've got a pair of commenters who continued to riff on the pattern set by the first place winner with more dangerous and derogatory comments. First, it's an anonymous addition:

Allow the commonors to have a voice!

Text with multiple people while you drive!

Be friends with someone who lives in Iran!

Attempt to bribe a cardboard cutout!

Am I on the right track?

And finally, it's Thad making still more trouble:

Talk with your mouth full
Bite the hand that feeds you
Bite off more than you can chew
What can you do?
You can dare to be stupid!

That's all for this week, folks!

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