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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 17 July 2018 @ 1:43pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 174: How Private Agreements Recreated SOPA

from the down-the-stack dept

One of the most dangerous aspects of SOPA and other copyright proposals is the idea of moving enforcement and liability further down the stack of technology that powers the internet, even all the way to the DNS system. Although SOPA's DNS-blocking proposals were heavily criticized and the bill ultimately defeated, the idea of deep-level copyright enforcement has lived on and been implemented without changes to the law. This week our returning guest, law professor Annemarie Bridy, discusses how private agreements have quietly recreated some of the worst parts of SOPA.

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 - 15 July 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the grapevine dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is an anonymous commenter responding to the idea that if you support creators and innovators, you can't criticize copyrights or patents:

I'm pro-copyright and pro-patent. Artists and inventors should absolutely be able to profit from their creations. However, the creation belongs to the world as soon as it's released to the world. That's something that many current rightsholders seem to forget. Copyrights and patents are just a deal the Constitution and the People are striking with those creators so that they get to try (and TRY is an important point - they aren't entitled to money just because they create something) to make money off of the creation for a while before everyone gets to use it freely.

I think copyright and patent have worked well for a long time. However, I think current corporate interests are trying to lock up the creations for longer and longer periods of time, which wasn't the intent of the Framers. I think that slapping "on a computer" on a previous invention is not innovation. I think that making an insignificant change to a drug to get a new patent is not innovation. I think that making billions from other people's creations once they've gone public domain and then doing everything possible to prevent your creations from entering public domain so that others cannot do the same is cheating the Constitutional deal. I think that negligently, erroneously forcing the removal of other people's creations from the Internet in an effort to prevent infringement of your own creation is greedy and elitist (why should protection of your creation be so favored over the creations of others?).

It's not dishonest or disingenuous to support creator's rights while opposing the current legal implementation of said rights. The corporations that support that implementation and wish to intensify it do not promote the advancement of society, the "Progress of Science and useful Arts" - they are only interested in promoting the flow of money into their bank accounts.

In second place, we've got a double winner with an anonymous comment that also took first place over on the funny side. It comes in response to an AT&T executive comparing the forthcoming plans for HBO to childbirth:

The reason Stankey likes to compare childbirth to innovation is because he has zero experience with either.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a response from JarHead to the idea that copyright infringement has ruined modern music:

Nope. As an amateur musician myself, I had an in depth talks about this with my musician friends, and even a label rep at one time.

The reason is, wait for it, sunken cost.

I've read somewhere that the cost to the label to introduce new musician to the market is up to $3 million. With this kind of money, the label want those investment to return. So how to ensure that? Make use the tried and true formulas and not deviate from it.

That formula includes every aspect of of music, from songwriting, composition, to mixing/mastering techniques to maximize profit. Dunno about the newer generations, but for those of you in your 30s or above, ever felt that bass is becoming much more prominent in current day music, as opposed to, say, the 90's? There's a reason for that, and it is economic.

So claims about how music degenerated because copyright infringement is bunk. It is because music nowadays are economically driven instead of creatively driven.

The return of patronage system and the internet are actually the cure of of that disease. Sadly, copyright which originally intended to spur innovation and creativity, now is the bane.

Next, we've got a simple suggestion from Carlie Coats for adding some fairness to takedown systems such as Europe's Article 13:

Just to be fair...

False takedown notices should be subject to the same penalties as copyright infringement.


Over on the funny side, we've already had our first place anonymous winner above, so it's straight to second place. In our post about Denuvo's DRM failures, one commenter made the bizarre assertion that computers are "not useful", to which another commenter replied with a concise story of all the many ways computers have been useful in their life. DB chimed in with a classic rejoinder:

But... what have they done for you lately?

For editor's choice on the funny side, we remain on the Denuvo post for a moment where one anonymous commenter looked at their marketing history and future:

Denuvo slogans through the years

2014: Denuvo, we can't be cracked!

2015: Denuvo, we can't easily be cracked!

2016: Denuvo, you can still at least get a good sales window at product launch.

2017: Well, at least we don't make it less convenient for your paying customers.

2018: Ok, so we make it less convenient for your paying customers.

2019: If you are calling for a late payment, please contact our bankruptcy lawyers at 1-800-223-4332

And, finally, we've got one more anonymous comment, this time in response to a heartfelt complaint about the creeping expansion of copyright:

This complaint is too similar to some one else's complaint. Please cease and desist or face $500,000 in fines.

That's all for this week, folks!

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

This Week In Techdirt History: June 8th - 14th

from the looking-back dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, as dissection of the NSA leaks continued, we began to take a closer look at the secret FISA courts — which the DOJ didn't want anyone knowing about, even as a former FISC judge explained that he quit the court because it was out of control. We began to understand more about just how much the agency could learn from metadata, and saw the emergence of the silly argument that Facebook usage means people don't care about privacy. The NSA faced cultural backlash, with recruiters smacked down by university students and a disinvitation from the DEF CON conference. Then, the leaks revealed the NSA's cozy relationship with telcos and Microsoft — collaboration the agency cutely referred to as "team sports".

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, it became more and more clear how the entertainment industry was trying to use ACTA to sneak through copyright extension, and we balked at the capitulation of some computer makers to the RIAA's demands by disabling sound recording capabilities. We saw a mixed ruling in a case over limitations on the DMCA's anti-circumvention clause, a ruling from a German court saying that open WiFi owners are not responsible for file sharing done by users, and a massive backlash against Sweden's internet spying bill.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2003, we saw an important ruling in favor of displaying thumbnails of copyrighted images. The RIAA launched an expected lawsuit against a Spanish site that claimed to offer legal downloads, a group of webcasters was threatening to sue the RIAA if they won't renegotiate royalty rates, and Kazaa failed with its wild swing at an antitrust lawsuit against the entertainment industry, while we took a look at the growing industry of folks getting rich by selling anti-filesharing services.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 10 July 2018 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 173: Sci-Fi & Scenario Planning

from the future-foretold dept

Eliot Peper is a novelist who uses thorough research and creative thinking to produce science fiction that can feel more like eerily-accurate prognostication. Exploring possible futures with real insight has always been one of sci-fi's greatest strengths, and this week Peper joins Mike on the podcast to discuss his work, methods, and ideas about tomorrow.

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 - 8 July 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the say-something dept

This week, our top comment on the insightful side comes in response to the disturbing discovery that cops have been instructing paramedics to inject people they arrest with ketamine. Stephen T. Stone won first place, though in fact his comment was reiterating one line from a longer comment by I.T. Guy in response to someone explaining that ketamine is commonly used for people in mental health crises:

Being agitated because you are dealing with dickhead cops is in no way "a mental health crisis".

In second place, we've got an anonymous comment pointing out the perennial problem with the copyright industry's support from thousands of artists:

That would be the thousands contracted to labels, but what about the millions who publish on the Internet and do not want a contract with the labels, or to send more money there way.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a comment from Derek Kerton about Europe's copyright battle:

I couldn't get past this:

"The primary focus of this legislation is concerned with whether or not the internet functions as a fair and efficient marketplace"

Is that really what the people of Europe want from their Internet? A "fair and efficient marketplace". People want the Internet to give them communications, information, access to infinite sites and information, and also to entertain them. No citizens would mention "Fair and efficient marketplace" on their wishlist, only profiteers and businesses would.

There's nothing wrong with businesses wanting a "fair and efficient marketplace" of the Internet, but it's not right for their needs to over-rule and dominate what the citizenry actually wants.

Next, we've got a response from Thad to the idea that, in US politics, progressives are the real authoritarians:

That's why so many progressives voted for the billionaire who lives in a tower with his name on it and gets angry when Congress and the courts don't do what he wants, or when the press criticizes him.

Over on the funny side, our first place comment is another win for Stephen T. Stone, who brought up a recurring joke on our post looking back at the death of Google Reader:

Good ol’ Alphabet Masnick, shillin’ for Google by [checks notes] lambasting Google over its decision to shut down Google Reader.

On that same post, one commenter insisted that they hate the idea of an RSS reader having social integrations because they don't care what others are reading or want anyone to know what they are reading. An anonymous commenter won second place for funny by spotting the problem with that assertion:

And yet here you are, giving us your opinion about what you just read.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with a comment from Kaelis about Verizon's ongoing failed attempts to woo millennials:

Verizon's media acquisition strategy has been less "Go90" and more "Go 90s."

And finally, we've got an anonymous suggestion for Kim Dotcom:

Perhaps Kim Dotcom needs to legally declare himself

a macaque monkey, then he can get PETA to fight for ever on his behalf......

once they've established the copyright of all the files, of course.

That's all for this week, folks!

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

This Week In Techdirt History: July 1st - 7th

from the how-it-went-down dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, we kicked things off with the latest Snowden leaks revealing that the US had used bugs for surveillance on its allies, and that the PRISM program was huge and complex. George W. Bush stepped up to defend the NSA while President Obama tried to smooth things over with Europe, FISA court judges were upset about the scrutiny, and the Washington Post published a sad editorial calling for the leaks to stop. Then James Clapper shockingly admitted to lying to congress, but was apparently off the hook with nothing more than a staged apology.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, while Sony was further fragmenting the movie download market and NBC was once again failing to offer compelling Olympic coverage online, EMI was showing off its promised "new approach" to the internet by suing more platforms over piracy. Bono joined his manager in blaming ISPs for the destruction of music, while we wondered if the recording industry would play by its own proposed three-strikes rule but for faulty DMCA notices. Meanwhile, the RIAA argued in the Jammie Thomas case that evidence of actual distribution shouldn't be necessary to sue for infringement, while Viacom convinced the court that YouTube should hand over logs of the IP addresses and usernames of people who watched videos.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2003, the FCC launched its national do-not-call list, which was so popular that the website to sign up quickly went down. Some people quickly started calling for a similar plan for spam, while others questioned how well it would really even work for calls. Speaking of spam, one spammer won in court this week since spamming is not "trespassing", but another submitted a guilty plea in his case because it certainly can be fraud. Spam was, overall, getting worse and costing money, while the world braced for the expected onslaught of text messaging spam.

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Posted on Techdirt - 1 July 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the you-said-it dept

This week we've got a rare double winner, with both of our top comments on the insightful side coming from the same person on the same post — about the IFPI taking down Twitch streams for having music in the background. One commenter asked what streamers are supposed to do, leading another to supply a three-point list of options for licensed music, which PaulT extended to win first place for insightful:

4. Get your account blocked anyway because the IFPI's bots incorrectly identified what you're playing, and/or don't understand that you already paid for the licence.

But, prior to that, Paul also had a longer response which took second place:

The easier way is for them to just not play music. This is the equivalent of having a radio on in the background while you're talking to somebody, they're not going to jump through legal hoops for the people threatening to ruin their livelihood for that.

"It shouldn't be all that expensive for streamers to get a license."

I suggest you have a look around. From my understanding, you need to pay at least 2 agencies with lists of exactly what you played, and then the automated bots don't check for compliance anyway (if you're even playing music the requires a licence in the first place). One podcast I listen to regularly is always complaining that their musical intervals are being muted on YouTube even though they're fully paid up with licensing.

It's a mess, and since these things always err on the side of caution (they're rather block someone for playing music that's allowed vs not blocking someone who's infringing), you can comply fully and still get screwed. Better not to even try.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a reaction from That Anonymous Coward to the latest instance of egregious police misbehavior. It's been said before, but it needs to keep on being said:

Few bad apples...

They tell us the cops job is hard & dangerous...
Yet more citizens end up dead than cops during encounters between the two.
We give them cameras to remove any doubt they acted responsibly... magically they break down, fail, erase things, accidentally record cops creating video evidence, record cops bad behavior... but its the techs fault not that some departments had cameras that were broken, fixed, and less than 1 day later dead again.

Perhaps it is time to stop giving cops an inch, cause they've just about finished the run to Marathon from all of the passes they've been given.

Cops say if citizens don't follow the little laws (which they always use as a pretext to get the drug dog so they can steal your car) bigger crimes follow. Perhaps no one considered when you let the little rules slide for cops they are more likely to behave like a gang, terrorizing people at will.

Next, we've got a comment from Toom1275 about the problems with Swedish copyright law, because if we're going to call infringement "theft" then turnabout is fair play:

When Copyright becomes used more often to commit theft than to defend from it, perhaps there's a bit of a problem.

As for the funny side, I normally leave out staff comments from these lists, but this week the top winner was Mike responding to a funny anonymous comment — responding to the appeals court ruling allowing copyright on collections of facts — that itself made it to third place on the leaderboard. So we're going to go out of order, and highlight that comment first as an editor's choice:

Here is a compilation of all my favorite articles from Techdirt:

::Lists every article they have ever published::

I now own Techdirt. Sorry, Mike.

Mike rocketed to first place for funny with his one-word reply:


In second place, we've got a response from Mason Wheeler to our observation that the game we helped design to start nuanced conversations instead of Twitter hysteria just led to Twitter hysteria:

You expected the Twits to not act like twits?

And, for our final editor's choice on the funny side, we've got discordian_eris responding to China's censorship of John Oliver for the crime of comparing the president to Winnie the Pooh:

HBOs comment on this was simply "Oh bother".

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 26 June 2018 @ 2:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 172: Are Tech And Journalism At Odds With Each Other?

from the conflict-is-brewing dept

Between Elon Musk's proposal for a website ranking the credibility of journalists and Tim Draper blaming the collapse of Theranos on the press (not to mention Peter Thiel's attack on Gawker), it feels like there's a war brewing between Silicon Valley and journalism. Though the press has some major problems, it really seems like tech entrepreneurs are misunderstanding how it works and proposing some dangerous ideas. This week, we discuss the tensions between tech and journalism, and what will come from the proposals to address it.

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

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

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the things-were-said dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is Thad, responding to the tired line from apologists for Trump's immigration atrocities that there would be no problem if immigrants followed the law:

The families the Trump Administration has separated have included asylum-seekers.

Trump's Muslim ban targeted refugees.

Trump scuttled the bipartisan DACA deal partially on the grounds that it didn't do enough to decrease legal immigration. You may remember his statement at the time that he wanted more immigrants from places like Norway, as opposed to "shithole countries" like African nations and Haiti.

Basically, anybody who claims the Trump Administration doesn't have anything against legal immigration is lying, ignorant, or both.

In second place, we've got a response from Anonmylous to the pro-copyright-filter political party in France that got upset about its own content being filtered:

Ostriches are lousy politicians

Maybe.... maybe an allegory will work? Let me try.

*ahem* Dear politicians. Creating laws requiring internet companies to create algorithms that account for fair use is like passing laws requiring the Sun to burn less brightly in order to reduce global warming. It looks great on paper, but to anyone even slightly educated, you appear foolish.

We live in the Digital Age now. Stop clinging to your ignorance as if it were some badge of pride or honor. Learn about these things so you can make laws that actually help your constituents, and the world. Copyright does need reform, but not in the ways that the industry players want. they have a duty to make money for their shareholders, and nothing more. YOU have a duty to your citizens, and no one else. Its about time you remembered that.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got a pair of responses to Ajit Pai's attempts to claim the net neutrality repeal had lots of support. First, it's an anonymous comment commending NPR's handling of his statements:

Props to NPR for calling him out on his bullshit to his face. We need more of this type of behavior.

Next, it's a comment from Toom1275 responding to Pai's claim that "my job is not to put a finger in the wind and decide which way the winds are blowing":

...it's to put a finger on the scales until I get the result I want.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is an anonymous commenter responding to the (joke) idea that broadcasters should switch to the loot box model:

Spend $1 right now for a 5% chance to skip this commercial.

In second place, it's a response from David to the inclusion of spyware in video games:

Look, this is for serving you better.

All of this paranoia is overblown since this is done in service of the customer.

It's like a plumber who goes to the pain of installing a camera in your bathroom so that he can get a better picture of what may be causing repeated clogged drains and can install the best countermeasures. You don't want every handyman to pester you with details and permissions for doing the best to make things go down the drain smoothly for you in particular.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we've got a pair of comments on our post about the fired FBI official who is now experiencing the other side of the relationship between civilians and government agencies. UniKryn busted out a tiny violin joke:

Tries to build a violin out of Quarks, but those are still too large.

In response (and to be honest this is why I chose these comments — because I'm a huge Star Trek nerd) an anonymous commenter dropped a solid Deep Space Nine reference:

Don't let Odo catch you doing that; as much as he dislikes the bartender, I think he'd frown at the murder that would probably be necessary to reassemble him into a violin.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 23 June 2018 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: June 17th - 23rd

from the it-happened dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, the NSA was seeking blanket immunity for companies that aided its surveillance programs, congressional staffers were being told to pretend leaked documents don't exist, and more than half the Senate skipped a briefing on the NSA's programs. The agency was claiming its surveillance prevented lots of attacks, but these claims tended to fall apart under scrutiny. New leaks revealed how the NSA uses data without a warrant and how the UK was sharing info with the US, and then on Friday the US government brought espionage charges against Edward Snowden.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, the Associated Press stirred up a ridiculous drama following its legal threats against a blogger. First, it proposed that it would create its own rules for quoting AP reporting (as opposed to, y'know, fair use) and then released a price list for quotes based on word length, demanding money for any quote longer than four words. Thus, it was a bit embarrassing when people pointed out that the AP uses substantial quotes from bloggers, often over 100 words in its own reporting. It even did so in its own article about this very issue. Not a good look.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2003, Senator Orrin Hatch worryingly endorsed the use of technology that would destroy the computers of music downloaders, even in a country where most people saw downloading as an infraction on par with jaywalking. Meanwhile, the RIAA was unsurprisingly preparing to use the names of music traders obtained through the Verizon lawsuit to send out cease-and-desist letters. And on another front entirely, the copyright questions surrounding fan fiction were being put in the spotlight by Harry Potter, and J. K. Rowling's approach to such use of her work.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 19 June 2018 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 171: Debating Steam's New Hands-Off Policy

from the content-moderation dept

Recently, Valve sent waves through the PC gaming world by announcing an upcoming policy change for its Steam platform: it will no longer enforce specific content rules and will allow all games as long as they aren't illegal or "straight-up trolling". Though it's not exactly clear what this means, the reaction from the gaming press has been largely negative, and it's hard to say how the new policy will be implemented — so this week myself, Tim Geigner and Cathy Gellis join the podcast to discuss just what's going to happen on the biggest platform for PC games.

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 June 2018 @ 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 Damien with a simple summary of the lack of logic behind link taxes:

You know, I have yet to see a single source explain how a snippet tax is anything more than trying to charge people for talking about a news story and directing others who are interested to the original source. Apparently "on the internet" really does change everything.

In second place, we've got a response from That Anonymous Coward to the FCC's aggressive demands for personal info from someone who made a pseudonymous FOIA request for information about Ajit Pai's Reese's Pieces mug:

"In order to proceed with your request, please provide us with your name, your personal mailing address, and a phone number where you can be reached...."

Aren't these the same assholes who had no problem with letters of support submitted in the name of the dead, people who submitted nothing, people who knew nothing about net neutrality, and people who opposed what the FCC was doing but someone used their names to give glowing copypasta support?

Also can someone cite the part of the FOIA law that demands all of this information be turned over on demand?? Or is the FCC still making shit up as they go...

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got ArkieGuy with a take on the link tax's cousin — the snippet tax — inspired by German publishers comparing quoting to stealing a pound of butter:

The snippet tax is like wanting to charge cookbook publishers for recipes that call for butter. If you start charging people to recommend butter in their recipes, you won't sell as much butter.

Next, we've got a comment from any moose cow word about the absurdity of the EU Copyright Directive's upload filtering requirements:

There's no centralized database of copyright licensees, only copyright holders have access to those records. Yet, not even the largest copyright holders are able to verify which users were granted permission with the accuracy they demand be enshrined in law. How do they expect anyone else to do something only they have the capacity to do, and even they are incapable of doing?

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Ehud Gavron responding to the FCC's FOIA resistance with a bit of a low-blow that is hard not to giggle at:

Yes, Ajit Pai has a stupid mug.

He also has a funny coffee cup :)


In second place, we've got an anonymous response to a commenter who tried to portray our criticism of Google's recent patent attempts as further proof that we are Google shills:

Mike: "Google should be shot in the head."

You: "Look at Masnick wanting us to donate bullets to Google as if they don't have enough. Shill!"

Also you: "Corporations are bad...unless they're intellectual property maximalists who have cheated actual artists and creators out of the fruits of their labors since the time of Queen Anne."

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with a comment from tanj about a South Carolina drug task force serving regular warrants like no-knock warrants:

They did knock. Once, with a battering ram.

They did announced their presence, quite loudly.

Finally, we've got a comment from Ninja confessing to an appropriate misreading of something in our post about the FCC's fake DDoS attack:

"There's likely several more layers to this story"

At first I read LAWYERS instead of layers. Which would be pretty accurate as well.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 16 June 2018 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: June 10th - 16th

from the special-edition dept

Five Years Ago

This week, instead of going through the usual look at what was happening five, ten and fifteen years ago, we're going to put all the focus on the events of this week in 2013. Why? Because it's the week that the revelations of NSA spying, which dropped last week, truly hit the fan. There was a whole lot of news about it, almost completely dominating Techdirt, and it's worth a closer look.

As the leaks kept coming, it was revealed that the source was Edward Snowden, who described his ability to wiretap anyone from his desk. As politicians scrambled to defend the program, the DOJ was trying to cover up the secret court ruling about it, and we realized the big scandal wasn't that the NSA did something illegal, but that it probably didn't.

Some defenders of the PRISM program tried to claim it helped stop an NYC subway bombing, but the evidence was lacking and even the Associated Press soon called bullshit. James Clapper was simultaneously claiming that the leaks were a danger to us all, and also no big deal, while the author of the Patriot Act stepped up to say NSA surveillance must end, and that the law was supposed to prevent data mining. It started becoming clear that the metadata story was the biggest one.

Some politicians began speaking out, with Senator Rand Paul calling for a class-action lawsuit against the NSA, and Senator Ron Wyden calling for congressional hearings, before a group of Senators got together to introduce a bill to end the secrecy of the FISA courts. One Senator had previously predicted a lot of this, but unfortunately he got voted out of office in 2010.

Meanwhile, a former NSA boss said the leaks show America can't keep secrets, even though they really showed the opposite. The public was divided in its opinion on the program, depending heavily on how the question was asked. And we pointed out that the leaks show the importance of Wikileaks and similar operations.

The backlash grew, with Derek Khanna calling for James Clapper to be impeached for lying, a team of 86 companies and other groups called on Congress to end the spying, and the ACLU suing the government for 4th amendment violations. Various former NSA whistleblowers spoke up in defense of Snowden and against the agency's practices. Of course, there was also some pathetic backlash in the other direction, with Rep. Peter King calling for the prosecution of journalists who report on the leaks, and Congress moving to improve secrecy instead of fixing the problem.

Then things began getting even worse, with the possibility emerging that the PRISM program enabled espionage against allies. A new leak at the end of the week revealed the NSA's talking points for defending itself, and sales of George Orwell's 1984 began to skyrocket, and... well, let's just say there's plenty more on the way in the coming weeks.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 12 June 2018 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 170: Are E-Scooters A Problem?

from the gettin'-around dept

The latest entrant on the decentralized transportation scene is the suddenly-ubiquitous electric scooters that are taking over San Francisco and other cities. Their appearance has triggered the inevitable controversy, with some saying they are ruining cities while others laud their convenience for urbanites. And, of course, a regulatory battle wasn't far behind. On this week's episode, we discuss the e-scooter trend and its many pros and cons.

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 June 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt, Plus A Note From Mike

from the conversation dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is discordian_eris with a reaction to the latest instance of egregious police misbehavior:

“When someone shows you who they are, believe them” - Maya Angelou

Law enforcement at all levels have shown us who they are. Unreliable, unprofessional, undisciplined, and corrupt to the depths of their souls. Unfortunately this is America, so there really isn't a viable solution.

The cops are too cowardly to clean up their act. Legislators are too cowardly to pass reforms of almost any kind. And the judiciary, all the way up to the Supreme Court is too cowardly to do their fucking jobs and actually enforce the constitution. District attorneys can have video and audio of cops murdering people in cold blood and refuse to bring charges.

Every single time the list of the most corrupt countries comes out, I am astonished that the US is considered one of the least corrupt. Until, of course, I remember that the list is compiled by Americans.

In second place, we've got a response from That One Guy to the San Diego Comic Con's latest legal attack on the Salt Lake City Comic Con:

“This was a very expensive case; the reason this case was so expensive was because of defendants and their counsel and the way they litigated this case,” Bjurstrom said.

Translation: 'Our legal thuggery cost us a lot of money because our target had the utter gall to fight back and the ruling only gave us a tiny fraction of it back. We want more, make them give it too us.'

'Actions have consequences' does not an 'exceptional' case make.

But San Diego Comic-Con’s request went a step further than simply asking Battaglia to enjoin the Salt Lake convention operators from infringing its trademarks: it asked the judge to bar the Salt Lake convention from using the words “comic convention” or phonetic equivalents to “Comic Con” or “comic convention.”

So essentially they tried to claim ownership over the very concept of comic conventions by saying that no-one should be able to use the purely descriptive term of it.

Yeah, at this point I would love to see the USPTO come to it's senses, realize just how bad this trademark is and yank it entirely. It wouldn't help the Salt Lake Comic-con, but it would at least prevent the thugs in the SDCC from going after more targets.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a comment from Thad about the revelation that the FCC lied about a DDOS attack to distract from John Oliver:

This was blisteringly obvious from the get-go, but it's nice to get confirmation.

So what are the legal ramifications of this? The FCC lied about a DDoS attack to downplay the size of the public response, kept records proving that it lied, and then fought FOIA requests for said records.

There are numerous court challenges to the Title II repeal. These emails look an awful lot like the sort of thing that will appear with the word "Exhibit" on them.

Next, we've got a response from stderric to the school that turned a student over to the cops for jokingly listing the school for sale on Craigslist:

Kylan Scheele got a great educational bonus thanks to his prank, and it's probably the most important lesson Truman High School ever taught him: this world is full of idiots, and the biggest and most humorless of them all tend to be attracted to positions of authority.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is an anonymous commenter, with a theoretical future timeline of the Salt Lake City Comic Con's woes at the hands of trademark bullies:

2019: Salt Lake City Graphic Novel Gathering has been sued by Wizards of the Coast for infringing on their Magic: The Gathering trademark.

2020: Salt Lake City Superheroes Social has been sued by Joe's Super Hero Sandwiches for infringing on their trademark.

2021: Salt Lake City Place for People to Meet to Dress Funny and Pay $45 for Celebrity Signatures has filed for bankruptcy, citing the excessive costs of rebranding every year.

In second place, we've got a comment from Berenerd about FlightSimLabs installing stuff on users' machines and threatening Reddit:

FSLabs new motto: CRASH AND BURN!!!!!

For editor's choice on the funny side, we've got an anonymous reply to that comment adding a little extra color:

(Beeping in background) Terrain. Pull up. Terrain. Pull up. Terrain. Pull up.

Finally, we've got another anonymous comment about the humorless school-for-sale, in response to someone who questioned the low, low price tag:

There's a hefty discount because the buyer will be stuck with the current administrators, who are clearly a net liability. No asset would behave in the asinine way described here.

That's... not quite all for this week folks. Unfortunately, we also have a bit of sad news to share.

A Note From Mike:

We recently received a note from a friend and neighbor of one of our most prolific commenters, Roger Strong, informing us of the unfortunate news that he had passed away towards the end of May. One of the things that I’ve always talked about concerning Techdirt is that what keeps me going and what keeps it interesting is the community that has formed around the site. But it’s an odd sort of community. Most of the participants have no interaction with one another outside of the site, and many members of the community have no clue who others really are.

I am quite certain that, over the years, other vocal members of the community have passed away, but this is the first time that we’ve been directly informed of such a passing — and Roger’s very kind neighbors told us a bit about what a kind, compassionate and helpful individual Roger was, which was something that I think was clear if you read his comments. He was always a very passionate member of the community, always full of insight and useful perspectives. His friends informed us that being a part of the Techdirt community was an important part of his life, and just reading his comments helped give them another chance to experience Roger’s passion and ideas. We will certainly miss Roger’s presence and thoughtful comments.

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Posted on Techdirt - 9 June 2018 @ 12:00pm

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

from the it-happened dept

Five Years Ago

The big news this week in 2013 came from leaked documents revealing that the NSA was harvesting call data from millions of Verizon subscribers, followed by a Washington Post report saying the agency had direct access to information from Google, Facebook, Skype, Apple and more. The NSA was quick to try to deny it and weasel out of the accusations, while Senators revealed that they already knew all about it, and James Clapper tried to place the blame on journalists for revealing the spying. Both Verizon and the other tech companies tried to deny things with carefully chosen words, and the Washington Post tried to quietly backtrack on its claims.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, the Supreme Court refused to let MLB continue fighting to claim ownership of facts, while others were telling Viacom it should hope to lose its lawsuit against YouTube. UK authorities were charging users of the OiNK filehsaring network of conspiracy, while the push for a Canadian DMCA was rearing its head again and causing controversy. And the first attempt to academically look at takedown notices found, unsurprisingly, that a whole lot of them are garbage.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2003, the RIAA was launching a new lawsuit against Morpheus while EMI was joining Universal in suing Napster's investors. One Senator was trying to rein in the anti-circumvention rules in the DMCA, while the Supreme Court was ruling that using public domain content doesn't require crediting the creator. And in a massive too-little-too-late move, Metallica finally put some music online.

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Posted on Techdirt - 6 June 2018 @ 7:46am

New Gear: The NSA Collection

from the approved-for-release dept

Recently, the folks at Government Attic filed a FOIA request that garnered a very cool response: a collection of posters made by the NSA in the 1950s and 60s to remind its employees about security. It wasn't long before we got some requests to put them on t-shirts in the Techdirt Gear store and so... that's exactly what we've done!

You can now get 24 of the NSA's posters (with more coming soon) on premium t-shirts, hoodies and mugs from Teespring. Check out our store for the full NSA collection, or click the images below to go directly to the ones you like most.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 5 June 2018 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 169: MEP Julia Reda On EU's Dangerous Copyright Proposal

from the copyright-problems dept

As we've noted recently, the current copyright reform proposal being considered by the EU is full of extremely dangerous ideas, from mandated filters to a "link tax". This week, we're joined by European Parliament member Julia Reda to talk about the details of the regulatory process and the problems with the current proposal.

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 June 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the talk-it-out dept

This week, our top comment comes in response to Charter's claims that a lawsuit over its terrible broadband is just the result of an evil tech conspiracy. One anonymous commenter suggested that maybe they aren't so crazy:

I pretty sure there is a Google/Netflix cabal that is against Charter communications. Unfortunately for them the cabal is their customers who would like use Google and Netflix.

In second place, we have an anonymous suggestion for how to deal with the problem of invasive drug searches that go nowhere:

This should have been very easy for the court to get right:

Did the medical personnel enter into the record a warrant, secured by Customs and Border Patrol, directing them to perform these procedures? If yes, medical personnel are immune and the suit goes after CBP because they were "just following orders." If no, medical personnel are liable.

  • Simple.
  • Motivates medical personnel to demand a warrant before performing procedure
  • Creates naturally public paper trail

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a response from Toom1275 to the WIPO blocking the Pirate Party while inviting a group whose website said it existed to battle space lizards:

Well space lizards aren't that much more fictional than IP maximalism's ability to protect creativity.

If you believe one is real, it isn't that much further of a leap to then accept the other.

Next, we've got an anonymous comment that repurposes an anti-terrorist mantra in response to the government's prosecution of protesters:

They hate us for our freedoms

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is David with a response to comparisons between Europe and America:

You cannot compare the Internet in Europe with the Internet in the U.S.

Can you even imagine how many shootings there would be in Europe if they had Comcast?

In second place, we've got a simple anonymous quip about how the lawyers in the Monkey Selfie case must have reacted to a judge's call for a do-over:

I'll bet they went bananas

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with a response from Ninja to the earlier comment about space lizards:

To be fair space lizards do less harm to creativity than copyright maximalism.

And finally, we've got another anonymous commenter pushing back against the idea of copyright that lasts "forever minus a day":

"Whoa lets not be hasty there. Forever minus a second seems way more fair."

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 2 June 2018 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: May 27th - June 2nd

from the looking-back dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, we took a look at a big intellectual property report that focused on fearmongering about Chinese IP theft (while asking the public to foot the bill), called for companies to be allowed to use malware against infringers, and proposed cutting off funding to the World Health Organization if it doesn't start prioritizing IP protection, for some reason. Meanwhile, Hollywood studios were trying to wipe Kim Dotcom's Mega off the web, the RIAA was denying that it stifles innovation (while facing opposition from the Internet Association over its attempts to wipe out DMCA safe harbors), and CBS was trying to deny that its direct threats to sue Aereo actually meant it would sue Aereo.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, Viacom and YouTube were slugging it out in court while the former tried out some new anti-embedding arguments. The RIAA dropped its attack on the defunct Allofmp3, while ignoring the resurrection of the site under a different name, and ASCAP released a hugely problematic bill of supposed rights for artists. Metallica was trying to embrace the internet without offering any free downloads, and discovering that they had already squandered all their goodwill in that arena. And ACTA went from obscure trade agreement to a source of pushback and protests in record time.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2003, eBay lost a patent lawsuit over the Buy It Now feature, leading to a scramble from other online retailers to buy up the patents in question. We saw early discussion of tech ideas like personal 3D printers and telepresence robots (oh, and anti-infringement watermarks on content). Microsoft settled its dispute with AOL with a $750-million payout. And a court solidified many of the problems with the DMCA by ruling that rightsholders don't have to investigate the sites that they target.

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