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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 :)

E

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."
-RIAA

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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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 29 May 2018 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 168: Rob Reid's Mind-Bending Podcast

from the out-there dept

We've talked about author Rob Reid many times on Techdirt, and had him on the podcast once before. Now, in what started as a project to promote his latest novel, Reid is hosting a podcast called After On, which tackles some pretty crazy real-world topics — from alien life to mind-reading technology — befitting a science fiction writer. This week, he returns to our podcast to discuss what it's like interviewing big thinkers about mind-bending ideas.

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 - 28 May 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the things-were-said dept

It's been a while since we had a double-winner, but this week we've got one comment taking the first place spot for both funny and insightful. In response to our post about copyright being used to prevent an actress from showing her own demo reel, Killercool pointed out what a sad picture that paints of the rightsholder:

I hate to tell you...

If a clip, or even several clips, from your movie is equivalent to seeing your movie, then your movie is bad and you should feel bad.

In second place on the insightful side, we've got a comment from Thad artfully responding to the all-too-common and often extremely vague debates between capitalism and socialism:

I feel like debating between capitalism and socialism is like debating whether to use a hammer or a screwdriver: well, it depends, doesn't it? They're different tools, suited to different jobs.

I think it's less about "meeting in the middle" than using the right tool for the job. In some cases, that's capitalism; in some, it's socialism; in some, it's some combination of both; and in some, it's neither.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got a pair of responses to the recording industry's latest attempt to expand copyright. John Roddy suggested their efforts could be better spent elsewhere:

You know, if the industry would just put the exact same amount of effort into reworking their distribution model that they put into coming up with these hideously forced acronym bill titles, the entire problem would probably start to fix itself.

And Stephen T. Stone pointed out an often-forgotten reality:

Reminder: Copyright incentivizes distribution, not creation.

Over on the funny side, we've already had our first place comment, but in second place we've got a great theory from wshuff about how Chicago managed to win the most corrupt city award:

My friend from Chicago is pretty sure the city bought the votes needed to win the award.

For editor's choice, we've got one more comment from John Roddy, this time clarifying our post about the recent deluge of GDPR-driven privacy policy notifications:

To be "fair", the vast majority of the emails I've received so far weren't because of GDPR. It was just the companies feeling that privacy protections are good for everyone, so they wanted to extend that to everyone, not just EU residents. It's just an overabundance of kindness! The fact that roughly 100% of all of them say it the exact same way and conveniently happen to be right before the enactment of those rules is just a coincidence.

Finally, we've got an anonymous commenter's defense of the FBI's wildly inflated statistics on the number of locked devices:

Well, Steve Jobs himself did describe the original iPhone as a a "widescreen iPod with touch controls" a "revolutionary mobile phone" and a "breakthrough Internet communicator" so really the FBI is just counting each physical device as 3 different devices like Apple said they should.

That's all for this week, folks!

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

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

from the same-as-it-ever-was dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, we watched plenty of copyright hysteria as a trade group insisted that accommodating the deaf and blind would mean "casting aside" copyright, a Swedish prosecutor tried to label the Pirate Bay's domain registrar as an "accomplice", and all the major Hollywood studios sent bogus DMCA notices over a documentary about said Bay. Meanwhile, we were watching the TPP negotiations over the contentious intellectual property chapter, a key legal fight over DMCA abuse (while the RIAA continued whining that safe harbors are broken), and the effort in Congress to fix the anti-circumvention provisions.

Ten Years Ago

Five years earlier in 2008, we were already talking about how far behind the mainstream media was when it came to the DMCA and DRM. We took a look at how the RIAA and MPAA helped make The Pirate Bay even more popular, while the MPAA was getting people to settle lawsuits over simply linking to content, and Hollywood was working hard on making sure set-top boxes suck.

This was also the week that we got our very first leaked glimpse at something that would become a huge topic in years to come: ACTA, which at the time we called The Pirate Bay Criminalization Treaty.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2003, worlds collided in an odd way as Roxio, the company that acquired the Napster name, made a deal to buy Pressplay, the music studios' crappy download service. Meanwhile, a Spanish site was claiming to offer legal music downloads, which as you can imagine the industry didn't quite see the same way. In the mean time, the music industry got into its head that a website listing out legal services was the key to ending piracy, while Disney was preparing to offer its own video-on-demand service, and Jack Valenti was busy rewriting history as usual. And, to bring us back around to the very first link in this history post, it was this week in 2003 that we first started hearing about the blind and deaf fighting back against the DMCA — something we optimistically thought might actually be effective, but that was giving the industry too much credit, apparently.

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Posted on Techdirt - 22 May 2018 @ 9:30am

Last Chance! The Kickstarter For CIA: Collect It All Ends At Midnight!

from the collect-it-now dept

This is it — the last day of the campaign! If you haven't yet backed our project to revamp and produce the CIA's declassified training game, today's your last chance to check out the Kickstarter page for CIA: Collect It All and secure a copy.

The campaign closes tonight at midnight! Don't delay!

CIA: Collect It All on Kickstarter

We've had a huge influx of last-minute backers thanks in large part to The Verge's review of an advance copy of the game, so if you're not yet a backer, help us keep that momentum going — and if you are, please tell your friends! CIA: Collect It All comes with over 150 high-quality playing cards, with physical copies available for $29 (shipping to 170 countries), the print-and-play PDF version for $10 (anywhere, of course!) and a five-copy bundle for retailers or groups who want to team up to save on shipping.

We are planning to continue accepting some additional pre-orders before we complete the game, but we don't have that set up just yet, and we still have no plans to continue production beyond a single print run — so if you definitely don't want to miss out, back the campaign before it's too late!

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

One Day Left To Get Your Copy Of CIA: Collect It All On Kickstarter!

from the time-is-running-out dept

If you haven't yet heard about CIA: Collect It All, here's the short version: the CIA recently declassified a top secret card game that it uses to train new recruits, and we're making a version that you can play at home. The game puts players in the shoes of analysts leveraging a variety of real-world intelligence gathering techniques to solve global crises. It comes with over 150 high-quality playing cards, and is also available as a print-and-play PDF.

And you've got less than 36 hours to back the Kickstarter campaign and secure your copy!

CIA: Collect It All on Kickstarter

We currently have no plans to continue production of the game beyond this first print run, so now might be your only chance to get your hands on CIA: Collect It All. For more information on what the game's all about, check out our recent Kickstarter update all about gameplay, as well as the latest episode of the Techdirt Podcast.

We're continuing to work on playtesting the game, redesigning the cards, and filling in the redacted text from the CIA documents. We're really excited to get this game into everyone's hands, so check out our Kickstarter before the campaign ends tomorrow at midnight.

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Posted on Techdirt - 20 May 2018 @ 12:45pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the sayin'-stuff dept

This week, both our winning comments on the insightful side came in response to our post about some police realizing that SESTA/FOSTA has made their job harder. The curiously-named any moose cow word won first place with a simple statement:

FOSTA and SESTA, like most "morality" legislation, is much more about sweeping problems under the rug and pretending they don't exist rather than doing anything substantive to address the real underlying issues.

In second place, it's an anonymous response to a strange comment questioning why we worry about one bad law when there are lots of bad laws:

OK: I'll bite.

We get annoyed at just this one today to bring awareness to it, so that it can be changed. Without public awareness and public shaming of public figures, we will not have change.

So why go after one when there are 500,000+ more laws?

Because each journey starts with a single step. Once THIS law is taken care of, there are 499,999+ laws, and we can work on the next item.

Your attitude only results in things getting continually worse. It is the attitude the Russian troll farms use to promote apathy.

Be part of the solution and pick a law you feel is unjust, and see it through to being removed.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got a pair of responses from our two frequent "That" commenters to our post about the congressional push to protect police with hate crime laws — both addressing the common arguments about police having a dangerous job. First up it's That One Guy:

Yeah, no-one's arguing that it's a risk free job, but here's the thing: The ones in it either knew that ahead of time that it carried risk and accepted that anyway, or they were so clueless that that fact flew completely over their head, and they need to quit immediately and let someone with a working brain take their position.

I face heightened risk every time I wake up and get out of bed. I face heightened risk every time I get in a car. Countless things cause 'heightened risk', if they can't deal with a historically safe job because it carries anything higher than no risk then they most certainly have no business in a profession that carries extra risk and is already well protected by the laws.

This is yet another boot-licking, 'All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal that others' move that will widen the gap between the public and police once more, which, ironically enough, stands to make things even riskier for police.

And next it's That Anonymous Coward:

Pretty sure the number of people ending up dead or beaten after interaction with cops is much higher than the number of dead cops.

They know the job is dangerous...
A woman might knock on your window requiring lethal force.
A car might backfire requiring pursuit & 40+ bullets fired while standing on the hood of the car.
The house of an innocent person the warrant isn't for might get uppity wondering why these jackbooted thugs broke in.
A baby might need to be flash banged for officer safety.
A dog might wag its tail in the vicinity of a cop requiring its execution.
A young officer might freak out & blow someone away in their panic & require being comforted before anyone seeks help for the person who was shot.
A driver might reach for his ID after being instructed to & be shot by a cop for following directions.
A body cam might be turned off or have the audio muted after a citizen is shot by a cop so they can get the story right.
A department might run a fucking black site that the CIA would be proud of torturing citizens until they admit to crimes to make the pain stop.
A department might steal millions in military gear handouts & just hand them out to various citizens around town.

But yes, please codify what a large percentage of the population already know... Cops are a special group who can do no wrong, can not be held responsible for their actions, and can repeatedly lie on the stand... but sure lets give them another law to use against critics or them uppity citizens who know their rights & the law.

Good faith exceptions.
Using stereotypes of demons to justify murder.
Abusing citizens.
Throwing them into paddy wagons & giving them a rough ride to teach them a lesson (or paralyze them for life).

Perhaps a better use of time & resources would have been a hate crime law protecting citizens from cops. I mean, we have the higher body count & we didn't have to pad the numbers by including desk riding doughnut gobbling warriors who had a heart attack.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Thad making a small correction to Mike's point that a certain rabidly anti-regulation commenter on Techdirt sounds like a high-school student:

That's not fair.

High school students know how to use quotation marks correctly.

In second place, it's Jinxed with another comment about SESTA/FOSTA:

Perhaps Techdirt reach out to one of the authors of the bill?
Here, I'll help:
https://www.mpaa.org/who-we-are/#contact-us

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out on our post about breathalyzers inflating results by as much as 6%, where one commenter suggested this isn't really a problem and McCrea quickly corrected that notion:

And we should prosecute everyone who does 50mph in a 55 zone a speeding ticket be "Oh, he wasn't "SPEEDING" when crashed into you isn't any solace."

Personally, I find you far more than 6% short of being reasonable. Only 6% over the fine line of sanity. Only 6% short of a full deck? Only 6% dimmer than a burnt out bulb?

Geez, first time in two years I've logged into to make a comment. I guess I only respond to 6% of the trolls.

Finally, since it's one more chance to shamelessly plug our Kickstarter campaign for CIA: Collect It All (which ends on Tuesday!), we've got a comment from last weekend's post about the game. In response to an angry commenter who seems to think selling a physical product undermines our opinions on digital economics, That One Guy got sarcastic:

Wait a tic, you mean it's possible to make money off of something despite it being freely available, thanks to someone adding value to the free part(in this case by saving you the trouble of constructing them yourself)?

You are blowing my mind here man, who could have ever thought you could make money off of something that people could get for free? That you can in fact compete with free?

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 19 May 2018 @ 12:00pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 167: CIA: Collect It All

from the kickstarting-a-card-game dept

We're nearing the end of the Kickstarter campaign for CIA: Collect It All, our polished and fully-playable version of a formerly top secret card game used by the CIA to train new recruits. In this special Saturday edition of the podcast, the three of us working on the project — myself, Mike, and Randy Lubin of Diegetic Games — sit down to talk all about what players can expect from CIA: Collect It All.

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 May 2018 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the talk-it-up dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is John Snape with an unorthodox suggestion about the police:

Liability Insurance

Surgeons have liability insurance, so if they mess up they can compensate their patients. If they mess up too much, they are no longer surgeons, since their premiums will skyrocket.

It's time for all law enforcement officers to get the same. Instead of government entities paying out settlements, the insurance for the officers will pay out. When their behavior is too egregious, they will no longer be able to afford insurance and they'll no longer be a police officer. And if they're shunted off to a different department a few counties over, their premiums will follow.

Good police officers will keep their low premiums and keep their jobs.

(Clever, though in the long run putting police behaviour in the hands of private insurance companies is probably a dangerous strategy...)

In second place, we've got an anonymous comment on our post about copyright holders moving up the stack:

Malware and putting everyone at risk is the bread and butter of copyright enforcement. Rootkits in your CDs, campaigning against encryption, demanding all removal of privacy and anonymity. How else are they going to demand their pound of flesh from low-hanging fruit?

The world could go to hell tomorrow and copyright enforcers will still worry that someone, somewhere might have access to a few numbers they think might have been illegitimate. Seriously, if a report was put out that hands contribute to copyright infringement, their people would be roaming the streets wielding axes while looking for wrists to sever.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got a pair of comments that emerged in the debate on that post. First it's That One Guy with a response to the idea that only illegal sites get hurt by copyright maximalism:

Must be nice in that world of yours

Of course, because as everyone knows mistakes just simply don't happen when it comes to what is and is not infringing, and people certainly would never abuse the law for their own ends.

Next, we've got an anonymous correction of the incredibly silly and backwards assertion that copyrights on scientific research fund libraries:

For your infomation, the academic publishers charge libraries excessive amounts for bundles of journals. Indeed they have become so expensive that many university libraries can no longer afford to pay for all the journals in the fields that are taught at the university.

Also, the people posting to Sci Hub, and using it for obtaining papers are the authors and editors of the journals, who are not paid by the publishers, and for some publications have to find page fees to get published.

In this case, the freeloaders are the academic journals, who do very little of the work of publishing a journal, but who make all the profits that there are in scientific journals.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is an anonymous comment on the subject of paywalls:

7 reasons this clickbait is behind a paywall.

Pay our membership fee to find out why number 4 will SHOCK YOU!

In second place, we've got Roger Strong addressing the trademark battle over the word "cocky" with a callback to another legal-threat-sending author:

If only our trademarks were made of glass how much more careful we would be when we threaten.

  • some other cock, paraphrased

Speaking of Roger Strong, he was all over the funny leaderboard this week, so for editor's choice on the insightful side we've got a pair of additional quips from him. First, it's a call back to some David Fincher-directed 90s advertising in response to our list of AT&T's many transgressions:

Oddly, none of these were predicted in AT&T's You Will commercials.

Finally, it's a quote that was particularly apt and useful in some of this week's comment threads:

"I don't think I've ever seen your specific kind of crazy, but I definitely admire your total commitment to it."
- Capt. Jack Sparrow

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 12 May 2018 @ 11:00am

The Clock Is Ticking: Get Your Copy Of CIA: Collect It All On Kickstarter!

from the tick-tock dept

Last month, we launched our Kickstarter campaign to turn a formerly-top-secret CIA training game into something you can play at home. We hit our goal much sooner than we expected, and now we're less than two weeks away from the close of the campaign — so if you want to get your hands on a copy, hurry up and become a backer!

CIA: Collect It All comes with over 150 high-quality playing cards in a premium box, and is also available in a digital print-and-play version. The game pits you and your friends against each other in a race to solve as many global crises as you can by leveraging clever combinations of the many varied and creative techniques used by real intelligence agencies, from satellite imagery to hacking to good old fashioned espionage.

CIA: Collect It All on Kickstarter

We recently added international shipping options for 170 countries, but we still have no plans to continue producing the game after sending it out to our backers, so this might be your only chance! If you don't want to miss out, head on over to our Kickstarter campaign and secure your print-and-play or physical copy by backing us as a Digital Analyst or a Field Agent.

The campaign ends at midnight (pacific time) on Tuesday, May 22nd! Stay tuned over the next week and a half as we bring you more information here on Techdirt, or become a backer and get the inside scoop from our Kickstarter updates. And thanks to everyone who has already helped us make CIA: Collect It All a success!

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 8 May 2018 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 166: How The Courts Created The Surveillance State

from the panopticon dept

The US has been something of a surveillance state since long before the Snowden revelations that showed the full extent of some of the NSA's activities. A lot of this is made possible — often unintentionally — by decades-old court decisions regarding technology. It's a problem. This week, reporter Cyrus Farivar — whose new book Habeas Data digs into this judicial history — joins us to discuss how courts created the surveillance state.

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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