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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 22 September 2020 @ 1:32pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 256: Little Brother vs. Big Audiobook, With Cory Doctorow

from the doing-something-different dept

The third book in Cory Doctorow's Little Brother series is coming soon — but as usual, Cory is doing something different as part of the release. Fans and Techdirt readers know he's an outspoken opponent of DRM who makes sure all his work is available DRM-free, but that isn't so easy when it comes to audiobooks, where Audible's market dominance forces DRM onto everything. So while publishers eagerly picked up Attack Surface for printing, he retained the audio rights and is running his first-ever Kickstarter to release a nice non-DRM version. This week, Cory joins Mike on the podcast to discuss why he's doing it, what he's giving up, and the industry changes he hopes to inspire.

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 - 22 September 2020 @ 11:15am

This Week Only: Free Shipping On Techdirt Gear From Threadless

from the get-it-quick dept

Get free shipping on Techdirt Gear orders over $45 with the coupon code FREESHIP92031e946 »

Have you had your eye on some gear from the Techdirt store on Threadless? Then this is the week to pick it up! From now until Friday at 3pm PDT, you can get free shipping on orders over $45 in the US and $80 international with the coupon code FREESHIP92031e946. The offer covers all our designs, including the new Otherwise Objectionable gear celebrating two of the most important words in Section 230, and our wide variety of face masks.

There's also our complete line of Techdirt logo gear and, as usual, a wide variety of products available in every design: t-shirts, hoodies, sweaters and other apparel — plus a variety of cool accessories and home items including buttons, phone cases (for many iPhone and Galaxy models), mugs, tote bags, and stylish notebooks and journals.

This week only! Get free shipping with the coupon code FREESHIP92031e946 »

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Posted on Techdirt - 20 September 2020 @ 12:50pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the chitter-chatter dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is Another Kevin responding to some of the persistent false claims about Section 230:

Section 230 doesn't protect editorializing. The First Amendment does that.

You seem to be arguing that once the operators of a platform have editorial content, anywhere on the platform, that they lose Section 230 protection for anything posted by users. In effect, you consider all speech on the platform to be from a single speaker.

In other words, if I am entertaining Alice and Bob in my parlor, and Bob tells a lie, I'm not allowed to point out the lie to Alice without then becoming subject to prosecution for anything that either Alice or Bob might say? In such a regime, I obviously can't have guests in my house at all.

In second place, it's an anonymous response to a commenter bringing up popular claims of OnePlus ripping off Apple's earbud design:

Lots of people are blaming Apple for "ripping off" Xerox's design.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got a pair of comments from the same anonymous commenter talking about copyright issues and what legacy publishers actually want. First it's a pretty apt summary of their goals:

The legacy publishers are advancing their real objective; which is to ensure that they are the only route to have a work published. That way they decide what few works are actually made available at any time. They are not interested in a flowering of culture, but rather in restricting culture so as to maximize their own profits.

To anyone who claims this will protect creators, they should note that the legacy publishers restrict what is published to a small fraction of that created, and so ensure that most creators will never have their work published.

Next, it's an important reminder that publishers aren't creators:

Those pushing this agenda do not actually create content, although their accounting can be creative. They make money from works that others produce, and hate the Internet because it allows creators to escape their control, and grabbing of most of the profits, for the few works that they publish.

Their whole business model was developed in a world where producing copies, or distributing content was the limiting factor on the works that could be published. The Internet has removed that limitation on publication of works, and that means they lose control over published works unless they can cripple the Internet.

Over on the funny side, both our winning comments come in response to our post aboiut Richard Liebowitz getting in more trouble. First, it's That One Guy finding himself unsurprised:

How very Liebowitz

Ordered to take a course on ethics, gets caught 'cheating'.

Some people just refuse to change, but at least his various benchslaps provide some well-needed moments of humor during the hell that is 2020.

In second place, it's an anonymous commenter with an illustrative summary:

Judge "Your in a deep hole, so stop digging and grab the rope I am lowering"
Richard "toss me down a bigger shovel"

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with Get off my cyber-lawn! offering up one more response to Liebowitz:

I didn't realise

that "In Deep Shit" could be a lawyers default mode.

Finally, it's Norahc on our post about Banksy's attempt to abuse trademark law, with a nice tie-in:

My popcorn futures would really appreciate it if Bansky partnered with Liebowitz for that legal advice.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 19 September 2020 @ 12:00pm

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

from the oh-the-memories dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2015, we got a big, confusing mess of a ruling on fair use and the DMCA in the famous "dancing baby" video lawsuit. We also saw a loss for the Motion Picture Academy after its five-year crusade to make GoDaddy pay for "infringing" websites, and the owner of the Miami Heat was hit with $155,000 in legal fees after losing his bogus copyright lawsuit against a blogger. Meanwhile, China was beginning a big push to get American tech companies to agree to its rules, while the DOJ was backing down from charges against a professor driven by China hysteria.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2010, Yelp got yet another Section 230 victory against an attempt to hold it liable for bad reviews, while a reputation management company was threatening to launch a similar lawsuit against TripAdvisor in the UK, in what appeared to be a publicity stunt. A terrible appeals court ruling was killing the first sale doctrine, while Craigslist was engaged in a fight with South Carolina's attorney general and we wondered why other internet companies weren't standing up for it. And the latest big DRM-breaking event happened with the apparent leak of the HDCP master key which was soon confirmed by Intel.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2005, the fights over online reviews were in their infancy, with doctors leading the charge. Ebay spent an eyewatering amount of money to purchase Skype, and we noted this meant the company needed to become an expert on net neutrality, fast. The RIAA was going around overstating the results of the Grokster case, while the courts in Taiwan were contradicting an earlier ruling on the legality of file sharing software by sending file sharing executives to jail. And Lego was suing a Danish artist for using her middle name — "Lego" — to sign her paintings.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 16 September 2020 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 255: Threatcasting The Election

from the predicting-disinformation dept

Late last year, we designed Threatcast 2020: a brainstorming game for groups of people trying to predict the new, innovative, and worrying forms of misinformation and disinformation that might come into play in the upcoming election. We ran a few in-person sessions before the pandemic hit and ended our plans for more, then last month we moved it online with the help of the fun interactive event platform Remo. We've learned a lot and hit on some disturbingly real-feeling predictions throughout these events, so this week we're joined by our partner in designing the game — Randy Lubin of Leveraged Play — to discuss our experiences "threatcasting" the 2020 election. We really want to run more of these online events for new groups, so if that's something you or your organization might be interested in, please get in touch!

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 September 2020 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the said-and-done dept

We've got a double winner for first place this week, with one comment reaching the top of both the insightful and funny charts... as was its stated goal. It's justok responding to our post about students and parents gaming an AI grading system:

Funniest and Most Insightful Comment

This is both the funniest and most insightful comment. This comment is both the most insightful and funniest. Joke. Laugh. Post. Comment. Keyword. Funny. Funniest. Insightful.Laugh. Side-splitter. Blow. Your. Mine. Mind.

In second place on the insightful side, we've got Bloof responding to Trump's anger over Twitter refusing to take down a parody of Mitch McConnell:

Conservative cancel culture at it's finest. For all the wailing about the left and society as a whole shunning conservatives who say and do crappy things, they sure do love trying to use the weight of government to inflict their will and crush anyone and anything that hurts their feelings. Maybe something could be done about the thinness of their skin if there was universal healthcare.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with Rocky with a response to the assertion that "removal of 230 protection against spam won't increase the levels of spam seen currently":

This statement belongs together with some other famously wrong statements:

"Television won’t be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night."
-Darryl Zanuck, producer for 20th Century Fox, 1946.

"We don’t like their sound. Groups of guitars are on their way out."
-Decca Recording Company, after rejecting Beatles in 1962.

"No, it will make war impossible."
-Hiram Maxim, inventor of the machine gun

"There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home."
-Ken Olson, 1977

Next, we've got Stephen T. Stone replying to that comment with another hall-of-famer:

See also:

“The VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston Strangler is to the woman alone.”
— Jack Valenti, then-president of the Motion Picture Association of America, 1982

Over on the funny side, our second place winner is wshuff responding to the FBI's horror at discovering that Ring doorbells can also be used against law enforcement:

Cue Bill Barr’s angry call for tech companies to nerd harder and come up with a secure back door that lets the Ring camera see and hear everybody but law enforcement. But only real law enforcement. Not bad guys pretending to be law enforcement.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with an anonymous comment responding to the French government's move to criminalize the act of insulting mayors, with and old and very English joke:

Like the Englishman who was fined for calling a duchess a "pig". "So," he asked the judge, "I can't call a duchess a pig?"

"No, that's against the law."

"But can I call a pig a duchess?"

"Of course."

Turning to the duchess, he said, "Good afternoon, duchess."

Finally, we've got a comment from Pixelation in response to our case study about how sarcasm presents a practically insurmountable challenge for automated content moderation. I'm not really sure what to make of it:

I'm sorry

Sarcasm is super easy to detect.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 12 September 2020 @ 12:00pm

Get Your Otherwise Objectionable Gear Before The Senate Takes It Away!

from the what-timing dept

Get your Otherwise Objectionable gear in the Techdirt store on Threadless »

On Monday we released our line of Otherwise Objectionable gear in our store on Threadless and, the very next day, GOP Senators unveiled their latest attempt at truly stupid Section 230 reform: a bill that would remove those two critical words from the law. Of course, those who understand how important Section 230's moderation protections are to the internet will fight to prevent this bill from passing, and then there's the fact that it's pretty obviously unconstitutional — but while the fight continues, there's never been a better time to declare your Otherwise Objectionable status with pride.

As usual, there's a wide variety of gear available in this and other designs — including t-shirts, hoodies, notebooks, buttons, phone cases, mugs, stickers, and of course the now-standard face masks. Check out all our designs and items in the Techdirt store on Threadless!

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Posted on Techdirt - 7 September 2020 @ 9:00am

New Gear For Section 230 Fans: Otherwise Objectionable

from the two-big-words dept

Get your Otherwise Objectionable gear in the Techdirt store on Threadless »

If Section 230(c)(1) contains "the twenty-six words that created the internet", then (c)(2) contains the words that gave them some critical help. Among those words are two that are especially important, "otherwise objectionable", as they turn a limited list of specific content that can be removed into an open-ended protection for platform operators to moderate as they choose — and now you can wear them proudly with our new gear on Threadless.

As usual, there's a wide variety of gear available in this and other designs — including t-shirts, hoodies, notebooks, buttons, phone cases, mugs, stickers, and of course the now-standard face masks. Check out all our designs and items in the Techdirt store on Threadless!

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Posted on Techdirt - 6 September 2020 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the thus-spake dept

This week, both our winners on the insightful side are folks expressing their doubt about our Greenhouse guest post on thoughtfully regulating the internet. In first place, it's an anonymous commenter focusing on the various interests at play:

The big danger for Internet regulation is that the driving force is old school publishers, and they want to reduce or eliminate the self publishing capabilities of the Internet. At the same time, the politicians want to wrest back control over political discussion, which is what is driving the attacks on section 230, while the security services want to abolish or backdoor all encryption.

If fosta/sesta is anything to go on, regulation will be used to backdoor government control over content by simply increasing the things that sites can be held liable for within user generated content.

In second place, it's a different anonymous commenter focusing on the government's track record:

Surely it needs to be shown that the government can effectively govern the infrastructure before it begins redefining the infrastructure to include everyone's living room and garage?

Issues like net neutrality, reasonable price accounting and honest price reporting for simple consumer internet services, reliable maps of areas served by cable or cell-tower, addressing the digital divide--are all (1) much easier than regulating free speech; (2) inarguably constitutional, (3) currently within the authority of the government regulators, and ...

(4) not even addressed, let alone solved.

Whichever government agency can solve THOSE problems ... may be judged competent to define the problems of the edge.

But at this point, government regulators are allowing monolithic monopolies to give themselves huge price advantages to their own subsidiaries selling content to their captive audiences; ignoring the false advertising of prices and contract-violating price increases (both increases in hidden fees to be paid as "content fees" to their own subsidiaries, and uncontrollable, exorbitant, economically-unjustifiable costs for downloads in excess of plan); not requiring accurate reporting of areas served or speeds available in those areas; and giving money away for "expanding coverage", then never even checking to see if the specified areas were served, or indeed if that money was even spent on services.

I'd grade that "F" in law, "F" in accounting, "F" in technology, "F" in social studies.

Those are the people that you want working on HARD problems? I wouldn't trust them to dig a privy with both hands and a trowel.

First, walk--then run. Actually, first crawl. Maybe, first roll over and cry for a bottle.

Since that post generated a lot of debate, we'll kick off the editor's choice for insightful with one more comment, this time from That One Guy also focusing on the conflicting motivations:

Volume does not equal validity

While there are valid concerns regarding online platforms and services far too often the 'concerns' I see range from selfish concerns on the part of governments about how those platforms have the utter audacity to not just give them all the data they have and/or use encryption so the government can't just get the info itself, individuals and groups upset that platforms have rules and keep kicking the assholes off, or entrenched companies/industries that are angry that someone came along and succeeded where they failed and so want to add in regulations crippling their new competition.

If I believed that those calling for regulations were doing so honestly and in the best interests of the public that would be one thing, but as it stands more often than not it seems the motivations are purely selfish and self-serving, with nary a care for the wider impact that their demands would have if implemented.

Next, it's Bobvious with a comment about the appeals court ruling that said address mistakes on warrants are no big deal:


I'm sure that if a judge's address "was used to test a department-wide computer system" there would be REAL reform REAL QUICK.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is an anonymous commenter responding to AT&T's attack on Section 230:

Splendid! Let's strip AT&T of the immunities it enjoys when criminals use the phone system to commit crimes. Every time an Indian Extended-Vehicle-Warranty or IRS-collection scam call is made--every time a Nigerian money-transfer email is sent across AT&T wires--NAIL THEM FOR RICO!

Because, unlike Bad Stuff being uploaded to Youtube which cannot be spotted without human review, the phone-company nerds know how to stop the fraudulent phone calls. (It's a matter of validating the phone originator, the protocols for which are already in place.) But the phone companies do not do this, because ... well, they get paid for completing fraudulent calls.

Whatever Google or Facebook is doing, they CANNOT do anything so annoying to the general public, as those fraudulent phone calls.

Kick the elephant out of the bedroom before looking for crickets.

In second place, it's a response to Trump's tantrum over the FTC not doing what he wants:



For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with Norahc commenting on the students and parents who figured out how to game an AI exam grading system:

Edgenuity - training people to be SEO specialists at over 20,000 campuses nationwide.

Finally, it's :Lobo Santo commenting on the administrations apparent collection of dossiers on journalists who criticize the president:

Inverted Lists

Wouldn't it be faster and easier to list the people who're aren't critical of Trump?

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 5 September 2020 @ 12:20pm

This Week In Techdirt History: August 30th - September 5th

from the the-years-that-pass dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2015, the NSA was renewing its bulk records collection after a worrying and slightly suspicious court ruling. The FBI was somehow using Hurricane Katrina as an excuse to get more Stingray devices, just before the Wall Street Journal got a "win" (though the devil was in the details) in a lawsuit related to Stingray surveillance orders, and the DOJ told federal agents that they need warrants to use the devices. Meanwhile, the NYPD was volunteering to be copyright cops in Times Square, Sony was downplaying the damage done by the same hack it was hyping up before, and the entertainment industry was freaking out about Popcorn Time.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2010, we were saddened to see the US Commerce Secretary siding with the RIAA and telling ISPs to become copyright cops, even as more ISPs were stepping up to fight subpoenas from the US Copyright Group (and in France, some ISPs were fighting back against Hadopi, which was also becoming a tool of scammers). One court refused to dismiss a Righthaven lawsuit involving a copyright that was bought after the alleged infringement happened, while another court was seeking ways to minimize a Righthaven win with minuscule damages — and the LVRJ was defending the Righthaven suits and mocking a competitor for criticizing them.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2005, we were pleased to see that the judge in one of the first instances of someone fighting back against RIAA lawsuits seemed to recognize the issues, and less pleased to see another court give its assent to yet another form of DMCA abuse. It wasn't as crazy as what was happening in India, though, where it appeared that their equivalent of the MPAA got an open search warrant for the entire city of New Delhi to look for pirated movies. And even that didn't match the panic over mobile porn that was gripping parts of the world, leading to things like Malaysian police performing random porn spot-checks on people's phones.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 2 September 2020 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 254: Does Amazon Really Have A Data Advantage?

from the not-necessarily dept

There's a lot of talk about tech companies and antitrust these days, and a great deal of the focus falls on Amazon. But is antitrust law really the right approach, or even capable of achieving the results many people want? This week, we're focusing on one specific complaint that comes up a lot, about Amazon being both a marketplace and a seller in that marketplace and gaining various advantages including, supposedly, from the data it has access to. We're joined by Greg Mercer, founder and CEO of Jungle Scout, to talk about whether Amazon really has a data advantage, and how much it really matters.

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 - 30 August 2020 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the the-talk-in-town dept

This week, both our winners on the insightful side are anonymous commenters on our post about dismantling the police. In first place, it's some thoughts on where to start:

... the most basic rebuilding component is simply to hold all LEO's accountable to very same laws imposed on all other Americans.

No immunity, no special treatment if suspected of criminal or civil infractions.
No sweetheart treatment by government investigators, prosecutors, and judges.

No power of arrest without a judicial warrant, unless the LEO directly observes the crime. No immunity for false arrests.

Police must de-militarize and obey same firearms laws as imposed on other citizens.

Sharply reduced pay & benefits, more equivalent to U.S. miltary service ranks.

In second place, it's a response to the cruel notion that running from the cops means you deserve to be shot:

Running never makes someone deserve to be shot. That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard in my life. Running means you fear that you might get hurt or killed by an overly aggressive cop. By saying that they deserve to be shot for not following the commands of the officer, you are saying that officer now is God and anything they command that is not obeyed, means death. You are not judge, jury, and executioner. If you think otherwise, you need to check into a mental institution. If your local law enforcement says that is okay, they also need to be removed from society, one way or another.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with another anonymous comment expanding that last reply to the many other situations that get people murdered by cops:

Running away does not endanger lives, and so shooting them is murder. Standing in your own house is not threatening, pointing out that you have a license to carry is not threatening, being in a house that is raided by a swat team, who have the wrong address... so all those shot were running away from a crime scene, but were rather victims of trigger happy cops.

Next, it's That One Guy analogizing the folks who complain about tech platform bias... on tech platforms:

'They won't let me use their soapbox' said the person on it

It's like watching someone screaming about how a privately owned park won't let them speak while standing in that very park. If they really are being 'persecuted' by social media then the companies involved are doing a terrible job of it.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Tim R walking through his reaction to our post about Robert F. Kennedy Jr's lawsuit against Facebook:

I have to admit that reading this exquisite blockbuster of a pleading was a multi-act comedy in my head. Especially when it came to the claims:

The first claim is that there are 1st and 5th Amendment violations... by the private company defendants...


The second claim is... Lanham Act violations...

Where's my cocktail?

Kennedy then cites the President's nonsense Executive Order on social media...

Swell, Junior, why don't you just throw effing RICO into the mix, too???

Next up, Kennedy argues (you guessed it) RICO violations...

God dammit.

In second place, we remain on that post, where an anonymous commenter opened the discussion by describing the lawsuit filing as "running in ever decreasing circles until it disappears up its own arsehole", leading That One Guy to raise his hand:

Objection, comment posits that the complaint didn't start there.

For editor's choice on the funny side, since that post naturally spurred lots of jokes about conspiracy theories, we'll remain there for a pair of similar parodies. First, it's an anonymous concern:

The issue is he's using the much cheaper aluminum foil instead of tin foil. And he's using it improperly and has allowed the aluminum to get into his bloodstream, causing aluminum encephalopathy with a dementia syndrome.

Hmm. Said that tongue in cheek, but it does track rather well with the activities of many tin foil hat idiots. Perhaps a study should be made.

Finally, it's Bobvious bringing up the true menace (with an excellent punchline):

You do realise that 5G will distort the shape of the Earth and it will no longer be flat, right? Those towers are going to be strung together with super cables and winches to pull it out of shape. That's why they need to put so many of them up, and so close together. It has nothing to do with the alleged inability to penetrate walls.

It's all a globalisation conspiracy.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 29 August 2020 @ 12:00pm

Get Your First & Fourth Emojiment Face Masks And Other Gear On Threadless

from the say-it-with-icons dept

Get your First & Fourth Emojiment gear in the Techdirt store on Threadless »

Earlier this week, we added two of our popular old designs to our line of face masks in the Techdirt store on Threadless: the First and Fourth Amendments, translated into the language of emojis. Both are available as standard and premium masks and in youth sizes, plus all kinds of other gear: t-shirts, hoodies, phone cases, notebooks, buttons, and much more.

And if you haven't in a while, check out the Techdirt store on Threadles to see the other designs we have available, including classic Techdirt logo gear and our most popular design, Nerd Harder. The profits from all our gear help us continue our reporting, and your support is greatly appreciated!

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 25 August 2020 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 253: Post-Pandemic Tech

from the recovery-assistance dept

The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, and as it rages on we're learning a lot about technology's role in a situation like this — but it's also worth looking forward, and thinking about how tech will be involved in the process of repairing and recovering from the damage the pandemic has done. This week, we're joined by TechNYC executive director Julie Samuels to discuss the role of technology in a post-pandemic world.

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 - 25 August 2020 @ 12:00pm

New Face Masks: The First & Fourth Emojiments

from the you-know-the-words dept

Get your First & Fourth Emojiment gear in the Techdirt store on Threadless »

We've got two new additions to our line of face masks in the Techdirt store on Threadless: our popular emoji-fied versions of the First and Fourth Amendments. We've considered adding more amendments to this line, but not all of them translate so easily — so for now, you can enjoy these two extremely important ones in face mask form!

All the face masks are available in two versions (premium and standard) as well as youth sizes. And of course, the designs are also available on a wide variety of other products including t-shirts, hoodies, mugs, buttons, and more! Check out the Techdirt store on Threadless and order yours today.

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Posted on Techdirt - 23 August 2020 @ 12:25pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the some-people-say dept

This week, our first place winner is an anonymous comment summing up how there are no good guys in the Epic/Apple showdown:

Epic is railing against the very thing they recently started doing: Forcing their customers to use their own store (and launcher) to run their products. It's not exactly the same since the games they sell are their own products but it's not all that dissimilar. There were outcries of antitrust when they did that, too.

I do hope Epic is able to at least force Apple and Google to allow alternative app stores to be installed on devices where users can go to purchase apps from outside Apple/Google's walled gardens. They're unlikely to be much better than sideloading random apps but they'll at least be convenient and the alternative stores will have a vested interest in keeping their offerings clean.

Fuck Apple and Google but also fuck Epic. They're all a bunch of greedy assholes.

In second place, it's That One Guy with a simple observation about Trump's attacks on TikTok:

What a coincidence...

Funny how the company only became a massive national security concern worthy of not one but two(so far) blatant abuses of power in the form of EO's after a bunch of kids used it to punk him.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with PaulT responding to some thoughts about Australia's proposed rules about Google changing its algorithms:

"Doesn't this mean that Google can't enact algorithm changes to take down/suppress speech"

Google can't take speech down (unless it's hosted on Google Cloud). They can only stop pointing people to where it's located.

Which is where they reveal their hand here. They know that newspapers depend on Google traffic to survive online, so they don't want to lose any of that - Google have already shown they have no problem cutting a country off completely if the media try and charge them for the traffic they send them. But, they also need to pretend they're the only reason they can no longer make money offline. Any honest organisation would already have their robots.txt file uploaded.

"Of course this (probably) wouldn't effect specific instances of 'bad content', but it would mean they couldn't be innovative with search results in general very fast."

It basically means that Google will be legally prohibited to reacting to attempts to game the SEO system and siphon traffic away from newspapers and toward scammers. They would be legally unable to deal with any scam for a full month. That should be fun to watch.

Next, it's Rocky with a simple response to the perennial, unconsidered assertion that private companies have replaced the public square:

Name just one commercial platform that has replaced the public forum.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is That One Guy with a quick response to someone complaining about supposed hypocrisy on executive orders from the left:

'Curse those fictional 'left wingers' in my head!'

Please be considerate to other posters and clean up your strawman after you're done with it.

In second place, it's an anonymous commenter with a question about the portion of Australia's planned Google rules that require the company to tell media businesses "how they can gain access" to data about Google products:

So here's a question... is Google actually required to provide said access, or just tell them how they can gain it?

Murdock corp: Tell us how!

Google: Become a wholly owned subsidiary of Alphabet.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with DannyB responding to the attempt by telcos to tell the FCC that broadband caps are "popular":

While it may be true that Broadband Caps are very popular, they are still less popular than Death.

When looking at the numbers alone, Death is the all time most popular single thing in human history! (it is appointed unto man once to die. Heb 9:27)

While Taxes are also extremely popular, they are second to Death, but somewhat higher in popularity than Poverty or Slavery.

While vast numbers of people have chosen ISPs that have broadband caps, thus proving the popularity of broadband caps, some of them then discover they have the problem that they cannot wear both their Broadband Cap and their MAGA cap at the same time.

Finally, it's Toom1275 with a thought about the phrase "confused critic of Section 230":

...But you repeat yourself.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 22 August 2020 @ 12:00pm

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

from the first-as-tragedy dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2015, new leaks confirmed what we suspected about AT&T's cozy relationship with the NSA, which was especially concerning given the company's long history of fraudulent and abusive behavior, and the fact that the NSA seemed to think telco partners freed it from the constraints of the Fourth Amendment. The leak also revealed that the agency was misleading at best about how many cellphone records it could access.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2010, Peter Sunde gave a fascinating presentation on the history of The Pirate Bay, while we were emphasizing that record labels can still have a role in music if they embrace the ways that role is changing, and a new comprehensive graphic aptly demonstrated just how insane the music licensing world is. The trend of established musicians and industry folk using apocalyptic language to describe the impact of the internet continued, with rants from U2's manager and John Mellencamp (who compared the internet to the atomic bomb).

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2005, we took a look at how the DMCA was not just a failure but a completely avoidable one with flaws that were obvious from the start, while we were pleased to see one person finally ready to fight back against the RIAA's lawsuits. The mobile music market was on the rise with Japan blazing the trail (and trying to debunk claims that this was due to a lack of wired connections), but we wondered if the market might be killed by aggressive use of DRM. Mobile games were also on the rise, but the biggest and most important development was one we (like many people) underestimated when it happened: Google bought Android, leading to some speculation that they might be building a mobile OS which we said "seems unlikely".

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 18 August 2020 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 252: The Key To Encryption

from the or-lack-thereof dept

This week we've got another cross-post, with the latest episode of The Neoliberal Podcast from the Progressive Policy Institute. Host Jeremiah Johnson invited Mike, along with PPI's Alec Stapp, to discuss everything about encryption: the concept itself, the attempts at laws and regulations, and more.

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 - 16 August 2020 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the says-you dept

This week, our first place winner is Daydream with a comment digging into the details of a Michigan Supreme Court ruling that prevented an attempt to seize someone's house over an $8.41 debt:

I just looked it up; according to the Pacific Legal Foundation, Rafaeli accidentally underpaid his taxes in 2011, and after discovering the error in 2013, paid for the deficit. The $8.41 was interest left over on that deficit that he didn't notice.

That's it. It's not even a case of 'he was being stubborn about the last few dollars and the law technically lets us do this', it's plainly obvious Rafaeli was making a good faith effort to pay all of his taxes.

This is nothing more than a shameless act of betrayal, by a state government that thinks it's above consequences.

I wonder, did the Supreme Court rule against Michigan because they recognise this kind of theft is morally wrong three times over, or because they suspected there'd be riots if they didn't?

In second place, we've got another comment on that post, this time from That One Guy predicting the next thing to happen now that the ruling has made this kind of thing harder to do quietly:

'It's not even fun anymore...'

"But, from now on, the government will have to share its takings with the people it's taking property from."

A result that I guarantee will result in a massive drop in such actions, because much like robbery-at-badgepoint if you can't profit obscenely from robbing the public then what's the point?

The fact that it took a state supreme court to point out that no, you cannot turn a ten dollar fine into what is effectively a tens of thousands of dollars fine shows just how corrupt and/or insane the law and courts are, because that really should not have been something that needed to be said.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with an anonymous comment speculating about why we suddenly had so much trouble with Google AdSense content moderation:

I think it's healthy to remind yourself that this isn't necessarily about your site specifically. As we approach the US election season, it's very likely that massive influence campaigns (foreign and domestic) are ramping up. A lot of phishing attempts try to disguise themselves as popular newsletters, and a lot of nefarious websites scrape content from legitimate ones; they also frequently link to legit websites that have at least some superficial ideological resemblance as part of trying to boost search ranks. (Like, for example, you do frequently defend Russian and Chinese interests, which makes you a natural choice for this sort of thing.)

Google's algorithms (as ever) appear to be getting swamped by the deluge of nefarious actors. Things will probably be better after the election.

Next, it's an anonymous commenter making a reference about the USPS patenting blockchain-based mail-in voting:

Simple flowchart referenced by Vint Cerf


Over on the funny side, our first place winner is an anonymous commenter responding to our post describing our issues with AdSense, and the ensuing conversation:

Surprised you had time to reply Mike, I thought you would spending all your time counting your Ferrari's s/

In second place, it's Michael responding to a weak defense of the high school that suspended a student for taking a viral photo of the busy hallways, based on the notion that it could harm the other kids in the photo:

Yeah, if there's one thing all teens hate it's having pictures of themselves online. /s

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with an anonymous commenter who got sarcastic about Genius's attempt to sue Google over licensed lyrics on the basis that they "created a derivative work of the original lyrics in applying its own labor and resources to transcribe the lyrics, and thus, retains some ownership":

Oh. They were suing on behalf of all the users who generated the content on their site?

And finally, since we had the flowchart reference in response to the USPS above, we'll round that out with Boba Fat providing an XKCD reference:

Randall Munroe explained voting machines with blockchain very succinctly here: https://xkcd.com/2030/

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 15 August 2020 @ 12:00pm

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

from the memory-hole dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2015, Google was in the news twice — first for their inevitable admission that Google+ was a failure, and then for their surprising announcement of the new corporate structure under the parent company Alphabet. Meanwhile, a CIA FOIA dump provided new information about spying on the Senate, including the accidental release of an apology letter the CIA wrote but never sent. We also saw more DMCA shenanigans as Vimeo complied with bogus mass-takedowns over the word "Pixels" and a convicted fraudster sent a bogus takedown to Techdirt over our coverage of previous bogus takedowns.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2010, RIM managed to work out a deal with the Saudi Arabian government to prevent a BlackBerry ban, raising the question of just what device security would be like under this new agreement. We saw some... questionable journalism choices as the Washington Post peddled anti-Craigslist ideas by citing one of its own anti-Craigslist advertisers, and the Associated Press was strangely not reporting on the judge denying sanctions in its lawsuit against Shepard Fairey. Meanwhile, we took a look at how the FBI was prioritizing copyright issues, Congress introduced yet another iteration of a disastrous fashion copyright bill, Viacom unsurprisingly appealed the YouTube ruling, and, in a major move to protect free speech, the anti-libel-tourism SPEECH Act became law.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2005, AOL was trying to regain some relevance by moving into the wireless space, while Blockbuster gave up on trying to beat Netflix on price by raising its online DVD rental prices to match. The FCC was subtly but significantly downgrading the concept of internet freedoms, one school was refusing to back down on felony charges against students over some harmless hacking, and an Australian ISP was threatening to sue a forum over public information. We also talked some more about the myth of copy protection as a useful idea, and wondered if some of the companies trying to foist it on people thought buyers were complete idiots.

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