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Leigh Beadon

About Leigh Beadon Techdirt Insider

Toronto, Canada

Posted on Techdirt - 24 May 2022 @ 01:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 321: There Are Both Smart & Dumb Ways To Improve Copyright

The problems with copyright have been a subject of coverage here at Techdirt since the beginning, and for most of that time it has been largely a non-partisan subject. At the moment, however, that isn’t so much the case thanks to Josh Hawley’s war with Disney, which has created a situation where some copyright reform ideas that are conceptually good are mired in culture war issues, partisan politics, and unconstitutional nonsense. This week, we’re joined by the Niskanen Center’s Daniel Takash to discuss the problems with Hawley’s copyright bill and copyright law in general.

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

Posted on Techdirt - 22 May 2022 @ 12:03pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is an anonymous comment about New York’s blatantly unconstitutional investigation into online platforms in the wake of the Buffalo shooting:

So, what the’re saying is…

This guy was able to leave a HUGE trail of information about his hate crimes… But now they want to demonize the same platforms where he left all this information instead of being thankful for the huge amount of information he was able to leave for law enforcement to follow.

Isn’t that basically cutting off your nose to spite your face?

You’ll never get rid of haters and trolls, but by pushing them into the darker parts of the internet, you’re reducing the effective methods of tracing their past actions should they become actual criminals rather than just trolls.

In second place, it’s another anonymous comment, this time in response to the tired old complaint about platforms and free speech:

If I tell people who enter my house that they can’t talk about something I don’t like, and someone talks about something I don’t like, I can kick them out, even if they’re unaware that I don’t like it. I’m not violating any of their rights by doing so.

Twitter can do the same in their house.

Why is this so hard for you to understand?

For editor’s choice on the insightful side, we start with a comment from JMT in response to the claim that Section 230’s legitimacy is called into question by the fact that the Supreme Court has never ruled on it:

The fact that there’s never been a circuit split to trigger a Supreme Court appeal proves the strength of the S230.

Next, it’s Naughty Autie with a response to another tired old type of comment, about platforms versus publishers:

When I upload a story to AO3, I’m the publisher of that story, not AO3. Similarly, when someone uploads a video to YouTube, they’re the publisher of that video, not YouTube. Get it yet, or are you going to carry on down the fastlane of stupid?

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Tribune with a comment about politicians who blame video games for mass shootings:

Former San Francisco politician Leland Yee made a career of claiming that videogames cause violence until he was arrested for running guns to the Philippines.

In second place, it’s Stephen T. Stone with a response to our post suggesting that we should elect fewer stupid people:

Then how will Republicans win elections? 🙃

For editor’s choice on the funny side, we start out with a comment from PaulT in response to another commenter pointing out that someone’s source was “a very, very out of context and misleading Project Veritas video”:

Wait, did I miss the time they had another type of video?

Finally, it’s Thad with one more comment about blaming video games for the Buffalo shooting:

I’ve played a lot of video games and generally when there are nazis in them they’re the bad guys.

That’s all for this week, folks!

Posted on Techdirt - 21 May 2022 @ 01:15pm

This Week In Techdirt History: May 15th – 21st

Five Years Ago

This week in 2017, the NSA was pushing for a smooth renewal of Section 702 while more details were revealed about the process, and more info was emerging on the agency’s abuse of other programs. Meanwhile, we looked at the FCC’s efforts to make net neutrality supporters seem unreasonable, even though it was clear that most people support net neutrality. Of course, the agency wouldn’t listen to the commenters and ultimately voted to begin dismantling the rules. This was also the week that the MP3 began to exit patent protection, leading a lot of news outlets to fall for a silly trick by the patent holder (which terminated its licensing program without mentioning why) and start eulogizing about how “the MP3 is dead”.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2012, the fearmongering about cybersecurity to push CISPA seemed to be working pretty well on the public. ICE and the DOJ were tying themselves in knots trying to argue for domain forfeiture in the Rojadirecta case, TV network executives were contemplating the argument that skipping commercials is illegal, and some courts seemed to be acting as though SOPA had passed. This was also the week that we learned the FBI was looking into a little technology with an uncertain future called Bitcoin.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2007 there was much chatter about MySpace, with the Defense Department saying it and YouTube were eating up too much bandwidth, and state politicians continuing meaningless grandstanding against it and forcing the company to explain how the law works to state prosecutors. An appeals court made an important copyright ruling in the Perfect 10 case, saying Google’s thumbnails were fair use, and a bunch of copyright companies got together to form The Copyright Alliance. This was also the week of an important ruling that created one of the noteworthy limits on Section 230 protections.

Posted on Techdirt - 17 May 2022 @ 01:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 320: Elon Musk Doesn’t Understand Twitter

It’s no secret that Elon Musk’s statements about his plans for Twitter have been confused to say the least. It has become abundantly clear that he doesn’t know much at all about how a service like Twitter operates, especially when it comes to content moderation, and doesn’t seem to have much interest in learning. On this week’s episode, we’re joined by Renee DiResta from the Stanford Internet Observatory to discuss just how little Elon Musk understands the platform he’s supposedly planning to buy.

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

Posted on Techdirt - 15 May 2022 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is Stephen T. Stone with a response to another commenter claiming they “occasionally post the censorship highlights of the week”:

No, you don’t. You whine about “conservative views” being “censored” from Twitter, then you disappear (which I expect you to do now) when asked about the exact and specific “conservative views” to which you’re referring. You also disappear whenever asked One Simple Question (“Do you believe the government should have the legal right to compel any privately owned interactive web service into hosting legally protected speech that the owners/operators of said service don’t want to host?”); to date, I’ve never gotten a straight yes-or-no answer out of you on that point.

You want to do a drive-by complaint about conservatives being “censored” on social media, but when pressed on the details, you up and disappear like a fart in the wind. Once⁠—just once!⁠—we’d all like you to stick around and answer our questions so we can have the conversation you always say you want.

But you’re going to be a coward and run as usual, because you know that most of us regular commenters can out-argue you and your fellow trolls every day of the week. And because you know that honest answers to our questions will do you no favors in terms of credibility⁠—especially since we can always link back to your answers and hold you to account for them.

So run along, child. The grown folks are talking now.

In second place, it’s James Burkhardt with a response to the idea that Netflix’s recent nickel-and-diming is just a matter of the company wanting to get paid for its services:

I was going to come here to post this as a reminder for people who would make the same comment they always make, but I wasn’t fast enough, so you’ll do.

The short response: I was under the impression the monthly charge I pay for Netflix was paying Netflix for its services. What am I paying for?

The long response: I have a 4 screen netflix subscription. I could play netflix 24/7 in my home on 4 simultaneous streams and it would incur no extra cost on my part. But if I go on a business trip and both I and the other members of my household want to watch a few hours of netflix, my membership costs 3 extra dollars a month.

This fee is not about Netflix “…[getting] paid for its services…”. The fee is completely disconnected from the financial burden it supposedly generates. If it is profitable to run 4 US streams simultaneously 24/7 to the same household, its profitable to run 4 US streams simultaneously 24/7 regardless of geographic location within the US.

Moreover, as you look at pricing options you see netflix forces me to pay for 4 simultaneous streams even if I only need 3. Forcing me to pay for more streams and denying me the ability to capitalize on what I paid for (4 simultaneous streams) is not about getting paid, its about intentionally forcing me to pay more for less.

I had no issue with Netflix cracking down on simultaneous streams back in 2012. That was a sensible decision, and pricing which allows me to pay for only 1 stream and pay more for 2 or 4 simultaneous streams is great consumer choice option. An additional $3 for Netflix to be available on my lunch break isn’t.

And given that households are increasingly not single families but shared spaces of adults as living costs increase but wages do not, The likely hood that a household could end up, temporarily, with significant geographic separation due to not taking joint vacations beyond the traditional issues of work travel that would leave the rest of a single family household at home, means this policy would regularly require non-password-sharing households to nevertheless pay the $3 password sharing fee. Because this isn’t about password-sharing households breaking the rules.

And that leads me to the point that Techdirt has been highlighting the shift in Netflix messaging not simply because it is anti-consumer, but because it is a real time case study of a company responding to fiscal issues in a way that in the past has lead to a death spiral and how that is being caused by the market and capitalist demands.

For editor’s choice on the insightful side, we start out with Anathema Device and a response to someone claiming online privacy concerns are overblown:

So, no worries about someone tracking your period, or your pregnancy, or your transition, or your movements, or your purchases, because the power of the state is on your side, not against you?

Let me guess – you’re a cisgendered white man. If you honestly think in the current period of history, your online movements and purchases and activity won’t ever be used against you, you must be in that powerful minority.

The last person on earth I want having, let alone using my data is Elon Musk, and that goes for any company he owns. I’m not happy about Zuckerberg either, but at least we know what the little bastard is up to, and where he stands. Musk is a loose cannon.

Next, it’s ah Clem clarifying the idea that social media platforms could deal with Texas’s insane new law by offering a special Texas mode:

Well, providing a “Texas View” would seem to run afoul of the statute:

(a) A social media platform may not censor a user, a user’s expression, or a user’s ability to receive the expression of another person based on…
(3) a user’s geographic location in this state or any part of this state.

So, the only way out seems to be to have no business presence in Texas, and even then the company probably gets hauled into court over and over again.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is an anonymous comment about a Malibu Media blaming Chicago for its legal woes:

She blames Chicago? The city? Possibly the musical? The band? Maybe the band.

In second place, it’s Rocky with a response to the claim that Twitter should ban Joe Biden for being incoherent if it’s going to ban Donald Trump:

I’ll just leave this here as a rebuttal:

“Look, having nuclear—my uncle was a great professor and scientist and engineer, Dr. John Trump at MIT; good genes, very good genes, OK, very smart, the Wharton School of Finance, very good, very smart —you know, if you’re a conservative Republican, if I were a liberal, if, like, OK, if I ran as a liberal Democrat, they would say I’m one of the smartest people anywhere in the world—it’s true!—but when you’re a conservative Republican they try—oh, do they do a number—that’s why I always start off: Went to Wharton, was a good student, went there, went there, did this, built a fortune—you know I have to give my like credentials all the time, because we’re a little disadvantaged—but you look at the nuclear deal, the thing that really bothers me—it would have been so easy, and it’s not as important as these lives are (nuclear is powerful; my uncle explained that to me many, many years ago, the power and that was 35 years ago; he would explain the power of what’s going to happen and he was right—who would have thought?), but when you look at what’s going on with the four prisoners—now it used to be three, now it’s four—but when it was three and even now, I would have said it’s all in the messenger; fellas, and it is fellas because, you know, they don’t, they haven’t figured that the women are smarter right now than the men, so, you know, it’s gonna take them about another 150 years—but the Persians are great negotiators, the Iranians are great negotiators, so, and they, they just killed, they just killed us.”

Part of a campaign speech given by Donald Trump in July 2015

For editor’s choice on the funny side, we start out with an anonymous response to the idea that political affiliation should be incorporated into civil rights laws:

So you’re going to make ‘asshole’ a protected class?

Finally, it’s That One Guy with a comment about Elon Musk’s plan to fix Twitter by only moderating tweets that are “wrong and bad”:

Well holy crap, how come no-one thought of that before? All you need to do is get rid of the bad tweets and leave the good ones up. With this sort of brilliance on display no wonder so many people are enamored by Musk and think he’s brilliant, who could have ever thought of something that revolutionary but him?

That’s all for this week, folks!

Posted on Techdirt - 14 May 2022 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: May 8th – 14th

Five Years Ago

This week in 2017, Europe was putting free speech at risk as it struggled to figure out what to do with the GDPR, but stateside the big fight was over net neutrality. A John Oliver segment on the issue appeared to cripple the FCC website for a second time, but the agency claimed it was actually due to a DDoS attack — and then people noticed that a bot was flooding the website with anti-net neutrality comments. At the same time, the FCC was using garbage lobbyist data to defend its stance.

This was also the week that Donald Trump fired James Comey, and that we wrote about the first hearing and the ongoing filings in the lawsuit against us.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2012, the jury in the Google-Oracle trial was very confused, Twitter was challenging a court ruling saying users have no standing to protect their own account info, Verizon was similarly fighting for consumer privacy but in this case against copyright shakedown attempts, and a key ruling about copyright termination rights suggested big trouble might be coming for record labels. The TPP was falling apart while the USTR was insulting the intelligence of its critics, MP3Tunes declared bankruptcy in the face of legal costs, and Perfect 10’s case against Google was dismissed (in the same week it filed a new one against Tumblr).

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2007, NBC was still in a love-hate relationship with YouTube, Thailand was more firmly on the hate side and followed up its YouTube blocking order with plans for a lawsuit (and passing new regulations to allow even more site blocking), and Australia extradited the head of a software copying ring to the US. Uri Geller was abusing the DMCA and filing lawsuits to silence critics, while we noted how bogus DMCA complaints can be a way to generate publicity. And as bloggers were beginning to face more legal threats, we reminded them that they can benefit from anti-SLAPP laws.

Posted on Techdirt - 8 May 2022 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is Stephen T. Stone with a response to Josh Hawley’s tweet saying “woke corporations shouldn’t get sweetheart deals”:

This statement heavily implies that non-“woke” corporations should get sweetheart deals. Someone would do well to ask him about that.

In second place, it’s Jeffrey Nonken with a comment on our post about the “stick to sports” crowd going after gaming companies:

I think that politicians should stick to politicking and stop making medical decisions for other people.

For editor’s choice on the insightful side, it’s That One Guy with a comment about the New Yorker’s fact checking fail in a piece that seemed to omit the existence of the First Amendment:

I’m really not sure which possibility is more worrisome, that their ‘fact checkers’ honestly failed to remember something as major as the first amendment or they knew about it but just ignored it because it would torpedo their argument.

Not a good look either way.

Next, it’s an anonymous commenter offering up a simple and plausible explanation for the supposed political bias seen in the behavior of different spam filters:

  1. Spam filters are trained by the people using those email addresses.
  2. Gmail addresses are more likely to belong to younger people.
  3. Yahoo and Microsoft addresses are more likely to belong to older people.
  4. Younger people tend to vote more Democratic than older people.
  5. People are less likely to mark something as spam that they agree with.

Hey look, there’s a simple explanation after all!

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is an anonymous comment about Disney’s ongoing attempt to avoid paying its writers:

Well I never realized that was an option. I am going to go sell my house and car to my fiance. Only the assets though, not the liability.

In second place, it’s another anonymous commenter with another response to Josh Hawley:

The first rule of Punitive Legislation Club is: You don’t talk about the punitive nature of the legislation!

For editor’s choice on the funny side, we start out with still one more anonymous comment from that same post, this time responding to the question of just how stupid Hawley is:

Let’s just say that he continues to exceed expectations.

Finally, we loop all the way around to our first place insightful winner Stephen T. Stone, and a comment about the right’s obsession with the term “woke”:

One way I’ve heard it put:

They say “woke” because it sounds much more insulting than “enlightened”. Besides that, they can’t spell “enlightened”.

That’s all for this week, folks!

Posted on Techdirt - 7 May 2022 @ 01:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: May 1st – 7th

Five Years Ago

This week in 2017, the NSA was shutting down its 702 program, but with a whole lot of caveats and some questionable statements, while the public dump of the agency’s hacking toolkit was causing privacy problems. Meanwhile, James Comey was testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee and hinting at expanded NSL powers and encryption backdoors, then following that up with some problematic ideas about journalism. This was also the week that Chris Dodd announced he was “stepping down” from the MPAA.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2012, the UK’s High Court ordered ISPs to block the Pirate Bay, leading (of course) to record traffic for the site. Eric Goldman delivered a brutal assessment of the case against Megaupload, the USTR released the latest edition of its silly Special 301 list, and a good ruling from the EU Court of Justice said software functionality is not subject to copyright. Meanwhile, five years before he stepped down, Chris Dodd was busy rewriting the history of Hollywood to claim it was all thanks to IP laws.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2007, the Supreme Court made two good decisions about patent law. Yahoo was following in the footsteps of Google’s purchase of Doubleclick, while rumors said Microsoft might be planning to do the same. Google officially responded to Viacom’s YouTube lawsuit, while the apparently jealous Premier League decided to file its own lawsuit against Google/YouTube. This was also the week that the Digg community famously rebelled over takedowns of the AACS HD-DVD encryption key.

Posted on Techdirt - 4 May 2022 @ 01:31pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 319: The Startup Trail

Last week, in partnership with Engine, we launched our startup policy simulator game Startup Trail. The game puts you in the shoes of a founder trying to build a successful startup, and facing the many difficult policy decisions that entails without running out of money, losing all your users, or ending up with a company that has no innovative ability. This week on the podcast, Mike and I are joined by our game design partner Randy Lubin of Leveraged Play as well as Kate Tummarello and Abby Rives from Engine, for a discussion all about how the game came to be and what we hope people will learn from it.

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

Posted on Techdirt - 1 May 2022 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side comes in the form of a reply that builds on the second place winner. So for clarity’s sake, we’ll present them in reverse order! In second place, it’s Stephen T. Stone with a piece-by-piece reply to yet another comment on our post about how Twitter is already doing most of the things Musk claims he wants to do with the company:

Elon did more than simply purchase Twitter.

Technically, he hasn’t bought it yet. He’s made an offer to buy it, and that offer could still fall apart before the sale is finalized (which will take months). Hell, Elon himself could pull the offer, considering how much it’s already fucked up the stock price of Tesla.

This stuff, if it was occurring behind the scenes, is now going to get exposed.

Okay, and…so what? What do you think is going to happen, some grand revolution where everyone abandons Twitter for Truth Social or a mass conservative convergence on Twitter headquarters for some “political discourse” involving pitchforks and torches?

If there truly was no bias at Twitter

Here’s the thing: There is always going to be some bias at Twitter becase humans can’t be unbiased. Even on something as simple as a single type of food (e.g., cheese), people will be biased towards one kind or another (e.g., preferring chedder over Swiss, preferring Kraft over other brands). People working Twitter moderation do their best to put those biases aside for the sake of their jobs, but a little bias will always slip through because they’re only human.

And as pointed out in the article, given how Twitter bent over backwards to make sure certain Republican/conservative accounts were given leeway to break the rules, the bias would arguably be in favor of conservatives. I mean, Twitter let Donald Trump say all kinds of wild shit until they finally banned his ass after the insurrection.

But more to the point: If conservatives are being dinged at a higher rate than liberals/progressives because conservatives are more likely to post content that breaks the rules, what does that say about conservatives and what is considered “conservative speech”?

In first place, it’s That One Guy replying to that comment and building on the part about Twitter’s special carve-outs for Republicans:

It takes a stunning level of dishonesty or at the very least overwhelming self-entitlement and ego to be treated better than everyone else and yet still be screaming about how persecuted you are.

For editor’s choice on the insightful side, we start out with an anonymous comment about the Houston ordinance forcing businesses to install cameras and provide warrantless access to the footage:

It’s like Texas, Florida, New York and California are all one-upping each other to see who can pass the most blatantly unconstitutional law.

Next, it’s PaulT responding to the question in the headline of our post about how drug patents drive up drug prices — “why is this even up for debate?”:

The same reason why there’s constant opposition to the idea of a universal public healthcare system in the US, even though the current system already costs way more per capita that other western democracies (and many countries who aren’t) and is extremely inefficient with many duplicated functions, while covering a far lower proportion of the population – there’s a lot of money to be made.

Once you’ve decided that profits outweigh the health and public benefits that easier access to drugs or healthcare provide, you can then come up with all sorts of reasons why overpriced monopolies are great.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is apparently-not-actually davec continuing a confusing long-running discussion on last week’s comments post about parody comments and spotting them via the lack of certain recurring content:

I’ll keep that in mind for next week, thanks.

In second place, it’s Thad on our post about Musk and Twitter, responding to a commenter who asserted “this is just wrong”:

Thanks for warning us in advance, but if you already knew it was wrong you could have just not posted it.

For editor’s choice on the funny side, we start out with one more comment from That One Guy, this time on our post about ways that Musk taking over Twitter could be good:

The general vibe I’m getting from the article is that if Musk can reign in his ego, listen to and admit that other people might know more on the subject than him things have a possibility of going well.

Arguably I’m not that familiar with the guy but based upon previous articles I’m sure that will work out great.

Finally, it’s Pixelation with another comment about the Houston camera ordinance:

Based on experience with police cameras, they will understand when you tell them the camera was not on.

That’s all for this week, folks!

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