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Leigh Beadon

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Posted on Techdirt - 13 August 2022 @ 01:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: August 7th – 13th

Five Years Ago

This week in 2017, a lawyer renounced his participation in copyright-trolling activities and sued his former partner and clients, the creator of Kickass Torrents was trying and failing to get the criminal case against him tossed out, and Canadian telcos were losing their minds over TVAddons. Bob Murray was trying to stop the ACLU from getting involved in his lawsuit against John Oliver, but that proved to be mostly a sideshow when the federal district court sent the case back to state court. An appeals court mostly fixed a bad Section 230 ruling over publicity rights, while we launched the Section 230 Matters campaign. Also, this was the week that Disney pulled its content from Netflix and kicked the era of streaming silos into a higher gear.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2012, we saw a new angle of silly attacks on YouTube with the claim that the site complies with bad takedown requests just to make the requesters look bad. Amusingly, that same week, a bogus copyright claim took down the YouTube footage of the Curiosity Mars landing, spurring some deeper analysis of how ContentID fails at fair use and the public domain. Leaked documents detailed the MPAA’s plans for sock puppetry to mislead people about TVShack operator Richard O’Dwyer, the Authors Guild was seeking some insane fees for Google to be allowed to scan books, and Google was caving to Hollywood pressure and agreeing to punish sites that get lots of “valid” DMCA notices.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2007, people were beginning to notice just how long online criticism can stick around, many advertisers were still scared of advertising on social media sites in case they show up next to controversial content, and Wal-Mart was making some early experiments in marketing via Facebook groups. RIAA spinoff SoundExchange was caught apparently violating the rules against using its money for lobbying, Veoh got sick of waiting for a lawsuit and launched a preemptive legal strike against Universal Music, and, in tale of two ill-fated businesses, Blockbuster bought the failed movie download site Movielink from studios for a pittance.

Posted on Techdirt - 7 August 2022 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is an anonymous comment about the EU’s new office in Silicon Valley that aims to work with tech companies on EU law compliance:

I know it won’t happen because money, but the tech companies really need to just stop trying to placate these people.

If a country passes laws that make it too onerous to do business there, the company needs to just say “If that’s how you want it, then we won’t do business here anymore” and leave.

I mean, the EU is always saying they want to give European tech companies a chance to compete, right? Surely companies would step up if Twitter/Facebook/Google/Microsoft/whoever was gone?

And if the EU citizens have a problem with that, they can speak with their vote.

In second place, it’s That One Guy with a comment about the normalization of copyright as a tool for censorship:

Ask yourself, ‘Would I be fine with my worst enemy using this?’

Even if you agree that the law was abused ‘correctly’ this time around if this becomes the accepted norm it’s not will it be used by someone you don’t like to prevent a recording that could be very important but how soon, because if you don’t think that politicians and other powerful figures won’t be all over a guaranteed way to prevent people from recording what they’re saying/doing you really haven’t been paying attention.

For editor’s choice on the insightful side, we start out with another comment on that issue, this time from Rekrul:

Maybe the people playing music in public to stop people from recording them need to get hit with settlement demands for publicly performing said music. I would think that would stop this rather quickly.

Next, it’s an anonymous comment about California’s transparency bills:

These aren’t about transparency

These bills really have nothing to do with transparency.
They are nearly impossible to comply with by design. The goal of these bills is obviously to give state officials the ability to punish companies for hosting content they don’t like or for refusing to host content they do like. And they will be selectively enforced against smaller companies based on what content they host. Larger companies who can fight back will be targeted for political grandstanding purposes whenever it helps a political campaign. Suppression of free speech in the first case, and waste of taxpayer resources in the latter.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is a very sarcastic anonymous comment about the push for Google to stop filtering Republican political spam, and Marco Rubio’s realization that his own emails were being filtered because his email was misconfigured:

Exactly! This is clearly big tech revealing a deep, ingrained bias against the stupid, the ignorant, the lazy, and the selfish!

For years they’ve developed their “technology” with more and more buttons (to confuse) and switches (to confound) so that all the lazy, stupid people who can’t be bothered to learn new things are kept out of their walled gardens. This must end! Why do we need millions of colors when you could tell who was good or bad in the old Westerns using just black and white? It’s big tech and their fancy “color gamut” that’s ruining this generation!

In second place, it’s another anonymous comment about playing music to use copyright for censoring recordings, responding to David Hogg’s story about doing exactly that:

Hey Disney, someone has just admitted giving a public performance, presumably without a license.

(Though I’m not so sure we should normalize cheering about onerous copyright rules and aggressors like Disney as a way to fight the normalization of using copyright to censor, either.)

For editor’s choice on the funny side, we start with a response from David to the question of who will defend the books being sued by Virginia politicians:

The books have to speak for themselves.

Finally, it’s Toom1275 with a simple comment about the textbook publishing giant getting into the NFT space:

Non Functional Textbooks

That’s all for this week, folks!

Posted on Techdirt - 6 August 2022 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: July 31st – August 6th

Five Years Ago

This week in 2017, Russia banned VPNs, Australian prosecutors were seeking to make it illegal to refuse to turn passwords over to law enforcement, the UK Home Secretary wanted companies to stop offering encryption altogether, and another US federal court said cops can get historic cell site location info without a warrant. There was some strange drama going on at Snopes, Twitter suspended Popehat (and then reversed course), and the guy who accidentally stopped the WannaCry ransomware was detained after Defcon and then hit with a pretty weird indictment. Also, the ACLU weighed in on the John Oliver/Bob Murray lawsuit.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2012, UK politicians didn’t seem to mind that current copyright law made every website you load an act of infringement, a French t-shirt company made the unwise move of trying to trademark the Anonymous logo, and the US was ignoring a New Zealand court order to return the data it seized from Megaupload. The Senate rejected the latest Cybersecurity Act, and we looked at how the stats used to push for it were as bogus as Hollywood’s loss claims. We also took a look at the many reasons not to give the NSA power to spy on you, and were surprised to see YouTube videos being hit with takedown requests straight from Homeland Security.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2007, we examined what might be the real reason the RIAA hated webcasters so much, while the agency was backing down slightly after being countersued in one of its shakedown attempts, and record labels were trying to get the kids they had been calling criminals for years to shill for them on MySpace. A UK teachers union was demanding the shutdown of YouTube and RateMyTeacher, the Senate proposed letting the FCC regulate the internet for the children, and Elton John was calling for a five-year shutdown of… the entire internet. It was also a bad week for e-voting machines as security experts were able to hack into nearly all of them and code reviews were revealing all kinds of vulnerabilities, but as usual election officials were for some reason siding with the e-voting firms.

Posted on Techdirt - 31 July 2022 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is That One Guy with a comment on our post asking why the media is lamenting Disney’s loss of copyright instead of celebrating the public domain:

‘Copyright is for companies, not the public!’

The US spent so long with nothing entering the public domain and thereby fulfilling the ‘deal’ that is copyright that the idea that a major company might ‘lose’ control over something is seen as some heinous outcome rather than what should have happened decades ago.

Or, to put it another way, copyright has been erroneously framed as only being for copyright owners(who may or may not be creators) so often and for so long that the idea that the actual beneficiary is supposed to be the public has gotten lost to time, such that the idea that the public might benefit at the cost of the copyright owner is seen as a bug rather than a feature.

In second place, it’s Bergman with a comment about the Hertz horror stories that are piling up in the class action suit over false theft accusations:

One false report is a crime, Hertz has made hundreds, possibly thousands

So why is it, that if the criminal penalty for filing ONE false report can be as high as 6-12 months imprisonment in most states, or even be a felony in a few, that none of the people following Hertz’s official policy to file false reports has been arrested, charged or prosecuted?

Last I checked, an organization that makes it official policy to commit crimes is classified as a criminal organization under the RICO Act. Why is Hertz still in business after showing a pattern of crimes being official policy?

For editor’s choice on the insightful side, we tie those two together with one more comment from Bergman, this time in response to the first place winning comment:

I’ve run into that attitude a fair amount as an on-again, off-again amateur photographer.

When I take a photo, the copyright on that photo is mine. But if I do an especially good job on it, I won’t be able to get it printed at any professional copy or print shop that doesn’t offer self-service machines, because the professional shops will all inform me that they cannot print copyrighted material without permission from the rights holder – and nothing I say will convince them that I am the rights holder to my own work.

Even a copy of a copyright registration won’t sway them.

Because copyrights are for companies, not individuals, apparently.

Next, it’s Thad passing on a simple response to the dust-up over Hulu blocking political ads:

As Popehat put it:

The people making and offering issue ads, Hulu declining to run them, and people cancelling Hulu as a result are all exercising free speech.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is The Bananananaman with what I certainly hope is a satirical comment (but otherwise is just funny for being so wrong) about Disney and copyright:

You’re sounding like a monstrous Republican with your anti-Disney rhetoric and support of the public domain. “Sweetheart deals” aren’t a thing. It’s just a stupid term made up by monstrous Republicans. If anything, Mickey Mouse and all other forms of media should be protected FROM the public domain! The more stuff that enters the public domain, the more people will be lazy and just copy stuff from it rather than create all new stuff.

In second place, it’s Toom1275 with a comment on our explainer post about the Twitter/Musk fight:

This article would make Musk psychophants very upset if they could read.

For editor’s choice on the funny side, we start out with one more short comment about the media’s reaction to Disney and copyright, this time from an anonymous commenter:

Whose astroturf campaign may i say is calling?

Finally, it’s another anonymous comment, this time on our post about the Girl Scouts settling their trademark suit with Scouts BSA:

So the takeaway here is that BSA weren’t prepared, and did not in fact do their best?

That’s all for this week, folks!

Posted on Techdirt - 30 July 2022 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: July 24th – 30th

Five Years Ago

This week in 2017, Senator Wyden was seeking answers about how many times Americans have been targeted by one of the least-discussed NSA surveillance programs, while we noted the silence from tech companies as the clock ticked down on Section 702 renewal (while newly released documents showed even more violations by the NSA). On another front, Wyden was arguing that the FCC is either incompetent or lying about the alleged DDoS attack, and Senator Markey was getting annoyed by Ajit Pai’s justifications for killing net neutrality protections. Over 190 engineers and tech experts also signed a letter telling the FCC it was dead wrong about net neutrality.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2012, the Wall Street Journal drew the ire of experts when it presented a terrible misrepresentation of the history of the internet, and didn’t issue any corrections even after being told by Vint Cerf and Xerox that the story was just plain wrong. The Obama administration was still stalling a treaty designed to help the blind access copyrighted works, RIAA was working on its backdoor plan to use the “six strikes” system to cut people off from the internet, and a court said the State Department could continue pretending documents leaked by Wikileaks were still secret. Meanwhile, the branches of the Mexican government were still fighting over their disagreement on ACTA.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2007, inventors and patent attorneys sued the USPTO over a supposedly unqualified appointment, the EFF sued Universal Music over a copyright takedown in what would come to be widely known as the Dancing Baby case, and Prince (who made the music at issue in that case) was embracing new music distribution strategies. The RIAA was pushing a study making the silly claim that radio is bad for music, while a proposed amendment to the Higher Education Reauthorization Act would force colleges to do the RIAA’s bidding or lose funding. Over in the UK, thankfully, the government rejected the idea of extending copyrights for performance royalties on songs.

Posted on Techdirt - 24 July 2022 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

This week, both our winners on the insightful side are replies to a comment asserting that the internet has existed all this time without net neutrality. In first place, it’s BernardoVerda with an explanation of why that’s the wrong way to look at it:

Nah, the Internet was built on net neutrality; it was specified in the technical documents and RFC’s, it just wasn’t called by that name. (“Net Neutrality” was the legal/political label that got slapped on the issue, when certain vested interests (corporate and political) wanted it gone, and decided to make it a political thing.)

In second place, it’s Toom1275 with a somewhat more forceful response:

Anyone who isn’t a shit-for-brains sheep would know reality is the exact opposite of that dipshill narrative.

For editor’s choice on the insightful side, we start out with a comment from Thad in response to our guest post about the metaverse:

From VRML to Second Life, certain segments of the tech industry and press have vastly overestimated how much people want their online interactions to resemble walking around virtual environments.

25 years into the mainstreaming of the Internet, most people interact by…reading and typing text.

I can already drink a beer and talk to people on the Internet, Chris. You’re overcomplicating this.

Next, it’s Drew Wilson with some thoughts about Canada’s streaming regulation bill:

The Canadian government has been backed into a corner on this one. It still kills me that the NDP is even going along with it knowing their track record back in the 2000’s and 2010’s. I didn’t want to think the current leader can cause such a 180 on the parties stances like that, but here we are today.

As for the Liberals, they tried to rely on the text of the bill, but were immediately called out and proven wrong. They then tried to sell Canadian stories about how they “intend” on enforcing this, but was completely undermined by the CRTC Chair… three times. They then tried to play the “misinformation” card in response, but that didn’t work. After that, they straight up lied about what the bill actually does and tried to play the “misinformation” card again. That failed. Now, supporters of the legislation have resorted to the extreme of completely misrepresenting what Bill C-11 supporters have said.

It’s a lot of tactics to employ when the easy fix was to simply clarify that user generated content is out of the bill. In fact, an opportunity to do just that presented itself when an amendment was tabled to explicitly exclude user generated content courtesy of the Green party. That amendment was voted down, repeating the mistakes of Bill C-10 past and making it abundantly clear that the whole point of Bill C-11 is to regulate user generated content.

It is, indeed, possible, that the senate could block this bill. I’m not entirely sure that will happen. It’s also entirely possible that the senate could fix the legislation, though I’m not entirely sure that will happen. If it emerges from the Senate unchanged, all is not lost. This bill is also very prone to litigation (and it is unconstitutional IMO). Damage will be done, but I’m more confident that a lawsuit will strike this law down. I mean, it would be great if the Senate either blocked or fixed the bill, but I’m not entirely confident this will happen. Hopefully, I’m wrong on that.

The big broadcasters and big publishers support this legislation, but they are pretty much the only ones on that side (along with their respective unions). The only real reason why they support the legislation is because, for one, it would completely cripple their competition. For another, they have it in their heads that if they appear on the top of all the recommendations, then they get all the traffic. Forced promotion doesn’t necessarily work and can easily lead to getting voted down, like, a lot. That’s why buying ads doesn’t necessarily automatically mean success. They don’t really care. They only care about going back to the old days when they had a captive audience (i.e. TV and newspapers). We are WAAAAY too far down the Internet road to even think about putting the genie back in the bottle. That opportunity was long gone by the time BBS was a thing. They actually have to compete against online creators for the attention. They know their content is not worth watching by comparison. So, unsurprisingly, to them, it is unacceptable that they don’t have whole platforms tilted in their favour.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is glenn with a comment about the very silly trademark lawsuit one bakery filed against another:

Good thing they don’t call themselves “THE Dirty Dough.”

In second place, it’s Pixelation with a comment about cops and their bizarre fearmongering about fentanyl exposure:

Officer snorts Fentanyl “Oh God, I’m overdosing. I, um, I touched Fentanyl, yeah, that’s it! Those fucking drug addicts I arrested had it and I snorted…I mean touched it and I’m overdosing!”

For editor’s choice on the funny side, we’ve got a pair of similar comments about Twitter’s round-one victory in its fight with Elon Musk. First, it’s That One Guy referencing a rather famous joke about a rather famous trial:

‘Look at the monkey!’

How unfortunate for Musk and his lawyers, it would seem they had the poor fortune of getting a judge that isn’t vulnerable to the Chewbacca Defense and since that’s all they had…

Next, it’s Pixelation again with an even more streamlined reference:

Musk’s best defense…

If the SPAM don’t fit, you must acquit!

That’s all for this week, folks!

Posted on Techdirt - 23 July 2022 @ 12:35pm

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

Five Years Ago

This week in 2017, we hit the deadline on the FCC’s comment period about rolling back net neutrality rules, and published Techdirt’s submission. We also looked at how AT&T tricked its customers into opposing net neutrality, and Comcast’s silly attempt to say killing the rules was necessary to help sick and disabled people, while Ron Wyden was telling Ajit Pai to stop lying about his own comments on net neutrality. And despite supposedly being a stickler for transparency, Pai refused to release complaints about net neutrality issues, and also wouldn’t release data to support its claim that a DDoS attack (not John Oliver’s show) brought down its website.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2012, Mexico’s IP office surprised its anti-ACTA congress by signing the deal anyway. A patent troll launched an attack on Facebook, Amazon, Oracle, LinkedIn and many more, while we looked at how the patent battle over speech devices was doing real harm (not unlike how the US’s secrecy was holding up a treaty to help the visually impaired access copyrighted works), and a very old antitrust lawsuit over Windows 95 was finally dismissed.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2007, the HD DVD and Blu-ray camps were warring over who had the largest share of a still-tiny market, Clear Channel was trying to use the XM-Sirius merger to get looser rules for its own acquisitions, and Google was taking another swing at its attempt to get into the print advertising business (while Congress was taking a closer look at its acquisition of Doubleclick). Meanwhile, the MPAA was opposing net neutrality on the grounds that it would hamper anti-piracy efforts, the RIAA was trying to get out of paying some legal fees, and a Russian court said Visa couldn’t cut off payments for AllofMP3.

Posted on Techdirt - 21 July 2022 @ 10:45am

Canadian Government Really Wants People To Ignore The Text Of Its Streaming Regulation Bill

Canada’s Bill C-11, which will hand the country’s broadcast regulator new powers to set rules for all kinds of online video and audio content, was rushed through an undemocratic sham of a “review” and then passed in the House of Commons by the reigning Liberal government. Now, it’s sitting in the Senate where the last hope of preventing it rests on Senators sticking to their assertion that they won’t be pressured by a government that is clearly intent on making it law without addressing any of the myriad serious concerns about what it would do. In the mean time, the office of the Heritage Minister (the driving force behind C-11) seems intent on continuing with the pattern it has established ever since the bill was first introduced as C-10 in 2020: ignoring or dismissing all critics, and insisting that the actual text of the bill doesn’t matter.

Instead, the government wants everyone to focus on their “policy intentions” — the things they say they hope the bill will achieve, and their repeated promises that it won’t do anything else. Nobody is supposed to care that these “intentions” don’t line up with what the bill actually contains, or that there are countless signals that these promises are false. Following a bit of a Twitter fight with an official from the Heritage Office, the University of Ottawa’s Michael Geist laid out a damning list of these contradictions:

My tweet thread response notes that the disconnect between the government’s professed intent and the actual text in Bill C-11 has been a persistent issue:

  • government claims intent isn’t to regulate user content (contradicted by the CRTC chair),
  • government claims intent isn’t to include algorithmic manipulation (contradicted by the CRTC chair)
  • government claims intent is to help digital creators (contradicted by the creators themselves),
  • government claims intent is to avoid content regulation (undermined by the CRTC engaging in content regulation in the Radio Canada case)
  • government claims intent is no Cancon quotas (undermined by the possibility of display quotas)
  • government claims intent is to exclude video games and other similar content (currently included in the bill and will require policy direction the government won’t release to exclude)
  • government claims intent is to leave regulations to an independent CRTC (yet it regularly seems to have pre-determined what the outcome will be)
  • government claims intent is to ensure Bill C-11 is consistent with its trade obligations (the U.S. has now raised concerns with the bill and potential CUSMA violations)
  • government claims intent is to help independent production sector (experts now concerned the bill will undermine decades-old policy that support the sector)

As Geist notes, all of these government promises could have been solidified in the actual bill with some clarifying amendments, many of which were among the more than 100 that were proposed — but instead the House of Commons rushed the clause-by-clause review of the bill and the voting on amendments at an absurd speed, imposing a completely unnecessary deadline that resulted in a near-total lack of debate and MPs voting on some amendments before the text had even been publicly released.

And so we find ourselves facing a bill that could usher in sweeping changes to the internet in Canada, impacting not just the big streaming platforms like Netflix that the government constantly insists are the real target, but just about every online media platform and the creators who use them. Who wants this bill? Certainly not Canadian content creators, and seemingly nobody except the government that is so intent on ramming it down the country’s throat.

But since the ruling Liberal party reached a deal that ensures them the near-unquestioning support of the left-wing NDP party in parliament, they seem intent on doing whatever they want when it comes to C-11, no matter how brazenly undemocratic. So all hope rests on the Senate, which refused to rush the bill through as C-10 last year and is famously labelled in Canada as the place of “sober second thought”, to block the bill or at least fix its most egregious problems. The advocacy group OpenMedia, which maintains an excellent FAQ about the problems with the bill, is calling on Canadians to let Senators know how important it is.

Posted on Techdirt - 19 July 2022 @ 01:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 326: Broadband Competition Is Just A Click Away

Yesterday, we released a new report from the Copia Institute, written by Karl Bode, about the state of broadband competition and the great potential of an open access fiber model: Just A Click Away: Broadband Competition In America. On today’s episode, Karl joins the podcast to dig into the details of the report and explain how a better future of US broadband is possible and attainable.

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 - 17 July 2022 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is Toom1275 with a comment about the GOP’s push to force Google to stop filtering political spam:

This sounds like great idea if you’re a malware spammer – just dress up your payload delivery like a political email to get straight in everyone’s inbox, and bonus if you make the “unsubscribe” link point to your exploit server.

In second place, it’s an anonymous comment about Arizona’s law against recording the police:

Other laws already exist that cover interference with an officer carrying out their duties, whether holding a camera or not. This law is unnecessary.

For editor’s choice on the insightful side, we start out with zerosignal and a comment about the difference between malware spam and political spam:

The difference is that if you aren’t careful, malware spam could lead to a bad actor taking over your computer, while political email could lead to a bad actor taking over your government.

Next, it’s That One Guy with a comment about Vallejo PD’s extremely slow investigations into officers who kill people:

US police: Like homicidal organized crime but worse

To even begin to solve a problem first you have to think it is a problem, and it’s crystal clear that ‘murdering members of the public’ is not considered a problem to the Vallejo PD, so its hardly a surprise that they would be so grossly indifferent to doing anything about it beyond celebrating.

Over on the funny side, we’ve once again got a situation where the first place comment comes as a reply to the second place comment, so we’re going to flip the order. In second place, it’s Stephen T. Stone with a comment about the Musk-Twitter fight:

All of this could’ve been avoided if Elon Musk had taken his mid-life crisis to Mars instead.

Amusing, but not the star of the show — because it teed up our first place winner Chris ODonnell for a truly inspired joke:

He can’t go to Mars either. It’s 100% populated by ‘bots.

For editor’s choice on the funny side, we start out with an anonymous comment about how Truth Social’s leadership doesn’t seem to be very on the ball (with a small typo corrected here):

They hired Devin Nunes, who is suing a fictional cow on Twitter.

Enough said.

Finally, it’s one more comment from That One Guy about Arizona’s law against recording the cops:

Ah but you see cops are the most fragile people in existence(or the most easily distracted), where merely pointing a camera lens at them causes intense physical and mental reactions that make their jobs infinitely more difficult with the effects increasing the closer the lens is, hence why it’s so vital to keep any cameras they don’t control at a distance.

That’s all for this week, folks!

More posts from Leigh Beadon >>