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Posted on Techdirt - 23 March 2019 @ 12:00pm

Game Jam Winner Spotlight: The Garden Of God

from the like-it's-1923 dept

Last week, we looked at one of the two titles that tied for the Best Visuals category in our public domain game jam, Gaming Like It's 1923. This week, we're shining the spotlight on the other winner in that category: The Garden of God by DreadRoach.

As I mentioned last week, any game made in 30 days will need to be creative and cut a few corners if it's going to feature engaging visuals. Where last week's Chimneys and Tulips did that with a minimalist approach focused on color and typography, The Garden of God does it by building on a strong foundation: the graphic sprites and convenient capabilities of RPG Maker MV, the most popular tool for making JRPG-like games. But sprites are just one piece of a game's visual puzzle, and DreadRoach used that pre-made palette to paint some excellently designed environments:

Based on a 1923 novel by H. De Vere Stacpoole, The Garden of God is a short, linear narrative experience that tells a simplified version of the first portion of the story, and manages to very effectively capture some of its key characterizations and emotional beats even as it reduces chapters of text to a few lines of dialogue. The story is short enough that it's not worth trying to summarize — just take a few minutes to play it through — except to say it's about a crew investigating something at sea:

In addition to the skilled map design and use of sprites, the game employs a few nice little scripted sequences as characters interact, with occasional bits of background activity. Most of the actual story is conveyed by dialogue, but there are also objects in the world to be examined for more clues about what's happening, in the style of an adventure game. Though it's all pretty simple and straightforward, it was one of the only games that aimed for an ambitious and robust visual aspect, and that caught the eyes of all our judges. You can play The Garden of God in your browser from its page on Itch, and don't forget to check out our other winners as well as the many great entries that didn't quite make the cut.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 19 March 2019 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 204: The Failure Of High Tech Policing

from the bad-tech-or-bad-cops dept

Sometimes people ask us why we write so much about the police on Techdirt. Though our coverage has grown somewhat beyond the boundaries of incidents directly involving technology, the reality is that the problems with law enforcement persistently intersect with the same technological and legal issues we've always discussed here. But this week the focus is squarely on cops and technology: Mike is joined by Matt Stroud, author of the new book Thin Blue Lie, as well as our own Tim Cushing, to talk about the failure of high-tech policing.

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

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Posted on Techdirt - 17 March 2019 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the words-within-words dept

Our first place winner for insightful this week is Mason Wheeler with a response to the idea that bogus DMCA takedowns are a tiny exception rather than the rule:

Nope. The truth is actually exactly the opposite of what you just said. According to Google, 99.95% of all DMCA notices are not only bogus, but one specific flavor of bogus. Everything else (including all of the other kinds of bogus DMCA notices!) is included in the last 0.05%. Notices targeting legitimate infringement are so rare as to be statistically almost nonexistent.

Legitimate takedowns truly are the anomaly; the DMCA takedown program is used entirely (or close enough as makes no difference) for abuse, and therefore needs to be done away with.

In second place, we've got That One Guy tackling Axel Voss's notion that maybe YouTube shouldn't exist:

Let the purge begin

If 'it can be used for X, therefore it was created for X, and needs to be treated as though it's only used for X' is the idea he wants to run with then forget just gutting the internet, time to take a chainsaw to other industries too.

Cars can be used to commit crimes, therefore they need to be treated as though their only use is for committing crimes and outlawed.
The roads that cars travel on can be used to facilitate crimes...
Phones can be used...
The mail can be used...
Stores selling pretty much anything can result in crimes...

"Everyone has these obligations. They have created a business model with the property of other people – on copyright protected works."

Funny thing is, he's technically correct here, just not in the grossly dishonest way he intends it as. Yes, platforms like YT are built upon copyright protected works, because barring public domain works everything is copyright protected, and when someone uploads a work technically YT and the like are benefiting thanks to 'property of other people', generally the same person who uploaded the work.

He's trying to conflate two very different things here, infringing works that wouldn't fall under fair use and aren't owned by the person who uploaded them, and works which would fall under fair use or are owned by the person who uploaded them, and acting as though the sites were created for the former rather than the latter.

At best he comes out yet again looking like an ignorant buffoon, but far more likely I'd say is that this is yet another example where he'll say whatever he things will benefit him the most at any given moment, though he may have overstepped himself here, as making clear that YT is definitely in the cross-hairs is likely to cause a notable backlash.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with Michael Barclay raising an important point about the fair use ruling for a Dr. Seuss-Star Trek mashup:

Oracle v. Google causing mischief again

This case is another example of how dangerous and harmful the Oracle v. Google opinions are. The district court in this case is in the Ninth Circuit, and there are plenty of Ninth Circuit fair use decisions to guide its district courts. Since those cases apparently weren't working for the plaintiff, it instead cited the Federal Circuit's Oracle opinions and argued that they should control the case.

What's worse here is that the district court didn't reject the plaintiff's argument out of hand. The district court should have said, "Oracle isn't binding, rather Ninth Circuit law is binding." Instead, the district court treated Oracle as controlling law, but was able to distinguish it on the facts.

If the Supreme Court doesn't review the Oracle decisions, we can expect them to be cited in many future cases, instead of Ninth Circuit law, and in cases where Oracle can't be meaningfully distinguished on its facts.

(Disclosure: I'm counsel of record on an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to review Oracle v. Google.)

Next, we've got cpt kangarooski with a little copyright lesson:

I’m a lawyer.

I can tell you that this:

Queen Anne establishes copyright to protect authors FROM a public that was stealing their work.

isn’t true. Anne herself was not known to be particularly involved in the passage of the law. It’s just named that because she was Queen at the time. It was the particularly vigorous Parliament of the day that did it. And it wasn’t at all to protect authors from the public; the public didn’t own printing pressses. It was to impose order on the publishers (who had lost their monopoly in the 1690s) while not restoring their power to what it had been. This meant vesting rights in someone else, and authors were a good prospect for that. It didn’t help authors much — they still tended to get ripped off by publishers as they do to the present day. It also helped the public by establishing the public domain and limiting the scope and duration of the rights Parliament doled out.

Even the American version of copyright law uses this limited window to ensure that content creators are compensated

Bzzt, wrong. No one ensures compensation; most works have no economic value whatsoever, and of the remainder most have no copyright-related economic value. Authors go without compensation all the time; why do you think there’s a stereotype of starving artists? Copyright simply directs some of the revenues associated with a work to the copyright holder. How much revenue there is and who gets shares along the way is not guaranteed. Usually it’s zero or thereabouts.

copyright just isn't doing the job for which it was intended, due to piracy, which is why we now have things like Article 13.

Nah, that’s bullshit.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is crade with some blunt sarcasm in response to a comment about the Yelp-for-MAGAs app being taken down due to security flaws:

You heard wrong. It was actually due to a left-wing conspiracy to suppress conservative speech.

In second place, we've got an anonymous take on the Oh The Places You'll Boldly Go mashup, and another Suess-Lovecraft mashup:

Just be glad the Cthulhu Estate isn't angry with you. The Seuss estate at least has to work within the bounds of the law. The other side won't even bother staying within the bounds of reality.

For editor's choice on the funny side, why not start with Bruce C. offering one more Cthulhu joke:

They probably called it that to avoid the inevitable lawsuit if they called it "Horton hears a Cthulhu".

Finally, we've got an anonymous headline for the online reputation management company that brags about absuing copyright to get bad reviews taken down:

Work at home lawyer uses this one trick to get anything you want taken off the internet! Judges hate him!

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 16 March 2019 @ 12:00pm

Game Jam Winner Spotlight: Chimneys And Tulips

from the like-it's-1923 dept

In our public domain game jam, Gaming Like It's 1923, we had a tie in one of our prize categories, with two entries winning Best Visuals. This week, we're putting the winner spotlight on the first of those two games: Chimneys and Tulips by litrouke.

Graphics are famously among the most labor- and resource-intensive parts of the game development process, so in a 30-day game jam, achieving something visually noteworthy isn't easy. It takes ingenuity and inspiration, and that's exactly what this game has, even if it's a little lacking on the gameplay side. Chimneys and Tulips is a creative presentation of four poems by E. E. Cummings as short interactive design experiences, with a focus on typography. Each one has a different style, and aims to harmonize its graphical and interactive elements with the meaning of the poem.

The first poem, gee i like to think of dead, is presented as a fairly simple linear story, interspersed with illustrative icons, that reveals itself one piece at a time. All in green went my love riding is more intricate, using a "swapping" mechanic for the opening words and offering more and more colorful typography as it progresses. Picasso you give us uses some additional graphics and a simple but captivating animation trick, and is the most visually elaborate of the four. And why did you go little fourpaws deconstructs itself as the user clicks on various words, all the while slowly fading from view.

Though simple, the visuals in Chimneys and Tulips were more closely and thoughtfully united with the game's purpose and content than just about any other entry, which earned it a win for the category alongside another game that we'll feature next week. You can play Chimneys and Tulips in your browser from its page on Itch, and don't forget to check out our other winners as well as the many great entries that didn't quite make the cut.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 12 March 2019 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 203: Crying Wolf Over Conservative Censorship

from the conspiracy-theory dept

You've heard the uproar — conservatives are being censored on social media! But... are they? The short answer is no. The long answer is this week's podcast, with Lincoln Network policy head Zach Graves joining us for a discussion about the misinformation, hyperbole and general ridiculousness surrounding supposed social media bias.

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

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Posted on Techdirt - 10 March 2019 @ 12:40pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the say-more dept

We've got a double winner on the insightful side this week, with That One Guy taking the top spot. In first place, it's a long comment arguing that we weren't hard enough on MEP Axel Voss:

'Why Does MEP Axel Voss Keep Lying About Article 13?'

Is that a rhetorical question? Because the answer is blindly obvious from where I'm sitting, and applies to him and all the others like him to keep making blatantly false arguments and claims: Because it's impossible to defend it honestly, and he(and others like him) is so contemptuous of the public that he has no problem lying straight to people's faces if it means getting what he wants.

This is an astounding level of ignorance on so many levels

No.

The time for 'maybe he doesn't understand what he's talking about' benefit of the doubt is well past. At best he's grossly incompetent in not doing the slightest bit of research into a bill he's heavily supported, but far more likely is that he's not being 'ignorant' when he makes blatantly incorrect statements, he's being dishonest, and deserves to be called out as the liar he is every single time he does it.

Instead, he has to play this charade, where he makes these ridiculous and easily debunked statements to support an unconscionable law that will lead to massive internet censorship and change the very fundamental nature of the internet itself.

And again, no.

He does not 'have to' lie to people's faces and make dishonest arguments, he chooses to. No one is forcing him to lie and engage in dishonest tactics, so I see no reason to soften the language describing such acts in any way. He does not 'have to' lie, he deliberately chooses to lie.

In second place, it's some extended thoughts on our post about Elizabeth Warren's big tech breakup plan:

Need to work on those priorities

Meanwhile, if Warren were truly concerned about "monopolies" and a lack of competition, why isn't her plan looking at the lack of competition in the broadband and mobile markets -- cases where we have legitimate competition problems due to bad regulatory policies going back decades?

I was thinking this very thing the entire article. She wants to bust up monopolies that are harmful to the public? Then maybe put Google, Amazon and Facebook on the backburner and start with companies where in large numbers of cases people aren't signed up with them because they're popular, but because it's either them or nothing.

If someone really doesn't want to use Facebook the fact that it's popular doesn't mean they have to, as there are plenty of alternatives, but if the only choice of actual broadband in your area comes from one company whether you like them or not doesn't matter, it's either them or no internet, which is dramatically more severe than simply 'no using this platform for social media'.

She wants to crack down on monopolies that are harmful to the public? Great, there are much better targets to start with, and I'd love for someone to point that out to her, if only to see her reaction and whether or not she'd be willing to go on the record as supporting the idea of going after Comcast and company for their respective monopoly positions.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a comment from Qwertygiy, pushing back against the assertion that if copyright expired on the death of the creator, it would incentivize the murder of creators:

If an estate is passed down to heirs at the death of the owner, there would be an incentive for heirs to kill the owner of a valuable estate.

If a political office is put up for election upon the death of the holder, there would be an incentive to kill the holders of a valuable political office.

If funeral homes are paid upon the death of a person, there would be an incentive for funeral homes to kill random people.

Oh... wait... all of that is already true, and we have laws that are very effective deterrents against any of that from happening.

Next, it's That Anonymous Coward arguing that, given the assault on fair use and public domain by copyright maximalists, a good first step in response would be to roll back copyright terms:

If fair use is such a burden, let us roll back the expansive handouts of extensions we've given them. It is supposed to benefit us but I am really hard pressed to see how the public is getting any benefits.

Laws killing memes
Laws killing content they don't control
Laws killing technological advancement

Fair use is so very mean to them... if we just did away with it then that damn dancing babies family would have coughed up the $150K the law says we deserve! That video cost us trillions of dollars in losses!!

Lets take back the extensions they wanted, because they have tormented those of us who agreed to grant them exclusive rights for a limited time in exchange for fair use & the public domain, they've been trying to kill fair use and they had killed the public domain for a very long time. Let us go back to a simpler time where 'limited time' didn't mean 4 human life spans.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Boba Fat, who responded to Steven Spielberg's opposition to Oscars for Netflix movies, and specifically to another commenter noting that "we've always done it this way" is a bad justification for anything:

Nonsense! We've always used that as our justification! We shouldn't change it now.

In second place, we've got Toom1275 with another response to Spielberg:

Someone should call Jurassic Park and let them know they're missing their dinosaur.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with a comment from Mike Read, who was struck by one of our headlines about Europe:

Clash Of EU's Poorly Thought Out Laws

Is this a new mobile game?

And last but not least, we've got a comment from David about the shame of the NSA:

Things the NSA should not be proud of

The Clipper chip and the Clapper chap.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 9 March 2019 @ 12:00pm

Game Jam Winner Spotlight: Not A Fish

from the like-it's-1923 dept

It's time for another spotlight on one of the winners from our public domain game jam, Gaming Like It's 1923. We've already looked at the Best Digital Game and Best Remix, and today we're looking at one of the weirder entries: the winner for Best Deep Cut, Not A Fish by J. Walton.

We included the Deep Cut category because we wanted to recognize games that went beyond the "obvious" and well-known candidates from the crop of works that entered the public domain this year, and dig a little deeper into the wealth of 1923 material that doesn't get much attention. And none of the entries dug deeper than Not A Fish, which is based on a pair of science journal articles by one S. F. Light: On Amphioxus and the Discovery of Amphioxus Fisheries in China and Amphioxus Fisheries Near the University of Amoy, China.

As you might have guessed, the amphioxus is technically... not a fish. But it is a window into a period of Chinese history, and the social and political implications of colonial scientific practices. The game takes chunks of narrative and information from throughout the scientific papers, weaves them together with elements of traditional Chinese mythology, and turns it all into pieces a free-flowing, exploratory jigsaw puzzle:

There aren't many rules — players are simply instructed to begin laying out the puzzle pieces, and forming connections between keywords, at their leisure. The gameplay arises from the many ways in which the pieces can be put together to form a "map", and the challenge of creating a map full of coherent threads — a task that will never quite be 100% complete. Your efforts will lead you to discover interesting and unexpected connections, and a story much deeper than you might expect from a pair of scientific journals about fisheries.

You can grab everything you need to print and play from the game's page on Itch, plus don't forget to check out our other winners as well as the many great entries that didn't quite make the cut. We'll be back next week with another spotlight!

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 6 March 2019 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 202: Delivery-Driven Government

from the different-thinking dept

Lots of people have tried to sum up the differences between Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C. — but it isn't so easy to hone in on. Nevertheless, it's clear that at least some aspects of the west-coast tech approach could benefit a government that all-too-often appears incapable of accomplishing anything much. This week, we're joined by former US Deputy Chief Technology Officer and Code For America founder Jennifer Pahlka to discuss what the Hill can learn from the Valley.

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

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Posted on Techdirt - 3 March 2019 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the so-you-say dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is That One Guy, who suspected that a particular detail about the theatre that cancelled its production of To Kill A Mockingbird under copyright pressure was hardly arbitrary:

Coincidence I'm sure.

The Kavinoky Theatre in Buffalo, N.Y., which had sold around 3,000 advance tickets, will replace Mockingbird with an adaptation of George Orwell's "1984." "Thank you for supporting us during this difficult time," the theater posted on Facebook. "As we say in the theatre....THE SHOW MUST GO ON!!!!!!!!"

Jackass thug runs around threatening people who are doing shows in order to cut down on the competition for his show.

Theater replaces it with a show about... an authoritarian government that uses, among it's tactics, threats to keep people in line.

They may have been forced to fold due to the legal thuggery, but that parting shot, if it was intentional and not just a 'strange coincidence', was well aimed.

In second place, we've got Thad with a straightforward proposal for how YouTube should be handling content issues on YouTube Kids:

Which has an altogether simpler solution: either get rid of YouTube Kids, or restrict it to videos from vetted and trusted sources. Yes, that's going to mean a lot less content...but that's kind of the point of YouTube Kids. Taking the same scattershot, algorithmic/reactive approach to moderating content on YouTube Kids as they do on YouTube proper results in YouTube Kids having exactly the same problems as YouTube proper.

Obviously there's no way to vet every video that's uploaded to YouTube. But at least vetting every source that's allowed to post to YouTube Kids is an attainable goal; it would greatly restrict the content available there, but that's the entire point; it's supposed to be a restricted subsection of YouTube content.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with an anonymous reminder that a common response to our posts about bad internet regulation in Europe — "time to just block requests the EU", and things along that line — is not as simple as it sounds:

For maybe a decade, copyright laws get harmonised via trade treaties. You should worry about this happening in Europe, because it becomes the lever to export such laws everywhere.

Next, we've got a comment from our post about the list of 12,000 police officers convicted of crimes that a journalist acquired, where one commenter erroneously suggested that the number of actual "bad apples" is reduced by multiple offenders, and Killercool corrected and pushed back against this attempt to downplay the harm:

Not a list of 12,000 crimes, a list of 12,000 criminals. Criminals in a position of trust and power, defended by their superiors and leaders, and considered more trustworthy by our justice system than any other member of the public. 12,000 criminals, convicted by the justice system, (likely) with a large portion of them keeping their position and power, or at worst, being allowed to get a similar position with a new precinct. 12,000 criminals who are vociferously and publicly supported by the lion's share of allegedly non-criminal officers simply because they share a uniform.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Gary with another response to the To Kill A Mockingbird situation:

I think Mike is missing the point here - without such harsh copyright laws, and strict enforcement, why would Harper Lee ever create new works?

In second place, we've got a comment from Chris-Mouse (in which I've corrected a particularly jarring typo) about just how far an Italian court went in a recent copyright ruling:

This is not holding the infringer liable, nor a third party. This is all the way up to holding a fourth party liable for the infringement.

Two more levels and they will be able to arrest Kevin Bacon.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with an anonymous commenter and one last joke about the Mockingbird cancellation:

Perhaps they can get the rights to do a retelling of "A Christmas Carol" where Scrooge is a rightsholder who tries to shut down a community-theater performance of "It's A Wonderful Life," which adds the element of it being the protagonist's birthday, with "Happy Birthday" sung at the end.

That should make a district court judge's head explode.

And finally, we've got an anonymous response to the question "is there nothing we won't blame Millennials for?":

Well, it's their own fault that we do!

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 2 March 2019 @ 12:00pm

Game Jam Winner Spotlight: Will You Do The Fandango?

from the like-it's-1923 dept

Last week, we took a closer look at the winner of Best Digital Game in our public domain game jam, Gaming Like It's 1923. Today, we continue our winner spotlight series with the game that won Best Remix for its combination of material from multiple sources: Will You Do The Fandango? by Lari Assmuth.

Fandango is a tabletop roleplaying game with an overall structure that will be familiar to anyone who's played Dungeons & Dragons or its ilk — but where D&D builds worlds by drawing on material from across the fantasy genre, Fandango uses very different source material: the world of Comedia dell'Arte, starting with the 1923 movie Scaramouche that entered the public domain this year. Instead of grand heroism and the battle between good and evil, Fandango aims to create a story of "swashbuckling romance" and big, bombastic melodrama.

In standard fashion, playing requires a Gamemaster and a group of players, each of whom creates a character with an array of stats (Action, Passion and Wit). The setting is revolutionary-era France, the characters are members of a traveling troupe of Comedia dell'Arte players, and the GM leads them on an adventure through towns and cities where civil unrest and class struggle are bubbling up. In each location they will meet notable characters, and get into social conflicts — instead of combat mechanics, the game uses rules and dice for witty repartee and dueling insults. At the end of their time in each location, the players put on a performance, and then deal with the fallout.

And one of the most intriguing features? Every character has both a "Personage" (the person they are) and a "Mask" (the role they play in the performances) — and while personage is fixed, masks can be traded throughout the game. Also, they are literal masks:

You can download the rules (and printable masks) for the game from its page on Itch, and all you need to get started is a quick read, a couple dice, a pair of scissors, and a few enthusiastic friends. If you get a game going, we'd love to hear how it plays out, and I suspect the creator would too!

Next week, we'll be back with another spotlight on one of our winners — and don't forget to check out the full list of entries to spot some of the hidden gems that didn't quite make the final cut. Happy gaming!

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 26 February 2019 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 201: Can Journalism Survive A Free Market?

from the no-business-like-news-business dept

It's no secret that journalism outfits are struggling, and have been for some time. There are lots of competing ideas about why this is the case, and who to blame, but the ultimate question is the same: how do we fund good journalism going forward? This week, Mike is joined on the podcast by someone whose opinions on this question differ significantly from his own — Columbia Journalism professor and former online editor-in-chief of the Guardian Emily Bell — to talk about whether journalism can survive the free market, and what the alternatives are.

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

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Posted on Techdirt - 24 February 2019 @ 12:30pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the speak-up dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is an anonymous response to one take on the Covington student defamation lawsuit, insisting the Washington Post was reckless and defamatory for not waiting to have more information before publishing an article about the incident:

If it was "reckless" to publish without having all the relevant information, then we wouldn't have found out that JFK was assassinated until 54 years after it happened.

In second place, it's another anonymous commenter, with some thoughts on no-knock warrants following the fatal drug raid in Houston:

This should have been a no brainer after the first time they entered the wrong house and had an officer killed by a legally owned weapon, in defense of their own home. Every no-knock entry is a recipe for disaster. Not bothering to record your no-knock entry in this day and age is negligent, to say the least. Based on all of the lies turned up so far, these cops need to be charged with murder.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a response from Thad to folks who dismiss protests about the EU Copyright Directive because Google supports them:

I mean, if your position is that these protests are invalid because Google supports them, what's your position on the validity of copyright laws written by the movie and record industries?

Next, it's some longer thoughts on the copyright situation in Europe (and beyond) from anonymous commenter:

Why is this a battle between technology companies and the legacy gatekeepers?

Simple: the middlemen have changed roles.

Legacy middlemen ('distributors') had a monopoly on one thing only: distribution channels for artistic creations. Anyone who wanted to publish and distribute anything, anywhere, was forced to deal with them. They were so powerful they could demand the creators to sign over all of their copyrights to them. And they did make that demand. Golden days.

But they were not creators themselves, and they can only make money from the IP they own. So in order to gain more money from that IP they had 2 options: either find ever more creators that were willing to sign away their IP (not easy), or make the IP itself worth more (hmm).

That second option proved the easier: by convincing politicians to increase the copyright terms, the IP they already owned became ever more valuable. And with that added value for the (sometimes very old) IP came the protection of that IP: ever more draconian rules and laws for preventing the unlicensed use and for punishing the infringers.

The Big Looser of this strategy is, of course, the public domain. That same PB that has always been one of the largest sources of inspiration for many an artist. So in effect the strategy of the gatekeepers made it ever more difficult for starting creators to create anything without stepping on some IP here or there. Thus, continually decreasing 'option one' of making money for the gatekeepers...

Enter The Internet.

And the arrival of the New Middlemen ('internet technology companies'). They offer alternatives to the distribution channels of the legacy gatekeepers. These services enable artists to promote and publish their creations and to profit from them themselves, directly. These New Middlemen recognize the artists' true value as creators: that they will keep creating new stuff if given a stage and an incentive.

The stage is the plethora of platforms available to artists to publish their art and connect with fans/followers. The incentive is the fact that since these artists retain the rights to their creations, they alone reap the rewards.

Of course, since the inflation of IP value by the legacy gatekeepers, these artists are a very attractive target for said gatekeepers of yore. And the only way they can think of to get these creators 'under contract', is to re-instate their roles as distributor monopolists. And since they have - after years of practice - perfected the art of lobbying for suitable laws, they aim to accomplish that goal by creating laws like the EU Copyright Directive.

So, you see this is not a law that aims to pay more money to artists. It is a plot to restore the only real leverage of the legacy gatekeepers: distribution channel control.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is one more take on the EU protests, from an anonymous commenter again, specifically regarding the politicians who had been claiming before the protests that all the opposition is just bots and astroturfers:

Which politicians will be the first to comment that he did not realize that Google employed so many people?

In second place, we've got an anonymous response to the latest YouTube filter fail in which references to "Combat Points" in videos about Pokemon tripped the apparently-acronym-sensitive child porn filter:

These gamers need to stop referring to Canadian Pacific and cerebral palsey right now! Let the banhammers fall.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with an echo of our first place insightful winner about waiting for the whole story, from another anonymous commenter:

I think it is reasonable to wait till 100% of the details are known. I will be creating my own news site to show how it can be done. Currently just waiting on that story that I will have 100% of the details.

And finally, it's a biting observation from Stephen T. Stone that rightfully racked up lots of insightful votes too, by providing a new conclusion to another commenter's sentence that began "If Justice Thomas is serious about keeping with the founders' wishes he would..."

…be a slave.

That's all for this week, folks.

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Posted on Techdirt - 23 February 2019 @ 12:00pm

Game Jam Winner Spotlight: Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening to Steal Treasure

from the gaming-like-it's-1923 dept

Yesterday, we announced the winners of our public domain game jam, Gaming Like It's 1923. We had a lot of great entries that deserve to be played, so for the next few Saturdays we're going to highlight some of the winning in the various categories.

This week, it's our winner for Best Digital Game: Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening to Steal Treasure by Alex Blechman.

Most of you are probably familiar with the Robert Frost poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, which was published in 1923 and as of this year is officially in the public domain. Well, here's what the introduction of this tongue-in-cheek game adaptation has to say about that:

Robert Frost's classic poem about stopping in the woods for no reason is very well written, but it's also pretty boring.

Not much happens. A dumb guy stops to look at some snow, and his horse gets weirded out by him. Dull. Yawn. Snoozeville.

Maybe that was considered an action-packed poem back in 1923, when Frost wrote it, but it's overdue for an update.

That's where you, the player, comes in. In this simple browser game, you are tasked with updating Frost's poem to sate a modern audience's craving for action, adventure, and... treasure! Verse by verse, you are presented with the poem and given the ability to swap out various nouns, verbs and adjectives for more exciting alternatives. So this:

...becomes something like this:

With some prompting and encouragement, you'll edit the entire poem in this fashion, until finally gazing upon your finished creation. Yeah: it's a very simple game, but one that made lots of us crack a smile and give it a second playthrough to see if we could do an even better editing job. It's funny, well-written and succinct, and we're thrilled to call it our winner for Best Digital Game. Check it out now on Itch, and share your best poem in the comments!

Next week, we'll take a look at another one of the winners, though you can always explore them all right now as well as all the other entries that didn't quite make the cut.

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Posted on Techdirt - 22 February 2019 @ 10:16am

Announcing The Winners Of The Public Domain Game Jam!

from the like-it's-1923 dept

The votes are in, and it's time to announce the winners of the Gaming Like It's 1923 game jam!

At the beginning of January, we decided to celebrate the long-awaited entry of new works into the public domain with a game jam, inviting designers to submit games of all kinds based on newly-copyright-free works from 1923. We got way more entries than we expected, and handed them off to our huge judging panel of game designers and copyright experts, who left comments and nominated them in our six prize categories. Now we've tallied up the votes and reviews, so without further delay, here are the winners of Gaming Like It's 1923:

Best Analog Game — Permanence by Jackson Tegu

This award goes to the best overall non-computer game, with a clear consensus emerging from the judge's review scores. Permanence is perplexing at first glance, and requires some serious prep work, but sometimes that's the cost of a game this unique and creative. Using the format of a book that can be read in two directions, it weaves the painting Metempsychosis by Yokoyama Taikan and poetry from the book The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran into an artistic gaming experience that isn't quite like anything you've seen before.

Best Digital Game — Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening to Steal Treasure by Alex Blechman

The award for best digital game goes to this short, sweet, simple, and above all entertaining take on Robert Frost's famous poem. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening to Steal Treasure tasks you with jazzing up the verse by subbing in some new material to entertain a modern gaming audience. Give it a try, or two or three...

Best Adaptation — God of Vengeance by jrgoldb

This award goes to the game that most faithfully and meaningfully adapted its source material, carrying its original intent forth into a new medium. God of Vengeance, based on the 1923 Yiddish language play of the same name, is an analog storytelling game that puts players in the main roles from the play and provides an interesting mechanical framework for improvising scenes and exploring the themes of a work they might otherwise have never encountered.

Best Remix — Will You Do The Fandango? by Lari Assmuth

This award goes to the game that made the best combined use of multiple public domain works. Will You Do The Fandango? starts with the 1923 film Scaramouche, but then draws on the whole world of Commedia dell'Arte and the mechanics from games like Apocalypse World and Lady Blackbird. The result is a high-energy tabletop roleplaying game, complete with dice and stats, in which a troupe of traveling players tour revolutionary France engaging in bombastic drama and romance — with printable masquerade masks to boot!

Best Deep Cut — Not a Fish by J. Walton

This award is for the best use of an obscure or unexpected source that doesn't appear on the typical roundup lists of works entering the public domain, and the cuts don't get much deeper than Not a Fish: a game based on a pair of 1923 science journal articles about Amphioxus fisheries in China. Like the jigsaw puzzles that inspired the mechanics, the game starts out seeming jumbled, but it quickly starts to resolve into an exploration of social and political themes you might not be expecting from the subject matter.

Best Visuals (Tie!) — Chimneys and Tulips by litrouke, and The Garden of God by DreadRoach

There wasn't a single stand-out winner for the best visuals category, and understandably so — one month is scarcely enough time to create or assemble a game's worth of stunning graphics. Instead, the award for best visuals goes to two browser-based submissions which, while they have their limitations, certainly caught our eye.

Chimneys and Tulips is a creative arrangement of four poems by E. E. Cummings, with a focus on beautiful minimalist design. Though the gameplay is somewhat lacking, a lot of work and vision went into the colorful style in which the works are presented, and while the interactive elements may be simple, they aren't arbitrary. Fans of poetry, and of typography, will find plenty to explore.

The Garden of God is a short narrative experience based on the novel of the same name by H. De Vere Stacpoole. It's built in RPG Maker MV, and most of the visuals are stock sprites and graphics from that tool — but a lot of thought and effort went into how they were used. The game has multiple unique settings and maps, and well-choreographed scripted scenes with attention to background detail.

All the winners in all categories will receive their choice of a copy of our public domain card game CIA: Collect It All, or one of our copyright-themed t-shirts from Teespring. We'll be reaching out to all the winners on their games' Itch pages, so if you see your game listed here, keep an eye on your incoming comments!

Thanks again to everyone who submitted a game — there are lots of entries worth checking out in addition to the winners. And thanks again to our panel of judges:

We'll likely be back with another game next year when, if all goes according to plan, the public domain will continue to grow!

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 19 February 2019 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 200: The (Big?) Business Of Podcasting

from the that's-a-lot-of-podcasts dept

We can hardly believe it, but as of this moment we've released 200 episodes of the Techdirt podcast! For this milestone, we've brought the increasingly-rare original team of co-hosts back together for a bit of a meta-episode all about podcasts — specifically, the recent news that Spotify has acquired Gimlet Media for the impressive and, to many, surprising sum of $230-million. Mike joined by Dennis Yang and Hersh Reddy to discuss what Spotify might be up to, and just how big the podcasting business really is.

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

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Posted on Techdirt - 17 February 2019 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the loose-lips dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is an anonymous commenter with a straightforward reaction to the description of ICE's fake college for busting immigrants:

Undercover investigators with the Department of Homeland Security registered the University of Farmington with the state of Michigan as a university using a fake name.

At the request of DHS, a national accreditation agency listed the University of Farmington as being accredited in order to help deceive prospective students.

The university was also placed by federal investigators on the website of ICE as an university approved by them under a government program for foreign students known as SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Program)

How does that not add up to entrapment, and fraud. All the wrong doing is on the governments side.

In second place, we've got Thad with a response to a comment comparing Cindy McCain's bogus sex trafficking report to incidents where people really did catch criminals:

"You mean like the Christmas bombing in Times Square, that was prevented by the disabled ex-Marine street vendor (they get most or all the permits to sell on the streets of NYC) who spotted the suspicious car and told police?"

The car was suspicious because it was on fire. Are you having trouble understanding the difference between telling the police that a car is on fire and telling the police that a woman has a child of a different ethnicity?

"Then there is Richard Jewell."

  1. Again, you seem confused on the difference between finding something suspicious because there is a bomb in it and finding someone suspicious because of their ethnicity.
  2. We are talking, specifically, about the post-9/11 "see something, say something" doctrine. 9/11 was in 2001. You are referring to an incident that took place in 1996.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with one more comment from Thad on that post, mentioning another detail:

...it's particularly galling considering that McCain, herself, has an adopted Bangladeshi daughter (who the Bush campaign targeted in a malicious, racist whisper campaign during the 2000 primary season). McCain knows perfectly well that people can have children who do not share their ethnicity, because she has a child who does not share her ethnicity.

Next, it's jupiterkansas with thoughts on what will happen if the EU Copyright Directive leads to new blanket licensing systems:

Judging from the history of ASCAP licensing, they'll eventually just demand every website get a license whether they host content or not - "just in case." and take you to court if you don't comply.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Chris Brand with a response to our assertion that legacy copyright industries in Europe just want Google and Facebook to pay €x amount to satisfy them due to their failure to innovate:

Don't be silly - they want a blank cheque, not one with a number on it.

In second place, it's That One Guy responding to our post about Google and Apple hosting a Saudi government app that allows men to track their spouses' movements, and to a comment that noted installing it as a third-party app is only an option on Android, not iOS:

Oh darn, self-distribution is hard enough that if saudi men want to be able to track their wives/property as easily as they currently can they'll have to put some actual work into being terrible people, how terrible...

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with a comment from kallethen proposing a potential benefit to the "hot news" doctrine:

Come on, Mike. Don't you see the missed opportunity by not supporting Hot News? Whenever the inevitable troll post comes along saying "But why aren't you writing about <insert unflattering story regarding company troll hates>", you could just blame it on the Hot News Doctrine!

And finally, we've got That Anonymous Coward with a response to Sony's copyright takedowns of its own anti-piracy propaganda:

However if you let them install a rootkit, they'll let you see it.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 16 February 2019 @ 12:00pm

Gaming Like It's 1923: Winners Coming Soon!

from the best-of-the-past dept

Judging is almost complete! If you entered our public domain game jam Gaming Like It's 1923, or if you've been following along, get ready for the upcoming announcement of the winners in our six categories:

  • Best Analog Games
  • Best Digital Game
  • Best adaptation of a 1923 work
  • Best remixing of multiple sources
  • Best “Deep Cut” (use of a work not listed on any of the round up articles)
  • Best Visuals

If you haven't had a chance to try out any of the games, go check out the submission page where you'll find all 35 entries, with a mix of analog and digital games in a wide variety of genres and styles, all based on works that entered the public domain in 1923.

Our panel of judges has finished trying out the entries, and now we're tallying up their scores and going through their reviews to determine the final winners, who'll be receiving prizes including Techdirt swag and copies our our game, CIA: Collect It All. We'll be announcing the results in the next week or two, so stay tuned for an announcement!

Thanks to everyone who entered the jam, everyone who's tried out the entries, and of course our panel of judges!

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 12 February 2019 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 199: From Apple To The ACLU, With Jon Callas

from the range-of-expertise dept

Jon Callas has been at the forefront of computer security issues for a long time, most recently as the head of Apple's team of internal hackers that try to break into the company's own products. But just a couple of months ago he made a change, and left Apple to work on tech policy at the ACLU. This week, he joins us on the podcast to discuss the new job, computer security policy, and the latest phase of the crypto-wars.

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

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Posted on Techdirt - 10 February 2019 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the winning-words dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side (and also racking up a lot of funny votes) is MathFox with a simple take on how to stop piracy:

If you want to do something about piracy you should have the navy patrol more in the areas where pirates operate. Have ground support for cleaning out the pirate's bases.

Stopping "unauthorized copying" is hard. The Internet works because computers and routers make copies. Determining which copies are authorized is a hard problem. Remember the analog tapes where you could copy the music from your friends' LPs?

And lastly, can you tell me why corporations should decide which people can have access to "culture" and consequently other people should be denied access?

In second place, we've got The FIRE's Adam Steinbaugh stopping by to ask a simple question about the assertion that Gavin McInnes's lawsuit against the SPLC seems legit:

So there's an objectively falsifiable, legally-cognizable definition of "hate group"? What about "hate speech"?

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a thoughtful comment from bob about the impact of piracy, and how to compete with it:

I believe the damage caused by piracy is real but also not to the levels you believe. No doubt, the trade off between piracy vs paying full price for content is one that many people debate each time they look for things on the internet.

But you have to also remember price is not the only factor when people want to consume or have something. It may be a large portion of the decision but not the only thing.

For example:

  • The convenience of obtaining the item,
  • where can the item be obtained from,
  • how to store the item,
  • where the item can be used,
  • how often the item can be used,
  • how easy to share it with someone either together or loaned out for a short time,
  • how easy to resell the item,
  • trustworthiness of the seller/source, are just some of the many factors consumers take into account when purchasing something.

If your business model is only satisfying some of these issues while piracy satisfies most, maybe you should change your business model.

Studies by Copia and others show that people will pay instead of pirate if it is considered a fair price and if the manner to obtain the item is not burdensome. So companies like Netflix have found a way to adapt to the new market consumers and provide a service at a reasonable price that consumers enjoy. While companies like major record labels didn't adapt and don't provide a good enough reason all the time so naturally customers don't enjoy using their services at the price points they offer.

No matter how high a penalty you place on pirating content someone somewhere will still do it. You may get most of the population to stop pirating but that doesn't guarantee that those same consumers will, by default, still use a bad service or pay the prices for a digital item just as much as they did in previous years. Most likely they will just not consume your digital goods and the old business model won't work. So my list should also include a factor for how badly someone desires the item as a consideration.

Your suggestion to make the internet 100% pirate free will never happen. For it to be implemented would require a rewrite of protocols and network controls to such a degree that essentially you will replace the majority of the internet. So yes it would break the internet.

If the world corporations and governments did create that environment I can bet you people would not follow en masse nor willingly.

No one here says piracy is the way to go for obtaining digital goods. But they do recognize that piracy will happen and if you don't establish a business model that accounts for that variable your company will not be able to compete.

Next, we've got an anonymous response to a comment about what "the internet" needs to do to function fairly:

I'm entertained by the humanization of "the internet".

The diverse protocols & devices that make up "the internet" are working exactly as expected - they are routing around blockages & moving data without issues. The basic computational concepts of moving, copying, & renaming data are fundamental to the logical concepts of most electronic devices & thus copyright maximalists are fighting a losing battle (as are the folks trying to legislate encryption) by attempting to bypass, avoid, & control mathematical, physical, & engineering operations.

Perhaps we should engage in something that the enterprise security community has understood for years - make the options to do things the legal way far easier than the effort required to bypass the system.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Qwertygiy offering up a very poetic mea culpa after incorrectly lamenting the lack of a "preview" function in our comment section:

Welp. That it is. Right there. The very button I lamented not existing. Next to the button I had to push to send my lament of non-existence.

I'd blame it on the liquor, except I don't drink.

I'd blame it on the moon, except I'm a non-lycanthropic cis-dude.

I'd blame it on optical deformities, except I'm wearing my glasses.

I'd blame it on Mike for conspiring with Google to hide it from me until I complained about it, except I'm not blue.

So according to music, that leaves to blame it on the boogie, the rain, the stones, the sun, the bossa nova, the summer night, my last affair, or me.

Gonna have to go with Evanascence here. You can blame it on me.

In second place, it's Comboman making a joke someone had to make after Germany capitulated to France on one of the many terrible aspects of Article 13:

So the one time in modern history the France doesn't surrender to Germany and THIS is what they choose?

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with Valkor who (intentionally or otherwise) invoked one of the ur-examples of internet-piracy-as-culture in response to a link to a YouTube video about YouTube's copyright abuse problems, offered with minimal description:

Last time I followed a vaguely described Youtube link like that, I got rickrolled.

Finally, we've got Stephen T. Stone with a tagline for the latest appearance of Paul Hansmeier:

Prenda: The gift that keeps on grifting.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 9 February 2019 @ 12:00pm

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

from the back-then dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2014, the Snowden revelations continued with information like the NSA and FBI getting access to 40,000 Yahoo and Google accounts in the first half of 2013, and the GCHQ trying to hit Anonymous with a DDoS attack, while some new FOIA documents got us a closer look at how surveillance info is laundered via "parallel construction". Germany's Chaos Computer Club filed a criminal complaint against the German government over mass surveillance, while a Belgian prosecutor began looking into reports that the NSA and GCHQ hacked a well-known Belgian cryptographer. Meanwhile, Mike Rogers was trying to argue that Glenn Greenwald should be prosecuted for 'selling stolen material', Benjkamin Wittes was arguing that it's okay for the agency to deny spying on Americans, even if it does, and the DOJ was admitting that the NSA's phone record collection probably included congress.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2009, a researcher predicted that technology was going to render copyright completely obsolete within a year or so. This did not, of course, come true — but it's easy to see where it came from, even just given the copyright absurdity happening that very week. The EU was considering a draconian copyright proposal not unlike today's reform directive, the RIAA hired a new litigation boss with a history of 'misstating facts' in court while the DOJ was packing its ranks with entertainment and software industry lawyers, there was a proposal for new ACTA provisions that would criminalize non-commercial infringement, Blizzard successfully abused copyright to go after World Of Warcraft bots, and the Associated Press began demanding money for the photo that was the basis of Shepard Fairey's famous Obama poster.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2004, the EFF and other groups had noticed some dangerous corner-cutting in the RIAA's latest round of mass lawsuits, while the agency also appeared to be struggling to force its narrative about piracy onto the Morpheus/Grokster trial. The MyDoom virus was wreaking some havoc, causing Microsoft to set up an alternative website and, of course, causing antivirus companies to push massive damage estimates for reporters to uncritically repeat. One prediction piece about 3D printers may have jumped the gun slightly by saying they were closer than most people thought, but another was prescient in predicting that user-created video is the killer app for broadband, or at least wise to catch on to the fact that the internet is about connecting and communicating, not consuming a broadcast.

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