Mason Wheeler’s Techdirt Profile

masonwheeler

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  • Feb 21st, 2017 @ 8:07am

    (untitled comment)

    Then there's the thing about "hackers." There's more than one type of hacker,

    No, there really isn't. That's a bit of pointless culture-warring from the FSF over something that's already been settled in the public consciousness decades ago. A hacker is a computer criminal, and that's the only thing anyone associates with that term, outside of a very small band of folks who might as well be still fighting the Civil War for all the good it does.

    Even "ethical hackers" (ie. pentesters and security researchers) are people who do the same things as hackers (break into computer systems) but with authorization or for good purposes rather than nefarious ones.

  • Feb 17th, 2017 @ 7:49am

    (untitled comment)

    That actually does look interesting. It would be fun to see how this develops...

  • Feb 16th, 2017 @ 8:41am

    Re: Re:

    Please bear in mind that a rule of thumb is neither absolute nor always accurate. What it is is something that is generally understood to be a good first-order approximation.

  • Feb 16th, 2017 @ 7:09am

    (untitled comment)

    It also suggested this court believed the more successful the business was, the fewer rights and protections it had.

    Experience teaches that this is not a bad rule of thumb. Remember, with great power comes great responsibility!

  • Feb 15th, 2017 @ 1:23pm

    Re: Re:

    Umm... what? If that was something you weren't supposed to do, why would there be an option specifically for it right there in the reply box?

  • Feb 15th, 2017 @ 12:10pm

    (untitled comment)

    This should be a no-brainer--if it's your property, it's your property, period--but in a world in which DRM is legally protected, anything goes.

    Again, the DMCA is the root from which all digital copyright abuse springs in modern times, and we need to recognize this.

    When a weed grows in your garden, you can cut it off above ground, and then deal with it when it grows back again and again and again... or you can uproot it and then you're done with it. If we want to make any real progress pushing back against copyright abuse, we need to uproot it by repealing and reversing the abusive DMCA that allows for takedowns on accusation alone and DRM that tramples on fundamental property rights. Otherwise, people will just continue to build upon it further.

  • Feb 15th, 2017 @ 10:19am

    Re: Re: Re: just ONE of the reasons...

    I'm sorry, I have no idea what you just said.

  • Feb 15th, 2017 @ 8:14am

    Re: just ONE of the reasons...

    Just one of the reasons to hate identity politics: even if you're right, the bad guys can find ways to twist it around on you and make things worse.

  • Feb 15th, 2017 @ 7:07am

    (untitled comment)

    Wow, is Quake still a thing? I actually had no idea.

    The one I generally hold up as an exemplar in this discussion is Neverwinter Nights. Published in 2002 (not quite as old as Quake, but 15 years is nothing to sneeze at) and still selling today, because they published a powerful set of mod tools along with the game and actively encouraged the creation of a mod community.

  • Feb 14th, 2017 @ 7:10am

    Re: Re:

    Do you know how big the tip of an iceberg is? About 10% of the whole.

    Multiplying the reported stories by a factor of 10, or even by a factor of 1000, would make no real difference in the underlying point, which is that they get everything right the vast majority of times. The cases where things go wrong are such a minuscule fraction as to be negligible, (see "epsilon," above,) and it's highly irresponsible for journalists to paint them as a bunch of habitual screwups when nothing could be further from the truth.

  • Feb 13th, 2017 @ 12:13pm

    (untitled comment)

    Yeah, horror stories like this come up regularly: you tend to consistently hear about a half-dozen screwups out of PayPal every year.

    To put this in perspective, PayPal moves billions of transactions and hundreds of billions of dollars in payments every year, through virtually every country in the world, and amid all that, serious mistakes tend to happen at an average rate of less than one per month!

    TLDR: There are far too many sensationalistic journalists out there who do not understand the concept of "epsilon."

  • Feb 10th, 2017 @ 7:59am

    (untitled comment)

    What I don't understand is why the tech companies are rolling over and letting this happen.

    You know what would have stopped a massive amount of this nonsense in its tracks? If the first time some movie studio or record company had tried to sue Google for frivolous reasons, they'd responded with, "OK, let's settle this like businessmen. Initiating hostile takeover."

    This is something that needs to happen.

  • Feb 8th, 2017 @ 10:48am

    Re:

    Don't be silly; they value it plenty... for themselves at least!

  • Feb 7th, 2017 @ 12:16pm

    (untitled comment)

    11 million victims, $2.7 million in penalties. That comes out to less than 25 cents per victim, after running a scam that made them "mountains of cash" according to the linked blog post. That's not even the proverbial "slap on the wrist!"

    ISTM we need a law with real teeth to deal with stuff like this. It would be very simple: Any business that is found to have made money by breaking the law must be subject to a penalty no less than 100% of the gross revenue brought in by their illegal acts.

    Since all the laws these days have to have some sort of snappy name, let's call it The Crime Does Not Pay Act.

  • Feb 7th, 2017 @ 6:57am

    (untitled comment)

    "Wawa spokeswoman Lori Bruce told the newspaper that the lawsuit is about fulfilling an "obligation to protect consumers from any likelihood of confusion" and protecting "the brand name," symbolized by the Canada goose whose name is a direct translation from the Native American language used in the region."

    Oh, is that what it is?

    I always thought it was meant to represent the words of a thirsty two-year-old!

  • Feb 6th, 2017 @ 7:46am

    (untitled comment)

    Electronically transferring data from a server in a foreign country to Google's data center in California does not amount to a "seizure" because there is no meaningful interference with the account holder's possessory interest in the user data. ... Such transfers do not interfere with the customer's access or possessory interest in the user data.

    Wait a sec. Did a District Court judge in Eastern Pennsylvania (where I live) just come out and essentially say, as a key part of an official ruling, that copying is not theft because making a copy doesn't interfere with the owner's use of the original?

    The wide-ranging implications are staggering!

  • Feb 1st, 2017 @ 7:02am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    A single incident that happened 20 years ago? That's your "evidence" that racism remains a serious problem in our culture today?

    (Please note that I'm not denying in any way that what happened to James Byrd was a serious tragedy. I do deny, though, that it has any relevance to this discussion. Please don't go derailing the conversation.)

  • Feb 1st, 2017 @ 7:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Yeah, I'd say actually doing the stuff the Nazis are infamous for having done is a pretty good standard for being correctly compared to them.

    There's a reason Godwin's Law is a thing.

  • Feb 1st, 2017 @ 6:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    1) The act of someone who leaps before he looks, going off the handle on an issue that he doesn't have all the facts on. (Like Donald Trump does all the time on all sorts of issues.) If those five had actually done what they were accused of, it would have been completely right to execute them.

    2) The act of someone who will believe the worst about his political opponents. Remember that racism isn't treating people of other races badly, it's singling them out for bad treatment, treating them differently because you believe that they are inherently different. Remember this is the same guy who accused Ted Cruz's father of killing JFK, among (many!) other things. If Cruz had been black, and Obama white, people would call him racist for the JFK nonsense and just a weirdo for the birther conspiracism. But it appears he's simply an equal-opportunity offender.

    3) The act of a businessman trying not to lose a massive amount of business, because when it happened (remember, this one is not recent) approximately 1/3 of his tenants would have moved out if a black family moved in nearby.

    Next?

  • Jan 31st, 2017 @ 12:17pm

    (untitled comment)

    What a bunch of iDiots!

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