Mason Wheeler’s Techdirt Profile


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  • May 29th, 2015 @ 1:53pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    See the AC's answer below. It would appear that this fine was too small by at least a factor of 8.

  • May 29th, 2015 @ 1:52pm

    (untitled comment)

    So now they've said it. Will anyone in power listen?

  • May 29th, 2015 @ 9:55am

    (untitled comment)

    As a Ford owner, this is disappointing to see. :(

  • May 29th, 2015 @ 8:15am


    Also, I am more than sure the pharma companies accounted for this 'government fee' as part of doing business.

    ...and that right there is the real problem.

    Want to fix this whole class of problems? Pass an Anti-Cost-Of-Doing-Business law that mandates that in any case in which a business is found to have violated the law in the pursuit of higher revenue, they must be assessed at minimum a fine of 100% of gross revenue derived from their lawbreaking.

    In other words, make it so that crime truly does not pay.

  • May 29th, 2015 @ 8:12am

    Re: Re:

    I might agree, except for two points:

    1) It's very difficult to prove that someone died due to not having a treatment available, since for any number of reasons, they might have died even if they had gotten the treatment anyway.
    2) It's not like this is a cancer drug. Have you ever heard of someone who died due to lack of availability of an expensive prescription sleeping pill?

  • May 29th, 2015 @ 6:43am

    (untitled comment)

    So what happens to that $1.2 billion? Seems to me the vast majority of it ought to be distributed as damages to the victims: provigil users who have been overcharged by Teva's malfeasance.

    (Disclosure: I'm not a provigil user and if I personally know anyone who is, I'm not aware of it. I just figure that would be the just thing to do.)

  • May 28th, 2015 @ 5:47pm

    Re: Re:

    Again though, Comcast (and IIRC) AT&T cut the threat part of the notice out completely without problems so far.

    Am I misreading the article? Because it looks like it says that a couple Comcast users are being sued for non-compliance with demands that they never received and were never informed about, because Comcast never forwarded the on. I'd call that a problem, particularly if I was the one being sued, even if the lawsuit and the demands were entirely bogus.

    This is why I said that Comcast has picked one bad solution and Google has picked a different one.

  • May 28th, 2015 @ 1:34pm


    From the context, it seems clear that "we're in" means "we will be in if this change happens", not "we're currently in".

    Can't say I agree with him on that, though. If this happens, we know exactly where we'll be: back where we were in the 90s, before the Patriot Act.

  • May 28th, 2015 @ 12:30pm

    Re: You Google Fiber FIBBER! "bit of a hero" even while "playing along with Rightscorp", eh?

    Round up now and call it one in every 2000 US households is on Google Fiber.

    ...right now.

    One of those lucky few is my brother, who lives in Provo, Utah, and to hear him talk about his service, it's the best thing that ever happened to the Internet. The people who have it are talking, and what they're saying is generating lots of demand among the people who don't have it yet.

    Google built their Web business on word-of-mouth reputation, and in a few short years they exploded from a tiny search engine to one of the dominant players. You really want to bet against them doing the same here, go right ahead.

  • May 28th, 2015 @ 12:04pm

    (untitled comment)

    Of course, if Google truly wants to be "transparent" with users, it might consider adequately informing them they're being shaken down by a particularly hairy copyright troll.

    In principle, that's a great idea. In practice... where does "informing customers" end and "legal advice" begin? If something bad happens to the customer because Google essentially tells them it's OK to ignore this, does this present liability to Google? I can see why they might not want to go down that road.

    This really is a problem without any good solutions, at least not at the victims' level or the ISPs'. Comcast has picked one bad solution and Google has picked a different one, but the only real solutions involve fixing copyright trolling itself.

    It seems to me that the biggest problem here is the cost of a court case. The First Amendment is best known for guaranteeing freedom of religion, speech and the press, but it also guarantees the right of the people to have their day in court, and the current legal system violates that particular clause seven ways from Sunday. Simply put, if I know I'm in the right, but it would simply be too expensive to defend myself in court anyway, my First Amendment rights are being violated. Fix that and copyright trolling, patent trolling, and any number of undesirable legal extortion practices fall too.

  • May 28th, 2015 @ 11:31am

    (untitled comment)

    This is an odd case. I'm all for fair use, but I'm also aware of history, and if there's anything that absolutely should not be considered Fair Use, it's what Mr. Prince is doing, because this is literally the problem that copyright was first created to solve: publishers appropriating a creative work in its entirety and selling it without compensating the author.

    We already have horrendous laws like the DMCA enshrine in law a publisher's right to abuse people rather than curtailing it. If we now say that this is fair use, it would seem that Copyright's journey to the Dark Side is now complete.

  • May 28th, 2015 @ 8:48am

    Re: Re:

    Really? If I go to work, or a grocery store, or a restaurant or whatever, and I walk around in the parking lot, I don't smell gasoline. I'm surrounded by cars, but I don't smell gas, not even "a little but not so much that it makes me think there's a problem." I know that if I smelled even a little from my car, I'd immediately take it to the dealership and have someone look at it. But that's just me, I guess.

  • May 28th, 2015 @ 8:26am

    (untitled comment)

    "Odor of gasoline" emanating from a vehicle that operates on gasoline? Do tell.


    I'm sorry, but that's so wrong it's not even right enough to be properly wrong. It's so wrong it makes me ask "has the person who wrote this ever driven or even ridden in a gasoline-powered vehicle?"

    Because anyone with actual experience with motor vehicles can tell you that if you smell gas and you're anywhere other than at a gas station (or knowingly working with a gas can), your immediate assumption should be that something's wrong and you're in danger. Gas tanks (and the entire fuel system) are sealed air-tight for a reason, and said reason can be summed up rather succinctly with the word "KABOOM!"

    As several people have already pointed out, the response to this was entirely appropriate, and if it was a genuine mistake as the guy claims, then he's quite right that he did something stupid.

  • May 28th, 2015 @ 8:01am

    (untitled comment)

    Yes, Facebook is super popular, but it's still a voluntary system that you can choose to use or not. If you really don't like the company, it's not hard to not use it and to block it from tracking you on various other sites.

    Really? I know it's been a couple years, but have we forgotten about their system of shadow profiles already?

  • May 26th, 2015 @ 11:24am

    Re: Re:

    Even from a "helpful to consumers" perspective, tailored ads still fail. In my experience, tailored ads tend to show up in my browser one of two ways:

    1) It's something I was looking at recently, but decided not to buy. Bombarding me with advertisement about something I decided not to buy going to annoy me, which is not a good way to make me decide to buy it. Or...

    2) It's something I did buy recently. In this case, I already bought it, so why are you advertising it at me?!? Most of the time it's not something I'll need another one of anytime soon, if ever.

  • May 26th, 2015 @ 10:36am

    (untitled comment)

    Infringex's services start at $140 -- a price that seems a little high for "Would you kindly…" letters to site owners.

    That depends. Ever play BioShock? :P

  • May 26th, 2015 @ 9:40am

    (untitled comment)

    However, if we're going to be honest and say that copyright only protects the specific expression, then passages like the one above should not be protected by copyright.

    Just how honest are we being, if we claim that copyright "only" protects a specific exception, and neglect to mention that it also grants an exclusive right to the creation of derivative works?

  • May 26th, 2015 @ 7:41am

    (untitled comment)

    On one hand, Google and its competitors provide something in exchange for the privacy loss -- tailored ads...

    How does this count as providing something [good]? Tailored ads begin deep in "annoying" territory and don't have very far to go at all before crossing the line into "creepy".

  • May 26th, 2015 @ 7:31am

    Re: Re: Re: "not sharing consumer data with third parties without the explicit consent of consumers"

    Assumed guilty until proven innocent?

    Where exactly do you live? Because that's not how we do things in the USA, even for people who have been accused of doing things far worse than what Google's been accused of.

  • May 22nd, 2015 @ 1:28pm

    (untitled comment)

    Wow. This is unexpected, but welcome. Tom Wheeler's looking less and less like a dingo every day...

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