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mcherm

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  • May 10th, 2015 @ 7:04pm

    Re: Re: Who's the customer?

    The definition of "customer" can be a bit murky in some cases, but here the inmate (or her family) are the ones who PAY, while the prison are the ones who DECIDE whether or not JPay gets the business. The ones that JPay are most likely to work to keep happy are those who do the deciding -- the prison officials. It is not unlike medical insurance in the US, where (except for those on government programs) the employee is the supposed "customer" but it is the employer who actually DECIDES which insurance to purchase.

    All that being said, however, I don't see any indications that JPay is ignoring the well-being of prisoners and their families in the single-minded pursuit of pleasing prison officials. Even if it WOULD be in their best interest, I see much the opposite. I see JPay reacting with impressive speed after the issue was raised to their attention by the media, and changing their policy immediately. So perhaps the cynicism is unwarranted.

  • Feb 9th, 2015 @ 6:21am

    Re: "Torture Works"

    You wrote:

    "you'll still need to use torture in situations like the one just after 9/11.
    That's because torture works. It is indeed useless for extracting confessions (people will confess anything, that's true), but it has always worked quite well to extract informations."

    I wonder if you can provide any evidence to back up this claim? Because I have seen evidence that contradicts it... that suggests that torture does not work and does not help in such situations.

    For my first piece of evidence, here is a popular science article referencing an actual neurobiology study showing torture is not effective: http://arstechnica.com/science/2009/09/science-behind-us-coercive-interrogations-missing-in-action/

    F or my second piece of evidence, I present the conclusions of the Senate panel looking into the actual torture performed after 9/11 and whether that torture was effective. They concluded that in *every single case* it did not actually produce new, useful information. Again, a popular press report that summarizes and links to the actual story: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/dec/09/senate-committee-cia-torture-does-not-work

    Do you have anything more than mere feelings to support your claim? Because it is my belief that NOT ONLY are there grave moral issues with the use of torture, BUT ALSO its use does not actually help achieve the goals it is intended for. And IN ADDITION it normalizes the behavior thus encouraging groups like the "Islamic State" (aka. ISIS or ISIL) to engage in torture. If I am correct, and all this cost is for absolutely no benefit, then it is truly a great tragedy.

  • Oct 20th, 2014 @ 11:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Its called 'election'

    I happen to be my local "Judge of Elections" in Pennsylvania. (It's a relatively minor position that basically means person who runs the election in one voting district.)

    In Pennsylvania, each voter is permitted to enter a write-in vote for any office. So in theory your request is satisfied: voters can write in whoever they choose. But in practice, write-in candidates almost never account for any meaningful percentage of the vote. Voters simply will not choose to make the effort to do the write-in vote. I have even seen cases where a party failed (due to paperwork issues) to get a name on the ballot for a primary election. They had party members stand outside the polls handing out papers asking people to write in the name. With no one on the ballot and this sort of support, she still only managed a handful of votes (on the order of 4%).

    So allowing people to cast a "protest vote" for whoever they like is a nice idea in theory, but in practice it has no real effect on elections.

  • Oct 15th, 2014 @ 5:52am

    I'm not persuaded

    In general, I am quite concerned about overreach in trademark laws. However, I think this case actually has merit.

    Using common English words such as "easy", "it", and "take" are not violations of copyright, trademark, or right to publicity laws. Nor is referring to a shirt as a "Henley". A label encouraging a customer to "don" some piece of clothing is not a violation of the rights of some person named "Don".

    But putting on a label saying "DON A HENLEY and Take it easy" -- that may well be a violation of some or all of these. The law does not operate like some computer program which can only blindly apply it's unambiguously defined terms to each fact independently. Instead, the law is permitted to consider the actor's intent and the effect of their behaviors, and is permitted to use common sense in inferring these from the overall behavior. And it would be completely disingenuous to fail to notice that the label, taken as a whole, strongly suggests a certain person and a certain song.

    I haven't said that they Mr Henley ought to win this lawsuit -- that would require a judge, jury, and the full evidence from both sides. But one or more of the claims may well have merit so I don't think this case deserved the sort of opprobrium heaped on it in this article.

  • Oct 14th, 2014 @ 8:45am

    Open WIFI is like...

    Imagine the extensive day-to-day difficulties if our existing policy of "open electricity" were replaced with a regime where every time you brought a electric drill over to your friend's house to help put up a wall, you had to sign some sort of an indemnification form before plugging it in lest your friend be held responsible if you were to attack someone with the drill.

  • Oct 2nd, 2014 @ 9:42am

    How to spin this

    Perhaps we should follow the example of those who promote such software, and start to refer to Computer Cop as follows:

    This pedophile spyware app, which the San Diego District Attorney was duped into distributing to loving parents for installation on their children's computers, masquerades as a tool to protect children from predators. In actuality, it transmits keystrokes (including sensitive social media accounts and passwords) in the clear where they could be intercepted by a computer savvy predator and used to gather information or even to "groom" a potential victim.


    Of course, such a statement would be blatant fear-mongering. It is absolutely true that a pedophile could intercept the communications, but why should that, of all possible threats, be the one emphasized? One might very well ask the San Diego District Attorney the same question.

  • Sep 12th, 2014 @ 9:48am

    Re: Re: I am disappointed

    And thanks for reading my feedback. Hopefully we'll BOTH be more satisfied next time around!

  • Sep 11th, 2014 @ 6:43am

    I am disappointed

    Normally, TechDirt articles are fairly strong in science. This article bucks that trend. The key line is "some folks have actually made progress in using water (or saltwater) in an energy-generating system". This is supported by three articles:

    (1) An article about using nuclear power to split water, capturing carbon from the air and producing jet fuel. This is in no way an energy-generating system.

    (2) A link to a patent on an impossible (and non-functional) machine. Cute perhaps, but not science. Hundreds of patents have been granted for perpetual motion machines (before the patent office instituted a policy against it) and yet another one from 1935 isn't news and it certainly isn't science.

    (3) Generating electricity from Graphine. This one is at least SLIGHTLY related, but the power, in this case, comes from pushing the water across the graphine. We already have a method for producing electric power from MOVING water, it's called a turbine and it is used (mostly in dams) to generate significant amounts of electric power throughout the world. This is an advance in materials science, not in energy generation.

    Frankly, I am disappointed that the editors at TechDirt allowed this "article" through in this state. I normally expect better of them.

  • Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 1:35pm

    Last Minute Edits:

    Before releasing this:

    Paragraph 6: "violating the restaurant's "Internet/Blogging" which is an actual thing" should be "violating the restaurant's "Internet/Blogging policy" which is an actual thing"

    Final Paragraph: "Triple Play's internet police" should be "Triple Play's internet policy".

    (Then kindly delete this comment!)

  • Aug 25th, 2014 @ 2:36pm

    Button Press Too Hard? Try This One Easy Fix!

    Seriously, just record ALL audio and video for the entire time that the uniformed officer is on duty. The chips needed to store this weigh just a few grams. We could save the records for 1 week, with automatic holds on anything that the officer flags as important, as well as in response to any citizen complaint or request. Then there's no pesky button push to distract the officer ... or for the officer to forget.

    If you really think it is necessary, a button press to SUPPRESS the recording might be acceptable, for when an officer is using the restroom, intimidating a witness, or engaging in any other action requiring privacy.

  • Jul 14th, 2014 @ 9:27am

    Re: Forrest Gump: My mama says that stupid is as stupid does.

    > Take the moron, the moron lawyer and the biggest moron of all the drooler judge and deport them to saudi arabia.

    You aren't being fair here. The judge doesn't have anything to do with this: lawsuits are filed with the clerk of the court, and it's quite possible a judge hasn't even been ASSIGNED yet; certainly the judge cannot dismiss the case until it comes into court.

    Also it's not fair to Saudi Arabia.

  • Jul 8th, 2014 @ 3:14pm

    Re: Re: I actually want to defend them

    I guess you are pointing out that they are doing two things.

    (1) they are GIVING YOU PERMISSION to use a certain quote with attribution. Now, that's unlikely to be the particular quote you wanted, but hey, it's a (small) additional right.

    People have been sued before for linking to someone. They are effectively promising not to do that (if you happen to use this particular wording in your citation).

    (2) They are blocking your ABILITY to copy by intercepting the ctrl-c operation. That's obnoxious. It doesn't remove your rights, just makes it harder to do. I object to this part.

  • Jul 8th, 2014 @ 3:11pm

    Re: Re: I actually want to defend them

    Several detailed points... let me respond.

    > Item: [...] He had and has the same rights [...] as any news provider does about reports from any other news provider.

    Yes, he does. We agree here.

    > Item: [...] The website which originally posted the report could arguably have turned around and sued any other party for posting the article in its entirety.

    Um... I guess so? I mean, of course anyone can sue for anything, but I suppose they could have won such a case if the article was posted in its entirety without some valid exception such as fair use. But Geigner never intended to exceed the bounds of fair use, and the popup had no impact on his legal rights (except perhaps to expand them). So I don't get what you're saying here.

    > Item: The same script could arguably be considered a criminal act under the CFAA - access to computers for unlawful purposes.

    I think you mean that getting around the script could be considered a CFAA violation. Good point. I would furious at anyone who suggested such a thing, or who created a popup with the intent of creating a CFAA violation. None of which is a reason to criticize Food Navigator in this instance.

    > Item: The same script does not discriminate as to the purpose for copying parts of the article. [...] Sloppy programming

    You are totally right here. It would be better for them to have written a script that DID discriminate and only popped up if the copying was, in fact, a copyright violation. But I can't put that down to sloppy programming -- doing so would require the JavaScript programmer to implement a mind-reading subroutine, because part of what makes the copying a violation is Mr. Geigner's intent. Delivering the message on all attempts to copy seems like one reasonable compromise.

    Now, I'd rather they just stuck their warning in a footnote. And I'd rather that their wording reminded users that they CAN copy if it's for fair use. Their UI is obnoxious; in fact, I wonder if you would consider a pop-up-on-copy that just told the time of day to ALSO be vomit-worthy. Because objecting to ALL pop-up-on-copy is actually something pretty reasonable in my book.

  • Jul 8th, 2014 @ 2:55pm

    Re: Wrong ideas

    Seegras writes:
    > The point about copyright is, of course, it's not a "right to make copies" (or even "right to copy & paste", but a "right to publish".

    Unfortunately, that simply isn't true. See for instance, ยง106 (1) of http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.pdf.

    Now, there are many exceptions when copying a work does not violate copyright. Fair use is once category of exceptions. Downloading from a website (which makes "copies" in the memory on your computer) has been deemed to be another exception (in other words, it doesn't count as a "copy"). But you CAN violate copyright law without publishing something. Making a photocopy of your friend's book so you won't have to go buy one for yourself would normally be a copyright violation.

  • Jul 8th, 2014 @ 2:46pm

    Re: Re: I actually want to defend them

    I don't understand what you are even replying to!

    You seem to quote the line "Have a reasonable right" but this line appears nowhere in my posting, nor in the original article, nor in any comment made other than yours (and now this one).

    If you are bringing this up as a new straw-man to argue against, then... well... US copyright law (as well as that of essentially every other country on the globe) gives authors certain LIMITED rights to control how others can use their work. If you are arguing about whether current copyright law is reasonable then I'm just not going to get into that with you. I think current copyright law is reasonable in many ways (protecting against copying, providing exceptions for fair use) and unreasonable in others (like term of copyright and a complete disconnect between legal penalties and economic harm done). But all of that has NOTHING to do with Food Navigator posting a warning on their site.

    And your John Stuart Mill quote is also a non sequitur. I said that Mr. Geigner went too far in criticizing Food Navigator. From that you somehow conclude that I have nothing I am willing to fight for? Perhaps I am a crusader for the right to free speech, specializing in the rights of people to post annoying popups on their web sites! As it happens, I actually care a good deal about intellectual property law misuse and abuse.

  • Jul 8th, 2014 @ 5:41am

    I actually want to defend them

    You know, I actually want to defend the owners of this site (with the pop-up) -- I think you (Timothy Geigner, the author of this Techdirt post) are projecting your feelings of frustration onto them and imagining it says something that it doesn't say.

    Let me first acknowledge that they DID use an annoying "pop up window when you attempt to copy". That is annoying, and I wish they wouldn't do it. The charitable interpretation is that they wanted to reach a particular audience: those who were trying to copy something from the article. I still would have preferred that they put it someplace better, like a link on the footer or side of the page. That is where the copyright notice is found on your Techdirt article.

    But if we move past the placement to the actual content of the message, I don't think it is as bad as you make it out to be. The actual text says "THIS CONTENT IS COPYRIGHT PROTECTED However, if you would like to share the information in this article, you may use...". Now, once you finish vomiting, you say that "the message being sent is that such an attempt to copy the text is a violation of copyright on the article". Maybe that's how you perceived it, but the actual message just said that the content was protected by copyright. The message to the side of your Techdirt article says the same thing.

    They go on to say "you may use [a certain excerpt and citation]". I actually think they worded this well. If they had said "you may only use [...]" or "you must use [...]" I would have complained just as hard as you did. But with this wording, they are granting you an ADDITIONAL right. You have been granted an indemnity to use that particular quotation regardless of whether a court considers it to be fair use -- that's rather kind of them. It does not dispute your right to quote other bits under fair use.

    In short, I think they were annoying and I wish they wouldn't do this, but your characterization of this as extreme ("done vomiting yet?") is over-the-top and unnecessary because they haven't actually said anything to mislead the public.

  • Jun 6th, 2014 @ 1:55pm

    Re: Wait...

    Actually, it isn't even necessary to wait for the next PTA. I can state with a great deal of confidence that had the principal asked he would have discovered that some parents thought it was a good idea and others thought it was not.

    Just taking a poll isn't the way you resolve questions like this -- you need principles. A principle principle for principals should be encouraging students to learn and think on their own.

  • Jun 5th, 2014 @ 7:02am

    Thanks

    Just wanted to say, "Thank you" for doing this. I just signed up for "Techdirt Crystal Ball" ($15/year subscription) as a direct result of this choice.

  • May 30th, 2014 @ 2:39pm

    A question about showing links to private material

    I have a question for the European court. Your ruling explains that Google must remove links to information under certain circumstances -- such as links to a newspaper article about a bankruptcy from many years ago. Is this a law only for Google, or does it apply to others as well? Does DuckDuckGo need to remove those links? What about the Internet Archive? How about the newspaper themselves... do they need to remove the links to their own articles from their archives? What if I have old paper printouts of the links (or even old newspapers sitting around with the original article)... do those need to be destroyed?

  • Apr 30th, 2014 @ 5:00am

    SWAT'ing Actually Benefits Society (as Michael Chermside)

    Provocative title, I know. And I am not suggesting that ANYONE take up SWAT'ing -- it is dangerous and can be deadly. But I think it has a perverse benefit for society.

    Our police have been becoming highly militarized in recent years -- too much so in my opinion. The number of stories of police bursting in with overwhelming lethal force and applying that force indiscriminately is highly disturbing to me, and I am sure I am not alone. So long as it was only "drug dealers and other scum" who were being impacted, there was little pressure to pull back on such tactics.

    But because of SWAT'ing, police now must consider the possibility that the residents of the home or building they are assaulting may, in fact, be completely innocent. That has to impact the way that they execute their raids. It has to reduce the likelihood that they choose to fire tens of shots at someone holding what turns out to be a wallet. And THAT change is good, even while each individual incident of SWAT'ing is terrible.

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