Andrew 's Techdirt Comments

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  • US Olympic Committee Forces 30 Year Old Philidelphia Gyro Restaraunt To Change Its Name

    Andrew ( profile ), 19 Jul, 2012 @ 07:44am

    Re: Re:

    I believe DOJ is currently drawing up an extradition request...

    In fact the US should be careful about how far it pushes this as it could really come back to bite it.

    - Hephaistos invented metal tools (e.g. ploughshares) to increase agricultural efficiency.

    - Ares found these metal tools could be turned into swords and other weapons of war.

    - Dice were invented by Palamedes.

    - Palamedeas also invented 11 (or possibly 16) letters of the alphabet.

    - Hermes invented the 3 stringed Lyre, and Apollo may have added another 4 strings to it. It's hard to argue that harps, pianos and many other instruments are not derivative of this.


    The US should live up to its international obligations and stop stealing the IP of these hardworking ancient Greeks and Greek gods. It should pay compensation for years - centuries - of blatant abuse and lawlessness (maybe $150,000 per infraction?). (Which may even solve the Greek debt crisis...)

  • US Olympic Committee Forces 30 Year Old Philidelphia Gyro Restaraunt To Change Its Name

    Andrew ( profile ), 19 Jul, 2012 @ 07:24am

    This law exists in the UK too, but only for businesses started after 1995. I really wanted to buy an 'Olympic' cafe somewhere that had been running for the past 20ish years and then open trendy outlets all over London in time for the summer. Ah well.

  • Gym Allegedly Threatens To Call Police On Blogger For Blogging That Its Prices Were A Bit High

    Andrew ( profile ), 21 Jun, 2012 @ 03:32pm

    I am sending you this message to politely ask that you remove all the content about Barre Cleveland from your blog and twitter and we will not get the Beachwood Police involved on this theft of services.

    Plus there's the whole blackmail thing. Can't speak for the US, but in the UK this would probably qualify.

  • Patent Holder Sues Basically Anyone Who Offers Recipes Or 'Meal Planning' Online

    Andrew ( profile ), 15 Jun, 2012 @ 02:33pm

    Can we build an infringing site in the comments section?

    How many claims does one of these sites have to infringe upon for there to be a valid claim? While I'm not an expert at reading patents, nearly all of the claims discuss a system using Picture Menus, which several of these sites don't have. (They do use pictures, but not as part of the selection process, which appears to be based on freeform text and filters.)

    Would it be sufficient to infringe, say, just claim 2?

    2. A system of computerized meal planning, comprising:

    a User Interface;
    a Database of food objects; and
    a Meal Builder, which displays on the User Interface meals from the Database, and wherein a user can change content of said meals and view the resulting meals' impact on customized eating goals.

    i.e. any website with a meal database, except for eating goals bit (which most of the defendants don't seem to offer either)

    While I'm struggling to find anything in the patent that wouldn't be obvious to someone skilled in the art (in this case, presumably a web developer who eats food), some of the other claims do at least discuss dietary planning and advice to meet weight loss goals,* but I can't see anything on the Bravo site or some others that offer this.

    Would I really infringe a patent by putting a few recipes into a database, adding some HTML with a search form and using this query?

    SELECT * FROM recipes WHERE meal="lunch" AND consideration="low carb" AND name LIKE "%steak%";

    * Though not in any particularly useful way so as to tell anyone how they actually do this.

  • UK 'Snooper's Charter' Seeks To Eliminate Pesky Private Communications

    Andrew ( profile ), 15 Jun, 2012 @ 05:36am

    Re: Packet inspection? No, just envelope inspection

    This is true, but also rather misleading. The list of URLs I visited on a particular day could tell you a lot about me. It could tell you my sexuality, whether I have a disease, where I'm going on holiday or for work, if I'm seeing another woman (or man). And, for most public sites, entering those URLs into your browser will show you exactly what I saw.

    You may not care too much if someone got hold of your browser history for the past day or week (and, I have to say, it wouldn't worry me that much either), but the real danger here is what's revealed when all of these data points are combined over a long period.

    As with personally identifiable information, one piece of data (a 34 year old male who lives in Salford) doesn't reveal that much, but combine it with a few others (drives a Mercedes, works for Tesco) and you've pretty soon narrowed it down to 1 or 2 individuals (cf. 2006 Netflix Prize). You then have a pretty full picture of each person's interests, desires, weaknesses, etc. Combine this with information on what others in similar situations have done before (cf. the Target pregnancy NYT story) and you've got something potentially very powerful, and something I'd rather the government didn't have.

  • The Oatmeal v. Funnyjunk: How The Court Of Public Opinion Beats The Court Of Baseless Legal Threats

    Andrew ( profile ), 12 Jun, 2012 @ 07:03pm


    Comment from Ken at Popehat, who sides with The Oatmeal on this and includes the following quotes from Marc Randazza:

    I have known Charles for a few years, and know him to be one of the good guys. I did ask him "what the fuck were you thinking?" when I first saw his letter.

    I can not find any words to defend trying to shut the fundraiser down. I can't even gin up a minor benefit of the doubt on that one. I can see an ill-considered demand as a mistake in judgment while hoping to gain an advantage for your client. But taking a shot at the fundraiser would not do that ? it would just be lashing out to hurt bears and cancer patients? Holy fucking shitballs inside a burning biplane careening toward the Statue of Liberty, Captain! I hope that the reporter merely got the story wrong, because if not, that's more fucked up than a rhino raping a chinchilla while dressed up in unicorns' undergarments.

  • The Oatmeal v. Funnyjunk: How The Court Of Public Opinion Beats The Court Of Baseless Legal Threats

    Andrew ( profile ), 12 Jun, 2012 @ 05:39pm

    Oooh! It gets better!

    [Carreon] also explains that he believes Inman's fundraiser to be a violation of the terms of service of IndieGoGo, the website being used to collect donations, and has sent a request to disable the fundraising campaign.

    That's going to go down well...

  • Why The Supreme Court Needs To Make Sure That Selling A Used iPad Isn't A Copyright Violation

    Andrew ( profile ), 12 Jun, 2012 @ 01:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Why just not the First Sale Part

    Thanks -- appreciate the response. I should probably have been clearer in the case I was trying to construct.

    Imagine a site that is obviously a bad actor (such that a US court is likely to rule it infringes copyright if it were domestic) and is owned by a US company, but whose servers are overseas. (For the last two points I'm obviously inverting the MegaUpload situation.) Also assume that, through some possibly Rube Goldbergian arrangement, a judge could be convinced that the "infringing" copies were made on the site's servers abroad.

    Could the company (clearly in US jurisdiction) face prosecution, given that the copies are apparently not covered by the Copyright Act?

  • Why The Supreme Court Needs To Make Sure That Selling A Used iPad Isn't A Copyright Violation

    Andrew ( profile ), 12 Jun, 2012 @ 09:29am

    Re: Re: Why just not the First Sale Part

    Do these rulings have implications for foreign websites distributing unauthorized copies of films or music? If the copy is manufactured abroad (on a server in another country)* then would they not be covered by US copyright? I appreciate that importing these copies into the US is likely to infringe, but the site itself would be OK?**

    * And it could reasonably be shown that the copy was manufactured abroad and not on the downloader's computer (Cablevision, Zediva, DISH, etc.).

    ** I'm ignoring any bilateral or international copyright agreements to which the country where the server resides may be subject.

  • Should People Learn To Code? Yes ? If They Are Judges Ruling On Cases Involving Software

    Andrew ( profile ), 21 May, 2012 @ 04:57am

    I haven't seen the rangeCheck code, but, like Judge Alsup, I'm pretty confident I could write something similar in about 5 minutes -- just like the hypothecated high school student. That Oracle's counsel suggests he "probably couldn't program that in six months" makes me question his competence to take part in this trial.

    See also What color are your bits?, which I probably found via Techdirt (thanks!).

  • Facebook Trading Near Its IPO Price Means It Was Priced Right, Not That It Was A Disaster

    Andrew ( profile ), 18 May, 2012 @ 12:28pm

    Re: A loss

    Someone on Twitter suggested that they didn't really want to go public; it's just that they couldn't figure out the privacy settings either.

    And I have to disagree with this article: it's all very well Facebook's founders and early investors earning $100b for building, growing and supporting the site, but it's frankly terrible that those who bought shares today weren't able to cream off another $100b after a day's hard trading. Next you'll be suggesting that pay should be linked to performance.

  • US 'Blackmails' EU Into Agreeing To Hand Over Passenger Data

    Andrew ( profile ), 23 Apr, 2012 @ 04:07pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yeah, I'm not saying I think it's great that some countries are more "important" than others, but governments tend to behave that way -- partly for good reasons (generally the less important country, to continue using that term, offers its citizens fewer prospects or a lower standard of living, so more people want to go one way than the other), and partly because they can get away with it (after all, what are the other guys going to do about it?).

    I knew a girl from Slovakia a few years ago. If I remember correctly, she had to queue for 2 days outside the British embassy to get a visa to visit the UK. I don't believe I would have even needed a visa to go the other way. (Though by the next year, Slovakia had joined the EU and she could just show her passport at the border to get in like someone from any other member state.)

  • US 'Blackmails' EU Into Agreeing To Hand Over Passenger Data

    Andrew ( profile ), 23 Apr, 2012 @ 03:58am


    Well yes it does have a right to control who comes in, but there are consequences from behaving like that. Visiting the US is a pain for anyone without a US passport: visas / visa waivers, long queues, photos, fingerprint scans, etc. And the rest of the world, largely, reciprocates by making it a pain for US citizens to visit their countries.*

    Contrast this with, for example, Schengen in the EU. This allows citizens of many EU states to cross each others' borders without showing their passports. Sure there's a loss of control, but there are also big benefits in terms of free movement of people and goods. I'm not saying it's a panacea, and I'm sure others with much more experience can chime in with a more nuanced view, but this sort of setup does have benefits.

    * At least in my limited experience.

  • US 'Blackmails' EU Into Agreeing To Hand Over Passenger Data

    Andrew ( profile ), 23 Apr, 2012 @ 03:36am


    Yes, exactly. Normally an unequal visa setup happens between countries that are themselves unequal (so people from the important country don't need a visa, but those from the unimportant country do), but I would have assumed that easy access to the EU would be pretty valuable to US citizens too. Or am I just being naïve?

  • London 2012 Olympics Win Gold Medal For Cluelessness By Banning Video And Photo Uploads To Social Media During Games

    Andrew ( profile ), 20 Apr, 2012 @ 11:23am


    The London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006* does let the police or "enforcement officers" enter private premises and remove advertising -- and charge people for the privilege too.

    I haven't read the whole Act myself, but the branding guidelines say that, as an individual, I can say something along the lines of "I support London 2012", but as a business I can't as this could create an association between my company and the Olympics.

    I believe that uploading photos to Facebook would be a civil offence, and LOCOG have said they are unlikely to prosecute people for this (though they do have the power to do so).

    Branding guidelines

    Extract of the Act

    Guardian article discussing this further

    * It's just as well the Act was passed by parliament and not a private company, or its name may well be in contravention of the Act by creating an association between parliament and the Olympics.

  • French Voters Warned To Stay Off Social Media Lest They 'Crash The Election'

    Andrew ( profile ), 17 Apr, 2012 @ 06:54am

    Re: Re: seriously

    Though, if we take this line of reasoning a little further, surely we should ban all opinion polls in the days leading up to the election (which are often, though not always, fairly accurate), plus perhaps all political commentary just to be safe?

  • US Judge Forbids Motorola From Using German Injunction Against Microsoft

    Andrew ( profile ), 16 Apr, 2012 @ 02:19pm

    If this becomes a trend, large multinationals may become liable only to the intersection of all the laws of the countries in which they operate, whereas individual citizens (through ICE, US criminal copyright extraditions, UK libel law, etc.) are increasingly subject to the union of them. Much like the tax system in fact.

  • Easy Come, Easy Go: EMI Pulls Video Of Drunk Guy Singing Bohemian Rhapsody, Reinstates It After Backlash

    Andrew ( profile ), 03 Apr, 2012 @ 12:19pm


    Absolutely. In fact I'm sure he isn't the first person to sing in a police car like this. Arguably these performances take place in a "place open to the public" (car parks or the streets) and often, as here, at sufficient volume for those outside the car to enjoy the rendition too, so there's a reasonable case to be made that all police vehicles should have to purchase appropriate public performance licences.

  • UK Court Wants To Limit Copyright Trolling… But Not Enough To Stop It Entirely

    Andrew ( profile ), 28 Mar, 2012 @ 04:40am


    Consumer Focus supplied an expert report on this subject. I haven't read it, nor the claimants' response to it, but it is discussed quite extensively in the judgement. That said, it is unfortunate that the court effectively admits ignorance and punts on the "who did what" question:

    Dr Clayton's expert report provides a lucid explanation of the technical issues surrounding traceability, that is to say, determining "who did that?" on the internet. Mr Torabi took issue via Mr Becker's second statement with a number of points of detail in Dr Clayton's report. Clearly I cannot resolve those disputes.

  • UK Court Wants To Limit Copyright Trolling… But Not Enough To Stop It Entirely

    Andrew ( profile ), 28 Mar, 2012 @ 04:32am


    It's good that the court rejected what appears to be a claim of contributory liability: that the ?700 should not only cover losses due to the defendants' infringement, but also the losses due to the infringement of others (which should be assessed on a royalty basis). Arnold J ruled that liability should be based on the actions of each defendant individually: "Claimants have no idea about the scale of the infringements committed by each infringer".

    The ruling also suggests that additional damages may not be awarded if the case went to court (cf., of course, US statutory damages), limiting any award to ?700 (claimants) or ?70 (Consumer Focus), though the legal costs may not be fun.

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