Nicholas Alexander’s Techdirt Profile


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  • Nov 12th, 2011 @ 4:19am

    The New

    When a new thing comes along, the old rules look for ways to attach themselves to it attempting to water down difference. The shock of the new is levelled by the mollifying effect of democratic institution. We are afraid, as we get older, that new ideas will replace our sagging fame.

    Cyber-bullying "is no different to real bullying" goes the trope, except that it is different. The "bully" can be blocked, publicly flogged, and exposed to the whole world in a matter of seconds.

    There was a phase of cyber intimidation but is it not just the old passives who shout at their television screens having their last gasp as shared intellect overruns their shallow world?
  • Sep 16th, 2011 @ 4:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: westboro baptist

    Yes, I am on the fence on this. The arguments here have affected the way I have thought about this. I comment because it is interesting. Hope that is cool with you.

    The defendant is an Aspergers case and prison is probably going to be pure hell. The public sentiment in the UK at the moment is moving into a logic of lock them up and when that starts to apply to protesters, then of course it is wrong.

    The defendant also expressed remorse. He apologised and the judge felt it necessary to make an example of him. The judge's decision can be overturned but it is a legal sentence.

    But I am saying that just because it is in a "public forum" like FB, it does not change the basic laws of harassment or libel, in fact it creates evidence that is hard to refute. British residents may have to think twice before doing stuff like this. The judge probably wanted people to think twice about what they do online, or off line.

    Not everyone who has lost a loved one is going to set their privacy settings exactly correct. If you lose a child you are going to make mistakes and FB have changed their privacy default settings quite a bit.
  • Sep 16th, 2011 @ 12:06am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: westboro baptist

    I agree, but try approaching a policeman and saying something equally offensive in various countries...
  • Sep 15th, 2011 @ 11:57pm

    Re: Re: good manners, perhaps

    That is a really interesting point.

    A performer certainly can rule it out, and in theatre they often disallow it completely. But rock concerts, youtube, etc - so many precedents ...

    Photos of fashion is another interesting question.
  • Sep 15th, 2011 @ 2:59pm

    good manners, perhaps

    If you take photos or video in a venue of a performer, you do have to ask the venue for permission. It is simply good manners and wise, (as they can throw you out)! If they do not throw you out then the photographer owns the copyright (for the photograph, not the building).

    I take lots of photos of buildings exteriors (as art) and never dreamed of asking for copyright permission. You can not copyright an object or a location.

    So, I agree that their fairly good natured threats are pointless. If anything it highlights that they need to raise more funds for restoration and it is journalism.

    It is not evidence of trespass. That amounts to heresay. Maybe someone opened the door for him and gave him permission to be there or the door was missing. They would have to catch him in the act to prove that. And he could just remove himself.

    Indeed, in mad old Britain, the Government intend to revise squatting laws that allow uninhabited buildings to be occupied by residents and the police (currently) have very limited powers to remove them.
  • Sep 15th, 2011 @ 2:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Freedom of speech

    Sure, if they break the law, lay charges and see where it goes. Unfortunately for the accused, you were not the judge.
  • Sep 15th, 2011 @ 2:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: westboro baptist

    Expressions of grief in public do not deserve hate speech.

    Whether the idiot deserved jail for posting on FB or not was up to the judge (or the appeal court) applying British laws.

    There seems to be an idea that because it's on FB it is invited? That idea makes no sense. It is direct evidence of blatant anti-social behaviour.
  • Sep 14th, 2011 @ 3:38pm

    Re: Re: Freedom of speech

    You are probably more correct than my exaggeration, I agree that I was being inaccurate and probably repeating urban myth - to some degree - but I did find this on Wikipedia:

    "The exact number of CCTV cameras in the UK is not known for certain because there is no requirement to register CCTV cameras. However, research published in CCTV Image magazine estimates that the number of cameras in the UK is 1.85 million."

    Although I was being a bit dramatic by implying that the police have that many eyes (the majority of CCTV cameras are probably not monitored by police but are private ones that the police can access), but there are so many cameras on citizens the level of monitoring of citizens rather supports the contention that free speech / the right to protest or demonstrate is actively suppressed by the Government.

    The student fee protests last winter and police tactics of punishing young people by essentially holding them for hours in cramped conditions was seen as a violation of rights by many, but after the recent riots/lootings the Government quietly introduced rubber bullets and water canons to quell dissent. Interestingly some of the idiots who ransacked shops believed they were justified due to "taxes".

    Living in London - you do not really feel that repressed and I am not afraid to make statements about human rights in newspaper comments under my own name. But it is true that this Government has an agenda with civil liberties a very low priority.

    Then again, knife crime and muggings are rife -- I am not saying these cameras are not helpful in putting criminals away, or that they may be useful in combating terrorism.

    Thank you for reminding me of France's Rights of Man and the Citizen. Freedom of speech is a more unusual condition than American citizens realise. I think American kids presume that the rest of the world think like they do, or share their norms.

    And frankly, I do agree that this individual received a sentence he deserved for the emotional violence of his incredibly sick acts. But it does create a precedent - jail for trolling is certainly a new thing. Not sure it is a good precedent if it is used to punish people for posting stuff on this message board, for example.

    Freedom of speech is one thing. Highly abusive intimidation is something else.
  • Sep 14th, 2011 @ 12:16pm

    Freedom of speech

    The only country I know of that has freedom of speech enshrined in law is the USA.

    The UK certainly does not. London has 2 million video cameras to catch rioters and thieves. The UK has a conservative government that leans on the judiciary to put petty thieves into jail for stealing bottles of water.

    You can generally get away for saying most things, and the press can be heartless and very cruel. But when News of the World was caught listening in on private phone conversations and started publishing who was sleeping around with whom there was only a huge public reaction when it was revealed that a murdered school girl's phone was hacked.

    And this case is similar. The government also recently stopped a racist organisation from doing a protest march. The Prime Minister now avoids talking to his erstwhile darlings, the Murdochs....
  • Sep 14th, 2011 @ 12:02pm

    Secrets and Lies

    Thank you for this information. Creative accounting at its very worst - contracting in bad faith - it is commercial theft of contractual obligation.

    Why can't Mr Vader, err Prowse sue them for breach of faith? It not seem so much an issue of copyright, but it is a breach of the intent of the contract and Lucasfilm should be embarrassed into paying their dues.

    It is not dissimilar to the bad faith exhibited by bankers who pay themselves massive bonuses after tax payer bailouts in the UK as the cost of living sky rockets and wages are stagnant.

    Star Wars would have been forgettable without David Prowse.
  • Sep 13th, 2011 @ 2:58am

    Reviews are generally welcome

    As a person who writes an excessive number of poems which I generally publish for free, I appreciate genuine reactions.

    Now if I published a book of poems, I would consider it perfectly fine for one poem to be quoted in full as a fair use in a review, or a few lines of up to three works. Any less than that, and there is no context. Any more, well they are republishing my works and I would expect payment for it. But I would rather be reviewed than ignored.

    It is a bit like those song lyric websites - they are effectively republishing copyright works but it generally benefits the author.

    Compare this with a film review that tells the plot of the film - now that is a very significant violation.
  • Sep 11th, 2011 @ 6:23pm

    Re: Re: re comment 12

    thanks Gordon - I did see it and have placed it on my arts blog
  • Sep 9th, 2011 @ 2:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Copyright and Photography

    Thank you kindly. It appears on which I have also linked to your brilliantly useful site. You are right, it was not hard to ask first.
  • Sep 9th, 2011 @ 2:01pm

    American Republicans

    It is weird - if I were American I would either be backing the Democrats, or would vote Ron Paul, the most conservative Republican, even if the Tea Party think they love him, I think he does not share their world view.

    If I were American, I would vote Democrat, or Ron Paul. Most of what Ron Paul says makes a lot of sense and could improve America powerfully. The Tea Party and both their candidates will reverse progress and inflict their religious values by shaming opposition and distorting truth through the eyes of the ultra privileged.

    I am interested in opinion about Ron Paul vs Obama which would at least be a clear choice, and agree this graph is "normalised against media expectation" which although very inaccurate does reflect a rather large margin for error in the poll.
  • Sep 9th, 2011 @ 12:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Copyright and Photography

    This is the best description of copyright I have seen on this discussion. May I have your permission to republish it (as it is your original work) or do I need to ask this website as they have effectively published it?

    I think this is also an interesting and difficult question.
  • Sep 9th, 2011 @ 12:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Copyright and Photography

    I can not make sense of what you are so sure of?

    What has copyrights got to do with government assistance?

    The government is not the same thing as the law.

    The law on copyright assets and the laws about passing of ownership of assets to your children is fairly clear. If anything it reduces the need welfare.

    (the difference of opinion may be cultural? I am British, welfare is seen as left wing, ownership and inheritance is seen as right wing I think).
  • Sep 9th, 2011 @ 11:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Its not a mechanical representation of the facts.

    Thank you for clarifying, the key does appear to be "publishing" vs "privacy" for shots taken of public figures. W

    The same is also true of video - I wonder if Youtube would stand the test of "fair use" when 50000 people video a concert and publish them? Are they sufficiently covered by offering to take down such works?

    In earlier post I said "providence" when I meant "provenance".
  • Sep 9th, 2011 @ 11:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Copyright and Photography

    Sure, but my photographs on FB only have commercial value to FB unless I am using it as a promotional medium in which case you want people to copy them as much as possible. If you put up high-res photos on FB, you are basically putting your works into the public domain.

    An illustration: I publish these statements under my name. You state your opinions without your name. Your statements are in effect not copyrightable. Mine are. Reproduce them and then I would be only too happy to realise a commercial benefit from your distribution model (if there was a commercial benefit to be had, which of course there is not!)
  • Sep 9th, 2011 @ 9:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Its not a mechanical representation of the facts.

    excuse me if this was question was not directed at me, by I think I used MM as an example ... I think if you get to photograph a film star, you do so with their permission, if it is for commercial purposes (like an art portrait) and then you do own the image and it has inherent value. If someone then photographs your photograph, that does not have the consent of the original (MM) so therefore. If however you photograph a film star on the red carpet, or singing on stage, that is without their permission and although it is original work you may find it hard to provide any proof of that (i.e. the permission) so there is no providence in the work. It may be your copyright, but you have nothing to legally enforce it. If you draw a moustache on it, it is no longer a copy but a derivative work. I think laws are changing regarding derivative works.

    People generally misunderstand copyright. It does not prevent copying. It just establishes a legal framework for recovering of the rewards of doing so. So if you copy my photograph, then I can charge you a fee if I can establish providence.

    Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. I do not think copyright is moral or even applicable in many cases, but it is still the law.
  • Sep 9th, 2011 @ 8:32am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Copyright and Photography

    The long term of copyright is so you can leave it to your offspring. It is exactly the opposite of a welfare scheme.

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