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  • Aug 13th, 2019 @ 12:38pm

    The difference in opinion is on the price of the information

    The FBI seems to think that accessing the information is free, others point out there is a price - both in dollars and in civil rights we sacrifice.

    On previous cases, accessing data on encrypted phones came with a price tag of several hundred thousand dollars. Regarding the civil rights, a google search for "warrantless searches" or "civil asset forfeiture" will surface a myriad of examples illustrating how seemingly justified rights of police forces can spin out of control very quickly.

    These days, many smartphones contain more private information than personal diaries, information that FBI and police have no business in accessing.

    Certainly not for trawling expeditions. Since the war on terror started almost two decades ago, law enforcement have enjoyed an unprecedented expansion of powers, all the way to permission to torture suspects and record and search phone and internet traffic of large parts of population.

    And all these powers have led to the arrest of - exactly no serious terrorist at all. Over nearly two decades. (Ignoring a number of fools that have been tricked by FBI agents into buying explosives sold to them by the FBI so the they could be arrested for, eh, buying explosives).

    So perhaps it is time to review their approach to catching criminals. And stop giving them more powers with no justification other than "perhaps we might find something useful."

  • Aug 8th, 2019 @ 1:25pm

    Maybe the time has come to switch from defense to attack

    While Elsevier presents itself as the brave copyright warriors, they are the worst pirates on the internet: Every single article the publish is "stolen" from the scientists.

    1. Elsevier has a quasi-monopoly on many areas of the academic publishing market
    2. They abuse this monopoly to force authors to sign over practically all rights without compensation
    3. They further abuse this monopoly to charge customers excessive prices for access to the content obtained by questionable means. (Evidence: Elseviers profit margins exceed the margins in practically all other legal industries)

    High time for an investigation of Elsevier by competion authorities!

  • Aug 1st, 2019 @ 12:53pm

    There may be a second recourse

    Sue local ISPs for censorship and prevent them from using pressure-group blacklists as a basis for restricting access to internet sites. Given that Google reports 90% errors in industry-provided block lists, local courts might be convinced that at least some due process is required for fairly cuts into constitutional rights.

  • Jul 25th, 2019 @ 4:18am

    Indulgence trading was big business for the church

    The catholic church made tons of money with a similar scheme.

    May history repeat itself and bring us another Luther to clean out this pigsty.

    https://norwegianscitechnews.com/2017/02/indulgence-trading-big-business-reformation/

    https: //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johann_Tetzel

  • Jul 25th, 2019 @ 12:40am

    Fair use? As far as record companies go - agreed. Youtube - no

    Stream ripping should only concern Youtube (the company) and the ripping web sites. If Youtube says it is ok, it is, and if Youtube says it is not, than it isn't.

    If record companies don't agree, they can disallow ripping in their licence agreements with Youtube, and force Youtube to stop it. If record companies take ripping web sites to court directly, the cases should be thrown out. (Kellogs can't sue you for stealing Corn flakes from Walmart. Only Walmart can.)

    Youtube seems to tap dance around the issue, though: DNS-Blocking - whack a-mole looks like the least effective way to stop ripping. If Google really wanted to stop ripping web sites, they'd have more effective technical and legal options available. Which, for some reason, they have chosen not to use (yet).

  • Jul 19th, 2019 @ 3:15am

    PSSST, Techdirt: More smoking guns

    There is evidence that the US Military was behind the creation of the Internet. Yes, right, the internet. Invented by DARPA. They clumsily tried to hide the fact by calling the prototype "Arpanet", sneakily leaving out the letter "D" to hide the links to "Defense". But the evidence is clear.

    And what does that mean???

    Nothing, until there is evidence of actual spying. You know, something like the Snowden papers revealing systematic abuse of infrastructure by the government to spy on people.

    And what does it mean if actual evidence appears? Should the Chinese government and the spying entities be punished just like the US government and the NSA were punished?

    Not at all?

    Ok then, why again did we impose sanctions on Huawei?

  • Jul 13th, 2019 @ 2:02pm

    DMCA: Internet in the early 90ies vs Internet now

    30 years back, a case could be made for draconian measures against uploaders - since typically only very few copies of music or video were uploaded by screeners or production company insiders. At least from a rightsholders perspective, high damages and a low burden of proof could be justified.

    Nowadays, the situation has changed: Typical "uploaders" are people using the .torrent protocol. Thousands, even millions, of copies may have been downloaded already, and typical upload ratios are 1:1 or 2:1. If someone downloads an .mp3-file with a retail value of 50 cents, they might at the same time upload two copies, causing a total loss of $1.50 revenue.

    In the worst case - assuming that three people would actually have purchased the file. The damage to the rightsholder is somewhere between $0 and a fraction of $1.50 - no taxes will be paid on the downloaded copies, no distribution costs, and no revenue sharing with other stakeholders.

    Which raises the question - how does congress get from a fraction of $1.50 to a default payment of 7500 dollars to the rightsholders?

    To put the numbers in perspektive: Apple and a bunch of ebook publishers stole about 1 billion dollars from their customers in a price fixing cartel.

    Can we expect the same multiplier to be used for calculating punitive damages - and a payout of 5 Trillion dollars to the cheated customers?

    As for music publishers - they collected 500 Million canadian dollars on behalf of artists - and pocketed it themselves. Will those publishers have to pay out 2.5 Trillion Dollars (canadian) to the artists?

  • Jun 22nd, 2019 @ 2:38am

    Dinosaurs refusing to change

    The biggest hurdle to innovation is kicking the addiction - the addiction to absurd profits. Back in the nineties, profit margins of 30 - 40 % were normal for (printed) newspapers. Most had a monopoly either in their region, or in their niche, and could charge as they liked - subscribers and advertisers.

    When both crumbled away, the first reaction was to hike up prices, and lower quality (to reduce costs). A vicious circle that, sadly, did not lead to publishers changing their ways.

    Steve Jobs told them how to react: small revenue from many users. Which would make sense: A study** found that newspapers with <100 K circulation get >10 m unique visitors on their web site. Visitors who spend 2-3 min on the web site. Plenty of potential for new business models.

    One would think. Yet publishers chose pay walls - they seriously expect people to pay $30-50 per months for every newspaper they visit from time to time, for 2-3 min per day.

    Not unlike the music industry, who took about two decades to let go of the $20 / CD - business model and finally accepted $10 flatrates a few years ago. With stunning results - revenue and profits have been exploding for years, back to pre-internet levels.

    The same might yet happen for newspapers. But only if they let go of their idea each having their own fenced garden with $50 entrance tickets.

    ** source: https://www.journalism.org/fact-sheet/newspapers/

  • Jun 21st, 2019 @ 2:18am

    Never mind Youtube

    According to the President of the United States of America, a large portion of the content produced by trained, professional journalists and curated by even more professional editors in Chief is fake news.

    Regardless of who is right here - if the US government and a body of highly trained professionals can't agree on what is right and wrong - how can anybody expect to curate an amount of content several orders of magnitude larger than what small groups of journalists produce?

  • May 28th, 2019 @ 2:07pm

    Why not charge the New York Times while waiting for Assange?

    They are already in the States, and they committed (or not) exactly the same crimes as Julian Assange.

    If there is a case against Wikileaks, there is one against the New York Times, and there is no reason to treat them differently.

  • May 23rd, 2019 @ 3:19pm

    could reasonably expect their identities to be kept confidential

    Indeed they could. So why would the US Government place such sensitive information in a) electronic databases that can b) be accessed by millions of government employees with no relation whatsoever to the project the informants work for?

    Someone should go to prison for this. But not the messenger!

  • May 22nd, 2019 @ 7:40am

    Sounds like ...

    ... the opposite of punitive damages.

  • May 18th, 2019 @ 12:05pm

    Can't help comparing this case to the Mueller investigation

    If the justice department was on the brink of charging the President of the United States of America with obstruction of justice, then the facts presented in this article are more than enough evidence to lock the shooters up for a very long time. The forensic scientists, too. For obstruction.

    And to squeeze every one of their colleagues, superiors, friends and family just like Messrs. Manafort, Cohen & Co. until they provide enough evidence to sue and convict the cops for murder.

  • May 17th, 2019 @ 1:20pm

    If someone flags a government statement as fake news ...

    ... Twitter will have to remove it until the government can prove they are not lying?

    Interesting times ahead!

  • May 11th, 2019 @ 2:40am

    How do courts rule with other "evidence"

    How do judges rule with, say, weapons, used to commit crimes?

    Will the fact that they purchased the gun be sufficient evidence to send them to jail? Or does the police have to prove that they actually fired the shot?

  • Apr 27th, 2019 @ 12:57am

    Are they suggesting we design...

    ... a banana costume with sunglasses, then sue Rasta for producing one that looks too similar?

  • Apr 18th, 2019 @ 10:25am

    Or maybe ...

    ... the FBI should stop wasting resources on meddling with presidential elections or setting up bogus terrorists.

    And do more good old fashioned police work. Talk to people, collect evidence.

    Instead of inventing some "risks", dreaming up some scenarios - and then surveilling the heck out of everybody and their grandmother in a desperate attempt to pick up some dirt to throw around.

    Instead of dreaming up scenarios where just possibly a suspect might have written and saved a detailed plan of their crime with all the evidence for a conviction on an encrypted smartphone. (A point that hasn't gotten much attention yet: The Mueller-investigation just concluded officially that Comey's idea about Russian interference has been a ginormous waste of time and money. The correct course of action would have been to fire Comey for incompetence and treason when he started interfering with the election campaign.)

  • Apr 13th, 2019 @ 5:13am

    The answer is easy

    Back to the last century: The EU's endgame appears to be an internet purely as a commercial platform - a combination of cable TV and amazon.com. Possibly a propaganda channel for the EU commission, and maybe another one for the party with the most votes in the EU parliament. Cable TV can provide that.

    With the new regionalised internet, any "Inappropriate" channels will be bullied and regulated away - country-by-country. Just look how Al Jazeera and RT are being shuttered by our governments.

  • Apr 10th, 2019 @ 12:38am

    The war on Terror - just a vehicle for a power grab? By who?

    While the effects of terrorism on people living in Europe is negligible, politicians see it as a convenient means to ratchet up police powers. Anti-Terror laws have been turned into police batons for smashing to pieces human and constitutional rights.

    No longer is evidence required to convict people of crimes to send them to prison - a simple allegation that someone MIGHT commit a crime in the future is sufficient to lock them up for a long time, and a simple suggestion that a web site MIGHT contain something illegal (or just inconvenient?) is now sufficient to take the entire site offline, no questions asked (no judge involved who might ask). (German ISP Vodaphone just blocked a site at the request of collection society GEMA, citing some vaguely related old court case as justification).

    Qui bono? Who wants this power, and why? Is there an agenda someone is driving, or is this simply bureaucracy out of control, with people getting paid for dreaming up new laws, just in case?

  • Apr 6th, 2019 @ 12:49pm

    Where is the competiton in video streaming?

    Spotify appears to rake in billions for the music industry, according to a recent Tech Dirt article - an all-you-can-eat-subscription to the tune of $10 per month.

    Video streaming started of in a similar way - but keeps fragmenting to a point where users have to pay several subscriptions to access the content they want to watch. The movie industry conducted a study recently concluding that around 22 subscriptions are needed for access to all current soaps and movies. Extra ones for legacy content, and some more for sports.

    Even if there were people around who could afford to 250 Dollars a month, they'd get lousy value for money.

    Until the industry gets their head around the fact with their reduced role in the internet age, they'll have to accept lower profits, people will resort to piracy since there simply isn't a legal option with acceptable terms.

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