M. Alan Thomas II’s Techdirt Profile


About M. Alan Thomas IITechdirt Insider

My addiction started when I began reading copyright law for fun in college, and it's all been downhill from there: library school, a "Guild of Radical Militant Librarians" t-shirt, an information policy Tumblr, and now Techdirt.

M. Alan Thomas II’s Comments comment rss

  • Feb 5th, 2016 @ 1:15pm


    The first and second parties are the police and their target. The phone company is not directly involved in A trying to catch B; they're just a third party, as is everyone else who is not the prosecution or the defense.

  • Feb 5th, 2016 @ 1:12pm

    (untitled comment)

    There is no Fourth Amendment right to evade a valid arrest warrant. Andrews was wanted on multiple counts of attempted murder. A life "on the lam" may require some inconveniences, such as not staying in one's home, and turning one's cell phone off when not in use. There is no constitutional right to avoid being arrested for one's crimes, and nothing unreasonable about the police using the same information that Andrews was sharing with the rest of the world to apprehend him.
    So what I'm reading here is that it is the government's belief that you do not have any constitutional rights if the government issues a warrant for your arrest; any and all methods to arrest you should be legal because "There is no constitutional right to avoid being arrested for one's crimes." Scary.

  • Feb 5th, 2016 @ 12:49pm

    (untitled comment)

    Small nuclear reactors may be expensive, but large ones . . . well, the infrastructure cost of the plants themselves is expensive, but the production cost of the energy is cheap.

    Of course, on the safety front, the safest reactors are the newest models, while we've been so worried about safety in the U.S. that we haven't let anyone build them (or any new reactor) and instead keep extending the permitted operational life of the old ones. 9_9

  • Jan 30th, 2016 @ 6:19pm

    (untitled comment)

    Regardless of what I think of Trump, is there an issue here that the only takedown targeted a news network with which Trump is currently having a spat? Although I suppose that would require EMI to back Trump, and I have no idea what their position (if any) is.

  • Jan 27th, 2016 @ 11:58am

    (untitled comment)

    Does anyone know if any of the other suits were valid? A lot of them seem to be against t-shirt companies, and I can see that being a lot more likely. Not just because they're a likely place for a meme, but because I've seen plenty of t-shirt companies with rapidly-rotating stock that strikes me as dubiously licensed (but gone too fast for most people to notice). But I want to know if I'm being overly-cynical here.

  • Jan 18th, 2016 @ 7:34pm


    Dying relatively young just after your final work comes out is the sort of thing for which I respect copyright surviving the creator. Let's say you've got a 27-year-old artist who's just put out their latest work and had a kid. Then they die in a car crash. Dead people don't necessarily connect with fans well and certainly can't tour. I feel like they should be able to try to have their kid supported through college on their final work—no guarantee that any art is still making money after that long, but that's not the law's problem—especially given that most creators would have reasonably expected to be around and supporting their kid that long and most kids can reasonably expect their parents to support them until they're adults. And then because we don't want to make copyright some sort of incentive to keep having kids or a moral test, we put a flat minimum copyright duration into the law without asking who the heirs are and how deserving they are.

    Similarly, I don't want a flat expiration-on-death even for older works, because publishers might not want to publish new editions / retrospectives of old or sick creators if they're afraid that they won't have the rights long enough to earn out production costs. (Publishers aren't perfectly logical here, but the law should be designed to encourage them to not screw over old and sick creators regardless of what we think of their logic.) Of course, that only requires extended duration for a few years after death, and a flat copyright term wouldn't have death problems at all.

    There's also an argument to be made for ensuring that any spree-buying in the wake of a beloved creator's death goes through licensed channels rather than a fly-by-night publisher who swoops in to make cheap memorial editions of suddenly-public-domain works before the creator's body is even cold.

  • Jan 15th, 2016 @ 9:14pm

    (untitled comment)

    I feel like Online Policy Group v. Diebold, Inc. would cover this, that being a security-relevant leaked-emails case.

  • Jan 14th, 2016 @ 8:54pm

    (untitled comment)

    Isn't figuring out which provisions of the law are interdependent and which are severable something that judges, y'know, get paid to do?

  • Jan 14th, 2016 @ 11:45am

    (untitled comment)

    When encrypted cell phones are outlawed, only outlaws will have encrypted cell phones.

    (Also, do they really think that international terrorists are going to solely use phones sold in New York?)

  • Jan 13th, 2016 @ 4:37pm

    Re: Re:

    What web page? T-Mobile.com, the website of T-Mobile, the company we're talking about. Why, did you think it might be hidden on Verizon's?

    Do you need to create a login to access it? Yes, you have to click the hot pink "SIGN UP" button if you have not done so in the past. If you've forgotten your username, it's your phone number. If you've forgotten your password, they can text it to you. (Not terribly secure, no, but not hard, either.) As someone who works in a public library, I can confirm that some people have trouble with stuff like this, but they also usually don't know how to use a smart phone.

    Why is it not a setting in the phone menu? I don't know why it's not a setting in the phone menu. I don't recall any T-Mobile-specific settings in my running-vanilla-Android phone menu; should my provider be inserting their own controls into my phone menu?

    Why do some people report not seeing it or it's greyed out? THOSE are excellent questions. No idea. I hear there's some conflict with some legacy data stash plans and so on, which DO have some sort of super-secret opt-out site. You should probably lead with those issues.

  • Dec 26th, 2015 @ 9:59pm

    (untitled comment)

    Well, some of the people paying little-to-no money to watch it for free at home are the sort of people who would be willing to pay $20 to see it at the theater . . . and they will. The rest are not, and they won't. The better point is that very few people fall into the third category.

  • Dec 14th, 2015 @ 5:45pm

    Re: Re: Cell phone signal blocking.

    I agree; the use of mass shootings to push a point on cell phones at concerts seems contrary to the usual ethos around here. If the logic were more persuasive, that would be a different matter, but here it feels like an off-hand shout-out to tragedy to garner emotional support for a mostly-unrelated gripe.

  • Dec 9th, 2015 @ 1:20pm

    (untitled comment)

    I'm just copying the original petitions demands into the new form to tell them that no, seriously, we really mean it.

  • Dec 4th, 2015 @ 2:11am

    (untitled comment)

    I'd expect to see a push from the Chinese government for home-grown CDNs that don't host (or will internally block) blacklisted content. The most likely route to make that work would be for the government to use a combination of incentives and selective blocking (e.g., slowly rolling out blocks on encrypted connections) to make most major sites transition at least their encrypted content to those CDNs.

  • Dec 4th, 2015 @ 1:58am

    Re: Things to do today ...

    Yes, but while they want you to report unattended items that may be potential bombs, they don't want you to report anything urgent that would require an immediate police response.

  • Dec 1st, 2015 @ 11:23pm

    (untitled comment)

    "This opens the organizations up to unnecessary risk. If the words "might", "possible", or "potential" are used in an argument supporting the collection of data, you're about to violate the principle of least data. You should only collect and store data for well understood use.
    Three words: NSA.

  • Nov 16th, 2015 @ 4:27pm

    (untitled comment)

    In the disappeared New York Times article you referred to in a previous post, the claim was that the attackers had communicated with ISIS. That implies that we were collecting information on their communications, but once again we couldn't filter the signal from the noise until we had the benefit of hindsight.

    Also, it's ridiculous that they're claiming that we know who's talking to ISIS at the same time as they're saying that encryption makes it impossible to know who the bad guys are.

  • Nov 9th, 2015 @ 12:59pm

    (untitled comment)

    PETA has even less of a right to the copyright in the photo than Slater[...].
    It's "even less of a right to a copyright" not "the copyright"; the definite article assumes the existence of a copyright, when none such exists.

  • Nov 4th, 2015 @ 1:10pm

    (untitled comment)

    I don't like giving the police abusable powers, but I must admit to liking the idea of cops having to think of their job as helping people rather than just busting them.

  • Oct 30th, 2015 @ 2:03pm

    (untitled comment)

    So . . . they're complaining about something very similar to Cuban paladares just because it's a model that they're not used to competing with.

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