BobinBaltimore 's Techdirt Comments

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  • So A Lawyer, A Comedian And An Economist Walk Into A Bar… Copyright, Reputation And Comedy

    BobinBaltimore ( profile ), 12 Dec, 2009 @ 07:12am

    Re: Re:

    Mr. AC, you should step out form behind your cloak of anonymity and adopt the name "Pontificating List Maker." I'm not necessarily in agreement with Norman, but sheesh!

  • So A Lawyer, A Comedian And An Economist Walk Into A Bar… Copyright, Reputation And Comedy

    BobinBaltimore ( profile ), 12 Dec, 2009 @ 07:04am

    Re: So, Make it That Copying isn't Stealing

    "As long as my name is on the material and they are not profiting from or misrepresenting the work..." Ahh, but here's the rub. What happens when the point of infringing (stealing, whatever) IS to profit? To repurpose creative, change it in a basically immaterial way, or overlay some bolt-on "yeah-yeahs" or whatever, and SELL it. That is precisely one of the challenges here. Oh and keeping the original creator's name on the material is another problem.

    Endless distribution of infinite goods leads to one set of questions. But the annexation of someone else's creation for profit is another.

    I think the story above has it largely right...for comedians. They are notoriously good about self-enforcing anti-theft (or theft without attribution) within their community. Unfortunately, most other communities are not so good, hence the perception for the need for a legal construct and law suits to underpin what used to be somewhat enforced by social mores.

    New lines definitely need to be drawn. But I don't think an absence of lines is the answer. You have it about right: required attribution and some form of limits on the profits gained by outright annexation of someone else's creation. But that's tough to enforce in a way that doesn't land everything in court.

  • Politicians Investigating Leaks Sites… Not Leaks

    BobinBaltimore ( profile ), 11 Dec, 2009 @ 07:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Difference


  • Politicians Investigating Leaks Sites… Not Leaks

    BobinBaltimore ( profile ), 11 Dec, 2009 @ 06:37am

    Re: The Leaks...

    I agree with your sentiment, but there is this pesky issue of the law. Different classifications of government documents are made through a defined process. I am not contending that this process is without politics, errors or deceit, but it is the process. Anyone who knowingly skirts that or releases said documents is subject to the long arm of the law. The misuse of those classifications should also be prosecuted, but rarely is.

    I do hope the law and the process changes. But, in the meantime, I also don't want every rogue with access to docs feeling that they, as either smart or stupid individuals (there are examples of both with clearance), can decide which should be released without fear of repercussions.

  • Politicians Investigating Leaks Sites… Not Leaks

    BobinBaltimore ( profile ), 11 Dec, 2009 @ 05:29am


    I would note that there is a difference between whistleblowing (revealing illegality or wrong-doing) and just leaking information, especially when that information is classified. Completely agree that the messenger should not be killed in really either case, especially the first.

  • Is Everyone Who Received Monday's Metro Toronto Guilty Of Child Porn Possession?

    BobinBaltimore ( profile ), 10 Dec, 2009 @ 05:29am

    From Metro Toronto

    Looks like the paper's lawyers have reviewed this and, as expected, concluded that it's not child porn, but that it is inadvisable to propagate it further. From their site, following the link Mike provided:

    "UPDATE, DECEMBER 9, 2009: According to the Catholic school board which represents St. Peter's, the photo depicts a current seventeen-year-old student of the school. While the image as it appeared in Metro does not constitute "child pornography"—those depicted are not "engaged in explicit sexual activity" nor was the image's "dominant characteristic...the depiction, for a sexual purpose, of a sexual organ"—we've nonetheless pixellated the point of contention in the photo above."

  • Stop Wallowing And Start Doing Cool Stuff With Business Models, The Wil Wheaton Edition

    BobinBaltimore ( profile ), 30 Nov, 2009 @ 04:14am


    I get your point, but the comparison is fallacious. John Mayer is a current artist. Bon Jovi saw their best years literally 20 years ago. And they are in different genres. Comparing their sales numbers is problematic. That aside, your point *might* still stand, if you can find a contemporary to make it valid.

  • Crackdown On Loyalty Program Scams Shows How Ridiculously Successful They Were

    BobinBaltimore ( profile ), 18 Nov, 2009 @ 05:49am

    Re: I got caught by Amex / Hertz tag team

    I lived the same problem in the late 90s. The point you are missing (with apologies) is that corporate travel agreements with carriers, rental car companies, hotels and such are NEVER about getting the lowest price, especially when the industry you're in allows for billing travel expenses back to clients. They are also rarely about getting improved on-the-road benefits for the folks doing the work. These agreements are complex cashflow arrangements wherein the company receives "benefits" from the vendors...might be cash, might be discounts or free travel for senior execs, might be rebates on total spend. Certain rental groups, hotel chains and airlines live on this stuff. It's very confusing and counter-intuitive until the whole agreement is disclosed. Which almost never happens.

  • Newspaper Industry Lawyers Attack Fair Use, Claim Google Is Illegal

    BobinBaltimore ( profile ), 16 Nov, 2009 @ 04:28am

    Re: Claim Google Is Illegal,,,?

    I agree with your sentiment, but never forget the inconvenient truth: internet advertising revenue for most sites is peanuts in both absolute terms and when compared to print ad revenue. That's a big part of the problem.

  • Newspaper Industry Lawyers Attack Fair Use, Claim Google Is Illegal

    BobinBaltimore ( profile ), 16 Nov, 2009 @ 04:20am

    Re: Re: You're all misunderstanding Murdoch's strategy

    Wha? Look, I agree that these lawyers (and Murdoch) are getting into territory that is murky, dangerous and overly dramatic, but it is simply nuts to say that Murdoch (NewsCorp) is insignificant, and his sites are a blip. Have you LOOKED at what he owns outright, or has a substantial stake in? Forget and, even and all his Sky news services, how about MySpace and Hulu? How about his HarperCollins book division, one of the world's largest publishers (including of some very interesting economics and digital culture titles)? NewsCorp puts out a HUGE amount of content (which is, of course, not the same as information. I agree with the general sentiment of the thread here, but that sentiment is only undermined by trying to erroneously belittle the scope and impact of this massive media house.

  • Free Doesn't Mean Devalued

    BobinBaltimore ( profile ), 13 Nov, 2009 @ 02:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: To simplify

    You're spot-on. Some of what I react to on TechDirt is what appears at least to me to be this black and white notion of smartness versus stupidity (as Mike likes to say). "Paywalls are bad." "Free is good." "It's smart to do xxx." "It's dumb to do yyy" I think there is a lot of gray area, and many valid and valuable hybrids yet to be tried or even invented. Thanks for your thoughtfulness.

  • Free Doesn't Mean Devalued

    BobinBaltimore ( profile ), 13 Nov, 2009 @ 02:54pm

    Re: Re:

    *Some* people want to support their artists. Many people are perfectly happy taking the free music. The question becomes the constant search for how to make *some* into *enough.*

  • Free Doesn't Mean Devalued

    BobinBaltimore ( profile ), 13 Nov, 2009 @ 01:27pm

    Re: Re: To simplify

    Blaise, thanks for your patience. Your last few lines make a lot more sense to me, though I think they are at odds with what is often espoused here on ol' TechDirt: "No one's saying "don't sell music." I'm just explaining why you don't need to rely on selling digital audio files (since that's risky business)."

  • Will Murdoch Kill The One Smart Part Of The WSJ's Paywall?

    BobinBaltimore ( profile ), 13 Nov, 2009 @ 05:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: You won't read the WSJ anymore?

    Derek, I do see your point. The complication here is that many news and content sites aren't self-sustaining from monetization of free traffic today. The true risk is in doing not. I think we can agree on that. Certainly putting up a paywall is a risk, no doubt. But it is a risk that tends toward the known for businesses like WSJ, where subscription models of various sorts have sustained the business for decades. And those models have evolved, BTW.

    I am not advocating paywalls. I am saying that paywalls CAN and may very well need to be PART of a strategy of either continued revenue success or a return to revenue success for businesses that had somewhat indiscriminately been giving their content (not information, which is ubiquitous) away free without seeing commensurate monetization with prior approaches. There has to be a balance between "potential future monetization" and being able to sustain the business with real cash flow between now and then. Paywalls may not be an end point, but they are a legitimate (meaning: not dumb) method to consider when trying to dig a content business out from the revenue abyss.

  • Will Murdoch Kill The One Smart Part Of The WSJ's Paywall?

    BobinBaltimore ( profile ), 12 Nov, 2009 @ 03:48pm

    Re: Re: You won't read the WSJ anymore?

    Okay, touche on the smarminess...I probably overstated. But you often use an implicit "smart-dumb" dichotomy which admittedly bugs me.

    On "Are you a subscriber here? No. I have receive no revenue at all from you then. Should I block you from reading Techdirt? That seems pretty dumb to me. There are lots of ways to monetize your presence, even if I'm not getting you to hand me cash directly." Again, the "smart-dumb" thing. But anyway...your business model (an entirely business, actually) is DIFFERENT than WSJ. TechDirt is almost exclusively derivative content and comments on it...and I mean that appreciation and respect. The point of TechDirt is the commentary, so the driver for you to remain open and free is obvious. The WSJ produces original content targeted at a predominantly business audience. And the scale, cost structure and audience are wildly different. Totally different, so I think your strawman doesn't quite fit.

    As for how much communities matter to revenue for the B2B WSJ, you say "But they sure will be tomorrow." Okay...that's your guess, with your a priories. Do communities take only one form and must they be free? Certainly not. Why can't Murdoch explore a different approach to the same challenge? Free is, perhaps, one means to the end of revenue. There are certainly other means and many hybrids yet to be explored.

    "You assume that those "freeloaders" can't be monetized. You're in the news business, aren't you? Do you really need a map on how to monetize "freeloaders"?" Yes, you know my IP reveals that I am in the middle of some of this. I am not assuming that freeloaders can't be monetized. But I can give you 30 examples live today that show that it is extremely difficult to monetize freeloaders to the degree necessary to support a business as a going concern, even partially. I agree that this will change (Hulu, in many ways, gives us all hope). But we have to get from here to there, and business that have dozens, hundreds or tens of thousands of employees need revenue along the way. A leap of faith is generally not regarded as a solid business strategy.

    And I do agree that the loss of prestige and virality (is that a word?) is a problem for any business using a paywall. But it is much more of a problem for pubs that are purely consumer focused. Either way, it is something that needs to be carefully measured and managed. And measuring and managing that is a helluva difficult task.

  • Free Doesn't Mean Devalued

    BobinBaltimore ( profile ), 12 Nov, 2009 @ 03:31pm

    To simplify

    I'm really trying to get my mind around this stuff...but I'm a simple guy, so let me see if I can summarize this simply: In the case of music, I pay $0 for the song, which I value (the song which I "connect" with and "embrace") because it is not scarce as a result of easy means of distribution and reproduction. Yet in order to support the artist, I pay $10 for a tote bag, autograph or T-shirt, which I value not nearly as much as the song, because they are scarce? Basically, as a result of this support-by-proxy-purchase, I am still paying a higher price for the thing I value - the song - but I have to get crap in the mail to do it.

    I'm not trying to be smarmy, but so much of these conversations seem to boil down to paying nothing for the thing people actually want, and instead buying something you don't necessarily want in order to support the artist who produced the thing you actually value. Again, I KNOW I'm oversimplifying, but that's tough for markets and businesses that aren't driven by some kind of personally connected fandom. Explain to me how that would work for a B2B?

  • Will Murdoch Kill The One Smart Part Of The WSJ's Paywall?

    BobinBaltimore ( profile ), 12 Nov, 2009 @ 03:13pm

    You won't read the WSJ anymore?

    Mike, I get your points above and agree that this needs more consideration. I - as always - take issue with your subjective labeling of things you like as "smart" as it's kinda smarmy.

    That said, you make the comment above "If they stop allowing that [free access to expensive content], then I won't read the WSJ any more..." And to that I say, "so?" Assuming you are not a subscriber today, you are of little to no revenue value to WSJ today. You not coming to the site means nothing to the WSJ. The inconvenient truth is that online ad revenue is peanuts and Murdoch is right: advertisers don't want to pay for fleeting eyes. Your further comment that "and the community of readers and commenters here will never hear from the WSJ again." is true to some degree...some communities (namely those who don't subscribe and represent little to no revenue value to WSJ) will self-exclude, true. But those communities are largely of no value to the business of the Wall Street Journal today. For some businesses that might be suicide. For the WSJ, I doubt it. It thrives on unique and uniquely targeted content (not information, which is ubiquitous, but content) for predominantly business-oriented readers. In this regard, it is more akin to a B2B publication than most newspapers out there, even the biggies.

    I agree that limiting the near revenueless eyes hitting the pages will likely result in a loss of prestige, if not carefully managed, but this is not the same as loss of revenue. As a for-profit business, is it better to have 100,000 revenue generating pairs of eyes, or 1,000,000 freeloaders? It differs business to business, but the tendency is probably toward the former, not the latter. THIS is the challenge of print to digital migration.

    I know that you and TechDirt spend a lot of time talking about everyone "embracing" everything and "connecting" all too often in very nebulous, warm and fuzzy paragraphs. I'll shock you by saying that I AGREE that those strategies are useful, even very useful in consumer markets especially where fandom is a big factor in the purchase decision. But connecting in a more B2B context is often (not always) a different beast. People don't subscribe to Bloomberg and Westlaw so they can giggle in the forums and speculate the universe. "Connecting" in the B2B context is being relevant, useful and constructive toward the business at hand. WSJ is, in my opinion, more along those lines, than fan-based consumerism.

  • A Look At All The Sites Owned By Rupert Murdoch That 'Steal' Content

    BobinBaltimore ( profile ), 11 Nov, 2009 @ 01:19pm

    Re: Murdoch's master plan?

    Strongly agreed.

    Mike has a great point (though FoxNews Buzztracker is dead, as far as I can tell...Mike had to grab and old link on Murdoch definitely has some major inconsistencies to deal with.

    That said, he is no one's fool and has turned crap into gold many, many times before. It is silly and historically inaccurate to portray him as quixotic, out-of-touch or stupid. Doesn't mean he hasn't and won't again make a bad call, but it does mean that there is a definite (and most often successful) method to his madness.

  • Judge Says No Twittering From The Courtroom

    BobinBaltimore ( profile ), 10 Nov, 2009 @ 06:49am

    Re: 2 seperate issues

    Agreed, it is two separate issues.

    On the broadcasting from inside the courtroom front, it's just not as simple as broadcasting is allowed or isn't. Certain areas and events in court need to be blacked out in order to protect jurors, witnesses, confidential or embarrassing information. With a court operated TV feed, they can manage that relatively easily and reliably. But if everyone has a laptop or smartphone, there is NOTHING to prevent someone from broadcasting names, information, even juror descriptions. Hell, why not pictures, video and audio? Clearly this is a problem for any court proceeding open to the public, even before technology was a factor. But in-person activities can be managed to a degree and are not realtime and don't carry the recording risk. But now, the means to record and broadcast realtime are nearly ubiquitous and only traceable after the fact...once the damaging bell is rung. Most devices which can Twitter can also capture rich media.

    There has to be a balance between the rights of those attending court and those involved in the case - plaintiff, defendant, jurors, witnesses.

    I know in my county courthouse, no cell/smart phones or PDAs are allowed at all, except for court officers.

  • Attacks On File Sharing Simply Drive People Further Underground

    BobinBaltimore ( profile ), 04 Nov, 2009 @ 08:05am

    Re: Re: Re: history repeats itself

    Really, really bad logic, AC. A licensed locksmith is now a likely criminal because he has a set of lock picks that COULD be used illegally? The owner of a car is a likely drunk driver because he *could* get behind the wheel after a few? A person who uses an secure anon service after getting their identity stolen or spammed into submission is assumed a likely criminal because the use such a service? Ridiculous. Most technologies (and devices and fluids) can be used for criminal purposes somehow, somewhere. But that does not mean that are indicative of criminal activity on their face.

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