Tim R’s Techdirt Profile

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  • Oct 21st, 2020 @ 1:27pm

    Re: Re:

    Funny, I seem to remember the same comments about IBM back in the day. And Oracle. And Microsoft. And the big three TV networks. And Lotus spreadsheets. And Atari. And Clear Channel Radio. Companies that were too big or too popular to fail, and not all of them did. Everybody just stopped caring about them as much, as the next big thing whizzed by and took up the lead.

    Relevance comes and goes at it's own leisure, no matter how much money you throw at it. A funny thing happens when you fight your way to the top: you get complacent about doing what it takes to stay there.

    Whether or not you split up Google, sooner or later, some new kid on the block is gonna knock them off their mighty perch with the next killer app. Anybody who doesn't see that kind of cyclical process in tech hasn't been paying attention for the last 50 years. The wheels of justice aren't the only wheels that grind slowly.

  • Oct 21st, 2020 @ 10:12am

    (untitled comment)

    I'm a little confused about this "barrier to entry" argument. How exactly is Google preventing others from competing? Does it have a patent on the robots.txt file, that it can exclude everybody else's crawlers? Does it tell web sites to deny entry to all but Google's own search agent?

    I think somebody is confusing "barrier to entry" with "barrier to popularity". They say in their own motion, "[t]he creation, maintenance, and growth of a general search engine requires a significant capital investment, highly complex technology, access to effective distribution, and adequate scale." Did Google just conjure all of that out of thin air? No, they worked their asses off to develop it, and hired some of the best and brightest minds to implement it. Microsoft did the same thing, but spent way too much time shooting itself in the foot with some of its implementation decisions. That's why Bing doesn't have as much of a market share. And that's even after trying to ram their product down everybody's throats through their browser. Say what you will about the company itself, Google just creates a better product, even with all its warts.

    Where you differentiate yourself is in value added services. Duck Duck Go is a perfect example. According to the DOJ, they have about a 2% market share. But hell, until Android came around, Linux never had a 2% market share in operating systems, and it had been around for a couple of decades at that point. So to be a new company and only single digits behind 800-lb gorilla Microsoft means you must be keeping things interesting. In their case, it's the privacy angle.

    So DOJ, don't confuse barrier to entry with barrier to create a product that anybody's interested in.

  • Oct 20th, 2020 @ 12:31pm

    (untitled comment)

    A hypothetical thought exercise for a Tuesday afternoon:

    Let's say I defamed random politician Joe Smith. Let's say that I don't do anything halfway, and that there is really no gray area here. I defamed him, and I defamed him good. I have all of $20 and a coupon for a free Slurpee as my assets, and Mr. Smith's representation knows this. Without liability protection, which includes section 230, other court precedent, and, well, you know, common fucking sense. Mr. Smith's lawyers might file a suit naming:

    • Me (as a matter of course).
    • The social media site that displayed my defamatory content.
    • My broadband provider, who's copper I transmitted my defamatory content.
    • The manufacturer of my computer, which I used to write the defamatory content.
    • The landlord of my apartment, where my computer is located.
    • The local electric utility, for providing me power to that computer.
    • My employer, for providing me a source of income to pay power and rent during the defamation.
    • My roommate, for subsidizing my living expenses incurred during the defamation (by splitting room and board).
    • Antifa for radicalizing me (not true and can't be proved, but when has that stopped anybody in our gov't).
    • John Does 1-25, because council is just absolutely convinced that I couldn't have accomplished such a dastardly deed on my own.

    I'm sure your first reaction to this is that nobody would ever try and go that far, that it's an egregious use of judicial resources to even attempt it, and none of those associations would stick anyway.

    I'm sure five years ago, you also would have agreed that somebody who was having to protect their very freedom and liberty in a court of law after voicing protected political opinions anonymously on the internet while pretending to be a cow was absurd, too. We are living in an era where nothing is too outrageous to make a buck off of.

    No matter how absurd, every one of those named entities would have to expend money to defend themselves against baseless accusations, money that they wouldn't be able to recover. Now multiply that by 100 a day. And the bottom feeders that represent Mr. Smith would just keep raking in the billable hours.

    If the past twenty years has taught us anything, it's that if you give unscrupulous opportunists even a little opening, they'll try to use it to establish precedent. How about we just take care of it now and do the right thing.

  • Oct 18th, 2020 @ 8:51am

    (untitled comment)

    The summary of every Anti-230 bill in Congress right now:

    The people who don't contribute nearly enough to our re-election campaigns, and don't provide nearly enough jobs and tax income for [insert legislator's home state here], are breaking no laws, and are, in fact, behaving in such a way that the law actually encourages.

    They promote the free exchange of knowledge in an uncluttered marketplace of ideas by large multi-national corporations and private individuals alike, on a playing field more level than at any point in the history of the Earth. They combat those who would pollute that commons with self-serving tripe designed to foster division instead of cooperation, in favor of their own selfish interests.

    They do all of this under a legal framework that mimics existing liability, present in our system for decades and backed by an immeasurable amount of common sense. It provides efficient ways to reduce court burden by offering a viable defense to those who have been wrongfully targeted by opportunists that would choose to simply shift blame to an entity with deeper pockets.

    It's abhorrent and must be stopped [so that I can show people how tough I am during an election year].
    We must do something [no matter how counterproductive].
    Think of the children [and lawyers, but mostly lawyers].

  • Oct 16th, 2020 @ 7:55am

    (untitled comment)

    As always, backpfeifengesicht...

  • Oct 15th, 2020 @ 11:12am

    (untitled comment)

    One could be forgiven for thinking that the people who actually write laws would know that none of them are actually being broken. Hauling Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey into a Senate Hearing because you're butt-hurt should be considered professional malpractice, and in a perfect world, would hammer the last few nails into the coffin of your legislative career.

  • Oct 9th, 2020 @ 3:02pm

    (untitled comment)

    I'd make a comment about your penis being bricked, but that kind of sadism really belongs in other message fora....

  • Sep 23rd, 2020 @ 10:04pm

    (untitled comment)

    I can only invoke the name of another who was inspired by the great motorcycle stuntmen of the 70s: the legendary Super Dave Osborne. That was a giant among men.

  • Sep 22nd, 2020 @ 3:02pm

    (untitled comment)

    I'm a little perplexed that this hasn't yet turned into a copyright issue. The fair use factors, in my opinion, don't really favor Clearview.

    1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes

    Clearly commercial. If all they were doing was fingerprinting the pictures, that might be transformative, but I highly doubt they're throwing out the original images.

    2) the nature of the copyrighted work

    Might be a tough analysis there.

    3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole

    Don't think there's really an argument for de minimis here, and substantiality weighs against them, since they're using the significant portions of the images, ie the people.

    4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work

    Two prongs here, from different vectors. Value from the person because of potential privacy issues, and value from the host. "If your not the customer, you're the product". I know copyright infringement isn't theft, but this is probably closer to the idea of shoplifting than anything the entertainment industry has thrown down.

    The average person isn't going to want to file copyright applications for their vacation pictures, but if their scraping is liberal enough, I'm sure they're also snagging pictures from models and photographers, or example, that somebody does have a financial interest in.

  • Sep 18th, 2020 @ 1:50pm

    (untitled comment)

    Dershowitz's lawyer (yes, he found an actual Florida man lawyer to file this lawsuit) talks about how only playing part of his long silly answer would lead people to believe that Dersh had "lost his mind"...

    Funny, filing this lawsuit lead me to believe he had lost his mind.

    Oh, and as a Floridian, I apologize for our state, for cranking out tripe like this. It's kinda what we do down here. I think it's the humidity, honestly.

  • Sep 13th, 2020 @ 12:17pm

    (untitled comment)

    Here's something that's somewhat marginally related, but I thought still interesting on the front of Section 230, and the illusion that the FCC has anything to do with it.

    I'm currently studying for my amateur radio license, and one of the sample questions on the test is this:

    Question: "Who is accountable should a repeater inadvertently retransmit communications that violate the FCC rules"
    Layman Translation: "Who is accountable should a piece of automated equipment that simply relays information relay something that breaks the rules."

    Correct Answer: "The control operator of the originating station"
    Layman Translation: "The person who said it"

    Even in examinations that verify that a person understands Part 97 (Amateur Radio Service) of Title 47 (Telecommunications) (1) of the US Code of Federal Regulations, the FCC understands liability correctly. If they were to say any differently about Section 230, it might sound a little, I don't know, disingenuous...

    (1) Section 97.205(g): The control operator of a repeater that retransmits inadvertently communications that violate the rules in this part is not accountable for the violative communications.

  • Sep 2nd, 2020 @ 9:04am

    (untitled comment)

    If voters suspect misinformation, they should report it to misinformation@michigan.gov.

    What wonderous times we live in, that having a dedicated email address just to deal with misinformation is a thing.

  • Aug 27th, 2020 @ 6:32pm

    (untitled comment)

    I have to admit that reading this exquisite blockbuster of a pleading was a multi-act comedy in my head. Especially when it came to the claims:

    The first claim is that there are 1st and 5th Amendment violations... by the private company defendants...

    Sigh.

    The second claim is... Lanham Act violations...

    Where's my cocktail?

    Kennedy then cites the President's nonsense Executive Order on social media...

    Swell, Junior, why don't you just throw effing RICO into the mix, too???

    Next up, Kennedy argues (you guessed it) RICO violations...

    God dammit.

  • Aug 14th, 2020 @ 10:14am

    (untitled comment)

    This is actually fairly devastating to Malibu. Their entire business model is predicated on them having to do the absolutely minimum of work to collect a judgement. For them to actually be required to do due diligence digs pretty deep into their bottom line. It's not what they signed up for.

  • Aug 3rd, 2020 @ 9:47am

    (untitled comment)

    But what about encryption? I thought encryption was supposed to make crimes unsolvable? Will we see officials holding up a 17-year-old's phone on national TV that they can't get into and whining because they can't pile on extra charges?

  • Jul 31st, 2020 @ 6:37am

    (untitled comment)

    I really love it when a blog post grabs you with the very first sentence?

    The DOJ has a Civil Rights Division??? Where have they been since 2016??? Oh, that's right, doing a study of Alabama prisons.

    Man, they must really be understaffed...

  • Jul 21st, 2020 @ 11:13am

    (untitled comment)

    I will gladly admit that I'm probably one of the last people that would go off on some kind of anti-capitalism screed, but man, it sure feels like I'm about to...

  • Jul 14th, 2020 @ 6:24am

    (untitled comment)

    Nothing new to see here...well, you know, besides the systemic racism.

    This has been going on as a pilot project for years, only there it was called the DMCA, where private individuals and companies have taken automated sleuthing and elevated it to an error-prone art form. Could we have imagined that the pros would have done any better?

    Truth is that we're still at least a decade or two away from any of these systems working within a 10% error rate (which still isn't close to being good enough to be relied upon for major cases), and shouldn't be using people's liberties as some kind of grand beta test. It's what you get when you confuse a tool with a process, and right now, these automated technologies are just tools that need to be baby-sat by human beings.

    You know, kinda like the people using them.

    Oh, and one other thing:

    Supposedly, this software will now only be used to identify people wanted for violent felonies.

    And how is this better? So, instead of accidentally accusing somebody of a minor crime, now we're going to ruin innocent peoples' lives for the big stuff? Go big or go home, I guess.

  • Jul 1st, 2020 @ 1:14pm

    (untitled comment)

    To:
    John Matze
    CEO, Parler

    When you make sensationalized and bombastic claims, don't be surprised when people call you on that shit.

    Sincerely,
    Todd Davis
    CEO, Lifelock
    SSN #<scribble scribble scribble>

    (ed note: paraphrased, I'm sure)

  • Jun 24th, 2020 @ 11:18am

    (untitled comment)

    Color me surprised, but this is just the War On Drugs, Part Whatever, with a smattering of Florida Sheriff Grady Judd's shame campaign. It's much easier and a better volume proposition for LE to arrest the end users than to put in any actual leg work and go after the people causing it all.

    I suspect next we'll have the DoJ manufacturing sex slave rings, and getting some homeless guy who lives under a bridge to run it for them so they can arrest him. How many imaginary trafficked girls is the major felony threshold?

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