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  • Mar 26th, 2017 @ 2:48am

    Re: Re: More stretch than an industrial rubber-band

    No, the shirt is not copyright; the design on the shirt is copyrighted, because current law does not permit any new creation to not be copyrighted.

    It is impossible to avoid copyrighting what you create, except by not creating it - but it is not impossible to disclaim any of the rights which that copyright would grant you.

  • Mar 26th, 2017 @ 2:43am


    The more power you have, the greater should be your obligation to "play fair".

    Breaking or subverting the rules is only acceptable for the "little guy".

    An action taken by the "little guy" can have significantly different character, and thus acceptability, from the exact same action taken by the mighty behemoth - and all the more so when the mighty behemoth takes actions not even available to the little guy.

    (This is part of why many of Microsoft's tactics, at least historically, have been a problem; Microsoft continued, and possibly continues, to see themselves as the little guy trying to get ahead rather than as the 800-pound gorilla abusing its power.)

  • Mar 26th, 2017 @ 2:33am

    Re: Re: Re: Fun facts:

    I think the rationale is something like "under civilian circumstances, close oversight and supervision - and immediate review of the details of what happened, independent of the actors' subjective reports - is much more practical than is the case in a military context", and so it's much easier to make sure the tools involved aren't abused against innocents in a civilian context than in the case of a war zone.

    That falls apart in practice if that oversight isn't applied or if the supervision doesn't care / is "in on it", but the basic idea doesn't seem entirely bad.

  • Mar 25th, 2017 @ 4:55am


    Part of that would probably be addressed by his claim to have been the person who created Bitcoin in the first place, and thus the person who invented these things, and therefore the one who would have been entitled to patent them anyway.

    Even leaving that aside, it's an unfortunate apparent fact that some patent offices (including, apparently, USPTO) look for prior art only in existing patents or patent applications - not in things that no one has tried to patent. This means that if you invent something and don't try to patent it, someone else can come in later and apply for a patent on it, and the patent examiners won't notice that your invention is already out there - no matter how famous your invention may by that point be.

  • Mar 25th, 2017 @ 4:47am


    Where do you see "Copyright 2017 Techdirt"?

    The closest thing I see at a glance is the "Copyright by Leigh Beadon" in the left-hand column - but that's not a declaration that the article is copyrighted, it's an indication that the article is filed under the category of articles on the subject of "Copyright".

    I can't find it just offhand, and I need to leave for work fairly soon so I can't spare the time to dig deeper, but it's been repeatedly pointed out in the past that the articles on this site are - as a general rule - either available under a highly permissive Creative Commons licence (CC0?), or outright disclaimed into the public domain.

  • Mar 25th, 2017 @ 4:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Where to from here?

    Expected counterargument: "That's because the free market hasn't developed enough for there to be actual competition in your area, because there's so much regulation preventing it from developing. Get rid of the regulations that are getting in the way, and you'll see competitors become available, so that you have choices in the free market."

    It's not entirely clear which regulations are supposed to be getting in the way, there; the closest thing to a specific example I remember having seen argued for is the wireless-spectrum allocation and noninterference rules, which forbid anyone from using spectrum without permission from whoever it's been allocated to - and of course, without that rule, as soon as two people start trying to provide service in the same frequenceis you get so much interference that neither of them actually provides useful service.

    Exactly what the analogous obstaculatory (neologism!) regulations on the wired-service side of the fence are supposed to be I'm not clear about.

  • Mar 23rd, 2017 @ 5:44am

    Re: just too damn hard for govt to follow the law

    The argument is that it's obviously reasonable for border agents to search baggage, et cetera, that is crossing the border - and thus that, since this is not an "unreasonable" search, the Fourth Amendment does not prohibit it.

    There's a widespread idea that the Fourth Amendment contains the underlying assumption "any search which is not authorized by a duly-issued warrant is unreasonable", but the text of the amendment does not actually state that, and the courts have not universally held to that as a hard requirement.

  • Mar 23rd, 2017 @ 5:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The fact that they do not routinely do it does not make the fact that they claim (and have apparently been permitted) the authority to do it less of a problem.

  • Mar 22nd, 2017 @ 7:15am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I'm more hesitant to call myself a Democrat these days, but I certainly have no problem with guns; even my father - a pastor and an ardent pacifist, who is politically somewhere to the left of Gandhi - has no problem with guns as such and has expressed interest in the idea of acquiring one.

  • Mar 22nd, 2017 @ 7:12am

    Re: Re: Rampage killings

    The problem with that idea is the potential for abuse - the potential for society or those in power to arbitrarily label people as crazy, or falsely convict (or even just accuse) people of crimes, in order to deprive them of the guns which provide them with that equalizing power.

  • Mar 22nd, 2017 @ 6:06am


    If the concern is that the electronic devices may contain concealed bombs (or that there may be a plan to assemble components from such devices into a bomb mid-flight), as I've seen consistely reported is the case, why would it be appropriate for there to be an exception for such "coming back after a quick visit" cases?

  • Mar 22nd, 2017 @ 5:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It doesn't necessarily mean less control and less regulation.

    Regulations which serve to prevent A from impeding the liberty of B, more than they serve to impede the liberty of A, can be perfectly consistent with liberalism.

    (Also, the word doesn't necessarily mean that anyway. If you look at usage of the adjective "liberal" outside of a political context - which are, admittely, mostly a little archaic nowadays - you run into things like "she spread her toast liberally with butter" or "he poured out the drinks with a liberal hand", where the apparent meaning is approximately the opposite of "stingy".

    It's not universal, but I find that if you look at the political factions with "liberal" vs. "stingy" in mind, the positions each side takes tend to fit surprisingly well...)

  • Mar 21st, 2017 @ 9:32am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Loyalty is earned, not owed

    Tip: If you don't want people to think you're a right-wing partisan, be careful not to use "Democrat" as an adjective.

    The word "republican" is an adjective. The noun for "member of the Republican Party" is "Republican". The adjective for describing that party, or one of its members, is "Republican".

    The word "democratic" is an adjective. The noun for "member of the Democratic Party" is "Democrat". The adjective for describing that party, or one of its members, is "Democratic".

    The phrase "the Democrat Party" is both ungrammatical, and a sign that the speaker either doesn't know/care about the rules of the language, or is biased against the party being spoken of.

  • Mar 21st, 2017 @ 7:26am

    Re: Re: I have only one thing to say about Google...

    The defining characteristic of a monopoly is that it is the only place where you can buy the thing it's selling - whether because that thing is not sold anywhere else, or because you can't get to any of the other places where that thing is sold.

    You can get effective Web-search results from places other than Google (even if they may not be as good as the ones you get from Google), and as long as the network remains even vaguely neutral, you can get to those other places just as easily as you can get to Google. Thus, Google does not have a monopoly in the search market.

    There's more of an argument that Google may come close to a monopoly in the online-advertising market, but I don't think they pass that line even there.

  • Mar 21st, 2017 @ 7:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A tale of a divided country

    The term "defensive voting" more properly refers to the reaction to the spoiler effect: the people who prefer C deciding to vote instead for B, in order to prevent A from being elected, with the side effect that the real degree of support for C is not visible in the election results.

    You're quite right that it's a major part of the problem, however, and that ranked-preference voting would seem to do away with the motivation for it.

  • Mar 21st, 2017 @ 6:59am

    Re: a simple question ...

    An at-least-equally-relevant question: how long would it take to achieve that result with Google not in the picture?

  • Mar 20th, 2017 @ 8:55am

    Re: Re: Re: A tale of a divided country

    Actually, the reason we continue to devolve back to two effective parties - no matter how many third parties get started, and even rise to temporary prominence, or possibly even supplant one of the existing two - is because, in a single-choice first-past-the-post voting system, that is the natural result of people voting in their own best interests.

    If 60% of the population opposes A, but that 60% is divided into 35% who support B and 25% who support C, and everyone votes for what they support, then the 40% who support A will win the election - even though the majority of people oppose A. This is known as the "spoiler effect".

    In a voting system where you can only pick one option from the list, and where whichever option gets the largest share of the vote wins, the "smart" thing for the people who support B and C to do is to join forces behind one of theose two options; that way, they can make sure the thing they oppose doesn't win, even if their first choice doesn't win either. The downside is that whichever of the two choices they don't unite behind seems to have no support, and disappears into obscurity, leaving behind only two options.

    The only solution to this is to switch to a ranked-preferences voting system, preferably one which satisfies the Condorcet criteria, so that people can instead list the available options in order from most preferred to least preferred. In a system like that, you can indicate that you prefer C over B, while still also being able to indicate that you prefer B over A - and the spoiler effect disappears, leaving room for people who like third-party candidates to express their actual preferences at the polls without negative consequences.

    I remember it being reported that Maine approved a ballot measure to switch to such a ranked-preference voting system, as part of the 2016 election. It will be worth watching closely to see what happens in the next elections in that state.

  • Mar 16th, 2017 @ 8:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Star Trek

    I think he's referencing the idea that if the popular vote was what counted, Trump would have campaigned differently so as to win that vote - that the reason he only won the electoral college is because that's the only vote that actually matters, so he targeted his campaigning to the places where it would make a difference, and didn't bother wasting resources on also winning the popular vote.

  • Mar 16th, 2017 @ 8:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Made in the USA

    But the Constitution does address religion. In particular, it says (in more archaic language) that Congress cannot make a law which gives any religion, or religious belief, more privileges than any other.

    Thus, when Congress makes immigration laws, it cannot privilege one religion ahead of another one in those laws; if it tries, the resulting law will be unconstitutional.

    One place where you might be partly right is that it's not immediately apparent that the constraints of the First Amendment apply to the powers inherent to the executive branch, rather than those which the executive has by way of authorization from the legislative branch; however, I seem to recall that there's jurisprudence establishing that Constitutional limitations on the powers of Congress (such as the ones in the First Amendment) limit the powers of executive branch as well.

  • Mar 16th, 2017 @ 8:54am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: So let me get this right....

    About the only way Trump could make the claim that these executive orders are not (the first seeds of) his promised Muslim ban be plausible would be to come out with something else which is explicitly stated to be his promised Muslim ban, is plausible in that role, and clearly is not simply a refined or derived version of these same executive orders.

    Of course, if he did that, it would die in the courts (and possibly even in the legislature, if it needed to go that route) so fast it would make what happened with these executive orders look pokey..

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