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Posted on Techdirt - 14 September 2013 @ 12:00pm

Rikuo's Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week

Hello there fellow Techdirtians, ’tis been a while since I last saw fit to grace Techdirt with my scribblings. A little about myself. I’m a male in my mid-20s… that’s enough. Basically, think of me as the average joe (no, not THAT Average_Joe! shudders). I don’t talk to politicians, I don’t write drafts of upcoming law bills, I just do my 9-5 and pay my taxes. That’s the viewpoint I’m taking going through this week’s Favorites.

For Monday, I chose Keith Alexander wanted all the data. When the guy who oversaw illegal wiretapping under Bush says you’re going too far in hoovering up Internet data, maybe that’s when you should stop what you’re doing and take the time to think about it. But, apparently that’s not how Alexander views it. I especially am quite afraid of his attitude of “We have the capability, so let’s use it.” Better make sure he stays away from the Big Red Button™, the one that if pushed, launches the nukes.

I also looked at the NSA engaging in economic espionage and was quite put off by that. I simply cannot fathom a reason for the NSA to do that legitimately. The NSA is supposed to be looking for threats to US national security, and while a foreign owned oil conglomerate could certainly gain some market share over a US based one, that’s not a military threat. That’s just market forces at work.

Tuesday had two articles that caught my eye. The first was of a California school announcing it monitors it students 24/7. I always look back on my school years with some fondness, and thank the God I don’t believe exists that nothing like that happens where I live. While yes, social network profiles are more or less open and public by default, the thought that if I were a student, the school would go out of their way to monitor everything I post just rubs me the wrong way. Since such monitoring is so easily thwarted, it does beg the question of just why you would spend taxpayer money on such a system, if all one needs to do to not be monitored is never mention what your school is on your profile.

I suffered an aneurysm reading the court ruling that WiFi isn’t radio. Techdirt, I’m gonna sue, so prepare yourselves! Just because the radio signal isn’t audible suddenly means it’s not radio? This is why the thought of a judge having to undergo a technical course of not less than a year before ruling on a technology related case sounds pleasing.

Wednesday rolled around and I hear that France’s only HADOPI disconnection has been stopped. One thing that I noticed was that none of Techdirt’s usual defenders-of-greater-enforcement decided to comment on that one. HADOPI is the poster-child of X Strikes systems world-wide, so it must come as an embarrassment to its supporters that after four years of operations, multiple millions of French taxpayer Euros and only a single disconnection resulted. Now, that disconnection has been cancelled. For those of who support 3 strikes, how does barring someone from home internet access encourage them to start buying copyrighted material?

The news that Russia wants an Internet whitelist scares the crap out of me. Online communication is an indispensable tool of modern life. How does the thought of having to ask your government for permission to set up a website sound? Obviously, such an idea would be used by a government to disallow its critics from having their own sites. There can be no other outcome, especially with Putin at the head of government.

On Thursday, I couldn’t help but read that now the MPAA can file bogus DMCA takedowns without fear of punishment. The whole point and greatest strength of a democracy is the ability to make speech. Having that speech available is kinda the point, but democracy itself is threatened when one’s speech can be curtailed very easily simply by someone claiming copyright. Now one doesn’t need to consider whether the potential infringement of your work that you’ve found could be fair use. You can just notify away and even if the fair use is obvious, no biggies. I guess people like LittleKuriboh, whose Yu-Gi-Oh! Abridged Youtube channel gets blocked regularly thanks to DMCA notices despite his series being a clear cut case of parody under fair use, should just shrug and accept it.

Timothy Geigner’s article about how privacy advocates are responsible for TSA abuses was a good laugh. Even in the year 2013, we still get people like Stewart Baker who will defend the TSA to the death. If I were in the airport, and a TSA man stuck his hand on my junk, he’d be the person I’d blame, him and the person who signed off on the policy; not people campaigning to end it.

So…here we are on Friday. First up is the eight month sentence for a guy who taught people how to beat a polygraph. Reading through the comments, I noticed one thing that wasn’t talked about. I noticed that the ruling more than likely is because it’s basically aiding in a crime, like when the undercover cops said they were criminals and Chad Dixon taught them anyway. My thought on the matter is – let’s say a real criminal confessed to a crime, and was taught. He then gets caught. In his trial, polygraph results would be rejected as evidence anyway, because they are so unreliable. So what’s the harm here of teaching how to beat a polygraph, even to a confessed criminal? It’s not the same thing as teaching someone how to more effectively commit a crime, only how to beat a machine whose results wouldn’t be used anyway.

My last favorite article for the week is why the NSA must be reined in. I agree, and not just simply because the NSA could have dirt on a sitting president. They could very easily see a proponent of a policy that they don’t like, and surreptitiously reveal embarrassing secrets to forestall that policy. They can very easily arrest someone simply because, without context, their (previously thought to be) private communications said something nasty. The threat to basic freedom and democracy from the NSA is too high for it to be left to run rampant as it is.

Thank you fellow readers, and thanks Mike for the opportunity to write this. Ciao!

Posted on Techdirt - 24 December 2011 @ 12:00pm

Rikuo's Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week

Hey, fellow Techdirtians or whatever adjective you want to call yourselves. Longtime reader Rikuo here. I?ve been following Techdirt for the better part of two years now, and was sure surprised to have been asked to write the Favorites list for Xmas week. Once I stopped jumping and shrieking in pure fanboy excitement (and after the court injunction ordering me to never do that sort of stuff again), I sat myself down and decided to get serious.

Monday was a serious day for some, and a jawdropper for others. Daniel Castro from the ITIF (Information Technology and Innovation Foundation) just three weeks ago responded to SOPA/Protect IP critics by saying that DNS filtering works because some other countries do it. Well, thanks to the good folks at Public Knowledge, you learn that it?s alright for the United States of America to adopt practices from some of the worst authoritarian regimes on the planet. And here I thought “land of the free” actually meant something.

Two other Monday articles caught my eye: the first was about how ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) was adopted by the EU Council, however, it was really by a collection of ministers in a meeting discussing agriculture and fisheries? Wait, what? What do fish have to do with a treaty about copyright?

The last Monday article was by our own Julian Sanchez, about how SOPA will be abused. This prediction was arrived at by looking at what the entertainment industry has done in the past and what they continue to do today. A very good read, as it really drives home the point that these companies are already abusing the DMCA. And having tried to block technological innovation in the past, they will certainly continue to do so in the future.

Tuesday had three articles that interested me. The first is about UK singer, Dan Bull, releasing his latest music video on YouTube. Even though he’s in the UK, he’d still be affected by SOPA. Dan Bull relies on user-content-generated-sites to release his media but the entertainment industry would like to shut them all down (or at least limit them), given half a chance. Once that?s done, this artist, unless he got picked up by a label, would have no easy way of distributing his music.

The second article for Tuesday was about successful photographer Trey Ratcliff. He?s another member of the growing example of artists who succeed in the digital age despite the copyrights on his work regularly being infringed. In fact, he’s worked it into his business model. What I found most amusing about the article were the responses from some people, who continue to state that these examples don’t matter. We here at Techdirt are offering proof but these people willfully stay blind.

The last Tuesday article was about the death of Veoh, a video sharing website that, despite being perfectly legal, was killed financially in a bogus copyright lawsuit from Universal Music Group. Under the original version of SOPA, you wouldn’t need a lawsuit. Just a stern letter to the payment processors and you get the same result. If you can already kill a legal website dead by overburdening it with lawsuits, why bother pushing for all this extra legislation?

Come, Wednesday and I hear about Gilberto Sanchez who has been sentenced to a year in prison for uploading the unfinished workprint of X-men Origins: Wolverine. Despite the fact no harm has been proven and despite the fact that uploading a workprint does NOT equal uploading a full finished movie, Fox still pushed for his imprisonment. All this will do is drive further resentment against copyright law, as people ask themselves why such a harsh punishment?

Again with the superhero movies, as the Dark Knight Rises movie trailer has gone viral. Now, people in the marketing division of Warner Bros want this video to be seen by as many people as possible, so as to entice more people to see the actual movie. However, the lawyers are a different breed and have sent Rob Sheridan a notice for daring to embed the video. So what… are we NOT allowed talk about the movie?

My last favorite Wednesday article would have made me chuckle if it didn’t piss me off so much. The YouHaveDownloaded tool has been used to find out that IP addresses belonging to the RIAA have been used to infringe copyright. The RIAA has been too quick to say that it could have been a third party at fault, a defense that it never allowed anyone else to use during its infamous P2P lawsuits.

I came home from work Thursday and saw that Julian Sanchez had been hard at work, showing us how SOPA will enable censorship beyond that of copyright infringement. What truly amused and dumbfounded me were the commentators who still insisted that dajaz1.com was rogue and illegal, when clearly the government couldn’t make such a case. Talk about a complete disconnect from reality.

Reddit General Manager released a statement showing how SOPA still impacts domestic sites. Even if it were true that SOPA would only ever be used against foreign sites, the logistical nightmares of censoring them (and the penalties for failing to do so) would fall on US companies.

I came home from work on Friday, booted up my browser and first place I went was Techdirt, where I learned that pretty much everybody who was listed as supporting SOPA have demanded to be taken off the list. Turns out, they were never asked whether or not they supported SOPA, or in GoDaddy’s case, were facing a massive boycott from their customers. So SOPA supporters…where is this massive support you’ve been crowing about? Are SOPA critics still limited to pirates and thieves?

I’d like to thank Mike for giving me the opportunity to write this article and the Techdirt community for just being that awesome. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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