e dot dot dot
a mostly about the Internet blog by

June 2020
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
 
       


Knight Foundation Grant To Copia To Research Content Moderation, Governance, Rules & Norms For Internet Infrastructure

Furnished content.


So many of the discussions around content moderation have focused on the so-called "edge-providers" (the companies that are more user-facing). We all know the stories about content moderation dealing with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, etc. But for a while now we've been concerned about how the debate will play out regarding content moderation at the infrastructure layers -- that is the behind-the-scenes providers that people don't always even know exist. This includes hosting companies, DNS providers, domain registrars, CDNs, broadband providers and many, many more.So we're (in the form of our Copia Institute think tank) are excited to be a part of a new grant to research this issue, with a specific focus on how these infrastructure content moderation issues may impact competition, privacy, and liability. We're planning to do some (virtual, for the time being!) gatherings, and putting together some research about these issues as well.This is the first time we've worked with the Knight Foundation, and we're excited that they were willing to step up and support such important work.

Read more here


posted at: 12:00am on 30-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Twitch And Reddit Ramp Up Their Enforcement Against 'Hateful' Content

Furnished content.


On Monday, both Twitch and Reddit ramped up their efforts to deal with various forms of hateful content on their platforms -- and both of them ended up shutting down some forums related to President Trump -- which inevitably (but incorrectly) resulted in people again screaming about "anti-conservative bias." Reddit kicked things off by announcing new content policies (which you can read here). The key change was an expanded rule against communities that "promote hate based on identity or vulnerability."Based on that, Reddit has permanently shuttered around 2,000 subreddits, including, most notably the r/The_Donald subreddit for Trump fans. However, as if they were expecting the bogus claims of anti-conservative bias to show up in response, Reddit also shut down r/ChapoTrapHouse, which might be considered the flip side to The_Donald subreddit, but from the left end of the traditional political spectrum. Both communities were known for their anger spewing wackos. Reddit painted its decision to suspend both as a way to show that it is applying the rules equally across all its subreddits:

All communities on Reddit must abide by our content policy in good faith. We banned r/The_Donald because it has not done so, despite every opportunity. The community has consistently hosted and upvoted more rule-breaking content than average (Rule 1), antagonized us and other communities (Rules 2 and 8), and its mods have refused to meet our most basic expectations. Until now, we've worked in good faith to help them preserve the community as a space for its usersthrough warnings, mod changes, quarantining, and more.Though smaller, r/ChapoTrapHouse was banned for similar reasons: They consistently host rule-breaking content and their mods have demonstrated no intention of reining in their community.To be clear, views across the political spectrum are allowed on Redditbut all communities must work within our policies and do so in good faith, without exception.
Of course, because content moderation at scale is impossible to do well, I've already seen plenty of complaints about other Reddit forums that the site failed to take down. And I fully expect that at some point a forum will be shut down by overzealous moderators. Because that's the nature of content moderation.Meanwhile, over on the Twitch side, the site has been coming under increasing attacks for enabling a lot of harassment. Since much of Twitch is live-streaming, it's that much more impossible to monitor. Last week, the company promised to take harassment claims more seriously and began suspending some users. On Monday, that included a temporary ban of the president's campaign account on the site. Apparently, the move was in response to comments made at recent Trump rallies, that Twitch claims violated its policies.
Twitch pointed to comments made at two rallies that led to its decision. At a campaign rally in 2016, which was recently rebroadcast on the platform, Trump said Mexico was sending over its bad actors, such as rapists or drug dealers. Twitch also pointed to Trump's recent Tulsa rally, where he told a fictional story of a 'tough hombre' invading someone's home.Hateful conduct is not allowed on Twitch. In line with our policies, President Trump's channel has been issued a temporary suspension from Twitch for comments made on stream, and the offending content has been removed, a Twitch spokesperson told CNBC.
Again, these platforms are in an impossible position -- which we detailed in our post about the content moderation impossibility theorem. If they do nothing, tons of people will call out these platforms for inaction. But in pulling down these accounts, a bunch of other people will now be furious as well. And sooner or later these platforms will pull down other accounts that lots of other people (no matter what they're political leanings) will get upset about as well. This is the nature of content moderation.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 30-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



This Week In Techdirt History: June 21st - 27th

Furnished content.


Five Years AgoThis week in 2015, the Sunday Times in the UK was doubling down on its widely criticized article in which it parroted the government's talking points, while the GCHQ was in trouble for illegally holding onto emails (but not for collecting them in the first place). New documents released by Wikileaks revealed that the NSA had been spying on French presidents (which France was not happy with, even though it was moving to do more spying of its own), while the FISA court was tackling questions about Section 215 surveillance. We also learned about Google being gagged for four years from talking about fighting the Wikileaks investigation, including some ridiculous redactions required by the DOJ.Ten Years AgoThis week in 2010, a closely-watched lawsuit about the "hot news doctrine" was drawing interest from across the board, with Google and Twitter weighing in to oppose the return of the doctrine while a huge group of newspaper publishers were predictably taking the other side, and internet rights groups were stepping in to tackle the First Amendment issues. We saw an extremely terrible ruling in the Golan case saying it's okay to remove content from the public domain, and another very good ruling with the court smacking down Viacom in its lawsuit against Google (which left Viacom in denial).Fifteen Years AgoThis week in 2005, the MPAA was refusing to give up and making yet another attempt to get the Broadcast Flag enshrined in law, while at the same time embarrassing itself with wild overhype about shutting down a DVD processing plant — which it tried to explain away by claiming it was calculating projections of future piracy. Politicians in the EU were making it clear that they really didn't understand software patents, but were moving forward with them anyway, while the US Register of Copyrights was proposing major changes in copyright law. We also saw the start of yet another important appeal about the DMCA.

Read more here


posted at: 12:00am on 28-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Mixer Shuts Down, Showing Again Why You Don't Need To Freak Out By Copycat Competitors

Furnished content.


In all sorts of intellectual property conversations, one common refrain is something like "If you let people copy others, those copycats will be just as successful without having to work to develop a product." This ire is most commonly aimed at big companies that see something successful and simply come up with their own version of it. And, to be generous, there certainly does seem to be something less than fair about that. But then you take a step back and watch just how often these copycat startups fall flat on their faces and you have to wonder why anyone worries about this stuff at all. Does nobody remember Google Plus?Other companies have shown that it often builds more trust to not care about copycats any further than poking fun at them. Again, this is because the innovator almost always has a massive leg up on the copycat competitor, rather than the other way around. The most recent example of this is Microsoft's Mixer platform, which was supposed to be a streaming service geared towards video gaming, with Twitch being the competition it was trying to "copy" off of. Well, even with the corporate power and war chest of Microsoft behind it, the platform failed and has since been offloaded to Facebook Gaming.

The shutdown starts today, with a transition plan laid out by Microsoft for Mixer streamers. Mixer Partners will be granted partner status with Facebook Gaming, and the platform will honor and “match all existing Partner agreements as closely as possible,” according to the blog detailing the change.Several big-name streamers, such as Ninja and Shroud, moved from Twitch exclusively to Mixer this year. On Twitter, popular streamer King Gothalion announced he would be moving to Facebook; earlier this year, he signed a deal to stream exclusively on Mixer.
Even with some pretty big streaming names on the service, Mixer failed. Why? Well, because Twitch had already built up an audience and trust within the public for its product. Microsoft didn't do enough to make Mixer stand apart from Twitch. Instead, the strategy appeared to roughly be just throwing money at some high profile streamers and expect audiences to flock to the platform because of it. That didn't work, however.Those streamers will now be free to move on to either Facebook Gaming or back to Twitch, where most of them began. Where the majority decide to go will be quite telling, but I imagine Facebook will throw money at this the same way Microsoft did. And if Facebook doesn't do enough to make Gaming stand out and special compared with Twitch, it'll likely fail in exactly the same way. What we've seen from Facebook Gaming thus far, however, does have some more intriguing social and DIY elements.But the real lesson here is that building a copycat startup isn't some get rich quick scheme. Or, it is, but it rarely works. So if you create a great platform, build a great community, and deliver great content... you probably are wasting time if you're worrying about copycats.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 27-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Appeals Court Strips Immunity From Abusive Cops Who Assaulted A Compliant Black Man... And The City That Allowed This To Happen

Furnished content.


It is exceedingly difficult to overcome qualified immunity in civil rights lawsuits against law enforcement officers. It often seems no matter how egregious the rights violation, qualified immunity still gets awarded because no previous law enforcement officer has egregiously violated rights in this exact way prior to the current case.It's a rigged game -- one rigged by the very same institution that cursed the nation with this judicial construct more than 50 years ago. The Supreme Court conjured up this atrocity in 1967 and has spent the last several decades making it even more difficult for cops to be held accountable for their actions.In this case [PDF], via Gabriel Malor, it's a pair of unicorns. Not only does the Sixth Circuit Appeals Court strip the qualified immunity the lower court awarded to a couple of Ohio cops, but it also strips the immunity from the city of Euclid, Ohio. It's a very rare occurrence when courts actually find a "pattern and practice" argument worthy of a sustained Monell claim and this is one of them.Let's jump right in and see what led to this lawsuit. Surprise, surprise: it's the beat down and bogus arrest of an unarmed black man. Lamar Wright was conversing with a friend while sitting in his SUV. Unbeknownst to Wright, he and his friend were being surveilled by plainclothes cops on the lookout for drug activity. The officers presumed any short conversation between black men must be drug-related and rolled up on Wright. Here's what happened next:

After Wright pulled out of the driveway, [Officers] Flagg and Williams followed him. He turned right onto Recher Avenue and then left onto East 212th Street. The officers maintain that at both turns, Wright failed to use his turn signal…
"Maintain," eh?
but there is no dash-cam footage or other evidence to confirm the officers’ word.
No camera here, but the cops were only getting started with Lamar Wright.
The situation escalated after Wright pulled into a second driveway to answer a text message from his girlfriend. While Wright texted in the SUV, the officers exited their vehicle, drawing their guns as they approached the SUV. One of the men caught Wright’s eye when he glanced up from his texting. In his side mirror, Wright could see this man dressed in dark clothing with a gun pointed at the SUV. Believing that he was about to be robbed, Wright dropped his cellphone in the center console and threw the car into reverse.
Hey, Wright was in a "high crime area." I mean, that's what officers use to establish reasonable suspicion for warrantless stops and searches. So, someone in a high-crime area might reasonably expect people pulling guns on them are about to rob them.A second look cleared things up:
Glancing to his left, he saw another armed man, but this time he noticed a badge. Wright heard the men yell: “Shut the car off!” and “Open the door!” Now realizing that the men were police officers, he put the car in park and put his hands up.
Finally, we have some camera footage.
These events are corroborated by the body-cam footage.
"Just comply and nothing bad will happen to you," say a bunch of dudes with Blue Lives Matter bumper stickers.
At this point, Flagg stood beside the driver’s side door while Williams was next to the front passenger door. Both officers holstered their guns.
"Just comply..."
Next, Flagg yanked the driver’s side door open and demanded that Wright shut off the vehicle. Wright complied and then raised his hands once more.
"... and nothing bad will happen to you."
Flagg grabbed Wright’s left wrist, twisting his arm behind his back. The officer then attempted to gain control of Wright’s right arm in order to handcuff him behind his back while he remained seated in the vehicle. Flagg was unsuccessful in his efforts. As Flagg continued to twist the left arm, Wright repeatedly exclaimed that the officer was hurting him, to which Flagg responded, “let me see your hand,” apparently referring to Wright’s right hand.Flagg then tried to pull Wright from the vehicle, but the latter had difficulty getting out. As noted, Wright had recently undergone surgery for diverticulitis, which required staples in his stomach and a colostomy bag attached to his abdomen. Though the officers apparently could not see the bag and staples, these items prevented Wright from easily moving from his seat. Wright placed his right hand on the center console of the car to better situate his torso to exit the car. By this point Williams had moved over to stand behind Flagg on the driver’s side. Williams responded to Wright’s hand movement by reaching around Flagg to pepper-spray Wright at point-blank range. Flagg simultaneously deployed his taser into Wright’s abdomen. The besieged detainee finally managed to exit the car with his hands up. He then was forced face down on the ground, where he explained to officers that he had a “shit bag” on. Officer Williams next handcuffed Wright while he was on the ground.
Two cops vs. a compliant man with a colostomy bag. All caught on video. And all of it unjustified. The court notes the cops tried to make it appear to be justified by talking it up for the benefit of their body cams.
As the body cam continued to record, Flagg made various arguably self-serving statements, including that “[Wright] was reaching like he had a f***ing gun,” and that Flagg had been afraid that Wright was going to shoot him.
But Wright had no gun. Also, no drugs. But they arrested him anyway because what else are you going to do after you've assaulted a compliant man and his colostomy bag.Not helping their case any -- at least not at this level -- the cops admitted they really had nothing when they decided to run Wright in.
The officers conceded that they did not have probable cause to arrest Wright until after they believed he was resisting, and that they had not seen Wright engage in any illegal activity prior to the arrest apart from his alleged failures to use his turn signal.
Wright spent five hours in jail. Prior to that, the officers demanded the hospital perform a CT scan of Wright's abdomen, apparently hoping to find some drugs stuffed up in there. But the hospital refused after consulting with its legal department -- one apparently was more cognizant of applicable laws than the law enforcement officers looking to retcon their bogus arrest.Wright was in jail for five hours for one reason: to be subjected to a full body scan -- the scan the hospital had refused to do. Again, nothing was found. Seven months later, the bullshit obstruction and resisting arrest charges were dropped.Now, here's where it gets really interesting. Wright had to prove the city was responsible for these officers' actions. To do so, he needed to show the police department -- and its ultimate overseers -- had something to do with the brutality he experienced. Lo and behold, he could. The PD gave him everything he needed. Officers received training on "defensive tactics" -- training that included a lot of offensive content.
This training contains a link to a YouTube video of a Chris Rock comedy skit entitled “How not to get your ass kicked by the police!” The video shows numerous clips of multiple police officers beating African-American suspects. During the video, Rock says things such as:“People in the black community . . . often wonder that we might be a victim of police brutality, so as a public service the Chris Rock Show proudly presents: this educational video.”“Have you ever been face-to-face with a police officer and wondered: is he about to kick my ass? Well wonder no more. If you follow these easy tips, you’ll be fine.”“We all know what happened to Rodney King, but Rodney wouldn’t have got his ass kicked if he had just followed this simple tip. When you see flashing police lights in your mirror, stop immediately. Everybody knows, if the police have to come and get you, they’re bringing an ass kicking with ‘em.”“If you have to give a friend a ride, get a white friend. A white friend can be the difference between a ticket and a bullet in the ass.”
The city and PD claimed this was all in harmless fun. It was just supposed to lighten the mood for trainees being given implicit instruction that black people know what's coming to them if they resist. Wright did not resist, but he still got the treatment described in Chris Rock's act -- jokes that pointed out the disparity in treatment between whites and blacks when interacting with law enforcement.But that's not all. There was also a PowerPoint presentation containing this too-on-the-nose graphic, insinuating that the best defense is a good proactive beating -- one that included the phrase "protecting and serving the poop out of you."
This was explained away by the cop shop's expert witness… who had no explanation for it.
Sergeant Murowsky testified that he did not believe that the graphic conveys that the Euclid Police Department “beat[s] the hell out of people,” R. 25 at PageID 1200, but he didn’t know what other message could possibly be taken away from the image.
The end result is this: no qualified immunity for the officers, including immunity for the false arrest and unreasonable detention claims. And the city itself must stand trial for its failure to ensure its police department didn't instruct officers to "beat the poop" out of citizens under the guise of protecting and serving. Let's ask some reasonable jurors, says the Sixth:
A reasonable jury could find that the City’s excessive-force training regimen and practices gave rise to a culture that encouraged, permitted, or acquiesced to the use of unconstitutional excessive force, and that, as a result, such force was used on Wright. Therefore, we REVERSE the district court’s grant of summary judgment on Wright’s Monell claim based on failure to train or supervise.
And here's the court's final word on the case -- a single paragraph that implicates the city in the police department's inability to control its officers.
It is very troubling that the City of Euclid’s law-enforcement training included jokes about Rodney King—who was tased and beaten in one of the most infamous police encounters in history—and a cartoon with a message that twists the mission of police. The offensive statements and depictions in the training contradict the ethical duty of law enforcement officer “to serve the community; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation and the peaceful against violence or disorder; and to respect the constitutional rights of all to liberty, equality, and justice.”
Garbage in, garbage out. That's the city of Euclid and its police department, which is so laxly overseen it's creating bad apples by the barrel using little more than Chris Rock jokes and shitty PowerPoints. Everyone being sued will continue to be sued. And when it's all over, the city that can't protect its citizens from bad cops will ask citizens to pay for everything it -- and its bad cops -- inflicted on Lamar Wright. How about them apples?

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 27-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Goldman Sachs Created A Font, But You Are Forbidden By Its License To Critique Goldman Sachs Using It

Furnished content.


Even if you find financial news incredibly boring, you will be familiar with investment firm Goldman Sachs. The famed investment bank has a list of purported controversies that rivals some small nations, which will become important in a bit. First, let's focus on this bit of hot news: Goldman Sachs developed its own font!

Goldman Sachs has released its own eponymous font, Goldman Sans, a contemporary sans-serif that garnishes merciless formality with a charming typographic "wink" here and there.
If you want to see what the font looks like, you can see it here. It's... certainly a font? To be honest, it looks clean and fine, but not especially unique. Unlike, say, the license it issues for the use of the font, which it is also giving away for free. Because, in addition to that license stating that Goldman Sachs can rescind the license at its whim -- turning anything created using it into a potential retroactive legal liability -- the license also states that you cannot use Goldman Sans to criticize Goldman Sachs, which is Goldman stupid.
(C)(2)(d) The User may not use the Licensed Font Software to disparage or suggest any affiliation with or endorsement by Goldman Sachs.(E)(2) Further, Goldman Sachs may terminate this License, without notice to the User, for any reason or no reason at all and at any time, completely at Goldman Sachs’s sole discretion.
For a company that has so many controversies listed on its Wikipedia page, it sure is thin-skinned. And given that thin-skinnedness and the fact that the license allows the company to basically make any content created with it infringement at its whim... why in the absolute hell would anyone ever create anything with this font? Like, at all?Other than the myriad of comments in the source article and elsewhere in which folks immediately started using the font to criticize Goldman Sachs, I mean.


Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 26-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Charles Harder Tries And Fails To Censor Another Book About His Most Famous Client, The President

Furnished content.


Lawyer Charles Harder (who, yes, was once the lawyer for the guy who sued us) has built up a nice reputation now of the lawyer who tries and fails to stop people from saying stuff that upsets President Trump. You may recall that Harder, representing the president, threatened former Trump adviser Steve Bannon for his supposed quotes to author Michael Wolff. More recently, Harder, representing the Trump Campaign, has sued the NY Times, the Washington Post and CNN over various articles (often opinion pieces) that portray the President negatively.His latest move, representing Donald Trump's brother, Robert Trump, is to sue Mary Trump, Donald Trump's niece, over her new book that is quite critical of the President. The argument in the lawsuit? That Mary Trump was violating a confidentiality clause that was part of the settlement of a legal dispute over the estate of Fred Trump -- another of Donald's brothers, and Mary's father. It took all of about a day for the judge to reject the lawsuit, basically because Charles Harder messed up the filing.

At the outset, the court finds that the submissions suffer from several improprieties. First, a preliminary injunction is an order obtained by motion in a pending action or special proceeding... The caption utilized refers to a probate proceeding which terminated in 2001 by entry of a decre and is, therefore, non-existent. Consequently, a motion seeking injunctive relief may not be made in that proceeding. To the extent the accompanying petition, bearing the same caption, is supposed to provide the jurisdictional basis for said motion, it cannot do so as that petition is fatally defective.
Beyond that, they picked the wrong forum for this request:
Insofar as the petition seeks a declaratory judgment, this forum is presumptively improper as such relief should be obtained by means of an action in the Supreme Court and not a special proceeding in this court....
Of course, it appears that Harder is planning to just keep going and try again by fixing his mistakes:
Today, the Surrogate's Court ruled that it does not have jurisdiction over the dispute, Harder said in a statement. Therefore, Robert Trump will proceed with filing a new lawsuit in the New York State Supreme Court.
Mary Trump's lawyer, Ted Boutrous, said he hoped that Harder would stop, but recognizing that's unlikely, points out that no court may violate the 1st Amendment by imposing prior restraint and blocking publication of a book that is "core political speech."
Given Harder's history, it seems unlikely that he much cares about the 1st Amendment.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 26-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Judge Sides With Twitter Over Devin Nunes In Case Over Satirical Internet Cow: Section 230 Removes Twitter From Frivolous Case

Furnished content.


Well, some small bit of good news in the Section 230 front: after a judge was clearly skeptical over Devin Nunes' arguments for why Twitter should be involved in Nunes' frivolous SLAPP suit over a satirical internet cow that mocks him, the judge has now announced that Section 230 of the CDA rightly protects Twitter.In a letter that quickly dismisses each of Nunes's lawyer Steven Biss's silly arguments why 230 doesn't apply, the judge basically says "nope" to all of those arguments and tells Twitter's lawyer to draft an order dismissing Twitter from the case. Here's just one part of the letter:

The court must look to 47 USC Section 230 and the caselaw interpreting the act and analyze plaintiff's allegations to determin if Twitter has immunity under the act. Plaintiff would have Twitter be held liable for defamation for the content placed on its internet platform by others and would have Twitter found to be negligent for not removing the content place on its internet platform by others. Section 230 reads in subsection (c)(1) "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider". Plaintiff seeks to have the court treat Twitter as the publisher or speaker of the content provided by others based on its allowing or not allowing certain content to be on its platform. The court refuses to do so and relies on the rulings in Zeran v. Am. Online... The court in Zeran stated "Section 230 creates a federal immunity to any cause of action that would make service providers liable for information originating with a third-party user of the service. Specifically section 230 precludes courts from entertaining claims that would place a computer service provider in a publisher's role. Thus, lawsuits seeking to hold a service provider liable for its exercise of a publisher's traditional editorial functions -- such as deciding whether to publish, withdraw, postpone or alter content -- are barred".
The judge is also not at all impressed by Biss's argument of "but Twitter is so biased!" That doesn't matter:
The plaintiff also alleges that Twitter has a bias towards a point of view and that bias is so extreme that it governs its decisions regarding content that is allowed on its internet platform and that course of conduct makes it a content provider. The allegations in the Nemet Chevrolet, Ltd. v. Consumeraffairs.com, Inc.... were similar to those by the plaintiff in this case concerning content decisions being one sided and the court in the Nemet case ruled that the service provider was immune from suit pursuant to 47 USC Section 230.The court finds the issues in this case substantially similar to the issues presented in the Zeran and Nemet cases and applying the rulings in the Zeran and Nemet cases the court finds that Twitter is not a content provider based on the allegations by Plaintiff in this lawsuit. The Court finds that Twitter is immune from the defamation claims of plaintiff based on 47 USC Section 230.
As an interesting side note, the court also cites Section (c)(2) of Section 230, the rarely used part of the law that says you also can't be liable for moderation decisions. A lot of cases around 230 don't even consider the (c)(2) issues, because (c)(1) is usually enough to dismiss. But here, the court basically says both of them are good enough to get Twitter out of the lawsuit.
The court further finds that 47 USC Section 230 (c)(2) provides immunity for all civil liability and therefore Twitter is immune from Plaintiff's negligence claim based on the allegations in the complaint and the courts application of the rulings in the Zeran and Nemet cases to the allegations in this case.
Next up: hopefully the court will dismiss the underlying defamation claims against the two satirical Twitter accounts (Devin Nunes' Cow and Devin Nunes' Mom) along with political consultant Liz Mair.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 25-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Top German Court Rules Facebook's Collection And Use Of Data From Third-Party Sources Requires 'Voluntary' Consent

Furnished content.


Back at the end of 2017, Germany's competition authority, the Bundeskartellamt, made a preliminary assessment that Facebook's data collection is "abusive". At issue was a key component of Facebook's business model: amassing huge quantities of personal data about people, not just from their use of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, but also from other sites. If a third-party website has embedded Facebook code for things such as the 'like' button or a 'Facebook login' option, or uses analytical services such as 'Facebook Analytics', data will be transmitted to Facebook via APIs when a user calls up that third party's website for the first time. The user is not given any choice in this, and it was this aspect that the Bundeskartellamt saw as "abusive".After the preliminary assessment, in February 2019 the German competition authority went on to forbid Facebook from gathering information in this way without voluntary permission from users:

(i) Facebook-owned services like WhatsApp and Instagram can continue to collect data. However, assigning the data to Facebook user accounts will only be possible subject to the users' voluntary consent. Where consent is not given, the data must remain with the respective service and cannot be processed in combination with Facebook data.(ii) Collecting data from third party websites and assigning them to a Facebook user account will also only be possible if users give their voluntary consent.If consent is not given for data from Facebook-owned services and third party websites, Facebook will have to substantially restrict its collection and combining of data. Facebook is to develop proposals for solutions to this effect.
Naturally, Facebook appealed against this decision, and the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court found in its favor. However, as the New York Times reports, the Federal Court of Justice, which monitors compliance with the German constitution, has just reversed that:
On Tuesday, the federal court said regulators were right in concluding that Facebook was abusing its dominant position in the market."There are neither serious doubts about Facebook's dominant position on the German social network market nor the fact that Facebook is abusing this dominant position," the court said. "As the market-dominating network operator, Facebook bears a special responsibility for maintaining still-existing competition in the social networking market."
Needless to say, Facebook vowed to fight on -- and to ignore the defeat for the moment. The case goes back to the lower court to rule again on the matter, but after the Federal Court of Justice guidance, it is unlikely to be in Facebook's favor this time. There is also the possibility that the case could be referred to the EU's top court, the Court of Justice of the European Union, to give its opinion on the matter.Assuming that doesn't happen, the ruling could have a big impact not only on Facebook, but on all the other Internet giants that gather personal details from third-party sites without asking their visitors for explicit, voluntary permission. Although the ruling only applies to Germany, the country is the EU's biggest market, and likely to influence what happens elsewhere in the region, and maybe beyond. One bad outcome might be even more pop-ups asking you to give permission to have your data gathered, and be tracked as you move around the Internet.Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter, Diaspora, or Mastodon.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 25-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Terrible, Dangerous EARN IT Act Set To Move Forward In The Senate; Attack On Both Encryption And Free Speech Online

Furnished content.


The attacks never stop. After rumors last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee has officially put the EARN IT Act onto the schedule for this week, though many expect that it will get held over and marked up next week on July 2nd, which, conveniently, is a neat time to sneak through legislation when lots of people are not paying any attention (right before July 4th). In short, this means that there's a decent chance the EARN IT bill will be moving forward and could potentially pass.This would be very, very bad. I won't go back over everything in it, but the general intent of the bill is to undermine both encryption and Section 230 by trying to make Section 230 dependent on not offering encryption. That's at the highest level. Now, the bill is written in a sneaky way to let some Senators pretend it won't impact encryption, since encryption is not mentioned in the bill. However, the bill does condition 230 protections on meeting certain "best practices" that would be developed through a process mostly controlled by the Attorney General, who has made it clear his number one priority regarding the internet is to kill off real encryption. As we've discussed, the EARN IT Act creates a very dangerous moderator's dilemma that will act to suppress both free speech online and the ability to communicate securely and privately.And beyond moving forward with such a bad proposal, and trying to sneak it through during a holiday week, it's astounding that this is happening right at the very moment when more people than ever are relying on the internet to work from home -- a situation in which open speech platforms and strong encryption are more important than ever. Indeed, Senator Blumenthal, one of the sponsors of the bill who insisted it wouldn't be used to target encryption, is the same senator who got angry when he found out Zoom video calls weren't end-to-end encrypted.If he wants to support encryption and promise that EARN IT won't be used to undermine encryption, he should write that explicitly into the law.In short, the EARN IT Act would:

  • Put encryption, privacy, and cybersecurity at risk at a time when we need all three things more than ever.
  • Put free speech and open internet platforms at risk, at a time when people need to be able to speak out more than ever.
  • Not do a damn thing to actually make anyone safer
  • Create a constitutional mess, that might even make it easier for bad actors to get away with things by turning companies into state actors with regards to private info, thereby creating 4th Amendment issues regarding disclosure of information.
It is extremely unclear why anyone thinks (1) this is a good bill, or (2) it needs to move forward right now. But, since everyone wants to hate on Section 230 right now, none of that seems to matter.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 24-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



More NYPD Reforms: Super-Violent Plainclothes Units Disbanded, Body Cam Footage Given A 30-Day Release Mandate

Furnished content.


A bunch of police reform efforts are underway in New York City. NYPD officers may not have been responsible for the killing that has sparked protests around the country, but they've provided plenty of ammo for police critics and reformers over the years.With Mike Bloomberg no longer running front office interference for the PD, the department has found itself absorbing more un-deflected criticism. This criticism is finally turning to action, now that it's incredibly inconvenient for ANY city to pretend its law enforcement agencies aren't in need of an overhaul.Early last week, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea decided to dismantle the NYPD's plainclothes units. These officers didn't look like police officers. And since they didn't look like police officers, they didn't behave like police officers. Removing the uniform seemed to remove all pretense of accountability as well, resulting in the so-called (and strangely-named) "anti-crime" units being the NYPD's leader in crimes committed against citizens.

The plainclothes "anti-crime" units operated out of unmarked vehicles, and did not respond to 911 calls. Instead, they were charged with what Shea called "proactive" policing. The anti-crime teams across all 77 precincts will be disbanded."When you look at the number of anti-crime officers that operate within New York City, and when you look at a disproportionate, quite frankly, number of complaints, shootings—and they are doing exactly what was asked of them," Shea said. "I think we can do better. I think that policing in 2020 is not what it was in five, ten, twenty years ago."
While it seems strange Commissioner Shea would state that generating complaints and corpses is "exactly what was asked" of the anti-crime units, the good news is they won't be roaming around menacing the public as a cohesive unit. The 600 officers were responsible for 31% of fatal NYPD shootings, despite only being 6% of the total police force. In recent years, "anti-crime" officers were responsible for a number of high-profile killings of citizens, including Eric Garner, whose death similarly prompted protests all over the nation. The disbanding scatters the plainclothes officers across several other units, giving more divisions a chance to be corrupted by these bad apples.On a more positive note, the NYPD can no longer act like body camera footage is a proprietary good the public shouldn't be allowed to have access to. The NYPD's body camera policy -- released months after the cameras were deployed (as the result of court-ordered reforms) -- gave the department every excuse it wanted to never release footage.This followed a lawsuit against the NYPD by one of the city's police unions, which sought to block almost any release of footage ever under the state's infamous "50-a" law, which forbids the release of police officers' personnel files and disciplinary records. (Or at least it did... until it was taken off the books in another recent reform move.) How footage of interactions with residents fit these descriptions was left up to the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association's imagination.The policy has been rewritten in light of national events. The previous version gave the NYPD up to 30 days to come up with a reason why it wouldn't be releasing recordings. The new policy mandates the release of certain recordings within 30 days, flipping the old policy on its head.
The new policy obligates the NYPD to release and eventually publish online all audio and video of officers’ interactions that involve gunshots fired in public spaces, the deployment of tasers and the use of force that results in death or substantial bodily injury.“Effective immediately, the NYPD’s 24,000 body cameras now have a mandatory 30 day release policy,” he tweeted Tuesday morning.
Certainly the NYPD will do everything it can to prevent release of these recordings, despite the mandate. It has two powerful unions willing to sue the city and their members' employer over anything that might result in additional transparency or accountability. But the city's tolerance for these unions may finally be running out. Mayor Bill de Blasio, who talked a tough police reform game while campaigning only to dial back his rhetoric once in office, is back on the warpath and calling out the unions for their contribution to the destruction of the relationship between city residents and the NYPD.
“The SBA leadership has engaged in racist activities so many times I can’t even count it,” he said of the NYPD sergeants’ union.“I’m just sick of it, I’ve been sick of it for years,” he added. “What I’ve seen of the SBA, and too often the PBA, is efforts to divide us, to hold us back, to create all sorts of negativity, to push back progress, to undermine efforts at unity. It’s literally anti-social what these union leaders do."
Whether these reform efforts result in lasting change remains to be seen. But it's far more than anyone's demanded of the NYPD in years.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 24-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Appeals Court Says California's IMDb-Targeting 'Ageism' Law Is Unconstitutional

Furnished content.


The state of California has lost again in its attempt to punish IMDb (the Internet Movie Database) -- and IMDb alone -- for ageism perpetrated by [checks notes] movie studios who seem to refuse to cast actresses above a certain age in choice roles.The law passed by the California legislature does one thing: prevents IMDb (and other sites, theoretically) from publishing facts about actors: namely, their ages. This stupid law was ushered into existence by none other than the Screen Actors Guild, capitalizing on a (failed) lawsuit brought against the website by an actress who claimed the publication of her real age cost her millions in Hollywood paychecks.These beneficiaries of the First Amendment decided there was just too much First Amendment in California. To protect actors from studio execs, SAG decided to go after a third-party site respected for its collection of factual information about movies, actors, and everything else film-related.The federal court handling IMDb's lawsuit against the state made quick work of the state's arguments in favor of very selective censorship. In only six pages, the court destroyed the rationale offered by the government's finest legal minds. Here's just a sampling of the court's dismantling of this stupid law:

AB 1687 is a direct restriction on speech. The law prohibits certain speakers from publishing certain truthful information – information that, in many instances, is supplied by members of the public – because of concerns that a third party might use that information to engage in illegal conduct.[...]SAG-AFTRA contends that publication of facts about the ages of people in the entertainment industry can be banned because these facts "facilitate" age discrimination – an argument that, if successful, would enable states to forbid publication of virtually any fact.
The court also pointed out that the law targeting IMDb did nothing to address the underlying problem. In fact, it appeared the state wasn't even addressing the right problem.
The defendants describe this as a problem of "age discrimination." While that may be accurate on some level, at root it is far more a problem of sex discrimination. Movie producers don't typically refuse to cast an actor as a leading man because he's too old for the leading woman; it is the prospective leading woman who can't get the part unless she's much younger than the leading man. TV networks don't typically jettison male news anchors because they are perceived as too old; it is the female anchors whose success is often dependent on their youth. This is not so much because the entertainment industry has a problem with older people per se. Rather, it's a manifestation of the industry's insistence on objectifying women, overvaluing their looks while devaluing everything else.  
The state appealed and the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court is no more impressed than the lower court. (h/t Courthouse News Service)Content-based restrictions are generally First Amendment violations. So is the targeting of certain speakers and very specific speech emanating from them. From the opinion [PDF]:
On its face, AB 1687 restricts speech because of its content. It prohibits the dissemination of one type of speech: “date of birth or age information.” And, perhaps more troubling, it restricts only a single category of speakers. Thus, AB 1687 “impose[s] direct and significant restrictions” on a category of speech. It does not apply generally.
The state argued that this only affected subscribers to the site who paid to control the information contained in their profiles. The Appeals Court says this doesn't matter. The law targets more than paid accounts. It forbids the dissemination of age information contributed by third parties.
The statute does not restrict only information misappropriated through the parties’ contractual relationship; it also prohibits the publication of information submitted by members of the public with no connection to IMDb. These restrictions apply regardless of whether an IMDb public profile existed independent of, or prior to, any contractual agreement between IMDb and an IMDbPro subscriber.
Even if money changes hands for paid accounts, the speech being targeted is not "commercial" speech. The site refers to itself as a "database" for a reason. And that nullifies the state's argument.
These free, publicly available profiles are found in an “online database of information” and are surrounded by content that “includes information on cast, production crew, fictional characters, biographies, plot summaries, trivia and reviews.” The content is encyclopedic, not transactional.
The court also dispenses with the state's argument that the publication of age information allows other parties to engage in illegal discrimination. And it does so by pointing out the obvious: the target of anti-discriminatory laws should be the entities that actually engage in discriminatory behavior.
If accepted, SAG’s interpretation of Pittsburgh Press would require this court to permit the restriction not only of speech that proposes an illegal activity but also facially inoffensive speech that a third-party might use to facilitate its own illegal conduct. [...] Rather than restrict truthful speech, the typical “method of deterring unlawful conduct is to impose an appropriate punishment on the person who engages in it.”
The court also notes that the law appears to have been crafted specifically to prevent one site from publishing age information. That's not what "narrowly-tailored" means in the First Amendment sense of the phrase. Narrow tailoring can impose speech restrictions that pass the First Amendment test. Targeting one site while leaving others free to publish what the law says IMDb cannot isn't Constitutional.
On its face, AB 1687 restricts only websites like IMDb.com while leaving unrestricted every other avenue through which age information might be disseminated. This presents serious concerns here because AB 1687 appears designed to reach only IMDb.[...]AB 1687 is underinclusive because it fails to reach several potential sources of age information and protects only industry professionals who both subscribe to such service and who opt-in. This malady means that the statute is not narrowly tailored, and thus, is unconstitutional.
And that's it for California's extremely bad law.
Unlawful age discrimination has no place in the entertainment industry, or any other industry. But not all statutory means of ending such discrimination are constitutional. Here, we address content-based restrictions on speech and hold that AB 1687 is facially unconstitutional because it does not survive First Amendment scrutiny.
Even if the law had somehow survived a First Amendment challenge, it still wouldn't have prevented studios from engaging in discriminatory hiring practices. If this was really the state's concerns, it would have stepped up its regulation of the entertainment industry, rather than a single site that was unsuccessfully sued by an actress, who speculated IMDb's publication of her age was the reason she wasn't landing the roles she wanted.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 23-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



FDA First: Agency Approves Video Game Treatment For ADHD, Requires A Prescription

Furnished content.


Way back in 2013, when the world was still a logical and sensical place, we wrote about a group of Finnish doctors experimenting treating those afflicated with ADHD with video games. This certainly must have struck many as an odd path to take, what with my generation being raised largely by parents that insisted that video games were bad for us. Specifically, at least in my household, there was great concern that these games would shorten attention spans and cause us to get ADHD in the first place.We didn't hear a great deal more on this novel use of video games until recently, but it's still heartening to see that the FDA made a small bit of history recently by approving gaming treatment for those with ADHD. In this case, a game specifically designed to improve cognitive functioning can be prescribed by a doctor.

A new game designed to treat some ADHD symptoms in kids aged 8-12 has been officially approved by the The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, meaning that anyone who wants to attempt treating children with the game needs to get a prescription first. As AP report, it’s not only the first time the organisation has approved the use of “digital therapy” for the treatment of ADHD, but it’s also “the first time the agency has ever authorized marketing of a game-based therapy for any condition”.The game, called EndeavorRx, uses a combination of sensory and motor challenges to “help the player improve cognitive functioning”.
Now, it should be noted that the game was created by a developer based on a study performed by several doctors who were on the developer's payroll. That certainly sucks. But, still, given that the application of certain games to help cognition in people suffering from ADHD is not entirely new, this probably calls into question the science on how effective this game is, not games in general.What it doesn't do is call into question what is becoming a more common interest in utilizing engaging gameplaying to address certain medical afflictions. And it isn't just video games, either. In fact, lots of things parents used to worry about are now being used as therapeutics. For instance, Dungeons and Dragons underwent its own infamous moral panic episode, only to be turned years later into a form of therapy.The real lesson here, or one real lesson, is that we should all beware a trendy moral panic.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 23-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



This Week In Techdirt History: June 14th - 20th

Furnished content.


Five Years AgoThis week in 2015, we saw some hall-of-fame FUD about Edward Snowden from the Sunday Times in the UK. The piece was rapidly trashed by Glenn Greenwald, leading News Corp. to abuse the DMCA in an attempt to hide the criticism. Facing ongoing scrutiny, the reporter who wrote the piece eventually admitted that he just wrote down whatever the government told him, and the editor doubled down on this suggesting that any questions about the story should be directed to the government. Meanwhile, Bruce Schneier was making a much more reasonable point about the same core issue: that Russia and China probably have the Snowden docs, but not because of Snowden.Ten Years AgoThis week in 2010, we looked at yet another example of how ludicrous it is to expect YouTube to magically know which videos are infringing, while Rapidshare was countersuing Perfect 10 over copyright trolling, and music publishers were trying to pile on the already-dead Limewire. The Hurt Locker producers were deep in their copyright shakedown scheme, while at the same time touting their free speech rights against the soldier who claimed they used his life story. One ISP tried to get very creative and charge users to block file sharing to avoid copyright strikes — an earlier conversation about "fixing" Section 230.Fifteen Years AgoThis week in 2005, we saw the latest in a long string of reports urging the recording industry to embrace file sharing, while some people were working on yet another pipe-dream of universal DRM, and libraries were developing their systems for limiting the use of digital materials as though they were physical. Amazon was trying to patent more basics of e-commerce, while a patent troll reared its head with a 1998 patent that appeared to cover transmitting any information over a network, at all. And we saw the clearest death-knell for the VCR when Wal-Mart announced it would stop selling VHS movies.

Read more here


posted at: 12:00am on 21-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



FCC Skeptical About Space X Satellite Broadband Claims

Furnished content.


Ajit Pai's FCC majority is almost never skeptical about the claims made by giant broadband providers. Yet the FCC is expressing doubt that Elon Musk's looming, well-hyped satellite broadband service Starlink will deliver on its promises.One of the downsides of traditional satellite service isn't just high prices, slow speeds, and usage caps -- it's latency. Traditional broadband delivers somewhere in the range of 20-30ms, whereas the physics of traditional satellite broadband means service usually delivers a 200ms response time; lag that's usually very noticeable. Space X's Starlink satellite service operates using far more satellites in far lower orbits, meaning latency should be dramatically improved. But Ajit Pai's FCC has been expressing doubts that the service will be able to deliver the low latency it's promising the public.Despite the fact that Starlink could be very helpful in rural markets (its primary target), the FCC originally blocked the company from getting any rural broadband subsidies whatsoever. But last week in an order, the FCC reversed course (pdf), stating that Starlink could receive these funds. But the FCC was quick to express skepticism that Starlink can deliver broad commercial service with latency under 100ms, as it has been claiming:

"Service providers that intend to use low-Earth orbit satellites claim that the latency of their technology is "dictated by the laws of physics" due to the altitude of the satellite's orbit. We remain skeptical that the altitude of a satellite's orbit is the sole determinant of a satellite applicant's ability to meet the Commission's low-latency performance requirements. As commenters have explained, the latency experienced by customers of a specific technology is not merely a matter of the physics of one link in the transmission. Propagation delay in a satellite network does not alone account for latency in other parts of the network such as processing, routing, and transporting traffic to its destination. Short-form applicants seeking to bid as a low-latency provider using low-Earth orbit satellite networks will face a substantial challenge demonstrating to Commission staff that their networks can deliver real-world performance to consumers below the Commission's 100ms low-latency threshold."
One the one hand, I think Pai's skepticism is likely warranted. The satellite broadband sector, including low-Earth orbit satellite, has seen no limit of hype and failure over the last decade. Maybe Musk is the one who finally gets this play right, and maybe he isn't. But the broadband industry has been filled with so much empty hype over the years you really shouldn't buy into the hype of satellite broadband as a serious, major competitor until you see a broad, commercial launch. And even then, much like 5G, we need to see what speeds, pricing, and usage caps look like before declaring it some kind of competitive panacea.On the other hand, this FCC's history is chock full of examples where it expresses absolutely no skepticism whatsoever at the absurd claims made by companies like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and Charter (Spectrum), which all have a vested interest in broadband competitors never seeing the light of day. This is also an FCC boss who has never once expressed the slightest concern about the billions in taxpayer dollars we've thrown at Frontier, AT&T, and Verizon for fiber networks that were never delivered. Seriously, check out the fraudulent nonsense by ISPs like Frontier is West Virginia, then realize the FCC has never made a peep.Which is to say I think the FCC is making these claims in good faith, but the agency engaged in enough bad faith shenanigans the last three years, it's hard to say for sure. When you pander ideologically to industry like this FCC has done (repealing net neutrality, fighting privacy rules, fighting states' rights to enforce consumer protection), you start to lose the benefit of the doubt. Having watched this industry for 20 years, I certainly wouldn't be shocked to see regulatory barriers suddenly spring up in Starlink's path that have been lobbied for by the likes of AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast.Either way, the potential exists for Starlink (and other companies, like Amazon), to finally disrupt one of the least liked industries in America. Assuming the technology works well. And assuming regulators don't foul it up. And assuming the company doesn't get bored with the high costs and hard work required to do battle with legacy broadband providers... you know, like Google did.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 20-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



The Need For A Federal Anti-SLAPP Law Is Clear And Overwhelming

Furnished content.

SLAPP: Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation

Lawyer Daniel Horowitz has a wonderful write-up for NYU's Journal of Legislation & Public Policy on why we need a federal anti-SLAPP law. It's a quick, but thoughtful overview (and, full disclosure, I gave him a couple of small points while he was researching the article), that details not just the need for more SLAPP laws in general, but specifically a federal anti-SLAPP law. As he makes clear in the piece, there are just way too many ways to get around state anti-SLAPP laws (if a state even has one, which many don't):

Second, even in states that have enacted anti-SLAPP statutes, [t]he scope of [] anti-SLAPP statutes varies greatly.[ For instance, some states provide robust protection against SLAPP suitsapplying to virtually all constitutionally protected speech and offering a cornucopia of benefits such as a specialized procedure for obtaining early dismissal, an automatic stay of discovery, and mandatory attorney's fee-shifting. By contrast, other states' anti-SLAPP statutes provide meager benefits and apply only narrowly, for instance, to speech made to government entities.Third, even when a plaintiff files a SLAPP suit against someone who resides in a state with a strong anti-SLAPP statute, the substantive law of the defendant's residence will not necessarily apply to the case. Instead, the law that governs the plaintiff's claims will turn on the choice of law rules of the forum in which the suit was filedan inquiry that can, and often does, result in the substantive law of the plaintiff's residence or the place of injury applying instead.
It then notes the troubling trend, that we've discussed in the past, that many federal courts have now said that state anti-SLAPP laws cannot be used in federal court -- meaning that as long as they assert federal causes of action, they can get around many state anti-SLAPP laws. That wouldn't work with a federal anti-SLAPP law. That last one is important, because there are a variety of federal laws that are used for SLAPPs:
Plaintiffs also have had little difficulty filing SLAPP suits using federal causes of actionfor instance, under the Lanham Act, 42 U.S.C. section 1985, the Copyright Act, and civil RICO statuteswhich provide a straightforward means for plaintiffs to sue their critics, however baselessly, regarding protected speech.
From there, the article details how a federal anti-SLAPP law would solve many of these problems -- making sure it applied in federal court and to federal causes of action -- and that it would end cases more quickly and shift the fees to the frivolous, censorial plaintiffs. A key point made:
Where SLAPP suits are concerned, the process itself is the punishment, and many speakers cannot affordor are understandably unwilling to bearthe heavy expense associated with that process at all.
As I said, the article is a quick read, even though it cites a ton of examples to make its points (28 footnotes for a 15 paragraph piece). And that's because the need for a federal anti-SLAPP law is so overwhelming and so obvious that it doesn't need more than 15 straightforward paragraphs. And yet, the movement to get one through Congress never seems to go anywhere, and it's been a major disappointment. Congress could stand up for free speech and against frivolous lawsuits, but it doesn't seem to want to get it done.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 20-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



'The Sims' Becomes An Outlet For Would-Be Protesters Who Cannot Attend Protests

Furnished content.


As the country continues to witness massive protests throughout the states, focused on changing the way policing is done in the country, it's useful to remember that not everyone can protest in the streets. Even for those who would love to carry the message that police violence against minorities, or really anyone, is massively out of control, there are factors that might keep them home. Such as a global pandemic that has been addressed by the federal government like a little league shortstop kicking a ball around without being able to pick it up. See, there are a great many people in this country that are either at higher risk for devastating effects from COVID-19, or who are immunocompromised. Where do they go in 2020 to protest these problems?Well, thanks to the outlet that is gaming in the era of COVID-19, they go protest in The Sims, of course.

With this in mind, Sims modder and streamer Danielle “EbonixSims” Udogaranya kicked off an in-game Black Lives Matter rally last weekend. Days later, it’s still going. For this rally, she encouraged players to give their favorite Sims Black Lives Matter signs and accessories, some of which she created in 2016, and either photograph or video them protesting police violence against Black people by gathering together, holding signs, and generally behaving as they would at a real-life protest. She spread the word across Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram, where players have pooled their protests using the #BLMSimsRally hashtag.
And why the hell shouldn't The Sims be used in this way? If EA's game is supposed to be an escape of real life by living a virtual one, it seems only fitting that this simulacrum should carry over into activism as well. And Udogaranya did this specifically with those who cannot attend protests due to the COVID-19 pandemic in mind, along with those who may not be able to attend due to being disabled, or for other reasons.
Players who participated appreciated this tremendously.“This my life, what is happening in the world,” Sims streamer Luna Marie told Kotaku in an email. “With covid going on, my immune system is a little weaker, so going out is iffy for me. When I saw this, I thought this was perfect to take something I stand for and what I love and do both.”Marie’s experience was unique in that The Sims’ systems coalesced around her stream. Her Black Lives Matter rally triggered other Sims to hold a city protest, a game feature in which Sims wave signs and stage their own spontaneous rally. They held this one in the name of equality.
And just like the IRL protests, protests in The Sims is being attended by people from all over the world.Video games get a fair amount of shit in our society, but it's important to remember that they are an outlet. An outlet for entertainment, for stress relief, for aggression, and even for social movements. All the more so, in fact, as games become more about the interconnected community playing them than about what occurs in the mechanics of the game itself.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 19-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Profiteering Off Publicly Funded COVID Treatments

Furnished content.


I'm all for heavily compensating whoever comes up with an effective treatment or vaccine for COVID-19, but our existing setup seems designed to encourage scamming and grifting. For years, we've talked about the evil that is the Bayh-Dole Act, which encouraged universities to patent every damn thing (most of which was funded from federal government grants) and then sell off those patents to industry. While it's made a bunch of people rich, it's been such a disaster in so many other ways. First it's done massive harm to university research (rather than the opposite as its backers promised). It significantly decreased information sharing and collaboration (keys to innovation breakthroughs) because universities kept demanding ideas be kept secret so they could patent them and lock up the output of any (again, mostly taxpayer funded) research.A key result of Bayh-Dole is that many, many universities all set up "tech transfer" offices, in the belief that they'd be able to cash in on all these patents being licensed to industry. But, of course, like so many patent holders, universities vastly over-estimate the value of the patent, and under-estimate the value of actual execution. So almost all (with just a few limited exceptions) university tech transfer offices have been dismal failures, and lost universities money, rather than being profit centers. Of course, that created an opportunity... for patent trolls. One of the world's largest patent trolls, Intellectual Ventures, was literally built off of this scam: swooping in to "rescue" desperate tech transfer offices at universities, buying their patents off them for pennies, and amassing a huge collection to shakedown actual innovators. And of course, some universities -- including the University of California -- got directly into the patent trolling business themselves.If you want to see a case study on how this works in the age of COVID-19, look no further than the story of the antiviral therapy called EIDD-2801. My and your taxpayer money helped fund the development of the drug (taken in pill form, originally for the flu), by a grant from the federal government to Emory University for $30 million (only about half of which has been spent). But, just as the COVID-19 situation heated up, there was a recognition that pharma firms might be eager to find new drugs to treat the disease. George Painter heads Emory's tech transfer operation, and also (coinkydinks) holds some patents related to EIDD-2801. In what lots of people considered to be a weird move, he quickly sold off the rights to EIDD-2801 to a "biotherapeutics" company called Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, that didn't seem to have much in the way of, well, anything:

Ridgeback Biotherapeutics had no laboratories, no manufacturing facility of its own and a minimal track record when it struck a deal in March with Emory University to license an experimental coronavirus pill invented by university researchers...
What Ridgeback did seem to have was close connections to the Trump administration. And a wealthy couple who "founded" the firm.
Wayne Holman, who holds a medical degree from New York University, is a hedge-fund manager with a long track record of investing in pharmaceutical stocks. He founded his fund Ridgeback Capital Management in 2006. Wendy Holman, chief executive of Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, is a former investment manager who was named to President Trump's advisory council on HIV/AIDS in 2019.The Holmans live on Miami's exclusive Star Island, where they bought two mansions for a combined $47 million in 2014 and tore one of them down. Ridgeback Capital's headquarters is in a small office building not far away in Coconut Grove, near a private school where Wendy Holman serves on the board of trustees.
The story of Emory and Ridgeback came to attention only because of Rick Bright, the whistleblower who was removed from his job as the director of the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority for challenging the US's approach to dealing with COVID-19. Among the things he blew the whistle on was Ridgeback's sketchy and insistent push for a lot more money from BARDA, despite not even drawing down the remaining $14 million of the existing grant:
Ridgeback's involvement burst into the broader public sphere in early May, when Bright, the ousted head of BARDA, filed his explosive whistleblower complaint. Bright alleged that he clashed with Robert Kadlec, the Health and Human Services assistant secretary for preparedness and response, over demands that he award BARDA contracts to well-connected companies. HHS has said it strongly disagrees with Bright's allegations.In his complaint, Bright cited attempts to secure money for EIDD-2801 first by Painter in November 2019, and then by Wendy Holman in early April among episodes of alleged political pressure.Bright said he rejected requests to fund EIDD-2801 because Emory had already received pledges of $30 million from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Department of Defense to cover development of the drug, including human safety testing. Without first seeing safety results, Bright said, it did not make sense to back the drug with new infusions of federal cash.
The story includes quotes from a series of emails that Holman sent pushing for more taxpayer funds to run clinical trials.
Bright said in his complaint that Ridgeback had been seeking $100 million to further the drug's development. In an April 13 email, a BARDA official said the proposal from Ridgeback could obligate the government to pay the company more than $300 million. The contract official objected to the outlay because Ridgeback had not followed proper application procedures.
Even so, it appears that Ridgeback was able to cash in by flipping the rights to EIDD-2801 to pharma giant Merck after just about two months:
That wager paid off with extraordinary speed in May when, just two months after acquiring the antiviral therapy called EIDD-2801 from Emory, Ridgeback sold exclusive worldwide rights to drug giant Merck.
Nice work if you can get it.And, again, I'm all for investing in the development of a successful treatment of this disease, which remains a massive threat. But, let's go back to the basics here: the research was paid for by taxpayers. But the benefit seems to be accruing to private companies entirely, and where the incentives get sketchy super quick. It seems that a much better system is to not involve patents and sketchy licensing deals that give off the appearance of self-dealing. Why not just offer massive prizes, along with some initial incentive grants to do the necessary work, and then whoever comes up with a treatment can claim a massive prize, along with the promise that the actual treatment be made widely available for free or at a nominal price. That seems a lot more effective with much less risk of arbitrage and flipping, and privatizing that which was paid for by public funds.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 19-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Nintendo Cryptically Points Out That Selling 'Animal Crossing' Assets For Real Money Violates ToS

Furnished content.


Back in May, we wrote about something of an economy springing up around Nintendo's hit game Animal Crossing. With so many folks enduring the hardships of layoffs, or unable to find work, it turns out there are people making very real world money selling in-game assets and collecting payment outside of Nintendo's platform, which doesn't have a method for these types of transactions. This sort of thing fascinates me on many levels, perhaps mostly in how nearly perfectly this highlights the reality of income disparity in America. Some folks have to farm digital bells to make money by selling them to people with enough money to buy them.But we also mentioned in that post that Nintendo is notoriously protective over how its games are played and used. On top of that, the only real way to be effective in this economy is to screw around with the clock and timer settings on the console itself to speed up the harvesting process. That, too, is the sort of thing that normally gets Nintendo's fur up. So, it's perhaps not surprising that Nintendo has pointed out recently that all of this violates its Terms of Service, though the company has remained cryptic as to exactly what it plans to do about it.

Nintendo has strictly defined rules about monetization. As clearly stated on the network services guidelines, Nintendo writes, “You may monetize your videos and channels using the monetization methods separately specified by Nintendo. Other forms of monetization of our intellectual property for commercial purposes are not permitted.”J-Cast reached out Nintendo regarding the real-money trade of Animal Crossing: New Horizons characters. “We are aware of the violation of our terms of use,” Nintendo replied. Nintendo added that it is currently considering what steps should be taken regarding the sale of New Horizons characters.
One presumes the same would be true for in-game assets like Animal Crossing's bells. As stated, Nintendo has a reputation for this... but should the company drop the hammer on this sort of behavior? I've put some thought into this and I can't really come up with a systemic major problem that is or could be caused by this emergent economy springing up around a game like this. How much does this break the game's community, given that there is clearly a demand from players for buying these assets? And how much interest in the game is built on players knowing they have an outlet for progression through these purchases?Interesting as those questions may be, Nintendo doesn't typically come off as though it engages in this type of self-interrogation. Instead, the company sees something happening outside of its control, has a visceral reaction to that something, and reacts with a heavy hand. Note that the quote from the Nintendo rep above says Nintendo is deciding what to do about all of this, not whether it should do anything at all. Which is too bad.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 18-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Trust & Safety Professional Association Launches: This Is Important

Furnished content.


One of the most frustrating things out there is the idea that content moderation choices made on various platforms are coming directly from the top. Too often, I've seen people blame Jack Dorsey or Mark Zuckerberg for content moderation decisions, as if they're sitting there at their laptops and twiddling their fingers over who gets blocked and who doesn't. Over the last decade or so, an entire industry has been built up to figure out how to make internet services as usable as possible, to deal with spam, and abuse, and more. That industry is generally called "trust and safety," and as a new industry it has grown up and professionalized quite a bit in the last decade -- though it rarely (if ever) gets the respect it deserves. As I mentioned on a recent episode of The Pivot podcast, many of the assumptions that people make about content moderation unfairly malign the large crew of people working in trust and safety who aren't interested in political bias, or silencing voices, but who legitimately are working very, very hard to figure out how to balance the many, many tradeoffs in trying to make internet services useful and welcoming to users.That's why I'm really happy to see a new organization launch today, the Trust & Safety Professional Association, along with a sister organization, the Trust & Safety Foundation.

Today, we're pleased to announce the Trust & Safety Professional Association (TSPA) and the Trust & Safety Foundation Project (TSF).* TSPA is a new, nonprofit, membership-based organization that will support the global community of professionals who develop and enforce principles and policies that define acceptable behavior online. TSF will focus on improving society's understanding of trust and safety, including the operational practices used in content moderation, through educational programs and multidisciplinary research. Neither TSPA nor TSF are lobbying organizations, and will not advocate for public policy positions on behalf of corporate supporters or anyone else. Instead, we will support the community of people doing the work, and society's understanding of it.
And I should note that the people behind this organization are incredible. If you told me about such an organization and asked me to suggest who should be involved, I would have included exactly the people who put this together, starting Adelin Cai and Clara Tsao, who both have tremendous experience in the trust and safety space, and the knowledge and thoughtful, balanced approach necessary to build organizations like the two launched today. If you ever need someone to talk through all the challenges to think through in building a successful trust and safety team, I'd highly recommend both Adelin and Clara. The board also includes some names you may recognize, including Professor Eric Goldman, former Twitter/Google lawyer and White House deputy CTO Alex Macgillivray, and former Mozilla Chief Legal Officer/COO and current Stellar Development Foundation CEO Denelle Dixon.And... one of the initial projects that the Trust & Safety Foundation has launched is an ongoing series of trust and safety case studies written by... us. Techdirt's think tank arm, the Copia Institute, will be providing a series of trust and safety case studies to the Trust & Safety Foundation, which they'll be posting each week. We'll eventually be posting many of them to Techdirt as well, so you can expect those coming later this summer. The point of this library of case studies is to give people a better understanding of the impossible choices and tradeoffs that internet services need to make on a daily basis, and to highlight why what often seems like an "obvious" way to deal with some piece of content may not be so obvious once you explore it from all sides. Personally, I'm excited to get to help build out this library and to work with such a great team of people who are devoted to improving and professionalizing the space, while further educating everyone (both inside and outside the trust and safety space) how trust and safety efforts actually work.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 18-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Minneapolis City Council Votes Unanimously To Disband Its Police Department

Furnished content.


In response to one of its own officers killing an unarmed, cuffed black man by kneeling on his neck until he was long past dead, the Minneapolis City Council pledged to defund the police department. It did this as the city burned and protests erupted around the nation. It maintained this pledge as city schools said "no thanks" to offers of assistance from police officers seeking to bring this level of violence to public schools and state colleges.At that point, it was all talk. But it was talk the Council could back up. It had a veto-proof majority willing to disassemble the system that hadn't worked for years and replace it with something new. But it was still talk until it was put into action. And it has now been put into action, as Scott McClallen reports for The Center Square.

The Minneapolis City Council unanimously passed a resolution intending to disband their police department and create a new model of public safety in response to the death of George Floyd.The resolution states the Council will start a year-long process of research and community engagement to discover a replacement.City Council President Lisa Bender said that the resolution “advances our shared commitment to transformative change in how Minneapolis approaches public safety so that every member of our community can be truly safe.
How will this work? It's still up in the air. But there's a lot to work with. Cops are asked to police everything, including many things they aren't specifically trained to handle, like misbehaving school kids, people suffering mental health crises, and a variety of other societal issues like homelessness, interpersonal relationships, and wayward house pets.The police department hoovers up an inordinate amount of the city's annual budget, leaving it little to address underlying causes of crime and providing almost no support for city residents who need it most. Instead of help, they get guys with guns and a shitload of training that tells them all hand movements are furtive and any failure to comprehend conflicting shouted orders a sign of violent resistance.The resolution [PDF] lays it out very clearly: Minneapolis residents aren't getting their money's worth from their local law enforcement agency.
Whereas, the adopted 2020 budget allocated $193 million to the Minneapolis Police Department, which represents over 36% of the City’s General Fund of $532.3 million, and is more than twice as much as the combined City budgets for workforce development, building affordable housing, homeownership support, small business support programs, environmental sustainability, race equity, arts and culture, violence prevention, family and early childhood support, youth development, senior services, lead poisoning prevention, infectious disease prevention, and protection of civil rights…
Render unto Cop Caesar 36%. And unto man whatever is left over. Under-funding social services to ensure cops have the budget to beat every problem into submission isn't working. It hasn't worked for years. But it took three cops -- one with his knee on a black man's neck -- to drive that point home. The city can't afford to wait around for the department to fix itself. It has no desire to do this. So, the city will move forward without the department and make the changes the PD has resisted for decades.While still a little short on details, the resolution does lay down the next steps in the defunding process. It does not involve disbanding the PD, but it does severely curtail its responsibilities. A lot of committee work will precede the actual reformation of local law enforcement.
Research and engagement to inform the potential creation of a new City Department of Community Safety with a holistic approach to community safety, including a review and analysis of relevant existing models and programs and practices that could be applied in Minneapolis;Recommendations that advance the work of the 911 working group and other strategies for transitioning work of the Minneapolis Police Department to alternative, more appropriate responses to community requests for help and identifying the resources needed to perform this work in City departments, other agencies, and/or community partners while the work of creating a new public safety system is in progress…
Hopefully, this means calls for help won't always be greeted by cops trained to view almost everything as a threat. With some budget rerouted to social services, perhaps there won't be as many calls for help, since there will actually be a safety net for residents whose health and well being used to be a law enforcement problem.The unanimous vote is veto-proof. This is important because the city's mayor still believes the police department can be "reformed" through less drastic measures. This argument has been advanced without a shred of evidence being supplied by the city's leader. Reform can work, but most reform efforts end up being neutered by police unions and legislators unwilling to look "soft" on crime. It's unlikely to work as well as the council's proposal, which trims the PD back to its law enforcement roots and reroutes the leftover money towards improving the lives of underserved communities.This is a momentous event in the city's history. Unfortunately, it took an untold number of abuses by police officers to make it happen, culminating in the very disturbing killing of a resident by cops in broad daylight in front of several cameras to make the city take its problem seriously. Hopefully, other locales won't wait for daylight murders by cops to address their own law enforcement problems.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 17-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



No, Google Didn't Demonetize The Federalist & It's Not An Example Of Anti-Conservative Bias

Furnished content.


So, earlier today, NBC reported that Google had "banned" two well known websites from its ad platform, namely The Federalist and Zero Hedge. The story was a bit confusing. To be clear, both of those sites are awful and frequently post unmitigated garbage, conspiracy theories, and propaganda. But, it turns out the story was highly misleading, though it will almost certainly be used to push the false narrative that the big internet companies are engaged in "anti-conservative bias" in moderation practices. But that's wrong. Indeed, it appears what happened is exactly what Google has done to us in the past, in saying that because of certain comments people put on our stories, they were pulling any Google ads from appearing on that page. Now we've explained why this is a dumb policy, that only encourages bad comments on sites to try to demonetize them, but it's not got anything to do with "anti-conservative bias." Also, it's just pulling ads from a single page, not across the board.But that's not how NBC presented it. Indeed, NBC's coverage is weird in its own way. It took a report from a UK-based operation that put together a blacklist of websites it says should be "defunded" for "racist fake news." Of course, "racist" is in the eye of the beholder, and "fake news" is not a very useful term here, but whatever. NBC reporters took this report and reached out to Google to ask about these particular pages, and that set off Google's usual review processes, and the recognition that some of the comments on the page violated Google's ad policies on "dangerous and derogatory" content (the same thing we got dinged for above). Google, as it does, alerted the Federalist to this content and warned that if it wasn't corrected, ads would be removed on that page (Google claims that Zero Hedge's page had already gone through this process prior to the communication from NBC). While the fact that Google did a review after NBC's request for comment may upset some, this is the nature of content moderation: much of it happens after an inbound report is made in some form or another.Of course, as the story got bigger and bigger and spun out of control, even Google had to come out and clarify that The Federalist was never demonetized, but rather that they called out specific comments that would lead to ads being pulled on that page:

Again, this sounds exactly like what happened to us last year. But, still, tons of people are calling the NBC story an example of anti-conservative bias. I'll bet none of those people called this "anti-tech reporter bias" when it happened to us last year.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 17-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Internet Archive Closing National Emergency Library Two Weeks Early, Due To Lawsuit, Despite How Useful It's Been

Furnished content.


Last week, the Internet Archive announced that it was going to close the National Emergency Library two weeks earlier than it had originally planned to do so, because of the disappointing lawsuit against the organization by most of the major publishing houses. As we said when that lawsuit was filed, while the publishers may win (and may force the entire Internet Archive to close), it's still a blatant attack on culture. And, of course, the lawsuit isn't just over the National Emergency Library, but the entire concept of Controlled Digital Lending, the underpinning of the Internet Archive's OpenLibrary, which lets you check out scans of books in a one-to-one relationship with physical books the library holds.If you came down from space without understanding the history of copyright, there is no way this would make sense to you at all. The publishers are suing a library for making information available to people while they're stuck at home during a pandemic and all the physical books are locked up. Whether or not it meets the technical boundaries of fair use is one question. Whether or not the lawsuit is an abhorrent attack on access to knowledge and culture is another altogether.Indeed, in a separate blog post, the Archive made it clear just how impactful the NEL has been. It includes a huge list of testimonials.

Margaret D., Nassau, Bahamas, Educator: Margaret is an educator who uses the NEL for reading books in a classroom setting. 'I use the NEL daily for read-alouds and reading recommendations for students during remote learning, in addition to personal reading as well. It is the best thing to happen for my classwork needs and resources. And [I] couldn't have functioned without it. The NEL is [a] godsend.'Benjamin S., Camden, New Jersey, Librarian: Benjamin is a librarian who uses the NEL to help his community. 'I was able to find basic life support manuals (BLS Provider Manual) needed by front line medical workers in the academic medical center I work at. The physical collection was closed due to COVID-19 and the NEL allows me to still make necessary health informational materials available to my hospital patrons. It has also provided anatomy materials for the gross anatomy lab in the medical school. Additionally, the NEL has allowed me to augment the resources provided from paid databases to patrons in their transition to online learning.'Kathleen M., Santa Clara, California, Professor: Kathleen is a Professor with the Department of Art and Art History at Santa Clara University. 'The Internet Archive has been a godsend for my students at Santa Clara University this quarterespecially with all libraries and interlibrary loan services closed. My students wrote sophisticated research papers on a variety of subjects during spring quarter. The Internet Archive was a major factor in their success. They and I are so grateful that you made the decision to make all books available during COVID-19. Thank you so much!'Katrina R., Detroit, Michigan, Librarian: Katrina is a librarian using the NEL for research. 'I have used the NEL to help students and researchers access materials that they would otherwise be unable to access or request because of the coronavirus pandemic. Without this access, I believe student success will be negatively impacted as they try to complete their coursework. As an academic librarian working in an area of the country with a high rate of the coronavirus, the NEL has allowed me to continue to support the research needs of the University population while also keeping my colleagues and users safe.'Christopher D., Baltimore, Maryland, Educator: Christopher is an educator who uses the NEL in a classroom setting for teaching, research, and the completion of his dissertation. 'The NEL has been indispensable. With every library closed and many lending systems either unsuited or crashing due to the tidal influx of users, the NEL's smart, easy interface has assisted and accelerated my research enormously. I also use the NEL in teaching to pull articles from otherwise unavailable or inaccessible texts.'Kelly P., Detroit, Michigan, Researcher: Kelly uses the NEL for research purposes for her PhD. 'The NEL has provided access to scholarly monographs that are unavailable during the global pandemic due to library closures. It [NEL] has provided tangible resources allowing me to continue my research work while disconnected from physical networks (office space, library access, institutional support spaces). It has shown the need for free digital resources at all times, not just during the shutdowns due to the global pandemic.'
There are a lot more on that page. I don't know how the court will rule in the case -- and, again, courts often interpret anything having to with copyright in a fairly maximalist manner. But the attempt to kill the Internet Archive for helping people access books that are not available through other means is truly disgusting.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 16-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Australia Triumphs Definitively In Long-Running Battle With Big Tobacco Over Plain Packs For Cigarettes

Furnished content.


Techdirt has written a lot about corporate sovereignty -- also known as "investor-state dispute settlement" (ISDS) -- which allows companies to haul countries before special tribunals for alleged loss of profits caused by new laws or regulations. One industry's use of ISDS that Techdirt has been following particularly closely is tobacco. As a typically brilliant John Oliver segment explained back in 2015, Big Tobacco companies have used corporate sovereignty clauses in international trade and investment deals to sue countries for daring to try to regulate cigarettes, advertising or packaging. Thankfully, that didn't turn out so well. Philip Morris tried to use ISDS to roll back plain-pack laws, but cases against Australia and Uruguay were both thrown out. The tide against the use of corporate sovereignty by tobacco companies to undo health protection laws has turned so much that special carve-outs have been added to trade deals to prevent this kind of corporate bullying.But the tobacco industry had one last trick up its sleeve. John Oliver noted five years ago that Big Tobacco persuaded three countries -- Honduras, Dominican Republic and Ukraine -- to file complaints with the World Trade Organization (WTO) against Australia, claiming the plain-packaging law violates trade agreements. As an article in the Financial Review explains, they were later joined by Indonesia and Cuba. A dispute panel backed Australia in June 2018, but Honduras and the Dominican Republic appealed against that decision. Now the WTO's Appellate Body has made its final ruling:

The Appellate Body confirmed the previous WTO ruling, which said that when Australia prevented tobacco producers from differentiating themselves from their rivals via brand marketing, this wasn't necessarily a restriction on trade.It also rejected the argument that raising the purchasing age or increasing tobacco taxes were less trade-restrictive options that Canberra could have pursued instead of the plain packaging rules.And it said that the international intellectual property regime didn't give tobacco companies a right to use a trademark; it merely stopped competitors from using it. So there was no obligation on Australia to allow a company to use its trademark, and the plain packaging regime hadn't "unjustifiably" encumbered companies' trademark usage.
That last point is particularly interesting. As far back as 2011 the tobacco companies tried to argue that "plain packaging has a smothering effect on companies' logos and trademarks." The WTO has just stamped on the idea that companies have some kind of sacred right to use their trademarks, which could have wider implications.As for the main attempt to get rid of plain packs in Australia, that has now failed definitively -- there is no way to appeal against the WTO Appellate Body's ruling. That means that many more countries around the world are likely to bring in plain-pack laws -- a real victory for Australia's tenacious pursuit of this important health measure.Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter, Diaspora, or Mastodon.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 16-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



This Week In Techdirt History: June 7th - 13th

Furnished content.


Five Years AgoThis week in 2015, legislators were working to take money from the DEA to buy bodycams for cops and calling for mandatory data collection on police shootings, while we took a look at the way (even with cameras) cops and the media cooperate to disparage victims of police violence and paint every kill as a "good" kill, and how law enforcement stretches the definition of "reasonable suspicion" to cover just about everything and make the 4th Amendment useless in lots of cases. Meanwhile, there were efforts to shut down bulk phone record collection during the transition to the new USA Freedom Act, but the DOJ had different ideas and the House Intelligence Committee was working to block the Privacy & Civil Liberties Board from doing its job. Canada, in the mean time, passed its own "anti-terror" bill to take away civil liberties.Ten Years AgoThis week in 2010, we saw a terrible court ruling that said forwarding a link can be considered defamation, while the UK was considering a new libel law that was a mixed bag at best, and Andrew Cuomo kicked off his recently-announced campaign for Governor of New York by threatening to sue a social network for its users' actions. Meanwhile, many targets of the US Copyright Group's shakedown scheme were claiming their innocence while another law firm that tried to get in on the racket was suing Wordpress over critical blogs. We debunked the ludicrous idea that pirated handheld games have cost the economy $41.6-billion, and the idea that the RIAA is a success, and also pointed out how Hollywood's constant copyright lawsuits were at odds with its celebration of rampant copyright infringement in the show Glee — nearly as hilariously ironic as the New York Times getting confused about its own RSS feed and ordering takedown of an iPad RSS reader.Fifteen Years AgoThis week in 2005, we saw an early case of an artist being shut down for offering torrents of their own content, while the UK's new Creative Minister was fighting to expand copyright to stop Elvis Presley songs from hitting the public domain, Sweden's private recording industry police got a wrist-slap for breaking the rules, and the press was patting itself on the back for parroting the recording industry's misleading statements and studies. And always-on-the-ball Sony was repeating its mistakes with the Aibo robotic dog when it came to the PSP, by doing everything possible to block hackers and modders from making the device more useful.

Read more here


posted at: 12:00am on 14-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Federal Court Affirms Activision's First Amendment Rights In Using Humvees in 'Call Of Duty' Game

Furnished content.


Almost exactly a year ago, we first wrote about a trademark lawsuit brought by AM General LLC, the company that makes Humvee vehicles, and Activision. At issue is the inclusion of historically accurate Humvee vehicles in the publisher's Call of Duty games. AM General decried those depictions as trademark infringement, leading Activision to say its use was protected by the First Amendment, given that the entire goal here was to accurately depict warfare in an artistic fashion. Shortly after, the ESA chimed in with an amicus brief siding with Activision. Given the implications for the gaming industry should AM General win the suit, this was no surprise.Well, fortunately for creative expression in gaming, the court has ruled and has sided with Activision.

In his ruling this week, though, District Judge George B. Daniels dismissed AM General's claim. That decision hinged in part on a 1989 precedent that established that artistic works could make reference to outside trademarks as long as the usage was relevant to the work and did not "explicitly mislead as to the source of the content or work."The court then went through an eight-prong "Polaroid" test (named after a precedential 1961 case) to determine whether Activision's use of Humvees amounted to a legally relevant "explicit misleading" that would trump First Amendment protections. As part of that argument, AM General submitted a survey it conducted showing 16 percent of consumers "were confused as to AM General's association with Call of Duty." As Judge Daniels notes, "less than 20 percent confusion regarding two companies' 'association'... is at most some confusion" and does not amount to the "particularly compelling" confusion required by legal precedent.
The court actually continued on in its analysis as to why AM General's claims were nonsense. It's a fairly thorough debunking by the court. Ultimately, however, the court dove into the impact that ruling otherwise would have on the First Amendment rights for artistic expression in mediums where realism is part of the art.
Daniels writes that "if realism is an artistic goal, then the presence in Modern Warfare games of vehicles employed by actual militaries undoubtedly furthers that goal." And even if that commitment to realism causes a modicum of brand confusion in this case, it's not enough to override the First Amendment protections that video games have enjoyed since a 2011 Supreme Court ruling.
In other words, the tiny bit of maybe, potentially confusion that AM General ginned up in its filing doesn't remotely undue the protections artists and content creators enjoy for free and open expression. You know, the type of freedoms that the US Military has helped our country secure... often times using Humvees!It's good to see a court side with free expression over corporate protectionism every once in a while.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 13-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Zoom & China: Never Forget That Content Moderation Requests From Government Involve Moral Questions

Furnished content.


If you've been around the content moderation/trust and safety debates for many years, you may remember that in the early 2000s, Yahoo got understandably slammed for providing data to the Chinese government that allowed the government to track down and jail a journalist who was critical of the Chinese government. This was a wake up call for many about the international nature of the internet -- and the fact that not every "government request" is equal. This, in fact, is a key point that is often raised in discussions about new laws requiring certain content moderation rules to be followed -- because not all governments look at content moderation the same way. And efforts by, say, the US government to force internet companies to "block copyright infringement" can and will be used by other countries to justify censorship.The video conferencing software Zoom is going through what appears to be an accelerated bout of historical catch-up as its popularity has rocketed thanks to global pandemic lockdown. It keeps coming across problems that tons of other companies have gone through before it -- with the latest being, as stated above, that requests from all governments are not equal. It started when Zoom closed the account of a US-based Chinese activist, who used Zoom to hold an event commemorating the Tiananmen Square massacre. Zoom initially admitted that it shut the account to "comply" with a request from the Chinese government:

Just like any global company, we must comply with applicable laws in the jurisdictions where we operate. When a meeting is held across different countries, the participants within those countries are required to comply with their respective local laws. We aim to limit the actions we take to those necessary to comply with local law and continuously review and improve our process on these matters. We have reactivated the US-based account.
That response did not satisfy anyone and as more and more complaints came in, Zoom put out a much better response, which more or less showed that they're coming up to speed on a ton of lessons that have already been learned by others (at the very least, it suggests they should hire some experienced trust and safety staffers...). At the very least, though, Zoom admits that in taking the Chinese government's requests at face value, it "made two mistakes":
We strive to limit actions taken to only those necessary to comply with local laws. Our response should not have impacted users outside of mainland China. We made two mistakes:
  • We suspended or terminated the host accounts, one in Hong Kong SAR and two in the U.S. We have reinstated these three host accounts.
  • We shut down the meetings instead of blocking the participants by country. We currently do not have the capability to block participants by country. We could have anticipated this need. While there would have been significant repercussions, we also could have kept the meetings running.
There are reasonable points to be made that a company like Zoom should have anticipated issues like this, but at the very least you can give the company credit for admitting (directly) to its mistakes, and coming up with plans and policies to avoid doing it again in the future.But there is a larger point here that often gets lost in all these discussions about trust and safety, and content moderation. So much of the debates usually focus on the assumption that (1) requests to block or take down content or accounts are done in good faith, and (2) that those making the requests have similar values. That's frequently not the case at all. We've shown this over and over again here on Techdirt in which laws against "fake news" are used to silence critics of a ruling class.So for anyone pushing for laws that require internet companies to somehow ban or block "bad behavior" and "bad actors," you need to be able to come up with a definition of those things that won't be abused horribly by authoritarian governments around the globe.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 13-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Another 91 Cases Linked To Lying Houston Cop Involved In A Botched Drug Raid Have Been Dismissed

Furnished content.


The fallout continues from a no-knock raid in Houston that left the two homeowners dead. The warrant was predicated on statements/controlled buys "performed" by a nonexistent informant using drugs apparently "found" in Officer Gerald Goines' squad car. What was supposed to be the takedown of a dangerous heroin dealer was actually the killing of two people who possessed no heroin. Instead, investigators found personal use amounts of cocaine and marijuana, and none of the drugs or weapons Officer Goines claimed would be found at the residence in his warrant application.Since then, it has been proven that sworn officer Gerald Goines is less trustworthy than the public he was supposed to protect. Goines is now facing a handful of state and federal charges related to the unjustified no-knock raid that ended with two Houston citizens dead.It often appears that few police officers -- especially those in drug units -- want to earn the public's trust. All they want is a bunch of easy wins. Forced to confront the dirty dealings of a few dirty cops, the local prosecutor's office is voluntarily giving up a bunch of their easy wins. Here's Jacob Sullum of Reason with more details:

Harris County, Texas, District Attorney Kim Ogg plans to support the reversal of "at least 91" more convictions in cases involving Gerald Goines, the former Houston narcotics officer whose fraudulent search warrant affidavit led to the January 2019 drug raid that killed Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas. Ogg's office had already backed the dismissal of 73 cases initiated by Goines, who faces state murder charges and federal civil rights charges in connection with the deadly invasion of the middle-aged couple's house on Harding Street.
When there's a War (on Drugs) going on, there's apparently no time to apprise yourself of the details. You just assume the men on the street know what they're doing. When it becomes apparent they don't, you respond appropriately. But don't read this as another 91 complete dismissals. It isn't. The DA's office on supports "reversals" of convictions and has recommended courts to appoint legal reps for those targeted by Officer Goines' investigations. Some convictions may still end up being upheld.The better news is this: the DA's office recognizes the dirtiness of Officer Goine's police work.
"We've come to the conclusion that every conviction in which Goines was the major player, for the past 11 years, needs to be flipped," said Josh Reiss, chief of the Post-Conviction Writs Division at Ogg's office. "The number of cases may grow."
"May" = "will." Cops on the drug front have been given free rein for years. That only a few have ended up as disgraced (and criminally-charged) as Goines is nothing more than the dice rolling the right way. The Drug War has given us the Third Party Doctrine abuses and pets telling cops it's ok to engage in warrantless searches. It has given us the legally-blessed road piracy that is "civil asset forfeiture" and a large number of "acceptable" civil rights violations. And it has given us rogue officers like Goines, who are never given any direct oversight until officers kill someone without justification. The ends justify the means.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 12-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Stop Asking Marvel To Keep Cops From Wearing Masks With 'The Punisher' Skull On It

Furnished content.


Regular readers here will certainly know that movie-sequel maker and occasional comic book producer Marvel is quite notorious for protecting its intellectual property in a rather heavy-handed way. Some of the examples of its protectionist actions are, ironically, cartoonish. Such as when it used copyright to crush the creator of Ghost Rider. Or refusing to allow copyrights for some of Marvel's most famous characters to revert back to the folks who actually created them through termination rights. Add to this that Marvel is now a part of Disney, a company nearly as famous for its forays into shaping copyright law as it is for anything else. With all of the above, perhaps it was understandable when people saw a whole bunch of cops in the news for all the wrong reasons adorned in face masks imprinted with the logo for The Punisher that those same people wondered aloud why Marvel wasn't suing the police over it.You tend to see it in articles like this, where members of the public and/or other comic creators beg Disney or Marvel to sue police who wear the logo while they're out proving the point of the protesters.

The Punisher is one of the most brutal, violent characters in comics. Yet, somehow, his iconic skull logo has been co-opted by some police officers who use the symbol to show their support for "Blue Lives Matter." Now, certain comic creators are urging Disney to take legal action against police forces who have used the logo without permission.
So, first thing first: the fact that officers of the law are taking on the logo of a vigilante that operates brutally and specifically outside the law should tell you everything you need to know about the officers who wear those masks. These imbeciles seem to take great pleasure in proving the point of the current movement for whatever reason.But as to any legal action Marvel could take against them, as this post points out, there's likely very little that can be done specifically with the police.
However, while many fans would love for Marvel to tell the cops that they cannot use the trademarked skull logo of the Punisher, Marvel is likely stuck without a whole lot of legal recourse for achieving a ban like that.The key problem with enforcing the use of the trademark with police officers, though, is found in the word trademark itself. A trademark, simply put, is a mark that is used in trade. This means that the intellectual property is being used in commerce. If the intellectual property is not being used in commerce, there is not a whole lot that the owners of the trademark can do about people using the trademark.
And, aside from the happy pilfering of society via civil asset forfeiture, not to mention police unions that aggrandize the danger of the average cop in order to continue siphoning tax money to buy better weaponry toys, policing is just a racist enterprise, not a commercial one. Legal action against the police would be tossed out of court quickly.Which tends to move the public onto different targets out of a desperate sense that someone somewhere needs to do something. That's when they begin to scream, "Why is Marvel refusing to enforce its trademark on the logo among those selling those masks?"
As protests against police brutality go global and enter their third week, Marvel Comics has faced increasing calls to get the Punisher skull off of police gear. The skull is often added to bootleg tactical merchandise used by police and the military (both at home and abroad), as well as, occasionally, official police gear. When pressed on the matter, though, a Marvel spokesperson told io9 precisely nothing. The spokesperson affirmed to io9 that they were taking the issue very seriously, referred readers to a page from a recent issue of the Punisher’s comic, and pointed to the company’s prior statement on social media.Disney, Marvel’s parent company, is notoriously litigious enforcing its trademarks. Before purchasing Marvel Entertainment and all its comic characters, the company once sued three Florida daycare centers for painting likenesses of Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters on their walls. And Disney refused to grant permission for a child’s Spider-Man gravestone, telling his grieving father that they wanted to protect the “innocence” and “magic” of its characters. There are more than 1,000 results for “thin blue Punisher” gear on Amazon.
So, a couple of things. First, the use of the Punisher logo is so widely prevalent that this likely explains how police are finding them and wearing them. Certainly, it's not as though Marvel or Disney, rich enterprises though they may be, could pay enough lawyers to fill up enough courtrooms to go after all of these people all of the time. Second, Marvel most certainly does police the Punisher trademark. It's done so on companies that have used similar logos on gun products, all kinds of merch and apparel, and elsewhere.As for the masks the police are using like some kind of dumb superhero symbol that couldn't be more tone-deaf, Marvel actually has made its stance pretty clear.
“We stand against racism. We stand for inclusion. We stand with our fellow Black employees, storytellers, creators and the entire Black community. We must unite and speak out.”The spokesperson also referenced the Punisher's own stance against police using their logo to io9 as their own stance. In Punisher #13 by Matthew Rosenberg, Szymon Kudranski, and Greg Smallwood, the Punisher isn't pleased to see cops using his logo. The Walt Disney Corporation earlier this week pledged $5 million towards nonprofit organizations that advanced social justice, including $2 million going to the NAACP.
Bottom line: there is no world in which Marvel wants to see its character symbols resting on the faces of cops brutalizing peaceful protests. Stop asking them to sue the police; they can't. And if you're upset that they haven't sued rogue apparel makers using the logo as of yet... give it time. It is Disney/Marvel, after all.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 12-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Hacks Are Always Worse Than Reported: Nintendo's Breached Accounts Magically Double

Furnished content.


One of these days, we writers at Techdirt will put our collective and enormous heads together, and come up with an actual proposed mathematical formula that should be applied whenever a company first announces a security or account breach, so that the public can calculate what that breach count will eventually end up being. The reason the world needs such a formula is because you can pretty much set your watch when a company announces such a breach that in the following weeks or months it will grow significantly. This happened with Equifax, with TJX, and even with our own vaunted federal government. But if we ever really did want to try to put some kind of formula together for measuring the underplaying of a breach on initial response, the historical breach that would probably brake such an algorithm would have to be Yahoo's email breach, which, in 2013, was the breach of a few hundred thousand email accounts, but in 2017 magically became all of the accounts. As in, literally all of them.This severity progression is so routine that it should have a name for easy reference. I propose Geigner's Effect. I heard somewhere that if you write for this site long enough you get an effect named after you.The most recent example of, ahem, Geigner's Effect (actually first proposed on this site by Mike Masnick, but he already has an Effect) is Nintendo, which near the start of the year announced that roughly 160k of its Nintendo Accounts had potentially been breached. In an update this week, Nintendo revised that number to nearly double the original amount.

Today, Nintendo announced another 140,000 or so more accounts may have been accessed. That means a total of around 300,000 accounts may have been breached. Nintendo pointed out in an update today that that’s less than one percent of all Nintendo Network ID users.
While that's true, it's also 200% of the amount that Nintendo originally said had been breached. And who knows what that number is going to be in another couple of weeks or months? It could stay the same, or it could be more Yahoo-esque and balloon significantly. Remember again, Yahoo revised its breach numbers on a nearly annual basis until it finally settled on "all the accounts." The public has no reason to trust companies on these numbers and every reason to dismiss the casual trotting out of seemingly comforting math by some PR goon.So, we reiterate: when you see a report of a breach, know that it's always more severe than first reported. Until we have our formula ready for prime time, that's the best you can do.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 11-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Cable Customers Have Paid $3.5 Billion For Sports They Can't Watch

Furnished content.


Despite the pandemic suspending most major league sports play, cable TV consumers continue to pay for programming they can't watch.For fifteen years or more, consumers have complained about the high cost of sports programming. That's particularly true for consumers who don't watch sports, but are often forced to pay the sky high prices for sports programming as part of a bloated cable bundle anyway. One survey, a few years ago, found that 56% of consumers would ditch ESPN in a heartbeat if it meant saving the $8 per month subscribers pay for the channel. The "regional sports fees" tacked on to subscriber bills have also long been a point of contention because they're often used to help falsely advertise a lower rate.NY Attorney General Letitia James recently fired a warning shot over the bow of the industry, calling on seven major cable TV providers to begin offering refunds for nonexistent programming:

"At a time when so many New Yorkers have lost their jobs and are struggling, it is grossly unfair that cable and satellite television providers would continue to charge fees for services they are not even providing. These companies must step up and immediately propose plans to cut charges and provide much needed financial relief. This crisis has brought new economic anxiety for all New Yorkers, and I will continue to protect the wallets of working people at every turn."
This being the cable TV industry, the requested refunds haven't happened. AT&T (DirecTV) has let some users get refunds for premiums sports subscriptions (MLB Extra Innings and MLS Direct Kick), but none of the seven cable providers singled out by James appear to have changed their policies in the slightest or offered any refunds whatsoever. In a statement, AT&T makes it pretty clear that because broadcasters aren't likely to give it a break, consumers won't be getting a break either:
"We continue to monitor the situation closely and are in contact with programmers and sports leagues as they plan their next steps. Any rebates we receive from programmers and sports leagues will be provided to our customers."
That's generally been the same line trotted out by cable providers like Spectrum, which are quick to point out that there are layers of complicated contracts at play and more than a lot of uncertainty as to what happens next. And while that's certainly true, we're not talking about pocket change here. One recent analysis estimated that pay-tv subscribers have paid almost $3.5 Billion in cable fees over the last two months for live sports that never happened:
"...there are around 86.5 pay-TV households in the United States. On average, each of these households pays around $20 per month in fees for sports programming. That means pay-TV subscribing households in the US pay about $1.73 billion per month in fees for sports programming. And with two months of no live sports thus far, that means pay-TV companies like Comcast and AT&T have received nearly $3.5 billion in fees for sports programming that features no live sports."
Somebody has to eat those costs, and congratulations, it's going to be you, the end consumer. How long this goes on is uncertain, but with the FCC asleep on consumer issues, it's unlikely the federal regulator will help. Fortunately (unlike the broadband sector), the rise in streaming competition means users have options. Cord cutting was already setting records in 2019, and with Sports being the only thing keeping users subscribed to traditional cable, cord cutting is expected to soar to even greater heights thanks to COVID-19.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 11-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Carnegie Mellon Researchers Design 'Nutrition Label' For The Internet Of Broken Things

Furnished content.


Thanks to a laundry list of lazy companies, everything from your Barbie doll to your tea kettle are now hackable. Worse, these devices are now being quickly incorporated into some of the largest botnets ever built, resulting in devastating and historic DDoS attacks. In short: thanks to "internet of things" companies that prioritized profits over consumer privacy and the safety of the internet, we're now facing a security and privacy dumpster fire that many experts believe will, sooner or later, result in even bigger security and privacy headaches than we're seeing today.One problem is that consumers often don't know what they're buying, which is why groups like Consumer Reports have been working on an open source standard to include security and privacy issues in product reviews. Another big problem is that these devices are rarely designed with GUIs that provide transparent insight into what these devices are doing online. And unless users have a semi-sophisticated familiarity with monitoring their internet traffic via a router, they likely have no idea that their shiny new internet-connected doo-dad is putting themselves, and others, at risk.This lack of transparent data for the end user also extends to company privacy policies and company privacy practices, which are often muddy and buried beneath layers of fine print, assuming they're even truthful in the first place.Enter the CyLab Security and Privacy Institute at Carnegie Mellon, where researchers say they're hoping to create a standardized "nutrition label" of sorts for IOT devices. Researchers say the labels will provide 47 different pieces of information about a device's security and privacy practices, including the type of user and activity data the device collects, with whom the data is shared, how long the device retains data, and how frequently this data is shared. The goal is to take something incredibly confusing to the average user and simplify it in a way that's more easily understandable.To do so, the researchers say they consulted with 22 security and privacy experts across industry, government, and academia to design the easy to understand labels:

They've also built a label generator for those interested. Ideally, by including more accurate labels and privacy and security issues in reviews, you could ideally shame at least some companies into trying a little harder, and help consumers and businesses alike avoid platforms and companies that pretty clearly couldn't care less about end user privacy and security. A more detailed breakdown of a device's habits would be available for experts or researchers looking to know more about a particular device or its habits:
"We have designed a that includes a simple, understandable primary layer for consumers and a more detailed secondary layer that includes information important to experts. The primary layer is designed to be affixed to device packaging or shown on an online shopping website, while the secondary layer can be accessed online via a URL or QR code."
One interesting finding from the researchers: consumers polled were interested in paying more to have this kind of insight into what a product actually does. Granted such labels are only useful if they're actually used, and there's a long list of overseas Chinese companies that will see no penalty for not including them (though the lack of such a label could be a deterrent from buying such products). To be truly effective, you'd likely need to incorporate such requirements as part of the United States' first actual privacy law for the internet era, should such legislation ever actually get crafted.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 10-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Judge Orders Down 'N Out Burger Joint To Hand Over All Signage To In-N-Out, Which Has Almost No Presence In Australia

Furnished content.


Two years ago we wrote a post about famed burger-slinger In-N-Out's bullshit strategy for keeping its trademarks in Australia active and valid. That strategy amounts to the chain doing a popup restaurant briefly once every five years, essentially the minimum to keep a trademark active through use in the country. This has been going on for some time, which makes it fairly clear that In-N-Out has no real plans to have a permanent presence in Australia. And, yet, it goes about keeping its trademarks active.Why? Well, at least in part, apparently, so that it can bully other companies that might brand themselves in a similar fashion. From our earlier post, In-N-Out went after an Australian burger chain calling itself Down 'N Out, which used marketing that was clearly an homage to the California chain. That kind of homage would certainly land a company in trademark hot water in a competing market... except In-N-Out is only in the Australian market in the most transient sense possible. Despite that, an Australian court recently ruled that Down 'N Out wasn't complying with its trademark ruling in favor of In-N-Out and, even though the former plans to appeal the ruling, it must now turn over all physical signage for Down 'N Out to In-N-Out and destroy all digital material for that brand as well.

In May, Hashtag Burgers again drew the ire of In-N-Out by setting up a pop-up Down N' Out food truck in Marrickville. It has said it plans to lodge an appeal against the decision. Justice Katzmann said her decision was "not to be treated as provisional" pending the outcome of any appeal. She refused to grant a stay of her decision to stop it taking effect during the appeal process.Justice Katzmann ordered Hashtag Burgers to hand over to In-N-Out's Australian lawyers within 60 days all material bearing the Down N' Out logo including "signage, packaging, promotional material, advertising, brochures, pamphlets, merchandise, stationery and business cards".
Ironically, that handing over of branding will likely take a great deal of postage to complete because, again, In-N-Out doesn't have any actual presence in Australia. Instead, they'll likely have to turn that material over to the California chain's local lawyers while the appeal process runs its course. But let's not lose sight of how laughable this all is. In-N-Out doesn't have a presence in Australia beyond a popup store strategy that goes off twice a decade. In other words, the court is aggressively ruling against an entity within the country and in favor of a foreign company blatantly making a farce of that country's trademark laws.Yes Down 'N Out used homage branding harkening back to In-N-Out. And yes its executives have joked around in past communications that they might want to change that branding to avoid getting sued. All of that would be great evidence of willfull trademark infringement... if In-N-Out had any customers in Australia to potentially confuse. But a handful of popup store burger-buyers once every five years seems to me to be a bit of a stretch.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 10-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Trump Campaign Gets Parody Cartoon Taken Down Off Redbubble Over Trademark Claim On MAGA Hats

Furnished content.


If I had to come up with a more 2020 headline than the above, I'm not sure I could. Still, this is also in the Techdirt wheelhouse as far as topics are concerned. For background, I think it's fair to say that the Trump Campaign, and Donald Trump as well, have both built a reputation for themselves as being particularly litigious when it comes to all things IP, defamation, etc. etc. amen. Whatever your politics, it simply can't be denied that on First Amendment grounds, our current president and his organizations have an abysmal reputation on matters of free speech, so long as that speech could potentially pierce the notoriously thin skin of Donald Trump.This continues to today, of course. You can see it when there are executive orders issued just because social media companies point the public to facts about the President's claim. You can also see it more recently in the Trump campaign issuing a takedown with Redbubble for a parody cartoon over the trademark on MAGA hats.

The Pulitzer-winning cartoonist Nick Anderson has described Donald Trump as an “adolescent wannabe authoritarian”, after the US president’s re-election campaign failed to pull one of Anderson’s cartoons mocking Trump’s inaccurate suggestion that injecting disinfectant could protect against Covid-19. Anderson put his cartoon The Trump Cult up for sale on the online retailer Redbubble this month. The illustration shows Trump with supporters in Maga hats, serving them a drink that has been labeled “Kool-Aid”, then “Chloroquine” and finally “Clorox”, a US bleach brand.But Redbubble pulled Anderson’s illustration from sale following a trademark infringement claim made by Trump’s campaign organisation, Donald J Trump for President Inc. Writing on the Daily Kos, Anderson said that he believed the claim was made due to his depiction of Maga hats, and described the situation as “absurd”.
Frankly, "absurd" doesn't even begin to describe it. All kinds of speech are protected by the First Amendment, whatever the trademark rights any holder might have. Political speech is probably more revered in that regard than any other speech. The very idea that an artist couldn't create parody art that comments on a particular public figure and/or his or her voting block is so completely the antithesis of American history that one should really just have to yell something like, "The Federalist Papers!" at this sort of thing and be done with it.This country was built on political parody. And, frankly, cartoon parody in particular. The Trump campaign does, or at least should, know this. Redbubble does too, which explains the fairly very good mea culpa that it issued when the site reinstated the cartoon.
Redbubble reinstated Anderson’s cartoon this week, saying that it strives “to respect IP rights and freedom of speech, but we sometimes make mistakes, as we did here … We’re sorry for any inconvenience this has caused.” In a statement, Anderson praised Redbubble for recognising the error, but said there were some “troubling issues” raised by the affair, including that the cartoon was removed less than 24 hours after he posted it, before he had received a single order.“I doubt anyone had even seen it yet on the site,” he said. “This reveals that the Trump campaign has a system in place, trawling for material they find objectionable. If it happened to me so quickly, it likely has happened to others. How much other content has been removed this way on Redbubble and other sites?”
While fair, the real issue here is that a demand for proactively policing copyright and trademark abuses is a system ripe for abuse, for censorship, and for fallout around the takedown of protected speech. This serves as simply a pointed example of this sort of thing, given that we're talking about a sitting President's campaign taking down such political speech. While this was ultimately corrected, the idea that something so American as a political cartoon could have been disappeared, even temporarily, over such a specious trademark claim is highlighting a flaw in the system.So let's get it corrected.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 09-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



In Response To George Floyd Killing, Minnesota Schools Dump Contracts With Minneapolis PD

Furnished content.


We can disagree (vehemently and at length) about the most effective means of societal change. But we've seen a blend of tactics that no one unanimously agrees are helpful or harmful, but are still pushing legislators and other government officials towards meaningful change.Maybe we'll never fully understand what motivates society as a whole. (And yet we live in one.) Let's celebrate the steps forward -- especially one that have occurred despite certain government officials (including our President) declaring almost any anti-government action to be stupid, criminal, and useless.No one asked for cops in schools. At least, very few students did. Maybe some parents did. To be sure, a whole lot of school administrators did because it meant they could offload every disciplinary problem -- no matter how small -- to cops trained to handle serious criminal acts rather than underage acts of defiance. It made things easier for administrators who used this void they'd created in their own responsibility to enact a number of "zero tolerance" policies that relieved them of the pressure of using common sense and restraint when dealing with troublesome students. The end result was objectively awful.Now, with law enforcement agencies having proven themselves objectively awful by badly reacting to a cop-created problem, Minnesota schools are deciding to kick cops to the curb.

The city’s public school board unanimously approved a resolution on Tuesday night that will end the district’s contract with the Minneapolis police department to use officers to provide school security. The Minneapolis superintendent said he would begin work on an alternative plan to keep the district’s more than 35,000 students safe in the coming school year.  “We cannot continue to be in partnership with an organization that has the culture of violence and racism that the Minneapolis police department has historically demonstrated,” Nelson Inz, one of the school board members, said. “We have to stand in solidarity with our black students.
Hopefully this will spring a sizable leak in the school-to-prison pipeline, allowing the tax dollars no longer required for the receiving end to be routed to the future of America and those tasked with teaching them.But it's not just minors being protected from cops. It's also a number of adults.
In a statement Wednesday evening, University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel announced changes in the school's relationship with the Minneapolis Police Department.U of M will no longer contract with MPD for additional law enforcement support needed for large events. This includes football games.The school will also no longer use MPD for specialized services such as K-9 Explosive detection units.
As extraneous cop opportunities dry up, so should their funding. This will make it easier for legislators to remove police from situations where their dubious expertise has done more to harm than to help. What used to be just a libertarian fever dream is now a few steps closer to reality. Members of the Minneapolis City Council are actually considering at least a partial dismantling of the city's police force.
Several members of the Minneapolis City Council this week have expressed support for drastic overhauls to the way the city handles law enforcement, ranging from calls to defund the department, to suggestions that social workers, medics or mental health professionals should be sent to some calls currently handled by police.Council member Jeremiah Ellison, son of Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison — who is leading the case against the officers involved in Floyd’s death — took a more radical approach.“We are going to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department. And when we’re done, we’re not simply gonna glue it back together. We are going to dramatically rethink how we approach public safety and emergency response. It’s really past due,” Ellison wrote on Twitter Thursday.Council President Lisa Bender joined Ellison’s call to dismantle the department.“We are going to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department and replace it with a transformative new model of public safety,” Bender wrote on Twitter Thursday.
The police likely won't be disbanded, no matter who's vowing to do what. And the Council -- at this point - isn't threatening to deprive the PD of its funding until it gets its problems sorted out. But the state's Department of Human Rights has sued the PD, demanding a host of changes and a partial blockade on certain enforcement activities until the PD agrees to its demands for increased accountability. This is nothing new for the Minneapolis PD, which was hit with similar demands by the DOJ back in 2003. It appears the federal effort didn't actually result in better officers so more drastic reforms are in the works.While legislators may not be able to dismantle the PD and rebuild it from the ground up, they are taking steps to steer cops away from situations they've proven they can't handle, like welfare checks and calls relating to mental health issues. Too often when cops are faced with situations they don't completely comprehend, they respond with force, mostly of the "deadly" variety. If these reforms are pushed through, calls like these will turn EMS units and mental health professionals into first responders, giving these at-risk residents a better chance of surviving their encounter with the government.Things are changing. This is good news. But let's not be dismissive of all the bad news that led us to this point -- including demonstrations (violent and otherwise) that demonstrated law enforcement's inability to properly serve the public they owe their jobs to.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 09-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



This Week In Techdirt History: May 31st - June 6th

Furnished content.


Five Years AgoThis week in 2015, one court was apparently forgetting the First Amendment exists while ordering a newspaper to delete an article, while the Supreme Court was punting on an important 1A question. The USA Freedom Act was marching forward with Mitch McConnell trying to destroy it with amendments with all failed. The House passed an amendment on another bill, in order to block funding for undermining encryption, while on top FBI official was claiming that preventing encryption should be the first priority of tech companies.Ten Years AgoThis week in 2010, a Michigan politician was trying to regulate journalists and choose which ones are trustworthy, while the FTC was trying to "save journalism" but only in the form of old newspapers, and a Senator in France was trying to outlaw anonymous blogging. Copyright trolls were teaming up and getting cooperation from Verizon.Meanwhile, while on court was giving border patrol permission to take people's laptops, we took a look at how cops and courts abuse wiretapping laws to arrest people for filming the police.Fifteen Years AgoThis week in 2005, we learned about the startling lengths copyright defenders would go to, such as the recording industry operating private round-the-clock surveillance of the owner of Kazaa and the MPAA pitching in to help fund surveillance cameras in downtown Los Angeles. We were also seeing some early battles and tactics around manipulating Google's memory of the past, and the emergence of citizen journalism happening in the comments sections of newspaper websites.

Read more here


posted at: 12:00am on 07-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



#NoRightsMatter: US Postal Service, Law Enforcement Team Up To Seize 'Black Lives Matter' Facemasks

Furnished content.


In this time of coronavirus and social unrest, you'd think the government -- at all levels -- would engage in a little more care not to make either problem worse. Of course they haven't. Cops are arresting journalists and tear-gassing peaceful protesters as the President himself calls for domestic military action targeting US citizens. Dystopian fiction writers have been put on notice: the usual shit just isn't going to sell anymore. The ideas you thought wouldn't sustain suspension of disbelief are swiftly becoming reality.Stepping into the breach for reasons it will probably never be able to fully explain is the federal government, using nationwide protests as a reason to suspend as many rights as possible until everyone agrees the government is not an oppressive force -- even when personified as a white cop strangling a black man to death by putting his knee on his neck.Good luck with that. The government needs all the goodwill it can collect. It has apparently failed to realize the importance of harvesting goodwill in difficult times. And when the lawsuit inevitably gets filed, it will have to explain why it chose to do this massively stupid thing. Ryan Reilly reports for the Huffington Post about an apparent First/Fourth Amendment double-punch.

Law enforcement agents have seized hundreds of cloth masks that read “Stop killing Black people” and “Defund police” that a Black Lives Matter-affiliated organization sent to cities around the country to protect demonstrators against the spread of COVID-19, a disease that has had a disparate impact on Black communities.The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) spent tens of thousands of dollars on the masks they had planned to send all over the country. The first four boxes, each containing 500 masks, were mailed from Oakland, California, and were destined for Washington, St. Louis, New York City and Minneapolis, where on May 25 a white police officer killed George Floyd, a 46-year-old handcuffed Black man, setting off a wave of protests across the country.
Here's the original post detailing the apparent seizure of free speech d/b/a protective face masks:
This was multiple levels of fucked up, both in terms of what happened and who was involved. It's not clear which law enforcement agency seized the masks but it all started with the US Postal Service's "inspection" unit (USPIS), which apparently flagged the items as somehow illegal and/or dangerous.The masks Rene Quinonez of Oakland's Movement Ink created never made it any further than the postal depot. The only thing unusual about the face masks -- millions of which have traversed the country unmolested in recent months -- were the slogans they bore.Heads up, government agents: slogans printed on face masks are protected speech. And deciding to make off with a citizen's personal property because you just don't like what's printed on it doesn't just violate their First Amendment rights. It also violates their Fourth Amendment right to be free of unjustified molestation by the government."Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech…" And it hasn't! Which makes this seizure unlawful. Lot of people who swore to uphold the Constitution are now wandering around acting like rights are privileges that can be completely suspended if stuff starts going sideways. Sure, there's lots of executive power to throw around and everything Congress has handed itself to use during wartime, but civil unrest across the nation isn't the bar for the suspension of guaranteed rights.When anti-government demonstrations are widespread, it's speech the government doesn't like that needs the most protection. And here, the government (on a number of levels), has failed.UPDATE: The federal government -- acting incredibly strangely -- has now released the masks and refunded Movement Ink's shipping costs. Sounds like the entities involved were hoping no one would talk about this and are trying to fix things on the sly now that this bullshit has been exposed.
An organizer involved in producing the masks, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said they received a call from a USPIS employee on Friday morning, hours after HuffPost’s initial story on the seizure ran. What was strange about the call, the person said, is that they weren’t the person who mailed the boxes or the point of contact.The organizer who received the call said the USPIS official said there would be a refund for the cost of express shipping since the boxes wouldn’t be arriving on time, which would have allowed them to be used by protesters on Thursday night and this evening.
All's well that ends well and all that, I guess. But there's still a civil rights lawsuit in here and Movement Ink should go after the government for its decision to violate multiple rights just because no one involved was willing to end this unconstitutional process before it could cause any harm.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 06-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



No, California Law Review, Food Plating Does Not Deserve Copyright Protection

Furnished content.


Of all the mediums where intellectual property makes the least amount of sense, actual food and drink must certainly be among the most absurd. Not the trade dress of food packaging, mind you. I'm talking about the actual food and drink products themselves, be they craft beer or a plate of food. And, yet, you see this sort of thing crop up from time to time. A pizzeria somehow thinks it can trademark the taste of its pizza. Or, more apropos for today's post, a German court that says taking pictures of plated food could violate the copyright of the chef.Plating food is now coming up again, with a post on the blog of the California Law Review site suggesting that plated food, if artistic enough, does in fact deserve copyright protection. While the entire post is detailed and thorough, the real question of whether plated food merits copyright protection has less to do with the creative aspect of plating -- of which there are some true creative aspects -- than with the question of fixability. To warrant copyright, a work must be both original in its creativity and created in a fixed medium. There are a couple of key historic cases that address what it means for a work to be in a fixed medium, helpfully laid out in this John Marshall Law School article.

In Kim Seng Company v. J&A Importers, Inc., the court examined whether Kim Seng’s “bowl-of-food” sculpture satisfied the fixation requirement of copyright law.31 Kim Seng admitted that the bowl-of-food sculpture was comprised of “a perishable Vietnamese dish purchased by [an employee] from a local restaurant.”32 In analyzing whether Kim Seng’s bowl-of-food sculpture met the fixation requirement, the court compared it to the living garden in Kelley v. Chicago Park District, which was inherently changeable and ultimately perishable.33 In Kelley v. Chicago Park District, the current leading case on copyrightability of organic works, the Seventh Circuit analyzed whether an artistically arranged garden was “fixed” for the purpose of the Copyright Act.34 A famous artist, Chapman Kelley, installed a wildflower display in Grant Park, a prominent public park in downtown Chicago.35 His garden received critical and popular acclaim, and was promoted as “living art.”36 Without permission from Kelley, the Chicago Park District dramatically modified the garden by reducing its size, reconfiguring the flower beds, and changing some of the planting materials.37 Kelley sued the Park District.38 The Seventh Circuit found that Kelley’s living garden could not be eligible for copyright protection because it “lack[ed] the kind of authorship and stable fixation normally required to support copyright.”39 In its opinion, the court clarified that it was “not suggesting that copyright attaches only to works that are static or fully permanent (no medium of expression lasts forever), or that artists who incorporate natural or living elements in their work can never claim copyright.”40 However, Kelley’s living garden was “not stable or permanent enough” to be a work of fixed authorship.
So here we have two cases where courts are deciding copyright protections specifically in part on the question of fixed medium. While the California Law Review's post focuses on the Kim Seng Company decision, trotting out several scholars who take issue with the court's interpretation of the fixability question, I believe the the Kelley decision is actually more powerful. The first complaint from select scholars is that concept art often includes repetition that serves as a stand in for non-degradable medium for fixability.
First, Professor Said’s claim that an artists’ conceptual art is fixed when repetitively performed applies with equal force to chefs who plate the same dish over and over. It is likely that, in practice, a chef would not want to copyright one particular iteration of a dish; any serving of “Who Killed the Goat?” would not last the average four months it takes to process an internet-submitted copyright claim.[56][56][56] Registration Processing Times, U.S. Copyright Office https://www.copyright.gov/registration/docs/processing-times-faqs.pdf [perma.cc/MHM9-DX5G] (last visited May 1, 2019).... Instead, Chef Anand’s nightly plating of “Who Killed the Goat?” would likely “repeat [itself] over and over,” warranting the exact kind of protection that Professor Said describes as being so repetitive as to achieve performance.
This only makes sense if you completely ignore the "transitory" language in the law, which states:
“A work is ‘fixed’ in a tangible medium of expression when its embodiment . . . is sufficiently permanent or stable to permit it to be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated for a period of time more than transitory duration.”
A chef, brilliant and creative as he or she may be, creates and plates his or her food, that food literally transits to the table where it is enjoyed briefly before being destroyed via consumption, turned into mere caloric energy inside our bodies. Whatever the purpose of the law's language, it can't possibly have meant to assign copying restrictions to that. In the Kelley decision, we're talking about art fixed in plants that might last years and years and yet that still didn't warrant protection when Chicago decided to change the non-fixed expression around.The second criticism is that the medium becomes fixed when people capture its image in photographs and video.
Second, Professor Said’s idea that “the first purposes of the fixation requirement lies in the use and enjoyment of the work by others” supports the notion that a dish is “fixed” when it becomes something more than just consumption.[58][58][58] Said, supra note 49, at 339 (citing Laura Heymann, How to Write a Life: Some Thoughts on Fixation and the Copyright/Privacy Divide, 51 WM. & MARY L. REV. 825, 842 (2009))....Certainly, the success of shows like Netflix’s Chef’s Table[59][59][59] Genevieve Van Hoorhis, When Will ‘Chef’s Table’ Return for Season 7? It Takes Time To Capture All That Tasty Goodness, Bustle (Feb. 22, 2019), https://www.bustle.com/p/when-will-chefs-table-return-for-season-7-it-takes-time-to-capture-all-that-tasty-goodness-15988094 [https://perma.cc/39KK-NJU7].... and the trend of posting food to social media proves that it exists long enough to be enjoyed by others.[
Except that's ridiculous. If anything, all these examples show is that the fixed medium of photography and film deserve the copyrights in question, not the non-fixed work expressed via food.To be clear, none of this is to say that chef's can't be extremely talented both in taste and in artfully plating their food. No matter how artistic they may be, however, either the medium is fixed or it isn't. And as someone who can destroy a plate of food, I can tell you that medium ain't fixed.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 06-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



After Taming Open Access, Academic Publishing Giants Now Seek To Assimilate The World Of Preprints

Furnished content.


As Techdirt has reported, the open access movement seeks to obtain free access to research, particularly when it is funded by taxpayers' money. Naturally, traditional academic publishers enjoying profit margins of 30 to 40% are fighting to hold on to their control. Initially, they tried to stop open access gaining a foothold among researchers; now they have moved on to the more subtle strategy of adopting it and assimilating it -- rather as Microsoft has done with open source. Some advocates of open access are disappointed that open access has not led to any significant savings in the overall cost of publishing research. That, in its turn, has led many to urge the increased use of preprints as a way of saving money, liberating knowledge, and speeding up its dissemination. One reason for this is a realization that published versions in costly academic titles add almost nothing to the freely-available preprints they are based on.An excellent new survey of the field, "Preprints in the Spotlight", rightly notes that preprints have attained a new prominence recently thanks to COVID-19. The urgent global need for information about this novel disease has meant that traditional publishing timescales of months or more are simply too slow. Preprints allow important data and analysis to be released worldwide almost as soon as they are available. The result has been a flood of preprints dealing with coronavirus: two leading preprint servers, medRxiv and bioRxiv, have published over 4,500 preprints on COVID-19 at the time of writing.The publishing giant Elsevier was one of the first to notice the growing popularity of preprints. Back in 2016, Elsevier acquired the leading preprint server for the social sciences, SSRN. Today, Elsevier is no longer alone in seeing preprints as a key sector. A post on The Scholarly Kitchen blog describes how all the major publishers are active in preprints:

Today, we observe that beyond preprint communities that are typically organized around a field or set of fields, in recent years all the major publishers have made their own investments in preprint platforms. Publishers are integrating preprint deposit into their manuscript submission workflows, and adopting a common strategy designed to take back control of preprints.
That emphasis on "taking back control" is key. Preprints have become an alternative not just to academic publishing as practised by giant companies like Elsevier, but also to open access publishing, which is now not so different from the traditional kind. Companies clearly want to nip that development in the bud. Here's how publishers are likely to develop their preprint divisions:
they are bringing preprints inside their publishing workflows. This will afford them an opportunity to emphasize the importance of the version of record and its integrity. And, it will allow them to maximize their control over the research workflow as a whole, including datasets, protocols, and other artifacts of the research and publishing process. If successful, over time publishers will see fewer of the preprints of their eventual publications living "in the wild" and more of them on services and in workflows that they control.
That is, as well as taming the unruly world of preprints by bringing them in-house, publishers can also use them to bolster their mainstream businesses, and further their plans to offer academics a complete, "one-stop" service that includes preprints, journals, data management and more. Turning independent preprint servers into just another cog in the mighty publishing machine would be a further loss of control and autonomy for the academic community as a whole. It should be resisted by researchers, the institutions where they work, and by the bodies that fund them.Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter, Diaspora, or Mastodon.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 05-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Guinness World Records People Accidentally Claiming Copyright On Tons Of 'Super Mario Bros.' Speedruns

Furnished content.


Even a cursory review of just the headlines on our posts about YouTube's ContentID will demonstrate a theme. That theme mostly centers around how the automagic copyright detection system that YouTube put in place is mostly useful for creating collateral damage on non-infringing material, often times at the expense of the rightsholders themselves. Whenever this happens, there are usually apologies issued, blame cast on ContentID for the mistake, and then everything continues on with no changes made. Which is absurd. These situations identify a flaw in the ContentID system, or the use of an automated system of any kind, and yet we never do anything about it.Which is why this sort of thing keeps happening. The most recent example of this concerns tons of Super Mario Bros. speedruns being issued copyright notices because the YouTube channel for the Guinness Book of World Records uploaded a record-holding speedrun itself. From there, ContentID did its thing.

About nine months ago, Guinness put together a video profile on Super Mario Bros speedrunner Kosmic including footage from his record-breaking warpless run. Now, Kosmic’s own video of the record and tons of other SMB speedrunners have had copyright claims made on their similar videos.Guinness have now released those claims saying “sorry for causing concern, we know how distressing it can be to get these notifications,” signed by Dan. Ta, Dan.
The Guinness people later tweeted out the explanation that ContentID was to blame for sending out the automatic claims. And I believe them. Still, this is again highlighting a flaw within the ContentID system, in that, far too often, legitimate content either gets taken down or issued a copyright notice all because no human being actually has to look at anything before those go out. And, since there are plenty of ways a video could use similar content, or even a copy of some part of some content, without being infringing, the automatic system fails at distinguishing that and sends out the notice anyway.This is how it always is with these automatic content policing systems. And yet here is another case where the apology is made, the apologizer blames ContentID, and on and on we go. Even when another speedrunner, Karl Jobst, did a video on how his speedrun received a copyright notice, that video received a notice as well.
Funnily enough, even Jobst’s video on the subject initially got slapped with a copyright claim. Thankfully it sounds like Guinness have cooled their trigger finger.
But it's not funny. It's just frustrating.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 05-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Wisconsin Court Dumps Conviction Of Middle School Kid Who Drew A Picture Of A Bomb

Furnished content.


The intersection of school administration and law enforcement leads directly to insanity. All logic goes out the window when school administrators come across something that makes them feel slightly uncomfortable. Adding cops to the mix doesn't help anything. It only serves to turn every mildly misbehaving student into a criminal.We're here to talk about bombs. I'm sorry. Let me clarify. Not actual bombs. Drawings of bombs. Drawings created by students who are likely to draw bombs, guns, and general violent mayhem without actually wishing any of that on their fellow students.It took a couple of rounds in court to actually set this right. We've covered similar insanity over drawings of bombs here at Techdirt before, like the (temporarily) indefinite suspension of an autistic student who drew a bomb that looked like something straight out of a Looney Tunes short.This bomb drawing was a little more intricate but no more threatening than the round black bomb with a fuse we've all seen in any number of cartoons no one saw fit to prosecute. (h/t Ari Cohn)The Wisconsin Court of Appeals has finally ended the madness that began with terroristic threat and disorderly conduct charges being leveled against a middle school student.The decision [PDF] recounts the unfortunate chain of events that ultimately needed to be addressed by the penultimate level of the state's criminal justice system.

The court found the following facts. In 2018, A.N.G. and T.B. were classmates in a middle school summer school program. During class one day, T.B. created a drawing on a page in his science workbook. T.B. did all the drawing and writing, but A.N.G. contributed ideas.The drawing contained T.B. and A.N.G.’s names, images of what appears to be a cartoon-style bomb, a building labeled “school,” and a body lying on the ground. Around these images are written the following words: “pigs,” “preplay,” “bomb,” and “gun.” The court determined that the content of the drawing “conveys a threat of bodily harm.”
The Appeals Court points out something the lower court mentioned, but erroneously failed to give appropriate weight during its handling of the case.
However, as will be significant in analysis below, the court also specifically found that T.B. and A.N.G. did not intend for the drawing to be “for public consumption.” Instead, the court found, T.B. and A.N.G. intended to keep it “private.”
If it's private, no one's attempting to threaten others. That undercuts the charges brought against the student, which rely on communication of a threat. Instead, the court assumed even a private sharing of violent ideas between two students was enough to satisfy the charges because anything containing bombs and whatever would be viewed as "threatening" by interlopers the creators never intended to share their drawing with.
Returning to the circuit court’s decision, the court stated that it considered it “impossible,” “in the atmosphere in which we live,” that “a student would create a document like this and not assume a reasonable person would interpret” it as a “threat” that was “a serious expression of an intent to do harm.”
Wrong, says the Appeals Court. The surrounding circumstances matter. A person entertaining themselves by drawing depictions of violent dismemberment in their own home cannot be considered "threatening" to others in the legal sense because there's no communication of these subjective "threats" to others. Just because a teacher saw it and decided to get involved doesn't change the legal math.
However, as discussed below, this observation assumes an intended recipient of, or (using the term from First Amendment doctrine) “listener” to, the document, and in this case there was no intended recipient-listener.
The state's arguments are nonsensical and the court gives them no sympathy.
The State argues that the drawing was a true threat because it was not created as part of a classroom assignment or a creative school-related expression. The State also contends that it was not mere hyperbole or an innocuous joke. Further, the State argues that the drawing was not reasonably intended to be kept private because it was reasonably foreseeable to A.N.G. that it would be seen in the school setting by school staff or other students who would interpret it as a serious expression of a purpose to inflict harm, and that, when it was discovered, school officials did reasonably interpret it this way.
The court says the state's argument inverts First Amendment protections to strip them from anyone whose communications are inadvertently witnessed by others. An inadvertent discovery is not the same thing as a distributed communication originating from the now-unintended "sender."
I see no reasonable way to construe the findings of the circuit court and the uncontested testimony at the hearing to reflect that A.N.G. meant to cause the drawing to come to the teacher’s attention, or to the attention of any other school staff or students other than T.B., its co-creator. Based on the circuit court’s findings and the uncontested evidence, the teacher’s awareness of the drawing and decision to demand it were just accidental from A.N.G.’s point of view.
There's a criminal prosecution involved and yet the school's actions -- once the disturbing artwork had been inadvertently discovered -- do not reflect the state's assertions that administrators felt justifiably threatened by their discovery. If the school felt violence was imminent, it certainly didn't act like it did.
[E]ven if I were to assume that school personnel could reasonably be classified as “listeners,” how these “listeners reacted to the” drawing (as Perkins refers to the first factor) does not weigh heavily towards classifying the drawing as a true threat. Based on the testimony of the teacher and administrators involved, the circuit court found that the drawing was “obviously concerning [to the school] and obviously the school took steps within the school setting to address these issues.” Yet, they did not take it so seriously that there was an evacuation or a search of the school. Further, instead of seeking to have A.N.G. removed from the school, administrators placed A.N.G. in an in-school suspension and did not impose more significant discipline. The assistant principal testified that she takes seriously all expressions that she construes to be threats, suggesting a low threshold for school reaction to any and all conduct that might represent a danger.
Constitutional rights for students may be limited but they're not nonexistent.
Weighing all of the above considerations under the Perkins factors, I conclude that A.N.G.’s private drawing was not a true threat in the constitutional sense. Based on all of the circumstances, a reasonable “speaker” in A.N.G.’s position would not foresee that a reasonable “listener”—someone he never in fact envisioned—would interpret the drawing as a serious expression of a purpose to inflict harm. Case law interpreting the First Amendment protects from prosecution the expressions under the particular facts here.
Away goes the delinquency petition tied to two trumped-up charges that never fit the crime the student never committed. When you put kids, cops, school administrators, and a post-9/11 "everything is a threat" mentality in the same room, idiotic decisions get made and lawsuits get filed. A little bit of rational thinking would go a long way. Unfortunately for this student, it took two years for cooler heads to prevail.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 04-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Lenny Dykstra Deemed 'Libel-Proof' In Defamation Suit Loss To Ron Darling And Publisher

Furnished content.


Defamation lawsuits often fail because of the high bar plaintiffs need to meet to prove defamation -- especially of a public figure. But, while there are lots of ways to lose a defamation lawsuit as a plaintiff, my favorite must certainly be the concept of a libel-proof plaintiff. This would be the notion that a plaintiff cannot be libeled or defamed if that plaintiff's reputation is so absolutely horrendous that further damage to it is impossible.

In rare cases, a plaintiff can be “libel-proof”, meaning he or she has a reputation so tarnished that it couldn’t be brought any lower, even by the publication of false statements of fact.
Now, these situations are indeed rare. After all, who out there is so broken in the eyes of society, so villainous, so viewed as low of a public figure in reputation as one can go -- Oh, hi there, Lenny Dykstra!
You may recall that in April of 2019 former Mets and Phillies outfielder Len Dykstra sued his former teammate and current Mets commentator Ron Darling for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The suit arose out of claims in Darling’s then recently-published autobiography alleging that Dykstra shouted racial slurs at Red Sox pitcher Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd before Boyd took the mound in a 1986 World Series game. Dykstra lashed out at Darling over it, denying it ever happened and then filed suit. Then everyone went quiet.
That silence led up to the present, where the court has dismissed Dykstra's case entirely, noting that he is of such poor reputation that whether Darling's claims in his book are true or not, they hardly matter and won't move the needle on the public perception of him. A quick perusal of Dykstra's personal life section on his Wikipedia page tells you the whole story: steroid use, businesses in bankruptcy, credit card fraud, jail time. So, you know, not a guy of famed repute.Which led the court to toss the case, stating that Dykstra is libel-proof.
The nature and seriousness of Dykstra’s criminal offenses, which include fraud, embezzlement, grand theft, and lewd conduct and assault with a deadly weapon, and notably the degree of publicity they received, have already established his general bad reputation for fairness and decency far worse than the alleged racially charged bench-jockeying in the reference could . . .. . . Given the aforesaid litany of stories concerning Dykstra’s poor and mean-spirited behavior particularly toward various groups including racial minorities, women, and the LGBTQ community—this Court finds that, as a matter of law, the reference cannot “induce an evil opinion of [Dykstra] in the minds of right-thinking persons” or “deprive him of their friendly intercourse in society,” as that “evil opinion” has long existed.
And, in typical Dykstra fashion, he's not taking it particularly well. Instead, Dykstra is ranting on both the internet and to journalists, claiming that Darling faked his cancer diagnosis and treatment and that the owners of the NY Mets franchise were in on this fakery in some kind of scheme of fraud to achieve... something? It's all hard to follow, except that it sure looks like the very kind of defamation that Dykstra himself was complaining of. Oh, and the judge was bribed.
In the story, Dykstra claims, without any evidence whatsoever, that Ron Darling — who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and underwent surgery for it last year — “faked his cancer,” and that “the Wilpons knew all about it, and they’re in on it.” He claims has has “documented proof” of his claim, though provided none of it to Miller. Miller previously reported that Dykstra “had some dirt” on Darling, but this is the first time he has publicly accused Darling of faking his cancer diagnosis and treatment.Dykstra further claimed that the judge who dismissed his defamation suit against Darling was bribed, saying “obviously the judge was bleeping paid off or something . . . I don’t give a bleep.”
He may not, but Darling, the Mets owners, and the judge probably aren't also libel-proof.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 04-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Private Prison Company Sues Netflix Over Use Of Logo In 'Messiah'

Furnished content.


When we last talked about the Geo Group, a company making hundreds of millions of dollars running private prisons, one of its executives was attempting to improve the company's reputation by constantly removing all the dirty from the Wikipedia page about the company. In trying to do this, of course, the company actually amplified the controversies listed on Wikipedia and, having been caught trying to scrub the internet of its own sins, found itself in headlines as a result. At present, the Wikipedia page still lists those controversies, but more on that in a moment.Because the latest bit of news from Geo Group is that it is suing Netflix over the use of its logo in a fictional prison in Messiah.

The GEO Group, which operates private prisons and detention centers, filed a lawsuit on Wednesday alleging that it had been defamed in two episodes of the Netflix series “Messiah.”The series depicts a mysterious figure who gains a following by performing miracles in the desert. In the third and fourth episodes, the character is detained at an immigration facility in Texas, which is identified with GEO Group logos.The suit claims that the show depicts the facility in a defamatory light. The inmates do not have beds, are kept in overcrowded conditions and surrounded by chain-link fences.
In addition to the claim of defamation, the suit also claims that the Netflix shows use of Geo Group's logos in two of its episodes constitutes trademark infringement. If all of this seems somewhat familiar, it's because it's quite similar to the spat between the infamous Pinkerton Consluting & Investigations company and Take Two Interactive over the latter's Red Dead Redemption 2 game, which portrayed the Pinkertons fictionally in a way that jives with its historical reputation. While in that case the lawsuit was filed by the content producer seeking declaratory judgement that its use of all names and trademarks was protected free speech, it's still the case that Pinkerton ran away from its threats. I would imagine Geo Group will need to do so as well, as this sort of fictional representation is indeed protected on First Amendment grounds.As for the defamation claim, well, we're back to those controversies from the Wikipedia page. Those list overcrowding of its prisons, poor conditions that led to multiple prison riots, and specifically some claims of poor conditions for immigrants awaiting deportation. You know, basically the sort of portrayal the suit itself alleges in Messiah.
“Unlike in ‘Messiah,’ GEO does not house people in overcrowded rooms with chainlink cages at its Facilities, but provides beds, bedding, air conditioning, indoor and outdoor recreational spaces, soccer fields, classrooms, libraries, and other amenities that rebut ‘Messiah’’s defamatory falsehoods,” the complaint states.The suit includes colorful photographs of libraries, classrooms and recreation facilities at GEO detention centers.
Except that it has a reputation for all of the issues above, no matter how many pretty pictures the company includes in its filing. And trademark and defamation laws, whatever teeth they might have, can't pierce the First Amendment's protections on artistic representation in a work of fiction.Netflix tends to be fairly good about fighting back on these sorts of things. Hopefully they'll do so in this case as well.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 03-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Federal Court Says Sneaking A Warrantless Peek At A Cellphone Lock Screen Violates The Fourth Amendment

Furnished content.


Keep your mitts off cellphones if you don't have a warrant. That's the message at least one court is sending to law enforcement. A 2014 decision by the US Supreme Court introduced a warrant requirement for cellphone searches. Since then, cops mostly seem to be complying with the mandate. Of course, this half-assed analysis of mine rests solely on federal cases I've managed to catch drifting downstream in the internet flotsam, so it's far from conclusive. But -- unlike the SCOTUS decision erecting a warrant requirement for historic cell site location info -- there doesn't seem to be much gray area in the Riley decision for law enforcement to explore.But what exactly is a "search" in the Fourth Amendment/Riley context? It depends on which court you ask. The most straightforward reading of the Riley decision would be a warrant requirement for a search of a phone's contents. But a couple of courts have read this decision even more narrowly. Riley doesn't just cover full-fledged searches of device contents. It also covers more sneaky peeks of suspects' phones.In 2016, a federal court ruled that the FBI's opening of a flip phone (roughly one week after the suspect's arrest) violated the Fourth Amendment. Even the recognition that the home screen of a phone was subject to a "diminished" expectation of privacy couldn't save the feds' search. The court said the FBI's search of the unexposed area of the phone -- the closed screen -- was a search and subject to Riley. To rule otherwise would be to allow the government to use similar cursory examinations to dodge the warrant requirement or unlawfully seek info to buttress affidavit claims in warrant requests for a more thorough search.

[T]he Court sees no reason to allow law enforcement to circumvent the warrant requirement in every case under the guise that they discovered evidence when they opened the phone or turned on the screen to turn the phone off.
A similar case has come to similar conclusions in a Washington federal court (via FourthAmendment.com). Flip phones may have been (mostly) resigned to the scrap heap of cellphone history, but the precedent -- if not the emphasis -- remains. Lock screens are still protected under the Fourth Amendment. From the decision [PDF]:
Here, the FBI physically intruded on Mr. Sam’s personal effect when the FBI powered on his phone to take a picture of the phone’s lock screen. See United States v. Jones, 565 U.S. 400, 410 (2012) (plurality opinion) (holding Government searched a car by attaching a GPS device to the car); Bond v. United States, 529 U.S. 334, 337 (2000) (concluding Border Patrol agent searched a bag by squeezing it); Arizona v. Hicks, 480 U.S. 321, 324–25 (1987) (holding officer searched stereo equipment by moving it so that the officer could view concealed serial numbers). The FBI therefore “searched” the phone within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. See Jardines, 569 U.S. at 5. And because the FBI conducted the search without a warrant, the search was unconstitutional. See Vernonia Sch. Dist., 515 U.S. at 653.
This may have had something to do with the delay between the seizure and the search, which gave the FBI ample opportunity to ask for judicial approval for a search. Sam's phone was seized by police officers on May 15, 2019. The FBI didn't peek at the phone until nearly eight months later: February 13, 2020. As the court notes, the original seizure (and possible search) is completely separate from the FBI's warrantless look months after the original seizure.
In their respective briefs, Mr. Sam and the Government treat the police’s and FBI’s examinations as legally indistinguishable. They are not. The police’s examination took place either incident to a lawful arrest or as part of the police’s efforts to inventory the personal effects found during Mr. Sam’s arrest. The FBI’s examination, by contrast, occurred long after the police had arrested Mr. Sam and inventoried his personal effects. Those examinations present significantly different legal issues…
The government tried to argue a lock screen contains no privacy interests. The court disagrees. Even though the information gleaned might be minimal (the FBI agent was likely looking to verify the phone was still in "airplane" mode), the expectation of privacy remains… as does the warrant requirement. It's the intrusion that matters -- not the government's subjective beliefs about the contours of privacy protections.
The Government argues that the FBI did not need a warrant because Mr. Sam had no reasonable expectation of privacy in his phone’s lock screen. But that expectation is irrelevant. [...][W]hen the Government gains evidence by physically intruding on a constitutionally protected area—as the FBI did here—it is “unnecessary to consider” whether the government also violated the defendant’s reasonable expectation of privacy.
The PD's search -- while more intrusive -- remains in a gray area of law. The court isn't confused. But the record is, making it impossible for the court to consider the Constitutional ramifications of the PD's search of Sam's phone. The department that took control of the seized phone did not clarify what it did to the phone or attempt to justify any actions it took by citing PD policy. Apparently an argument was raised that a lock screen peek was necessary to "inventory" the phone, but the PD submitted nothing that stated this step was normal or needed.
[T]he record does not show why the Tulalip Police Department felt it necessary to power on or manipulate Mr. Sam’s cell phone to properly inventory the phone. The record also does not show whether the Tulalip Police Department’s established procedures require its officers to power on every cell phone that they inventory. Indeed, the record does not even show whether the Tulalip Police Department searched Mr. Sam’s cell phone. Accordingly, the Court cannot resolve Mr. Sam’s motion to suppress as to the police’s examination of the phone.
But that only deals with the PD's possible search of Sam's phone. The FBI's involvement is much clearer and more easily resolved. Powering up a phone to look at the lock screen is a search and requires a warrant. Even if the lock screen contains nothing more than a nickname (as this one did), it may still indicate ownership or possession which has evidentiary value in an investigation and prosecution. If the FBI wants to take a brief look at this information, it needs to get a warrant.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 03-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Securus Quietly Settles Lawsuit Over Illegally Spying On Inmate Attorney Conversations

Furnished content.


We've noted repeatedly how interstate inmate calling service (ICS) companies have a disturbingly cozy relationship with government, striking (technically buying) monopoly deals that let them charge inmate families $14 per minute. Worse, some ICS companies like Securus Technologies have been under fire for helping the government spy on privileged inmate attorney communications, information that was only revealed in 2015 after Securus was hacked. Given the apathy for prison inmates and their families ("Iff'n ya don't like high prices, don't go to prison, son!") reform on this front has been glacial at best.The 2015 Hacker-obtained data featured 70 million records of phone calls (and recordings of the phone calls themselves), placed by prisoners in at least 37 different states over a two-and-a-half year period. Of particular note were the estimated 14,000 recordings of privileged conversations between inmates and their lawyers:

"This may be the most massive breach of the attorney-client privilege in modern U.S. history, and that's certainly something to be concerned about, said David Fathi, director of the ACLU's National Prison Project. A lot of prisoner rights are limited because of their conviction and incarceration, but their protection by the attorney-client privilege is not."
Two former prisoners and a criminal defense attorney sued Securus for the practice, and last week Securus quietly settled that suit (pdf) after spending years insisting that the recording of privileged calls was a system error. While the company promised to improve its lax use of call recording technology, most of the more significant demands were stripped from the final settlement:
"The lawsuit had sought $5,000 for anyone whose conversation was wrongly recorded - resulting in a damages payout as high as $70m - though the class action's lawyers ultimately dropped the demand after the courts repeatedly ruled against them on what they needed to prove to win the case. A US federal judge in San Diego decided the lawyers would have to prove that Securus intended to record the privileged calls. They appealed the decision, and the Ninth Circuit refused to hear the case."
Securus has promised to cover attorney costs of $840,000 and $20,000 to each of the class representatives while denying any wrongdoing.Granted this is just one small subset of the problem that is Securus' cozy, monopolized relationship with the US law enforcement and prison apparatus, which in addition to aggressively overcharging inmate families for 20 years, has also resulted in scandals relating to the abuse of sensitive location data obtained from mobile carriers. That scandal also resulted in some performative wrist slaps and a few pinky swears as US lawmakers and regulators, with very few exceptions, continue to look the other direction.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 02-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Cops -- Newly Wary Of Looking Like Authoritarian Assholes -- Open Fire On, Arrest Journalists

Furnished content.


There was a window of opportunity for cops following the George Floyd killing. Floyd, suspected of nothing more than passing a fake $20 bill, was killed by Officer Derek Chauvin of the Minneapolis PD. Chauvin placed his knee on Floyd's neck until he was dead. This act lasted for nearly nine minutes -- and for nearly three minutes after Chauvin checked for a pulse and found nothing. Yet he persisted, and none of the three cops around him stopped him.Chauvin has been criminally charged and is under arrest. We'll see where that takes us. But the opportunity was there for the rest of the nation's cops to separate themselves from this "bad apple." Cop defenders ignore what bad apples do to barrels, but we won't. Chauvin is a symptom. He is not the disease.As protests broke out around the nation, law enforcement agencies responded. While a small number attempted to find middle ground with aggrieved citizens, most acted as though they were a law unto themselves in these troubled times.One site got it completely right -- a site that so often offers up hot takes that it is the source of its own meme. Slate, of all places, nailed this call:

Police Erupt in Violence Nationwide
And they did. They shot canisters onto the porches of people not violating curfew declarations. They shot protesters in the face with rubber bullets and tear gas canisters. And they treated the press like every authoritarian nation treats the press: as enemy combatants.
This should come as no surprise. When the shit goes down, no rights will be respected. The Fourth tends to go first, but the First is often right behind it.First, we had to deal with the coronavirus and government grabs for power. And this is where we are now: trying to limit a rational response to hundreds of years of racism, manifested as Officer Chauvin's decision to place his knee on the neck of a black man until long after the man was dead.The streets are filled with cameras. Cops control most of them. But they can't control journalists. So, they seek to intimidate them by making it clear their presence isn't welcomed. The current situation may heighten the response but it has been this way for years. Cops have made it clear -- and they've been backed by the Commander-in-Chief -- the press is the enemy. Journalists record things and those recordings usually make their way to many people -- far more than the average internet rando could hope to rope in. If you can't control the narrative, you can always attempt to control the journalists.When chaos is on the menu, the cops can still try to maintain control of the reporting. And most of their sins will be forgiven because the situation was unforeseeable. But when it's happening, we can see it. We can see what they do and how they react. And, because they react badly, every unblinking eye must be closed. The power must remain centralized, and if that means taking a few journalists out, so be it.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 02-Jun-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



June 2020
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
 
       







RSS (site)  RSS (path)

ATOM (site)  ATOM (path)

Categories
 - blog home

 - Announcements  (1)
 - Annoyances  (0)
 - Career_Advice  (0)
 - Domains  (0)
 - Downloads  (3)
 - Ecommerce  (0)
 - Fitness  (0)
 - Home_and_Garden  (0)
     - Cooking  (0)
     - Tools  (0)
 - Humor  (1)
 - Notices  (0)
 - Observations  (1)
 - Oddities  (2)
 - Online_Marketing  (146)
     - Affiliates  (1)
     - Merchants  (1)
 - Policy  (2062)
 - Programming  (0)
     - Browsers  (1)
     - DHTML  (0)
     - Javascript  (5)
     - PHP  (0)
     - PayPal  (1)
     - Perl  (37)
          - blosxom  (0)
     - Unidata_Universe  (22)
 - Random_Advice  (1)
 - Reading  (0)
     - Books  (0)
     - Ebooks  (1)
     - Magazines  (0)
     - Online_Articles  (4)
 - Resume_or_CV  (1)
 - Reviews  (1)
 - Rhode_Island_USA  (0)
     - Providence  (1)
 - Shop  (0)
 - Sports  (0)
     - Football  (1)
          - Cowboys  (0)
          - Patriots  (0)
     - Futbol  (1)
          - The_Rest  (0)
          - USA  (1)
 - Windows  (1)
 - Woodworking  (0)


Archives
 -2020  September  (47)
 -2020  August  (47)
 -2020  July  (46)
 -2020  June  (46)
 -2020  May  (49)
 -2020  April  (48)
 -2020  March  (47)
 -2020  February  (46)
 -2020  January  (48)
 -2019  December  (44)
 -2019  November  (52)
 -2019  October  (49)


My Sites

 - Millennium3Publishing.com

 - SponsorWorks.net

 - ListBug.com

 - TextEx.net

 - FindAdsHere.com

 - VisitLater.com