After the German Pirate Party's String Of Successes, Here Comes The Backlash

from the it-was-bound-to-happen dept

Over the last few months, Techdirt has been reporting on the amazing rise of the German Pirate Party, with win after win after win. Politicians in the other parties have looked on aghast, powerless to halt the rise of something they clearly can’t fathom. Inevitably, the fightback has finally begun, but packaged as an artists’ revolt, not simply that of the copyright industries worried about their profit margins.

Perhaps the most dramatic manifestation of that was a major section in the Handlesblatt newspaper (German original) a few weeks ago. It was entitled “A hundred creatives provoke the Pirates”, and included 160 statements on the subject of “My head belongs to me.” That paints this as huge numbers of artists having their ideas taken away by the Pirates, but the reality was a little different.

Of those 160 statements, only 30 came from artists; the rest were from politicians, media companies, lawyers, academics and business groups (German original.) Unsurprisingly, most of those 130 statements were attempts to defend their own positions as gatekeepers of culture – often well-paid ones.

The artists’ comments were little better. Here’s a small selection:

The Pirate Party would never think to demand in the name of freedom that German bakers should in the future give away their bread, and have their baking sponsored by the state. (Gisa Klönne.)

Free content is intellectual theft. (Thomas Weymar)

The Pirate Credo, that ideas can’t belong to only one person, is good news for people who don’t have any ideas of their own. (Frauke Scheunemann.)

Without protection for intellectual property there would be intellectual chaos. (Pater Anselm Grün.)

It’s also true in the age of YouTube: without copyright, there can be no quality films or TV. (Franka Potente.)

Germany can’t afford to turn the majority of its creators into hobbyists. (Carolin Otto.)

The comments mainly consist of willful, or perhaps real, incomprehension of the digital world, combined with a sense of entitlement demonstrated by many artists. But there’s also something new here, which the German magazine Der Spiegel analyzed as follows:

Artists can always be counted on when it comes to standing up for democracy and justice. Ever since [the Nobel Prize-winning writer] Günter Grass drummed up support for [former German Chancellor] Willy Brandt and the [left-wing party] SPD 40 years ago, Germany’s intellectuals have congregated on the progressive side. When in doubt, they lean to the left, and participating in the cutting edge is considered a central duty.

But their love affair with the Pirate Party is cooling off before it even had much of a chance to begin. In recent days, artists have spoken up one after another, expressing their unease at the movement’s calls to deregulate all digital content.

The rise of the Pirate Party has suddenly revealed many of these “progressive”, “cutting-edge” intellectuals to be just as keen on preserving their privileged position, and just as frightened of change, as they’ve mockingly accused the bourgeoisie and the conservatives of being in the past. Indeed, many of the artists’ comments in the Handelsblatt section are little more than unoriginal variations on the old “get off my lawn” theme.

That will come as a shocking realization for many artists who until now have believed themselves to be in the vanguard of society, and the champions of every kind of progress. The rise of the Pirate Party has called that into question — hence the vitriol that it has encountered recently.

And it’s not over yet. The Netzpolitik blog notes that another 100 artists have just signed a declaration in the leading newspaper Die Zeit, under the rubric, “A call against the theft of intellectual property”. Just to hammer home the point, the term “theft” is used twice more in the text (German original), which points the finger at “global Internet companies” whose business models are based on the “appropriation” of artists’ work, and demands that copyright protection be strengthened, rather than moderated.

Although it’s disturbing to see this kind of poorly-informed mud-slinging, it does demonstrate one thing: that the Pirate Party is not just shaking the German political system to its foundations, but also challenging a whole range of cozy assumptions about copyright and creativity, and their role in modern society. Expect even more — and dirtier — attacks in the future.

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Comments on “After the German Pirate Party's String Of Successes, Here Comes The Backlash”

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76 Comments
ArkieGuysays:

Bread....

The Pirate Party would never think to demand in the name of freedom that German bakers should in the future give away their bread, and have their baking sponsored by the state. (Gisa Kl?nne.)

I may be a bit confused here, but when a baker sells his bread to a store, does he expect to get a cut when the store “re-sells” his bread? Or when the person who eats it passes it on as fertilizer for new wheat? ๐Ÿ™‚

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Bread....

More than that. Lets account **AA Style. So the actual value of the bread is the base price, the price of moving it, cost to holder of inventory, cost to consumer, and lastly the cost of the water reclamation/fertilizer creation.

Oh and the baker is still in debt to the truck driver and to the inventory holder for the privilege of selling the baker’s bread.

Ninjasays:

Fortunately the public is not as uninformed as when the Pirate Parties were born back in Sweden. They won’t swallow all of the mud thrown by these legacy players and artists out of touch with reality.

The theft analogy is getting old and overused. Their time is running out. The fact it is backlashing shows the Pirate ideals already won. It is a matter of time now. But the legacy players will still cause a lot of damage before they go down.

Free content is intellectual theft. I’ve been stealing from the public domain since I was a kid. Shame on my mother for telling me free stories that never had any copyright.

What’s unfortunate is that the cycle is bound to repeat once the Pirates are the legacy players. I do hope I’m wrong.

Re: Re:

“What’s unfortunate is that the cycle is bound to repeat once the Pirates are the legacy players. I do hope I’m wrong.”

The Pirate Parties are not stupid, fortunately. Rick Falkvinge has noted explicitly that this is likely to happen, because everyone gets old and cranky, it’s human nature:

?Forty years from now, those of us who are still around, I?d like to ask you for a favor?, I said. ?Odds are that when our parties are flooded with career politicians forty years from now, and we are living comfortably in our retirements, a bunch of spoiled young brats will organize out of nowhere and appear to demand everything for free in ways that are both reprehensible and incomprehensible. Help them.?

Jeremysays:

The backlash sounds like competing politicans are astroturfing a playing field on which to fight the rise of a new political mechanism. It’s basically the same fight the RIAA/MPAA thought they could win, but in the political arena now, not media. The pirate party likely doesn’t win because it’s platform is significantly understated in representative bodies or different than any other party. I’ll lay money they won because they properly adapted technology to the scarcity of political participation.

Michael Longsays:

Re: Re:

You mean like all of the poor impoverished people who claim “information” wants to be free? And who view any attempt to protect or strengthen IP rights as being detrimental to themselves? (grin)

Reminds me of the truism about the young tending to be socialist. They’re not the ones paying for it… yet.

One Eyed Jacksays:

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

“We’re at the point where the solution is loosening IP laws, not tightening it even more as has been done for the last 50 years.”

Well said. When I read that one line near the end of the article about artists wanting to strengthen their protection, the first thing that popped into my mind was to wonder how the hell you tighten something you already have a stranglehold on. It can’t get any tighter! I supposed you could add more chains though (ACTA/SOPA/PIPA/etc).

Michael Longsays:

Re: Re:

Or this tactic, straight from the Karl Rove playbook, “…combined with a sense of entitlement demonstrated by many artists.”

Odd. I remember how in the early days of this debate it was all of the pirates and people who “shared” content who felt they were “entitled” to everyone else’s work for free.

Now it appears that the “entitlement” argument has been co-opted by the other side. “Can you imagine? Wanting to get paid for creating something that everyone else wants?”

ltlw0lfsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Now it appears that the “entitlement” argument has been co-opted by the other side. “Can you imagine? Wanting to get paid for creating something that everyone else wants?”

I’m sorry that you feel it has been co-opted, but the truth is that it has always been there. Just as I am not entitled to use someone else’s work without their permission, an artist is not entitled to a paycheck, nor are they entitled to control what I do with their work after I purchased it from them (except that copyright law prevents me from taking their work and distributing it.) Yet we too often hear from gatekeepers that the artists aren’t getting paid enough and that things like DRM are necessary to prevent us from using their work in ways they do not approve of.

If everyone else wants something, the artist should get paid, but all too often we here the statement that “everyone but us” commits piracy, when if that were true, there would be no money to be made, which is obviously not the case with RIAA/MPAA labels making record profits.

What other industry is there where when you buy something, you get to control what that something is used for?

Eponymous Cowardsays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Entitlement Mentality

You forgot: You are not entitled to push your definitions upon me

Both success and rights are defined differently by everybody involved. For one artist success is having a million people experience their work, while for another it may be to earn a million dollars from their work. Either way it is my right not to abide by how you define success and live by my own variant. Likewise you don’t have to concede to this right of mine if it doesn’t meet your vision. This gap between our ideals we must negotiate, advocate, and compromise around. Nothing is owed to any of us whether it’s success or our rights. We must work, or at times fight, for the world we want to inhabit.

kensays:

I suppose there are only hobbyists clothes designers and there are no quality close designs. Clothes designers cannot make any money because clothing designed are not subject to copyright.

In reality clothing design is one of the most dynamic of the creative industries. Clothes designers must constantly create new lines because they can’t rest on their laurels and life off of one successful clothing line. Lack of copyrights have not hurt the clothing industry and in fact enhance it since each designer is free to build on past successes.

Anonymoussays:

The Pirate Party would never think to demand in the name of freedom that German bakers should in the future give away their bread, and have their baking sponsored by the state. (Gisa Kl?nne.)

I’m sure that if we reach the point where bread is not scarce, bakers will have difficulty selling loaves. But until then, we’re stuck listening to idiots like this one trying to equate scarce and non-scarce goods.

Baldaur Regissays:

The Pirate Credo, that ideas can’t belong to only one person, is good news for people who don’t have any ideas of their own. (Frauke Scheunemann.)

Wait, there’s a Pirate Credo? Where could I find it? Would Amazon carry it? Oh. smacks forehead I’m a pirate, I should be able to steal it. It’s in those Torrence things right? God, do I HAVE to drive to the Valley to get this stupid thing? It’s probably just written in German anyway. What’s on TV?

JEDIDIAHsays:

Re: Specious Cluelessness

Also, as a matter of law ideas are not in fact supposed to belong to people. There is no form of intellectual property that is supposed to grant ownership over mere ideas.

This is the “Harlan Ellison” problem. Someone reuses an idea and suddenly think that they own it can can shake down the next guy that reuses that idea.

Copyright isn’t supposed to work that way. Patents aren’t either.

Anonymoussays:

It is funny as fuck to read your comments. Look, the artists are exposing the pirate party for what it really stands for, taking money out of the pockets of artists in the name of some great creativity socialist experiment. It won’t work.

The elections? Unless they get to a reasonable number, and break out of their target 18-35 demographic, they are doomed to be a bit player, supported only by proportional representation laws (more election socialism at work). They are otherwise a pony that didn’t even full learn the first trick.

John Fendersonsays:

Re: Re:

the artists are exposing the pirate party for what it really stands for

The artists are exposing nothing other than their own confusion or ignorance, as near as I can see. They certainly make general accusations, but “exposing” implies some kind of specific evidence.

As your understanding of them seems to differ from a lot of other people’s, will you please explain the Pirate Party’s platform?

Anonymoussays:

Re: History of mankind according to some copyright troll:

Look, the artists are exposing the pirate party for what it really stands for, taking money out of the pockets of artists i

First, a bunch of shit happened …

And on the fifth day, God created Copyright. Oh, and then as a result, people and culture happened.

… and then a bunch more shit happened .

Do you actually believe the lies that you spout? I seriously doubt it.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re:

proportional representation = election socialism

Please, just stop and think, then go and read, then eat, then sleep, then get back to reading and thinking until you learn something, anything.

You clearly do not understand any of the following
Democracy
Elections
Proportional Representation
Representative Democracies
or Socialism

Please do not use words that you do not understand, it makes you look foolish and wastes the time of everybody else.

Anonymoussays:

No enforcement without taxation

“Odd. I remember how in the early days of this debate it was all of the pirates and people who “shared” content who felt they were “entitled” to everyone
else’s work for free.

Now it appears that the “entitlement” argument has been co-opted by the other side. “Can you imagine? Wanting to get paid for creating something that everyone
else wants?””
You have no right to impose the enforcement costs on the taxpayer. I am a taxpayer, and copyright enforcement letting the taxpayer foot the bill for enforcing copyright sound much like welfare.

Copyright holders can keep their IP, on the condition that they pay all enforcement costs themselves. After all, why should I an unconcerned party pay for enforcing a “right” from which I don’t benefit in the slightest?

Anonymoussays:

Copyright and human rights

The problem with the moral argument for copyright is that it is intertwined with demanding subsidized taxpayer enforcement.

I may well have no right to copy something created by another, but neither does the copyright holder have an inherent right to demand or expect that taxpayers pay for enforcing copyright.

Any right depending on coersing taxpayers into enforcing it smacks of socialism.

Chargonesays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Copyright and human rights


it would seem that any two of :
American
Idiot
Right of Center politically (economically or otherwise)

produces a misuse of the word.

sadly, there are far too many people who fall into one pair or another of those categories.

(especially when you realise that the entire US political spectrum is noticeably right-shifted compared to the rest of the world.)

weneedhelpsays:

ARRRGGHHHH!!!!!

Pirate friends sing pirate songs cause pirates love to sing.

“Look, the artists are exposing the pirate party” LOL almost fell outta my chair on that one. Ohhhh 30 out of thousands. Yeah ok AC.

“Anyone who supports the Pirates will obviously see the tall tale signs of bullshit from the media.” – No who in Amerika gets that kind of treatment. Hmmmm. R.P.

JohnFsays:

I made a loaf of bread once... why don't you keep paying me?

There would be significantly more respect for copyrights and intellectual property if there were reasonable time limits on them.

I wrote a program once, but my employer keeps making me go to work everyday, even though the program gets used constantly.

Chargonesays:

Re: Re: I made a loaf of bread once... why don't you keep paying me?

reasonable time limits, stricter definitions of it’s limits that can be understood Without a court case (which could go either way), lack of constant attempts to use it to rip off the public, lack of constant attempts to get the public to PAY for this, lack of rampant abuse of it…

there’s a lot of things that would lead to significantly more respect for the concept.

Anonymoussays:

When a baker who sells bread for a living gives me a free sample of his bread, I know I like his bread more than the baker across the street.

Hmmm. I think I’ll only buy things from the baker that I know I like instead of buying from the baker who won’t part with a single slice of bread even if it means that he gains a new lifelong customer.

Or quite possibly, and I can only assume that this is the more common scenario. As I sample that bakers goods, I now realize that this bread (Intellectual Property) is meaningless, tasteless, and a waste of time. I’m going to find something better.

Don’t blame piracy because you aren’t a billionare. Your bread (I.P.) might just be crap.

When people stop criminalizing piracy and start exposing it’s massive profit margins as a business practice, they will be far better off.

Footnote: The content of this post is intellectual property to be shared by all and is not subjected to any licensing, contracts, or binding agreement of any kind.

Rich Kulawiecsays:

Cluephone for Frauke Scheunemann

The Pirate Credo, that ideas can’t belong to only one person, is good news for people who don’t have any ideas of their own. (Frauke Scheunemann.)

I’m sure with your busy schedule it’s probably just escaped your notice, but over the last 40 years or so, a lot of pretty smart people have been busily engaged in building a system for creating, publishing, sharing, modifying, debating, testing, using, remixing, and refining ideas. It works quite well — so amazingly well, in fact, that even the people who’ve built it sometimes have to tilt their chairs back, stare at the ceiling, and contemplate the breadth and depth of the impact that it’s had on human civilization — oh, and on ideas.

We call it “the Internet”. You should check it out sometime.

Eponymous Cowardsays:

A call against the use of "intellectual property"

Instead I feel there should be a call against the use of “intellectual property” At best the term is a misnomer/anachronism, but at worst it is becoming propaganda for copyright maximalists. It betrays the reality that ideas are not, an can not be, owned and/or controlled like tangible property and therefor are undeserving of being placed in such a category. As such I feel any serious use of said term should be called out and pushed back against as fallacious and intellectually lazy. Hopefully by undermining this phrase people at the periphery of the copywars, who might not be as informed on its issues as those at the center, will better inform their opinion about what’s at stake instead of letting false rhetoric sway their own ideas.

Reform of CopyRight that is what we stand for NOT eradicate it

Artist, in Germany as here in Spain are being scared off by the industry because they are selling them that we, Pirates as Citizens, are willing to pay them, what we want to get rid of are intermediaries whose business is over. Those are the ones that are STEALING the Artists. In Spain we have an investigation going on against high profile Directors of the SGAE(Spanish RIAA) for financial abuse, fraud and they have been arrested and indicted by a Judge on July, 1st 2011. Similar cases have arise also in Belgium(SABAM) and in Brazil(EDCA). In Spain the Civil society, through the FB Group “Manifiesto” born in the wake of the Anti Piracy law, “Ley Sinde” and the Internauts Association are the one that slowly reveals the bribery in SGAE, much of those citizens that fought for their Rights ad for the Rights of the ARTISTS are now in the Spanish Pirate Party.

The Artists are often misguided by the Vampires, as we call them here, those are the intemediaries that are the ones that really see their business sliding down to Bankrupcy while they try at all cost to mantain their “bloodsucking” business. We PIRATES want the Artist to be the one to take benefit of his work by reversing the percentages that are taken from them. That is REALLY for what we stand for and no for free culture(as in free beers)…We want a Culture FREE of parasites in benefits of Creators and Citizenship.

We don’t want to eradicate Copyright we want to transform it and the proof is the (free) release of a book jointly written by Cristian Engstr?m, one of the European MP of Pirate Sweden and by Rick Falkvinge, Founder of the Swedish Pirate Party. You can freely download it here or order a ondemand printed book here http://www.copyrightreform.eu/

I have lots of proof that that is what we really want but I’m not a Good Writer, but maybe Mike Masnick and the guys at TechDirt should invite one day Rick Falkvinge to explain what are really the goals of PIRATE Parties. Meanwhile you can take a hint by having a look at a TEDx conference given by Rick http://youtu.be/zsI3-IEWgFg

weneedhelpsays:

Re: Re: Reform of CopyRight that is what we stand for NOT eradicate it

“We PIRATES want the Artist to be the one to take benefit of his work by reversing the percentages that are taken from them. That is REALLY for what we stand for and not for free culture(as in free beers)…We want a Culture FREE of parasites in benefits of Creators and Citizenship.”

“but I’m not a Good Writer”

You made your point loud and clear, and it is exactly how I feel.

(Although free beers is never a bad thing ๐Ÿ™‚

Anonymoussays:

The one thing those “artists”(if you can call monopolist supporters that) don’t ever talk about it, is who is stopping them from selling or getting paid, I mean look at open source where everyone can copy, distribute, modify and even sell things without asking for permission. They seem to be doing it quite well, not only that they are creating a goodwill environment where cooperation is more important than money, a more participatory environment that localized benefits for everyone.

I haven’t seen a good explanation of why it is theft either since nothing is taken and the monopolists still get a lot out of the market with multiple streams of revenue available to them.

Now when someone says that those rights are starting to encroach on civil liberties and consumer rights the attitude seems to be “fuck you”, well, screw them(monopolists), if they believe they will be in the poor house now it is the time to see what will happen for better or for worse it is time to experiment and they will pay it all, because I am not paying it anymore.

Those intellectuals have become the antithesis of forward progressive thinking, and will be maligned I am sure.

Still I do understand the necessity to have those people around, they just need to get smacked around a bit just like they are doing to the public, which gave them everything and apparently it was not enough.

Forest_GSsays:

The real problem;

The real problem is that most “bakers” keep their “bread” locked in a vault or charge obscene amounts of money from the “re-sellers” to keep competition away. And there there are the ones that are impossible to talk to, negotiate or reason with.

The answer? Make an amendable, public, government enforced(not controlled) list of reasonable prices for types of Copyright stuffs. After time passes, the prices can be challenged easily. With enough proof of how the copyright stuffs are being used, the prices could change in one week. The “bakers” would have to accept the “List” copyright price if they have the “bread” in a vault, won’t negotiate, or are impossible to reach. And; all those “bakers” put together would not be able to claim more than 50% of the sales. (they would share the 50% equally)

Meh, this idea is sounding worse by the second.
I would like to see something like M.U.G.E.N being legally sold, but the “bakers” would make to much too expensive to sell. Not to mention the time to agree with all the “bakers” separately. (most of them would say no or be impossible to reach)

Anonymoussays:

Dear Franka Potente,

I only bought your films & music because someone gave me a burned copy of Lola Rennt ages ago. I guess you’d call that pirating. But seriously, how else was I supposed to get interested in an actress originally known for her work in German movies?

Luckily, my DVD player is region-free.

Love,
A fan dedicated enough to deal with region crap and trying to order stuff from overseas, and then to even sit through Bourne Identity despite not enjoying the book

Lawrence D'Oliveirosays:

Looking Out For Their Own Interests

It?s not too surprising to find a few artists on the side of the existing system. Having achieved success in a system that was stacked against them, why should they favour making things easier for competitors?

One thing you won?t find, of course, is any new up-and-comers supporting copyright maximalism. All the supporters would be established artists?the lucky few.

Here in New Zealand, some of us were saddened to see well-known Ray Columbus trumpeting how useful it was that he could keep getting paid without actually doing any new work.

techflaws.orgsays:

Coordinated campain

This appears to be a coordinated campaign by rightsholders, the press, etc., possibly starting with Sven Regener’s rant in a radio interview on March 23 followed by:

– an open letter by 51 “Tatort” writers, March 29th
– “My head belongs to me” in Handelsblatt, April 5th
– Miguel E. Riveros Silva in Zeit Online May, 9th
– “We are the creators” in DIE ZEIT, May 10th
VG Wort (writer’s collection agency) claiming extended copyrights would not harm the public. May, 11th

Most crazy of all seems to be Riveros who actually
– demands to put copyright warning stickers on PCs
– demands to make browsers pop up warnings when downloading stuff
– insists that ISPs would employ Youtube’s content ID to any files transferred by users, see if they don’t!

But what do you expect from a country ruled by clueless politicians like 3-strikes-fan Siegfried Kauder (yes, the one who got caught using photos on his webpage without compensating the originator) who in a hearing on ACTA said: “Can we agree that intellectual property is just the same as a bike??

In US the war for CopyRight will start next year

Let’s see what American Artists think of their industry when they will have to fight inch by inch to get back their copyright next year.

A law promulgated in ’78 said that 35 years later(2013) the artists are legitimated to reclaim total control of their rights. For some the fight is already started and the industry is fighting back not to comply with the law.

http://www.billboard.biz/bbbiz/industry/legal-and-management/village-people-s-victor-willis-speaks-out-1007038752.story

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