Lance Leverich 's Techdirt Comments

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  • PayPal Latest To Cut Off Wikileaks

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    Lance Leverich ( profile ), 06 Dec, 2010 @ 06:20am

    Perhaps unrelated...

    It is interesting to read the various remarks to this story. It seems that the majority here is quite willing to jump on the "bash the US/bash the government bandwagon", but I see very little in terms of reasonable statements. It is true that WikiLeaks has done some good, with respects to opening up the flow of information about government secrets. But it is also true that governments sometimes have good reasons for not parading all of the information before the general public. Julian Assange seems to have decided that he is the ultimate arbiter of the those decisions.

    Now, as to whether PayPal, Amazon, or any other corporation, should respond to the pressure of governments or boycotts; the answer is not as easy as it might sound. For profit corporations (such as PayPal and Amazon) are created with specific purpose, and it isn't to be watchdogs over the rights of a group that decides it wants to take on the governments of the world. When Amazon and PayPal point to their terms of service, and then point out that some of what WikiLeaks is doing is prohibited by the laws where those companies are operating, what do you expect them to do? Do you expect them to tell their shareholders, "Tough luck gang. We're going to expose you to the risk of massive potential losses so that we can support this group that is acting criminally"? If they do that then they become liable for lawsuits coming from the other direction.

    Finally, let's start applying a label to Julian Assange that fits, the new 007 super-villan. Whether he is guilty of rape or sexual misconduct in Sweden, or elsewhere, you have to admit his latest statements make him sound like Ernst Blofeld of SPECTRE. His threats regarding the "insurance file" and how he will release the password for it, should anything happen to him or WikiLeaks, are only just shy of outright attempted extortion. I can easily picture him sitting in a London flat, cat on his lap, giving out that wonderfully evil laugh as he typed up that missive.

  • Russian Press And Pakistani Courts Apparently Have More Respect For Free Speech Than Joe Lieberman

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    Lance Leverich ( profile ), 04 Dec, 2010 @ 09:08pm

    Wish I was surprised

    Seems like TechDirt has picked up the same virus that eventually led to my leaving Digg off my reading list. The US certainly isn't a pristine utopia, but the characterization of the US as the new soviet state is way off base.

    I have plenty of issues with our government. Dealing with them can certainly be a soul sucking experience. But to hold up an article from Pravda as some sort of truth telling is to take the irony of their name to new heights. I understand when the european sites and people post this kind of article, but for TechDirt to legitimize it is something I find galling.

    Mike, you, your staff and readers, certainly have the right and freedom to continue posting this kind of stuff. But having that right and freedom doesn't mean that encouraging it is the right thing to do. My hope is that TD doesn't follow Digg down the path of becoming another "bash the US" at every chance site.

  • Russian Press And Pakistani Courts Apparently Have More Respect For Free Speech Than Joe Lieberman

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    Lance Leverich ( profile ), 04 Dec, 2010 @ 06:31am

    Wish I was surprised

    Seems like TechDirt has picked up the same virus that eventually led to my leaving Digg off my reading list. The US certainly isn't a pristine utopia, but the characterization of the US as the new soviet state is way off base.

    I have plenty of issues with our government. Dealing with them can certainly be a soul sucking experience. But to hold up an article from Pravda as some sort of truth telling is to take the irony of their name to new heights. I understand when the european sites and people post this kind of article, but for TechDirt to legitimize it is something I find galling.

    Mike, you, your staff and readers, certainly have the right and freedom to continue posting this kind of stuff. But having that right and freedom doesn't mean that encouraging it is the right thing to do. My hope is that TD doesn't follow Digg down the path of becoming another "bash the US" at every chance site.

  • How Denial Works: Library Of Congress Blocks Wikileaks

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    Lance Leverich ( profile ), 04 Dec, 2010 @ 05:35am

    Re: Re: asanage is the new US hero, for making the US look like morons..

    To make a statement like your closing line of "When the KGB are more honest than the CIA, you have a problem", indicates a monumental lack of knowledge about how agencies like these work. If you think either of them function with honesty, beyond that which is enough to make dupes think they are somehow acting in an honorable way, then congratulations, you have graduated to the head of their dupe class. If I were you, I would expect an application to join one of the education camps soon. The moniker eejit does seem to fit your thoughts, at leat in this particular case.

  • Elastic Wristband Maker Sues Walmart For Copyright Infringement

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    Lance Leverich ( profile ), 28 Oct, 2010 @ 10:41am

    Unless WalMart is the manufacturer...

    I don't see how they are party to either the trademark or the copyright infringements. Does WalMart hold a major stake in the manufacturing company? Did WalMart dictate the packaging design? Reading the article, I cannot find any evidence that BCP actually believes that WalMart is involved in any direct way.

    One of the comments in the article puts forward the idea that the claims were filed against WalMart because they may be able to apply pressure to the supplier. If that is the intention in naming WalMart in the suit then I would have a difficult time granting BCP's case any merit. I find that kind of manuevering to be dishonest on BCP's part.

  • Telltale Signs A CEO Is Lying (Or Not)

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    Lance Leverich ( profile ), 27 Oct, 2010 @ 07:04am

    Does this story include...

    a look at the CEO for NPR? Some of her statements, regarding their own recent debacle, seemed be based on something other than reality.

  • Congress May Finally Be Allowed To Use Skype To Talk To Constituents

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    Lance Leverich ( profile ), 03 May, 2010 @ 06:31am

    Re: A combination of reasons

    My opening sentence is a not quite what I intended, and could be misconstrued to mean that they shouldn't be allowed to communicate at all. I should have said...
    The biggest reasons for disallowing any particular form of communication centers on two premises.

  • Congress May Finally Be Allowed To Use Skype To Talk To Constituents

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    Lance Leverich ( profile ), 03 May, 2010 @ 06:28am

    A combination of reasons

    The biggest reasons for disallowing any form of communication center on two premises.

    1. Can a chain of accountability for communications be maintained? In other words, is there a mechanism for maintaining a copy/recording of the communications made by the representative or senator?

    2. Can the communications channel be secured? How easy is it for the representative/senator to distinguish when the channel is secure?

    Between these two points, a service like Skype might not serve the public interests very well.

  • ACTA Released, Only Very Slightly Less Awful Than Expected

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    Lance Leverich ( profile ), 21 Apr, 2010 @ 01:38pm

    Speaking of pitch forks...

    In my opinion, the scariest thing about this is not necessarily how it erodes our freedom to exchange information. I am at least as worried about how this seems like the first steps towards the "one world government".

    Now, before you shout me down as some wild conspiracy theorist, take a look at what is happening here. For the first time that I am aware of, the major governments/economies are all lining up behind a central set of ideas. The central idea in this case is that the flow of information must be able to be controlled. It is first proposed (disguised) as a move to protect the copyright holders, thus securing the cooperation of the groups that could (and in the old days would) organize dissent to this erosion of rights. I wonder, do the entertainment industries realize that they are possibly playing the dupes for the governments? Will they be surprised when the governments come to take away their rights?

    To control the people, governments first control the flow of information. ACTA is definitely aimed at helping the governments accomplish that goal.

  • McDonald's Laughs Off Criticism Embedded In April Fool's Joke

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    Lance Leverich ( profile ), 21 Apr, 2010 @ 05:20am

    Definitely different

    Like most of the other responders I've seen to this article, I was surprised to see the suggestion that McD's should have responded differently.

    Giving Joyce the benefit of the doubt, I'm guessing that she actually meant to point out that smaller companies do not have the latitude in responding to "customer complaints". Unfortunately, I believe she picked a poor example to make that point. It seems a bit contrived to use an April Fools prank, and the subsequent response from the "victim" of said prank, as the basis for a serious discussion of customer service.

    Why she would use this example, given the huge number of examples where a huge company doesn't respond appropriately to authentic customer complaints? As this is an article sponsored by AcceptPay/Amex, is there some agenda being served? I sincerely hope that this is not a reflection of the kinds of submissions we can expect, when the submission is sponsored.

  • How Not To Respond To An Online Political Critic: Ask The Attorney General To Jail Her For Five Years

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    Lance Leverich ( profile ), 23 Dec, 2009 @ 06:04am

    This has been an interesting read...

    I logged on expecting to see a flood of comments upholding Ms. Langley's right to free speech and laments about the attack on her right to engage in political discourse. My thoughts are that her actions are not valid, based on the following:

    1. Ms. Langley's site seems to be soliciting funds which she will receive.
    2. The site is aimed at a specific congressman.
    3. Given that the site is aimed at a specific congressman, it would seem to imply that the owner of the site is represented by the targeted congressman. I believe it is questionable whether this passes the "moron in a hurry" test.
    There are several courses of action that Ms. Langley could have taken, and may still be able to take. The easiest would be to provide links from her site to the sites of valid candidates, who would be able to receive campaign monies. Another option would be to turn over the site to a political action committee (or whatever organizations are similar these days) that could support alternative candidates. I believe Ms. Langley should return the contributions she has received to this point and then use her site as a means to point people to legitimate fundraising sites.

  • Arizona Politician Accused Of Using Voter Database To Stalk Young Woman

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    Lance Leverich ( profile ), 18 Dec, 2009 @ 11:09am

    Another way to look at it...

    What's the solution to this kind of thing? How is the line here different than when other people blame some technology for a societal ill (i.e. video games are practice grounds for violent behavior)? Did the fact that such a database exists cause someone to misuse the data, or did the person choose to misuse the database? The bottom line is that if you create a database then there is some likelihood that it will be misused by those that have the means to access it. Do not fall into the trap that we often accuse others of falling into, blaming the technology for enabling a person's bad behavior.

  • Yes, We Can Write Our Opinions Without Contacting The Company We're Writing About First

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    Lance Leverich ( profile ), 03 Dec, 2009 @ 12:19pm

    Fair...fairness...fairness doctrine...other tripe

    There came at some point, in the "mind" of the general public, the notion that all journalism has to be unbiased and fair. Compound that notion with the idea that the only way to present things in a fair and unbiased way is to provide column-inches of news print, seconds of radio/television time, etc. in equal portions to all parties. This is the basis upon which so many of these PR folks tend to operate. They mistakenly believe that anything said in public must be "balanced" by the opinions which they have been paid to espouse. It is also the point on which those that support the so-called "fairness doctrine" laws preach. They hate that commentators, whether they be on the radio (conservative talk radio is populated by devils), the television (Fox News, and Glenn Beck in particular, are baby-eating Pro-Lifers) or the internet, are not required to present opposing points of view. When it comes right down to it, these folks all want to take away freedom of speech in the name of their idea of "fairness".

  • Calling For An Independent Invention Defense In Patents

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    Lance Leverich ( profile ), 24 Nov, 2009 @ 12:25pm

    Because this defense isn't available

    I am one of many software developers that now refuses to do any research or development outside the auspices of a large corporation.

    In the past, I would write code for the company while I was at the office and then write code for various outside projects when I was at home. Most of these outside projects had no basis for existing other than to see if I could create something new and neat. Now, the risk of accidentally bumping into some process, method for interacting with users, or other obvious technique, that has been patented, is too high.

    While I wasn't likely to write the next brilliant piece of software, I am now completely assured that I won't be doing anything of significance. I can't afford to think that I might have a unique approach to solving a problem; and thus ends the dream of independent invention.

  • UK Wants Surveillance Cameras To Watch 20,000 Worst Families?

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    Lance Leverich ( profile ), 04 Aug, 2009 @ 07:12am

    This is Techdirt??

    While I appreciate the justified outrage that a story like this generates, I wonder at the commentary I just read through. It seems that some segment of the Digg crowd has hoisted up anchor and sailed into the waters of Techdirt.

    I dislike the ideas that were expressed in the original article. What I dislike more is the fact that instead of having a discussion about those ideas, the comments have degenerated into a forum dedicated to the bashing of governments and administrations that are no longer in power.

    Before someone responds that I must be a sympathizer of those previous governments and administrations, I would want you to know that I do not support the erosion of personal liberties for the purpose of a perceived safety. Nor do I support the use of military force as the optimal means of achieving resolution to the issues between nations.

    In the end, those of you that think the governments of Europe are doing so much better than the US might want to consider looking a bit deeper into the costs associated with their way of life. The reality is that governments by nature will seek to take from you as much as you are willing to give up to them. That includes your money, your freedom, your privacy and possibly your life.

    Draw your lines in the sand and then stand up to defend it, lest the government wash away your line and draw a new one for you.

  • What's Next? Can Senators Ban Stupidity While Driving?

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    Lance Leverich ( profile ), 30 Jul, 2009 @ 05:19am

    Somehow lost the point

    Reading through the comments here, it seems that the point of the original posting has been lost. The point (at least from my perspective) wasn't about whether there should be bans on texting while driving. The point was about whether the federal government should be using its control of highway funds to force state governments to enact various laws.

    This isn't the first case of this occurring. One of the first times I recall hearing about this kind of extortion...err...request from the federal government was in the early 1980's. At that time the states had varied laws regarding the legal drinking ages. I'm from the Kansas City area which straddles the Missouri/Kansas border. Back in those days Kansas was an "18 state" meaning that you could buy beer at the age of 18. Missouri allowed you to buy any form of alcohol, only after you reached the age of 21. The federal government decided (most likely with the help of MADD) that the states shouldn't allow any alcohol in the hands of 18 year olds. When some of the states balked, they were told that if they wanted their highway funds then they would have to submit to the "recommendation" of the federal government.

    Personally, I like the fact that the drinking age was raised; and I appreciate the idea of a law that makes people think twice before they attempt to text while they are driving. However, I am a bigger fan of allowing the states to enact the laws that their citizens deem wise and prudent, without the federal government threatening to withhold the money those same citizens have paid in order to have safe and efficient roadways.

  • Hotels.com Not Unique Enough To Get A Trademark

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    Lance Leverich ( profile ), 29 Jul, 2009 @ 05:03am

    And yet...

    Microsoft has been allowed to hold onto the trademark name "Windows"? Not only have they been allowed to hold onto the name, they have successfully sued another company because the "moron on the street" might have confused Lindows with Windows.

    I'm not looking to start a anti-Microsoft rant, rather I am saying that the use of a generic term in a trademark has a precedence. In light of this ruling, should the above mentioned trademark also be revoked?

  • Professor Tries To Get Info On Newspaper Commenters

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    Lance Leverich ( profile ), 10 Jun, 2009 @ 07:25am

    The right to confront...

    The idea behind shield laws may sound good on the surface, but it is fraught with the danger that justice may be subverted.

    If I understand the idea behind shield laws properly, they are meant to encourage a person that might be witness to, or have first hand knowledge of, criminal activity to come forward with his/her testimony. Whether that testimony is given in a court room, in the pages of a newspaper, or on a website, the underlying principals seem to be...
    1. They are protected from direct confrontation
    2. They are in direct knowledge of the activity being reported

    The case here is about a "reporter" of information who may, or may not, have that direct knowledge. If the "reporter" was impaneled on the jury hearing the professor's case then one of the following two situations should apply...
    1. If the juror had direct knowledge that applied to the case then he/she should have informed the court that this direct knowledge existed and been excused.
    2. If the juror didn't have direct knowledge then his/her statements would be hearsay. Persons making those kinds of statements should not be accorded the protection provided by shield laws.

    In order to determine whether either of the two scenarios applies, someone must be able to determine whether the "reporter" was a person impaneled on the jury. Shield laws should not be able to be used to thwart justice by preventing the courts from determining if a participant in the justice system is actively doing things that may undermine it.

    Of course all of my above statements are premised on my own thoughts and ideas regarding the use of shield laws. They have no legal standing, as I have no standing as a practitioner in the field of law.

  • Garmin, TomTom Settle One Fight, In Order To Concentrate On A Different Fight

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    Lance Leverich ( profile ), 16 Nov, 2007 @ 07:14am

    Not so narrowly focused

    I can't speak to what areas of the GPS market TomTom services, other than the consumer market, but I know that Garmin does more than just consumer, standalone GPS. In fact, Garmin started out doing more marine and avionics based GPS systems; neither of which, I believe, will be affected by phone-based GPS units.

    Also, Garmin makes other devices where the GPS portion is just one facet of the device. I believe that as more melding and merging of these devices occurs, it will be the software and data that will become the true differentiators. That is why the acquisition of Tele Atlas is so important.

  • Judge Orders Software Firm To Stop Selling Software For Beating Ticketmaster's Ticket Queue

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    Lance Leverich ( profile ), 16 Oct, 2007 @ 12:30pm

    Ticketmaster vs RMG

    While I am no fan of Ticketmaster, how many of you that are saying Tickemaster is wrong would feel the same way if RMG's software was being used to access your bank's website, and your account? This is one of the few cases where I believe that there is a legitimate case based upon the DMCA.

    Ticketmaster created a site that has a prescribed manner for purchasing limited availability goods. Thus, when a party works to actively circumvent the prescribed manner for obtaining those goods, Ticketmaster has a right to use the law as a remedy. The most apparent basis for such action, in my view, would be that RMG has violated the DMCA in order to provide access to the Ticketmaster system in a way that was not intended.

    If the goods being sold were not of limited availability then I might not be so keen on using the law as a remedy. I would also prefer that Ticketmaster go after those companies and individuals that are using RMG's tool, but if I recall the ruling properly then those entities are also prohibited from using RMG's software to access the Ticketmaster site.