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  • Mar 22nd, 2021 @ 12:47pm

    (untitled comment)

    While I think it very probable that there is a better standard for libel to be found than NY Times vs. Sullivan, I am also reasonably confident that Justice Thomas and Judge Silberman are, by far and away, the judges least likely to find it.

    Impartiality in forming legal doctrine surely requires one to at least manage some awareness that being anywhere to the left of far right extremism does not necessarily make a person into a raging communist. Based on their publicly-stated views, I highly doubt that either judge is capable of doing so.

  • Mar 16th, 2021 @ 1:37pm

    Re: Re:

    A silent march in New York, 1917, demanding a ban on lynchings. I didn't know about that one.

    All the same, that one protest would undoubtedly still fall afoul of the 'no disruptions' clause: 10,000 people marching down the road can hardly avoid causing some kind of nuisance. Also, given that it was 104 years ago and didn't work even then, it's probably not likely to be the most helpful of models for future demonstrations.

    Still, it's interesting, so thank you for the link. :)

  • Mar 16th, 2021 @ 8:19am

    (untitled comment)

    Absolutely appalling. Is there even any such thing as a completely non-disruptive and virtually silent mass protest?

    While the text of the bill pays lip-service to the idea of a lawful protest, I can see no way in which this amendment can't effectively and easily be used to shut down almost any public protest of any kind. Moreover, it's so loosely worded, it would be at the whim of almost anyone in any position of authority, from the government right down to the most senior officer on duty, who need be no more than an ordinary beat constable.

    Whatever its supporters may claim, this is no mere revision or clarification of existing law, it's the government giving itself the optional right to a de facto ban on any and all public protests, in all but name -- and anyone found guilty under it would face anything up to the maximum sentence of either just under a year in prison or a £2,500 fine (a little over $3,473, at the time of writing).

    Something's badly wrong with Priti Patel, I think. She's extraordinarily right-wing, even by the standards of the Tory party -- and openly hostile to almost everybody, including (but not limited to) ethnic minorities, the LGBTQ+ community, ecology campaigners, lawyers and even women's rights protesters.

    If it weren't for her mixed-race background, I'd have no hesitation in labelling her a thinly-veiled white supremacist, on par with any of Donald Trump's worst employees.

    She's in the Conservative safe seat of Witham, so she's not likely to be voted out anytime soon. That's quite a shame, since -- with the exception of our useless buffoon of a Prime Minister -- I can think of no-one in government more thoroughly deserving of unemployment.

  • Mar 4th, 2021 @ 4:21am

    (untitled comment)

    Further to this, I've been looking at Frogwares' blog-post / open letter from August of last year, along with the various links they've given. Beyond the actions this article focuses on, which is bad enough behaviour in itself, it really does seem like Nacon has been conducting itself quite poorly.

    Aside from the alleged financial misconduct and other contractual breaches, it appears, amongst other things, as though Nacon wants to claim whole ownership of Frogwares' IP, but without having any actual legal right to do so.

    Frogwares has been very consistent and clear that Nacon is only the strictly-limited licensee for Sinking City, not the owner. Nacon has - or had - the rights to distribute the game on certain platforms, but apparently no right to claim it as their own work.

    For it's part, Nacon has been putting it's own copyright notices (in both it's current name and it's former name of Bigben Interactive) on various marketing materials, claiming IP ownership for themselves, while stripping out and relegating Frogwares' name and logo to the back covers, if they're even mentioned at all.

    It appears they've even gone as far as authorising a tabletop RPG based on the game, presumably taking licensing fees for it, without apparently having the slightest right to do so and with no mention of Frogwares in the copyright notice.

    One curious thing about this: as the Frogwares post points out, Nacon's official stock market prospectus has a list of four licensed action / adventure games, but describes Nacon working "[...] avec IP propriétaires", which - depending on the translation - might be interpreted as either working with IP rights-holders, or once again, claiming whole ownership.

    That list includes a Warhammer title. If Nacon's trying to imply - much less claim - actual ownership of a licensed Games Workshop property, then I can see their current difficulties suddenly becoming rather sharper, if GW's lawyers get wind of it.

    As Nacon's public reply points out, the French courts have sided with Nacon, thus far - apparently on the basis that the contract was improperly terminated by Frogwares.

    Nacon also says that one of the provisions of that contract allows them to use a third-party to adapt the game, if necessary - which is why they evidently feel they have the right to pirate the game and strip out the logos and other indicia of Frogwares and Gamesplanet.

    I'm of the view that - whether or not a given court agrees with Nacon's actions - this is an appalling way to behave: even actual, commercial videogame pirates don't generally go so far as to remove the developer's logo and claim ownership of the titles they're pirating.

    That a publicly-traded company like Nacon thinks it's appropriate or professional to do so utterly defies belief.

  • Mar 3rd, 2021 @ 9:04pm

    (untitled comment)

    Note: I don't speak French, so I'm only going by statements made by both sides and the various press reports. Perhaps a native French speaker might be able to dig out the original case records and see what's what, in more accurate detail than I can obtain.

    While I tend to agree that the publisher's probably far more in the wrong, here, things might be a little trickier than that in practise.

    This is a Ukrainian developer fighting a French publisher in a French court. From what's been reported, French courts have generally favoured their own nation's financial interests over and above what seems morally or even legally right, over the past few years - or so it seems to me. Frogwares may face an uphill battle, just from that factor alone.

    From what I gather, Nacon asserts - and so far, the French courts apparently agree - that they had a contractual right to publish the game. I have the impression that Frogwares may have had no legal right to pull the game from sale, without first getting some form of prior judgment authorising it. If pulling the title was wrong, I can envisage Nacon claiming that they've merely made whole their injury, when the matter eventually gets back to court.

    I can then see the average judge then preferring to write both sides' improprieties off as tit-for-tat vigilantism that should be ignored, rather than getting deep into the weeds of who did what to whom. After that, said judge would only have to look at contractual details, rather than go through reams of terrifying technical details presented by Frogwares. Most judges aren't renowned for their love of technology, after all, either in France or anywhere else.

    Who might win the case seems therefore to be very much an open question.

    All that said, I do get the impression that Nacon threw the first metaphorical punch, here. Reading between the lines of their statement on the cracked game's subsequently-pulled Steam page suggests to me that they did owe Frogwares royalties - they don't exactly deny it - but were sore about paying it, since the game hasn't made enough money.

    I get no sense that the publisher's in serious financial trouble, or anything - it just seems like they don't want to pay, until they've got more money to justify their alleged €10 million investment.

    Whether we start out rich or poor, desperate times do push many of us to desperate measures - and in my view, there are certainly some sins that deserve forgiveness, even in the corporate world.

    Merely being too damn greedy to pay your developers what you know you owe them really isn't one of them.

  • Feb 23rd, 2021 @ 9:01pm

    (untitled comment)

    From Mr Bode's article of November 2019:

    "The biggest complaint most developers have with Stadia is the fear is Google is just going to cancel it. Nobody ever says, 'Oh, it's not going to work.' or 'Streaming isn't the future.' Everyone accepts that streaming is pretty much inevitable. The biggest concern with Stadia is that it might not exist.["]

    [...] Maybe Google succeeds in the space, maybe it doesn't. Maybe Google sticks with the project, or maybe like Google Fiber Alphabet execs get cold feet and hang up on developers mid-stride in a year from now.

    One year and three months for their internal dev team, perhaps not too many more months for the rest of the venture. If anyone has any faith left in this project, I can only salute their optimism.

    Oh, well. At least it lasted longer than Quibi.

  • May 17th, 2020 @ 3:49am

    Re:

    Hello, Mr Stone. :)

    According to wiki, Mastodon's an open-source protocol, released under AGPLv3. Such licensing doesn't give Eugen Rochko the legal ability to order Gab to cease and desist. He has no power over them.

    By contrast, Disney's Club Penguin materials are proprietary. The clones make use of Disney's copyrights and trademarks, in a way that's very probably not supported by the fair use doctrine. Disney has the legal right to order the Club Penguin clones to stop. They'll almost certainly win, if it gets as far as a courtroom.

    While there isn't an exactly on-point case to guide, Disney having the exclusive right and ability to control the assets being used puts them very close to the established definition of vicarious liability. It's not far-fetched to imagine someone going into court with that. Cases have gone as far as discovery with far less. It might not ultimately prevail in the US courts, but it's a colourable theory.

    All it takes is one one case - one chancer looking for a payout, or one genuinely-aggrieved parent, or one special interest group looking to fight anti-Semitism, or one zealous prosecutor pushing a state cyber-bullying law - to convince a sympathetic judge and then it's into discovery, where Disney has to spend a small fortune fighting an ugly, expensive and entirely unnecessary case, over something that was never their fault to begin with.

    Even if the attackers don't win, it's still a bunch of resources to fight them off or settle the case. How much time, money and energy are Disney supposed to spend defending what is basically 4-chan with pirate copies of Disney's penguins?

    This is just the US example, by the way. There's any number of countries with more aggressive hate speech / child protection / anti-harassment laws, where Disney could potentially be held liable under any number of legal theories and doctrines.

  • May 16th, 2020 @ 4:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Update added

    Hello, Cdaragorn. :)

    Not being a lawyer, I don't have an exact, on-point example to give. This wouldn't stop Disney getting into some trouble for not stopping a problem when they've the power to do so.

    Disney's a much, much bigger and wealthier target than other businesses that may have been in the same situation. It's also a worldwide business. America's AGs may be in Disney's pocket, but all those other countries...?

    People will sue over almost anything, if they think there's a nuisance-payout to be had. Can you honestly say you think that something like this wouldn't attract civil actions from anywhere and everywhere?

    Can you honestly say you think there aren't any European prosecutors who'd jump at the chance to have a go at Disney and its executives, for allowing the promotion of hate groups using their assets? Anti-semitism's apparently a thing on these clones, so how about the Israelis?

    Even if Disney got lucky and dodged every legal bullet heading towards them, it's a sure bet that it would be closely reported by the media. Would you want to be the Disney executive who had to go on TV and say "free speech is more important to us than our customers' children's safety"?

  • May 16th, 2020 @ 3:54pm

    Re: Police everywhere support that comment

    Hello, T.O.G. :)

    "You know who else was a vegetarian? Hitler, that's who!"

    As arguments go, it's not up to much. I'm no fan of Disney, but I'm really struggling to see a side to this incident that even begins to make them look bad.

    In the same situation, with my commercial name and reputation being dragged right into the shit the same way, I'm fairly sure I'd do the same thing as Disney, if I had the power. Outside of making a point for free speech, I think most people would, any number of TD commenters included.

    If somebody cloned your work and used it as a platform for promoting racial, religious and sexual hate - and quite possibly, actual paedophile grooming - would you really consider their free speech rights more important than your right to avoid being sued, or even jailed, for not stopping it?

  • May 16th, 2020 @ 2:25am

    There's free and then there's free.

    Epic insists on two-factor authentication, which is fine from a security standpoint, but, given that I've no intention of using the store for anything else, it'll be a cold day in hell before I give them my 'phone number.

    Even if they don't use it for marketing purposes, it's inevitable that the more companies have that information, the more likely it is to leak out in a breach. Unlike my email address, I'm currently blessed with a spam-free 'phone experience. I'm not putting that at risk for an ageing £25 videogame, from a company I'd much prefer to avoid.

  • May 16th, 2020 @ 2:01am

    Re: Update added

    Hello, Mr Masnick. :)

    As much as it pains me, I have to side with Disney here (lord, my brain feels dirty just typing those words - and not in a good way).

    Consider this from Disney's perspective:

    • All the indications are that there's a site using your good name to probably operate as a paedophile grooming tool targeting children. If you don't do anything, you're potentially liable in the civil courts for millions in damages, for tolerating abuse of one sort or another;

    • The "proper channels" are the police, FBI and DoJ, who may take literally years to actually do anything, if they do anything at all - and "anything" here seems less than entirely likely, given that they've already done nothing about the site, even after arresting the owner;

    • That's without going into the whole FOSTA / SESTA thing, with the authorities infamously ignoring actual widespread abuse, in favour of attacking easier and more PR-friendly targets like Craigslist, et al;

    • The courts are notably hostile to anything resembling prior restraint, sometimes even where convicted paedophiles are involved - appeals might keep the site online for years, even after a major win by the state;

    • Regardless of what "should" be, the only tools you really have for taking the site down, quickly and more-or-less reliably, are copyright and trademark law.

    I think asking Disney to put their faith in the authorities is like asking whistleblowers to keep quiet and let their bosses handle it. I can wish for things to go a certain way, but that's almost-certainly not going to do anything good in practise.

    Sometimes, pragmatism has to come first.

  • May 1st, 2020 @ 6:02pm

    (untitled comment)

    I don't know what the opposite of the Streisand Effect is, but it seems like Quibi is doing it's damnedest to find out. I honestly can't remember ever seeing any major venture work so hard to look like some kind of designed-to-fail tax dodge.

    Ads that avoid explaining what the product is, complete lockdown on all social media, content that needs to be watched at least two or three times to get the most out of it... hey, thanks Quibi, you've sold us a set of errands, delivered in the form of video landmine shrapnel - just what we all wanted!

    Evidently nobody's learned from similar past failures such as the various multi-angle DVD, satellite & cable services, most of VR's history, etc. If anyone misses Quibi after it goes under, just wait a while, I'm sure there'll be another dead-before-launch service coming along in just a year or two...

    Or you could just replay Quibi's content on YouTube, where most of it's content is more-or-less guaranteed to end up.

  • Apr 27th, 2020 @ 10:01pm

    (untitled comment)

    Looked at the links, including that very first blog post. Did people really call it "the hi-tech industry" back then? It all feels so charmingly young. :D

    Many congratulations, Mr Masnick.
    Onward to 100,000! Onward and upward! :)

  • Apr 22nd, 2020 @ 11:39am

    Update response

    Well, spank my poodle and call me Aunt Jebidisa! :D

    Mr Cushing, thank you for correcting the record. It's good to know the people I've put my faith in care enough about the truth to do this. I unreservedly tip my hat: huge respect to you, sir.

    I also apologise for my more inauspicious comments, in my exchange with the other commenter. I wanted to find out what kind of commenter he was, which worked, but my choice of words along the way was less than kind and too unfair to yourself and TechDirt.

    I'm sorry. I don't always mean to sound like I'm a drunken, abusive, rambling idiot, half the time, but I am, so that's the way it comes out. It's been a very long month, involving quite a lot of rather cheap whiskey. I'll try to do better, next time.

    Very well done for finding all those sources. I've just had another go and still can't find some of them through Google, even knowing what I'm looking for. Your research skills evidently vastly outstrip my own. I'm uncertain how you discovered Aberdeen's Evening Express newspaper, which I didn't know existed. I had somehow thought publisher D.C. Thomson went to the wall years ago - it's quite pleasing to see they're actually still around.

    Interestingly, the Guardian's article doesn't mention DEFRA at all, but the ICO (For those unaware, the Information Commissioner's Office handles registrations, inquiries, complaints and suchlike relating to the Data Protection Act). I would have thought DEFRA would have their own sub-department for handling things like this, but if they're yeeting all of the things to another government department entirely, it probably explains where the delay came from.

    It's still DEFRA's fault, since it's hardly the first emergency they've ever had to deal with - and with 3,500 employees they really should have staff for this - but it does at least make sense of the issue here.

    Once again, my unbounded thanks for the updated article.
    Stay safe, Mr Cushing. :)

  • Apr 19th, 2020 @ 7:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Alternative view

    How the scheme works, from DEFRA's website:

    We are also continuing to work to support those who have been identified by the NHS as clinically vulnerable people and are being asked to shield themselves at home but are in need of help with food supplies. If you received a letter from the NHS, registered on the Government website and requested essential food supplies, you will be eligible for a Government food parcel to be delivered to your home. Your information will be also be passed to food retailers to prioritise you for home delivery slots.

  • Apr 19th, 2020 @ 10:46am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: No.

    With that reply, your goal becomes all too clear. You carefully avoided all points of criticism with weight and substance in my earlier post, but you're more than happy to engage with the easier targets you're fed. Being truthful or helpful in any way is not what you care about here, you just want to argue for the sake of it, even if the conversation devolves into nonsense. I think you're just another troll, albeit a long-term troll with a username.

    You enjoy yourself, PaulIT. I've already said all I think needs saying. With a lot of luck, perhaps someone who genuinely values TechDirt will pay it some attention, maybe even be encouraged to speak up and complain, the next time we get an article like this one.

    Help yourself to the last word.
    Have a good one, PaulIT. :)

  • Apr 19th, 2020 @ 8:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: No.

    That's a no, then. Ah, well. At least I tried.

    "Do you really think that repeating my login makes your points any more important?"

    No, I just wanted to emphasise that I was talking directly to you, rather than being general. In the absence of your real name, a username will have to do. But, since you've already made up your mind to do the partisan thing and ignore bad work, rather than push TD to create something better, there was clearly no point, in hindsight.

    "[...] you acting like an asshole [...]"

    That's fair enough. /Mea culpa./ If you can think of a better way to tell an otherwise good person that they turn into racist dicks with certain topics, a way that's both kinder and more effective than mine, I'm absolutely all ears.

    "I don't think they will be swayed in any way whatsoever by any article written here [...] they just have a blog [...]"

    I think you're underestimating TechDirt. When the average mainstream journalist, or parliamentary civil servant, or EU member has to research a new technology topic, where do you think they go first? Some of them will have special advisors for the job, but most will do what the rest of us do: they'll Google it.

    Depending on what they're looking for, they wind up reading articles on Wikipedia, Ars Technica, TorrentFreak... and TechDirt. TD - and other sites - have a reach and an influence that can't be easily quantified, but I've no doubt it's there. Just the number of times it's been quoted on the BBC News website is good enough evidence for that.

    If TD weren't regarded as some kind of professional writers, worthy of some respect, the BBC wouldn't be quoting them like they're experts - and I certainly wouldn't be putting this much effort into their comment section.

    When random advisors poke around the internet for information on how GDPR is working out, I want them to find something better than this article.

  • Apr 19th, 2020 @ 4:16am

    Re: Re: No.

    Hello, PaulIT. :)

    As I understand it, we're still following the GDPR, but only of our own volition, as we're no longer legally accountable to the EU bodies that were previously responsible for enforcing EU-wide laws and regulations. Our government can change the rules whenever they have the time and inclination. Presumably, they're busy with something else, just at the moment.

    PaulIT, let me ask you something: you've been posting on TD's comment section a long time, probably far longer than I... when some policeman in the US decides that accurate warrants are too much effort and screws up a drug bust, child abuse conviction, or whatever... do you and I and TechDirt all call that a Fourth Amendment problem or a bad policing problem?

    Would TechDirt spend three paragraphs listing out all the problems the Fourth Amendment has allegedly caused in the past, followed by seven paragraphs of new material, where virtually every major sentence openly attacks the Amendment for causing the crime?

    Would they do that, PaulIT? Would you - or they - consider it fair and honest journalism, if they did?

    I love TechDirt. I've been reading it for years. I wear my Home Cooking t-shirt to work with great pride. Against that, I'm no big fan of the GDPR. It is ridiculously bureaucratic, problematic and poorly written, no question.

    But I'd be lying if I said I thought that mattered here. In all the years I've been reading, TD has almost never had a single good word to say about any legislation other than the US Constitution - and on the rare occasions when it has, it's usually lathered in so much hyperbolic, face-fanning incredulity they might as well not have bothered.

    PaulIT, do you think anyone in the EU will ever be encouraged to fix the GDPR by reading blatantly dishonest and prejudiced articles like this one? Shouldn't honesty and better speech be a thing, here of all places?

    We all have our failings. My own sins and prejudices are far worse, I'm sure. The right thing to do is to help each other overcome those flaws, if we can. Should you really be defending TechDirt - however lightly - when they're getting something badly wrong? Wouldn't it be better to help them improve?

    TechDirt can do better than this. They're professional journalists. They can fact-check their sources. They can learn the legal context. They can put their personal hostilities aside and be honest.

    But that will only happen if enough commenters like you and I put our hands up, call them on their mistakes and demand they tell the truth.

    Do what's right, PaulIT.

  • Apr 18th, 2020 @ 2:53pm

    No.

    The TD article is drawn from two highly dishonest articles published in the Telegraph, an overtly-xenophobic, anti-European, British newspaper. Once the political biases are boiled out a little, the underlying truth seems to be somewhat different.

    AFAICT, this is a complete non-story that no other UK publications seem to have covered, in the two weeks since the Telegraph originally manufactured it.

    Both the Telegraph and TD try to sell this as an EU problem, but this seems to actually be more of a UK-specific bureaucracy issue.

    Our Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) was supposed to give that big list to the UK's big-name supermarket chains - but someone obviously dragged their feet on the paperwork they were supposed to do first, causing a short delay.

    The Telegraph and TD spin this as being the fault of the GDPR, but under the UK's previous law - the Data Protection Act 1998 (variously amended) - the exact same legal obligations for personal information-handling were in place for at least a couple of decades, as far as I know.

    The Telegraph quotes a DEFRA spokesperson as saying “Subject to data protection agreements being in place, we expect this [lists] to be shared imminently.”

    Managing data-protection in this fashion has been a normal part of DEFRA's day-to-day business since it was founded. Any delay here isn't down to the GDPR, it's down to DEFRA not getting it's job done in timely fashion, for whatever reason.

    Any claim to the contrary is simply a lie.
    Par for the course for the Telegraph.
    Rather a crying shame for TechDirt.

  • Aug 14th, 2018 @ 4:47pm

    (untitled comment)

    Hmmm... yas.

    Hello, Mr Masnick. :)

    I don't agree with everything you say - spin is always spin, after all - but I can only very rarely fault TD when it comes to factual accuracy.

    I find TD to be a trustworthy source of information. Your approach works well, AFAICT. I tip my hat to you and your colleagues, sir. :)

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