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Posted on Techdirt - 2 January 2022 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of 2021 At Techdirt

Happy new year, everyone! You know what time it is — time for our round-up of the top comments from all of 2021, based on user votes for Insightful and Funny. Plus, unlike past years where we featured a few outliers from the leaderboard of combined votes in both categories, this year there was absolutely no overlap for the second time — so we’ll be including all three of the comments from overall votes as well. Meanwhile, if you want to see this week’s winners, here’s first and second place for insightful, and first and second place for funny.

The Most Insightful Comments Of 2021

For our first place winner, we head back a few months to September, when GoDaddy reignited the debate over infrastructure-level content moderation by banning the snitch website brought into existence by Texas’s anti-abortion law. Naturally some more general points about the issue came up in the comments, including the perennial observation that pro-life movements often seem unconcerned about what happens to children once they’re actually born. That One Guy wins first place with a response to someone making this point, but in a way the real credit goes to the person being quoted:

A quote I ran across in a youtube comment section of all places sums it up nicely I’d say.

“The unborn are a convenient group of people to advocate for. They never make demands of you; they are morally uncomplicated, unlike the incarcerated, addicted, or the chronically poor; chy; unlike orphans, they don’t need money, education, or childcare; unlike aliens, they don’t bring all that racial, cultural, and religious baggage that you dislike; they allow you to feel good about yourself without any work at creating or maintaining relationships; and when they are born, you can forget about them, because they cease to be unborn…

You can love the unborn and advocate for them without substantially challenging your own wealth, power, or privilege, without re-imagining social structures, apologizing, or making reparations to anyone. They are, in short, the perfect people to love if you want to claim you love Jesus but actually dislike people who breathe.

Prisoners? Immigrants? The sick? The poor? Widows? Orphans? All the groups that are specifically mentioned in the Bible? They all get thrown under the bus for the unborn.

— Dr. Dave Barnhart, Christian Minister

For second place, we step just a bit further back to August, and our post about the Canadian government’s proposal for new (and terrible) legislation to combat “Online Harms”. Blake C. Stacey racked up the votes for second place by focusing on a point that the post didn’t dig into — the huge number of services covered by the expansive proposed language:

Through this framework, “Online Communications Services” (the government lists Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter as examples)

But it sure as hell isn’t limited to those examples. Quoting item 1(A).2:

The Act should define the term Online Communication Service (OCS) as a service that is accessible to persons in Canada, the primary purpose of which is to enable users of the service to communicate with other users of the service, over the internet.

That’s every forum, bulletin board, fediverse instance and comment section. Once again, lawmakers act as though Facebook is the Internet … and propose a regulatory regime under which it will be.

For third place, we jump back one more time to June, where a simple and utilitarian comment won the day. In our post about how bad patents get in the way of fun toys, we had originally been unable to find one particular patent filing — but samuelhopkins had better luck, and kindly provided the link:

found it

US10,850,205 – Marble track piece with triggered light and/or sound

And that’s all for the insightful side! Now, on to…

The Funniest Comments Of 2021

For the first place winner on the funny side, we head back to October, and the absurd fiasco of Missouri accusing journalists who exposed its huge security flub of “hacking”. Much of that accusation hinged on the notion that they “decoded” the HTML, which led Chris Brand to make the comment that won first place:


Is the ability to read so rare in Missouri that it gets called “decoding”?

This year, the second and third place winners both come from the same post in August, all about when Apple announced it would undermine its security in the name of protecting the children. An anonymous commenter (the first of several on this year’s leaderboards!) racked up the votes for second place with a stirring call to action:

Apple, Google, Facebook and their ilk are clearly not the ones at fault here. It is time we face the fact who our true enemies are: The Children. Techdirt, since time immemorial, have hinted at their ungodly powers to sway the will of the most powerful corporations and governments. We need to stop them.

Personally, I have never seen one of these little fuckers so I have no idea how we can defeat them but we have to try.

Because if we don’t, then… The Children have already won.

In third place, it’s a different anonymous commenter on that post, this time with a quick reply to someone else’s comment. I’ll leave you to deduce, or click through and find out, what they were responding to:


And that’s it for the funnies! But we’re not done yet…

The Top Comments Of 2021 For Insightful & Funny Votes Combined

As noted, there was no overlap between the two individual category winners and the winners on the leaderboard for the combination of Insightful and Funny votes. This happened once before in 2019, but this time we’re going to go ahead and feature all three of the combined winners in full. In first place, it’s Bloof on our January post about social media trails making it easy to identify people who stormed the Capitol, with a comment about the incident in general:

Voter fraud that only happened in the parts of the ballots and the states that went against Trump, not the house and senate races where an unassailable democratic majority would be incredibly useful, only the top ticket featuring a massively unpopular republican candidate. Voter fraud so cunning that it only happened in cities filled with minorities among whom Trump is about as beloved as porcupine skin toilet paper. Voter fraud so cunning it somehow managed to happen in places where republicans controlled the elections. Voter fraud so cunning the Trump team have been unable to present any evidence of it whatsoever and had their legal teams back down the moment any judged asked them for actual proof because they don’t fancy parroting the same lies they vomit on TV in a place where there’ll be consequences for lying. Voter fraud so cunning that republican donors are suing the groups they funded that claimed they’re able to prove it happened, for not being, in fact, able to prove anything. Voter fraud so cunning even the most hyper partisan right wing ‘news’ outlets like Fox and Newsmax issued on multiple on air retractions the moment the election machine companies got the lawyers involved because their stories were based on 4chan posts and the say so of the son of the guy who runs notorious pedophile and Qanon hangout, 8kun.

They have no evidence, there is no evidence, it did not happen and screaming and committing acts of terrorism will not make your far right fever dreams of fraud and persecution into a reality. They had ample opportunity to present evidence in front of friendly TV hosts like Tucker Carlson, as well as judge after judge after judge, some of which were appointed by Trump himself and they showed nothing and their cases were rejected every single time.

It is clear to everyone with even a lick of common sense that the people parroting these lies are so full of sh*t even the Trump gutted EPA would consider them for a potential superfund site.

In second place, it’s an anonymous commenter on our post in February about Tennessee politicians asking colleges to forbid students from kneeling during the national anthem, with a comment about some people’s concepts of freedom:

“The flag represents freedom…No, not that freedom…No, not that one either…Okay, okay. The flag represents our freedom to tell you what to do when you participate in our most holy religion: college sportsball.”

Finally, in third place, it’s one more anonymous commenter, this time on our July post about a judge ordering the removal of “Fuck Biden” lawn signs. The comment is a simple callback to a rather similar legal decision that demonstrated a much better understanding of free speech:

Fuck cheer

And with that, we’re all done for 2021. A huge thanks to all our commenters, who keep supplying great material for these weekly and yearly posts — keep it coming in 2022!

Posted on Techdirt - 1 January 2022 @ 10:00am

Gaming Like It's 1926: Join The Fourth Annual Public Domain Game Jam

Gaming Like It’s 1926: The Public Domain Game Jam

Happy new year everyone — and happy public domain day! That’s right: as of today, works from 1926 are now officially in the public domain in the US, and that means it’s time for the latest public domain game jam: Gaming Like It’s 1926, presented by Techdirt and Randy Lubin of Diegetic Games. Just like in past years, we’re calling on game designers of all stripes and levels of experience to create games that make use of, or are based on, material from newly-public-domain works. The jam starts today and runs until the end of the month: just sign up for the jam on itch.io and submit your game by January 31st.

As always, the jam is open to both digital and analog games (be sure to read over the full requirements on the jam page). There are lots of interesting works entering the public domain this year, including:

  • Novels, short stories, and poems by Agatha Christie, Ernest Hemingway, Langston Hughes, T. E. Lawrence, A. A. Milne, and Dorothy Parker
  • Art by Alexander Calder, Hannah Höch, Frieda Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe, René Magritte, and Norman Rockwell
  • Films including silents Beau Jest and The General plus the first feature length Vitaphone films with Don Juan and The Better ‘Ole
  • Music by Louis Armstrong, Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Al Jolson, Jelly Roll Morton, Victoria Spivey, and Sophie Tucker

There are also some great resources out there for digging through the many works you could draw on. We recommend Duke University’s overview and the Public Domain Review’s countdown.

At the end, we’ll be choosing winners in six categories:

  • Best Analog Game
  • Best Digital Game
  • Best adaptation of a 1926 work
  • Best remixing of multiple sources (at least one has to be from 1926)
  • Best “Deep Cut” (use of a work not listed on any of the roundup articles)
  • Best Visuals

And those winners will each get to choose one of our great prizes:

If you’re new to the jam, you might want to check out the winners of past jams focusing on works from 1923, 1924 and 1925 for inspiration. Whether you’re an experienced game designer or just someone who wants to try their hand at the craft, we encourage you to join the jam and start working on your game! The submissions in past years have been truly amazing, and we can’t wait to see what you come up with this time around.

Posted on Techdirt - 26 December 2021 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is PaulT with a comment in a thread that tangentially devolved into antivaxxer nonsense:

These guys don’t believe in actual freedom, they believe in the adolescent idea of freedom without consequence or responsibility. They should be able to do anything they want to do, no matter the cost or restriction to you that happen in the process. Simply asking them to be responsible is a violation of their rights in their minds.

One of the sad things about the modern world is the realisation as to how few people apparently managed to enter the adult would without emotionally or mentally progressing past puberty. It’s just especially sad in this case because had they been responsible and not spent the last 18 months whining about basic healthcare guidelines, a lot more people would be alive now.

In second place, it’s Kat from Creative Commons dropping by to comment on our post about copyleft trolls:

CC resources

I will note that CC is aware of the issue though our power to address it is limited!

We published some Enforcement Principles recently that we hope will both be adopted by media-sharing platforms and used as an interpretation guide: https://creativecommons.org/license-enforcement/enforcement-principles/

And in general are working on more resources for both creators and reusers to increase understanding and help solve disputes: https://creativecommons.org/license-enforcement/

For editor’s choice on the insightful side, we start out with Arijirija‘s comment about vaccine patents:

Big problem here

Jonas Salk didn’t patent the polio vaccine. Polio is now extinct. Humanity, 1; polio, 0.

Moderna is trying to patent something it developed with taxpayer money, and with government agency help. Quite apart from the very bad taste that leaves in my mouth – I do try to keep my mouth shut, FYI – that amongst other things, means that the technology is not going to be as available as it should be, so the coronavirus is going to have plenty of major-sized reservoirs in which to mutate. Moderna’s in this for the long haul, obviously – they want to continue this blood-sucking policy for as long as they can screw the money out of the market – assuming that there will be a market in the long run, after all!

That is going to cost everybody quite a lot, and not just in monetary terms. If more variants like omicron turn up with the same long-term disabilities of the original “long covid”, taxpayers won’t be able to continue paying – there’ll be a lot more deaths from preventable subsidiary conditions and situations such as irreversible poverty and exposure to the elements.

“Bail up! Stand and deliver! Your money or your life!” is not a fitting motto for a company manufacturing medical supplies. But Moderna appears to have adopted it.

Next, it’s Thad responding to the claim that last year’s Texas power failures were caused by recent efforts to make the grid more environmentally friendly and the state never had these issues before:

That’s a weird thing to lie about in front of a bunch of people who know how to use search engines.

A Guide to the 2011 Texas Blackouts

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is That One Guy with a response to the long list of claims in Alex Berenson’s lawsuit against Twitter:

‘It’s nor RI- oh, you missed that one somehow.’

That’s disappointing, he was on such a roll of fail I was sure he’d smuggle an accusation of a RICO violation in there.

In second place, it’s Eldakka calling out a typo in that post, in which we referred to “a Berenson”:

There are other Berenson’s out there?

Fuck me.

For editor’s choice on the funny side, we start by heading back to the post about Moderna’s patents, where an anonymous commenter responded to our use of Jonas Salk’s famous words — “would you patent the sun?”:

Mike are you seriously trying to suggest that some of these IP maximalists wouldn’t try to patent the sun (if they thought they could get away with it, and enforce it)?

Finally, it’s one more comment from Arijirija, this time in response to the ruling allowing a case to move forward over cops destroying someone’s home to apprehend a fugitive:

minds boggle

“It is unreasonable for the City to suggest the Department officers stormed Baker’s house, broke the windows, knocked down the garage door, rammed down the backyard fence with a tank-like vehicle, and fired dozens of explosive tear gas cannisters into the home without a degree of certainty that such actions would cause damage to the property.”

Does this city administration believe and claim that police officers – who are after all supposed to be tasked with protecting property amongst other things – of a suitably mature age, can doubt that smashing in windows causes property damage? Or firing explosive tear gas canisters into such a house, wouldn’t necessarily cause property damage?

I have a Brooklyn Bridge I am itching to sell to a suitable purchaser. Could these officers please forward their details to me, so I can finalize the sale to them? They can be also buy some nice Everglade properties – formerly owned by some nice Nigerian dictators now passed on – if they so desire. And I would love to meet them – I have never met anyone with “Yesterday” on their Birth Certificate’s Date Of Birth Entry before.

That’s all for this week, folks!

Posted on Techdirt - 19 December 2021 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

This week, both our winners on the insightful side come in response to our post about a cop being smacked down by the court for framing people. In first place, it’s That Anonymous Coward with the second comment on the post:

“Even if this precedent did not exist, the court says the due process violations are so blindingly obvious that there’s no plausible excuse for the detectives’ actions.”

And yet, we’ve seen many of them get away with this and worse because no one ever fully explained murdering someone in cold blood for contempt of cop is wrong.

Justice is blind, deaf, & dumb.
How many more railroaded citizens before we consider perhaps that sometimes the “good guys” are cheating?
How many more times can a court not hear how outrageous a cops actions were & still find QI?
How many rights violations can be accepted before we call the whole damn thing dumb & demand it change?

In second place, it’s That One Guy an hour earlier with the first comment on the post:

An argument that should never have even been thought of

While it’s good that the court got one of the most blindingly obvious questions right it’s all sorts of disturbing and indicative of how bad the system is that the argument was even raised in the first place.

‘It hasn’t been specifically made clear that framing someone for a crime they didn’t commit and costing them twenty-five years of their life’ should have been seen as such an insanely bad argument that it never even occurred to them, that it did and they tried it shows just how horrible QI is and how it’s become the go-to to defend cops for the most heinous of actions.

Hopefully the scum that framed the guy end up in a cell themselves for a few decades, really let them see what they so callously inflicted on another and send the message that such behavior is not in any way acceptable.

For editor’s choice on the insightful side, we start out with a comment from Bob Buttons on our post about all the people saying net neutrality must not have mattered because the internet hasn’t exploded:

NN didn’t ruin the internet either.

Even if you accept their flawed premise, they also claimed NN would kill the internet when it first got enacted, which it didn’t. So according to them, we might as well have it since that’s good enough reason apparently.

Next, it’s an anonymous comment on our post about the “birds aren’t real” phenomenon:

Most of the time, a person’s ability to see through conspiracy theories is directly proportional to their desire to see through them.

In other words, people believe what they want to believe.

Over on the funny side, both our winners come in response to our post about the FAA limiting 5G over unsubstantiated safety concerns. In first place, it’s hij with the joke that was sitting there for the taking:

If they are so concerned about 5G then how come they let me on a plane even though I have been vaccinated?

In second place, it’s Coyne Tibbets with a reply to that comment, connecting that joke to another:


Also: Birds aren’t real.

For editor’s choice on the funny side, we’ll start out with one more callback to the same thing, this time from kallethen on our post about the supposed viral school shooting challenge on TikTok:

I bet the TikTok was posted by one of those bird drones.

Finally, we loop back to the “birds aren’t real” post itself where Arijirija had a thought on the premise that kids aren’t so susceptible to conspiracy theories:

Kids Aren’t Real! They’re just a figment of your imagination ….

That’s all for this week, folks!

Posted on Techdirt - 18 December 2021 @ 12:30pm

This Week In Techdirt History: December 12th – 18th

Five Years Ago

This week in 2016, calls were continuing for the outgoing Obama administration to save the CIA torture report from being buried, while the White House agreed to preserve but not declassify it and at least one copy was preserved in Obama’s archives. Facebook was announcing new measures to deal with disinformation while Iran was using the “fake news” scare to justify widespread censorship. Ajit Pai made it clear that net neutrality was on the way out while Tom Wheeler resigned rather than stay on as a commissioner. Meanwhile, after so many years of the Prenda saga, John Steele and Paul Hansmeier were indicted and arrested.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2011, Rupert Murdoch was personally lobbying for SOPA (as were sixteen former Judiciary Committee staff thanks to the revolving door) while RIAA boss Cary Sherman was defending it in the New York Times and MPAA boss Chris Dodd was getting desperate. Lamar Smith released an updated version of the bill that was still a disaster for cybersecurity (among other things) and even snuck in a new private right of action for shutting down sites. A nearly-twelve-hour markup session was a fiasco, and we also heard the first murmurs about a Wikipedia blackout in protest. Also, this was the week that Mike published his 40,000th Techdirt post.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2006, we saw an overbearing proposal to protect kids online while Germany was considering an insanely draconian law to punish creators and players of violent video games and a Japanese court issued a worrying ruling about liability for software makers. It was becoming increasingly clear that the Zune would not be a hit, and people were starting to realize that Second Life might not be as big a hit as the hype implied. The rumors about Apple’s mysterious “iPhone” were joined by more dubious rumors of an Apple MVNO to sell mobile service directly. And major labels were ignoring the demand for DRM-free music while Bill Gates was admitting DRM was broken, though not doing anything about it.

Posted on Techdirt - 12 December 2021 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

This week, three out of our four winners come from our post about Rep. Thomas Massie skipping past the First Amendment and blocking people for their responses to his gun-laden tweet celebrating the Second Amendment with insulting timing. In first place on the insightful side, it’s Rocky responding to the claim from another commenter that Usenet groups don’t moderate posts like social media platforms, and it works out fine:

You never have run an usenet-server, have you? What groups you see on most usenet-servers is what the server-admin allows you to see, nothing more.

The whole “post what you want and say what you want” are the rallying cry for those who lack discretion. If I’m reading a group about dust mites in upper Conservatoria I don’t want the asshats to pollute it with their “post what you want and say what you want” that’s totally off topic.

That you see less spam/trolls can be because the server you are using doesn’t feed from the server those people are using or that some admin has squelched those users.

And in regards to major web platforms turning into censorious asshats, none of my friends on the internet have ever had their posts “censored”. The point you are totally missing is that a majority people doesn’t want to see spam and assholes filling their feed and they don’t want to do judicious application of filters – they expect it just to work.

You and others blame the social platforms for their moderation decisions, but policies regarding moderation isn’t birthed in a vacuum, a majority of the decision regarding their policies are a response to what the trolls and asshats do, so blame them – the real culprits.

TL;DR: We can’t have nice things because of the assholes.

In second place, it’s an anonymous response to someone defending the original tweet on the basis that it was reasonable because “the world is not safe”:

The world is safe enough to where I have lived in 3 different states, traveled to 45 out of 50 states, and lived overseas in Europe for several years, all without needing a single weapon, let alone an arsenal. Oh, and I am close to hitting that half-century mark in age.

So please tell me, what ‘shithole’ country do you live in where you need an arsenal of weapons just to feel “safe” from the world?

For editor’s choice on the insightful side, we start out with a comment from James Burkhardt responding to the “evidence” (an offhand tweet about Sinclair Broadcasting’s license renewal) that Gigi Sohn wants to censor conservatives:

The FCC has legal power to issue and renew broadcast licenses, specifically any carrier, like Sinclair, that uses public spectrum to broadcast OTA Television. There would be valid reasons the FCC might not renew a license.

Therefore, the question must be asked why gigi sohn made this comment. I notice you didn’t cite a date, so we can not know how old this comment is or look up context. Responses to events from 10 years ago may not reflect current views, or that comment may be made in response to real world events that provide reasonable context. Therefore, I will assume your omission of the critical date and context data is intended to hide the reason Gigi is making this comment. (An ‘Adverse inference’)

In 2018, Trump-nominated FCC chair Ajit Pai referred the Sinclair-Tribute merger to an Administrative Law judge after it was revealed that Sinclair might be seeking to use a dummy shell corporation to skirt ownership limitations in violation of the law. Tribune later sued Sinclair over their clandestine behavior.

Gigi Sohn at the time gave an interview to The Hill and provided this qutoe:

“I think Sinclair has been disingenuous about divestitures for months now,” Gigi Sohn, who served as an adviser to Democratic former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, told The Hill in an interview. “I think the last filing didn’t satisfy anybody that Sinclair wasn’t going to still have some control over these stations.”

Her tweet was completely in line with that conclusion. When renewing broadcast licenses, the FCC should consider if Sinclair was being disingenuous, make a finding considering if Sinclair was intentionally lying about its intentions or if Sinclair was merely forging ahead unaware of the consequences of its proposed restructuring. And if that investigation finds intentional malfeasance, Sinclair should be at risk of losing its broadcast privileges.

None of this has to do with censorship of on-air content. It has to do with the content of filings made to the government, and potential lies made therein.

Next, it’s an anonymous comment about the vague insistence that “something must be done” to regulate the news media:

“We should start discussing this” and “we need media regulation” is the same line of thinking that gets us “if those nerds would just need harder we could safely backdoor all encryption”. The problem is fundamental to the premise: when you put someone in control of a system you necessarily enforce corruption of the system. The corruption doesn’t become a possibility, it becomes a command as certain as gravity. For better or for worse, government is the corruption we do together. It is the freedoms we choose to give up and the rights we give away to enforce some (supposedly) acceptable level of corruption so that the caveman from the next cave over doesn’t do us even worse. Speech should be left free because the caveman next door cannot hurt you with his words, whatever they may be. If the NYT says something wrong, they should be called out on it. We need free speech to ensure that people always can, because if/when the powers are allowed to choose who can speak who do you think they will choose? You, or the NYT?

Over on the funny side, we head back to the post about Rep. Massie for our first place winner — Samuel Abram with a comment on his selective respect for constitutional amendments:

Maybe Massie likes his Amendments like he likes his Star Trek movies.

In second place, it’s Derek Kerton with a comment about Devin Nunes joining Trump’s social network:


Nah, he’s just going to Truth Social to lure @DevinCow into opening an account…so he can finally get the IPs, etc, and see who TF it is!!

Beware, cow. That grass isn’t greener!

OTOH, this allows the rest of us to create a Spartacus moment over at Truth:
I’m Devincow.
No, I’m Devincow.
I’m DevinsCows.
No, I’m DevinsCow.

For editor’s choice on the funny side, we start out with one more comment from that post, this time from Baron von Robber:

Nunes will run the Ministry of Rumination & Silly Lolsuits for Trump.

And finally, we head back to the Massie post one more time for a comment from MightyMetricBatman:

Since Representative Massie only believes in even numbered amendments, Biden should house some troops in Representative Massie’s home.

That’s all for this week, folks!

Posted on Techdirt - 11 December 2021 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: December 5th – 11th

Five Years Ago

This week in 2016, we got a good example of how “just metadata” could still be dangerous, the FBI was smacked down for using outdated boilerplate on a National Security Letter, and a bunch of online platforms made a terrible agreement to block “terrorist content”. A shortsighted newspaper association was asking Trump to whittle down fair use, congress was beginning to consider a new round of terrible copyright reform, and Rep. Marsha Blackburn said ISPs have an “obligation” to block “fake news”. We also took a look at all the terrible trade deals floating around, and asked if there’s a better way to do them.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2011, we learned more about how much big media firms were donating to the sponsors of SOPA and PIPA, while the bills were leading to internal fights at various organizations: Kaspersky left the BSA over its initial support of SOPA, and the American Bar Association was warring with itself over its position. We wrote about other realms of collateral damage from the bills like people with disabilities and human rights groups, and about how the arguments from supporters made no sense. A more reasonable (though not perfect) alternative proposal was, as expected, totally hated by the SOPA brigade and continued trying desperately to buy “grassroots” support. And we were very much not shocked when two congressional staffers who helped write SOPA and PIPA became entertainment industry lobbyists.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2006, a judge ruled that it was legal for the FBI to spy on people using the microphones in their phones. Countries around the world began reacting to YouTube, with Japan’s entertainment industry demanding an end to unauthorized uploads while Iran decided to just block the entire site outright. Tracfone was freaking out about the DMCA anti-circumvention exception for unlocking mobile phones even though it was hardly a big deal. Meanwhile, in the UK, an impressively balanced report on intellectual property sparked the expected backlash, with a group of 4,000 musicians signing a petition calling for “fair play” that didn’t sound too fair — and then it turned out that the list of signatures included several from dead musicians.

Posted on Techdirt - 7 December 2021 @ 01:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 308: Getting Out Of Control

Our lives are lived at the intersection of vast systems (economic, technological, and beyond) that are incredibly complex and often chaotic, and it’s hard to understand and embrace what author Neil Chilson’s new book, Getting Out Of Control, calls “the emergent mindset.” On this week’s episode, Neil joins us to discuss his book and why you can’t simply “control” complex systems.

Follow the Techdirt Podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe via Apple Podcasts, or grab the RSS feed. You can also keep up with all the latest episodes right here on Techdirt.

Posted on Techdirt - 5 December 2021 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

This week, we’ve got a lot of commonalities among the winners. Both top comments on both sides are very similar responses to the same thing! On the insightful side, both winners come from our post about how the FBI showing up at a journalist’s door is intimidation, and both are replies to someone who questioned this assertion. In first place, it’s an anonymous response:

Normally, if you wanted to talk to a journalist (or literally anyone else) about their job, you would call/email them at their place of employment and request a meeting.

Showing up randomly at their house instead says that
1) the government considers this a matter for their private, rather than professional, identity (or at least, wishes it to appear that their private life is on the hook) and
2) that the government considers this concerning enough to require disseminating their personal address to an unknown number of law enforcement personnel, who may or may not have been told anything other than “this person is of interest to the FBI.”

Do you think it would equally as un-intimidating if a couple men showed up at the local prosecutor’s home to ask some questions about the upcoming trial of Al Capone? After all, they left when requested and didn’t contact him again.

In second place, it’s TKnarr with another take on the same reply:

How would you feel if, out of the blue, a couple of big, muscular guys in biker leathers and dark glasses showed up on your doorstep wanting to talk to you about some work your employer was having you do and the vendors you were working with? They want names, phone numbers, contract details, delivery dates, all kinds of things they have no business asking about but are asking about anyway, and even if they aren’t breaking out the baseball bats yet they’re being really really insistent about you answering their questions.

For editor’s choice on the insightful side, we start out with a reply from John Roddy to someone continuing to harp on the nonexistent publisher-platform dichotomy:

The only person claiming that social media companies don’t editorialize is YOU. THEY are telling the courts that they do. And the courts are confirming that it is their right. Not because of 230, but because of 1A.

Next, it’s Eric Goldman with a comment about the silly anti-buying-bot bill:

Wil Congress ever learn?

Five years ago, Congress enacted the BOTS Act to target event ticket sniping. The FTC has brought a grand total of 1 BOTS Act enforcement action since then, yet I doubt anyone feels like event ticket sniping is fixed. So why would Congress think an anti-toy sniping law will fare any better?

Over on the funny side, both winners are similar jokes in response to our post about how Josh Hawley thinks Twitter should be broken up. BernardoVerda took first place:

Typo in the headline

Josh Hawley doesn’t ‘think’.

In second place, it’s David with his own version:

“Josh Hawley Thinks”

Found the mistake.

A talent for finding words resonating with an outrage-steered crowd is more instinct than thought. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be wary of catching rabies.

For editor’s choice on the funny side, we start out with a Simpsons reference in an anonymous response to a prolific commenter’s confusing and unhinged free speech rant:

Principal koby : Why, there are no children here at the 1A Club either. Am I so out of touch?

No. It’s the courts who are wrong.

Finally, it’s Rocky on our post about the revelation that the Missouri government knew journalists were not at fault in its data security fiasco, calling back to an earlier exchange:

Now I’ll just wait for tp to come here and apologize for how wrong he was.

Oh wait, Satan just called and said that Hell isn’t due to freeze over anytime soon…

That’s all for this week, folks!

Posted on Techdirt - 4 December 2021 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: November 28th – December 4th

Five Years Ago

This week in 2016, Trump’s telecom adviser was saying he wanted to dismantle the FCC because broadband monopolies aren’t real — while Trump was appointing a third anti-net neutrality advisor to his team, Wall Street was dreaming of megamergers under his administration, and AT&T was showing everyone what the death of net neutrality would look like. Meanwhile, folks were lining up to seek action from Obama in his final days, with congressional staffers who reined in 1970s surveillance calling on him to pardon Ed Snowden, Dianne Feinstein asking him to declassify the CIA torture report, and the Senate Intelligence Committee seeking the declassification of evidence of Russian election interference.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2011, the SOPA fight continued. The mainstream press started to step up in opposition, with the NY Times, LA Times and Wall Street Journal all publishing pieces against the bill. Another DNS provider came out against it, as did educators who were worried about its impact on education. On the other side, an ex-RIAA boss was ignoring all criticism and claiming complaints are just attempts to justify stealing, the MPAA was offering false concessions, NBC Universal was threatening partners to get their support, and a highly questionable “consumer” group released an extremely misleading report claiming the public liked SOPA. Meanwhile, at least one court was acting like it was already law.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2006, the explosion of online video was leading to all sorts of misplaced blame for various issues (including lock picking apparently) while Disney was complaining that notice-and-takedown was too burdensome and Google was trying to pay off big entertainment companies to leave YouTube alone. Legal questions around embedding infringing content were heating up as well. Meanwhile, the RIAA finally succeeded in getting the US to pressure Russia into shutting down Allofmp3, the UK decided against extending copyright terms, and an appeals court held up yet another ruling that states can’t ban video games.

More posts from Leigh Beadon >>