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Comment Re:They advertised it as unlimited (Score 1) 622

Certainly the restaurants have the golden seat in the legal wrangling here -- filing false advertising charges requires lawyers and paperwork and bullshit while calling the cops takes one phone call, but since the cops didn't magically appear the second the diner left the building, its still the restaurant having to follow up (and even if they do, I can imagine how quick the cops will be to respond to a $15 dine and dash, so chance are the restaurant would just forget about it and try to remember to not let you in again if you for some reason decide to show back up in future.)

All of that is somewhat beside the point though -- the point of my post isn't the repercussions but the fact that the parent poster's sister was wronged, in some small way, and society just ignores it because fighting it would be a frustrating uphill battle (that you might not even win if the judge happened to be a moron that day) and for most people, it just isn't worth the cost in time, dollars, headaches or pretty much any other currency.

Comment Re:No more PS4, cuz terrorists. (Score 2) 275

They probably did use a PS4. And WhatsApp. And Snapchat. And IRC. And every other common communications tool. Because for all of their deranged ideologies, terrorists aren't (as a generalized group) completely moronic. They'll use whatever happens to suit their needs best at the time and they'll change their methods as the world changes around them.

Somehow block them from WhatsApp? They'll use Snapchat. Block them from Snapchat? They'll embed steganographic messages on Imgur. Block that they'll do something else.

Put back doors into your encryption? They'll use a tool that doesn't do that. Shutdown a website they use? They'll use another one.

The whole concept of shutting things down to stop information flow on the internet is just balls ass backward in every single context. The RIAA and MPAA have been fighting that battle since before 9/11 made this something even worth talking about.

Installing hidden back doors isn't a bad idea in theory, but they have to remain hidden. Permanently. As soon as anyone unauthorized knows about them, they'll be found and exploited immediately.

Computer systems aren't like the force -- there's no inherent "light" and "dark" sides. They work for anyone who uses them, no matter how good or evil the user's intent so as long as any communication tools exist or can be created, they will inherently be possible tools for terrorist communications.

The sooner lawmakers realize that the sooner we can stop creating stupid laws that hurt law-abiding citizens with minimal or no effect on their intended targets, and start considering how to create laws that might actually be useful.

Comment Re:They advertised it as unlimited (Score 2) 622

Not when they understand its limited and communal resource that they are being given unmetered access to.

Your argument just collapsed. Average people know exactly sweet fuck all about how these things work. Even most technical people don't know the details of how ISP equipment runs.

What we do know is that we haven't been charged per minute for our phone service or TV service for the past hundred years like the British have so why should the interwebs be any different? The internet comes to us through the exact same wires as our telephone and/or cable TV.

Its only bait and switch if they change the terms or product on you.

They did change the terms of the contract. Just as we're not all data center engineers, we're also not all contract lawyers and even if we bothered reading the fine print (which is unlikely,) most of us won't be able to spot the loopholes and predict all of the consequences. The fact that they retain the right to change the terms somewhere deep in their 47 pages of legal bullshit (that you can't read until you've already signed up, since they're certainly not printing all that so you need to look it up online!) means they're still changing the terms.

especially since only a tiny fraction would elect not to renew service under the new offer anyway.

Actually, a large fraction would elect to go to a competitor -- if there was one. This kind of bullshit tactic only works when you have a monopoly (or small oligopoly) in your market and your customers only have the choice of sucking up your bullshit or going without entirely, and the internet is a service that isn't practical to go without for the vast majority of people.

Should she have sued them?

No, but she could have. That's false advertising.

For damages? What damages?

And that's why they get away with this kind of shit. Its not worth it to stop them. You'd have to be on one hell of a personal crusade to invest lawsuit-level money over a couple of pieces of fish.

But just because something isn't worth the cost of fighting, doesn't magically make it right. The restaurant is still absolutely in the wrong in this instance and your sister has all cause to be pissed off at them. But unlike ISPs, restaurants have huge amounts of competition in most areas (even if you ignore cooking for yourself) so your sister can certainly choose not to go to that particular restaurant again.

Or if she's the kind of person that doesn't mind confrontation she could just choose not to pay since they didn't uphold their end of the bargain, or pay a fraction based on how many more pieces of fish she figures she would have eaten had she been allowed, or whatever. Now its up to the restaurant to decide whether its worth pursuing the issue.

Comment Re:How can there be? (Score 1) 622

Sorry, their shitty business model and deceptive marketing are their own damned problems.

Yes, and now they're working to correct that problem. They have no incentive to consult their customers since they (mostly) have zero competition.

That said, this is pretty much bullshit smoke and mirrors anyway. The cost to those companies of moving bits around is negligible (even if they bitch about border transit costs, all of the major ISPs are peered making that near-zero as well.) The equipment maintenance where the real money gets sunk would need to be done regardless of caps since that's mostly driven by maximum instantaneous usage rather than total usage over time.

And unlimited service plans certainly CAN work. Your local telephone system has been operating that way for decades (well in the US and Canada anyway) without any serious downside. Sure they've probably sat there wishing they'd thought to charge by the minute when they first set up, but its not like they're on the verge of bankruptcy.

Remember, even the best "unlimited" plan isn't actually unlimited. Its max bits/second * #seconds in your measurement period. If you're running a reasonably high end 100mbps connection, you simply can't consume more than about 1TB per day even if you're maxing out your bandwidth 24/7. Which is a right fuckload to be sure, but its not "unlimited." Device capabilities provide a pretty hard limit, marketing BS or not.

Comment Re:Some basic rules (Score 4, Informative) 373

The fallacy here is that we're all low-value targets. Those ads you're avoiding are costing something tenths or hundredths of a penny. They really don't give a crap if a handful of people ignore them or try to game it or whatever.

All this shit is based on scale. If they advertise to 1,000,000 people and only 0.1% even pay any attention, that's still 1,000 people viewing their products and likely 10 or 20 that buy something -- which more than recoups the cost of those 999,000 "wasted" ads.

Tack on to that the fact that your connections and other such metadata are just as important as your browsing history. If they notice you've been looking at cars for example, they might send ads to your wife with more "girly" models or something.

You can go ahead and do everything in your power to reduce the visible impact to yourself (adblock and such) but don't mistake that for being immune to the disease -- you're only hiding the most obvious results of the data collection, not stopping the collection itself.

The only way to avoid all of these privacy breaches is stop using technology. Of any kind. No bank cards, no credit cards, no grocery store discount cards, no accounts on any websites. Hell probably don't even want an internet connection since that IP address is traceable in theory. Perhaps if you take a laptop with you and only use free public wifi and remember to re-image the device between usages so there's no possibility of leftover tracking data.. then maybe you can do something in near-complete privacy. Oh. And you probably shouldn't have any friends either in case they decide to post something about you on their wall/blog/whatever.

Comment Re:I don't think it will mean much (Score 1) 203

being required to take over in the event of an emergency

Emergencies are when the cars are most likely to NOT want the meatsock taking over. People are really really bad at making decisions while panicked. Pretty much anything the software can do to minimize impact in the case of emergency is likely going to be a smarter idea than what 95% of the population would do, even if they were in active control and alert the entire time.

The type of things that would likely be passed to manual control would be "we've arrived at the mall parking lot and I'm not going to even attempt navigating that shit." Times when its not likely to make a lot of difference whether the real person takes 5-10 seconds to get their shit together and take control.

Comment Re:I don't think it will mean much (Score 1) 203

Volvo (the driver) is liable

There's trickiness to that statement. In particular, keeping up proper maintenance on your car is fairly important in order to keep things running optimally.

Presumably if Volvo (or Google or whoever) is willing to take on this liability, they're probably fairly confident in their sensors being able to detect anything too far out of whack and prevent the car from moving until its repaired (or at least shut off the auto-driving software along with a clause that their liability only covers times that its on.. which will likely be the case anyway because dumb people are dumb even if they keep their car in tip top condition.)

But it still leaves the question a little bit open.. driver claims he did everything right and it was the sensor that failed vs Volvo claiming the guy's an idiot and their car worked fine and so forth. Its not quite as cut-and-dry as it appears on the surface, and of course Volvo will almost certainly be looking for any possible loophole to get themselves out of any liability that could theoretically arise.

Comment Re:Easy to do when backed by the PRC (Score 1) 203

Things may change in 20, 30 or 50 years but at the moment, China would have to have their back right up against a wall before starting a war with the US. They might have superior manpower but that only helps if they can get their guys armed and on the ground, and much of modern warfare is fought in the air these days where the US still reigns supreme for the moment.

And of course, cutting ties with your biggest trading partner is never good for the economy.

I could see China letting NK off the hook in order to destabilize the region and see what they can claim of the fallout.. but it would likely be a bit of a last-resort since the US would back whoever NK attacks (most likely SK but with a strong possibility of Japan) and China would be hard-pressed to take that fight.. so releasing their hold on NK would effectively be equivalent to just letting it go and hoping the pieces fall in their favor after everything is said and done (which they might.. I mean if NK doesn't get annexed by somebody after such a war, China's still their best bet for a friend, even if the US forces in an ostensibly "democratic" government.)

Comment Re:Stronger IP protections (Score 1) 278

whether or not copyrights can be transferred or even made public at all

Perhaps, but all of the big publishers (and presumably the smaller ones) are certainly acting like they own the copyrights. It'd be nice for such a debate to fall in the favor of artists but I'm not holding my breath until I see it written into law.
I guess many of the contracts are probably written up as "exclusive, indefinite, unlimited, transferable, other lawyery words" usage rather than a true sale, but the effect is the same -- the artist is not allowed to use or re-license his copyright anywhere else even if you want to claim he still "owns" it.

you may be thinking of the automated Content ID tool


when a DMCA notice is sent infringing works get taken down

The "when" aspect is the tricky one. I'm sure Youtube and whoever will rapidly take things down (as they're legally obliged to do) once the claim has been received.. but jumping through the hoops to get it to them and how long it takes them to process the claims.. hopefully I've only heard the horror stories and it mostly goes smoother than that..

mockbuster industry, which pretty much knocks any arguments about the suppression of derivative works

Again, I'll believe it when I see it challenged legally. There's a huge difference between "not worth enforcing my copyright" and "my copyright is unenforceable." I'm going to guess pretty much all of these fall under the first category since its not worth risking a definitive judgement on the second category (fair use and all) for the kind of piddly dollar amounts mockbusters generally make. If one of those manages to become super famous and rakes in enough $bigmillions for Sony or Disney or whoever to go after them then we might get a solid answer. Until then though, I wouldn't say their mere existence in itself necessarily means much.

most artists who've put a lot of time and effort into their work get pretty riled when someone starts sharing their for-profit work for free

As well they should. I never claimed they liked it. I just claimed that many of them would still continue creating regardless (perhaps at a lower output for the few who can currently fully live off their art and would otherwise need to get a side job, but still.) There's a very large distinction between those points. Hell a lot of artists already create works with no expectation of financial reward because even with strong laws, there's just not always money in doing what you love.

Don't get me wrong.. I'm absolutely for protecting artists and their works. I'm just not convinced that the heavily corporately-leaning DMCA and similar laws is the best way to do so. I'm sure there's some good parts of the DMCA (that nobody talks about because who bitches about things they like?) but the bad parts are.. not always in the artists favor, or even aiming for the wider benefit to society. Of course IANAL so I can judge based on 2nd hand information put out by people who are smarter than me but I've never seen a whole lot of praise for the DMCA, except that coming from the MPAA, RIAA and similar corporate behemoths.

Comment Re:In favor (Score 1) 278

it has some leaked aspects that I think are truly terrible, such as the intellectual freedom troubles

This is why "trade" agreements are reviled by default these days. They have a couple of chapters regarding trade and a dozen chapters dedicated to screwing country's national laws.

Basically every "trade" agreement since the DMCA came to be in the US has included a chapter essentially trying to force DMCA-like rules on other countries (even trade agreements that the US isn't a part of such as the Canada-EU CETA!)

And that's just IP. There are other issues such as dismantling environmental protections that get similar treatment but aren't really related to "trade" beyond "screwing you over makes me more money without pissing off my own citizens!"

Start making trade agreements about trade again and people will start respecting them again.

Comment Re:Stronger IP protections (Score 1) 278

the two are mutually exclusive


Everything you write, you have immediate copyright protections on

Until you sign a deal with a publishing company. An "independent" publishing company is just one that have the clout of the big guys. It means the author/artist can potentially get a less lop-sided deal, but at the end of the day their copyright is still being signed over to a company and no longer owned by themselves.

And if you go truly independent (as in, publish your own work,) and you find a copyright infringement.. you now have to somehow come up with the time (and potentially money) to fight for it.

Remember that most of the big companies like Youtube have fast-track takedown policy for "trusted" publishers but an individual trying to get something taken down has a hell of a lot more trouble.

And of course those "trusted" publishers aren't above abusing the fuck out of their power to take down things that they either don't own the copyright to or is being used under a fair use exclusion -- because its also a PITA for an individual to get something reinstated once its been taken down.

have you noticed a decrease or an increase in creative output

Definitely an increase, but I'd say that has far more to do with the rise of internet distribution channels than it does to do with stricter copyright laws. Artists tend to make art and want people to see/hear it regardless of anything else. Sure they'd love to make a living from it but many if not most of them would still produce new works without financial incentive. Internet distribution means they now have an opportunity to distribute that work to a wider audience but again, a lot would do so regardless of whether or not they make money from it (and even with the stronger copyrights, there's a lot of people who post Youtube videos and fanfics and whatever other creative endeavors without any expectation of compensation. They just do it because they love it.)

Basically at the end of the day the problem isn't with the text of the laws -- taken at face value they're a benefit to all artists. The problem is enforcement and in particular the fact that the people who are in most need of stronger protections are the people who can least afford to have them enforced.

Its great for your musician buddy to think anyone who steals his work is going to jail now that copyright infringement is a criminal offense.. its quite another for him to make that happen when someone does steal his work.

So we end up with a law that's only really beneficial to artists on paper and not in reality, while at the same time effectively criminalizing a large percentage of the population. The only winners are the large companies that can actually afford to enforce their copyrights. Which they always could do but now they have a bigger stick.

Comment Re:I'm all for trade deals (Score 1) 278

Not likely to happen.

What typically happens is that instead of reducing everyone's wages to a competitive level, you just lay off or outsource a bunch of people and the ones that remain keep their normal wages (with probably a higher workload to compensate but that's another story.)

So what you generally get is higher unemployment rather than lower wages. Of course the average still goes down, but any specific wage typically doesn't (well maybe a little bit, but certainly not the drastic decline needed to match the offshore country.)

Especially true when minimum wages exist (ie: most places in the developed world) and companies are simply not legally allowed to drop the wages below a certain point for any labor they can't offshore.

Look at Detroit if you want to see this in action, where the auto industry bailed to Mexico a few decades ago. The city still hasn't even come close to recovering. But the people who are employed aren't earning that much less than other places around the country. Just that a lot of people (a quick Googling showed nearly 25%!) aren't employed.

Comment Re:ITT (Score 1) 278

the right thing is hard to do is an argument against doing it

No, but being actually incapable of doing the right thing is a good argument for whining loud enough that maybe somebody with the power to do it will hear you.

elect people that would promise to reverse citizen's united

And which people are those? If nobody on the ballot makes such a promise, you're going to have a hard time voting for them. See my previous point.

really our biggest enemy is acceptance and cynicism

I agree with that, but accepting that you can't change something and accepting that you can't change it on your own are two different things. And the only way you're going to get help is by yelling loud enough for someone else to hear you.

Also keep in mind that it doesn't take 300million people to make a change. It takes one person with the courage and more importantly, the charisma, to get 300million people to say "me too!" There aren't a whole lot of people who can fill that role, but you really only need one or two to make change happen.

you will see this mentality in many comments in this thread and other threads

And which jurisdiction are you on the ballot for? I'm all for you spouting off and trying to make your point, but you should maybe dial back the call-outs unless you're literally doing this yourself.. looks a bit hypocritical otherwise! (And if you are doing this yourself then power to you! Should drop your name and electoral area and try to collect a few extra votes!)

Diplomacy is the art of saying "nice doggy" until you can find a rock.