Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Comment: Re:Don't worry, the RIAA owns Congress too (Score 2) 243

by TechnicalPenguin (#37099768) Attached to: Music Copyright War Looming

Expect "clarifications" to this law any day now--

They tried that about 11 years ago, as covered here, among other places.

The short version is that in November 1999, "the recording industry lobby quietly slipped a passage deep into the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act of 1999, that classified sound recordings as work for hire -- effectively preventing copyright from reverting to the artist after 35 years." The change was noticed, strong arguments were made against it, and the RIAA ended up reversing its position in August 2000. The Work Made for Hire and Copyright Corrections Act of 2000 reverted the change in September 2000.

Oddly enough, the supporters of the change back then insisted that this new language wasn't actually a "change" in the law, but merely a "clarification."

Comment: Re:nt (Score 1) 169

by TechnicalPenguin (#36908432) Attached to: Better Copyright Through Fair Use and Ponies

That particular lawsuit was not "McDonalds! Your coffee is hot!" so much as "McDonalds! Your coffee was hot enough to cause third-degree burns that required skin grafts to fix!" The person in question never asked for millions of dollars. She asked for $20,000 to pay her medical bills and only went to court when McDonalds insultingly offered her $800 instead. It was the jury who found McDonalds guilty and suggested a punitive damage award of $2.86 million (the amount of two days worth of coffee sales), but the trial judge refused that amount, reducing it to $640,000 instead. McDonalds then settled out of court for an undisclosed amount, but most likely less than the trial judge's amount.

In other words, this case was not as frivolous as it seems. McDonalds hadn't been merely serving their coffee hot, they'd been keeping it much hotter than normal to avoid having to brew up a fresh pot, despite receiving more than 700 complaints about this practice before this one 79-year-old woman tried to recoup the cost of her medical bills. An overzealous jury tried to make them pay a ridiculously high amount, but the trial judge overruled them, so McDonalds never had to pay out millions of dollars and, nowadays, makes better coffee (though that's probably unrelated).

Your larger point, that the risk of multi-million dollar awards for frivolous claims might lead corporations to settle up rather than go to court even when the claim against them is dubious at best, might be accurate. But, the McDonalds lawsuit is not a good example of that.

The lawyers are like gun runners, they sell the leverage to either side when it is cheaper to give in than to contest.

You're absolutely right, here. It works both ways. For example, look at the RIAA, RightHaven, and various patent trolls, using dubious claims to shake down companies and individuals who either can't afford to go to court or who don't want to risk the high cost of losing. Whether it's a person suing a corporation or a corporation suing an individual, no matter how ridiculous the claim, it can be much easier to pay up a smaller amount than to spend more than that on going to court and risk owing a much larger amount.

Comment: Re:Not Growth, not over population (Score 3, Informative) 477

by TechnicalPenguin (#36577248) Attached to: The Intentional Flooding of America's Heartland

From reading the article, it sounds like the major cause of the flooding was not using the flood controls in the dam system but rather releasing water at twice the previous rate (150,000 ft^3 verse a peak of 75,000ft^3) which was not planned for in the downstream levies.

The flood controls were used, but the system was overwhelmed with water. Extra water from melting snow and some ill-timed thunderstorms filled the reservoirs to capacity, forcing them to release more water more quickly than normal. This led to a sort of domino effect where downstream reservoirs would then have the same problem, with the same solution. They did try to hold back the water, if only to give people downstream time to prepare, but there was just too much water going into the system too fast and it eventually had to go somewhere just as fast.

Comment: Re:News Flash (Score 2) 477

by TechnicalPenguin (#36577148) Attached to: The Intentional Flooding of America's Heartland

You do realize that Minot, ND, is seeing water levels that are significantly higher than have ever been seen in recorded history. At one point, the prediction was that the city would be deluged with more than twice the amount of water than had ever been seen before. The city had infrastructure in place and has been successfully preventing floods for decades. The whole area was considered to be at such a low risk of flooding that flood insurance has not been required for over a decade and wouldn't cover what many people thought was the worst-case scenario: that if there was any flooding, water levels still wouldn't get any higher than their basements. (Flood insurance does not cover finished basements.)

The thing is, having this much water coming at us this quickly is extreme and completely unprecedented. This isn't some routine, annual event. There hasn't been a major flood here since 1969 and the city had infrastructure in place to handle even the best predictions for your so-called 100 year flood.

In other words: STFU. You don't know what you're talking about. And, frankly, it's insulting to the good people of this city to suggest that they should have somehow known that, one day, in their lifetime, the river would rise to historic, record-smashing levels beyond what anyone had ever seen before and that the system that's been working well for decades would be overwhelmed so spectacularly.

Comment: Re:It's easy to feel good about Apple's policies.. (Score 1) 422

by TechnicalPenguin (#32595182) Attached to: Apple Reverses Rejection of Ulysses Comic

It's Apple's product and Apple's store. The idea you can force a company to sell anything doesn't sound very cool to me. If you don't like that, you are free to choose a competing product or build one yourself.

The problem is not what Apple does or does not want to sell in their store. Apple is--and should be--free to choose what content to allow or not allow in their store. But, Apple should not get to choose what content to allow or not allow my device. Yes, Apple created this piece of hardware, but once they've sold it to me, I own it, not them. Therefore, I get to choose what content to store or not store on this device, not Apple.

The fundamental problem is that Apple has set up its store as the one and only store for these devices. Other stores are not allowed. By explicitly preventing me from accessing other sources for this content, Apple's decisions over the content in their store directly impacts the content available for me to load onto my device. If Apple wants to limit the content in their store, they should also allow other stores to exist. Conversely, if Apple wants to be the only store, they should allow all (legal) content into the store.

let me know when you open a store someplace so I can demand you sell my porn...otherwise I'll complain you are censoring my porn.

Let's use your example. Let's say I run a store that sells magazines and you want to sell pornographic magazines. One option is to sell your magazines in my store. Let's then say that I refuse to sell your magazines in my store. Now, the question is: Do you have another option? In the real world, you would have other options. You could sell your magazines in someone else's store. You could set up your own store and sell your magazines from there. You could stand out on a street corner and sell your magazines.

But, suppose my store is the only place that is legally allowed to sell magazines of any kind. In that case, if I refuse to sell your magazine, you have no other options. There are no other stores. You can't set up your own store. You can't sell these magazines on your own. You are out of luck. The people who want your magazines are out of luck. Because my store is the only legal source of magazines, my refusal to sell yours is tantamount to censorship.

That is the situation with Apple and its store. Because they are the only legal source for these apps, every refusal is, in effect, an act of censorship. It is censorship because Apple's denial does not just prevent an app from being sold in Apple's store, it prevents that app from being sold at all.

Comment: Re:It's the freeloaders time (Score 1) 1051

by TechnicalPenguin (#31403402) Attached to: Ars Technica Inveighs Against Ad Blocking

"not my problem", says a netizen who deprives a site of any source of revenue.

Blocking ads does not deprive a site of any source of revenue; at most, it limits the amount of revenue that can be generated from that one particular source of revenue. Advertising is not the only revenue model in existence; there are plenty of other models that can be used either instead of or in conjunction with advertising. If a website is not making enough money to cover the costs of creating its "quality content" using their existing set of revenue sources, then the people running the site need to look at what mix of revenue sources they are using, how well each one is working, and what other models might work for their site and for their content, then figure out how to better optimize that mix of sources to increase the amount of money coming in.

In this case, if advertising isn't bringing in enough money, the problem is not that ad blockers exist or that lots of people use them, the problem is that this site is relying too much on advertising to bring in more money than it is actually bringing in. Right now, advertising online is very hit-or-miss; it is not terribly well-defined or even well-understood (although it is often terrible). Over time, advertisers and web site owners and content producers will all gain a better understanding of what works and what doesn't for online advertising. Until then, instead of complaining about ad blockers, the people running this site need to change and adapt to the current realities, and then continue to change and adapt as those realities change.

Image

Best Man Rigs Newlyweds' Bed To Tweet During Sex 272

Posted by samzenpus
from the nice-feed dept.
When an UK man was asked to be the best man at a friend's wedding he agreed that he would not pull any pranks before or during the ceremony. Now the groom wishes he had extended the agreement to after the blessed occasion as well. The best man snuck into the newlyweds' house while they were away on their honeymoon and placed a pressure-sensitive device under their mattress. The device now automatically tweets when the couple have sex. The updates include the length of activity and how vigorous the act was on a scale of 1-10.

Comment: Re:Clear number 1 (Score 1) 163

by TechnicalPenguin (#29902507) Attached to: EFF Launches "Takedown Hall of Shame"

The DMCA does not mandate removal of allegedly infringing materials.

That depends on how you look at it.

If a takedown notice is sent, service providers do not have to comply . They can keep the materials online, provided they are willing to risk being found liable. [Emphasis changed]

That's the problem in a nutshell. There is no incentive for a service provider to even weigh that risk. If they simply remove any and all materials, regardless of the validity of the DMCA notice, they face no liability. If, however, they decide to not enforce even one notice, no matter how ridiculous that notice might be, they run the risk of being found liable not only for the material identified in that one notice, but for any and all materials for which they have never received any notice. So, under the DMCA "safe harbor" provision, service providers have a very strong incentive to comply with all DMCA notices regardless of merit. In fact, that incentive is strong enough that it is nearly indistinguishable from being mandatory.

Comment: Re:Sounds like someone is jealous (Score 1) 483

by TechnicalPenguin (#27249867) Attached to: Harlan Ellison Sues For "Star Trek" Episode
Actually, reading the other comments and such, it appears that he did "negotiate said type of contract back in the day." His contract (from 1967) says that he's supposed to get paid when certain types of derivative works are made. They made such derivative works, made lots of money, and didn't pay up. They refused to pay, his guild/union didn't help, so, he's suing them both to get the money that he (allegedly) is supposed to receive under this old contract.

Comment: Re:wow (Score 1) 483

by TechnicalPenguin (#27249059) Attached to: Harlan Ellison Sues For "Star Trek" Episode

I think 50 years from date of first publication is an adequate term for copyrights, and would support a scheme whereby they have to be renewed in order to stand after the first 25 years.

I would go one step further and suggest that the first term of copyright be reasonably short. Maybe something like 14 years or 20 years or, heck, even just 5 years! Then, let someone renew their copyright to get the maximum length and let them do that renewal at any time during that first term (including when the copyright is first registered).

That would sidestep the problem we had with renewals before, which was that if there was any disagreement over when something was published or created (in other words, when the copyright clock started ticking), a copyright holder could lose his or her (or its) copyright because the renewal didn't happen in the "right" year. And, it would let someone voluntarily eschew an extra-long copyright and let their work move into the public domain sooner than it would under the current system. That way, Disney (and other copyright-maximalists) could keep their copyright for the maximum length of time and everyone else could get back to the business of actually being creative.

Comment: Re:IMDB was up (Score 1) 430

by TechnicalPenguin (#26991131) Attached to: Jurassic Web

Probably the closest thing to "new" is P2P filesharing. And major companies want to crush it. So there's your proof. Corporations really do inhibit progress.

(Yes, I realize P2P networks existed well before Napster came along, but not in the same sense.)

To this day, I still believe that the RIAA really blew it in regards to the original Napster. They worked so hard to shut it down, when they should have been taking it over instead. With the central server, they could have had complete control over what songs were and were not available on the network, charged everyone a monthly fee (which several polls at the time suggested people were willing to pay) and maintain a stronghold on the distribution of music as we plodded along into the digital age. Instead, they took the Empire route: tightened their grip and watched the whole thing slip through their fingers.

Comment: Re:IMDB was up (Score 1) 430

by TechnicalPenguin (#26991015) Attached to: Jurassic Web

Sadly, GeoCities existed then, and even scarier is: it still does.

Even scarier than that: I'm currently updating a site that still lives on GeoCities and has since at least 1996. It even ranks high on a few Google searches, probably from the sheer tenacity of still existing (unchanged) for such a long time.

Genius is ten percent inspiration and fifty percent capital gains.

Working...