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Comment Re:Trade secrets are worse than patents (Score 2, Interesting) 250

HFT is already pretty exclusionary, so I'm not sure that's the real issue.

Also, barring a screw-up at the PTO, you'd have to actually be ahead of the curve on HFT techniques and would only get a monopoly on those advances - not on anything necessary to doing HFT today.

And given the short expected lifetime of an HFT algorithm (particularly if one is optimistic enough to hope that the practice might become illegal in the near future) I'm not sure you'd want to invest in a patent, whereas protecting a trade secret is actually made easier if the time horizon is short.

Comment Re:Unfair advantage (Score 4, Insightful) 250

I keep hearing that "anyone" can do this. Please point me to where I can sign up to collocate my server with the market computers - because that is actually necessary to set up an effective HFT system.

The ability of an elite few to buy access to information about the value of an item, when that information is unavailable to others with whom they will buy and sell that item, is a violation of free market premises.

Much of what the SEC regulations do is to produce a free market. This is what many political pundits fail to understand - the "free" in free market does not mean "unregulated". The best regulatory approach in the world would never create a 100% ideal free market - money will always be able to buy research - but there's a difference between "not being able to produce a perfectly flat playing field" vs. "allowing people to artificially create an information assymetry, with the express purpose of taking profits from those on the other side of the field, with an insanely high barrier to entry for those who want to join you". HFT is the latter.

HFT is a practice that should be regulated out of existence.

Comment Re:Western Electric Hearing Aid ca. 1925 (Score 1) 685

Why the person she's conversing with is invisible? Quick top 3 possibilities:

1) She's talking to herself
2) The person is behind her or otherwise out of view
3) She, and all the extras, are just wandering around chattering to produce the illusion of a background crowd, and it happens she moved into a position where the illusion breaks down if you focus on her

Comment Re:OK, I'll bite. (Score 3, Insightful) 685

Maybe it's not a cell phone as we know it. Maybe it allows communication through time. Maybe it isn't about time travel at all, but was an alien communicating with the mother ship.

Or maybe the story is bs, and either the video was manipulated, you're not seeing what you think you see, or the guy was immitating "talking on a phone" with a small, boxy object that happened to be in reach (either for reasons you'd have to be in his converation to know, or because he's nuts). For that matter, maybe he was holding something cold to a bruise on the side of his head while takling to the person next to him.

Even for Idle this is silly.

Comment Re:Prime Directive! (Score 2, Insightful) 685

How do you know? Maybe without his involvement the Depression would've played out differently. Maybe he set events in motion that changed the outcome of WWII so that the Allies would win. Could've changed anything or everything; it's not like any of us would "remember" how it was "supposed to be".

Actually, if he was so open about using anachronistic technology that he got caught on film on a movie set, I'd say he did a pretty piss poor job with the whole 'leaving no trace' thing.

Comment Re:Clueless (Score 1) 549

Web site access controls are not the same thing as DRM. For a web site to use DRM, it would need your browser's cooperation to control what you do with the content once you have access to it. A web site could use either, both, or neither. Traditionally you would expect /. to complain if a web site does use DRM; but it is not inconsistent for /. to complain if a web site expects to be paid when not using access controls.

(Under current law the web site may prevail, but that's a different issue.)

Some differences to think about between DRM and access controls:

1) DRM doesn't work. Access controls do, and in fact other news sites use them with considerable success. Yes, many of us avoid those sites in favor of free information sources when they are available; but that's a flaw with using access controls foolishly, not a flaw with the concept of access controls.

2) DRM often prevents you from doing things you should be allowed to do; it's hard to argue that about access controls.

3) Access controls can keep you from inadvertantly breaking rules; DRM rarely serves that purpose. This pertains to the current story, because if I write a deep link into these jerks' content, and you follow that link, it's your IP that's going to show up in their logs.

Comment Re:Clueless (Score 1) 549

There are a lot of misconceptions about what's required for a contract; other posters have spelled out some of that.

However, the way this agreement is presented doesn't offer an opportunity to negotiate, so it could be a contract of adhesion (which would not be enforcable).

But then again, they're probably not resting on contract law; they're probably claiming that the agreement sets the terms of a license under copyright, and I don't need much of anything to hold you to a license under copyright. If you say "but I didn't agree", then I say "exactly, so you had no license; and yet you copied the materials illegally".

The problem IMO is that the law doesn't set intuitive standards for the licensing of materials published on the web. If I got to write the law, publishing material on the web without access controls would constitute a blanket license to view (but not necessarily save or print) said material to the extent the person publishing the material has the right or authorization to publish it. (Saving/printing wouldn't be authorized, but would probably fall under fair use.) This is the common expectation about the web today, but I'm not aware of any legal recognition of it, and unscrupulous sites could try to take advantage of that.

But then IANAL.

Comment Re:This just in. (Score 1) 398

I have no real opinion on the "Internet kill switch" issue, but this kind of nonsense argument just can't go unchallenged, so...

Hey, you know, I bet you'd get a low rate of agreement on this one too:

"Do you support the president having the authority to launch nuclear missiles in response to unfavorable comments by foreign leaders?"

Oh, but both my question and yours are loaded with misleading and biasing rationales for granting the president authority, aren't they?

Could the President abuse "kill switch" authority? Sure, just like the president can abuse many of the powers he has. If he does, he should be punished accordingly; but that it could happen is not an automatic reason to avoid giving him authority. That is the nature of a position of trust.

And while I'm guessing you'll retort that you think the potential abuses really are the reason the government wants this authority, I highly doubt it. It's not very useful. Casual use of this power would lack plausible deniability and on a political scale would be right up there with nuking a political opponent.

Comment Re:Who cares? (Score 1) 617

"Then the same rules should apply to an individual who has access to union dues."

I've not commented on whether unions should be able to make campaign contributions. The topic is corporations.

"... its assets are held to be used only in acceptable ways to advance that purpose,

That's your opinion, but not the law. I suggest you contact Ben and Jerry's and tell them that their donations to civic causes are not allowed because they do not fall within the scope of "ice cream business"."

Can you quote Ben and Jerry's purpose as stated in their corporate bylaws? I bet you can't. I also bet the phrase "ice cream business" doesn't appear in there anywhere.

So setting your non sequitur aside, no it isn't "my opinion", it's a fact of law and has been enforced in the past by shareholder lawsuits.

A corporation does typcially have a certain amount of lattitude. Charitable efforts, to the extent that they don't financially cripple the company's direct efforts towards its state purpose, are generally accepted as an attempt to support the business through PR and buliding good will.

And certainly it is true that campaign contributions can support a corporation's mission; hence the importance of the other fact you seem to mistakenly believe is my opinion:

"... and the government has every right and interest in constraining what ways are acceptable.

Again, your opinion. In my opinion, the government has no right, and indeed no Constitutional authority, to tell me that I cannot spend the corporate assets of a company I own in any way I see fit"

Nonsense. Let's start with the obvious: the executivies making decisions about campaign contributions do not "own" their respective corporations.

Second, what you're claiming is that if you contribute some of your assets into a corporation, you should get all of the benefits the government offers you as part of that deal but should still have full personal control of your assets, which is bs on its face.

The authority the government has to regulate a corporation's actions (above and beyond those of individuals) comes from the deal that a group of individuals made with the government in forming the corporation; those are the costs for liablity shields, special tax treatment, etc. without which those corporate assets (which are not the same thing as your assets even if you "own" the company) would never have been amassed.

Comment Re:Wait! Don't tech companies love Big Brother? (Score 1) 171

You claim it violates the intent or wording of the Constitution, but can you provide a citation? Or is that just your opinion?

I only ask because a lot of people (myself among them) think you're wrong, so you might want to provide some factual basis for your claim. Note that I have provided a citation for my position, that being a long history of decisions by the courts who are, in fact, an authority on the matter considerably higher than "slashdot user Chaos Incarnate". For a start, they've actually studied the intent of the clause.

Comment Re:Who cares? (Score 2, Insightful) 617

You're resting on the assumption that all groupings of people are created equal. I'm not sure I agree with that.

A corporation is given specific benefits and expected to abide by specific rules. It does not transiently acqurie all the rights or responsibilities of the indivuals who make it up, and in particular an individual's right to expression cannot be exercised by leveraging corporate assets to which he or she might have access.

Each corporation has a stated purpose for existing (though typically the founders keep this as broad as is legally acceptable), its assets are held to be used only in acceptable ways to advance that purpose, and the government has every right and interest in constraining what ways are acceptable.

Comment Re:Wait! Don't tech companies love Big Brother? (Score 2, Informative) 171

Use taxes don't violate the Interstate Commerce clause. Not even Amazon claims that. Here is a pretty good explanation of how state taxes interact with the Interstate Commerce clause. Note that a tax is illegal only if it discriminates against Interstate Commerce, and particularly note the heading Discriminatory Taxes May Be Valid as Complementary Taxes.

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