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Comment Re:Seems fairly cut and dried (Score 1) 229

I can easily see it resulting in the complete dissolution of copyrightable open source, simply by labeling each individual transmission of the work a so-called "private production" or whatever is necessary to somehow make it inapplicable to being an infringement.

Performing a work privately isn't infringing, because the exclusive right of performance under section 106 only applies to public performances. However, unlike the GPL, this does not 'infect' the work or any instance of the work. Copyright applies to the work as much as it ever did. Therefore, if you privately perform a work, by, for example, watching it on TV, you cannot make a copy of it, distribute copies of it, or make derivative works based upon it. There might be a fair use exception to certain acts depending on the circumstances (e.g. copying a work by recording it on a DVR, whether this is done at home or remotely over a network), but fair use can apply to any kind of use to any kind of work, so long as the use is fair. There's nothing special that a holding against Aereo would do vis a vis fair use and its applicability to open source software.

You're worried about things that have no chance of happening, possibly due to ignorance of US copyright law. It's not just making a mountain out of a molehill. You're making a mountain out of sheer imagination; there's no molehill or any other thing to enlarge in the first place.

Submission + - Stuffed Animals Riding to Their Slaughter (

Okian Warrior writes: A disturbing delivery truck is currently roaming the streets of New York City, showing cuddly farmyard animals being sent to the slaughterhouse. Banksy's super adorable but horribly sad "Sirens of the Lambs" also – in pure Banksy form – makes a social commentary about the horrors of the livestock industry. All types of animals (cows, pics, chickens, ducks, lambs and even a panda) can be seen protruding from the “Farm Fresh Meats” truck, presumably on the way to the slaughterhouse. Some of the creatures move their heads and “cry out” for help, attracting the attention of people on the street.

Comment Trust Rain Man (Score 5, Interesting) 152

This is no surprise really. Who would you trust to program a computer in charge of your life?

You trust a true nerd: Someone who is obsessive about correctness, some distance down the Asperger's spectrum, and who's convinced that the consequences of having a bug are their fault. Hygiene and dress-code are secondary.

I used to code aircraft avionics software (microcontroller stuff for altimeters, airspeed, cabin pressurization, &c). Some of my avionics-related courses asked "are you willing to be the first passenger in an aircraft running this software? raise your hand", and typically mine was the only hand showing.

There's a mindset for making safety-certified software, and not everyone has it. Most people rationalize doing a poor job by denying responsibility: the boss told them to do it, they have to feed their family, everyone else does it, and so on and so on. It's the mindset that allows the NSA get away with rights violations: no one takes responsibility at any level.

A true nerd is a little like Rain Man, and will feel responsible for accidents that happen because of his mistakes. In my mind it feels like walking a tightrope over a canyon with no net - I'm always scared of screwing up and I have this mental image of screaming people plunging to their doom. I'm not making this up, the image sometimes pops into my mind while I'm on a project.

I don't trust my coding skills, of course: there has to be a QA department with testers going over the code, proper paper trails and procedures, independent customer testing, and management that cares about quality. With all this, it still takes courage for me to work on an aircraft project.

I've met people who do and others who do not have this mindset. One FAA engineer (DER - Designated Engineer Responsible) asked about whether using a 1-byte code checksum (at startup, to verify code integrity) was sufficient and maybe 2-bytes would be safer, and *nothing else* about the project. A 2nd FAA engineer tested the system through literally all the specifications, verifying that the product did what it was supposed to do. As uncomfortable as the 2nd DER was making management, I'd much rather work with him: he understands what's at stake.

I don't think it's a case of trusting Google over Ford, or even an application company versus a car company. It's the mindset of the people making the product, and the level to which they feel responsible for the final product. It's only a little bit the mindset of management.

tl;dr: It's not the type of company, it's the type of individuals who make the product.

Submission + - Scientific American censors blog post for not being scientific enough 2

rogue-girl writes: The popular science magazine 'Scientific American' is getting hard time after it removed a blog post by contributor DNLee, blogging at Urban Scientist. DNLee's post discussed integrity in science and misconduct from science communicators. DNLee has been approached by BiologyOnline staff Ofek who invited her to contribute. When DNLee asked for compensation details and learned she'd be writing for free, she kindly turned down the offer. In response, Ofek called her a "whore". DNLee wrote a post on her Scientific American blog, but the post was removed. It also appears that Biology Online is SciAm's partner, but SciAm's editor in chief Mariette di Christina claimed the partnership has nothing to do with the removal, but pulling it down is due to insufficient scientific content. DNLee's original post has been reposted here, and a Storify with (outraged) reactions is also available.

Comment Re:Seems fairly cut and dried (Score 1) 229

When you are doing "private performances" for anyone among the general public who is interested in seeing them, the argument that the performance is still "private" becomes pretty tenuous. This is an absurd abuse of a technicality in how the law happens to be worded

How the law is worded is crucially important. Otherwise, why bother?

The wording at issue is:

To perform ... a work âoepubliclyâ meansâ"
(1) to perform ... it at a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered; or
(2) to transmit or otherwise communicate a performance ... of the work to a place specified by clause (1) or to the public, by means of any device or process, whether the members of the public capable of receiving the performance ... receive it in the same place or in separate places and at the same time or at different times.

Aereo isn't performing at a place at all, so part one is out. This is aimed more at, for example, a bar that has a TV set, or a movie theater.

For part 2, their transmission isn't to the public, because they don't make one master transmission. Instead they make individualized transmissions to each customer, each a separate performance, from each customer's separate antenna or each customer's separate DVR'ed copy made from that separate antenna. The nature of the transmission recipient is important, because to ignore it would be to ignore the plain language of the statute that says "to transmit ... to the public." The nature of the transmission is important, because to ignore that would be to ignore the plain language of the statute that says "a performance ... of the work," which isn't the same thing as agglutinating all performances.

completely defies the intent behind it

Congress is of course free to change the law, if the courts have gotten it wrong. But the letter of the law controls, with intent only being instructive in the case of the letter being unclear. It's not particularly unclear here, it's just something that people hadn't really thought of before.

I sincerely hope the supreme court slaps this one down.

I sincerely hope the Supreme Court does a good job of interpreting the law. I don't want a particular side to win or lose, I want the law to be upheld, whatever it is. It's not for the Court to decide this as a matter of policy. Your comment betrays your partisanship, but you really ought to take that to Congress instead.

And now your disinterest in reading the opinion becomes clear; you've made up your mind and don't care about honestly looking at counter arguments and possibly revising your opinion.

Comment Re:Seems fairly cut and dried (Score 1) 229

It could be problematic if the supreme court agrees.... as a precedent, it could effectively spell the end of open source works that are still protected by copyright law... the argument being that if something is being made freely available and in the clear, anyone who can legally receive it is free to do whatever they want with it, including things that would otherwise be copyright infringement.

That's not the argument.

The argument is that in the US, copyright only prohibits certain things (most of which, you can find at 17 USC 106). The one which is relevant for Aereo is that public performances are protected by copyright, but private performances are not. By breaking apart their infrastructure as they have, Aereo claims that it is engaged in the business of private performances (because each user has their own private antenna, their own private copies of shows, all sent to them alone, not shared with anyone by Aereo).

This really has no effect on the GPL one way or another, as there are separate exclusive rights under section 106 for making and distributing copies, and making derivatives. Those are the things that tend to matter for GPL purposes.

Go read the previously linked-to opinion, please. Your misconceptions are not helping at all.

Comment Re:Hmmm I wonder... (Score 1) 229

FCC requires cable operators to rebroadcast local OTA stations, but they have to pay for that.

As I understand it, they're not required to carry them and pay. The broadcaster has a choice between required carriage for free, or optional carriage for pay. But non-local channels cannot be substituted for local ones; thus if a cable company won't pay a local broadcaster which is a network affiliate, and which demands to be paid, that network drops off of cable. We saw this earlier in the year with Time Warner Cable and CBS (and its affiliates).

Comment Re:Seems fairly cut and dried (Score 1) 229

if Aereo is rebroadcasting the signal, the fact that it's OTA doesn't change anything... it's copyright infringement, plain and simple

How then, do you explain three separate federal courts finding that Aereo is likely not infringing? If it was plain and simple, it seems unlikely that they'd miss it.

Take a look at the opinion from the Second Circuit that came out in the spring.You'll see that what it hinges on is not whether there was a transmission, but to whom Aereo's transmission was aimed.

Comment Re:So thats how long it takes... (Score 1) 229

Now they do, but they didn't originally. Cable TV appeared around 1950 or a little earlier. The law that obligates cable providers to pay broadcasters to carry their signal (unless the broadcaster demands to be carried, in which case it's free) is from 1992. If we were to wait until 2055 before making Aereo pay broadcasters, I bet Aereo would be okay with that.

Comment Re:Rights? (Score 1) 229

This company has obviously been set up to exploit a supposed "loophole" in copyright law, without really understanding that copyright doesn't have "loopholes" since loopholes are designed to be self-defeating as copyright law is flexible based on the LEMON TEST (look it up) not some "fixed rules."

There is no common law federal copyright in the US for published works. This was established long, long ago. Copyright on published works can only arise through federal law, and statutes aren't all that flexible.

I'd agree that there aren't loopholes, but only in the sense that there are almost never loopholes in any law; what people perceive as loopholes are usually disconnects between their mental models of what the law ought to do and how it ought to work, and the reality of what the law actually does and how it really works. The things called loopholes are often deliberately designed features, and not just to help out clever bad actors. (Though there are some of those)

And the only Lemon test I know of is from Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971). It's a First Amendment establishment clause case which found that Pennsylvania's subsidies to secular teachers in religious schools violated the First Amendment. The test is basically as follows:

In order to avoid infringing on the First Amendment, the government must act for secular purposes, must not have the primary effect of either helping or harming religion, and must not become entangled in religious matters.

I'll be damned if I see how this is helpful in a copyright case, but maybe you'd like to explain it to us.

of course, this being a slashdot comment thread, as usual there will be a litany of people who misunderstand how copyright law is actually supposed to work.

You've proven this point very well, thanks.

Comment Re:Rights? (Score 1) 229

Aereo has no right to profit from the significant money spent and effort made to deliver the broadcast signals in the first place. Not without compensation.

Why not? Merely because someone spends money and effort to do something doesn't mean that they're entitled to absolute control over it.

If I put a lot of money and effort into improving my house and the lot it sits on, that increases the value of neighboring properties to some extent. But I'm not entitled to a cut, when my neighbor sells his house for more than he would've gotten, had I not done anything.

Hell, you might as well say that the school in the state I grew up ought to get a share of the money I make now, far away in a different state, because I wouldn't have my current job had I never learned to read and write.

Things just don't work this way.

Submission + - NY Comic Con Takes Over Attendees' Twitter Accounts to Praise Itself (

Okian Warrior writes: Attendees to this year’s New York Comic Con convention were allowed to pre-register their RFID-enabled badges online and connect their social media profiles to their badges — something, the NYCC registration site explained, that would make the “NYCC experience 100x cooler! For realz.”

Most attendees didn’t expect “100x cooler” to translate into “we’ll post spam in your feed as soon as the RFID badge senses that you’ve entered the show", but that seems to be what happened.

Comment Re:Queue The Anarchist & Druggie Comments In.. (Score 1) 318

Oh really? When someone quits tobacco, alcohol, or caffeine do they exhibit physical withdrawal symptoms such as agitation, anxiety, muscle aches, Increased tearing, Insomnia, runny nose, sweating, yawning, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, dilated pupils, goose bumps, nausea, and vomiting? Nope, they only get that with heroin. Nicotine, alcohol, and caffeine are not nearly as physically addictive as any opiate or cocaine.

While it's true the physical withdrawal symptoms of heroin are pretty bad, that's not actually a good indicator of the addictiveness. People don't (only) fail to quit or avoid quitting a substance because they can't handle the withdrawal, they do so because they 'feel they need' the substance - that's what addiction is.

That aside, these other substances aren't without their withdrawal symptoms as well:

  • - Tobacco withdrawal can cause constipation, depression, sleep difficulties, and energy loss.
  • - Caffeine withdrawal is pretty mild in general, but can include headaches, depression, anxiety, nausea, vomiting and muscle pain. I've experienced this first hand, going from a regular habit of 20 strong cups of coffee per day to zero (I later resumed at around 4 to 5 mild cups per day). The initial symptoms were very unpleasant and lasted around two days, with minor symptoms continuing for around another week after that. The worst part was the intense cravings for coffee, which I didn't expect (far worse than my cigarette cravings when I quit smoking, which themselves were pretty bad).
  • - Alcohol is the worst of the three by far. Withdrawal for a serious alcoholic can include hallucinations, anxiety, shakiness, seizures and delirium tremens (DTs). DTs are characterised by fever, rapid heartbeat and severe confusion. They can be fatal (estimated 1% to 5% of cases). Alcohol withdrawal for a serious alcoholic can be as bad or worse than heroin withdrawal for many junkies.

Also note that the symptoms you listed for heroin withdrawal are 'worst case' - not everyone goes through that, just as many alcoholics can quit without all of the nasty symptoms I just listed.

Comment Re:Shoot first (Score 1) 871

Well hearsay applies to police statements as well; a lot of statements contained in police reports, for example, are inadmissible hearsay, though prosecutors sometimes try to get them in. The system is generally loaded against the innocent, though, simply because of the usual disparity in resources between the state and the defendant (though not always).

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