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Comment Re:good luck with that one... (Score 1) 153

It's a complicated relationship, with pros and cons. Certainly a lot of things get blamed on the EU without any rational justification. On the other hand, plenty of things also get blamed on the EU with some rational justification. There is one particularly evil political technique where something that would never get passed back home gets punted to the EU where it's relatively out of sight, and then comes back usually via a Directive a couple of years later, at which time the government can not only claim they have no choice about implementing it but also say they have no way to influence the details... even while their own representatives and allies within the EU were the ones pushing for the new measures in the first place.

Comment Re:Google's reply? (Score 1) 153

The better news sites do provide more detailed and well-informed content. Unfortunately, it turns out that many of their readers still have the attention span of a goldfish, and thus that their headlines and early commentary are disproportionately valuable to those readers, regardless of the quality or quantity of the additional work from the news reporters.

Comment Re:good luck with that one... (Score 1) 153

Well, I'm with you on that principle as well. I can't see how an alternative scheme such as you suggested could be workable in practice, but if you had proposed some reasonable power of recall I would probably have agreed.

Still, even without that, it helps if we at least elect people who might act in our interests in the first place. Until money is an acceptable substitute for votes, the voters still have all the power on that one if they only choose to use it.

Comment Re:good luck with that one... (Score 1) 153

Yes, because EU. The entire basis for this disagreement was whether or not the UK government was allowed to introduce a private copying exception of the form that it did given the EU rules. If the government were not constrained by the EU Directive, all the questions about whether any harm was de minimis and pricing-in and so on would be moot.

Comment Re:good luck with that one... (Score 1) 153

Well, yes. The official campaigns argued as if Brexit was only about immigration and the economy, but in reality I suspect a lot of people voted to leave on the basis of democratic deficit and sovereignty arguments, a belief that the EU shouldn't be used to override national laws in this way. And frankly, in this specific context, I think they are right.

Comment Re:Fair use (Score 1) 153

Small snippets are not considered copyright infringment.

That's not entirely accurate. For example, here in the UK, there is no specific minimum amount of material that has to be copied before copyright is infringed. Any work significant enough to be subject to copyright protection in the first place is also potentially subject to infringement.

As an aside, the AC you replied to was overstating the position of US fair use law as well. The amount of the work being copied is only one of the four factors that determine fair use, and again there is no specific minimum required for infringement. If the original publishers could demonstrate (and I'm not saying they can or should, but hypothetically) that the headlines or excerpts being copied by automated news aggregators represented a substantial part of the overall value of the original work, then that copying would not necessarily be fair use.

Comment Re:Google's reply? (Score 1) 153

Google got them by the balls. You hand out your snippets for free or nobody will see your page.

Maybe, but I'm not sure the news businesses don't have a point on this one.

News is very much about the headlines and near real time information. There are lots of real people doing real work to generate that information stream for readers/viewers, both at the news outlets themselves and via the agencies that are in turn paid substantial amounts of money by the news outlets. There is definitely a reasonable argument that automatically scraping the key information to republish on other sites is not transformative in any useful way and the freeloading does significantly compete with the original sources.

I'm also not sure Google really is doing those outlets much of a favour by listing them. I could name the web site for every major news source I read regularly without any help from Google, and I visit those sites via bookmarks or links from other sources, not via anyone's news search engine built on top of a scraper. Even if I were looking for something like a particular newspaper I don't read regularly, I'd probably only need a search engine to find its home page at most, not to republish its most valuable content in some derived format instead of just giving me the original source.

So I wonder whether the news businesses shouldn't just call Google's bluff on this one. If they all banded together and started marking their robots.txt files and such to make it clear that they didn't want anyone else republishing their material, I don't see they wouldn't have a reasonable case both ethically and legally against a news aggregator that was just scraping their content and then directly competing with them.

Comment Re:good luck with that one... (Score 1) 153

Buying laws only works because people fall for politicians' campaigning. Ultimately only the voters control who gets to make the laws, but as long as those voters pay as little attention to who they are electing as we (collectively) often do and believe the special-interest-funded campaigning as much as we (collectively) often do, the rot will continue.

Unfortunately, copyright is one of those issues that is just not that interesting to most people, as long as they can carry on ripping Game of Thrones and sharing their meme pictures and putting their wedding first dance video on YouTube without anything bad happening. Most people have probably never even heard of copyright law, and have no concept that the actions I just mentioned might even be illegal.

If people were actually penalised for infringing copyright, consistently and reliably, to the extent that the law in many places now permits, then those laws would be changed next week. But as long as they are only selectively enforced, and as long as only a few genuinely innocent people get totally screwed in places like the US because the legal system is stacked against them, it will fly under the radar and just be a tax on all of us for the benefit of the few huge rightsholders and distribution channels who are creaming off their cut of almost everything.

Comment Re:good luck with that one... (Score 3, Interesting) 153

Why does "copyright reform" always mean increasing copyright

It doesn't. Around two years ago, the UK government passed a law that created a private copying exception, thus finally legalising things like format shifting or using cloud services as long as someone had a legitimate personal copy and it was not being shared around.

Of course, less than a year later, that law was struck down after a judicial review, because EU.

And that wasn't an isolated incident, as we see here. The EU is fast turning into global enemy #1 for progressive copyright reform. It's a huge supporter of big rightsholders at the expense of everyone else.

Comment Re:It's hard to believe. (Score 2) 103

OP here.

An informative and considered contribution, for which I thank you.

But it [Wikipedia] isn't [reliable], not with the current editing policies. Something needs to be done.

I don't disagree with you - and I'm pretty careful to double-check Wikipedia stuff before relying on it. (I carry an archive with me currently comprising "37,276 items, totalling 56.2 GB" of peer-reviewed papers and books, for those months when I am at work and don't have more than a 9600bps Iridium link to the Internet, including the rest of my archive.)

However, having been signed up for Wikipedia's predecessor (in some senses - the line of descent is not simple), Nupedia, I wonder what your proposals for fixing the problems are. Other things have been tried, and the Wikipedia model, flawed though it is, has at least got copy out there.

Comment Re:It's hard to believe. (Score 1) 103

they just use it for metadata on locations

If that's the case, where did the screenshot of a "map pin" icon in the North Pacific come from. (Be careful if you allege image manipulation - El Reg has a .co.uk address which would mean that you're subject to UK libel law.) It's hard to see how that isn't using erroneous location data in some sense.

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