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Comment Re:good luck with that one... (Score 2) 156

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) 156

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) 156

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) 156

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) 156

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) 156

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) 156

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) 156

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) 156

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:Fine them?!?! (Score 1) 175

Thanks, perhaps that was what they meant and I read too much into it.

In that case, I would completely agree, there needs to be a real deterrent to make it clear that this behaviour isn't acceptable, and it does need to be meaningful for rich people as well. Things like losing the right to drive and ultimately, if they continue to drive anyway, their freedom for some period of time, not just fining them 10% of this year's earnings or crushing their car.

Comment Re:empty lives? (Score 1) 175

I've played plenty of games over the years that I have enjoyed greatly and wanted to play more. You know what I never found, though? I never found that I couldn't resist the urge to play them at the same time as I was in control of a heavy, fast-moving metal object in a crowded area full of vulnerable people.

Anyone who truly can't control that urge demonstrably has serious mental health issues that make them a danger to themselves and others, and they need to be taken into care and properly looked after for everyone's safety and preferably to help them recover.

But let's be honest, how many people really couldn't resist that urge and have genuine mental health problems, and how many could have controlled themselves just fine but simply didn't care and knowingly did something extremely dangerous without regard for the potentially tragic consequences?

Comment Fine them?!?! (Score 2) 175

Fine them and remove their licence? Seriously? They killed someone and it looks like they did it in a way that was entirely avoidable with no mitigating factors. This should be tried as whatever form of manslaughter/murder in the local laws represents causing death through gross negligence.

At a minimum, people like this should be locked up on public safety grounds, and should be prohibited indefinitely from controlling any vehicle if and when they are released until they can show that they are now safe and responsible.

Comment Re:The end justifies the means (Score 4, Insightful) 303

Somewhere around 20-40% of the info in these documents will turn out to be wrong or misleading in some critical way.

I'm sure that will be a great comfort to the alleged witches as they drown.

Also, just because some personal data is correct, that doesn't mean the entire world has any right or need to know. People suffer unfair discrimination or worse because of perfectly legitimate personal matters all the time, which is the most compelling argument for the importance of privacy.

Comment Re:Would they believe (Score 1) 347

Wow, what kind of super-futuristic place did you live in with your fancy-pants downloading and modems and BBSes? In 1983, I think I was still typing the source code for games from books into my little ZX81, and praying that I didn't knock the 32K RAM pack loose and crash everything before I had a chance to play!

Comment Re:FYI (Score 5, Insightful) 347

So if you are posting with any handle other than "Anonymous Coward" you will need to provide that handle to your friendly neighborhood spy.

Or just not travel to countries that don't treat their visitors with respect and basic human decency.

There are many places I would love to visit in the world, far more than I ever will be able to in one lifetime I expect. Why would I voluntarily subject myself to the kind of culture we're talking about here, when I can be welcomed as both a tourist and a business person in so many other places?

Obviously some people have no choice, and I hope things work out OK for them, but this sort of policy seems absurdly counter-productive for people who do have a choice and do care about the way they are treated.

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