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A few states are still wrapped up in the “knockout game” panic, despite there being very little evidence that it’s even a thing, much less something that can’t be handled by existing assault laws. But since no panic can be allowed to escape unlegislated, sweaty-browed legislators are pushing bad, broadly-written bills in order to put an end to this scourge, one that lies somewhere between “vodka tampon” and “jenkem” on the scale of believability.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawmakers Push ‘Knockout Game’ Bill, Citing Various ‘Feelings’ As Evidence Something Must Be Done”

Why can’t movie-streaming sites deliver the selection of movies that customers obviously want? This was the question posed by a recent New York Times column, comparing undersupplied services like Netflix with unauthorized platforms like Popcorn Time. The answer, the Times explains, is windowing—the industry practice of selling exclusivity periods to certain markets and platforms, with the result of staggered launches.

But the Times fails to ask a more fundamental question: why do streaming sites have to listen to Hollywood’s windowing demands in the first place? After all, while it’s clear why the studios like windowing—they can sell the same rights over and over once the promised exclusivity periods expire—it doesn’t seem like a very good deal for users. Those users get access to a smaller selection, higher prices, and fewer choices between platforms and services. It should be astonishing that a company that once had to maintain and transport a staggering inventory of fragile plastic discs is able to offer less when its marginal cost dropped to near zero.

The problem is that, unlike earlier movie-rental options, streaming rights fall fundamentally within a permission culture….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Cost Of Permission Culture: Or Why Netflix Streaming Library Sucks Compared To Its DVD Library”

The copyright industries’ obsession with trying to shoot down piracy at all costs can sometimes cause them to end up shooting themselves in the foot. Here, for example, is a great example from Microsoft, which has recently been fulminating against the dangers of software piracy:

A new study released Tuesday reaffirms what we in Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit have seen for some time now — cybercrime is a booming business for organized crime groups all over the world. The study, conducted by IDC and the National University of Singapore (NUS), reveals that businesses worldwide will spend nearly $500 billion in 2014 to deal with the problems caused by malware on pirated software. Individual consumers, meanwhile, are expected to spend $25 billion and waste 1.2 billion hours this year because of security threats and costly computer fixes.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Microsoft-Sponsored Study Says Problems Caused By Using Windows Software Will Cost Businesses $500 Billion In 2014″

Way back in 2006, we wrote about how the Los Angeles wing of the Boy Scouts of America had started offering an MPAA-supported patch in “respecting copyright,” in which “respecting copyright” was actually respecting the MPAA’s misleading maximalist view of copyright. It took some time, but it appears that the Girl Scouts are finally catching up. The Intellectual Property Owners Education Foundation has helped create a special new “IP patch” for the Girl Scouts.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Girl Scouts Get A Badge In Intellectual Property Maximalism”

A few months ago, we noted that the FBI had quietly admitted that its primary function was no longer law enforcement (as it was supposed to be), but rather “national security.” Because fighting terrorism is hot. Putting bankers destroying the economy in jail? Not hot. As we noted at the time, the numbers showed that the FBI was putting a huge part of its budget towards “counterterrorism” (potentially doing much more to destroy your civil liberties than the NSA) and its efforts to take down white collar crime was dropping significantly.

A new report from the Justice Department’s Inspector General confirms this finding. It also notes that, despite President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder promising (yeah, I know…) that cracking down on “mortgage fraud” was a top priority, the FBI has actually put it near the bottom of the list of actual priorities. Say one thing, do another. That sounds mighty familiar…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Despite Promises To Fight Mortgage Fraud, DOJ Basically Ignored It, Then Claimed Success With Faulty Stats”

If there’s anything as labyrinthine as copyright law, it’s divorce law. Smokey Robinson, the composer of several Motown hits, is combining both.

Smokey Robinson sued his ex-wife, Claudette Rogers Robinson, seeking declaratory judgment that he may terminate and “recapture” the copyrights to all the songs he wrote during their marriage, and that she cannot claim interest in them under California community property law.

Robinson is reclaiming the rights to his pre-1978 songs from Jobete Music Co., something many artists are doing as copyright termination goes into effect. Robinson’s main problem, oddly, isn’t Jobete arguing that the songs were “work for hire,” but rather that his ex-wife (who he divorced in 1985) believes she should be entitled to 50% of whatever income these songs generate.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Smokey Robinson Sues Ex-Wife To Prevent Her From Claiming 50% Of His Recaptured Motown Hits”

Just recently, we wrote about how the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) has been increasingly detaining and harassing people at the border (or near the border) under highly questionable circumstances — and then refusing to comment on any of it. Instead, CBP has relied on a cloak of secrecy to live outside the law, acting out what we’ve come to expect from authoritarian police states. Recently, the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of a woman, Christine Von Der Haar, who is a senior lecturer at Indiana University, after CBP detained her at the airport….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Homeland Security Detained US Citizen Inside The US, Used Intercepted Emails To Quiz Her About Her Sex Life”

In our post yesterday about Judge Alex Kozinski’s horrifically bad ruling in favor of Cindy Garcia, an actress who briefly appeared in the infamous YouTube video “Innocence of Muslims,” we also mentioned the astounding gag order that Kozinski placed on Google/YouTube, saying that the company was simply not allowed to tell the world that the video had been ordered censored by a court for at least a week. However, the gag order is so crazy that it seemed worth a second post. It already appears to be a classic First Amendment violation to order Google to take down all copies of the video (and prevent new ones from being uploaded), but Kozinski seems to double the First Amendment problems with that gag order.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “‘Innocence Of Muslims’ Ruling Violates The First Amendment In Two Separate Ways”

The International Olympics Committee has this “branding” thing down cold. (No pun intended. The IOC is just as obnoxious during the Summer Olympics.) Everything that doesn’t belong to an Official Sponsor has its logo covered (including bathroom fixtures!) until the multi-ring circus of sports (and quasi-sports) folds up the last multimillion dollar tent and blows town.

The IOC is the ultimate control freak. This maniacal desire to cleanse the Games of anything not directly related to its corporate sponsors often results in the sort of behavior you’d normally associate with severe misanthropy. Hobbyist knitters get slapped with C&Ds. A 30-year-old restaurant is forced to change its nameA prominent news outlet has to build its own internal Starbucks in order to escape drinking nothing but the Official Coffee of the Olympics, which is crafted each day to the searing hot specifications of hallowed coffee mecca… McDonalds.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “How Snowboarders Are Waving Company Logos In The IOC’s Face… And There’s Nothing It Can Do About It”

Comcast has confirmed reports that the company will be acquiring Time Warner Cable in a deal estimated to be worth around $45 billion. With the ink on their NBC acquisition only just dry to the touch, the deal will tack 8 million broadband subscribers onto the company’s existing 22 million broadband customers. Comcast is already the nation’s largest fixed-line broadband company, largest cable TV provider, and third largest fixed-line phone company — and that’s before you include the company’s NBC or other assets. From a geographical perspective the deal makes sense; Time Warner Cable filling in Comcast’s coverage gaps and in particular giving Comcast the prized markets of Los Angeles and New York City, where Time Warner Cable has traditionally under-performed.

The problem is less of market share (the two companies didn’t compete directly) but one of consolidated power…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Comcast: Allowing Us To Get Immensely, Inconceivably, Ridiculously Massive Is ‘Pro Consumer’”

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