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We saw Nova Scotia deliver the worst in cyberbullying laws (Canadian edition) earlier this year. Like most bad cyberbullying legislation, this one was prompted by the suicide of a teen. It’s too tempting for legislators to rush into action with no real idea on how to solve the problem, much less mitigate it, and the attendant public uproar contributes nothing in terms of clear thinking or common sense.

As a result, laws like Nova Scotia’s get passed — laws that rely on purely subjective measures. If someone feels offended, they can press charges, utilizing a non-adversarial process that allows the accuser to present his or her case directly to a judge, who then decides whether or not it’s actually cyberbullying. This opens the accused up to civil proceedings, criminal charges and a chance of being banned not just from social media but from the internet entirely, along with being banned from using electronic devices — like a phone….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Maryland Tops Off Awful Cyberbullying Law With Direct Line To Facebook To Remove Content ‘Without Societal Value’”

Not Ross William Ulbricht.

It’s been known for quite some time that the feds were desperately trying to hunt down the folks behind Silk Road, the somewhat infamous “dark web” e-commerce site, accessible only via Tor, which was famous mainly for selling drugs in a slightly anonymous fashion. Of course, when the news came out recently that the FBI had used malware to reveal Tor Browser users, many believed that this was part of an attempt to track down Silk Road, and that seems increasingly likely after the FBI announced this morning that it has arrested Silk Road’s owner, Ross William Ulbricht, who went by the moniker “Dread Pirate Roberts” online. Turns out that Ulbricht was based in San Francisco and was arrested at the public library, of all places….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “FBI’s Case Against Silk Road Boss Is A Fascinating Read”

How did we get to the point where activities conducted on someone’s private property can somehow fall under the jurisdiction of a public school? The short version is this: concerns aboutactual criminal activity on school grounds led to tighter controls being built into policies. A few school shootings upped the ante and provoked disproportionate reactions from several legislators. And just in case no one felt the new weapon and violence policies erected to prevent the unpreventable weren’t being taken seriously enough, the government “helpfully” tied these new rules to federal funding.

“Playing it safe” just isn’t good enough anymore. Every administrator is compelled to err on the (uber-ridiculous) side of caution because to do otherwise might result in angry parents, or worse, the loss of federal funding. Anything that bears a slight resemblance to a gun is treated as the real thing — a weapon powerful enough to kill someone — even if that “weapon” is a Pop Tartfour fingers and a thumb or drawn on a piece of paper.

The illogical extremes seen in these earlier incidents has been surpassed by Larkspur Middle School of the Virginia Beach School District….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “School Suspends Students For Playing With Airsoft Guns In Their Own Yard”

As an American with First Amendment rights, you’d probably assume that a “Free Speech Zone” would look something like this:

The blue on that map should represent areas where you can exercise your right to free speech. Unfortunately, for many college students, their “Free Speech Zone” shrinks considerably when on campus. One out of every six major colleges have designated “Free Speech Zones” where students are “permitted” to “enjoy” this Constitutional right, and even then there are restrictions. In these colleges, exercising your right to free speech means asking permission at least a couple of days in advance as well as having the administration “approve” your speech.

The latest example of confined and controlled speech comes to us courtesy of Modesto Junior College. As FIRE.org reports, a student found his exercise of free speech shut down on one of the worst days of the year for a college to assert its negative attitude towards the First Amendment.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “California College Tells Student He Can’t Hand Out Copies Of The Constitution On Constitution Day”

We’ve written many times about the issue of termination rights in copyright. Under the Copyright Act that went into effect in 1978, artists have a “termination right” to basically take back their copyright from whomever they assigned it to, 35 years after the works were created. Artists cannot contract that right away. It’s inalienable. Of course, it’s 2013, and as you may have noticed, that’s 35 years after 1978. There are a variety of legal fights going on, as copyright holders (generally large gatekeeper companies) are fighting to stop the termination rights. One of the first key cases on this involved The Village People’s Victor Willis, who initially scored an initial victory last year. Of course, the legal fight went on. The NY Times, however, is reporting that Willis himself is now claiming victory, but the details are lacking, and the lawyer for the record labels denies Willis’ claim, noting that there’s still an appeal to be heard.

That said, what struck me as more interesting — but no less troubling — is the gleeful manner in which it appears Willis is preparing to use his new copyright powers (if he actually gets them) to make the current version of The Village People stop performing the band’s classic songs….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Village People Singer Wants To Ban The Group From Singing YMCA After Claiming He’s Regained The Copyright”

Ray Kelly is the NYPD Commissioner with a heart of gold and a severe case of the flip-flops when it comes to how security technology in his city is used. The potential DHS chief candidate is a huge fan of the complete failure known as “stop and frisk”, as well as all the cameras and license plate readers the city has at its disposal, except when that technology is turned towards his officers. It’s classic Orwellian thinking, in which LEOs and the government get all the toys while you have to find the blind spots in all the cameras just to write in your journal. That journal these days meaning the internet, which of course doesn’t really offer any blind spots.

And that’s how we get headlines today about Ray Kelly apparently declaring war on someone going by the handle AfroDuck, which is exactly the comic relief the world needs right now. Who is AfroDuck, you ask? Well, he or she is an idiot who decided to circumnavigate Manhattan, a twenty-six-plus mile trip, in just twenty-four minutes. Then, because idiocy and internet-braggery go hand in hand like spaghetti and meatballs, AfroDuck uploaded a dash-cam video of the feat to the internet….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Dumb Speeding Criminal Decides To Post Manhattan Speed Run Video Online”

As you hopefully are aware, today is the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s powerful, moving and memorable I have a dream… speech. In a just world, that speech would be in the public domain. And, legally, it might be. While King did apparently send a copy of the speech to the Copyright Office, he did so as an “unpublished work.” There has been a dispute, then, about the speech itself, since that would be a publication. His estate, however, has argued that the speech was not a “general publication,” but rather a “limited publication” and thus King retained a common law copyright — and an appeals court appeared to agree, but the lawsuit over this was settled without a final ruling, and no one has challenged it since. However, King’s estate has beenridiculously aggressive in trying to lock up his speeches and take down videos commemorating his talks, with a focus on this momentous speech.

Of course, they’re more than happy to license the speech to the highest bidder…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Let Freedom Ka-Ching! On The 50th Anniversary Of ‘I Have A Dream,’ AT&T Can Use The Speech To Sell Phones, But You Can’t Post It”

There’s a very cool group out there called the Hacker Scouts, which was started last year, trying to get kids interested in cool hacking stuff:

Hacker Scouts is a national non profit organization, founded in the Fall of 2012 in Oakland CA, that focuses on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) education, skill building and community engagement with the aspiration to help our children develop skills in the areas they are truly interested in, abilities that would allow them to dream big and create big. A variety of experts and mentors from the community ensure a well rounded and high level of attention and skill building for all ages through accessible programs that meet the different needs of our young makers. Hacker Scouts provides open source material and a support program for Hacker Scout programs globally.

Awesome, right? Definitely the kind of thing that should be encouraged. But, then the Boy Scouts of America went ballistic and threatened the Hacker Scouts with trademark infringement claims…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Congress Gave Boy Scouts Special Law To Let Them Be Obnoxious Trademark Bullies”

As was recently covered here, a Morgan County, IL state’s attorney by the name of Robert Bonjean declared his intentions to selectively enforce a state law declared unconstitutional by the Seventh Circuit Court.

The law in question was the 1960 Eavesdropping Law that forbade recordings without the consent of both parties. The court stated that using this statute to prevent citizens from recording police was likely unconstitutional. Shortly thereafter, a citizen (Randy Newingham) was detained for doing exactly that. Bonjean said he wouldn’t issue a “blanket statement” on citizens’ recordings and would take it on a “case-by-case” basis.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “IL County Attorney Seeking To Enforce Unconstitutional Law Draws The Attention Of The ACLU”

The administration wants Snowden back badly enough that it has let this singular aspect cloud its judgement. Obama recently stated he won’t be meeting with Putin, stating Russia’s harboring of Snowden as a factor (rather than Russia’s multiple issues with human rights). Rather than engage in the debate Obama claimed he “welcomed,” the administration is circling the wagons, as evidenced in the petty statement it issued in reference to Rep. Justin Amash’s NSA-defunding amendment. Don’t govern angry, as they say.

There are plenty of people who believe Snowden is a hero. Many others believe the opposite. The problem is the middle ground is pretty much nonexistent. Allowing Snowden to go free would appease the former, but allow him to continue exposing the NSA’s surveillance programs. Locking him up wouldn’t do much either, other than allow the government to avenge its embarrassment. It won’t stop the leaks, however, at least not if Snowden’s “dead man’s switch” works as intended. The Guardian is already in possession of thousands of documents. Capturing Snowden will only hasten their release.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Why It Might Be In The U.S.’s Best Interests To Grant Snowden Full Immunity”

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