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This Week In Techdirt History: October 15th - 21st

Five Years Ago This week in 2012, we saw more copyright nonsense as South Park was sued over a character design and textbook publisher Pearson managed to take down 15-million student and teacher blogs with a single DMCA notice — but of course, being punished for a bad DMCA notice was and is almost impossible . As we approached the 30-year anniversary of the CD, we lamented the lack of music industry innovation , while the numbers continued ...
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NYPD Tells Judge Its $25 Million Forfeiture Database Has No Backup

The NYPD is actively opposed to transparency . It does all it can to thwart outsiders from accessing any info about the department's inner workings. This has led to numerous lawsuits from public records requesters. It has also led to a long-running lawsuit featuring the Bronx Defenders, which has been trying to gain access to civil forfeiture documents for years. The NYPD has repeatedly claimed it simply cannot provide the records the Bronx...
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New Whistleblowers Highlight How Russia's Information War On U.S. Was Larger Than Initially Reported

A few years ago, Russian whistleblowers like Lyudmila Savchuk began to reveal that Vladimir Putin had built a massive new internet propaganda machine. At the heart of this machine sat the "Internet Research Agency," a Russian government front company tasked with operating warehouses filled with employees paid 40,000 to 50,000 rubles ($800 to $1,000) a month to create proxied, viable fake personas -- specifically tasked with pumping the inte...
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New Copyright Trolling Operation Lowers The Settlement Demands And Calls Them Fines To Improve Conversion Rate

As much more attention has been brought to copyright trolls and the unethical manner in which they operate, it was inevitable that the tactics of the trolls would begin to shift. For some of us, it was immediately obvious what a PR problem these trolling operations faced. It all comes down to the "settlements" offered in a copyright troll's letters. The amounts, while designed to look small compared with the threat of a lawsuit, still tend ...
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Neighbor Sues For $2.5 Million After Renovation Looks Too Much Like Their Own House

Copyright on home design has always been a really sketchy idea. Earlier this year, we wrote about a disturbing trend of housing copyright trolls and have had some other similar stories over time. For reasons that are beyond me, the Berne Convention requires copyright on architecture, and that creates silly situations, such as the one in Australia, where a homeowner was forced to modify their home due to "infringement." And this nonsense has...
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This Week In Techdirt History: October 8th - 14th

Five Years Ago This week in 2012, while Hollywood was wining and dining New Zealand politicians to help get their copyright demands into the TPP , the similarly bad provisions from the dead ACTA were unsurprisingly appearing in CETA . The RIAA was continuing to share bogus math, this time about the supposed decline in musicians , Microsoft was caught sending an especially amusing takedown to Google over a link to... Bing , and copyright max...
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Google Fiber Gives Up On Traditional TV, And Won't Be The Last Company To Do So

While Google Fiber was initially hailed as the be-all-end-all of broadband disruption, the bloom has come off the rose in recent months. Last fall, Google executives began to have doubts about the high cost and slow pace of the project, resulting in a not-yet cooked pivot to wireless and the departure of two CEOs in less than a year. Company PR reps seem unable to answer basic questions about cancelled installations and the unsteady directi...
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Australian Government Claims That Facial Recognition Systems Increase Privacy...

Via Josh Taylor , we learn of the recently released "Intergovernmental Agreement on Identity Matching Services" , which is a fancy way of saying that the federal government and Australian state and territory governments had agreed to work together on a big face recognition surveillance system. But the truly incredible thing is that these Australian governments have decided to try to out-Orwell Orwell, by arguing that pervasive facial recogn...
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Three Energy Bills Look To Increase Fourth Amendment Protections For Americans

Senator Ron Wyden has introduced a trio of energy bills for the Senate's consideration. The three bills each have their own area of focus. One bill [PDF] would direct the Department of Energy -- along with state entities -- to upgrade the flexibility and reliability of energy grids, thus limiting disruption during natural disasters. The second bill [PDF] creates grant programs for consumer-level renewable energy, providing incentives for pu...
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Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side comes from all the way back on last week's comment post, where an anonymous commenter took a moment to thank us for the openness of our comments : tiny bit off topic, but since this article is about comments this still seems fitting: I wanted to say thanks for having a site that makes it easy to post comments. There have been several sites that I've felt inclined to comment on (or fil...
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