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Winnipeg Man Has Vanity Plate Referencing Star Trek Recalled Over Complaints Of How Racist It Is

Here in North America, because 2016 just had to become the most infuriatingly stupid and polarizing year in the history of the multiverse, far too much oxygen was spent on debates over both how much racism was okay on one side and exactly what qualified as racist on the other. It's one of those frustrating contests with nobody to root for, as half of the population proclaimed that racism was dead and everyone was too stuck up about it while...
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Verizon Throttles Netflix Subscribers In 'Test' It Doesn't Inform Customers About

So for years Verizon Wireless refused to compete on price, insisting that the company's network was just so incredible, it didn't have to. Then came increased competition from T-Mobile , which forced the company to not only start competing a little more seriously on price, but to bring back unlimited data plans Verizon had spent years telling customers they didn't need . And while Wall Street cries about this rise in competition hurting ear...
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This Week In Techdirt History: July 16th - 22nd

Five Years Ago This week in 2012, we saw some copyright insanity when BMG issued a YouTube takedown on a Mitt Romney campaign ad for including a clip of Obama singing an Al Green song , and then the next day went on to take down the original clip, because even the President was a pirate in the eyes of the entertainment industry . Thankfully, by the end of the week, YouTube decided the videos were fair use, and restored them . Meanwhile, Via...
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Judge Dumps Stupid Libel Suit Featuring A Man Suing A Third Party For Things A Journalist Said

It only took a month for a court to dump a bogus defamation suit brought by someone who sued one person for things someone else said . Jim Myers wrote an article for The Tennessean discussing changes made to a culinary arts program. The former director of the program -- Thomas Loftis -- didn't like characterizations made in the article. For reasons known only to him and his lawyers, Loftis sued the new director of the culinary arts program,...
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Connecticut Latest State To Add A Conviction Requirement To Its Forfeiture Laws

Civil asset forfeiture continues to be curbed by legislatures around the country. Belatedly realizing the harm done to citizens by opportunistic law enforcement, lawmakers have been engaged in serious reform efforts over the past few years. Some have fallen apart on the way to approval, thanks to harmful concessions to powerful law enforcement lobbies. Other have made it through intact, potentially ending years of abuse. Thirteen states hav...
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George Romero, Zombies... And The Public Domain

As you probably heard, over the weekend, famed filmmaker George Romero passed away . Romero's influence on film making is legendary -- and people today still seem amazed to find out that basically everything you think you know today about the concept of "zombies" exists almost entirely because of Romero and Night of the Living Dead. He really invented the entire genre, and the use of zombies as social commentary. But, perhaps just as import...
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Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

This week, after we talked about a worrying DMCA ruling for Zazzle, one commenter suggested that selling merchandise eliminates safe harbors, and compared it to an anime fan site. An anonymous reply won most insightful comment of the week by laying out the problems with that comparison : Your comparison is a little silly, Zazzle isn't a "fan site" where the material has an obvious source. A user uploads an image to Zazzle, claims to have th...
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This Week In Techdirt History: July 9th - 15th

Five Years Ago This week in 2012, we saw the folks who had recently been defeated by the internet try to sneakily get their way. In Europe, that took the form of resurrecting the all-but-dead ACTA inside the Canada-EU Trade Agreement (and writing clueless columns , of course). In the US, it was Lamar Smith trying to sneak SOPA through in bits and pieces in other bills, seemingly having learned nothing from the experience . The public wasn't...
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How One Game Developer Views Steam's Refund Policy As A Boon In The Face Of Over $4 Million In Refunds

It's been a little over a year since the Steam platform finally rolled out a true refund program for digital game purchases, with Microsoft quickly following suit. While gamers rejoiced at the news that every game purchase wasn't some form of a gamble, game developers reacted in a range generally between being nonplussed to vocally angry or fearful . The overall concern was that this move to shift the balance of Steam's supportive stance to...
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Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

We've got a double-winner this week, taking first place on both the insightful and funny sides. The comment came from kallethen in response to the State Department's strange and worrying attempt to spark a fake Twitter feud about the history of intellectual property in America, and pointed out that one of their prime examples was a strange choice : Okay, is anybody else laughing at how they picked Ben Franklin as an example? Who, as I recal...
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Appeals Court Tells Lower Court (For The Second Time) To Stop Coddling An Abusive Ex-Deputy

The Seventh Circuit Appeals Court seems a bit tired of the district court's shit. For the second time, it's remanding a case involving a convicted law enforcement officer because the lower court refuses to give the former officer the punishment he deserves. Terry Joe Smith has twice been sentenced for subjecting two arrestees to intentional and unreasonable excessive force. The facts of the case are this, as recounted by the Appeals Court's...
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Court Says Gov't Has To Do More Than Say It Doesn't Believe The Property Owners If It Wants To Keep The Cash It Seized

The federal government thought it had laid an easy claim to someone else's cash , but the DC Court of Appeals is telling the government it's not quite as easy as it makes it out to be. The court lets everyone know things aren't entirely normal with the first sentence of the opinion [PDF]: This is a civil-forfeiture case, which is why the plaintiff is the United States of America and the defendant is a pile of cash. From that starting point ...
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NSA Continues To Dodge 'Incidental Collection' Question, Wants Its 'About' Surveillance Program Back

It's been six years since Senator Ron Wyden first asked the Director of National Intelligence how many Americans' communications are being swept up "incidentally" in the NSA's Section 702 surveillance net. Six years later, he still doesn't have an answer. Section 702 is up for reauthorization at the end of the year and there's still no information coming from the ODNI [Office of the Director of National Intelligence]. A group of Congression...
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Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

This week, we were concerned to see the Canadian Supreme Court make a hugely problematic ruling that Google must block sites worldwide. Bergman won most insightful comment of the week by summing up one example of why this is a bad way to approach the internet : It occurs to me That Google could de-list the Canadian government's own websites, including those of the courts, because Canada's laws that protect the rights of LGBT people violate ...
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This Week In Techdirt History: June 25th - July 1st

Five Years Ago This week in 2012, we saw some obstinate reactions to the ACTA protests, with an EU Parliamentarian saying dissent was "a soft form of terrorism" , and the EU Commissioner saying he would simply ignore rejection of ACTA by the EU Parliament — while Australia's parliamentary committee on the subject was recommending rejection . As for the TPP in the US, we were annoyed but unsurprised to learn that the MPAA had full online acc...
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Lawyer Deploys Faulty Subpoena Demanding Evidence Preservation, Fails To Impress Lawyer Receiving It

When a lawyer sends a demand to another lawyer, the one doing the sending had better be on top of their law game. Otherwise, things will go badly. And when they go badly, they end up being discussed here . Conservative blogger (and lawyer) Scott Johnson got hit with a subpoena ordering him to preserve evidence possibly relevant to a legal challenge of Trump's travel ban from a courtroom halfway across the country. The advance subpoena infor...
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40 ISPs, VoIP And VPN Providers Tell FCC They Like Having Net Neutrality Rules

Opponents of net neutrality often claim the rules placed "onerous burdens" on small and large ISPs alike. But when push comes to shove, you'll rarely see any of these folks provide hard evidence of such "burdens." Usually, opposition is driven by a fundamental misunderstanding of what the rules do, and by a conflation of the rules with nebulous partisan worries that net neutrality somehow represents "government run amok." That confusion is,...
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To Avoid Being Cut Out Of The Market, US Tech Companies Are Allowing Russian Vetting Of Source Code

Nobody trusts anybody, and it's probably going to end up affecting end users the most. The Snowden leaks showed the NSA's Tailored Access Operations routinely intercepted network hardware to insert backdoors. The exploits leaked by the Shadow Brokers indicated the NSA was very active on the software exploit front as well. In response to the Snowden leaks, it appears the Russian hardware/software purchasers are stepping up their due diligenc...
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AT&T May Soon Return To Charging Broadband Subscribers More For Privacy

Last year, you might recall that AT&T came up with an ingenious idea : to charge broadband customers significantly more if they actually wanted to protect their own privacy. It basically worked like this: users ordering AT&T's broadband service could get the service for, say, $70 a month. But if that user wanted to opt out of AT&T's Internet Preferences snoopvertising program (which used deep packet inspection to study your movement around ...
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This Week In Techdirt History: June 18th - 24th

Five Years Ago The Charles Carreon saga continued this week in 2012, with a lawsuit against Matthew Inman and the charities he was raising money for . When the full details of the suit became public, so did all sorts of nuttiness contained therein . Inman came to the table with an open letter, telling Carreon to take some time off and cool down — but he didn't listen, and promised to subpoena Twitter and Ars Technica over a parody account m...
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Frontier Communications Caught (Again) Ripping Off West Virginia Taxpayers

So (for good reason), we keep noting that if you want to see how the American broadband market really works, you should take a close look at West Virginia. As in most states, a lack of competition keeps broadband prices high and speeds slow, with far too many consumers forced to pay a tidy sum for DSL speeds circa 2002. But the state has also been embroiled in scandal after scandal involving Frontier Communication's mismanagement of taxpaye...
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Cheese: The Final Frontier For The Completion Of The Canada-EU Trade Deal CETA

Remember CETA , the "Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement" between the EU and Canada? After years of on-off moments, including one last burst of uncertainty in March of this year, it finally seemed that everything had been settled, and that the deal would soon come into force. But it turns out that there is another, hitherto-unsuspected problem -- cheese: Canada's CBC reported on its website that plans to have CETA (the Comprehensive ...
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Techdirt Podcast Episode 127: Copyright, Music & 'Theft'

This week's episode is all about copyright and culture, with a pair of the best guests you could ask for on the subject. Almost ten years ago, law professors Keith Aoki, James Boyle and Jennifer Jenkins released a comic book about copyright called Bound By Law, and now they are back with a sequel: Theft: A History of Music . This week, James and Jennifer join us to discuss the new comic and the history of copyright and music (with lots of f...
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219 Hits

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

This week, after a Wisconson senator attacked net neutrality by bemoaning the supposed lack of "fast lanes" online, JoeCool won first place for insightful by summing up why that's nonsense : The internet is ONE BIG "FAST LANE". What the ISPs want is to create a bunch of "slow lanes" to shove people into unless they pay a premium to get what they originally had. In second place on the insightful side, we've got the first of several winning c...
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This Week In Techdirt History: June 11th - 17th

Five Years Ago It was this week in 2012 that The Oatmeal wrote a level-headed criticism of FunnyJunk and received, in return, a somewhat scattershot threat of a defamation lawsuit . As a result, a whole lot of internet attention and ire was turned on one man, whose name we'd become very familiar with: Charles Carreon, who dug in his heels and tried to shut down The Oatmeal's fundraiser. Then he lashed out and accused Matt Inman of "instigat...
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2008 FISA Transcript Shows NSA Already Knew It Might Have An Incidental Collection Problem

The ODNI has released several documents in response to FOIA lawsuits (EFF, ACLU). The EFF scored 18 of these ( handy zip link here ) and the ACLU seven. The ACLU's batch has proven more interesting (at least initially). One document it obtained shows a tech company challenged a Section 702 surveillance order in 2014. The challenge was shut down by the FISA court, but with the exception of Yahoo's short-lived defiance, we haven't seen any ot...
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Another Judge Says The Microsoft Decision Doesn't Matter; Orders Google To Hand Over Overseas Data

Microsoft may not have to respond to government demands for US persons' data held overseas, but it looks like everyone else (specifically, Google) will have to keep trawling their foreign data stores for US law enforcement. The Second Circuit Appeals Court ruled US government warrants don't apply to overseas data. Courts outside of the Second Circuit are finding this ruling doesn't apply to Google's foreign data storage. The most obvious re...
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TV Cord Cutting Poised To Smash Records During Second Quarter

So we've already noted that with the rise of streaming video competition, more people cut the TV cord last year than any other time in history . MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett has noted that 2016's 1.7% decline in traditional cable TV viewers was the biggest cord cutting acceleration on record. SNL Kagan agrees, noting that traditional pay TV providers lost around 1.9 million traditional cable subscribers. That was notably worse tha...
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Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

This week, we wrote about the ongoing plague of skewed priorities among law enforcement agencies when it comes to bodycam footage. That One Guy latched on to a particular detail and racked up the votes for most insightful comment of the week : "I don't get it, why don't the people we beat and shoot respect us?" Officer Mader was fired. The other cop was praised. According to the department, Mader "put two other officers in danger" by not im...
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How The Death Of Net Neutrality Could Hamstring The Internet Of Things

So we've already spent a lot of time talking about how underneath the hype, the "internet of things" is a bit of a shitshow . A lack of device security and a general apathy toward anything resembling privacy standards has resulted in an absolute torrent of new attack vectors being introduced into millions of homes and devices nationwide. Many of these devices are being quickly compromised in a matter of minutes for use in historically massi...
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