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Australian Gov't Accessed Domestic Metadata Thousands Of Times, Shared Some Of It With China

The Australian government has released its latest report [PDF] on its domestic metadata collection efforts and it has a bit of surprising news in it. Josh Taylor and Paul Farrell of Buzzfeed report the Australian government isn't keeping all the domestic metadata it's hoovered up to itself . It's sharing it with several other countries, including one surprising name: There were a total of 23 disclosures of information from the Australian Fe...
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Court Says Gov't Needs More Than The Assumption Someone Owns A Cellphone To Justify A Search

The DC Court of Appeals has shot some holes [PDF] in a favorite law enforcement assertion: that cellphones are automatically containers of criminal evidence just because suspected criminals -- like nearly everyone else in the nation -- have cellphones. A criminal case involving a suspected getaway driver for a year-old homicide somehow led to police seeking a warrant to seize and search all electronics found at the suspect's current residen...
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This Week In Techdirt History: August 13th - 19th

Five Years Ago This week in 2012, while Amazon was realizing it had little choice but to get in on the patent portfolio buying game , Google was launching a prior art finder to help stop bad patents — though some worried it might be used by trolls to find targets . Meanwhile, Google also made the controversial decision to start filtering searches based on DMCA notices received by the site , but of course even this wasn't enough to satisfy t...
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Two Bollywood Film Producers Get Court To Block Tons Of Sites In India, Including Archive.org

How many innocents would you accept being caught up in an action designed to nab criminals? How many good people is it acceptable to throw into jail alongside the truly bad actors? Most people would agree that any action that penalizes the innocent in order to punish the guilty is a bad course, with only truly minimal amounts of collateral damage being acceptable. Now let's port that over to internet sites and ask how many innocent websites...
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As A Streaming Future Looms, ESPN Is Damned If It Does, Damned If It Doesn't

So for years we've examined how executives at ESPN completely whiffed at seeing the cord cutting revolution coming, and personified the industry's denial that a massive market (r)evolution was taking place. As viewers were beginning to drift away from traditional cable and erode revenues, ESPN executives were busy doubling down on bloated sports contracts and expensive Sportscenter set redesigns. Only once ESPN lost 10 million viewers in ju...
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Court Says CFAA Isn't Meant To Prevent Access To Public Data, Orders LinkedIn To Drop Anti-Scraper Efforts

Some good pushback against the CFAA (Computer Fraud and Abuse Act) has been handed down by a federal court. LinkedIn, which has frequently sued scrapers under both the CFAA and DMCA, just lost an important preliminary round to a company whose entire business model relies on LinkedIn's publicly-available data. hiQ Labs scrapes LinkedIn data from users whose accounts are public, repackages it and sells it to third party recruiters and HR depa...
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Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

This week, following the huge overreaction of Canadian telecoms to the site TVAddons, some commenters expanded on the ways in which this is not truly about piracy. Ryunosuke was one such commenter, and his explanation won first place for insightful : I agree, Piracy, like a black market, is a symptom of a system that is not working. Something that is in demand is not being properly vented, in this case, entertainment. Between high costs and...
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This Week In Techdirt History: August 6th - 12th

Five Years Ago This week in 2012, we saw a couple interesting leaks. The fair use text from the TPP was made public, and we discovered (with little surprise) that the US proposals were about weakening fair use, not strengthening it . Meanwhile, a leak of MPAA documents revealed their plans to use sock puppets to smear Richard O'Dwyer , the TVShack operator that the agency was trying to extradite from the UK. And speaking of questionable ext...
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Elsevier Continues To Build Its Monopoly Solution For All Aspects Of Scholarly Communication

Techdirt has just written about the amazing achievements of Sci-Hub , and how it now offers the vast majority of academic papers free online. One implication may be that traditional publishing, with high-cost journals hidden behind paywalls, is no longer viable . But as we noted, that doesn't mean that traditional publishers will disappear. For one thing, many are embracing open access, and finding it pretty profitable (some would say too p...
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Australian Public Servants Warned Against Liking Social Media Posts That Are Critical Of Government Policies

The Internet effectively turns everyone into a publisher, able to promulgate their ideas in a way that was not open to most people before. That's great for the democratization of media -- and terrible for governments that want to control the flow of information to citizens. The Australian government is particularly concerned about what its 150,000 public servants might say. It has issued a "guidance" document that "sets out factors for empl...
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Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

This week, three of our four winning comments came in response to the ACLU's amicus brief filing in Bob Murray's lawsuit against John Oliver. First up, our winner of most insightful comment of the week is TheResidentSkeptic giving Murray some advice : Dear Bob When you realize that you are in the process of digging yourself into a hole, there are 2 approaches to consider. 1) STOP DIGGING This is known as the "sensible" approach, and is reco...
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Jeff Sessions Suggests He's Steering The DOJ Towards Prosecuting More Journalists

Jeff Sessions and the DOJ are back to threatening leakers again. It seems counterproductive, considering each new threat of leak investigations does little to stem the steady flow of leaks . But the new DOJ boss seems ready to go further than his predecessors. Having already expressed an interest in taking care of Obama's unfinished business by going after Wikileaks , Sessions now appears to be headed towards threatening journalism and the ...
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House Oversight Head Still Concerned Surveillance He Approves Of Is Being Used Against His Party

House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes is at it again. After years of unwavering support for NSA surveillance programs -- a one-man booster club operating from inside an oversight committee -- Nunes is now starting to find things he doesn't like about NSA surveillance. It escalated a few months ago when he was "shocked" to learn NSA surveillance grabs communications between world governments and may have been used to listen in on...
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Trump Says Cops Should Rough Up Suspects; Receives Backlash From Police Officials

Late last week, President Trump gave a chilling speech to law enforcement officers in Long Island . Trump has made it clear he holds law enforcement officers in higher regard than the people they serve. In one of his first directives, he flatly stated that disliking police officers is "wrong." One of the fundamental rights of every American is to live in a safe community. A Trump Administration will empower our law enforcement officers to d...
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Canada Appoints Lobbyist To Top Telecom Regulator, Follows US Down The Regulatory Capture Rabbit Hole

The last few years have seen a boon in consumer and small-business-friendly policies coming out of Canada's telecom regulator the CRTC. Under outgoing agency head Jean-Pierre Blais, the agency bumped the definition of broadband to 50 Mbps , required that phones must now be sold unlocked in Canada , shored up the country's net neutrality rules , and took aim at the anti-competitive use of usage caps and overage fees . Not everything Blais di...
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This Week In Techdirt History: July 23rd - 29th

Five Years Ago This week in 2012, we started out by reporting on something that happened late on the previous Friday: the feds admitted that they violated the fourth amendment with their surveillance programs . We noted how Congress had lost all perspective with its moves to prosecute journalists as if they were spies , and that it was worrying how the Senate Intelligence Committee seemed more interested in stopping whistleblowers than figu...
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Cigar City Brewing Sues Cigar City Salsa Over Trademark Despite Being In Different Marketplaces

I'm generally not much for the summer season, but one sensation I do love is getting home from work on a painfully hot day, having just purchased a six-pack of beer, and cracking open a cold one in the evening. The only thing that occasionally gets in the way of that is when I lift the bottle to my mouth and then immediately realize that instead of beer, I bought salsa. Wait, that doesn't ever happen. And, yet, according to a lawsuit brough...
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Over 190 Engineers & Tech Experts Tell The FCC It's Dead Wrong On Net Neutrality

There's now 11 million comments on the FCC's plan to kill net neutrality, a record for the agency and a significantly higher output than the 4 million comments the FCC received when crafting the current rules. And while many of these comments are fraudulent bot-crafted support for the FCC's plan, the limited analysis we've seen so far suggests the vast majority of those organizations, companies and individuals prefer keeping the existing ru...
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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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