Techdirt (54)

Hospitality Industry Group Pushes Back On Portland's Attempt To Trademark Bully A Local Brewery

Just a quick update from Portland, Oregon, folks. After the city engaged in some truly impish behavior by trying to bully aside a local brewery that has a trademark on Portland's iconic jumping-deer sign, there have been no further negotiations on a resolution between the two sides. See, the city of ...

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today When The Internet Looked Much Different Than It Does Now

Last week, Mike and I were at a conference celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Reno v. ACLU, a seminal case that declared that the First Amendment applied online. What makes the case so worth a conference celebrating it is not just what it meant as a legal matter – ...

Techdirt Podcast Episode 147: Games That Tell Stories

Gaming is changing the nature of storytelling. Video games of course — but also the modern rise of board games, tabletop RPGs and other forms of analog gaming. A good game does more than just arbitrarily pair play with a veneer of narrative, it marries the mechanics and the theme to enable ...

No, The FTC Won't Save You Once Net Neutrality Rules Are Killed

If you understand anything about the net neutrality fight, it should be this: repealing these popular rules is just one small part of a long-standing ISP plan to reduce meaningful oversight of one of the least-competitive industries in America. So far this year we've already watched as the Trump ...

Court Tosses Cop's Attempt To Sue Twitter And Facebook For Someone Killing Cops In Texas

Presumably prestigious law firm 1-800-LAW-FIRM is winning some cases somewhere. But it's not having any luck with its dubious legal theories related to social media companies and "material support for terrorism." The firm hasn't racked up any wins in these cases . The page touting its ...

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Microsoft Office is one of the most ubiquitous software suites in the world, used extensively in offices of all industries. In special bundle, eLearnOffice uses bite-sized videos and quizzes to assess and increase your skills in eight Microsoft Office applications. Plus, you can delve even further ...

Canadian Supreme Court Says Privacy Protections Apply To Sent Text Messages Obtained From The Recipient

In the US, the Fourth Amendment protects the privacy of conversations… up to a point. The government can't open mail or intercept phone calls without a warrant. Thanks to a fairly recent Supreme Court decision, the government can't access the contents of a person's phone -- home to a great ...

The Folks That Built The Internet Tell The FCC It Has No Idea How The Internet Works

By now the FCC has made it clear it has absolutely no intention of actually listening to the public or to experts when it comes to its plan to repeal popular net neutrality rules later this week. It doesn't really matter to the FCC's myopic majority that the vast majority of the record 22 million ...

Google Publishes Another Batch Of National Security Letters, Updates Its Transparency Report

Google has released what appears to be its entire collection of National Security Letters to date. Well, at least the entire collection approved for release by the DOJ, which still falls far short of the number received by the search giant. Liam Tung of ZDNet points to a recent Transparency ...

Why Does China Love The 'Sharing Economy'? Not Because Of Communism...

Something strange has been happening in China. People have been going nuts about bicycles. Specifically, investors have gone crazy over startups that allow people to rent bikes for a fraction of a dollar per hour, and then leave them anywhere, rather than only at special bike stations -- what is ...

FCC Boss 'Jokes' About Being A 'Verizon Puppet' At Tone Deaf Industry Gala

As we've well-documented, Trump's FCC is currently under fire for not only gutting net neutrality, but for giving a crash course in what regulatory capture looks like. In just a short period of time the agency has moved to protect cable's monopoly over the cable box, gut media consolidation rules ...

Congress Fixes More Problems With FOSTA Bill... But It Still Needs Work

Congress continues to push for a bill to deal with the use of the internet for sex trafficking. Over the past few months we've discussed multiple attempts at this. Most of the initial action happened on the Senate side, with SESTA -- the "Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act." That was a terrible bill ...

The Free Market Argument For Net Neutrality

On Thursday of this week, the FCC will vote to undo the 2015 Open Internet Order. While the FCC insists that this will just be bringing back the internet to the regulatory framework it had prior to 2015, that is not true. It will be changing the very basis for how the internet works and doing so in ...

Court Says Google Must Unmask Person Who Left Wordless, One-Star Review Of Local Psychiatrist

Back in August, psychiatrist Mark Beale filed a defamation lawsuit. His target? A one-star review containing zero words written by someone using the name "Richard Hill." Beale claimed this single review, hosted by Google, had irrevocably damaged his livelihood. In support of this, he offered several ...

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Six Sigma is a disciplined, data-driven approach and methodology for eliminating defects in any process -- from manufacturing to transactional and from product to service. This course will focus on the sub-methodology, DMAIC to provide you with both an introduction to Six Sigma and how to implement ...

MPAA Wins: Australia To Carve Google And Facebook Out Of Its Expanded Safe Harbor Provisions

Back in November, we discussed some reforms Australia was looking to make to its copyright laws. Chiefly at issue was how safe harbors were incorporated into the law, with those provisions applying only to primary service providers like ISPs due entirely to what appears to be a simple poor choice of ...

FBI Director Complains About Encryption, Offers To Sacrifice Public Safety In The Interest Of Public Safety

FBI Director Christopher Wray offered testimony to the House Judiciary Committee at a hearing entitled "Oversight of Federal Bureau of Investigation." Not much in terms of oversight was discussed. Instead, Wray took time to ask for a reauthorization of Section 702 before using several paragraphs of ...

Court Holds NYPD In Contempt For Refusing To Hand Over Documents Related To Black Live Matter Surveillance

The NYPD continues to extend a middle finger to every entity that isn't the NYPD. The department's long history of doing everything it can to thwart public records requesters has been discussed here several times. It's not on much better terms with its oversight, which it routinely ignores when ...

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side came in response to the absurd trademark battle between the San Diego and Salt Lake comic conventions, where the former played some licensing games with Rose City to try to bolster its argument. Aerie simply wasn't having it, for good reason: ...

This Week In Techdirt History: December 3rd - 9th

Five Years Ago This week in 2012, the ITU was holding its World Conference on International Telecommunications to try to, more or less, "fix the internet" . Their ideas about speeding up infrastructure built-out were more likely to slow it down, and it was unclear who many of the new proposed rules ...

Top EU Data Protection Body Asks US To Fix Problems Of 'Privacy Shield' Or Expect A Referral To Region's Highest Court

The Privacy Shield framework is key to allowing personal data to flow legally across the Atlantic from the EU to the US. As we've noted several times this year, there are a number of reasons to think that the EU's highest court, the Court of Justice of the European Union , could reject Privacy ...

SLCC Rankles Judge With Social Media Posts As A Jury Prepares To Rule

We've been following the trademark dispute between the Salt Lake Comic Con and the San Diego Comic-Con for some time now, including all of its strange ups and downs. Despite this whole dispute starting something like three years ago, the trial itself has kept a brisk pace, with SLCC already resting ...

Did A Non-Existent Eatery In A Shed Become TripAdvisor's Top-Rated Restaurant In London?

A key feature of e-commerce sites is the reviews from people who have used them previously. Such recommendations or warnings are even more important online than in the physical world, because it is much easier to set up a virtual shop than a real one, which makes scams a far greater risk online. ...

Internet Censorship Bills Won't Help Catch Sex Traffickers

In the most illuminating part of last week's House subcommittee hearing on the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act , Tennessee Bureau of Investigation special agent Russ Winkler explained how he uses online platforms—particularly Backpage—to fight online sex ...

Dear Tech Guys: HBO's Silicon Valley Is NOT An Instruction Manual

I've been living in Silicon Valley for just about twenty years at this point, and lived through the original dot com bubble . And there are a few small signs that remind me quite a bit of the "bad stuff" that started to show up in the 1999/2000 time frame, just before everything collapsed. One of ...

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Shocker: Study Finds Cord Cutting Very Real, TV Execs Still Failing To Adapt

You'll perhaps recall that broadcast and cable executives spent years denying that TV cord cutting was even happening. Ultimately that head-in-the-ground thinking "evolved" to the point where sector executives admitted that sure, cord cutters are real, but they're little more than 40-year-old ...

India Embraces Full Net Neutrality As The U.S. Turns Its Back On The Concept

While the United States is busy giving the world a crash course on what telecom regulatory capture looks like, India is taking a decidedly different tack with net neutrality. Last year, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India began laying the groundwork for some real, tough net neutrality rules ...

Russia Says Disconnecting From The Rest Of The Net 'Out Of The Question', But Wants Alternative DNS Servers For BRICS Nations

At the start of the year, we wrote about a call for Russia to make its Internet infrastructure resistant to external attempts to shut it down, and able to work in isolation if need be. It looks like the authorities are moving ahead with the idea: The Russian Security Council has asked the country's ...

UK Court Says Company Is Innocent In Massive Data Breach Caused By Vindictive Employee, But Must Nonetheless Pay Compensation

It's well known that the EU has laws offering relatively strong protection for personal data -- some companies say too strong. Possible support for that viewpoint comes from a new data protection case in the UK, which follows EU law, where the judge has come to a rather surprising conclusion. ...

Opening Statements In The Trademark Battle Of The Comic Cons, While Other Regional Cons Go Full Judas

Our regular readers will know that we've been covering the years-long trademark lawsuit between the famous San Diego Comic-Con and the Salt Lake ComicCon since the very beginning. The whole thing has been something of a saga, with the SDCC issuing various threats and filing a lawsuit, while the SLCC ...

Canadian ISPs And Hollywood Agree On Plan To Make Themselves Judge, Jury and Website Executioner

If you take a quick look through the long history of posts we've done on the subject of site-blocking as a method for combating piracy, you'll notice that we've been fairly critical of the courts in various countries, which are issuing the blocking orders commonly. Here in America, the story is ...

New York City Hotels Say Obnoxious $25 'Destination Fee' 'Improves The Customer Experience'

Taking a page from the telecom and banking sector playbooks, New York City hotels have decided to add a $25 "destination fee" just for the honor of being able to sleep somewhere near the audio visual cacophony that is Times Square. Major hotel chains like Hilton, Marriott and Starwood are all ...

Why I Changed My Mind On Net Neutrality

Long time readers of Techdirt may know , that in the mid-2000s when the net neutrality debate was first heating up, I was against the FCC putting in place rules to protect net neutrality. As I explained at the time, the concept of net neutrality was important, but I had so little faith in the FCC ...

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State Board That Fined Man For Criticizing The Government Without A License Admits It Was Wrong

Earlier this year, government entities in Beaverton, Oregon got fed up with a resident's refusal to stop pestering them about problems with their traffic light timing. Mats Jarlstrom, a red light camera ticket recipient and consequential thorn in the side of local pols, tried repeatedly to get state ...

FCC Boss Lies Again, Insists Net Neutrality Harms The Sick And Disabled

For a decade now one major ISP talking point against net neutrality is that it hurts the sick and disabled. Verizon, for example, has tried to pretend that net neutrality rules hurt the hearing impaired because it prevents them from getting access to prioritized medical services like video relay or ...

Appeals Court Can't Decide Whether It Should Protect Critic's Anonymity, Boots Free Speech Case Back To Lower Court

A rather strange ruling has been handed down by the Sixth Circuit Appeals Court. It's a ruling that could have an adverse effect on anonymous speech, although it does mitigate the potential damage by booting it back to the lower court for a final determination. But that still might not stop an ...

Another Reason To Distinguish Alcohol Markets In Trademarks: Actual Infringement Defended By Use Across Alcohol Products

A brief review of all of the articles I've written in these here pages about sweet, delicious alcohol mostly have to do with trademark spats between drink-makers, including many in which I've made the point that it's high time for the USPTO to get a little more subtle when it comes to its alcohol ...

The Strange Fight Over Who Should Take John Conyers Spot Atop The Judiciary Committee

As you may have heard, Rep. John Conyers recently stepped down from his role as Ranking Member on the powerful House Judiciary Committee, and this week has announced his retirement, in response to multiple accusations of sexual harassment. That has kicked off something of an interesting and ...

Snopes Debunks Fake YouTube Video; Video's Creator Responds With A Bogus DMCA Notice

Nothing But the Truth Films has a credibility problem. Oh, the irony, I would normally say, except for the fact NBT deals mostly with this sort of "truth." We present the black and white facts about the geopolitical climate which include Islam, Illuminati, Freemasonry, Cults and more. See how your ...

Google And Amazon Are Harming Consumers And Behaving Like Obnoxious Toddlers

You might recall that a few years ago, Amazon began banning competing streaming hardware like Apple TV and Google's Chromecast from the Amazon store because these products competed with Amazon's own streaming hardware. At the time, you might also recall that Amazon offered up the historically stupid ...

Appeals Court: Forcing A Teen To Masturbate So Cops Can Take Pictures Is A Clear Violation Of Rights

I cannot imagine what it must be like as an appellate court judge to have to write these words : Construing the facts in the light most favorable to Sims, a reasonable police officer would have known that attempting to obtain a photograph of a minor child’s erect penis, by ordering the child ...

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What Happened To Everyone Complaining About The Length Of The 2015 Net Neutrality Rules?

If you've followed the whole net neutrality debate for a while, you may remember one of the more ridiculous talking points when the 2015 rules were put in place: it was the line that the rules were "400 pages of regulation on the internet." People kept listing out the page numbers to suggest how ...

The FCC Tried To Hide Net Neutrality Complaints Against ISPs

When FCC boss Ajit Pai first proposed killing popular net neutrality protections , he insisted he would proceed "in a far more transparent way than the FCC did" when it first crafted the rules in 2015. That promise has proven to be a historically-hollow one. Pai's agency is already facing numerous ...

Things The Intelligence Community Is Cool With: Backdoor Searches, Skirting Reporting Requirements, Parallel Construction

More answers have been provided to Senate Intelligence Committee questions by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Some, like how often the NSA "incidentally" collects domestic communications, remain unanswered. But the ODNI's answers -- given to the Committee in July -- have finally ...

Where Credit's Due: Budweiser Goes The Cool And Funny Route On Microbrewery's 'Dilly Dilly' Craft IPA

I like to give credit where credit is due. When it comes to the myriad posts we've written about Budweiser or its parent company Anheuser-Busch, the credit has mostly been to do with being intellectual property bullies and all around megalith caricatures. That said, the company's actions surrounding ...

Senator Kamala Harris Serves Up A Not-Completely-Terrible Revenge Porn Bill

Senator Kamala Harris -- famous here mostly for her constant, Quixotic attempts to turn Backpage into a criminal defendant -- is now crafting laws at the federal level. Her support for the internet-crippling SESTA is already known. Her next target, apparently, is revenge porn purveyors. Harris' bill ...

Techdirt Podcast Episode 146: Can A Trivia App Resurrect Appointment Viewing?

Normally, we wouldn't dedicate a whole episode of the podcast to talking about a single app — but every now and then something small comes along that contains innovations worth exploring. So this week, we're taking a look at the hit trivia app HQ, which is one of the first new things in recent ...