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This Week In Techdirt History: December 2nd - 8th

Five Years Ago This week in 2013, we saw a spate of worrying changes around the world, with a German court telling Wikimedia that it‘s liable for user content, a French court ordering a search engine to make an entire website disappear over copyright infringement, and Italian politicians looking to have copyright handled by regulators, not courts - but at least in the UK, a court was also ruling that software functionality is not subject

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It‘s Been 50 Years: Take Some Time This Weekend To Watch Doug Engelbart‘s Mother Of All Demos

Normally, on the weekend, we look back at what we wrote about on Techdirt five, ten and fifteen years ago, but I‘m going to pre-empt at least a bit of that with this post. Ten years ago, we wrote about the 40th anniversary of the famous and iconic "Mother of All Demos" by Doug Engelbart on December 9th, 1968. A little over five years ago, we wrote about it again, unfortunately on the occasion of Engelbart‘s passing. But, Sunday wil

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The Emmys People Are Opposing A Pet Products Company Named After A Dog Named ‘Emmy‘

In the pantheon of dumb trademark disputes, you would probably expect there to be some correlation between the volume or level of dumb of a dispute and the involvement of a member of the entertainment industry. Without having any hard data in front of me, I still feel quite comfortable stating that this expectation is almost certainly correct. The entertainment industries are notoriously protective of all things intellectual property, after all.

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Indiana Police Chief Promoting As Many Bad Cops As He Can To Supervisory Positions

Why is routine police misconduct a problem police departments can‘t seem to solve? It‘s a mystery, says Elkhart, Indiana law enforcement. Twenty-eight of the Elkhart Police Department‘s 34 supervisors, from chief down to sergeant, have disciplinary records. The reasons range from carelessness to incompetence to serious, even criminal, misconduct. Fifteen of them have served suspensions, including [Police Chief Ed] Windbigler

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After Getting FOSTA Turned Into Law, Facebook Tells Its Users To Stop Using Naughty Words

Well, well. As we‘ve covered for a while now, FOSTA became law almost entirely because Facebook did an about-face on its position on the law -- which only recently was revealed to have happened because COO Sheryl Sandberg decided it was important to appease Congress on something, even against the arguments of Facebook‘s own policy team. As we pointed out at the time, this was Facebook basically selling out the internet, and we wonder

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Contrary To Media Claims, There‘s No Evidence Russia Was Behind Fake Net Neutrality Comments

Earlier this week we noted how the Ajit Pai FCC again shot down journalist FOIA attempts to find out who was behind the millions of bogus comments that plagued the agency‘s net neutrality repeal. The move prompted one of the agency‘s commissioners, Jessica Rosenworcel, to accuse her own agency of a coverup--since Pai refuses to work with either journalists or law enforcement investigations trying to uncover the truth of who was behin

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When A ‘Trade War‘ Involves Seizing And Imprisoning Foreign Execs, It‘s No Longer Just About Trade

For years we‘ve been writing about the weird US government infatuation with the Chinese telco equipment firm, Huawei. The company has built a widely successful business, but going back many years there‘s been a loud whisper campaign that the company‘s equipment would send information back to the Chinese government. Of course, when our own government investigated this, it could find no evidence at all that this was true. It also

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FCC Tries to Bury Report Showing Many Broadband Users Still Don‘t Get The Speeds They Pay For

So every year like clockwork since 2011 the FCC has released a report naming and shaming ISPs that fail to deliver advertised broadband speeds. The Measuring American Broadband program, which the FCC runs in conjunction with UK firm SamKnows, uses custom-firmware embedded routers in subscriber homes to collect data on real-world speeds (an improvement from years past when the FCC would just take ISPs‘ at their word). In the years since,

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30 Years Ago, Maine Changed Its Law To Curb Forfeiture Abuse. Records Show Nothing Has Changed.

The thing about asset forfeiture is it‘s stocked full of perverse incentives. With a minimum of civil paperwork, law enforcement agencies can directly benefit from the property they seize and all without the hassle of having to deal with the uncertainty of criminal proceedings. The property is seized and its former owners are free to go. Minimum expenditure, maximum profit, and it‘s all totally legal. The best way to reform civil ass

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Nintendo Attempts To Bottle The Leak Genie With Copyright Strikes

A cursory review of our posts on Nintendo will reveal a company all too willing to wield intellectual property purely as a way to combat anything it doesn‘t like. The gaming giant jealously protects its IP, sure, but it also deploys its lawyers for such purposes as scaring the shit out of ROM sites, silencing YouTubers, shutting down fan-games from its biggest fans, and holding its consoles hostage unless customers agree to updated EULAs.

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Cubs, Nationals Launch Another Trademark Opposition Over A ‘W‘ Logo

Back in 2015, we wrote about a really dumb trademark dispute between a financial services firm and two Major League Baseball teams, the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs, over the letter "W." This insanity went on for years, with the MLB teams claiming there would be some sort of customer confusion in the public between professional baseball teams and a company that provided money management. Well, in case you thought that this was insanit

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What Do Pot And Software Have In Common? Stupid Patent Thickets Based On A Lack Of Patented Prior Art

Recently Reuters had a fascinating article all about the new patent thicket in pot that is appearing, thanks to legalization efforts in the US and around the globe. With marijuana now fully legal in Canada and at least partially legalized in the majority of U.S. states, companies are rushing to patent new formulations of the age-old botanical. This year, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued 39 patents containing the words cannabis

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Daily Deal: The Complete Python Data Science Bundle

The Complete Python Data Science Bundle contains 12 courses focused on solving today‘s data problems and creating AI innovations. Courses cover Python, Deep Learning, Plotly, Pandas, and more. The bundle is on sale for 37. Note: The Techdirt Deals Store is powered and curated by StackCommerce. A portion of all sales from Techdirt Deals helps support Techdirt. The products featured do not reflect endorsements by our editorial team. Per

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The TV Sector‘s Latest Bad Idea: Ads That Play When You Press Pause

The TV industry is certainly skilled when it comes to ignoring the will of the customer. You‘ll recall that as the cord cutting and ratings free fall began, the sector‘s very first impulse was to double down on a lot of bad ideas, from mindlessly raising rates, to editing down programs or speeding them up to shove more ads into each viewing hour. And as new innovations like ad skipping DVR technology emerged, the industry‘s ver

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EFF Goes To Bat For Free Speech, Asks Appeals Court To Uphold Injunction Against California‘s Stupid ‘Anti-Ageism‘ Law

Because the state is an idiot, the attorney general of California is appealing the federal court decision permanently preventing the state‘s government from enforcing its ultra-stupid "anti-ageism" law. The law -- which would do absolutely nothing to prevent movie studios from engaging in biased hiring -- targeted the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), preventing it from publishing facts about actors and actresses. This asinine, First Amendmen

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Telecom‘s Top Lobbying Arm Oddly Keeps Undermining The Industry‘s Own Claims About Net Neutrality

The telecom industry (and by proxy Ajit Pai‘s) primary justification for killing net neutrality -- and FCC authority over ISPs in general -- was that sector oversight was stunting network investment. Of course repeated analysis of the data shows that simply isn‘t true, but that hasn‘t stopped telecom lobbyists and the lawmakers who love them from repeating those claims in the hopes that repetition forges reality. And while te

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Man Shot By Cops Claims Shotspotter Found Phantom ‘Gunshot‘ To Justify Officer‘s Deadly Force

A lawsuit originally filed early last year makes some very disturbing allegations about police officers and their relationship with their vendors. New York resident Silvon Simmons was shot three times by Rochester Police Officer Joseph Ferrigno. Simmons was unarmed, but was hit with three of the four bullets fired by Ferrigno as he ran way from the officer. Shortly before being shot. Simmons had been engaged in "Minding Your Own Business," whi

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Some EU Nations Still Haven‘t Implemented The 2013 Marrakesh Treaty For The Blind

The annals of copyright are littered with acts of extraordinary stupidity and selfishness on the part of the publishers, recording industry and film studios. But few can match the refusal by the publishing industry to make it easier for the blind to gain access to reading material that would otherwise be blocked by copyright laws. Indeed, the fact that it took so long for what came to be known as the Marrakesh Treaty to be adopted is a shameful

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New York Court Tells CBP Agent He‘s Not Allowed To Pretend He‘s A Traffic Cop

In a short decision, the Supreme Court of the State of New York reminds federal agents what they can and can‘t do while operating under the color of law. In this case (via The Newspaper) a CBP officer, who was supposed to be keeping an eye on the ultra-dangerous Canadians, decided he wanted to be a traffic cop instead. Spotting a driver "engaging in dangerous maneuvers," the CBP agent (who is unnamed in the decision) decided to pursue the

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Good For The World, But Not Good For Us: The Really Damning Bits Of The Facebook Revelations

As expected, UK Parliament Member Damian Collins released a bunch of documents that he had previously seized under questionable circumstances. While he had revealed some details in a blatantly misleading way during the public hearing he held, he‘s now released a bunch more. Collins tees up the 250 page release with a few of his own notes, which also tend to exaggerate and misrepresent what‘s in the docs, and many people are running w

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Verizon Dinged Again For Privacy Violations, This Time For Slinging Personalized Ads To Kids

Oh Verizon. For years we‘ve noted how the company‘s consumer privacy practices are utterly abysmal. Like that time in 2016 when Verizon was fined a relative pittance by the FCC for modifying user wireless packets so it could covertly track users around the internet (beyond cookie, clickstream, or even deep packet inspection data). This being Verizon, it didn‘t bother to tell anybody that this was happening. As a result, it took

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Rudy Giuliani‘s Paranoid Nonsense Tweet Is A Good Reminder That We Need Actual Cybersecurity Experts In Government

Rudy Giuliani may have built up a reputation for himself as "America‘s Mayor" but the latest chapters in his life seem to be a mad dash to undue whatever shred of goodwill or credibility he might have left. Politics watchers will know that he‘s been acting as the President‘s lawyer, in which (as far as I can tell) his main job is to go on TV news programs and reveal stuff no lawyer should reveal. But, we shouldn‘t forget

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