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This Week In Techdirt History: February 18th - 24th

Five Years Ago This week in 2013, the Harlem Shake was still taking the world by storm, and serving as a great example of selective copyright enforcement. WIPO negotiations over access to copyrighted works for the disabled were, as usual, shrouded in secrecy, while an anti-piracy group was threatening the Pirate Party with criminal charges, the RIAA was moaning about Google‘s lack of an anti-piracy magic wand, and ISPs were gearing up to

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Good Faith Beats Bad Warrant In Another Win For FBI‘s World-Traversing NIT Malware

Another challenge of the NIT (Network Investigative Technique) warrant used by the FBI during its investigation of a dark web child porn website has hit the appellate level. A handful of district courts have found the warrant used invalid, given the fact that its reach (worldwide) exceeded its jurisdictional grasp (the state of Virginia, where it was obtained). That hasn‘t had much of an effect on appeals court rulings, which have all foun

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Game Studio Threatens Employees‘ Jobs If They Don‘t Write Positive Reviews Of Own Game, Then Steam Pulls Game Entirely

It‘s no secret that Valve‘s Steam platform is the dominant marketplace for PC video games. Much comes along with that status, including the strategies and metrics studios must employ to get their games noticed on Steam. One of the important metrics for recognition is Steam reviews. And it‘s not just the review scores themselves that are important, but actually getting reviews -- any reviews -- to begin with is a big deal. So

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Federal Court Shuts Down IMDb-Targeting ‘Anti-Ageism‘ Law Permanently

In the annals of stupid legislation, California‘s attempt to fight ageism at Hollywood studios by targeting third-party websites and using the First Amendment as a doormat will secure a prominent place in infamy. Rising from the ashes of a failed lawsuit brought by an actress who claimed IMDb cost her untold amounts of wealth by publishing her age, the law basically said IMDb couldn‘t publish facts on its website. Those pushing the l

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US Border Officials Have Never Verified Chipped Passports, Despite Demanding Their Usage

Ron Wyden is at it again. Sending pesky letters to government officials who appear to be completely falling down on the job. The latest is asking Customs and Border Patrol why it‘s still not verifying the e-passport chips that have been in all US passports -- and in all countries on the visa waiver list -- since 2007 (hat tip to Zach Whittaker). The letter points out that the US government pushed hard for these chips... and then never both

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Daily Deal: Aeon Timeline 2 for Mac And Windows

Aeon Timeline 2 for Mac And Windows is ideal for a wide variety of projects - big or small - and will help you manage your workload more efficiently, and get more done. You can manage events, entities, dependencies and more in an intuitive interface, as well as link events with images and external documents and websites to better track research and supporting documentation. You can work with either pre-configured or fully customizable templates,

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It You Can‘t Beat Purveyors Of Unauthorized Copies, Join Them -- With Style

One of the perennial questions around here is what companies should do about unauthorized copies of physical products. As readers will know, on Techdirt we don‘t think automatically filing lawsuits is the way to go. This little vignette from the New York Times reveals an alternative approach that is smarter and more remunerative: At a pop-up market stall just off Canal Street, the Madison Avenue of the unauthenticated, shoppers have spe

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Loss In 9th Circuit Appeals Court Isn‘t Slowing 1-800-LAWFIRM‘s Lawsuit Crusade Against Social Media Companies

1-800-LAWFIRM‘s oblique assault on Section 230 continues. This firm, along with Excolo Law, have been behind several Plantiff v. Social Media lawsuits seeking to hold Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. responsible for acts of terrorism. The legal theories are as terrible as they are long-winded. In an effort to route around Section 230 immunity, these firms have tried to portray the mere existence of terrorist groups on social media platform

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The FCC‘s ‘New‘ Broadband Availability Map Hallucinates Broadband Competition

A few years back the FCC (under Obama‘s first FCC boss Julius Genachowski) spent around 300 million on a broadband availability map that did a crap job actually measuring broadband availability. As we noted at the time, the map tended to hallucinate both available competitors and the speeds they could deliver to any address, providing a completely bogus sense of the nation‘s competitive options. It also failed utterly to include pric

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Game Studio Found To Install Malware DRM On Customers‘ Machines, Defends Itself, Then Apologizes

The thin line that exists between entertainment industry DRM software and plain malware has been pointed out both recently and in the past. There are many layers to this onion, ranging from Sony‘s rootkit fiasco, to performance hits on machines thanks to DRM installed by video games, up to and including the insane idea that copyright holders ought to be able to use malware payloads to "hack back" against accused infringers. What is diffe

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Everyone In the Cook County Criminal Court System Too Busy Pointing Fingers To Fix Its Antiquated Records System

When you write regularly about lawsuits, you learn very quickly that not all court systems are equal when it comes to allowing modern access to public filings and records. The country is a veritable panoply of an access spectrum, with some districts offering modern e-filing systems and websites to review documents, while other districts are far more antiquated and restrictive. That said, it‘s hard to imagine a county court system more back

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Report On Device Encryption Suggests A Few Ways Forward For Law Enforcement

Another paper has been released, adding to the current encryption discussion. The FBI and DOJ want access to the contents of locked devices. They call encryption that can be bypassed by law enforcement "responsible encryption." It isn‘t. A recent paper by cryptograpghy expert Riana Pfefferkorn explained in detail how irresponsible these suggestions for broken or weakened encryption are. This new paper [PDF] was put together by the Nation

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Court Destroys Future Public Art Installations By Holding Building Owner Liable For Destroying This One

Last week was a big week for dramatically bad copyright rulings from the New York federal courts: the one finding people liable for infringement if they embed others‘ content in their own webpages, and this one about 5Pointz, where a court has found a building owner liable for substantial monetary damages for having painted his own building. While many have hailed this decision, including those who have mistakenly viewed it as a win for ar

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Trump Blames School Shootings On Violent Video Games, Movies; Suggests We Need Some Sort Of Rating System For Them

When a mass shooting occurs, politicians leap into the void with plenty of ideas of how to fix it. They can‘t -- or won‘t -- fix it, but they‘re more than willing to sacrifice other Constitutional amendments to keep the Second Amendment intact. Kentucky Governor Matt Bevins was the first to fill the void with garbage following the latest school shooting by blaming violent video games, despite there being no evidence linking vio

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Daily Deal: CISSP Certification Training Course

In the CISSP Certification Training Course, overseen by the Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (ISSCC), you‘ll master the fundamentals of information systems security, and learn the skills you need to pass the CISSP exam. You‘ll learn the principles of access control, and how they can be strengthened and applied to keep unauthorized users out of a system. The course covers the role of information governance and ris

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Disney‘s Stupid Lawsuit Against Redbox Results In Judge Saying Disney Is Engaged In Copyright Misuse

Well, well. For the past few months I‘ve been meaning to write about Disney‘s silly lawsuit against Redbox, but other stuff kept coming up, and now a judge has ruled against Disney and said that Disney appears to be engaged in copyright misuse. This is in a case that Disney brought -- and it appears to be backfiring badly. Redbox, as you probably know, has kiosks where you can rent DVDs relatively cheaply. It‘s managed to stay

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House Prepared To Rush Vote On Terrible Frankenstein SESTA, Which Will Harm Trafficking Victims & The Internet

Things had been mostly quiet on the SESTA/FOSTA front for the past few weeks, but apparently that‘s about to change, as the House leadership has agreed to a plan to rush the bill to a full floor vote next week, by creating a terrible Frankenstein of a bill that solves none of the existing concerns people had -- but creates new ones. If you don‘t recall, there are competing bills in the House (FOSTA) and the Senate (SESTA) which purpo

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Right On Time: Kentucky Governor Lays The Blame For Florida School Shooting At The Feet Of Video Games

In the wake of the school shooting tragedy in Florida that saw 17 people slain and more injured, the following days have played out in a depressingly familiar fashion. It‘s somewhat stunning to see such bloodshed result in the predictable retreat by most people to the defensive or offensive ground of their cause du jour. What should be immediately obvious to anyone seriously examining something like the mass murder of school children and t

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The Death Of Net Neutrality Will Be Official In April (Cue The Lawsuits)

While the FCC formally voted to kill net neutrality late last year, the actual repeal of the rules doesn‘t occur until the repeal itself is published in the Federal Register. Sources tell Reuters that with Ajit Pai‘s agency having completed the finishing touches on its repeal, the publication should finally happen this week. Once that happens, there‘s a 60 day window before the actual repeal takes effect, meaning the rules will

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Research Paper Links Police Unions To Increased Officer Misconduct

Some research [PDF] has emerged indicating handing officers extra rights results in more citizen complaints. This may seem to be of the "water is wet" research variety, but there‘s no reason to shrug this off. While most of us can infer that shielding officers from the consequences of their actions would naturally result in increased misconduct, almost all evidence to date has been anecdotal. (h/t Marginal Revolution) University of Chica

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Court Realizes It Totally Screwed Up An Injunction Against Zazzle For Copyright Infringement

Last year we wrote about a bizarre and troubling DMCA case involving the print-on-demand company Zazzle, in which the judge in the district court bizarrely and wrongly claimed that Zazzle lost its DMCA safe harbors because the allegedly infringing works were printed on a t-shirt, rather than remaining digitally (even though it was the end user using the infringing work, and Zazzle‘s system just processed it automatically). To add insult to

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Inspector General For Intelligence Community Buried Report Showing Whistleblower Retaliation

A report by Kevin Poulsen for The Daily Beast shows, once again, that those suggesting Ed Snowden should have used the proper channels to voice his concerns about domestic surveillance are either ignorant or deliberately obtuse. Just prior to the Snowden leaks, President Obama enacted Presidential Policy Directive 19, which was supposed to prevent retaliation for whistleblowing. It was issued in 2012 and went into force just months before Snow

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EU Publishers Acknowledge Snippet Tax Concerns, But Say: ‘It‘s OK, You Can Trust Us‘

Techdirt has been following the ridiculous proposal to extend EU copyright even further to include tiny snippets from articles for years now. The idea has already been tried twice in the European Union, and failed dismally on both occasions. In Spain, a study showed the move there caused serious economic damage, especially to smaller companies; German publishers tacitly admitted the law was pointless when they granted Google a free license to us

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Trump, Nunes Accidentally Undo DOJ‘s Efforts To Keep Surveillance Docs Under Wraps

The government‘s antipathy towards FOIA requesters is well-documented. Our last president declared his White House to be the Openest Place on Earth. This was followed by a clampdown on FOIA responses, huge increases in withheld documents, and a war on whistleblowers. The Trump Administration has made no such promises. Good thing, too, as the uncontrollable mouth running the country would make these promises impossible to keep. We‘re

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