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Attorney Mike Godwin Answers 'Cyberlaw' Questions

Roblimo posted more than 10 years ago | from the oldest-living-internet-lawyer-tells-all dept.

The Courts 322

In this Q & A session, in which attorney Mike Godwin answers your questions, you'll see talk about many topics that get chewed up on Slashdot over and over again -- except this time the person speaking actually knows what he's talking about. Note especially the bit about liability for what you post online. A *lot* of people who post on Slashdot ought to read that part... Is there any hope? - by griffjon

By the time your daughter grows up, do you think there will be any of our cherished freedoms on the Internet left, or will everything be wrapped in legalese and DRM? With the passage of laws from the DMCA to the PATRIOT act, I've been increasingly pessimistic about the US's ability to pass any sane legislation that interfaces with the Internet...


Godwin:

If I didn't have hope that freedom would ultimately prevail on the Internet, and in the world around us generally, I would have moved on to some other kind of work. My current work, with Public Knowledge, is deeply satisfying -- I think the action now is at the intersection of intellectual-property law, technology policy, and constitutional law, and I have a longstanding interest in all three.

I don't think DRM by itself is deeply significant -- I think it's part of an ongoing cycle by vendors of digital products to attempt to increase control, then to relax it when the marketplace resists that control. Badly crafted laws, such as the DMCA and the PATRIOT Act are worse problems, in a way -- there's a strong tendency in the legal system for laws to ratchet up restrictions that are then only rarely ratcheted back down. The key thing in response to such laws is to identify points of tension where the laws lead to absurd results, and to focus challenges there. That's what EFF and other activist groups try to do.

The worst problem is when badly crafted laws, such as the DMCA, intersect with DRM to lead to results that effectively deprive people of rights they otherwise have under the Copyright Act, or under other laws. But I don't think such problems are intractable -- I think they simply require an immense amount of long-term effort by reformers.

Lesser-known cases that have a big impact on law. - by Viperion

Mr. Godwin - Lots of /.ers follow the SCO case, followed the DeCSS, Napster, IP, CIPA, etc. What are some lesser known cases/laws that you forsee as having a large potential impact on 'cyberlaw' as we know it?


Godwin:

I think we've come a long way since the early 1990s, when key cases might be handed down that affect online rights and responsibilities without generating a lot of publicity. The cases you hear about now through Slashdot and through traditional news media are the leading cases.

Where the real focus needs to be, it seems to me, is on the efforts by content companies to get the Federal Commuications Commission to become, in effect, the arbiter over DRM and computer arhitectures generally. Some of this is occurring in the FCC's broadcast-flag proceeding, and some in the FCC's administration of "plug-and-play" compatibility for cable services. Right now, the content companies are hoping to steer consumer-electronics companies and computer companies against using analog interfaces, because analog interfaces aren't as easily subjected to copy-protection technologies. Never mind that analog connections may be a source of compatibility among a wide range of different technologies.

Another front in cyberlaw is the efforts of the movie companies to seek changes in state-level regulation that would prohibit you from hooking up your computer, or other "unauthorized devices," to services you're paying for, such as cable television service. What the movie companies would like is for it to be criminal for you to hook up any device that might be more flexible than consumer-electronics tools in capturing and playing back content. I understand their concern -- they're freaked out by the prospect of folks digitizing content and putting it up on their Internet -- but I don't think their concern should trump the general preference we have for convergence between consumer-electronics devices and information-technology devices. The fact is that, already for a lot of us, watching TV on computers is the preferred mode to view TV content. Ditto with movies.

Internet law, International law? - by heironymouscoward

How far do you think that the internet will be responsible for creating a de-facto international legal system? Property rights, shared criminal databases, shared economic systems,... it seems that the influence of TCP/IP packets has no limits on our society. Will we one day see a world government to enforce international law? And lastly, will this be the US?


Godwin:

Well, I can't dispute that there are some strong pressures to harmonize legal systems among nations. The Internet is certainly part of that, although the pressures predate the modern Internet. But, you know, the experience we've had in the United States has been that there have long been efforts harmonize law among the various states -- the result has been a greater degree of uniformity, but not complete uniformity, among the states. What I anticipate over the long run is that, due to the Internet and other factors, we'll see a greater degree of uniformity among the laws of various nations, with critical exceptions such as the United States's greater degree of tolerance for defamatory speech.

The key focus will coming up with standard rules for deciding which courts have jurisdiction over activities that occur on the Internet. For some kinds of cases, it will turn on where the Internet activity or communication originated; for others, it will turn on what kinds of effects the Internet transaction has had on a particular jurisdiction.

I think we're a long way from "world government." You need a greater degree of inter-cultural harmony than we currently have, if the world government is going to play a dominant role. I think the U.S. has created some credibility problems for itself with the war on Iraq that tend to undercut its moral authority in other spheres. Even without that problem, there is longstanding resistance among other nations to ceding to the United States too much influence or control

Internet Pollution - by iplayfast

It seems to me that most (if not all) spaming and advertising done on the Internet is simply polluting the lines of communication. Like any pollution, it reduces the stuff you want, by increasing the ratio of stuff you don't want, thereby making the whole environment unusable.

Is it possible that this view can be used in any legal way to go after Internet polluters?


Godwin:

While legal theories derive to a large extent from analogy, it's usually not quite on such a wholesale level. Plus, economists already have some useful analogies to deal with the problems raised by SPAM -- "the free-rider problem" and "the tragedy of the commons." (These concepts also have been applied to environmental pollution, by the way.)

Where the pollution metaphor departs from our legal system is that most SPAM is also speech (albeit frequently speech that is garbled in order to thwart Bayesian and other types of filtering). Prior to the Internet, we saw the development of so-called "commercial speech" doctrine in American constitutional law -- it was aimed at creating a framework that allowed regulation of speech that invites someone into a commercial transaction, without affecting all the other kinds of speech, but has never been fully laid out or defined. The SPAM problem may result in more development of this doctrine.

What most of us who complain about SPAM want, I think, is a world in which we never get unsolicited commercial email, or at least in which that email is kept to a minimum. Plus, we'd kind of like to get back the bandwidth that we think is being eaten up by the spammers. (Obviously, blocking spam at the user level -- which I more or less have to do, since my email address has been the same for a decade and a half -- doesn't address the waste of bandwidth due to SPAM.) I'm not sure I know how one properly addresses the problem from a legal standpoint; I'm pretty certain that mere technical solutions won't work, absent some major reworking of the architecture of the Internet (which I would disfavor).

What we say in Cyberspace - by MrIrwin

I have always considered comments that are said on newsgroups and forums to be personal opinions of the sort one might overhear in a bar, so if you say "Apple nicked all their ideas from PARC" you would not suddenly expect a summons from Apples legal department.

On the contary, if a site passes itself as an "eNewspaper" site, an eMag or whatever, and it publishes mistruths, then I would expect it to be sued as any pulp publication would be.

Are there any legal precedents or specific laws on this?


Godwin:

First of all, make no mistake -- you can be held legally responsible even for things you say in a bar! Our law addresses the kinds of reputational damage that one can do in a bar conversation; we call that area of law the law of "slander" -- that is, the law of spoken defamation.

There's also already plenty of law on the books with regard to defamation on the Internet. Generally, the analysis is that because the scope of Internet communication can be much greater than that of overheard-in-the-bar conversations, libel law (generally speaking, reputational damage attributable to publishing in a mass medium) is more applicable than the law of slander.

You're right that Internet publications that edit their content before making it available to the public probably fall under the same rules as any publication on "dead trees." What was harder for the legal system to grapple with in the early 1990s was the BBS/Compuserve problem -- how do you treat systems that reserve the right to edit or remove stuff, but don't normally do so? I spelled out what I thought was the answer to that question in articles I published back then, later collected and reworked in my book CYBER RIGHTS: DEFENDING FREE SPEECH IN THE DIGITAL AGE.

I think I came up with "the right answer," applying existing libel-law principles, but my prescription about how to handle libel on the Internet was trumped by the Communications Decency Act, which later was incorporated into the 1996 omnibus telecommunications legislation. In the runup to the CDA, service providers negotiated an legal-liability exemption for themselves for cases in which their subscribers (rather than, say, magazine editors) originated the content. Needless to say, this was not a part of the Communications Decency Act that we challenged in Reno v. ACLU, the case in which the Supreme Court upheld a lower-court's finding that the CDA's ban on "indecent" content on the Internet was unconstitutional. One of the nicer outcomes for service providers and for the rest of us was that the ISP exemption remained even when the guts of that law were struck down. (I also talk about this case at length in CYBER RIGHTS, by the way.)

DMCA - by JoeBaldwin

Do you see the DMCA as a law that can truly benefit the world as a whole, or just a tool of the big corporations (MPAA, I'm looking at you) or whatever?


Godwin:

Well, I think it's primarily a tool of copyright-holding companies, who continue to be terrified (with justification) about the impact the digital world is going to have on their ways of doing business. For two or three centuries, depending on how you count, publishers and distributors have relied on the technological happenstance that making a copy of a creative work was difficult. The digital world makes copying easy and cheap, which undercuts a basic assumption behind copyright law, which is that unauthorized copying is generally so expensive that only bad guys with commercial motives would bother to do it. Suddenly, computers and the Internet have created a world in which ordinary, otherwise-law-abiding people are empowered to make unauthorized copies for free, and to share those 100-percent-perfect copies of creative works with other people -- maybe millions of other people.

Now, one response to this is just exactly what we've seen -- the copyright industries have been trying to shore up the existing copyright framework by DMCA lawsuits (either against Internet service providers or against individual users), by seeking architectural changes over computers and the Internet (to make copying harder), by classifying noncommercial copying as a criminal or civil wrong, and so on. And because these are well-moneyed copyright holders who do in fact employ lots of people and contribute to the economy, they have a lot of influence with policy-makers.

The problem here isn't merely that the copyright industries are trying to demonize peer-to-peer file-sharing, and digital copying of content generally. Instead, it's that they don't realize (or don't care) that they're attempting to roll back or otherwise restrict what can only be understood properly as design features of computers and of the Internet itself. Digital technologies at some fundamental level are about the making of perfect copies of information (whether that information is your content or someone else's). It's very hard to put technological hobbles on computers and the Internet that distinguish between lawful copying and unlawful copying -- if you want to throw out that bathwater, you're going to end up throwing out the baby as well.

A better approach, it seems to me, is that suggested by, among others, law professor Jessica Litman in her book DIGITAL COPYRIGHT. In the last chapter of her book, which I recommend to anyone interested in the DMCA and related digital-copyright subjects, Litman suggests that as we revise copyright law in the digital age, we try to make it as much like pre-existing law as possible. I agree with that -- my major criticism of the DMCA is not so much that it serves only one set of interests but rather that it prohibits circumventing copy-protection technologies even if you have an otherwise lawful reason to do so.

I have one other thought on this subject that's been on my mind lately, and it's this: just as much as peer-to-peer file-sharing is a basic feature of the Internet, music sharing (and the sharing of other treasured creative works) is a basic feature of human culture. We want to share the songs we love, the books and movies we love, and so on. I think what we've got to aim for is a legal system that preserves the goals of the Copyright Act while accommodating, to the extent possible, the human impulse to share the cultural creations we love.

Future Lawyers - by Fros1y

As a computer science student graduating college and hoping to head to law school, I wonder if you have any particular advice about what training, if any, will help to prepare me for "cyber-law". Many schools seem to have programs focusing on this aspect of the law, but I've often thought that the generalist approach to a field yielded better results.

Are there any experiences you'd advise a young prospective attorney interested in this field to seek out?


Godwin:

My belief is that the generalist approach is the right approach. The best lawyers in this field, I believe, are generalists -- people not only comfortable with a wide range of areas of law, but also with as wide a range as possible of technologies, creative cultures, and so on. Fortunately, any good law school has the resources to give someone a good general background on the legal side; as to the technological and cultural stuff, basically you have to make an extra effort to keep up that side of your training as well.

I never took a copyright course, or any course in intellectual property law, but I haven't found them particularly hard to acquire as a working lawyer. That's partly because the legal training I did receive enabled me to learn new stuff in a hurry. So, aim for the best legal training you can get, and don't give undue weight to the question of whether the law school has a program in cyberlaw or not.

There was, of course, no cyberlaw course being taught anywhere in the late 1980s when I was in law school, and I haven't felt the lack.

Spyware and its legal status - by medication

While I find spam as annoying as the next person, I'm more interested in the legal status of spyware. What are the rights of the individual when he visits a site? What rights to the individual's machine does the site have? Is permanently altering a user's browser a legal operation? What constitutes permission with regard to this type of manipulation?


Godwin:

The general answer is, if you give knowing consent to let this stuff be installed on your system, the spyware company is off the hook. "Knowing consent" probably means something like "did you have a chance to reading the licensing terms before clicking 'Agree'?"

Most of the companies that want to install stuff on your system that monitors what you do or otherwise takes over some of the cycles of your CPU for their own purposes will put such waivers up front in the installation process. Those that don't fully inform you about what they're doing, or that simply install stuff secretly, may be running afoul of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (or a state-law equivalent).

Making DVD Copies - by iammrjvo

Is it legal to make and edit copies of commercial DVDs for personal use? What about loaning out the edited copies to friends?


Godwin:

Personally, I happen to believe that making copies of your own DVDs for your own personal use ought to be understood as legal. Ditto for edited copies, to a limited extent. But beware -- the further you get from personal use, the more copies you make, and the more people you loan the copies to, the more likely it is that some movie company will try to classify you as an infringer and get you sued or prosecuted. (This risk is even greater if you've been editing the DVD content.)

We're living in a time in which there is a lot of pressure from content owners to put harder and ever more restrictive limits on what you can do with commercial content -- even content that you've lawfully obtained. Until the next paradigm shift occurs (and I don't know when that will be), you need to be alert to the prospect that your seemingly innocent, noncommercial behavior with digital content will set off a tripwire in some copyright lawyer's office somewhere.

What makes the net so special? - by jdunlevy

Why is it that there "have to be" laws specific to the internet? If a spammer sends an e-mail using forged headers, why doesn't the law go after him (or her) with good old-fashioned anti-fraud laws? Does the main failing of these kinds of old laws lie in ingorance that makes law enforcement unable or unwilling to enforce the laws without further clarification, or is something else going on here?


Godwin:

I've never been one for Internet-specific laws. I like to think our law works best when we incrementally change existing law to accommodate new situations. That's what happened with the law of common carriage, for instance -- a branch of law that dealt with carrier liability when the carrier was likely a stagecoach or a locomotive ultimately was adapted to apply to the telegraph and telephone, and the outcome of that incremental growth was liberating, both commercially and socially.

There may, however, be areas of law where something Internet-specific (or computer-specific) needs to be specifically developed. Take SPAM, for example -- the problem with SPAM may be understood as the fact that there are few inherent economic limitations on filling people's mailboxes with unwanted email. (By comparison, junk-mailers have to pay postage, printing costs, and the like.) So maybe the fact that there are no economic disincentives for spammers to flood your mailbox means there should be legal disincentives. Similarly, computer viruses are a kind of noxious hazard that does not have a precise counterpart in the non-Internet world, so it seems appropriate to address virus-writing miscreants with computer-specific or Internet-specific laws.

In general, though, I like applying old rules in new ways. My book takes this approach as one of its themes -- I try to show how traditional, well-understood principles of free-speech law can be adapted relatively straightforwardly in the digital world.

Privacy and domain names - by Tablizer

Do you feel that one should have to make their (human) name and street public information to receive a domain name? It is perfectly possible to keep such information private except to law enforcement under request. The debators on both sides seem to see it as an all or nothing situation: open to everybody or open to nobody.


Godwin:

I'm not a big supporter of mandatory self-identification, whether it comes to domain names or anything else. Our culture, including our legal system, has established a pretty high tolerance for anonymous speech, and I'd hate so see that tradition abandoned, whether in the course of fighting spam, or preventing terrorism, or whatever the evil of the day is.

Question (continued):

Godwin:

For that matter, what are the legal barriers against having a single "recipient number" for all types of communication so that one can move and still keep the same number? Email, phone, paper mail, etc. can then be redirected to such a number, and internal lookup tables would supply physical locations or addresses for final delivery. But to senders or callers, it is just one stable number.

There's no restriction on keeping your same email address, so long as you keep the same provider, so far as I know. (Your provider may have policies that restrict your ability to do this, but I know of no general legal restriction.) The key thing for the Internet is DNS -- the domain name in your email address tells mail servers something about where to route your mail. I don't know for certain, but my instinct is to believe that email addresses are not going to be portable anytime soon in the way that (thanks to regulation and deregulation) cell phone numbers are, and landline phones may someday be. At least not until we see some successor to the domain-name/IP-address model, which I wouldn't look for anytime soon.

GNU General Public Licence - by Vexware

I have written some software and have decided to distribute it under the GNU General Public License. I then find out some established/incorporated company has modified the software without redistributing their modified version freely, that they are making a profit out of the modified undistributed version, or that they are redistributing the software without pointing out that what they are giving is not the original version of the software. What exactly are my rights? Is it worth taking the company to court, or is this too risky? To come to the point, is the GPL actually a license which has some value in the courts of justice?

Godwin:

I'm not an expert on the intricacies of applying the GPL -- for that expertise I'd refer you to Eben Moglen at the Columbia University law school, since he's thought more deeply about GPL problems than I have (not least because he developed the current version of the GPL in consultation with RMS). My short answers are:

A. Yes, I believe the GPL is actually a license that has value in court.

B. I can't tell you whether it's an appropriate business decision for you to pursue some legal action against some company that has violated the GPL that accompanied the code with which you provided them. I do think folks at the Free Software Foundation and other free-software/open-source advocates would likely take an interest in a case like the one you describe, so it wouldn't hurt to contact them for advice if this problem comes up.

Groklaw - by robslimo

What effects, positive or negative, do you think sites like the popular Groklaw have/will have on corporate technology litigation? Do lawyers pay any attention to the research and opinions of amateurs and the general public?


Godwin:

I think sites like Groklaw provide valuable information as well as (occasionally) entertainment for those of us, lawyers and nonlawyers alike, who want to track certain kinds of computer-, Internet-, and technnology-related issues. I don't have any strong sense that lawyers who represent the big corporate players give routine attention to what people say on the Net about their cases -- for them, as for the rest of us, the Internet may well be what Vernor Vinge memorably termed "the Net of a Thousand Lies." That said, history suggests that if there's enough of a groundswell of opinion, positive or negative, about what a company is doing, the company ultimately pays attention to the reaction (with the CEOs paying attention perhaps more quickly than the lawyers do).

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yes, but (-1)

anthrax_spork (532086) | more than 10 years ago | (#8769784)

will he cook my TV dinner?

Re:yes, but (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8769876)

yes, but he won't steal your Domain name (like Michael)

MY COCK THROBS (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8769981)

jamming in your warm snatch is my means to an end TY HAND

Can he answer by what law America does this?! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8769830)

You Americans should be ashamed of yourselves!

Detainees at Guantanamo Bay are shackled for up to 15 hours at a time in hand and leg cuffs with metal links which cut into the skin. Their "cells" are wire cages with concrete floors and open to the elements - giving no privacy or protection from the rats, snakes and scorpions loose around the base. A diet of foul water and food up to 10 years out-of-date has left inmates malnourished. By contrast the camp guard dogs have wooden houses with air conditioning and green grass to exercise on.

But worst of all is the use of vice girls to torment the most religiously devout detainees. Prisoners who have never seen an "unveiled" woman before are forced to watch as the hookers touch their own naked bodies. One said an American girl had smeared menstrual blood across his face in an act of humiliation!

How dare you call yourselves the land of the free and the defenders of civilization. You make me sick! You are a bunch of depraved lunatics who deserve to drown in pig shit!

Re:Can he answer by what law America does this?! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8769874)

Its just too true.
USA is the land of the cowards.

Re:Can he answer by what law America does this?! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8769929)

Yes... the anonymous ones.

Re:Can he answer by what law America does this?! (-1, Offtopic)

jxliv7 (512531) | more than 10 years ago | (#8769945)

.

I can see why you choose to be an "ANONYMOUS COWARD". How appropriate...

Thrid psot (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8769853)

Nazis!

hey d00ds (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8769860)

check out this hawt chix0r! [somethingawful.com] !!!11`

domain name registration/information (5, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 10 years ago | (#8769871)

Privacy and domain names - by Tablizer

Do you feel that one should have to make their (human) name and street public information to receive a domain name?

Godwin:

I'm not a big supporter of mandatory self-identification, whether it comes to domain names or anything else. Our culture, including our legal system, has established a pretty high tolerance for anonymous speech, and I'd hate so see that tradition abandoned, whether in the course of fighting spam, or preventing terrorism, or whatever the evil of the day is.


Exactly! I have mentioned this particular tidbit before and have been roasted because your domain name shouldn't be considered something that is private.

The more and more we find these little pieces acceptable the more ground we will lose in the future.

Yes, it will make it difficult to prosecute spammers. It will also make it difficult for people to harass people minding their own business.

Should we eliminate the privacy of 99% of the population for what the other 1% does? I don't think it should fly in this particular instance.

Just my .02,

Re:domain name registration/information (5, Informative)

spamacon (239531) | more than 10 years ago | (#8769996)

My domain registrar (registerfly.com, not affiliated, bla bla bla) and others provide a service where they put some mangled address/telephone that they control so that any of my personal info is hidden. If anything comes to them for me, they would forward it to me. That seems like a way to get anonymity while still being able to follow DNS rules.
tink tink (2 cents)

Re:domain name registration/information (4, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770037)

and you have to pay for that... I should be allowed to protect myself w/o having to pay someone else.

We are doing this because of 1% of the population that would find another way around it anyway.

Re:domain name registration/information (2, Informative)

Skidge (316075) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770259)

Having to pay for privacy seems to be pretty standard. Last time I signed up for telephone service, they told me I'd have to pay extra to not get listed in the phone book.

Re:domain name registration/information (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8770730)

so? This proves my point exactly. You are paying off the telephone company to stop them from making more revenue off something you really don't have a choice but to have (at least before cell phones).

You are allowing this to go on and it's only getting worse.

Thank you.

Re:domain name registration/information (2, Insightful)

cellocgw (617879) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770363)

I should be allowed to protect myself w/o having to pay someone else.
Well, to follow Godwin's them of matching Internet law to the laws in the physical world, I'd like to point out that you pay someone else to run your house security/alarm system, you pay someone else to guard the streets (albeit a government agency, i.e. the police), and so on.
Not to say you couldn't (maybe) do these things yourself, but that would take significant effort and skill.... not unlike creating your own domain&webhost with your very own set of anonymity tools.

Re:domain name registration/information (1)

whovian (107062) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770459)


Well, for one your home telephone company gets away with charging you to have an unlisted number. People who do need to know your number in case of emergency (police, 911) just use caller ID to sniff your number anyway.

The alternatives cover the whole range of costs. AFAIK cell phone carriers keep subscriber numbers unlisted (for now).

Re:domain name registration/information (5, Insightful)

MisanthropicProgram (763655) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770014)

Sir:
A fucking men

I'm a firm believer that personal privacy should be the prime criteria for most laws and regulations.

For those of you who think - if you're not doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to worry about . Well, post your:

Name

Address

Date of birth

Social Security number (or eqivilant)

Sexual preferance

The last person you slept with

Your politics

Everything else...
Yes, I have a lot to hide! All of it is legal --- for now!

Re:domain name registration/information (3, Funny)

Mandrake (3939) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770062)

I think you should have also requested shoe size and mother's maiden name.

Re:domain name registration/information (2, Funny)

MisanthropicProgram (763655) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770229)

Oh, fuck! you're right!

Add that to my list!

Re:domain name registration/information (1)

MisanthropicProgram (763655) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770315)

Mr. or Ms. Moderator,
I was responding to the parent post. Please reconsider.

Thank you, MisanthropicProgram

Re:domain name registration/information (0, Offtopic)

MisanthropicProgram (763655) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770605)

To the moderator who mod'd me "Offtopic" --FUCK YOU!

Re:domain name registration/information (1)

NamShubCMX (595740) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770184)

I wish I had mod points right now...

Not having done anything wrong does not mean not having anything to hide

Simple as that.

Oh, Yeah... (1)

MisanthropicProgram (763655) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770277)

My post is freely availble to beat over the heads of people who say "if you're not doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to worry about ..."
AND remind them that all you have to do is go up to Lexis Nexis and you'll find enough to put them in jail ... one of the same sources that our(US) Government uses!

Re:domain name registration/information (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8770305)

Name: Rob Malda
Address: 2001 Woodlark Dr., Holland, MI 49424-7643
Date of birth: 04-01-72
Social Security number (or eqivilant): 567-68-0515
Sexual preferance: Bottom
The last person you slept with: CowboiKneel
Your politics: Anything to fellate RMS or Linus Torvalds
Everything else: I once cheated on CowboiKneel with Michael

Damn... (1)

MisanthropicProgram (763655) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770370)

Now I can steal your identity and buy a pack of chewing gum!

Re:domain name registration/information (1)

Professr3 (670356) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770060)

(human) name As opposed to...?

Re:domain name registration/information (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8770288)

J00R 1337 |-|4x0r |\|4m3!!11!!~~!!1

Or your professional business name. Given that registerd companies have afforded to them several of the rights and privelidges given to an individual, why can they not use their business name?

As opposed to... (1)

Allen Zadr (767458) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770731)

Knock, Knock, Neo
As opposed to your cyber-name.

Yeah, my name is Allen [slashdot.org] , really.

Re:domain name registration/information (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8770310)

You're just wanting to post your anti-OO rants without anyone knowing that topmind/tabilizer/FlakeyMind is really Bryce Jacobs [google.com] .

A possible compromise (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770345)

How would you feel if accurate information were required solely for those entities using the domain to conduct commercial matters, primarily sales but also for tech support and other such uses? This way, you could have your personal site at myname.tld with hidden or false information, but you would have to have proper contact information in place for mysalessite.com.

Re:domain name registration/information (1)

Tassach (137772) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770707)

Should we eliminate the privacy of 99% of the population for what the other 1% does? I don't think it should fly in this particular instance.
I don't think it should fly in ANY instance. The rights of the majority should not be infringed to punish a minority, nor should the rights of a minority be infringed to cater to the whim of the majority.

He should have started his posts with IAAL... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8769883)

Since he really is a lawyer.

For those that don't know- (4, Funny)

baudilus (665036) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770125)

IAAL = I Am A Lawyer.

Just in case you thought it mean "If Anyone Actually Listens"

Re:For those that don't know- (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8770216)

Thanks for the info, Captain Cockinmouth.

Re:He should have started his posts with IAAL... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8770224)

Shut up! Shut the living fuck up! You're so fucking stupid I want to rip your skull out, fuck it from behind, and then put it back in your head so you'll be smarter with it full of my sperm!

Cycling hurts my ass (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8769885)

I've recently begun a vigorous cycling and gym program to turn myself (over a course of few years) from a pitiful fat slob of a geek-boy into a physical speciment that could apply to special forces.

My problem is that cycling makes my ass hurt like hell. Now I don't mind that my muscles hurt from a hard workout at the gym, but "why do you walk so funny?" questions aren't funny anymore.

So, my question is, how do I stop my ass from getting sore from cycling?

Re:Cycling hurts my ass (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8769934)

So, my question is, how do I stop my ass from getting sore from cycling?

Get a decent saddle. Something like this [sportsbasement.com] .

Re:Cycling hurts my ass (-1, Troll)

kill-9-0 (720338) | more than 10 years ago | (#8769938)

Stop meeting guys in rest stops and having them invade you rectally. Should clear up your ass problems in no time. Do you have any other problems I can help with??

Re:Cycling hurts my ass (-1, Offtopic)

jxliv7 (512531) | more than 10 years ago | (#8769979)

.

Your problem is that the seat isn't wide enough and you're resting all your weight on the wrong place. Try a wide seat that supports your buttocks. It'll work wonders.

Re:Cycling hurts my ass (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8770179)

It appears that your bicycle is missing an important feature that would make your traveling a lot more comfortable experience: a saddle. I believe such a thing can be purchased in most any hardware store.

I'm grateful that .. (5, Funny)

MisanthropicProgram (763655) | more than 10 years ago | (#8769892)

Godwin answered our questions. I'm also grateful that he didn't preface his answers with - IAAL.

Amusing... (1, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770145)

It amuses me that people here expect companies to follow the copyright of the GPL but are freely willing to break the copyright of other companies' products simply because it's "easy" and "convenient." Amused me so much, I put it in my sig.

I also think it's funny that there is still somewhat of a stigma over pirating software--particularly games--simply because a lot of people here are programmers or look up to programming heroes like John Romero.

If Slashdot was made up mostly of musicians, their tune would change (pun intended).

Re:Amusing... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8770212)

Yeah, EVERYONE on slashdot expects companies to follow GPL and EVERYONE on slashdot are downloading copyrighted materials.

You brush is WAY to wide. Slashdot isn't one big collective. Get over it.

Re:Amusing... (1)

Peyna (14792) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770295)

The post you replied to never said "everyone," and didn't seem to imply that either.

Re:Amusing... (2)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770776)

The post you replied to never said "everyone," and didn't seem to imply that either.

Quiz time! Find the word "everyone" in this sentence:
"Everyone should respect the copyright of the GPL."

Re:Amusing... (1)

MisanthropicProgram (763655) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770562)

You sir or madame, are one of the reasons that I still spend so much time on /.! This is way after the moderators have left. But, please take this as my high regard for your comment!

Re:Amusing... (1)

happyfrogcow (708359) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770630)

I think the amount of people here in /. who support copyright infringement is very low. Most would argue to their death about Fair Use before supporting copyright infringement of any kind. You just don't see posts proclaiming "I don't support copyright infringement!" because there isn't really a need to until posts like yours show up.

number of copyright violations on my computer: Zero.

Re:Amusing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8770673)

and some people believe that people are/should be motivated by bettering humankind and not by the almighty dollar.

i have more respect for the guy who works all day at mcdonalds, comes home tired and writes a song about it then i do lars from metallica owning another gold plated shark tank, that he doesnt need.

tell me again why corporations deserve to be paid billions to exploit my creativity?

Re:Amusing... (2, Informative)

mbbac (568880) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770722)

You mean Carmack. Romero was a designer, not a programmer.

Re:Amusing... (2, Insightful)

byrd77 (171150) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770800)

Entirely different situations. Breaking the GPL for commercial gain is exactly the type of violation the Copyright Act is intended to punish. Impairing technological advancement, blocking fair use, and using a sledgehammer to swat a teenage music fan - that's not even close to either the intent of the current law (exclud. DMCA, etc...) or the historical societal objectives and norms from which the laws are derived.

Re:I'm grateful that .. (1)

svallarian (43156) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770568)

I glad that he didn't mention Nazis or the whole discussion would have imploded.

Steven V.

Not just posters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8769896)

A *lot* of people who post on Slashdot ought to read that part...

Editors should be carefvul as well. Michael, I am looking at you.

Re:Not just posters (1, Offtopic)

adzoox (615327) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770000)

I would agree - I would also caution editors about story submission favoratism and just outright copying story submissions.

Slashdot editors, as of late, have also been "harassing us" with political speech - Bush/Republican bashing - it only serves as preaching to the choir. Tech unites us here on Slashdot, politics - most often divide us.

There's always spin (2, Insightful)

MisanthropicProgram (763655) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770072)

I know an ex-journalist. She told me: "... there's always a spin on a story regardless of who's publishing it. ...everyone has a bias ..."
What I'm trying to say is, please keep posting your observations! I get into the trap of not questioning the sources of my informatin much too often!

Re:Not just posters (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8770153)

Slashdot editors, as of late, have also been "harassing us" with political speech - Bush/Republican bashing
Sure they have [slashdot.org] , they're just sooooooo "liberal" here...

Re:Not just posters (2, Insightful)

JWW (79176) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770447)

I agree wholdheartedly with you.

I think a lot of effort is being expended to speak to "slashdot demographics" as defined by the editors.

While I would agree that Linux, Technology News are of core demographic interest to almost every slashdotter. Being politically liberal is not common across the audience. Its nowhere near as common as the editors think even.

If I really wanted a liberal discussion about purely political news, I'd go to Kurh5hin. K5 is worthless purley because of all the political noise found there.

Legally Correct? (3, Insightful)

ElDuderino44137 (660751) | more than 10 years ago | (#8769958)

I didn't have a chance to read the whole article ...

But I'd just like to mention that ...
There's a difference between the currently accepted legal position ...
And right vs. wrong ...

Too many times legality is mistaken for ...
Morality.
And the Judiciary is mistaken for a ...
moral compass.

I fear the notion of ...
keeping someone from ...
creating clothing ...
that looks just like your line of clothing ...
stamping your label on it ...
and selling it.

Has mutated into ...
I am the only one w/ the right to sell clothes.

Cheers,
-- El Duderino

Spam (5, Interesting)

evilviper (135110) | more than 10 years ago | (#8769993)

(Obviously, blocking spam at the user level -- which I more or less have to do, since my email address has been the same for a decade and a half -- doesn't address the waste of bandwidth due to SPAM.)

[...]
I'm pretty certain that mere technical solutions won't work,

Well, I can't agree there. First off, the less-bandwidth-utilizing solution is simply to do the filtering on the SMTP server end. A simple blacklist (perhaps one erring on the side of caution) would take care of the large majority of spam with practically no badwidth wasted.

However, even besides that, the solution can still be a technical one. All it takes is enough end-users blocking spam to start causing SPAM to be less profitable. Soon enough, the costs of bandwidth and pay checks are higher than the profits from idiots buying products through spam messages.

There are even more solutions I could go through. Blocking e-mails, based upon the lack of a key in the subject line, would also be very easy on bandwidth if done on the server end. (eg. before downloading the message)

My point being, there are lots of technical solutions to the spam problem. The only problem is the lack of adoption.

Spammer don't pay for bandwith (2, Informative)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770132)

most spammers don't pay for the bandwidth they use - they slave other peoples machines, feed them a list of emails (short) and make them generate the emails (long) - thereby stealing other peoples bandwidth

Re:Spam (1)

Highrollr (625006) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770226)

I'm not so sure the problem is simply one of adoption. I don't remember the exact statistics, but spammers need only a very small fraction of targets to buy their crap to make a profit. So think for a second about someone who actually thinks to themselves, "20% bigger? WHERE DO I SIGN UP?" Is this a person who has the motivation or knowledge to set up a filter? I doubt it. Note that I'm not saying technical solutions are completely ineffective. They work, but to really get to the core of the problem I believe social solutions are needed as well.

Re:Spam (3, Interesting)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770289)

That's because of the difficulty of adopting many of the changes. Filtering at the SMTP server does nothing to save the bandwidth already used in the transmission of the e-mail messages in the first place. Blacklists and whitelists both have been shown to be problematic at best for most instances.

Spam filters are not the easiest thing in the world for most people to deal with. Sure, your average Slashdot junkie can install not only a Bayesian filter for his favorite e-mail client, but may well also have another filter sitting outside the e-mail client, and have his own configured on the server. But that's not even remotely common, and you have to factor in the fear of false positives. I've used a handful of solutions with varying success, from blacklists to Bayesian filters to peer-to-peer concepts like Cloudmark Spamnet. *I* can deal with the false positives, but non-techs I know get frustrated because the perceived promise is a complete removal of spam, which doesn't happen, with no false positives, which doesn't happen. It matters little at the moment whether or not they are told to expect a few things to slip in either direction. The simple fear of missing some critical e-mail is pretty hard to get past, and leaves most people grudgingly content with seeing 1000 spam messages rather than possibly having a critical message marked as spam. Is it logical? Not especially, but it's still often the truth.

Recent clients have taken to not loading images or code from websites without specific permission. I think this is a big step because it means that addresses are not so easily validated, but I wonder how long it will last before spammers simply send off even more messages to cover the discrepancy.

So what's the proper step? Most of the work lays with Microsoft. I think Microsoft is making an enormous leap with the new automatic firewall in XP SP2, as well as the semi-obnoxious messages about not having virus software installed. The two combined should help to decrease the number of systems constantly re-infected by the recent strains that look for existing infected systems to exploit, and by getting more people to use AV software. I think one other huge step could be taken by retrofitting the other supported e-mail clients (Outlook 2000 and XP, and Outlook Express 5.x and 6.x) with the download-prevention features in Outlook 2003. Even though I admit above that it might be a short-term solution, it's still workable for at least that time, and might whittle down the volume of addresses at least a little bit.

Re:Spam (1)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770679)

Blacklists and whitelists both have been shown to be problematic at best for most instances.

Blacklists are fundamentally imperfect, but whitelists can work great with only some minor technical steps needed. The only additional requirement is some way for a non-whitelisted sender to get a message to you, by having additional transactional cost transfered onto her. Both micropaynments and computational time ("hashcash") have been proposed (by Bill Gates, amoung others), and either could work (with varying degrees of infrastructural prerequisites)

Someone might respond with "Well if whitelists are so great, then why aren't we happily using them already?" That's a variant of the "neophobic" fallacy. In this case, the response is simple: An effective spamfighting system hasn't been created yet because spam is not a big problem.

That last might shock internet activists, but its true. Spam is not bothersome enough to encourage average consumers to really demand solutions. Normal AOL users are inured to unsolicited commercials, and power-users are resigned to workarounds (such as fearfully protecting their email addresses from public view on web pages).

If there was a strong enough desire to solve the problem, it'd get solved.

Re:Spam (1)

CBravo (35450) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770442)

Incompetence is also a factor not to forget. The guys at my work hardly know how a webserver works and I quote (&translate) "If I can't click it together in five minutes then things aren't efficient". These guys service 500 users LOL.

They don't have time for linux because they have so much work to do, fixing their mailserver, terminal server, mail clients, etc etc. Fsckers.

Blacklists are just a hassle to these people. They could care less about the user. "Yes Sir, just delete those spam e-mails, then you are fine".

thanks (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8770038)

thanks for your time, mike!

First Amendment versus Libel laws (5, Informative)

Wingchild (212447) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770064)

After reading the responses to these questions, the thing that sticks with me is that there's a definite provision listed for libel and slander that allows someone to take offense to your otherwise Free Speech.

The First Amendment (for those who aren't familiar and insist on going with hearsay instead of knowing their history) reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.


Shortened, `Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech.`

Here's a good site detailing how libel laws work [radford.edu] . Two key provisions involved that you should keep in mind:

1) Libel requires that your statements be false. Be careful about carrying forth rumor and hearsay as truth, but know also that just because something is unverified doesn't make it untrue. If you're using that as your rallying cry, though, be prepared to offer up hard evidence for your statements; the burden of proof certainly won't lie with someone claiming defamation.

2) Libel requires that Fault be proved.
You must be intentionally malicious or negligent (the latter may be far easier to prove). If you're quoting a reputable source, they'd be guilty of libel - you may only be guilty of foolishness. However, if you're reposting unverified info via your "personal web site" that logs a few hundred thousand visitors each week, don't expect that provision to save you either.

The linked site actually has a good rundown on what constitutes a defense, and what's not a defense - it might help to familiarize yourself with the rules before you opt to post flamebait on your heavily trafficed website (as you are a de facto news source and publisher).

Here's another handy link for y'all - Computer Information Systems Law and System Operator Liability Revisited [murdoch.edu.au] , dated Sept. 1994. It was written more for the forum/BBS era, but has some useful insights into legality.

Re:First Amendment versus Libel laws (0)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770280)

Which part of "no law" don't you understand?

Re:First Amendment versus Libel laws (3, Informative)

guacamolefoo (577448) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770410)

You miss two major points. (People often do that when quoting T-shirt slogans)

First, the First Amendment applies to The US Congress and to states(through incorporation via the 14th Amendment). It does not apply as between private parties.

Second, no right is absolute. Shouting "fire!" in a theater, blah, blah, blah. Even significant rights may be impinged if there is a compelling state interest and the restriction used to accomplish that interest is the least restrictive means.

Third, the US Constitution did not serve to trump the common law rights of private parties. It codified the powers that were delegated to the Fed. Govt. by the people, and the First Amendment was a codification/restriction of the Fed's ability to act in certain spheres. Where that leaves us is that private actions for defamation (slander/libel) and to a lesser extent, other miscellaneous privacy torts, is untouched by the First Amendment. The First Amendment is essentially irrelevant to the law of slander/defamation, although there is some bleedover in media cases, such as NY Times v. Sullivan.

GF.

Re:First Amendment versus Libel laws (1)

guacamolefoo (577448) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770432)

You miss two major points.

[snip]

Third,

But I can't count, so you shouldn't pay any attention to me anyhow.

GF.

Re:First Amendment versus Libel laws (0)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770723)

Well that's all well and good, except that the Constitution does not allow for any exceptions, and in making those exceptions, Congress, the states, and the courts are essentially acting on authority that hasn't been delegated to them by the people. Laws like that are dangerous, not because of their direct effects (very few people outside the tabloid publishing industry would assert that people should have the right to blatantly lie about each other), but because they send the message that the Constitution is not, in fact, the supreme law of the land.

Of course, libel laws aren't even close to being the worst offenses in that manner. All the crap that Congress passes under the guise of "regulating interstate commerce" is ridiculous.

Re:First Amendment versus Libel laws (1)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770747)

It does not apply as between private parties.

An agreement between individuals is not a law, so that's irrelevant to "What part of no law..."

Even significant rights may be impinged if there is a compelling state interest and the restriction used to accomplish that interest is the least restrictive means.

Then the Constitution should've said so. "Compelling state interest to abridge rights" is a dangerous concept to let stand, because it can also be applied to speedy & fair trials, uncompensated seizure of property, and more...

As it stands, both the criminal libel code and campaign-finance regulations are both unconstitutional on their faces. (Blatant unconstitutionality is of course only a minor barrier to widespread enforcement of a USA law).

You may all ready know this... (5, Informative)

r.future (712876) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770065)

... but just in case you did not I'll toss it up here.

Lawrence Lessing [lessig.org] (another lawyer who has done lots of writing about the internet, and been talked about on Slashdot often) posts what IMO is some very insightful information on "cyberlaw" at his blog [lessig.org] from time to time. If you enjoyed this interview, and have not cheked out Lessing's work.

Here are some of the groups that Lessing is working / has worked with...
creative commons [creativecommons.org]
eff [eff.org]
puclib knowledge [publicknowledge.org]
fsf [gnu.org]

Article Text in Case Of Slashdotting (2, Funny)

LordoftheFrings (570171) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770082)

Just kidding. ;)

I Have More Rights in Russia (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8770090)

..."the United States's greater degree of tolerance for defamatory speech."

Umm, sorry, no. Sure, in comparison to China, the US has a greater tolerance for "defamatory speech", but in comparison to Canada, Europe, and even Russia, the US is extremely suppressive. And "defamatory" all to often coincides with "free" when it comes to speech.

Go back to Russia - Barney Gumble

Re:I Have More Rights in Russia (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8770501)

"but in comparison to Canada, Europe, and even Russia, the US is extremely suppressive."

Really? Write an article in France about the myth of the French Resistance in WWII. Or in Canada, write an article on how you think French Candians are a bunch of cowards.

Europe? Europe is a continent, not a country.

The very same? (2, Interesting)

The Desert Palooka (311888) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770105)

Godwin's Law, Godwin the Lawyer?

Re:The very same? (1)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770174)

Yes. He is that Godwin.

Re:The very same? (3, Informative)

ryants (310088) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770211)

Yes [killfile.org]

Re:The very same? (1)

Crash Culligan (227354) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770349)

Godwin's Law, Godwin the Lawyer?

I believe they are one and the same. However, notice that in the text of the article, not once did he ever mention the N-

Hah! Close, but I didn't fall for it!

Re:The very same? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8770441)

You tried to trick us like those damn Nazis did!

eSpam versus snailSpam (5, Interesting)

DavidStewartZink (744924) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770107)

Also note that snailSpam is alleged the primary source of revenue to the USPS. So there's an economic incentive to NOT treat it like eSpam.

Re:eSpam versus snailSpam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8770330)

I get more actual snail mail than snail spam, I imagine it is this way for most people and businesses.

Besides, they get bulk rates; so they're paying less per letter than I pay for sending letters.

Re:eSpam versus snailSpam (4, Insightful)

red floyd (220712) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770336)

True, but snailSpam is also "sender pays", is easier to track back, and is subject to Mail Fraud laws. If $DUMBCORP snailSpams me for h3Rb41 V1@gr4!,
  1. $DUMBCORP is paying for it
  1. If I believe it's fraudulent, I can contact the USPS as a remedy

Those two features of snailSpam make it markedly different from eSpam.

"Groklaw - by robslimo" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8770117)

Why must Slashdot editors insist in getting THEIR questions in? How do we know they aren't modding up their own questions? There are plenty of people on this site that are capable of asking appropriate and insightful questions and having the community mod them up.

Some lame responses (-1, Troll)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770176)

I don't see too much insight here. Some answers are downright lame - like the "Lesser-known cases" question. Am I to take it that Mr. Godwin is too busy to answer with some detail or that the detail doesn't exist? Wipe out the name and the answers could have come from practically anyone with a casual interrest in DRM and property rights.

Re:Some lame responses (1)

Atzanteol (99067) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770660)

The difference here is, that he says these things with 'authority' whereas most people with a 'casual interest in DRM' do not.

On Viruses (Virii?) (4, Interesting)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770182)

'Similarly, computer viruses are a kind of noxious hazard that does not have a precise counterpart in the non-Internet world, so it seems appropriate to address virus-writing miscreants with computer-specific or Internet-specific laws.'

(ob IANAL)
Why would existing laws on vandalism not cover this?
On the physical level, the magnetic regions on one's fixed disc are altered in a manner not authorised by the owner and cause the system to not function correctly.
I don't see this as differing (w.r.t. vandalism) from dropping a wrench in an engine or maladjusting the control knobs.

Vandalism (2, Interesting)

baudilus (665036) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770324)

While Merriam-Webster defines vandalism [m-w.com] as the "willful or malicious destruction or defacement of public or private property," this definition is insufficient to describe the inherent self-propagating nature of computer virii, therefore the definitions are not one and the same.

In order for the analogy to work, dropping the wrench into an engine would have to cause not only that engine to fail, but also have the same effect on any engines nearby and so on.

The only circumstance that comes close would have to be a real virus, created and spread intentionally by some malicious party. Then again, no one is expected to actually die from computer virii.

Spam (5, Interesting)

JoeBaldwin (727345) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770186)

I was the guy who posted the question about the DMCA, and firstly I'd like to thank Mike for answering not just my question, but everyone's questions with excellent clarity and quality, unlike some interviewees that have gone before. Cheers Mike!

Secondly, if I get what he's getting at with his reply to a question on Internet pollution, I totally agree with him. The changes have to come from the people changing (i.e Ralsky and his merry men being sent to-I hate to use these words-a federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison), and not the technology (Penny Black seems to me to be something that will crash and burn like a plane made of pentane-coated magnesium bricks). We also have to do something about this bullshit idea of "freedom of commercial speech". As far as I'm concerned, telemarketers and spammers aren't exercising their rights to free speech, they're pissing me off royally. The same argument for people changes as opposed to technology changes also echoes in his reply to my question: rather than removing basic functions of computers and restricting users' freedoms through Palladium and the rest of that crap, we need to be looking at the way the RIAA do business, and possibly getting them to see P2P in a modern light.

I love the idea we could sue Gator if we didn't ask for their shit to be installed. Class action, anybody? :)

Mike's response on DVD copying is definitely the truth. If you really are just using those DVDs for "personal use", then you have absolutely zero need to make more than one backup (let's face it, if you manage to destroy not one but TWO copies of the same DVD then you don't deserve legal rights to copy it again, you need a beating with a cluestick).

As for anonymous domain names, I'm in favour of those so long as it doesn't stretch to tubgirl and goatse :)

Re:Spam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8770741)

As for anonymous domain names, I'm in favour of those so long as it doesn't stretch to tubgirl and goatse :)

Okay, now that's just a bad pun, and you know it!

Badly-Crafted Laws (4, Funny)

WCityMike (579094) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770256)

The worst problem is when badly crafted laws, such as the DMCA, intersect with DRM to lead to results that effectively deprive people of rights they otherwise have under the Copyright Act, or under other laws.

Quite, just as the Third Reich began to effectively deprive people of rights they otherwise had under existing legislation of the time ...

[Reference [wikipedia.org] , before someone without a sense of 'Net history mods me as a troll. ;-)]

Ed's too.... (5, Funny)

hot_Karls_bad_cavern (759797) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770273)

"..Note especially the bit about liability for what you post online. A *lot* of people who post on Slashdot ought to read that part..."

Including some of the editors ;-p

Let me be the first to say.... (5, Funny)

bfg9000 (726447) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770367)

He's a Nazi just like Hitler!

Missing option. (0, Flamebait)

blair1q (305137) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770371)


There are those of us who don't like having "the Government" controlling the way we run our lives.

Why isn't there an Open Source legal system like there's an Open Source Software system?

(Moderators: you probably think this song is about you, don't you, don't you...)

Nazi freedom (-1, Flamebait)

toddhisattva (127032) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770396)

Amazing to see the Net's foremost Nazi apologist talk about freedom. Arbeit macht frei, y'all!

Also, who would expect Mike to even know the meaning of "slander?" Slander is Mike's MO! I tried to teach him logic, but Boole conflicted with his worldview. He too much enjoyed non sequitur to ever give real logical argumentation even a try. Lawyering is just a matter of convincing a judge or jury of your viewpoint, and is not at all concerned with real decent argumentation. Perhaps, thousands of years ago, lawyers were trained in logic.

But nowadays, bluster and bullshit are the tools of their trade. We have completely kludged laws as the result.

Slashdot is supposed to be "News for Nerds." As the people who built the communications networks, we should be very careful about letting lesser professions try to control our work. The last smart lawyer was Leibniz, today's batch is nothing but parasitic imbeciles with advanced college infections.

We don't need to kill all the lawyers. We need only de-kludge the law so we don't need so many lawyers.

Beware the lawyer who speaks of "freedom." In their parlance, it is a synonym for "control."

Mike formulated his Nazi quip because he got tired of being compared to (other) Nazis. I know, I was there, he did it on my hardware.

What about rights? (3, Insightful)

stevens (84346) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770409)

In commenting on legislation outlawing the use of general purpose computers to access digital, e.g., cable, content, he comments:

I don't think their concern should trump the general preference we have for convergence

I don't think laws should be weighing a "concern" versus a "preference" at all. I'm a little concerned that a lawyer isn't framing this as an issue of rights.

I bought my computer; I bought a cable feed. In my own home, I'm going to do what I like with them, "concerns" be damned. And this isn't just a "preference", it's a right!

Re:What about rights? (1)

Chambers81 (613839) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770716)

Remember that even if what you are discussing is a "right" you might forfeit it when your expression of your "right" interferes with the "rights" of another. also keep in mind that you are normally guaranteed protection against governmental interference without due process of law. Depending on the basis of review, this might mean that if the government has a legitimate or compelling state interest, they can frequently restrict your rights. Your home might be your castle, but when you use the internet, you are interacting with others outside your home, and your castle isn't going to be an ultimate protection against wrongdoing.

The GPL Question (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8770412)

"I then find out some established/incorporated company has modified the software without redistributing their modified version freely, that they are making a profit out of the modified undistributed version..."

This is a serious misunderstanding of the GPL. No one has to give their changes back to the community, and there is no limitation on making money via GPL'd software. If they distribute modified GPL software, then it all has to be GPL as well. That's it. If they don't distribute it, they can to anything they want with it.

Favourite response (5, Insightful)

the_twisted_pair (741815) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770519)

...music sharing (and the sharing of other treasured creative works) is a basic feature of human culture. We want to share the songs we love, the books and movies we love, and so on. I think what we've got to aim for is a legal system that preserves the goals of the Copyright Act while accommodating, to the extent possible, the human impulse to share the cultural creations we love.
What the man said. It's no small relief to hear the bigger picture is in mind.

Email "LNP" (2, Insightful)

Cramer (69040) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770585)

  • I don't know for certain, but my instinct is to believe that email addresses are not going to be portable anytime soon in the way that (thanks to regulation and deregulation) cell phone numbers are, and landline phones may someday be.
First, "landlines" have had local number portability ("LNP") for about 5+ years now. Cell phone LNP was mandated last year (earlier this year?) and is still being rolled out. At this very moment, a landline can be re-ported anywhere within the PSTN (or the telcos involved can be fined.) This is not yet true for all cell sites -- it takes time to update switch software. (At a former employer, it took about a year to upgrade a dozen Lucent 5ESS switches. It's not a simple process by any means.)

As for email address "portability"... (I hate to sound like a lawyer here, because I'm not) that depends on how you read "in the [same] way". If you mean Telcordia maintains a database of email addresses and where they should go, then no, that'll never happen. There are just too many players in the market and none of them will pay the fees like telcordia changes for the LNP database. HOWEVER, e-mail has had the ability to "alias" and thus redirect an address almost from the very first day. The thing is, ISPs don't want to have to maintain a system (read: anything at all) for people who are no longer a paying customer; and those who inherit all these aliases certainly won't.

[Note: LNP is more like an IP routing database than a list of email aliases. The former holder of the number doesn't incure any load in handing the number to someone else... the calls aren't routed through their switch(es) as is the case with an email alias: foo@bar.com->foo@baz.com has to go to the bar.com server to be directed to baz.com.]

Laws to protect business models? (2, Interesting)

Strange Ranger (454494) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770700)

> I think [the DMCA]is primarily a tool of copyright-holding companies, who continue to be terrified (with justification) about the impact the digital world is going to have on their ways of doing business.

"justification".. "Preserve the goals of the Copyright Act".

This raises a big red flag for me. Like laws dealing with Guilds and Journeymen and apprentices, I think the goals of the Copyright Act MAY be totally obsolete. The same barrier of entry that no longer exists for the infringer no longer exists for the publisher either. Now anyone can be mass copyright infringers. Anyone can be a publisher.

Maybe we should be concerned with author's rights, rights that by nature remain with the author, and do away with copyright holders altogether. I highly suspect that 'Copyright Holder' is an obsolete concept.

hmmmm.
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