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Comments

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Bennett Haselton's Response To That "Don't Talk to Cops" Video

Goobermunch Re:Police and Judges. (871 comments)

They also don't have to tell you the truth when they speak to you.

You, OTOH, face serious penalties if you are not completely truthful when you speak to them.

--AC

about 10 months ago
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Slashdot Asks: How Does the US Gov't Budget Crunch Affect You?

Goobermunch Re:Political timeline (1144 comments)

Great. Problem's solved. The deficit has significantly decreased in the past two years. Hell, it's down 35% since last year. Yay. Problem solved.

--AC

about 10 months ago
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Fifteen Years After Autism Panic, a Plague of Measles Erupts

Goobermunch Re: Jenny McCarthy (668 comments)

That's great for the anti-vaxers and their kids, but once the vax rate drops low enough, even vaccinated kids can catch these diseases. So no, they don't die because they believed it and acted on it. They die because other people believed it and acted on it.

--AC

1 year,18 hours
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Supreme Court Overturns Defense of Marriage Act

Goobermunch Re:Good ... (1073 comments)

Unless you sign a written contract providing for arbitration, see 9 U.S.C. 1, et seq.

--AC

1 year,26 days
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Supreme Court Overturns Defense of Marriage Act

Goobermunch Re:Good ... (1073 comments)

Tinder.

--AC

1 year,26 days
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US Attorney General Defends Handling of Aaron Swartz Case

Goobermunch Re:What an ass. (276 comments)

And trespass into a computer network. Which is what the statute was intended to discourage.

Oh, and there was that whole downloading journal articles from a business that makes its money from charging people to view them. I'm pretty sure there's something in the U.S. code about that.

Look, I don't agree with what the U.S. Attorneys did in this case, but let's be honest. Aaron Swartz was willfully and intentionally committing at least two felonies. He was doing it because he believed that we, as a people, would be better off if the information he was accessing was freely available to everyone. That's a noble goal. I agree with him.

But--if you engage in an act of civil disobedience, you have to be willing to accept the consequences, whatever they may be. That's the tradeoff--you get to break the law with a clear conscience, but you also suffer the punishment to demonstrate the injustice of the law. To say that Mr. Swartz ought not have been punished, or that his punishment should be minimal because we like what he was doing is to say that the ends justify the means. If I were to access a server room at your bank to access information that is valuable to you--like the 1s and 0s that represent your bank balance--I suspect you wouldn't be so forgiving, even if I were moving those 1s and 0s to help the poor or the sick.

I do think the prosecutors should have exercised their discretion in a less overbearing way. It makes me sad and furious that a brilliant young man is dead. But we don't do ourselves any good by glossing over the facts and minimizing what was and is at stake. Aaron Swartz wanted us to change the way we think about "intellectual property." He envisioned a world in which the work of human minds was freely available to enrich the lives of everyone. Where one person's brilliant thoughts could spark genius in minds years and miles from the source. He did so in a legal climate that inflicts draconian civil and criminal punishment on people who try to make that dream a reality. And he did it by flouting the very laws he wanted changed.

He didn't just trespass, he flipped the bird to the Federal Government. But then, when confronted with the reality that the U.S. Attorneys were going to treat him in the exact same way they treat every "criminal" they see, day after day, he realized he'd bitten off more than he could chew. And he killed himself. I don't know how to respond to the situation, because I'm mad about the whole thing. I'm mad at my government for its stupidity and heavy handed tactics, but I'm mad at Aaron Swartz for not having the courage to stand and fight or to be a political prisoner and a symbol. Hell, I'm even mad at myself for lacking the courage he had. But I'm really frustrated with the idea that we should gloss over what actually happened. The only way we can learn from what went wrong is to look at it with clear eyes.

--AC

about a year ago
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FunnyJunk Sues the Oatmeal Over TM and "Incitement To Cyber-Vandalism"

Goobermunch Re:Obligatory (390 comments)

It's not a change if it is how things already are.

In every jurisdiction within the U.S., a judge can, upon motion, enter summary judgment for one party or the other. Summary judgment can be entered if there is no genuine issue of material fact, and one party is entitled to win as a matter of law. There is no trial.

In many jurisdictions in the U.S., if the judge concludes that the case is frivolous, groundless, or vexatious, the judge may then enter an award of attorney fees for the winning party, even without a trial. However, if there are counterclaims . . . in other words, if the prevailing party is suing the losing party for other matters, then a trial is necessary, because the losing party may still have a valid defense.

Your proposed system is not a change . . . .

--AC

more than 2 years ago
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FunnyJunk Sues the Oatmeal Over TM and "Incitement To Cyber-Vandalism"

Goobermunch Re:Obligatory (390 comments)

But the trial doesn't continue if the judge tosses the case. It just ends. However, if (big if) the case is frivolous, groundless, or vexatious, then the judge can award attorney fees in many U.S. jurisdictions.

No one continues litigating to rack up attorney fees under the existing system.

--AC

more than 2 years ago
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FunnyJunk Sues the Oatmeal Over TM and "Incitement To Cyber-Vandalism"

Goobermunch Re:Oatmeal stumbled here (390 comments)

While I generally agree with what you're saying, your post is not entirely accurate.

The truth is that a losing plaintiff often ends up with substantial expenses. While his lawyer may be on a contingency fee, his expert is likely barred from working on contingency. That means the engineer, doctor, economist, or general contractor whose testimony is key to the case is charging the plaintiff hourly for his or her work on the case. Most states prohibit plaintiff's lawyers from absorbing those costs (due to concerns about champerty and maintenance). That means that even though the case may be close, that losing plaintiff may end up on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in costs.

So the little guy can end up bankrupt simply by losing a close case.

--AC

more than 2 years ago
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FunnyJunk Sues the Oatmeal Over TM and "Incitement To Cyber-Vandalism"

Goobermunch Re:Obligatory (390 comments)

Actually, in the United States, barring a contract or statute to the contrary, the rule is that each party pays its own attorney fees.

In many jurisdictions, there are statutes that permit the judge to award fees if the case is groundless, frivolous, or vexatious. A few states have statutes that permit an award of fees if the defense is groundless, frivolous, or vexatious (but nobody ever thinks about that side of the equation).

If the original case is "tossed," then judgment enters for the defendant, and the case is over (unless there are counterclaims, or only some of the plaintiff's claims were tossed). A court cannot continue to hear a case that has been fully resolved (where there are no remaining claims between the parties), because there is no longer a case or controversy before it. I am not aware of any system in which the defendant must continue incurring fees in the hopes of making a losing plaintiff pay them. That's a catastrophically stupid way to run a legal system.

--AC

more than 2 years ago
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FunnyJunk Sues the Oatmeal Over TM and "Incitement To Cyber-Vandalism"

Goobermunch Re:Obligatory (390 comments)

Obviously written by someone who has no experience with the legal system.

Look, the fact of the matter is that litigation necessarily involves disputed facts. I say you violated your non-compete, you say you didn't. You say I appropriated your trade secrets, I say I discovered them independently. That's why we have juries, to help establish an "official" set of facts.

The reality is that the best cases settle out of court before trial. Hell, in the U.S. over 97% of cases resolve prior to trial. That's because if it's a slam dunk case on liability and damages, the defendant (or his insurer) will pay to end the lawsuit. On the other hand, if the case is obviously frivolous, the plaintiff or his lawyer will dismiss the case as that becomes clear. Plaintiff's lawyers don't generally enjoy spending hours and hours of time that could be put to productive uses working on B.S. cases. We'd really prefer to take cases that have a chance of turning into revenue.

This means that the cases that are most likely going to go to trial are the rare close ones. These are generally cases where there is evidence on both sides, and no clear, slam dunk winner. In other words, these are the cases that most need a jury's input so that the parties can at least resolve their disputes and move forward.

A loser pays system does nothing to eliminate frivolous claims or defenses. It just further punishes a person who had an intractable dispute and was wrong about who the facts favor.

--AC

more than 2 years ago
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WW2 Vet Sent 300,000 Pirated DVDs To Troops In Iraq, Afghanistan

Goobermunch Re:Well that's okay (650 comments)

Not really. At $150,000 for willful infringement, and 330,000 copies, he's looking at $49,500,000,000, in damages. (SRC: 17 U.S.C. 504(c)(2)).*

That's about 1/3 of Hollywood's combined gross for every movie released 1996 and 2012 (as of last weekend). (SRC: http://www.the-numbers.com/movies/)

No due process problem with that.

--AC

*Actually, the statutory damages are per work, not per infringing act, so the real number would be reduced to reflect the number of titles he copied, not the number of copies he made).

more than 2 years ago
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FDA Regulating Your Stem Cells As Interstate Commerce

Goobermunch Re:So? (332 comments)

I know there's something in there about regulating something between the States.

What could it be?

Oh yeah, the Commerce Clause. Article I, Section 8.

And do you really want your medical devices and/or pharmaceuticals to be manufactured in the state with the lowest level of safety regulation?

--AC

more than 2 years ago
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FDA Regulating Your Stem Cells As Interstate Commerce

Goobermunch Re:Commerce maximalists? (332 comments)

Generally speaking, because the drafters did not explain what they meant by the term "commerce" when they drafted the Constitution, and the Court has interpreted Congressional power to regulate commerce between the States as encompassing the channels, instrumentalities, and activities of interstate commerce.

--AC

more than 2 years ago
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FDA Regulating Your Stem Cells As Interstate Commerce

Goobermunch Re:Commerce maximalists? (332 comments)

Please, please, please. Learn your history.

FDR did not pack the court with statists. In fact, the proposal he had advanced (of adding more justices to the supreme court), never went through. Instead, one justice on the court changed his mind about how to approach these matters and turned what had once been a 4-5 court into a 5-4 court. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_switch_in_time_that_saved_nine

But go ahead and blame FDR, that's easier than learning about history.

--AC

more than 2 years ago
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ACLU Sues To Protect Your Right To Swear

Goobermunch Legal Brief (698 comments)

There is a great brief filed by a Colorado Public Defender addressing this issue (specifically the word Fuck and its history and uses).

The brief can be found at: http://scofacts.org/The-F-Motion.html

--AC

more than 4 years ago
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9/11 Made Us Safer, Says Bruce Schneier

Goobermunch Not a big government solution! (280 comments)

The reason it takes so long to check the list is that the airlines are not giving the manifest data back to the TSA. The TSA updates the lists, but it doesn't have access to the manifests, so it cannot check. Instead, the airlines check the lists whenever they chose, but no less than every two (previously eight) hours.

The big government solution would be to compel the airlines to provide the data to the TSA, which can then check the manifests against the lists as the data comes in. But privacy advocates and European governments are opposed to giving the "big government" real time access to people's travel plans. The government has been willing to accept the current system as a compromise.

Ultimately, the question is whether you want to allow the private sector to actually perform the no fly list reconciliation and keep your data relatively secret, or whether you want the government to be able to instantly identify people on the no fly list, but have access to your movements via air travel.

The choices are not great, and I won't express my preferences.

--AC

more than 4 years ago

Submissions

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Wizards of the Coast Clarifies 4e License Details

Goobermunch Goobermunch writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Goobermunch (771199) writes "Back on April 21, mxyzplk reported that Wizards of the Coast had announced "that anyone wanting to publish material for the new Fourth Edition of D&D, expected out in June of this year, must forgo open licensing entirely as part of their new Game System License."

Today, Wizards of the Coast responded to questions regarding the terms of the new license submitted by posters at the popular Dungeons and Dragons fansite EN World. In short, the new license does not require companies wishing to publish under the new license to forgo open licensing. Instead, "Publishers will be able to decide on a product line by product line basis which license will work best for them." The full text of Wizards' response can be found in the linked thread.

It is unknown whether Wizards' position changed as a result of the furore that followed the events reported by mxyzplk, or whether the furore resulted from a misunderstanding of the license terms is unknown."
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Patent Appeals System Under Constitutional Attack

Goobermunch Goobermunch writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Goobermunch (771199) writes "According to this article, the validity of recent (within the past eight years) patent rulings by the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences is being questioned due to the unconstitutionality of the method for appointing patent and trademark appeals judges. From the article:

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office may have a major problem on its hands — the possibly unconstitutional appointment of nearly two-thirds of its patent appeals judges. Such a constitutional flaw, if legitimate, could call into question the hundreds of decisions worth billions of dollars in the past eight years. The flaw, discovered by highly regarded intellectual property scholar John Duffy of George Washington University Law School, could also afflict the appointment of nearly half of the agency's trademark appeals judges.
The article quotes John Duffy, a professor at the George Washington University Law School, who has analyzed the question in depth. Essentially, the problem arises because the patent appeals judges were appointed by the Director of the Patent and Trademark Office, rather than the Secretary of Commerce. Under Article 2, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, the power to appoint "inferior officers" of the government may be vested in "in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments." The patent appeals judges are likely inferior officers, and therefore must be appointed by the President, the courts, or a department head."

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