Barely Legally

Confessions of a Moot Court Bailiff

Right versus Pragmatic

Marco Arment on piracy in the digital age, by way of an absurdly intuitive example I’m stealing immediately to explain to everyone I know.

But there are a lot of people who will pay to get content legally, even if it’s easy to pirate, when getting it legally is easier. (This is now the case, to a large extent, with music.)

Relying solely on yelling about what’s right isn’t a pragmatic approach for the media industry to take. And it’s not working. It’s unrealistic and naïve to expect everyone to do the “right” thing when the alternative is so much easier, faster, cheaper, and better for so many of them.

Read Right versus pragmatic at Marco.org. I should probably stop trying to explain this stuff, and just link to his post every time it comes up.

Published in The Digital Age on

The Distant Future. The Year 2000.

I think it’s hard to not see this sort of thing coming, especially as it’s been in any number of sci-fi movies. Google’s going to sell glasses with computers in them:

People who constantly reach into a pocket to check a smartphone for bits of information will soon have another option: a pair of Google-made glasses that will be able to stream information to the wearer’s eyeballs in real time.According to several Google employees familiar with the project who asked not to be named, the glasses will go on sale to the public by the end of the year. These people said they are expected “to cost around the price of current smartphones,” or $250 to $600.

via Google to Sell Heads-Up Display Glasses by Years End - NYTimes.com.

Published in The Digital Age on

Facebook! Huh! What is it Good For?

An open letter to Facebook. This fellow does a good job honing in on the actual usefulness of Facebook:

For you, my network can only grow in one direction: bigger. We don’t meet fewer people as we get older. We meet more people! And if we know more people, our “Friends” list should grow accordingly. We don’t forget people do we? If we’ve met them, they belong in our Facebook network.

You seem to think that Facebook is the only network I’ll ever need; that instead of adding and removing people as your features and my real world networks evolve, I should just move them into smaller groups and manage a massive number of impossible-to-understand privacy settings. Because for you, my identity and how I interact with the people that make up my life are as straightforward and comprehendible as the blue in my profile.

via Jake Levine.

Published in Irreverently Irrelevant on

What's He Even Know About Football?

Tom Brady, a football player of some minor renown, led his team to the Super Bowl this year, where they lost (again) to the Giants (again) after only scoring 17 points (ha ha ha). Last year, he led an even more shameful existence: the life of a pirate!

Here are his reported words: “Last year I was rehabbing my foot in Costa Rica, watching the game on an illegal Super Bowl Web site. And now I’m actually playing in the game. So, it’s pretty cool.”

Cool, Tom? Is it really cool to steal from the livelihood of hard-working NFL players like Eli Manning, winner of two Super Bowl rings? Is it really cool to steal a broadcast just because there’s no good legal option? Probably. But read the rest of the earth-shattering confession of Tom Brady: I watched last year’s Super Bowl on illegal site on CNET.

Published in The Digital Age on

Wil Wheaton Says

Continuing on the SOPA thing, Wil Wheaton makes fun of the MPAA like I did. But he does it better.

When you complain that opponents didn’t “come to the table to find solutions”, do you mean that we didn’t give NINETY-FOUR MILLION DOLLARS to congress like the MPAA? Or do you mean that we didn’t come to the one hearing that Lamar Smith held, where opponents of SOPA were refused an opportunity to comment? Help me out, here, Chris Dodd, because I’m really trying hard to understand you.

Read the rest of the vaguely-titled post Today the US Senate is considering legislation that would destroy the free and open Internet, and have a good laugh. Or cry. Laughcrying is the best medicine.

Published in The News on

Just a Stunt

In case you haven’t heard, Wikipedia is planning to follow-through on its promise to shut itself down for a day in protest of the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act.

On January 18, 2012, in an unprecedented decision, the Wikipedia community has chosen to blackout the English version of Wikipedia for 24 hours, in protest against proposed legislation in the United States — the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives, and PROTECT IP (PIPA) in the U.S. Senate. If passed, this legislation will harm the free and open Internet and bring about new tools for censorship of international websites inside the United States.

For a site with roughly 80 hojillion unique visitors, this will cause some disruption tomorrow. And it’s actually already caused a commotion! For instance, the MPAA is mighty upset (PDF link). Here’s their rebuttal:

“Only days after the White House and chief sponsors of the legislation responded to the major concern expressed by opponents and then called for all parties to work cooperatively together, some technology business interests are resorting to stunts that punish their users or turn them into their corporate pawns, rather than coming to the table to find solutions to a problem that all now seem to agree is very real and damaging.

It is an irresponsible response and a disservice to people who rely on them for information and use their services. It is also an abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today. It’s a dangerous and troubling development when the platforms that serve as gateways to information intentionally skew the facts to incite their users in order to further their corporate interests.

A so-called “blackout” is yet another gimmick, albeit a dangerous one, designed to punish elected and administration officials who are working diligently to protect American jobs from foreign criminals. It is our hope that the White House and the Congress will call on those who intend to stage this “blackout” to stop the hyperbole and PR stunts and engage in meaningful efforts to combat piracy.”

Translation: we spent millions of dollars lobbying for a draconian copyright policy, and now that we’ve been even vaguely rebuked, we’re very sad that you nerds keep rubbing it in.

The best part is where the MPAA complains that Wikipedia has a responsibility to its users to provide its service free from the influence of corporate interests. That would almost sting if the MPAA didn’t spend so much energy coming up with inventive new ways to treat its customers like criminals. I mean, at least Wikipedia talks to its users; the MPAA just throws money at Congress and makes the ads on DVDs unskippable.

I’ll take the ones that talk to me like adults, please.

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