Boing Boing 

Satanists offer "good taste" monument to complement Oklahoma Capitol's Ten Commandments monument


Oklahoma City's state capitol is home to a controversial monument to the Ten Commandments, donated by Broken Arrow Republican Rep. Mike Ritze. The state legislature has been adamant that a religious monument on the lawn somehow didn't violate the principle of separation of church and state. Taking them at their word, NYC's Satanic Temple would like to see a monument to Satanic principles placed on the lawn alongside of it. They're raising funds for monument on Indiegogo, and insist that it will be "in good taste and consistent with community standards." Naturally, the state lawmakers are satisfyingly incandescent at the prospect. The ACLU is suing to abolish religious monuments on the state capital grounds altogether.

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Before GoldieBlox, Beasties plundered the "Girls" melody (fair and square)

While we're on the subject of unauthorized use of musical works: here's a timely (and fully rockin') reminder that the Beastie Boys plundered the melody of The Isley Brothers' Shout for Girls.

Beastie Boys Vs Isley Brothers - Girls Shout (Martinn Bootleg) (Thanks, Hondo!)

Beastie Boys send copyright threat to toy company that remixed "Girls"

The Beastie Boys have sent a legal threat to toymaker GoldieBlox over the company's extremely clever ad, which parodies the Beasties' early track "Girls". The ad rewrites the lyrics (which are pretty terrible in the original) to insist that girls should take control over their world, reject passivity and subservience, and make things (the video accompanies this with the creation of a Rube Goldberg device that ultimately switches off a TV showing girly toy ads).

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Inspired by Snowden, more NSA insiders are blowing the whistle

Jesselyn Radack is a civil liberties attorney with the Government Accountability Project who has been in contact with Edward Snowden. In an ABC News interview, she reported that other NSA insiders have been inspired by Snowden's bravery and sacrifice and have come forward with further revelations about the organization's excess, criminality and lawlessness. She says that the Obama administration's war on whistleblowers has backfired, squandering the administration's credibility with its own operatives and inspiring them to speak out.

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RIAA, BPI websites infringe copyright


TorrentFreak took a close look at the sourcecode for the websites run by the RIAA and its UK equivalent, the BPI, and discovered that they'd made a serious breach of copyright on each. Both sites were using the MIT-licensed JQuery scrips, whose generous MIT license requires only that its users keep its copyright notice intact. The RIAA and BPI (organizations that advocate taking away domains, disconnecting Internet users, and prison sentences for infringement) had both failed to comply with this minimal requirement.

When TorrentFreak asked them for comment, both of said they'd look into it, and swiftly came into compliance with the license.

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Restore the Fourth adopts highway in front of NSA super-center in Utah

Dan sez, "Hi, I'm one of the organizers for Restore the Fourth (Utah) and we've successfully adopted the highway in front of the NSA spy factory in Bluffdale, Utah. Clean up the NSA!"

Fourth Amendment activists adopt a highway next to NSA surveillance center in Utah (Thanks, Dan!)

Keylogger service provides peek inside Nigerian 419 scammers' tactics


Security researcher Brian Krebs has had a look at the contents of "BestRecovery" (now called "PrivateRecovery") a service used by Nigerian 419 scammers to store the keystrokes of victims who have been infected with keyloggers. It appears that many of the scammers -- known locally as "Yahoo Boys" -- also plant keyloggers on each other, and Krebs has been able to get a look at the internal workings of these con artists. He's assembled a slideshow of the scammers' Facebook profiles and other information.

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UK Commons official: Report of 300,000+ porn accesses from Parliament isn't "accurate"

As the UK government continues to roll out the Great Firewall of Cameron (by which ISPs are required to opt their customers into an "adult content filter" that is meant to block sites related to porn, gambling, "esoterica," "forums" and more), an official report reveals that the Houses of Parliament network logged 300,000+ attempts to access online porn last year. However, a Commons spokeswoman says the figure isn't "accurate."

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BSA to Hacker Scouts: change your name or be sued


The Hacker Scouts is an organization "that focuses on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) education, skill building and community engagement with the aspiration to help our children develop skills in the areas they are truly interested in, abilities that would allow them to dream big and create big." They filed for a trademark on the name "Hacker Scouts" and got a legal threat from lawyers for the Boy Scouts of America. After a protracted back-and-forth by mail, the Hacker Scouts have gone public, because the BSA won't soften its position: call yourselves the ____________ Scouts, and we'll sue.

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Ruling: Copying scientific articles for patent lawyers' reference is fair use.


The publisher John Wiley has lost a court battle over the copying practices of a patent law-firm that had assembled a private library of copies of scientific articles for the purpose of researching patent applications. Initially, Wiley had sued over the use of copies of scientific articles in patent applications, but the US Patent and Trademark Office pre-empted that suit by issuing a directive declaring such copies to be fair use. Wiley switched its legal theory, suing over the assembly of the library, and US Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Keyes ruled (PDF) that this was also fair use, since the USPTO requires lawyers to consult the literature before filing. It's likely that Wiley will appeal to the district court.

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Court finds for man who rewrote the credit-card fine-print to give himself unlimited, interest-free credit


A wily Russian fellow crossed out the fine-print on an unsolicted credit-card application from Tinkoff Credit Systems in 2008 and wrote in his own terms, giving himself unlimited, interest-free credit and exemption from all fees, with a 3MM ruble fee should the bank change the terms and a 1MM ruble fee should they cancel his card. He crossed out the URL giving the terms and conditions and wrote in his own. And a court has ruled that his changes -- which were blindly accepted by the bank -- are binding. He's now suing them for breach of contract, since they refused to pay him the cancellation fee he'd written in -- he's seeking USD727,000.

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How a crook defrauded an online crime BBS

HackBB is a popular underground BBS for computer criminals; last March it went down after a prominent user and administrator called Boneless stole all the funds in an escrow service used by criminals to pay each other for services; destroyed part of HackBB's database; and sent blackmail notes to many of the site's users. Prior to the theft, Boneless had been a sterling member of the community, posting well-written, useful guides to using stolen credit cards, defrauding online bookmakers, and going underground anonymously. After two years' worth of winning the community's trust, he raided them and took the site down. But it didn't last long -- today, HackBB is back up and running.

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How to talk to the NSA when they come recruiting

When the NSA came recruiting at a University of Wisconsin language program, the students and teachers pushed back, hard. The transcribed recording of their discussion is a model for the dialog that we should be having with our spooks everywhere we encounter them: "So, 'adversary' is basically what any of your so-called 'customers' as you call them -- which is also a strange term to use for a government agency -- decide if anybody wants, any part of the government wants something about some country, suddenly they are now internally considered or termed an 'adversary.' That’s what you seem to be saying."

Tearing a bully a new law-hole

You know what I like to read? I like to read Ken at Popehat's ninja lawyer pals sending insanely awesome, terrifying letters to bullies who use legal threats to try and shut up their critics online. If you like to read that kind of thing, too, then here's an 8-page PDF of Ken's friend Leif Olson tearing counsel for a bullying dentist who didn't like his Yelp review a new law-hole.

Obama (candidate) vs Obama (president) on NSA spying

Here's Obama the Presidential Candidate debating Obama the Second Term President on surveillance; note how Obama the younger smashes through the cheap "privacy vs security" rhetoric of Obama the elder, showing the man for a thoroughly co-opted cynic who'll let the nation's spooks run wild. Here's Mike Masnick's take:

Not only is there a massive difference in what's being said, but also in how it's being said. The Candidate Obama spoke clearly, directly strongly and without equivocation about protecting civil liberties and not giving up our freedoms. President Obama's speech, on the other hand, sounds weak, vague and unpresidential in comparison.

Candidate Obama Debating President Obama On Civil Liberties vs. Government Surveillance

XKCD: moral panics about modern times from times gone by


Today's XKCD, "The Pace of Modern Life," is a lovely collection of 19th century and early 20th century quotations about the hurried pace of modern life, the atomisation and trivialisation of knowledge thanks to modern media, the disobedience of children (again, thanks to modern media) (this topic was a favorite of Socrates's!) and other hand-wringing editorial subjects frequently chosen by modern critics of the Internet age. A great companion piece to Tom Standage's wonderful catalog of moral panics through the ages.

The Pace of Modern Life

How refusing a $0.50 parking validation cost a bank a $1M depositor

In 1989, a bank-teller at the Old National Bank in Spokane, WA refused to validate the $0.50 parking stub of a shabbily dressed man who'd come in to cash a check. That shabbily dressed man was John Barrier, a 30-year customer of the bank with more than $1 million on deposit; which he promptly withdrew and took to Seafirst Bank, down the street. (via Reddit)

Town delivers sidewalk dog poop to owners in "lost property" boxes

A Spanish town called Brunete used volunteers to covertly identify people who had left their dog's shit on the public sidewalk (the volunteers chatted up the dog owners' about their dogs' breeds, this was cross-referenced against the register of dogs). The volunteers then packaged up the turds in a "lost property" box and returned them to the owners. 20 volunteers delivered 147 crap-o-grams and reported a 70 percent drop in public poop after the program ran (they did not disclose their methodology for calculating this).

On the one hand, this is funny. On the other hand, it's a sobering reminder of how trivially small pieces of seemingly innocuous information can be used to identify people. On the third hand, people who let their dogs crap on the sidewalk and don't pick it up are the worst human beings on Earth, and I join with Mark Thomas in calling for a law that requires people to wear any unclaimed turds as a mustache for a full day.

Spanish town posts dog mess back to offending hound owners (via Neatorama)

Utah wants to tax power consumed by the NSA's massive, illegal data-processing facility

Remember the gigantic data-center that the NSA is building in Utah in order to (illegally) process the electronic communications of the whole world? Turns out that the state of Utah plans on taxing the titanic amounts of electricity it will consume at 6%. The NSA is pissed.

"We are quite concerned [about] this," Harvey Davis, NSA director of installations and logistics, wrote in the April 26 email, obtained through a Utah open records law request.

In a follow-up email Davis sent 31 minutes later, he explained: "The long and short of it is: Long-term stability in the utility rates was a major factor in Utah being selected as our site for our $1.5 billion construction at Camp Williams. HB325 runs counter to what we expected."

HB325, which Herbert signed into law April 1, benefits the Utah Military Installation Development Authority (MIDA). It allows the entity, which was set up to put select military properties on the public tax rolls, to collect a tax of up to 6 percent on Rocky Mountain Power electricity used by the Utah Data Center.

In surprise to NSA, Utah Data Center may pay tax on electricity [Nate Carlisle/The Salt Lake Tribune]

(via /.)

Company that oversees US "six-strikes" copyright shakedown has its company status revoked

The Center for Copyright Information -- a company established by the RIAA, MPAA and various ISPs -- to oversee the American six-strikes copyright enforcement status has had its company status revoked and faces fines and other penalties. It appears that they forgot to file their government paperwork and pay their fees; they promise that they'll be back online once it's sorted out.

The revocation means that CCI’s articles of organization are void, most likely because the company forgot to file the proper paperwork or pay its fees.

“If entity’s status is revoked then articles of incorporation / organization shall be void and all powers conferred upon such entity are declared inoperative, and, in the case of a foreign entity, the certificate of foreign registration shall be revoked and all powers conferred hereunder shall be inoperative,” the DCRA explains.

Unfortunately for the CCI, the DCRA doesn’t have a strike based system and the company is now facing civil penalties and fines.

It appears that company status was revoked last year which means that other businesses now have the option to take over the name. That would be quite an embarrassment, to say the least, and also presents an opportunity to scammers.

“When a Washington DC corporation is revoked by the DCRA, its name is reserved and protected until December 31st of the year the corporation is revoked. After December 31st, other business entities may use the corporations name,” the DCRA explains on its website.

“Six Strikes” Anti-Piracy Outfit Loses Company Status, Faces Penalties [Ernesto/TorrentFreak]

(Thanks, That Anonymous Coward)

Help make Abercrombie and Fitch synonymous with homelessness

As you know, Abercrombie and Fitch is a horrible shitshow of a company whose owner refuses to make large sized clothes so that "unattractive people" can't wear them, and who burns surplus clothing rather than donating it to charity to keep their clothes off poor peoples' backs. So Gkarber has set out to make the brand synonymous with homelessness, by clearing out thrift shops' supply of A&F and bringing it to skid row and giving it to homeless people. He'd like you to participate by clearing out your closets and donating any A&F to your local homeless charity..

Abercrombie & Fitch Gets a Brand Readjustment #FitchTheHomeless

Canadian anti-piracy bounty hunters ripped off photos for their website


Canipre, a Canadian company that helps the entertainment industry send legal threats to people alleged to have infringed copyright, has been caught using several infringing images on its website. Included in the art that Canipre appropriated for commercial gain without permission is a CC-licensed photo that they could have used legally simply by crediting the photographer. Canipre blames its web developer.

I ended up getting a flurry of phone calls and e-mails from a guy named Barry Logan.

Logan claimed that the company used a 3rd party vendor to develop their website and that the vendor had purchased the image from an image bank.

I pointed out to Logan that if that was true, he had basically paid his vendor to rip off other people's creative work. Logan told me that he would contact his web provider and have the image removed. He also told me that he would provide me with the name of the website developer and the name of the image bank where they obtained my photo.

I did notice that they took down my photo, but I have not heard back from Logan regarding the name of the developer and where they sourced my image. I plan to contact Logan later today if he doesn't get back to me. [sic]

The best part is that the company claims it is motivated by a higher calling than mere profit: "[We want to] change social attitudes toward downloading. Many people know it is illegal but they continue to do it... Our collective goal is not to sue everybody… but to change the sense of entitlement that people have, regarding Internet-based theft of property."

The Company Helping Movie Studios Sue You for Illegal Downloading Has Been Using Images Without Permission [Vice/Jamie Lee Curtis]

Brian Krebs talks to hacker who may have SWATted him and attacked Wired's Mat Honan

Last week, Brian Krebs (a respected security researcher and journalist who often publishes details about high-tech crime) was SWATted -- that is, someone defrauded his local police department into sending a SWAT team to his house, resulting in his getting confronted by gun-wielding, hair-trigger cops who had him lie on the ground and cuffed him before it was all sorted out.

Krebs, being a talented investigator, is hot on the trail of the people or person responsible for this. And a variety of sources point to a 20-year-old hacker who goes by "Phobia," and whose real name, according to Krebs, is Ryan Stevenson. Phobia was implicated in the attack on Wired reporter Mat Honan, wherein his laptop drive and online backup were deleted, including irreplaceable photos of his child's first year, and eight years' worth of email.

Krebs phoned "Phobia" up and ended up speaking to Phobia and his father. Phobia denied attacking Krebs and insisted that he had nothing to do with the gamer/fraudster clan behind it (though Krebs pointed out that Phobia can be heard speaking in the group's YouTube videos, which document their attacks), but admitted that he had been the culprit in hacking Honan (his father then came onto the line to deny this). The transcript is the most interesting part of the piece:

BK: Uh huh. And is Honan referring to you in this article?

RS: Yeah.

BK Yes?

RS: Uh huh.

BK: Did anything bad ever happen to you because of this?

RS: No.

BK: So, this was your doing with the Mat Honan hack, but you say you would never use a site like a stresser or…

RS: Yeah, I would never do that. That’s stupid.

BK: …or hack a reporter’s account or launch a denial of service attack against a reporter, or SWAT his house….

RS:

BK: So what’s the point of hacking a reporter’s iCloud account? Why’d you do that?

RS: Just to prove a point that, like…the security is breachable.

The Obscurest Epoch is Today

Casino cheats used house CCTVs to score $32M

A rich, high-stakes gambler was dragged out of his opulent comp suite at the Crown Towers casino in Melbourne, accused of participating in a $32M scam that made use of the casino's own CCTV cameras to cheat.

The Herald Sun understands remote access to the venue's security system was given to an unauthorised person.

Images relayed from cameras were then used to spy on a top-level gaming area where the high roller was playing.

Signals were given to him on how he should bet based on the advice of someone viewing the camera feeds. Sources said the total stolen was $32 million.

They are capable of transmitting the most intricate detail of goings-on inside the building.

Casinos were the world leaders in CCTV use, and really represent ground zero for the panopticon theory of security. What is rarely mentioned is that "security" measures can be turned against defenders if attackers can hijack them. This is as true when a mugger uses his victim's gun against him as it is when a casino's own CCTVs are used to defeat its own anti-cheating measures. This is the high-stakes gambling version of all those IP-based CCTVs that leak sensitive footage of the inside of peoples' houses onto the public Internet.

Crown casino hi-tech scam nets $32 million [Mark Buttler/Herald Sun]

(via /.)

Pirate Bay calls cops on Finnish copyright enforcement thugs that ripped off its website


You may have heard that the private Finnish copyright enforcement agency CIAPC (the same creeps who confiscated a 9 year old girl's Winnie the Pooh laptop because she downloaded a song from an artist whose CD, t-shirt and concert tickets she went on to buy) have ripped off the sourcecode for The Pirate Bay in order to launch a website opposed to The Pirate Bay. In response, The Pirate Bay has reported CIAPC to the economics crimes unit of the Finnish police.

The “parody” defense doesn’t apply under Finnish law, TPB argues, citing a recent case in Finland.

“In a similar case, the prosecution and the Helsinki Court of Appeals have found that a parody site can violate the moral rights of the original author. Changing the logo or making slight edits to the text are not enough to remove this liability,” they informed the police...

“While The Pirate Bay may have a positive view on copying, it will not stand by and watch copyright enforcing organizations disrespect copyright,” Pirate Bay’s Winston says in a comment.

“CIAPC is like an ugly high school bully without friends. It’s time to take a stand. Cyber bullying is a serious matter to us all,” Winston continues.

Should The Pirate Bay be awarded damages they won’t keep that money for themselves. Instead, the money will go to the 9-year old girl who was “harassed” last year.

But, even if they “lose” it wouldn’t be a big deal, as that’s a win for the right to parody.

This right to parody is part of a new copyright law proposal in Finland, crowd-sourced by the public. Besides parody exceptions the Common Sense in Copyright campaign also aims to get rid of harsh punishments for non-commercial file-sharers.

I love that even if they lose, it will establish the case for a parody exception to Finnish copyright law, which The Pirate Bay supports and which CIAPC vehemently opposes.

The Pirate Bay Reports Anti-Piracy Outfit to the Police [TorrentFreak/Ernesto]

FBI employees love the BitTorrent


TorrentFreak used the ScanEye BitTorrent monitoring service to check what was being downloaded by IP addresses associated with the FBI. There's a lot:

As can be seen above there is a particular interest in movies and TV-show downloads at the FBI’s largest division.

Some of the titles are relevant to the intelligence community such as “Homeland”, “The Girl Who played With Fire”, “The Good Wife” and “Dexter”. Other titles, including the Aussie soap opera Home and Away, are more general entertainment.

The big question is of course why these FBI IP-addresses are showing up in BitTorrent swarms.

The most likely explanation is that employees were downloading these videos for personal entertainment. This wouldn’t be much of a surprise really, as we’ve seen this before at congressional offices the Department of Justice, national parliaments, record labels and movie studios.

FBI Employees Download Pirated Movies and TV-Shows [Ernesto/TorrentFreak]

WTO gives Antigua the right to sell pirated American copyrighted goods

The WTO agreement is supposed to guarantee level playing fields for its member states, allowing each to sell into the others' markets. But US law bans online gambling, which is the major export from Antigua. Antigua has been going back and forth with the USA in trade court since 2003, and now the WTO has agreed that the US has violated its treaty obligations. By way of reparations, the WTO has given Antigua permission to set up a kind of legal pirate market, where American copyrighted works can be sold without permission or royalties. The initial ruling came in 2007, and was affirmed on Monday. Antigua has announced plans for a site for downloading US software, music and movies.

Antigua’s Finance Minister Harold Lovell said in a comment that the U.S. left his Government no other option than to respond in this manner. Antigua’s gambling industry was devastated by the unfair practices of the U.S. and years of negotiations have offered no compromise.

“These aggressive efforts to shut down the remote gaming industry in Antigua has resulted in the loss of thousands of good paying jobs and seizure by the Americans of billions of dollars belonging to gaming operators and their customers in financial institutions across the world,” Lowell says.

“If the same type of actions, by another nation, caused the people and the economy of the United States to be so significantly impacted, Antigua would without hesitation support their pursuit of justice,” the Finance minister adds.

Antigua’s Legal “Pirate Site” Authorized by the World Trade Organization [Ernesto/Torrentfreak]

Jonathan Coulton responds to Fox/Glee's plagiarism of his song by "covering" it and making rival version available for sale

You'll have heard that Jonathan Coulton's iconic cover of Baby's Got Back was plagiarised by the Fox TV show "Glee" (it's not the first time). Coulton's story has been widely reported, but Fox/Glee have remained shameless about this.

Coulton's got a brilliant solution to this: he's released a "cover" of Glee's plagiarized version of his song, put it on Itunes as a rival to the official Fox version, and has announced that the proceeds will go to charity.

Jonathan Coulton ‘Covers’ Glee’s Ripoff of ‘Baby Got Back,’ Puts It on iTunes, Proceeds Go to Charity (Thanks, Larry!)

Major studios send legal threats to Google demanding removal of links to their own Facebook pages and more

One things the movie studios say in copyright takedown discussions is that they're very careful when they send legal threats to Google demanding removal of links to pirated copies of their work. I mean, maybe some little guys out there play fast and loose, but the Big Five? They're grownups, man.

Then, this happened:

On behalf of Lionsgate a DMCA notice was sent to Google, asking the search engine to remove links to infringing copies of the movie “Cabin in the Woods”. The notice in question only lists two dozen URLs, but still manages to include perfectly legal copies of the film on Amazon, iTunes, Blockbuster and Xfinity.

20th Century Fox sent in a DMCA notice to protect the movie “Prometheus”. However, as collateral damage it also took down a link to a legal copy on Verizon on demand, the collection of the Prometheus Watch Company, and a Huffington Post article.

And what about a DMCA takedown request for the Wikipedia entry of “Family Guy” that is supposedly infringing?

Perhaps even more crazy is another request sent on behalf of 20th Century Fox for “How I Met Your Mother”. The DMCA notice lists a CBS URL as the official source of the copyrighted material, but the same URL later appears in the list of infringing links.

There's lots more. For example, BBC Films sent Google a notice demanding removal of links to its own Facebook page.

Movie Studios Ask Google To Censor Their Own Films, Facebook and Wikipedia [TorrentFreak]

TechDirt schools a copyfraudster who tried to censor a critical post with copyright threats

TechDirt got a malformed takedown notice from Human Synergistics International, a company they'd previously written up for sending copyright threats to a blogger who quoted four sentences from a "human factors training" exercise. The original TechDirt post quotes the four sentences at issue, and this prompted Human Synergistics' lawyer to send a ham-fisted threat to TechDirt as well.

TechDirt's Mike Masnick proceeded to thoroughly, mercilessly demolish this nonsense, in its every aspect and element, and took care to remind Human Synergistics, and its counsel, of the potential penalties for sending out baseless copyright threats. Masnick, of course, is the man who coined the term "Streisand Effect." You'd think that HS and its lawyer would have had a bit more common sense, but the urge to commit copyfraud is a powerful one.

Finally, the last factor is "the effect of your use upon the potential market for the copyrighted work." It's important to note here, (again referencing back to the Campbell case) that the courts are clear here that they are not addressing whether or not the criticism harms the market, but whether or not the direct use harms the market. We freely admit that our criticism of your despicable copyright practices may lead organizations to think twice about doing business with your company. But, as the Supreme Court noted, while "a scathing theater review kills demand for the original, it does not produce a harm cognizable under the Copyright Act." In our case, the specific use of the text clearly does not harm the potential for your market, because we were not using it in a competitive manner at all. No one would read our post and use that to administer the exercise in question.

It's that last point that is the most bizarre in all of this. The original blog post, by Patti O'Shea, which we were commenting upon, said nothing negative about your organization or the exercise, which she seemed to enjoy. Most reasonable persons would actually have read it as an endorsement of the exercise itself, which would reflect well on you and could lead more people to wish to hire your organization or license the specific exercise details. Thus, the end result of your bizarre copyright extremism is that you caused a blog post that would likely drive more business for you to be disappeared from the internet. In response, you received criticism from us. And, rather than change your ways, you have now dug yourself an even bigger hole by threatening us with what appears to be a clearly bogus threat. So you have gone from one mostly positive blog post to an increasing series of negative blog posts criticizing your activities.

It is unclear how that series of responses from you furthers Human Synergistics' business interests, which must be a part of your job.

Open Letter To Human Synergistics International In Response To Your Accusation That Techdirt Is Infringing