Surprise: Copyright trolls rip off the rightsholders they supposedly "represent"

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The copyright troll business-model: a sleazy lawyer gets copyright holders to one or more films (often, but not always, porn) to deputize them to police those rights; then the lawyer's company uses sloppy investigative techniques to accuse internet users of violating those copyrights; they use deceptive notices to get ISPs to give them contact details for those users (or to get the ISPs to pass notices on to the users); then they send "speculative invoices" to their victims, demanding money not to sue -- usually a sum that's calculated to be less than it would cost to ask a lawyer whether it's worth paying. Read the rest

One of the copyright's scummiest trolls loses his law license

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For more than four years, we've chronicled the sleazy story of Prenda Law, a copyright troll whose extortion racket included genuinely bizarre acts of identity theft, even weirder random homophobic dog-whistles, and uploading their own porn movies to entrap new victims, and, naturally, an FBI investigation into the firm's partners' illegal conduct. Read the rest

Copyright trolls Rightscorp are teetering on the verge of bankruptcy

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Rightscorp, the copyright trolls whose business-model was convincing ISPs to freeze their customers' Internet access in response to unsubstantiated copyright accusations, and then ransom those connections back for $20 each, will be out of money by the end of this quarter. Read the rest

Artists troll Thingiverse with 3D model mashup bot

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Shiv Integer is a bot created by artists Matthew Plummer-Fernandez and Julien Deswaef; it downloads Creative Commons-licensed models from Thingiverse, mashes them up into weird and often amazing new shapes, adds machine-generated titles and descriptions to them, and posts them. Read the rest

Zombie company Atari wants exclusive right to make haunted house games

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Atari was once a giant of video game innovation, but now it's a troll -- a company that produces nothing except legal threats -- and its latest project is to get the US Patent and Trademark Office to give it the right to decide who can make haunted house games, and charge the lucky few for the privilege. Read the rest

Why are people trolls and what can we do about it?

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Adrienne Lafrance's story in The Atlantic about online harassment is an excellent, thought-provoking read. She describes her online conversation with someone who sent a mean tweet to her:

Finally, I asked him if I should have even responded to him at all. His responses were fascinating to me, but was the exchange worthwhile for him?

“Absolutely,” he wrote. “I'm pretty embarrassed by how I acted and being called out on it was extremely helpful. I definitely need to more often step back and think a bit more before. I usually do; sometimes I fail.”

The exchange felt to me like a tiny victory for civility in the Internet age, but it probably doesn’t make sense to try to change the world one commenter at a time. Not only is that approach mentally exhausting, but it’s potentially dangerous. Before I even responded to the man who had insulted me, I scrolled through his tweets to be sure he didn’t seem unhinged. I chatted with coworkers who had seen his tweet. I proceeded with caution. And besides all that, the kinds of tweets and comments that can be considered harassment are in an entirely different, much scarier category than what I faced.

“When we think about problems of harassment or conflict, the overwhelming way we think is to consider ways to deal with that specific conflict, that specific troll and that specific person—and that often leads us to think about reactive responses, things that we can do after we spot something happening,” Matias, the MIT scholar told me.

Read the rest

The future of trollbots

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Hugh writes, "In a post-Tay world, where we've proved the Internet can train a bot to be a plausible shitposter, what's the future of politics, hate, and mob rule? Read the rest

"The world thinks I faked a drone crashing through my office window and into my head"

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On April 7 David Perel posted a video to YouTube, writing: "Drone Smashes Through My 5th Floor Window and Into My Head! While sitting at my desk I heard what sounded like a missile followed by a huge bang and glass all over me. Turns out someone lost control of their drone. Lucky to be uninjured!"

A lot of people didn't believe Perel. On Medium, he wrote about the angry deniers who posted mean comments on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram about the video:

It’s incredible how many glass experts, drone experts, head trauma experts, video experts, psychological experts and experts of any kind exist when the troll nation descends. Experts abound but they all missed a single key fact: I was actually hit in the head by a drone!

The pinnacle of these accusations was a very personal attack from a guy with a ponytail who clearly loves his drones, but not the facts.

It’s now been four days since the incident and I am still fielding calls from news websites, radio stations and Twitter commenters.

Read the rest

Jerks were able to turn Microsoft's chatbot into a Nazi because it was a really crappy bot

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Microsoft Research deployed a tween-simulating chatbot this week, only to recall it a few hours later because it had turned into a neo-Nazi, and the next day, they published a bewildered apology that expressed shock that it had been so easy for trolls to corrupt their creation. Read the rest

Appeals court orders confirms patent troll must pay costs

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Following a 2014 verdict, courts may now punish patent trolls with the defense costs that their litigation incurs. An appeals court has now upheld an attorney fees ruling handed to Lumen View, a company that makes nothing of value, yet behaved as if it owned the abstract concept of matchmaking.

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decided, however, that the $300k awarded was too high, and returned the case to district court for another hearing. Joe Mullin writes:

In Friday's decision, the appeals judges agreed with Cote that Lumen View was out of line.

"Even if Lumen View’s litigation conduct was not quite sanctionable, the court reasonably determined that the case was exceptional," wrote US Circuit Judge Alan Lourie on behalf of a unanimous panel. "The allegations of infringement were ill-supported, particularly in light of the parties’ communications and the proposed claim constructions, and thus the lawsuit appears to have been baseless."

However, the judges found that Cote overstepped when she doubled the fees against Lumen View.

Read the rest

A win for copyright trolls: Cox must pay $25M for not disconnecting users

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BMG hired Rightscorp, a publicly traded blackmail company, to send threatening letters to Cox Cable subscribers it accused of infringing its copyrights, demanding cash payments to stay out of court. Read the rest

Austin area magician reveals own trick

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Outspoken Genii forum member Brad Henderson has this fascinating public video calling card. Brad reveals, via an "Explaination," the optical illusion behind his business card.

I find this curious as Brad apparently does not like it when others share interesting magical effects with the intent of driving interest in the art. I guess it is ok when it helps you book a gig?

If you are in the Austin area, we encourage you to see Brad perform! If his routine is half as passionate as his trolling, you are in for a great time!

Previously: The Genii Forums, where magicians keep magic secret in public Read the rest

Ex-mayor of Bismark, ND trademarks alternatives to "Fighting Sioux" in bid to prevent UND team from switching to non-racist name

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Marlan "Hawk" Haakenson used the state registry to claim Fighting Hawks, Nodaks, and North Stars in the mistaken belief that this would give him leverage to prevent the University of North Dakota from abandoning its racist "Fighting Sioux" team name. The NCAA has threated UND with sanctions if it doesn't change the team's name. Read the rest

Everyday Misanthrope, the game about making people miserable

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Every interaction with another human being is just another opportunity to make the people around you feel more like you do: absolutely miserable.

Ellen Pao: “The trolls are winning.”

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“I have just endured one of the largest trolling attacks in history,” writes Reddit's recently-departed interim CEO Ellen Pao in a Washington Post op-ed today. “And I have just been blessed with the most astonishing human responses to that attack.” Read the rest

NZ's anti-troll law: gift to trolls, bad for free speech

If you set out to create the platonic ideal of a badly considered anti-trolling bill that made a bunch of ineffectual gestures at ending harassment without regard to the collateral damage on everything else on the Internet, well, you'd be New Zealand's Parliament, apparently. Read the rest

Trolls, tracked down, explain themselves

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Brad Merrill recounts the stories of three people who hunted down and confronted internet tormenters. The resulting conversations vary, but all are as pathetic as you might expect.

What can we conclude from all this? A few things:

• Generally, trolling comments are nothing personal. Trolls project their insecurities onto others as a coping mechanism of sorts. They’re hurting, and they deal with it by making others hurt too.

• In the heat of the moment, as trolls are blowing off steam in comment sections around the Web, they forget that a real human being is on the other side reading what they’ve written. The Internet creates a feeling of distance — if you’re not standing in front of someone, it doesn’t feel like what you’re saying will actually hurt them.

• Sometimes, ignoring trolls and cyberbullies isn’t the best policy. A well-written response might just open the troll’s eyes and change their ways.

Read the rest

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