John Steele is the colorful copyright troll whose work in shaking down people by threatening to link their names to gay porn with spurious lawsuits has been augmented by a series of bizarre legal maneuvers, including allegedly stealing his caretaker's identity in order to create a disposable buffer between Steele and his operation.
But he's got a new wheeze that takes the cake:
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MPHJ are the notorious patent trolls who claim that any business that scans documents and then emails them owes them $1,000 per employee. Their corporate structure is shrouded in mystery, hidden behind a nigh-impenetrable screen of shell companies, but thanks to a lawsuit the company has launched against the Federal Trade Commission, we're getting access to some details about their extortion racket. The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Julie Samuels rounds up the most interesting tidbits including the fact that MPHJ believes that every business in America with more 100 employees owes them $1,000 per employee, no matter what industry the company is in.
MPHJ brought suit against the FTC because it claims that it has a First Amendment right to send threatening letters to small businesses.
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Yesterday, the Popular Science website announced that it would no longer allow readers to comment on new stories. Why? Because science
, says online editor Suzanne LeBarre, who cited research showing how a minority of uncivilized, vitriolic comments can skew readers' understanding of the content of a story and contribute to political/ideological polarizations of opinion. Mother Jones wrote about the same study
more in-depth earlier this year. Read the rest
The Doubleclicks, whose Read the rest
Leo Traynor, a "writer, analyst & political consultant" in Ireland, was hounded off of Twitter by a vicious anti-Semitic troll whose ghastly threats against him and his family were too much to bear. Traynor located his tormentor, though, and got quite a surprise
. It's a tale well told, and gave me goosebumps. Read the rest
Zoe Williams examines the difference between trolls and the merely bad-mannered
. [The Guardian via The Awl
] Read the rest
Something weird happened
on Twitter yesterday. It was annoying and upsetting at the time, but now it's meaty fodder for behavioral analysis discussions. Ethan Zuckerman wrote a blog post about
it that extracts some of the more interesting questions raised about social media and activism.
* Postscript: I've since traded tweets with the two guys behind the stunt, and we're cool. Read the rest
After a few days on the block, copyright troll Righthaven's domain name sold for $3,300 this afternoon. The funds go to creditors of the bankrupt firm, which tried -- and failed -- to build a business shaking down websites that excerpted content from its clients' publications.
We almost bought it just so we could redirect it at humorously-chosen sites, but it got a bit too racy for us around the $2k mark. The whois currently remains the law firm that seized it; if you won it, get in touch!
Previously: Righthaven in its death throes, domain going up for auction Read the rest
Yesterday I spotted Bisou, a new Libyan restaurant, which opened earlier this year here in Pittsburgh. At Reddit, Val_Holla reports that the proprietor claims no knowledge of his logo's origin, which may in turn indicate that he is a master troll. Here is the menu.
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Joel Johnson delivers a blistering smackdown
to the trolls, miscreants and entitled creeps who infest comment threads at Gizmodo. Read the rest
The New York Times' John Metcalfe has a very funny story out today on self-appointed grammar and spelling nazis on Twitter: anal-retentive, fail-wailing buzzkills who troll fellow users (particularly high-profile ones) for typos and such. Boing Boing's esteemed guestblogger John Cusack starts off the piece, and I was also interviewed.
Cusack, it should be said, deserves real praise for keeping it real. He comes off in the piece as he does in person: self-deprecating humor, and just a cool, down-to-earth dude. So many stars of his stature farm out their tweets and Facebook interactions to assistants, publicists, PR handlers. Not him. As my Boing Boing colleagues know, I'm the biggest copyediting nitpicker obsessive in the world, but I really respect him for approaching the new experience of Twitter with sincerity, authenticity, and a desire to understand the medium by using it himself (and, fine, smashing a few cups in the china shop along the way). Bruteforce it, baby. Snip:
JOHN CUSACK tweets with his iPhone and, much like the characters he plays, his style is fast and loose. "I'm pretty new to it, and if there's a spell check on an iPhone, I can't find it," he said by telephone. "So I basically get in the general ballpark and tweet it."
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Consequently, Mr. Cusack has birthed strange words like "breakfasy" and "hippocrite" and has given a more literary title to his new movie: "Hot Tub Tome Machine."
Most of his followers ignore the gaffes. But a vocal minority abuse him about it nonstop, telling the star that as much as they liked "The Sure Thing," his grammar and spelling sure stink.