EFF's Fred von Lohmann explains with a great deal of clarity and precision why MediaFire is out of its mind to send legal threats over a Firefox plugin, SkipScreen, that auto-clicks through its ad-screens. It comes down to this: your browser is your browser, and you can auto-click, rewrite, block, display or manipulate what shows up on your screen as much as you like and it's no one's business but your own.
Yes, Boing Boing is ad-supported and yes, SkipScreen is an ad-blocker. So what? We're not dumb enough to think that just because we've decided to earn our living from ads means that you have to give up your rights to control what's on your screen. That's what principle is: what you believe in even when it's not convenient.
MediaFire's arguments to the contrary are entirely misguided. First, they suggest that SkipScreen somehow lets users "steal bandwidth." That's wrong on the facts: SkipScreen just automates the exact process that the user would otherwise have to do themselves in order download a file. No "extra downloads," no additional bandwidth for MediaFire. Second, MediaFire argues that the use of SkipScreen violates MediaFire's "acceptable use policy." That's wrong on the law: users who follow a link to a MediaFire download never click-through or otherwise agree to any "acceptable use policy," so there's no contract here that prohibits a user from using whatever browser she likes (including whatever plug-ins she likes) to download a file.
Sure, MediaFire probably would prefer that we all sit, transfixed, while they display ads for us, just like certain Hollywood executives wish we would never leave the couch or hit FFWD when commercials run during our favorite TV shows, and certain websites wish they could ban Firefox ad-blockers. Fortunately, there's nothing in the law that says that by simply visiting a website, I give up the right to control my desktop.
It's My Browser, and I'll Auto-Click if I Want To
My latest Locus Magazine column is DRM Broke Its Promise, which recalls the days when digital rights management was pitched to us as a way to enable exciting new markets where we'd all save big by only buying the rights we needed (like the low-cost right to read a book for an hour-long plane ride), […]
For decades, architectural critic and photographer John Margolies obsessively documented roadside attractions: vernacular architecture, weird sculpture, odd businesses and amusements. By his death in 2016, his collection consisted of more than 11,000 slides (he published books of his favorites, with annotations).
After the EU Copyright Directive passed with a slim majority that only carried because some MEPs got confused and pressed the wrong button, the government of Poland filed a legal challenge with the European Court of Justice, arguing that the Directive -- and its rule requiring that all online discourse be filtered by black-box algorithms […]
Breaking into the big leagues as a project manager isn’t done overnight, but there are principles that anyone can learn, and they’re applicable to nearly any business. No matter what your field, if there are multiple teams working toward a common goal, you’re going to need a roadmap. The Project Management Professional Certification Training Suite […]
On the one hand, nostalgia is “a corruption of the historical impulse,” according to William Gibson. On the other hand, “Super Mario Bros.” will never not be cool. Luckily, there’s a way to satisfy that retro gaming while still keeping an eye on the future: The GameShell Kit. This thing is simultaneously the last handheld […]
The field of data analytics can get intimidating, even for business professionals who constantly rely on it. But at its heart, its purpose is to simplify. To take mounds of information and distill their insights into a single clear picture. Currently, the go-to software for painting that picture is Tableau. And if you want to […]