A few weeks ago we were shocked to learn that Playboy had, without notifying us, sued us over this post (we learned about it when a journalist DM'ed us on Twitter to ask about it). Today, we filed a motion to dismiss, asking the judge to throw out this baseless, bizarre case. We really hope the courts see it our way, for all our sakes.
Playboy’s lawsuit is based on an imaginary (and dangerous) version of US copyright law that bears no connection to any US statute or precedent. Playboy -- once legendary champions for the First Amendment -- now advances a fringe copyright theory: that it is illegal to link to things other people have posted on the web, on pain of millions in damages -- the kinds of sums that would put us (and every other small publisher in America) out of business.
Rather than pursuing the individual who created the allegedly infringing archive, Playboy is pursuing a news site for pointing out the archive’s value as a historical document. In so doing, Playboy is seeking to change the legal system so that deep-pocketed opponents of journalism can shut down media organizations that displease them. It's a law that they could never get from Congress, but which they hope the courts will conjure into existence by wiping us off the net.
It's not just independent publishers who rely on the current state of copyright law, either. Major media outlets (like Playboy!) routinely link and embed media, without having to pay a lawyer to research the copyright status of something someone else posted, before discussing, explaining or criticizing it. Read the rest
A man named Ron Mello has set up a GoFundMe account to help support Juli Briskman after she was fired for showing Trump her middle finger. As of 13 November at 8:20am PT, $57,860 has been pledged.
As you'll recall, the 50 year old Briskman was riding her bike alongside Trump's motorcade last week and she took the opportunity to express her feelings for Trump by flipping off the vehicles as they passed. After she posted a photo of herself to facebook, her employer, Akima LCC fired her. "She said that after the image surfaced her bosses informed her she had breached the company’s social media policy because she made the photo her profile picture," reports The Independent.
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This jerk at an NFL game doesn't feel folks should protest civil injustice against black Americans by kneeling, but thinks the flag is there to keep his ass dry. Read the rest
Reuters Editor-in-Chief Steve Adler is proud of the way his news organization is able to provide high-quality, fact-based journalism in oppressive places like Turkey, the Philippines, Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, Thailand, China, Zimbabwe, and Russia, "nations in which we sometimes encounter some combination of censorship, legal prosecution, visa denials, and even physical threats to our journalists." Here's his list of dos and don'ts for staffers:
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--Cover what matters in people’s lives and provide them the facts they need to make better decisions.
--Become ever-more resourceful: If one door to information closes, open another one.
--Give up on hand-outs and worry less about official access. They were never all that valuable anyway. Our coverage of Iran has been outstanding, and we have virtually no official access. What we have are sources.
--Get out into the country and learn more about how people live, what they think, what helps and hurts them, and how the government and its actions appear to them, not to us.
--Keep the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles close at hand, remembering that “the integrity, independence and freedom from bias of Reuters shall at all times be fully preserved.”
--Never be intimidated, but:
--Don’t pick unnecessary fights or make the story about us. We may care about the inside baseball but the public generally doesn’t and might not be on our side even if it did.
--Don’t vent publicly about what might be understandable day-to-day frustration. In countless other countries, we keep our own counsel so we can do our reporting without being suspected of personal animus.
Peter from the National Coalition Against Censorship writes, "A California official removed an artwork by skateboarding icon Scott Olson from a public building because he said it was 'obscene.' Sorry, the First Amendment exists to prevent this kind of thing. Read the rest
Many agriculture-heavy states have passed laws criminalizing recording videos of animal cruelty and illegal workplace and food hygiene practices, but one judge in Idaho isn't having any of it. Read the rest
"Ever wonder what would happen when you get confronted by MP's and military investigation unit outside of the base and don't say much to them?"—Bunny Boots Ink. Read the rest
Man arrested for briefly failing to keep moving #Ferguson/Jon Swaine/@jonswaine
The ACLU was denied an emergency injunction against Ferguson's cops' illegal "no standing on the sidewalk" rule because Ferguson promised to erect a "free speech zone," but the only thing on that site is a fenced-off, locked-up pen that no one is allowed to use. Read the rest
In this video, shot in April by Andrewwake58, Gray County Sheriff's Deputy Stokes tries every conceivable tactic to illegally intimidate a citizen who is peacefully recording him without interfering. Deputy Stokes invents imaginary laws, tries repeatedly to seize the camera, illegally orders the citizen to stop recording, demands identity papers without justification. When all else fairs, the Deputy declares that if the citizen journalist doesn't comply, that he can just "make stuff up" to make him stop. Read the rest
A bill introduced in the Missouri legislature by Rick Brattin is a genuinely bizarre attempt to cram religion into the state's science curriculum. In what must have seen to Mr Brattin as a very clever move, the bill redefines what science is to include religion ("'Scientific theory,' an inferred explanation of incompletely understood phenomena about the physical universe based on limited knowledge, whose components are data, logic, and faith-based philosophy.") (emphasis mine). The bill just gets weirder from there.
If scientific theory concerning biological origin is taught in a course of study, biological evolution and biological intelligent design shall be taught. Other scientific theory or theories of origin may be taught. If biological intelligent design is taught, any proposed identity of the intelligence responsible for earth's biology shall be verifiable by present-day observation or experimentation and teachers shall not question, survey, or otherwise influence student belief in a nonverifiable identity within a science course.
In other words, equal time for the leading scientific idea and intelligent design, but never mention who the designer might be. And not just equal time, but equal pages; the bill literally mandates that "course textbooks contain approximately an equal number of pages of relevant material teaching each viewpoint." Brattin is at least aware no textbooks actually have anything on "biological intelligent design," so he wants the state to identify "nine individuals who are knowledgeable of science and intelligent design" to create supplementary materials for use until the textbook publishers get in line.
It's just a bill, not a law, but as John Timmer points out, bills that are very nearly this stupid have already passed in Louisiana and Tennessee. Read the rest
Here's Mr Romney on the campaign trail in 2007, in Radar O'Reilly's hometown of Ottumwa, Iowa, demonstrating his mastery of First Amendment jurisprudence and the nature of the technology industry -- as well as the technical feasibility of pornography filters -- promising mandatory game-rating systems (with a prohibition on their sales to kids) and a technology mandate requiring all PC vendors to place a pornography filter on new computers, on the grounds that this will "make sure their kids don't see [pornography]." I think Mr Romney uses "make sure" in a different, more nuanced way than the rest of us do, meaning, "not be sure at all."
Mitt Romney in 2007:Porn Filter on Computers
(via Reddit) Read the rest
Charles Carreon, the lawyer whose threat-letter to The Oatmeal comics creator Matthew Inman ended with he and his client being ridiculed far and wide, and a small fortune being raised by Inman for charity, continues to demonstrate a fundamental lack of good sense and understanding of Internet dynamics. In an interview with Forbes, he threatens to comb through California's statute book until he finds something he can use to ruin Inman ("California code is just so long, but there’s something in there about this.")
Ken at Popehat -- a former federal prosecutor -- has some sound advice for Mr Carreon, Esq. As he points out, Carreon's proposed course of action is incredibly risky, and may result in professional censure and financial ruin:
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Oh, Mr. Carreon, indeed there is. There's California's magnificent anti-SLAPP statute, under which you'll be paying the attorney fees of anyone you sue. There's California's judgment debtor exam law, under which you can be interrogated about your income and assets in preparation for garnishing your income and, if necessary, seeking liquidation of your assets to satisfy a judgment for attorney fees against you. There's California's sanctions statute, under which you can be sanctioned for bringing suit to harass or without adequate legal or factual basis.
Read them carefully. And think. Think hard. Step back from the precipice. This can get better, by you letting it go. Or it can get worse. Much, much worse.
[Note: Mr. Carreon asserts that his site was hacked. I don't know whether that is true or not.
HR437, "the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011" makes it illegal to protest in the vicinity of anyone who rates a Secret Service detail (even if you aren't aware of the person's presence), thus sparing politicians and VIPs the ugly and unseemly spectacle of having to confront voters who disagree with their policies. Only three Congressmen voted against it.
On top of that, the punishment can be pretty severe. You can get up to a year in jail for being found guilty of these things, and that jumps up to 10 years if you are carrying a "deadly or dangerous weapon."
As Amash notes, there are legitimate safety concerns to be aware of, and there are issues with doing something that significantly impedes government regulations. But it's really not difficult to see how this bill could very, very easily be stretched to be used against those doing standard protesting against significant political figures.
Chipping Away At The First Amendment: New 'Trespassing' Bill Could Be Used To Criminalize Legitimate Protests Read the rest
Wired.com's Quinn Norton has been tirelessly covering the Occupy movement from the front lines in cities throughout the US. In New York, it's a very good idea to have a press pass when you're doing that, if you'd like to avoid being beaten or arrested—and, you know, who wouldn't? Earlier, Elizabeth Spiers at the NYO posted about how that's functionally impossible for most reporters. And Quinn's Wired.com editor Ryan Singel now has a piece up at Wired about the NYPD's nonsensical series of hoops reporters must jump through to obtain press passes that they won't be able to obtain anyway. They're not issuing any until January, 2012.
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Wired has been trying to get NYPD press credentials for freelancer Quinn Norton, who is on special assignment to cover the Occupy movement. Even before this week’s arrests, the NYPD made it clear they would not issue her credentials, as she first had to comply with Kafka-esque rules, such as proving she’d already covered six on-the-spot events in New York City — events that you would actually need a press pass to cover.
When I asked if six stories on Occupy Wall Street would count, Sarubbi said no.
I then tried to make the case that issuing press passes to legitimate reporters might help prevent arrests and prevent police from beating reporters, as happened to two journalists for the conservative Daily Caller on Thursday, and that the lack of spots until January seemed odd, and Sarubbi got angry.
“Don’t tell me how to do my job and I won’t tell you how to do yours,” she said.
According to the Miami New Times, Rep. Allen West (R-FL) penned "the dumbest thing ever written on congressional stationery" when he sent this one-word ("NUTS") letter to a local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). CAIR wrote to Rep West about his ties to radical anti-Islamic rabblerousers, arguing for their basic American constitutional right to be "afforded equal protection under law" and "to worship freely or participate in the governing of our society."
West has appeared on stage with Pamela Geller (cofounder of "Stop Islamization of America") and Brigitte Gabriel (who says she voices "what many in America are thinking but afraid to say out loud, for fear of being labeled a racist, bigot, Islamophobic, or intolerant").
For my part, I suspect the competition for "dumbest thing ever written on congressional stationery" is probably stiffer than this. I wouldn't give even odds on "dumbest thing ever written on congressional stationery by a Florida congressman" or even "dumbest thing ever written on congressional stationery by a Florida congressman this century."
But it's pretty dumb.
‘NUTS!’ — Allen West’s Strange, One-Word Response To Being Called Out For Ties To Islamophobes Read the rest