Sponsor of the "Discouraging Frivolous Lawsuits Act" sues Twitter cow-account for $250 million

Devin Nunes (previously) is a Trump-loyalist whose scandals have ranged from secretly moving his family farm to make it easier to hire undocumented workers to a bizarre obsession with the Steele Dossier; and like a lot of far-right types, he's big on "preventing frivolous lawsuits" (which is to say, he wants to make it harder for the public to sue companies that harm them, which is why he cosponsored last year's Discouraging Frivolous Lawsuits Act. Read the rest

The "Reputation Management" industry continues to depend on forged legal documents

Back in 2016, a "reputation management" company called Profile Defenders was caught forging court orders in order to get complaints about its clients removed from the site Pissed Consumer. This was a monumentally stupid thing to do, as judges are consistently unamused with people who forge their signatures. Read the rest

Vox lawyers censored YouTubers who criticized The Verge's PC build videos

Vox's lawyers convinced YouTube to issue dreaded copyright strikes against two reaction videos that made fun of bad advice given by The Verge (owned by Vox Media) on how to build gaming PCs. The resulting backlash convinced The Verge's editor to ask YouTube to rescind the strikes.

From Ars Technica:

Last week, The Verge's lawyers suddenly asked YouTube to remove two reaction videos that had been online since September. Both videos reproduced the vast majority of the original Verge video, interspersed and overlaid with commentary, criticism, and ridicule.

These takedowns attracted widespread attention. Other prominent YouTubers posted videos weighing in on the controversy, with most blasting The Verge's decision.

[Verge editor Nilay Patel] says he wasn't involved in the initial decision to issue the copyright strikes. When he learned of the decision, he says, he requested that the strikes be retracted.

"When this was brought to my attention a few hours later, I told them that although I fully agreed with their legal argument, I did not think we should use copyright strikes against legitimate channels," Patel wrote in a Friday post.

Patel says that at his request, The Verge asked YouTube to retract the strikes against the two videos.

Still, Patel said The Verge's lawyers were on solid legal ground.

"I fully agree with our legal team that these videos crossed the line of fair use," he wrote.

Read the rest

Metal band Arch Enemy bans concert photographer after he complains their fashion designer swiped a shot

J Salmerón, a Netherlands-based concert photographer, took a fantastic shot of Arch Enemy singer Alissa White-Gluz at a festival gig in Nijmegen. He posted it to his Instagram, to White-Gluz and fans' general delight.

A company named Thunderball Clothing, operated by Marta Gabriel, reposted Salmerón's photo to their own Instagram account. Thunderball created the leather vest White-Gluz wore in the post, and used the photo, without the photographer's permission, to market its services.

Salmerón sent a request: give €100 euros to a charity, the normal licensing fee, and he wouldn't ding Thunderball with a €500 unauthorized use invoice.

So Gabriel told the band that Salmerón threatened her. And the band itself told him that, as far as they were concorned, they could also use his photos however they please.

Salmerón, who as luck would have it is also a lawyer, explains that this is a dangerous misunderstanding of copyright law:

This made no sense since, although there are some restrictions (for example, I can’t use a photo of Alissa to promote a product, unless she expressly authorizes me to do so) I am the only one who gets to decide how and where my work is used. To put it in legal terms: I own the copyright over my photos.

The message also sought to perpetuate the ridiculous system that some bands expect to have with photographers: They let them come into the pit, expect to have the absolute and perpetual right to use the photos in whatever way they want, and pay photographers in “exposure,” by using their work before a massive audience.

Read the rest

Legal threats force retraction of peer-reviewed article about the problems with private-equity-backed dermatologists

On October 5, the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology published a peer-reviewed article by Drs Sailesh Konda and Joseph Francis, enumerating the problems with the burgeoning field of "corporatized," private-equity-backed dermatology practices, often affiliated with private-equity-backed pathology labs, showing data to support the conclusion that private equity investment flowed to dermatology practices that were "outliers" in performing rare, high-cost procedures, including some that generated outsized Medicare billings. Read the rest

Antivirus maker Sentinelone uses copyright claims to censor video of security research that revealed defects in its products

At this week's B-Sides Manchester security conference, James Williams gave a talk called "Next-gen AV vs my shitty code," in which he systematically revealed the dramatic shortcomings of anti-virus products that people pay good money for and trust to keep them safe -- making a strong case that these companies were selling defective goods. Read the rest

The future of "fake news": Pepsi gets Facebook to censor jokes about plastic in its Kurkure corn puffs

There is a conspiracy theory that Pepsico's Kurkure corn puffs -- developed and sold in India -- contain plastic; there's a much wider discussion in which people are making fun of this dumb theory (while simultaneously pointing out that Kurkure might as well be made of plastic, given their nutritional value and flavor). Read the rest

After London builders' bid to remove a complaint from Mumsnet failed, a mysterious Pakistani-American copyright claim did the job

Annabelle Narey hired a London construction firm called BuildTeam to do some work, which she found very unsatisfactory (she blames them for a potentially lethal roof collapse in a bedroom); so she did what many of us do when we're unhappy with a business: she wrote an online complaint, and it was joined by other people who said that they had hired BuildTeam and been unhappy with the work. Read the rest

Tesla pulls a Trump, smears critical press outlet as "extremists"

Tesla was extremely upset to learn that the employees who'd been injured and maimed in its factories spoke to Reveal News about the unsafe working conditions and culture of cover-ups at the Tesla plants. Read the rest

Deputy sheriff jails ex-wife after she complained on Facebook about him

Corey King, a sheriff's deputy in Washington County, Georgia put out an arrest warrant for his wife, Anne King, after she posted on Facebook: "That moment when everyone in your house has the flu and you ask your kid's dad to get them (not me) more Motrin and Tylenol and he refuses."

Anne King's friend, Susan Hines, commented on the post, calling Deputy King a "POS." "Give me an hour and check your mailbox," she wrote. "I'll be GLAD to pick up the slack."

Deputy King told his ex-wife to delete the post. When she didn't, he requested a warrant to arrest both women on a charge of "intent to defame another, communicate false matter which tends to expose one who is alive to hatred, contempt, or ridicule, and which tends to provoke a breach of peace.

CNN reports on what happened next, which shouldn't surprise you:

The next day, a Washington County court magistrate issued warrants for both Anne King and Hines.

The women were charged with "criminal defamation of character," processed and spent about four hours in jail before posting $1,000 bail.

At their hearing, state-court judge stated there was no basis for the arrest and the case was dropped.

"I don't even know why we're here," the judge said, according to the complaint.

Also not surprising, Anne King is suing for compensatory and punitive damages and Deputy King is saying it's not his fault; it's Magistrate Judge Ralph Todd's fault for actually issuing the warrants. Read the rest

Property developer caught using critic's photo in promotional materials, demands an end to criticism as a condition of paying for the use

"The Gentle Author" is the maintainer of Spitalfields Life, a blog that has featured a brilliant and moving series of essays about the history of East London; Author is also sharply critical of the plans by giant property developer Crest Nicholson to redevelop the site of a Victorian chest hospital and dig up an ancient tree called the Bethnal Green Mulberry. Read the rest

Fire and Fury lawyer responds to Trump's cease-and-desist letter: go pound sand

Trump seemed to think it would be a good idea to send the publisher of Michael Wolff's book, Fire and Fury, a letter demanding it to cease publication and "issue a full and complete retraction and apology." The letter had the effect of boosting sales of the book, and also of giving Henry Holt's lawyer the opportunity to write a hilariously scathing response.

The best part is on the last page:

Lastly, the majority of your letter -- indeed, seven full pages -- is devoted to instructing Henry Holt and Mr. Wolff in meticulous detail about their obligations to preserve documents that relate in any way to the book, the article, President Trump, his family members, their businesses, and his Presidential campaign. While my clients do not adopt or subscribe to your description of their legal obligations, Henry Holt and Mr. Wolff will comply with any and all document preservation obligations that the law imposes upon them. At the same time, we must remind you that President Trump, in his personal and government capacity, must comply with the same legal obligations regarding himself, his family, their businesses, the Trump campaign, and his administration, and must ensure all appropriate measures to preserve such documents are in place... Should you pursue litigation against Henry Holt or Mr. Wolff, we are quite confident that documents related to the contents of the book in the possession of President Trump, his family members, his businesses, his campaign, and his administration will prove particularly relevant to our defense.

Read the rest

Donald Trump is suing my publisher, and its response is magnificent

Henry Holt is a division of Macmillan (owners of Tor Books, who publish my novels); they're the folks who published Michael Wolff's bestselling Fire and Fury, which has so thoroughly embarrassed Donald Trump that the President of the United States has threatened to sue them. Read the rest

Author of 'Fire and Fury' says Trump "has less credibility than, perhaps, anyone who has ever walked on earth"

Trump is freaking out over Michael Wolff's new behind the scenes book about the Trumpian White House, Fire and Fury:

Wolff couldn't be more pleased by Trump's meltdown, and his attempt to stop the book's publication. "Where do I send the box of chocolates?" Wolff said in an interview on NBC's "Today":

From NBC:

Michael Wolff, the author of a new book that gives a behind-the-scenes account of the White House, defended his work Friday, insisting he spoke with President Donald Trump on the record and calling the commander in chief "a man who has less credibility than, perhaps, anyone who has ever walked on earth."

Wolff, in an exclusive interview on NBC's "Today," said that everyone he spoke to for the book, "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House," described the president the same way.

"I will tell you the one description that everyone gave, everyone has in common: They all say he is like a child," Wolff explained. "And what they mean by that is, he has a need for immediate gratification. It is all about him."

Wolff added that "100 percent of the people around" Trump, "senior advisers, family members, every single one of them, questions his intelligence and fitness for office."

Fire and Fury is currently the best-selling book on Amazon. Read the rest

Ars Technica's Dan Goodin is being sued by Keeper Security over an article about a defect in its password manager

On December 15, Ars Technica ran a story by veteran security reporter Dan Goodin in which Goodin reported on a disclosure by Google researcher Tavis Ormandy, who had discovered that Keeper Security's password manager, bundled with Windows 10, was vulnerable to a password stealing bug that was very similar to a bug that had been published more than a year before. Read the rest

Woman says Abbey Inn in Nashville, Indiana fined her $350 for leaving a negative review

The Indiana Attorney General’s office has filed a lawsuit against the Abbey Inn in Nashville, Indiana, "claiming the hotel’s policy of levelling a charge against guests for negative reviews violated the state’s Deceptive Consumer Sales Act," reports Southern Living magazine.

Katrina Arthur and her husband stayed in the Abbey Inn hotel in Brown County in March 2016. They said problems started as soon as they arrived. “The room was unkempt, and it looked like it hadn’t been cleaned since the last people stayed there,” Arthur told Call 6, the investigative arm of a local ABC news affiliate, the Indy Channel. “We checked the sheets and I found hairs and dirt,” she said.

She said the hotel had no visible staff they could talk to at the time, and that calling the number on the front desk didn’t work. “I actually had to clean the room myself,” she said.

When Arthur received an email after her stay asking her to leave a review, she decided to be honest.

“I wanted people to know not to waste their money because I know people save their money for special occasions,” Arthur told the Indy Channel.

However, soon after leaving the review, Arthur says she was charged $350 and threatened with legal action, prompting her to delete the review. She has not received the money back.

From Miami Herald story "‘Nightmare’ hotel reeked of sewage — and charged guests $350 for complaining, lawsuit says":

Attorney Andrew Szakaly, who owns the hotel, wrote a letter to Arthur on April 2, 2016 telling Arthur that her negative review included “false statements” that had caused “irreparable injury” to his business, according to Indiana’s attorney general.

Read the rest

After a show of solidarity from America's critics, Disney caves on blacklisting the LA Times from movie screenings

Disney has ended its blacklisting of the LA Times' movie critics from advance screenings -- a move it took in retaliation for a pair of in-depth, investigative articles that cataloged the one-sided deals it has extracted from the city of Anaheim, where it is the largest employer, taxpayer, charitable giver, and political contributor -- after the nation's movie critics announced that they would not review nor consider for awards any Disney movie. Read the rest

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