Category: ‘Politics and Law’

This Week on Techdirt: Nov. 21 – 23

November 26, 2011 Posted by zachary

This week was a short week because of Thanksgiving but I did manage to get out 4 posts and a mention in the favorites post by Mike Masnick. So here they are:

Potential Patent Infringement Threatens To Doom Highly Anticipated Open Source Project

John Carmack had plans to release the source code of Doom 3  to the open source community, but it was delayed because of an old patent infringement threat. Everything worked out in the end because he was able to work around the code. The same can not be said for Linux and Android who are being threatened by Microsoft over patents it refuses to disclose.

How Do You Promote A Bad DRM Scheme? With A Bad Movie Of Course

Warner’s Ultraviolet DRM is a piece of crap and in an attempt to promote its use, Warner decided to give away free digital copies of Batman Forever with the video game Batman: Arkham City. No joke.

New Research Shows Movie And Game Piracy On The Rise, But Won’t Tell Us How It Knows

Research firm Evisional has released some piracy statistics for the UK and found that game, movie, tv and software piracy is on the rise. Music piracy is on the decline. Sadly, there is no information on how they determined this so we can’t verify the numbers.

Game Developers Sue Baidu Over Links To Infringing Content

A bunch of Chinese game developers are suing the Chinese search giant Baidu for copyright infringement. What is Baidu’s crime? Linking to games that can be downloaded. There are no files hosted with Baidu. The links just show up in search results. The game developers need to learn from the music industry which entered a licensing deal with Baidu.

So that’s it for this week. Keep an eye out for more.

This week on Techdirt: Nov. 14 – 18

November 19, 2011 Posted by zachary

This week is a rather short week. I didn’t have a lot of time to write new articles. So, there are only two of mine and one from the ECA. Doesn’t really change the importance of the topics discussed, so let’s jump right in.

Gamex Pulls The Welcome Mat Out From Under The Pirate Party

The Swedish Pirate Party was invited to the Swedish game show Gamex. Just a week before the show, after they have paid for  their booth and have been featured on advertising for the show, the people running the show told them they weren’t invited. Apparently someone wasn’t very happy about the Pirate Party’s presence and pressured the show to lock them out. It wasn’t a blanket ban on political speech as another political group was allowed there.

Everyone Freak Out! Gangs Have Discovered The Internet!

Yes. Gangs have discovered the internet. The National Gang Assessment Center does an annual study on gangs and what they are up to. This year got some attention in the game world because the study mentioned Second Life, a popular MMO, as a tool gangs use to communicate. I delved in a bit deeper into the whole section on technology that basically says that gangs are using the internet to communicate. You know, just like everybody else. This isn’t some new thing, it just seems the federal government is a few years behind everyone else in figuring this out.

SOPA/PROTECT IP Would Be Hideously Bad For Video Gamers

This one wasn’t written by me. This is from Jennifer Mercurio of the ECA. I had asked the ECA to write up a guest article on why SOPA would be bad for gamers and this is what they sent over. Great stuff. I am extremely glad that I had the opportunity to work with the ECA for a number of years and still keep in touch with them. It’s nice to have connections.

So that’s it for this week. I have a few new articles lined up for next week so keep an eye out.

This Month on Techdirt: Oct 10 – Nov 9

November 13, 2011 Posted by zachary

So I have been bad. I meant to focus on these articles on a weekly basis and have been slacking this past month. It is not that I have not been busy, but I have neglected my blog for the most part. I did get out an announcement of my new book, Random Battles, and write an open letter to my Congressman and Senators. So there is that. Plus this month had a whole lot of articles on Techdirt. So here we go.

Netflix Kills Qwikster Before It Has A Chance To Live

Netflix made the mistake of trying to break its DVD by mail service from its streaming service without taking into consideration what their customers actually wanted. That turned out to be a bad idea and they backed out.

Barnes & Noble Doesn’t Get Digital DC Comics, Throws Hissy Fit

Barnes & Noble and Amazon are in a bit of a war over digital comics. Amazon won exclusive rights to a segment of DC’s digital line. So in retaliation, B&N removed all the physical copies of those comics form their shelves citing a policy of “make available any book, anywhere, anytime” Yeah, I don’t get how tis move complies with that either.

Universal Backs Away From Planned $60 VOD Release Of Tower Heist

Who knew that charging $60 to watch a movie one time was a bad idea? Oh, right, everyone except Universal. (more…)


October 27, 2011 Posted by zachary

Dear ‘Representative’,

I know you really don’t care about looking after the interests of the people of this nation. You continue to pass regulations that kill jobs, destroy our Constitutional rights and slaughter our economy. I have already expressed my frustration to you by sending a letter explaining why I will not vote for you and will actively campaign for those who truly wish to uphold their oath of office to uphold the Constitution and defend our rights. You do not deserve another term in office and will not get one.

The actions of you and many of your colleagues in office have shown further proof that you are corrupt and beyond repair. Recently, you voted to extend the PATRIOT Act to continue the erosion of our Constitutional rights. Most recently, you have shown a disregard for the public by ignoring the protests throughout the nation and failing to put a stop to the abuses by the state and local governments who continue to target citizens of this nation for exercising their Constitutional right to peaceably assemble and petition the Government for a redress of their grievances.

But most recently, your colleagues in Congress have put together a bill proposal that seeks to implement one of the most Fascist laws to date. This bill is known as PROTECT IP and/or PIPA in the Senate and is now known as E-PARASITE and/or SOPA in the House. This bill seeks to implement a China/Iran/Syrria style internet firewall around the US. Not under some grand scheme to protect our national ideals or interests, but to prop up the failing business models of legacy copyright middlemen and protect them from international competition. Do you really want the US to be compared to those nations or do you want the US to be the standard bearer of freedom that we once were?

For as long as copyright has existed, those who build their business around the monopoly control of the same have railed against new advances in technology that threaten that same control. The earliest known examples are the scribes who made a living off hand writing copies of documents and books when Gutenberg introduces the printing press. Other examples include the gramophone, the player piano, the radio, film, television, the VCR and now the internet. PROTECT IP/E-PARASITE is nothing more than the death throws of a legacy industry whose business is built around 100% of the production and distribution chain of entertainment, has been threatened by advances in internet technology. Entertainment itself is not threatened. There is more movies, music, games and books being produced today than ever before. But if you only listen to legacy gatekeepers you would not believe such.

The internet has led a revolution of content production that we never would have dreamed of 30 years ago. More people can produce today and get instant access to an audience because of the way the internet currently functions. This is what has the legacy industry scrambling to pass E-PARASITE/PROTECT IP. This ability for music/movie/game/book creators to self publish through a myriad of internet services both US based and internationally based is costing the legacy gatekeepers money. Regardless of their rhetoric, they are not seeking to do anything that benefits the creators of entertainment, they are seeking to prop up their gatekeeper status for a few more years.

If this bill passes, we will see a destruction of the growth in entertainment as the tools and services that self published entertainers rely on are blocked for US consumers. Those who want to connect directly with fans without having to rely on legacy gatekeepers will be shut off from many of the most popular means of distribution all because you as our ‘Representative’ want to continue the failed policies of crony capitalism rather than let the free markets work as intended. The Free Market has already all but disappeared in the physical realm and now you are seeking to do the same in the digital realm.

If you value your position in Congress in any way, you will vote down this latest attempt to trample to rights of US citizens and cull yourself of all traces of crony capitalism. You are beyond redemption in my eyes at this time, but every effort you take to make the job of cleaning up your mess from the true patriot who is elected in your place will be greatly appreciated.

Once again enjoy the time you have left in office.

Zachary Knight

Sent to Senators Tom Coburn, James Inhofe and Representative Tom Cole

For more information on just how bad PROTECT IP/E-PARASITE is check out these articles on the topic at Techdirt.

Citizen Recording Of Police Proves Officer Lied About Arrest

September 21, 2011 Posted by zachary

This article was originally published on TechDirt. alerts us to an LA Times article covering a recent trial in which a private citizen’s cellphone video proved officers lied about an arrest, resulting in the acquittal of a young man accused of carrying a concealed firearm.

According to police reports after the arrest:

Deputy Levi Belville testified that he saw Gipson in the side yard run and toss a loaded revolver onto the roof of a detached garage. The deputy said he ordered Gipson to stop and that the suspect walked back to Belville, who then detained him.

However, the cellphone video depicted a very different chain of events:

The footage did not show Gipson running, tossing a gun or walking back to the deputies to be detained. Instead, the grainy video showed deputies arriving and walking past Gipson, who was standing against a wall of the house near the rear of the yard. One of the deputies, Raul Ibarra, returned to Gipson and escorted him to the back of the yard.

This new footage led to a change in the way the officers describe the events. This inconsistency in the officer’s testimony led jurors to acquit Gipson of the charges.

Jurors said they did not find Belville’s trial testimony credible and believed he changed his account of the arrest after being confronted with the video. They also questioned why a deputy with more than 10 years’ experience would walk past a man who had just thrown a gun without immediately detaining him or warning colleagues.

Even as police and governments around the country are fighting the practice of the public recording the actions of the police, stories like this show the power that such recordings have in administering a fair justice system. Without this video, the trial would have been based entirely on the officer’s testimony of events rather than on hard evidence.

I will close with a few words from Gipson himself in response to these events, “I never thought an officer would lie.”

Nintendo Wii Accused Of Willfully Infringing Patent That Was Applied For After Wii Was Introduced

September 14, 2011 Posted by zachary

This post was originally published on Techdirt.

Techcrunch is reporting on yet another patent dispute over the technology found in Nintendo’s Wii video game system. This time the company suing is ThinkOptics, the makers of the Wavit Remote.

The dispute is over the following patents:

  • 7,796,116: Electronic equipment for handheld vision based absolute pointing system
  • 7,852,317: Handheld Device for Handheld Vision Based Absolute Pointing System
  • 7,864,159; Handheld Vision Based Absolute Pointing System.

Notice a trend yet?

Did Jim Henson Infringe on a Recently Approved Patent?

September 9, 2011 Posted by zachary

This post was originally published on Techdirt.

Recently on Techdirt, we highlighted a number of ways the US patent system could be fixed. One of the proposals on the list was allowing for input from those who are skilled in the art behind a patent application. Under this system, a person or company working within the industry surrounding a patent application could review it and submit their reasoning behind whether the proposal is obvious and not patentable or original and patentable. This public input would help patent examiners decide on the final patent-ability of an application.

As an example of why such a public input segment would be beneficial, we have a recent patent, found by, for “A costume suit modeled after a large size animal“(PDF) This patent, which was submitted by Japanese company ON-ART, which specializes in airbrush painting of large balloons, was approved on August 16, 2011. This patent has a total of twelve claims all having to do with the mechanics of the suit, which allows for the operator to create the realistic movements of the animal he portrays. (more…)

My Favorite Techdirt Posts

August 14, 2011 Posted by zachary

Last week I was asked by the owner of Techdirt, Mike Masnick, to write up what my favorite posts of the week were. You can read it there and for my sake, you can read it here too:

It is an honor and a privilege to share with you my favorite Techdirt posts this week. I love this site and feel extremely tempted to just say, “Everything.” However, I will constrain myself and point out a few relevant and interesting stories from this week.

First, I want to point out the Dilbert comic on patents. This is the second time since I started reading this site that Dilbert has been cited; I doubt it will be the last. The thing with Scott Adams is he has immersed himself in technology and business and knows what he is making fun of. So when he is making fun of patent trolls, you know it is a serious business problem. I think too many companies took Dogbert’s Top Secret Management Handbook seriously and are actually running their businesses in that way.

Next, we have a couple of stories about Patent trolls getting their just desserts. First we have the story of EON-NET getting a smack-down from CAFC for filing bogus lawsuits. When is a non-practicing entity who files patent infringement lawsuits not filing a bogus lawsuit? Then we have the story about Fark standing up to Gooseberry. Seriously, with a name like “Gooseberry”, they should have known what was coming. What is really sad about this particular exchange was the nature of the patent itself. “Generating a press release online.” Well, if you happen to use Google Apps or WordPress to write press releases for your business, you owe these guys some money. Well, maybe not after the thrashing Fark gave them. (more…)

First Amendment Wins in Brown v. EMA

June 28, 2011 Posted by zachary

Seal of the Supreme court of the United StatesYesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States finally passed their ruling on the video game case, Brown vs. EMA. This ruling was a long time coming, clocking at 7 months. What came as no surprise was that the ruling was in favor of the video game industry on the grounds that the California restrictions on the sale of violent video games to minors was a violation of the First Amendment right to free speech.

I am glad that this ruling came out this way. I am also glad that they ruled the California law was a violation of free speech rather than ruling against it on grounds of “vagueness.” The ruling ended up being 7 against the law and 2 for it. The ruling itself comes in 4 parts. The first part is the majority opinion. This is the actual ruling and what has become the law of the land. This was written by Justice Scalia and was joined by 4 other justices. The second part is a concurring opinion written by Justice Alito and Chief Justice Roberts in which they agree that the law should be struck down, but on a different reason than the majority. While the majority ruled the law unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds, Alito and Roberts feel the law is justifiable but needed to be struck down on vagueness grounds.

The third and fourth parts are dissenting opinions from Justices Thomas and Breyer, respectively. I will be focusing on the concurring and dissenting opinions in another post.

I want to focus on some of the key points I liked in the majority opinion. (more…)

The New Pyramid is Pie. Mmmm. Pie.

June 25, 2011 Posted by zachary

My Plate replacement for the Food PyramidWell, it isn’t supposed to look like pie, but that is the first thing I think of when I look at this. My wife says this reminds her of pizza.

Its actually supposed to be a plate showing just how much of each food group you should be having each meal.

I honestly don’t know what the US Department of Agriculture’s obsession is with telling us what a healthy diet is supposed to be. They have been at this for many years and I know very few people who are actually following it to the letter.

In fact I know of a large number of groups of people who choose not to eat this way or cannot eat this way. So why is the government telling all these people they need to eat the same way? (more…)