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The Courts Your Rights Online

Patent and Copyright Wars Gone Wild 197

snydeq writes "While Apple and Samsung fight over patents and prototypes, other copyright trolls are waging an X-rated battle on innocent users, as lawyers representing some adult movie companies are sending letters accusing users of illegally downloading their movies and saying that, for a price, they can make the charges go away. 'Cases like this, usually involving pornographic content, are very common,' Mitch Stoltz, a staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation said. At least 250,000 individuals have been named in group lawsuits over the last few years. There's a very common belief that if someone pirates your Wi-Fi connection or uses your computer without your permission, you are responsible for illegal downloads of copyrighted material. That's not true, says Stoltz; the law is quite clear. However, the lawyers who bring those cases use that misperception to convince innocent people that they had better pay up. Since $3,500 is just a fraction of the money it would take to fight a case in court, most people simply settle."
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Patent and Copyright Wars Gone Wild

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  • by JDG1980 ( 2438906 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @10:41PM (#40864145)

    The insurance industry had a problem with cost-of-defense complaints: crappy auto accidents that weren't worth more than a few grand in damages. But they banded together and fought every single one of them (paying just the actual damages & medical, and fighting almost every "pain & suffering" claim).

    Not doubting you, but is this a universal thing? About two years ago, my father was in a car crash, and the experience he went through was different. The incident happened when he was supposedly looking at the wrong traffic light (at this location, there are 2 parallel traffic light intersections less than 50 feet apart) and T-boned another car. My father was shaken, but unhurt. The other driver broke a finger in the crash. In addition, both cars were totaled. The insurance company paid out just under $100,000 to the other driver, which fortunately slid in right below the coverage limit on the policy. Still a lot for injuries that minor – I remember commenting that I'd gladly suffer a broken finger for a hundred grand. It can't possibly have cost that much in medical costs, and I'm pretty sure there was a major "pain and suffering" component. This was a small insurance company, so maybe they weren't in on the collaborative deal?

  • by symbolset ( 646467 ) * on Thursday August 02, 2012 @10:48PM (#40864193) Journal

    To the extent that if your laptop gets stolen and you have an IP address and a GPS fix on the crook's address, the police often refuse to go round and batter the door down because it's they need more proof.

    That's just a domestic residential robbery or burglary. In search of evidence to support a charge of violation of the laws against the criminal tresspass of Steamboat Willy's IP rights they will not just batter down your door - the door doesn't even have to be in their US jurisdiction.

  • by pspahn ( 1175617 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @11:20PM (#40864379)

    Can we please just vote for "No President" for the next four years? Honestly, it would be a nice change, and if your biggest fear is that Jon Stewart won't have anybody to make fun of, I believe the contrary, and that he will simply find a plethora of other dirtbags to make fun of instead.

    Let's at least get Gary Johnson some poll points. I'd like to listen to him rip both of those yahoos a new one.

  • A culture of suing (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 02, 2012 @11:20PM (#40864383)

    When people see high profile corporations like Apple go around and sue others, and see them succeed often enough, it gives lots of people precedent to think about doing exactly the same.

    Before Apple, the phone manufacturers would imitate/copy or license any new idea or technology, everyone contributed (some a bit more, some less), everyone gained. When the first "camera phones" came out they got smiles due to crappy resolution pictures, some companies didn't bother and considered it feature bloat (which was one of the reasons Siemens' phone unit went under, even though the created quality phones), others would simple create "camera phones" from that point on.

    When one manufacturer started making "flip-phones" it didn't sue everybody else into oblivion for attempting to do the same, that was simply not the culture and modus operandi of the mobile phone world in those days. Manufacturers simply implemented ideas from others and added their own sometimes creating completely new use cases and device categories (just think of the Nokia 770). This was a culture that acknowledged and allowed progress.

    Then the new player Apple enters and does essentially the same - use others years of research and technology and add some of their own ideas, granted it was a very polished even ground-breaking implementation, they created a new category "smart phones"; but then they turn around and say "We legally goto access to your technology (because you allowed it), but we are not willing to share our ideas on the same basis and we will sue anyone who tries to implement any of them." - Most of their patents are basically "X on a smart phone.", where "X" is something somebody else has already done on a non-"smart phone" (multi touch, pinch zoom, curved rectangle chassis etc.).

    This didn't happen immediately and only recently have the litigation reached these epic proportions, while we're seeing a decline in real technological innovation on Apple's side.

    I'm not saying good ideas shouldn't be rewarded, but seeing the millions and millions Apple has already raked in I think they have been adequately compensated and should continue focusing on innovating and churning out new ideas to keep the cash flow going instead of stifling competition through lawsuits.

  • Yes we can (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @11:53PM (#40864511)

    In no small part because there's no such thing as a perfect system. If you demand a perfect legal system you'll never have one. Part of what leads to shitloads of convoluted laws is assholes that exploit the system, requiring legislation to deal with them.

    I had a microcosm of that on a forum I admin. Asshole line-steppers who were always seeking to cause trouble and just skirt the rules. I kept piling on rules and more rules which just made things worse. Finally I replaced it with "Don't be a dick." They whined because it was vague, and got banned for violating it later, but everyone else was quite happy.

    So yes you can get mad at assholes that abuse the system. Not saying the system doesn't need to be fixed but that doesn't mean that the abusers don't deserve to get set on fire.

  • why is it legal? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by amoeba1911 ( 978485 ) on Friday August 03, 2012 @12:10AM (#40864591) Homepage
    This kind of fraud should be classified as mail fraud, and the perpetrators charged accordingly.
  • by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Friday August 03, 2012 @12:36AM (#40864715) Homepage

    "Don't hate the playa, hate the game" - Ice T

    I hate both the game and the players that play it. The only winning move is not to play.

  • by bky1701 ( 979071 ) on Friday August 03, 2012 @02:04AM (#40865003) Homepage
    Yes, the problem is that we had the insane idea to grant ownership of information. That was the start of it. All of this is fallout from that original sin of censorship, greed, and falsification.

    It is time we learn and get rid of it while we still can.
  • Re:Yes we can (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cornjones ( 33009 ) on Friday August 03, 2012 @11:49AM (#40868805) Homepage

    a dictatorship (under benevolent, enlightened dictator) is the best form of government.

    yes, that is a big qualification.

Were there fewer fools, knaves would starve. - Anonymous