Wendy Cockcroft’s Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week

There's always something interesting to read here at Techdirt, so picking out favorite posts, even for one week, is a tough job. The stories I've been following have histories and watching them unfold has been fascinating and fun in equal measure.

On the political front we've had a roller-coaster year so far with the SOPA/PIPA and ACTA takedowns in which we proved that pressure works. Techdirt has been instrumental in explaining the ins and outs in an accessible way — and giving us the heads-up when we needed to know that SOPA sponsor and internet punchbag Lamar Smith was up to his old tricks again, sneaking SOPA into legislation in pieces. Should we call the IPAA SOPA-Stein? It's got the monster's feet sewn on in the form of IP attaches, who would move from USTPO to the Department of Commerce, create a new agency, and spend taxpayer money to expand IPR maximalism via the diplomatic corp.

Meanwhile, the EU Trade commission has been celebrating Greek culture by copying an idea from the ancient poet Homer's account of the Siege of Troy. Good job it's out of copyright! Yes indeed, it seems they've found the story of the Trojan Horse appealing enough to put into practice as CETA, the idea being to sneak thirty warriors the IP chapter of ACTA into the text, as described by Canadian internet law expert Dr. Michael Geist. Thankfully, we weren't caught napping and in the damage control efforts that followed the inevitable outcry, it emerged that although they haven't changed the text of the Canadian-European Trade Agreement, they have, or something. We don't know for certain because they won't let us see the text, but don't you worry your pretty little heads about it. Move along, there's nothing to see here. Apart from the most clueless column of the week, if you want a good laugh.

Undeterred by the demise of ACTA, the USTR has been working away on the Trans Pacific Partnership in the teeth of public opposition. Their softening stance on copyright to recognize the exceptions and limitations we need to get things done online may yet be a sign that they're starting to listen to us, but don't hold your breath; they still won't show it to Congress or the new partner nations Mexico and Canada.

The Oatmeal/Carreon punch-up has provided much amusement and we've got through a lot of beer and popcorn watching the saga unfold. Website owner Matthew Inman made good on his promise to photograph the money fans had donated to the Bearlove fundraiser on Indiegogo and send it (the photo, not the money) to Funnyjunk with a hilarious picture of Funnyjunk's mother seducing a bear.

Funnyjunk's Mother Seducing a bear, and the money raised for Bearlove

Photo scenes included an image of Funnyjunk's mother literally made of money and the letters FU, which I'm certain mean something to Funnyjunk. To us it means, "Hilarity ensued." Funnyjunk's deluded lawyer Charles Carreon, whose antics have been alternately angering and cracking us up for the last few weeks, will doubtless not be amused, but will probably claim it as a trophy of his Pyrrhic victory.

Kim Dotcom never seems to be out of the news. The colorful internet entrepreneur has been the subject of a botched extradition attempt by the American Department of Justice, who, at the behest of the MPAA, shut down popular cyberlocker Megaupload and froze his assets. In a display of breathtaking arrogance, they've tried to conceal their lack of evidence by refusing to let Dotcom or his lawyers see it — apart from one piece of paper, then using siege tactics to use up all his funds to force him to come to the US. The hearing has been put back till March of next year. Dotcom has gambled on the likelihood of an acquittal or even the dismissal of the charges against him in an American court on condition that his funds are unfrozen to pay for his defense.

This week's feel-good story showed the value of social media for helping people out. Jack Russell owner Deirdre Anglin's pet slipped away on Tuesday evening and ended up on a train. Workers noticed that the owner wasn't aboard and took Patch to Pearse St. Station, then took a photo and tweeted, "Lost dog! Boarded at Kilcock at 06.49 this morning, currently being looked after in Pearse Stn. Please ReTweet."

Twitter users kept retweeting the message until Deirdre discovered it and replied. Barely half an hour after the original tweet, Irish Rail announced that they were in the process of confirming the owner and thanked their followers for the retweets. Later on, they posted a reunion picture. This kindness and usage of social media is probably why they've won the Social Media Awards for this year. They deserve to.

Patents and copyright continue to dominate the news. A curious case, in which copyright and trademark infringement were bundled, arose in a New York court where Robert Carpenter from Poughkeepsie, New York, has been ordered to pay the publisher $7,000 in damages for sharing a copy of "WordPress All-in-One For Dummies" on BitTorrent. According to Judge William Pauley, the man is guilty of both copyright and trademark infringement. It's a default judgement since apparently Carpenter didn't show up at court, but as Glyn Moody pointed out, "That's troubling, because it would seem to open the door for anti-counterfeiting measures aimed at tackling serious trademark infringement to be applied routinely to P2P sharing of copyright files simply because they are exact copies of originals."

On Wednesday, Mike Masnick pointed out the egregious hypocrisy of Hollywood insisting that we not profit off the works of others without fairly compensating them, then apparently not lining up to pay Wikileaks founder Julian Assange for his account of the Wikileaks story. In fact, they're going to everyone except the man himself for material for a proposed biopic.

Finally, the copyright landscape is experiencing seismic shifts as the push-back against rampant maximalism continues. In Canada, the copyright reform bill is very close to becoming law, bringing with it some fantastic new fair dealing provisions (while retaining DRM). On Thursday, Leigh Beadon gleefully reported that the Supreme court published five separate judgements in cases related to tariffs and royalties, and each of which contains significant victories for smarter copyright law.

Meanwhile, here in Europe, the European Commission has proposed bringing in a new directive to reform music licensing. Copyright maximalist Marielle Gallo, who was instrumental in gutting a proposal on orphan works put forward by the EU Commission earlier this year, is going to be the rapporteur for this, but if we put enough pressure on the JURI Committee members there's a good chance we can get some decent legislation through this time.

Well, that's it from me, enjoy the weekend — and the excellent posts here on my favorite tech blog.

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