Comment Liability

Interesting to see that after a Blogger was sued over comments posted a blog, there is a federal court ruling that pretty much says that’s not allowed.

Something tells me, if a kid clicks on a blog spam link that goes to a porn site, you can still get 40 years in prison.

Spam is easy these days, there is enough filtering technology available. But legitimate, yet vile comments still can sneak by. It’s hard to police sites at times. We don’t all have the time to sit and watch them. I do my best but every so often, I do believe one may slip by that if I had thought longer, I would perhaps have moderated.

Criminal Refresh of the F5 Degree

This article (another) made me chuckle. How the heck that’s criminal, rather than just juvenile is beyond me.

For those wondering F5 makes a browser reload a webpage. Presumably the intent is to overload the school website. Anyone who knows enough about computers to turn one on would find this quote exceptionally funny.

“It’s a crime and it is important we take this seriously … especially for school officials … it could have done a tremendous amount of damage,” said Canton City Prosecutor Frank Fronchione.

Somebody should have told him the worst realistic case was a crash due to high load (which is fixed by a reboot as any site that’s been slashdotted or diggdotted knows). A hard drive crash isn’t really any more likely under such circumstances since F5 would reload the same page, and done by many users, hence in the disk cache for performance purposes. And even if, a hard drive crash would be worst case, though not truly realistic. Overheating? If that were the case I’d kill a computer a week for high load. Odds are the site would have just slowed and stopped responding for a few minutes.

If that was really as damaging as he wants people to think, sites like Slashdot and Digg would be criminal to operate, as they are both known for crashing sites due to load (and the butt of many jokes as a result).

Sounds like a school trying to take attention off of other problems, by focusing on this. Though it would be comical to try and prove this being able to cause a “tremendous amount of damage” in court. Sounds like something you say in hopes of getting your name in the paper for doing something. I’d bet someone did warn him that the “damage” potential is trivial, if applicable. But newspapers don’t find “trivial damage” to be a buzz word. So if you want a mention in the press, you need to spice things up.

I wonder how many real crimes were committed at that school while the cops were busy arresting the student slashdotter.

Seems like slashdot not only picked up the story, but slashdotted the site! Brilliant. Now we get to see the prosecutor indite slashdot!

Will the stupidity ever end?

Bloggers get ready

There’s going to be a lot of backlash at the blogging community in general thanks to this sicko (Joseph Edward Duncan pretty much detailing his sickness). Just wait until the backlash starts and we get some screwball senator who proposes to require all websites to be registered with law enforcement (the same thing the US has attacked China about).

I’m predicting in the next 18 months, things are going to get rather ugly for bloggers legally. As with any technology a few things will happen:

  1. Someone will find a way to profit – that already happened. There’s a bulk of commercial blogs by CEO’s, companies, media with no other purpose than to gain cheap brand exposure by littering the blogosphere.
  2. Someone will find a way to abuse – that’s already happened. From terrorists (who you can bet have used the medium), to criminals, etc.
  3. Someone will try to legally nullify it, or sue it – that’s about where we stand. Apple started, and it’s going to just escalate. Don’t be surprised if blogspot gets sued by the family or someone else as a result. As if they personally read all of the millions of posts.

Things will get ugly. Don’t forget the whole Patriot Act debate going on. This is right in there. It’s going to get ugly.

Please rel=”nofolllow” links like the above… lets not promote their google rank like many of the ignorant media outlets do.

Your not allowed to be guilty

Considering our overburdened legal system, and understaffed courthouses, this is really pretty wrong:

A federal judge refused to accept a guilty plea Tuesday from a former America Online software engineer accused of stealing 92 million e-mail addresses and selling them to spammers.

So he can’t plead guilty to a crime he admits to committing because the Judge isn’t convinced. Just makes you think. I’m curious what the judge gets out of it.

“I’m not prepared to go ahead, Mr. Siegal. I need to be independently satisfied that a crime has been created.”

[Source: Forbes.com @ 3:28 PME ST 12/21/2004]

As if the guy pleading guilty isn’t enough. If there was any doubt about a crime being committed, the guy would fight it. I’m sure some spammers will be emailing Judge Hellerstein to say “Thanks buddy”. I question the basis of his claim that he isn’t satisfied a crime has been created.

The Pure Software Act of 2006

A must read article on all the bad software, and how to help users stay away from it.

I really hope it goes to the Feds, and we get a law about this. All websites with downloads must be labeled appropriately, and all downloads must warn before such actions take place. Even commercial software should note right on the box.

We have warnings on everything. I’ve seen markers that say “do not insert in anus”. Why not warnings to protect peoples property (computer), intellectual property (data), and protect the users themselves from fraud?

A well thought out solution to a problem that has pestered everyone. I think it’s a worthwhile thing to make law. This is perhaps one of the best plans presented in quite some time to combat a problem with technology.

Mozilla Licensing ”Crack down”

I think it’s important to take a moment and address the recent reports of a “crack down” on Merchandise sellers using Mozilla trademarks.

Once upon a time (earlier today), Gerv Markham posted an Open Letter copied below for you to read as well.

First off. As most who read this website know my only affiliations with Mozilla.org are some patches I’ve written, debugging, and being a part of the Mozilla community.

I firmly back the Mozilla Foundations decision to enforce it’s trademarks for the good of the community. It is essential to the growth, security, and reputation of the Mozilla community as well as the foundation. Allow me to explain, and I promise that I won’t rant for to long.

While many of the vendors selling Mozilla products are said to be of high quality (I’ve yet to own a non-software Mozilla product myself though), all it takes is one person abusing the trademark, and delivering inferior, or lack of goods to give the name “Mozilla” a bad reputation. Many people mistakenly assume that having a logo on a shirt means an endorsement. Which it’s not. The Mozilla Foundation would face a losing battle providing quality assurance to ensure that the Mozilla name is tarnished by a bad merchandiser, or scam. That name would very likely in the minds of the potential target market be associated with scam, rather than “superior browser”. THAT is not good for the browser as a viable alternative to IE. The Mozilla Foundation can not put itself in a position where the Mozilla name could be tarnished, removing it’s software’s reputation. Remember Mozilla is about quality software. That’s the goal.

Secondly, the Mozilla Foundation does a lot for the community. From all the servers (tinderboxes, lxr, bugzilla, www, ftp), to organizing, and paying some of the most talented programmers in the United States (seriously, interact with these guys on Bugzilla or IRC and you know your dealing with pro’s). All of this costs money. It’s a vital role to the community that the Foundation as a core entity provides. The AOL money won’t last forever. Not by a long shot. Yes, Mozilla has other interested partners helping. Lots of programmers from other companies are seen around the community. But it’s essential as a community we keep Mozilla Foundation afloat. Mozilla Foundation should be receiving licensing fees for use of trademarks. It’s only appropriate that the foundation, and in turn the community benefits from the use of the trademarks. For those about pure benefit, imaging funds from good merchandise being able to fund the hiring of another programmer full time? Just a thought.

It’s essential that Mozilla ensure that it’s name be used on it’s products, and only it’s products, or products it officially sanctioned. It’s for the good of the community. The Mozilla community owes it to the end users to ensure that it’s name is pure, and it protects end users from bad products in it’s name.

On another note, think about the idea of someone distributing a Mozilla browser compiled with Spyware, or adware bundled in. That wouldn’t be good. Do we want them to be easily doing so with the Mozilla trademark? I think not.

To address the Debian situation very briefly, I do believe a solution will be reached. Mozilla is a key product to the Linux community, and the Linux community is a key audience of the Mozilla browser. It is my personal belief that the browser should be branded as “Firefox, Debian Edition” or something to that effect, to let it be known that it’s acknowledged by Mozilla, but it’s got some changes to it. The source is said to be available in “a separate file”, so it would be possible to know what is Mozilla’s source, and what isn’t. This is, all IMHO.

So once again to reiterate, I back the Mozilla Foundations decision to enforce it’s copyright, and product the community from the hazards abuse can bring, and ensure it’s viability as the core foundation of this community. And no, I wasn’t threatened by a family of rabid monkey’s to say this. I am writing this at my own will, and have no obligation to even touch the topic, much less have some open dialog about it.

Dear Mozilla supporter,

We note that you are selling Mozilla-branded merchandise in your web shop/fashion house/bazaar stall (delete as appropriate.) While we are pleased that you want to support Mozilla in this way, the Mozilla Foundation enforces its trademarks and requires permission to sell merchandise that includes our artwork or name.

The Mozilla project uses Mozilla, Firefox, the fox-on-the-globe and other names and logos to brand its products and goods. We like to think that it’s a mark of quality. (That’s not to say that what you’re selling is necessarily poor quality; we make no claims either way.) We’d like to be certain that what’s being sold with our logos on is the good stuff. And (let’s be honest here) it’s only fair that we get a cut, to contribute towards keeping the Foundation going.

So we’d ask you, please, to stop selling Mozilla-branded merchandise and get in touch with icensing@mozilla.org to discuss how to proceed. We’ll talk business plans, quality guarantees, percentages and so on. We’re really open to coming to a fair arrangement.

The Mozilla store (http://store.mozilla.org) is our chosen vendor for the US, Canada and Mexico. OK, there’s not much stuff there now, but we hope to have more soon. So we’re unlikely to allow general Mozilla merchandise aimed at the general public to be offered by anyone else in those territories.

However, people in other countries, get in touch as outlined above and we’ll see if we can work something out. You want to support us, and we want to be supported – so it shouldn’t be too hard 🙂

Gerv

P.S. Our lawyers asked us to specify that the Mozilla Foundation reserves the right to take legal action to stop infringements of our trademarks.