Tag Archives: Digital Millennium Copyright Act

You Always Hurt The One You Love

There is an old song made famous by The Mills Brothers. The first two lines are:

You always hurt the one you love
The one you shouldn’t hurt at all

Today’s screed is the unbelievable tale of a media entity that is doing just that. Why unbelievable? Because if I asked you to tell me the absolute dumbest thing any company could do you just might respond with exactly what this company is doing. Let me explain.

The Walking Dead is AMC’s (and maybe TV‘s) biggest show. Not unexpectedly, there are many fan groups that interact via social media. One of the biggest – about 400,000 strong – is a Facebook group called “The Spoiling Dead Fans.” As you might guess from the name, part of what the group does is to make predictions about what will occur in upcoming episodes, and lately, it’s about who was killed by a barbed wire coated baseball bat (named Lucille). These fans, as you might guess, would be classified as “hard-core.” They watch the show, the discuss the show, they pick apart every episode for clues. In short – they’re what every media entity wants: engaged, excited consumers.

So how has AMC rewarded these loyal fans? In their words:

In the past two years, AMC has filed several wrongful DMCA notices against us with full knowledge that we could not file counter-notices, hired investigators to intimidate our members, and threatened our local members with arrest, among other questionable acts.

Yep. They’re threatening to sue them. AMC believes “the predictions on the board are based on copyright protected, trade secret information about the most critical plot information in the unreleased next season of The Walking Dead”. If you’re not shaking your head about now, you should be. It’s not as if the fans have released footage or are torrenting purloined episodes. All they’re doing is keeping the show top of mind while it’s off the air between seasons. Is suing them for that really the best response?

If you’re over the age of 30, you’re old enough to remember when the music industry spent a lot of time and money suing consumers rather than using those resources to come up with a better business model (Steve Jobs did that for them). I think that alienation persists to this day.

I can’t imagine any instance where suing your best customers – hurting the ones who you shouldn’t hurt at all – is the best solution to a problem. Frankly, I’m not even sure that in this case there even is a problem. You?

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Filed under Huh?, Reality checks

What Are We Buying?

There was a piece this morning about how Samsung appears to be blocking Windows updates on its laptops. The folks over at The Next Web are reporting on a security researcher’s findings during his investigation of Samsung’s softwareupdater. That updater installs another app:

Automatic Updates 'Restart Required' in Window...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The app, conspicuously named Disable_Windowsupdate.exe, is installed automatically without the owner’s knowledge. According to a support representative, it’s there to stop the computer from automatically downloading drivers from Windows Update that could be incompatible with the system or cause features to break.

Unfortunately for Samsung it also appears to change the user’s update settings and disables Windows Update entirely. Once installed, the app even disables Windows Update after the user re-enables it.

As anyone who has ever owned a Windows computer knows, no updates means security risks and other issues.  Which raises a question – who owns the device?  When you buy a house, you’re free to make whatever changes you want – paint it, knock down a wall, or add on.  When you rent, your options are far fewer in number and you might not be allowed to make any structural changes at all.  In my mind, Samsung is behaving like a landlord – you’re a tenant, don’t change our building’s structure.

They’re not alone in this.  Think about your iPhone – your ability to make changes to the device are pretty limited.  Even Andriod phones carry bloatware from manufacturers and carriers that can’t be removed unless you void your warranty and gain root access.  As Wired reported John Deere—the world’s largest agricultural machinery maker —told the Copyright Office that farmers don’t own their tractors. Because computer code snakes through the DNA of modern tractors, farmers receive “an implied license for the life of the vehicle to operate the vehicle.”

I’m sure you have other examples, but it raises the question of who owns what we buy?  At what point does the notion of ownership become outdated?  You might not realize it but you may not own your music, your electronic books, or even your car from a legal perspective.  So what are we buying?

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Filed under Huh?, Thinking Aloud