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2600.com: Out of the frying pan, into the oven.

By Signal 11 in Op-Ed
Sun Oct 22, 2000 at 01:20:21 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

2600.com is being sued again, this time for registering domain names like FuckGeneralMotors.com and VerizonReallySucks.com. 2600 first broke into the free speech arena with their high profile DeCSS linking case. Below is my thoughts on the matter, as well as on fighting IP proponents.


2600: You idiots. Rather than conserving the limited resources you have and channeling it constructively (ie, fighting the DeCSS decisions), you've gone and spread yourselves even thinner by picking another fight with Corporate America. What were you thinking??

Okay, first, the obvious pro-2600 arguments... there's plenty of precident to support parody and customer action groups. FACEIntel.com, or microsoftsucks.com, now part of the larger "sucks.com" series of websites, whitehouse.com (porn site), and typo sites. Even kuro5hin.org has its typo site: kuroshin.org.

They're still out there. Many of them have been challenged, and time and time again the courts have held that as long as the site is not intentionally defaming the company in question, or trying to steal business from it by having a similar name (trademark infringement), it is OK. General Motors' legal department calls 2600's actions "trademark infringement" but this is patently absurd, and they are simply bullying 2600.com, hoping for an easy win.

HOWEVER, 2600.com hardly needed to go proving this again. Why did they choose now to do this? Why not let someone else handle the matter?

2600.com is a perfect example of online activism at its worst: disorganized, under siege, under staffed, and no resources. It seems online activism to date has consisted of a few geeks saying "Screw the system!" and rallying for "the cause". When pressed for comment, they invariably respond that big money/corporations/goverment is oppressing them, taking away their rights. They'll say information wants to be free, that hacking is not a crime, etc. But they reject the framework in place to get attention - geeks control the plumbing of the "e-commerce" revolution, yet they are disorganized and entertain idiosyncratic views of the world, when they have political views at all. In stark contrast to their technical competence and fluency in science, they seem downright ignorant of how the system works, and are unwilling to learn about it, or use it to promote change.

Information technology workers, geeks, nerds, hackers, all stand at the forefront of economic and social progress in this country. Rather than taking on the civic responsiblity of that, they are content to design spreadsheets to track their ever-increasing wealth and stock options, overclock their computers, and generally ignore the rest of the world. And yet, when the real world ignores them, they seem upset. There's a revolution out there, started by geeks, but if we don't act soon, it will be ended by lawyers.

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2600.com: Out of the frying pan, into the oven. | 63 comments (22 topical, 41 editorial, 1 hidden)
You don't get it (4.25 / 16) (#4)
by Eloquence on Sat Oct 21, 2000 at 04:01:29 PM EST

They registered these domains in Sep 99, long before DeCSS was an issue. I doubt they would do something like that now, but I understand that they don't want to simply hand over the domain just because they can't afford to defend themselves right now. Furthermore, the rest of your rant is pretty clueless as well. Goldstein et al. have expressed that they respect copyright (contrary to people like myself), you're presenting them the same way the MPAA has tried to present them. Goldstein has expressed his views pretty clearly -- see his analysis of the DeCSS decision. Maybe you should start reading what he has written.

You want action? Then take action. Join the EFF, support 2600 in their battle for your freedoms. If you think that the geeks are so unorganized, or that the EFF is not independent enough, then start your own organization and see if you can raise more money and support. Your rant contains few constructive suggestions and seems to be little more than the product of a momentary emotional outburst.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!

Don't kill the messenger. (1.30 / 13) (#13)
by Signal 11 on Sat Oct 21, 2000 at 04:40:27 PM EST

I said they were disorganized. I didn't say they didn't respect copyright, or anything like that. Stop putting words in my mouth.


--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]
What you said .. (4.14 / 7) (#14)
by Eloquence on Sat Oct 21, 2000 at 04:48:22 PM EST

You give 2600 as a "perfect example" for geeks that simply "say information wants to be free, that hacking is not a crime, etc." This is exactly how hackers like Goldstein have been portrayed in the MPAA trials. Their real arguments are much more sophisticated and differentiating.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]
RE: What you said .. (1.30 / 10) (#16)
by Signal 11 on Sat Oct 21, 2000 at 04:52:15 PM EST

Their real arguments are much more sophisticated and differentiating.

Sentence A: 2600.com is a perfect example of online activism at its worst: disorganized, under siege, under staffed, and no resources.

Sentence B: It seems online activism to date has consisted of a few geeks saying "Screw the system!" and rallying for "the cause".

Nowhere in Sentence B does it mention 2600.


--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]

And your point being? (4.00 / 7) (#21)
by Eloquence on Sat Oct 21, 2000 at 05:06:09 PM EST

You say that 2600 is an example of OA at its worst, then say what you think OA is; obviously feeling that this is a bad thing. By not separating 2600 from this definition, you are implicitly including them, as you have mentioned them as a perfect example of bad OA before.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]
This. (1.14 / 14) (#23)
by Signal 11 on Sat Oct 21, 2000 at 05:15:51 PM EST

By not separating 2600 from this definition, you are implicitly including them, as you have mentioned them as a perfect example of bad OA before.

"implicit" is another word for "I'm guessing". Stop guessing.


--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]

sigh (4.57 / 7) (#36)
by tom0 on Sat Oct 21, 2000 at 09:19:48 PM EST

dict.org says:
  implicit
       adj 1: implied though not directly expressed; inherent in the
              nature of something; "an implicit agreement not to
              raise the subject"; "there was implicit criticism in
              his voice"; "anger was implicit in the argument"; "the
              oak is implicit in the acorn" [syn: inexplicit]
              [ant: explicit]
       2: being without doubt or reserve; "implicit trust" 
              [syn: unquestioning]



[ Parent ]
Implicit... (4.00 / 1) (#61)
by Parity on Mon Oct 23, 2000 at 03:47:07 PM EST

Implicit means that even though something wasn't said, a reasonable person would understand that thing to be meant. (Colloquially speaking, see the dictionary post next to mine for precision.)

Though following a flame-war this far down the thread may cast my reasonability in doubt, I took the same meaning, and do not doubt that many others did. When reading an essay, it is natural to assume that the the ideas put forward are connected; it is up to the author to clarify, by use of paragraphs and clear topic changes, when a new series of ideas is ending and another beginning.

Parity Even



[ Parent ]
Before removing the pie from thy neighbor's eye (2.50 / 6) (#40)
by Demona on Sun Oct 22, 2000 at 01:13:50 AM EST

remove the beam from thine own. Everyone has an opinion on how OTHER PEOPLE "ought to" be budgeting their resources.

"The cost of anything is the foregone alternative."

Social Experiment? (2.76 / 13) (#48)
by Aztech on Sun Oct 22, 2000 at 09:21:42 AM EST

This seems to be indicative of Signal 11's social experiments.

He normally uses the following methodology:- Take one contentious value held dear to people mix with an 'evil' such as excessive corporatism, then sprinkle a few facts into the mix, taken out of context of course, also add vast generalisations, contradictions and stereotypes for flavouring. Then follow up with an illogical argument that goes against the grain. The result? A perfect way to provoke flames and make people fall into the trap, thereby becoming a guinea pig.

And when questions begin? You can simply agree with everyone's criticisms because of the vast contradictions and generalisations of the original argument. Alternatively you can use these specious arguments to further the experiment.

Az.

Verizon is not suing 2600. (4.44 / 9) (#51)
by techt on Sun Oct 22, 2000 at 11:06:24 AM EST

Verizon backed down from their legal threats against 2600. Verizon said that once they determined VerizonReallySucks.com was being used in a legitimate free-speech manner as apposed to "cybersquatting" they had no objections. For more info, see Verizon Backs Down From Lawsuit Threat, 09/12/00 and Off The Hook archive for 09/12/00 (MP3.)


--
Proud member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation!
Are You? http://www.eff.org/support/joineff.html
I believe the phrase is... (3.20 / 5) (#53)
by mafried on Sun Oct 22, 2000 at 01:03:43 PM EST

I believe the phrase is
"Out of the frying pan, and into the fire",
but maybe that's just me...


Mmmm.. Makes me think of bacon...

I don't get it... (2.33 / 6) (#54)
by mecredis on Sun Oct 22, 2000 at 04:09:51 PM EST

What is really the purpose of this rant? To say how much 2600 sucks? Just look at the first sentence, it is blatantly insulting.

I ask you, would you rather have 2600 not exist, and none of its lawsuits? Were any of them a specific threat to your well being or freedom or anything?

Sure, I will be the first to admit, some of 2600's tactics may seem extreme, but at least they are fighting the good fight. They know what they are doing. None of 2600's motives have ever included showing how "elite" hackers are or anything remotely like that. 2600's is the purest form of OA altruism. They are making sure we still have the ability to be activists online.

They are protecting your ability to rant about how much they suck.

Oh, And to Signal 11: Good job, you have sucessfully created a flame war on k5.

-Fred



YHBT. YHL. HAND. (1.28 / 7) (#55)
by Alik on Sun Oct 22, 2000 at 04:50:32 PM EST



Was there room for tact in MPAA vs. 2600? (4.40 / 5) (#56)
by Sheetrock on Sun Oct 22, 2000 at 05:37:26 PM EST

In the interview with 2600's lawyers on Slashdot, I posted a question asking essentially the following: did you feel that Judge Kaplan was distracted from the real issues being presented by the defense by their display of civil disobedience in posting a list of mirrors to DeCSS in defiance of the spirit of the judge's earlier injunction? I haven't seen a response to the interview yet, but I'd like to ask the same question of this forum.

The thing is, I felt in that case that 2600 abandoned diplomacy in order to put up a good show to their audience. What ultimate benefit was there to posting a list of mirrors to DeCSS after Judge Kaplan's injunction? Anyone could go to Google (Infoseek, Yahoo, Altavista, the other site, etc.) and obtain a copy of DeCSS almost as easily. It was a great show of defiance, and was definitely legal for them to do at the time, but for its lack of added usefulness it certainly pissed off the judge.

My analogy would be being at a party where a really obnoxious drunk comes up and proceeds to bother the hell out of a 6'2" linebacker for the next couple of hours. "Punch me, punch me. C'mon, hit me right here." By the end, the fellow loses his cool and breaks this guy's nose. The rest of the night, you listen to this guy whine about how this football player just came up out of nowhere and sucker punched him in the face. You know it hurts, and that his rights were certainly violated, but you really don't care that much because you've been pretty sure all night that it was coming to him.

I know it's not that flattering of an analogy, so I should note that I really appreciate what 2600 and the EFF are doing on our behalf (and try to catch Off The Hook, a radio show done by the founder of 2600, every so often). My point is that if they want to win this thing they need to make sure that they don't look like they're mocking the judicial system. 2600 is in the position of representing hacker culture and they need to overcome the connotation that comes with that by being dignified and respectful of the law... particularly in this case. I wish them success on their appeal.

They had already lost (3.00 / 1) (#60)
by Potsy on Mon Oct 23, 2000 at 06:20:57 AM EST

Well, I think by the time of that decision, the outcome of the trial was a foregone conclusion. There really was little else they could do. Not posting the list wouldn't have helped.

[ Parent ]
This was just round one... (none / 0) (#62)
by Sheetrock on Mon Oct 23, 2000 at 05:13:10 PM EST

I think you're right about this particular case; it seemed to me from reading the judge's final decision that he had either been judging a completely different case than the one I was following and got the verdicts mixed up or had an agenda of his own that he was attempting to bury from view under 93 pages of bullshit. He seemed too intelligent to me to completely miss the implications of what he is allowing the MPAA to get away with on our constitution and society -- I'm not nearly as upset about not being able to watch DVDs under my favorite operating system as I am about libraries and archivists becoming unable to retain information because it's all wrapped with a layer of encryption and a pay-per-view scheme. Technology isn't supposed to slam doors in your face.

Anyway, back to the point. The following passages from Judge Kaplan's decision are good examples of his viewpoint of 2600 and their actions.

'Defendants[...] are adherents of a movement that believes that information should be available without charge to anyone clever enough to break into the computer systems or data storage media in which it is located.'
page 89

'And while defendants argue that they promptly stopped posting DeCSS when enjoined preliminarily from doing so, thus allegedly demonstrating their willingness to comply with the law, their reaction to the preliminary injunction in fact cuts the other way. Upon being enjoined from posting DeCSS themselves, defendants encouraged others to "mirror" the information -- that is, to post DeCSS -- and linked their own web site to mirror sites in order to assist users of defendants' web site in obtaining DeCSS despite the injunction barring defendants from providing it directly. While there is no claim that this activity violated the letter of the preliminary injunction, and it therefore presumably was not contumacious [stubbornly disobedient; rebellious], and while its status under the DMCA was somewhat uncertain, it was a studied effort to defeat the purpose of the preliminary injunction. In consequence, the Court finds that there is a substantial likelihood of future violations absent injunctive relief.'
page 84

Here is the damning part for the defense: the next judge will be presented with these opinions when he/she hears the appeal (2600 is able and willing to appeal, right?) Judges, as a general rule, don't like people in their courtroom challenging their authority, and the particular act of defiance mentioned above (and the following one where 2600, again complying with the letter of the judge's injunction, changed their hyperlinked list of mirrors to a plaintext list of mirrors so that you can't directly link from them to a mirror but you can cut-and-paste) will not go unnoticed by the next judge. This type of reaction to the judge's decisions (no matter how ludicrous) just gives ammunition to the enemy, and isn't going to help them much in the court of public opinion.

[ Parent ]

So what does this article say exactly? (1.00 / 2) (#57)
by scheme on Sun Oct 22, 2000 at 11:06:36 PM EST

I'm not what the point of this article is. It starts out as a rant against 2600 (not 2600.com) and ends up railing against the complacency of geeks in general. Along the way, the article makes generalizations and factual mistakes that detract from its credibility. For example:

. 2600 first broke into the free speech arena with their high profile DeCSS linking case.

Unfortunately, Signal 11 seems to have missed the 2600's efforts and attempts to prevent it from being banned from stores or hidden in bookstores such as Borders. Emmanuel Goldstein has certainly been involved in free speech cases before DeCSS.

What I find more troubling than the factual errors are the broad generalizations present. For example Signal 11 seems to believe that technical competence in one area implies an understanding when he says,

In stark contrast to their technical competence and fluency in science, [geeks] seem downright ignorant of how the system works,
Unfortunately, I haven't found this to be particularly true. More generally, I don't see any reason why knowledge in one area should carry over to another. A lot of slashdot discussions about science articles provide a case in point. I assume a fair portion of the posters to have a fair amount of technical knowledge concerning computers yet most posts don't really show much scientific knowledge(e.g. look at the thread labeled SAFETY WARNING about glass containers exploding when put in direct contact with liquid nitrogen here).

geeks control the plumbing of the "e-commerce" revolution, yet they are disorganized and entertain idiosyncratic views of the world, when they have political views at all.

It's a bit ironic to see someone who supports freedom and all it entails turning around and chastising a group of people for taking advantage of their freedom of expression to express their individuality. I thought the one of reasons why corporations are supposedly evil is because they want everyone to have similar ideas and to conform.

Information technology workers, geeks, nerds, hackers, all stand at the forefront of economic and social progress in this country

I'm truly appalled by this statement. Although tech workers, geeks, et al. may have contributed significantly to the economic progress of the US, it's debatable whether they are at the forefont of it and they certainly aren't anywhere near the forefront of the social progress of the US.

On the economic side, the tech boom started with the creation of the http protocol by a group of hep people at cern not techies and without the efforts of the materials science people, Moore's law would have died a while ago. Also the SEC's efforts to open up the stock markets to the public have certainly helped to create the current economic prosperity.

On the social side, I believe that the gay/lesbian rights people, the pro-choice and pro-life groups, as well as the minority and women's rights groups have had more profund and lasting effects on US society and culture then techies have or will have for quite a while.

Like a previous article, this article puts techies in a privileged position in society with special powers and thus special responsibility. Thus when one of the important geek/techie/hacker companies (ie 2600) it's a big disappointment and something that should be immediately corrected. Unfortunately, this aristocratic view is mistaken. People are more likely to notice a general walkout of sanitation or transit workers than a general walkout of the programmers/sysadmins of companies. Although being able to email others or shop online is convenient, it can be easily replaced if the net disappears, however, it's a lot harder to deal with your garbage not being picked up or the buses and trains not running.


"Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity." --Albert Einstein


So what does this article say exactly? (4.50 / 8) (#58)
by scheme on Sun Oct 22, 2000 at 11:07:33 PM EST

I'm not what the point of this article is. It starts out as a rant against 2600 (not 2600.com) and ends up railing against the complacency of geeks in general. Along the way, the article makes generalizations and factual mistakes that detract from its credibility. For example:

. 2600 first broke into the free speech arena with their high profile DeCSS linking case.

Unfortunately, Signal 11 seems to have missed the 2600's efforts and attempts to prevent it from being banned from stores or hidden in bookstores such as Borders. Emmanuel Goldstein has certainly been involved in free speech cases before DeCSS.

What I find more troubling than the factual errors are the broad generalizations present. For example Signal 11 seems to believe that technical competence in one area implies an understanding when he says,

In stark contrast to their technical competence and fluency in science, [geeks] seem downright ignorant of how the system works,
Unfortunately, I haven't found this to be particularly true. More generally, I don't see any reason why knowledge in one area should carry over to another. A lot of slashdot discussions about science articles provide a case in point. I assume a fair portion of the posters to have a fair amount of technical knowledge concerning computers yet most posts don't really show much scientific knowledge(e.g. look at the thread labeled SAFETY WARNING about glass containers exploding when put in direct contact with liquid nitrogen here).

geeks control the plumbing of the "e-commerce" revolution, yet they are disorganized and entertain idiosyncratic views of the world, when they have political views at all.

It's a bit ironic to see someone who supports freedom and all it entails turning around and chastising a group of people for taking advantage of their freedom of expression to express their individuality. I thought the one of reasons why corporations are supposedly evil is because they want everyone to have similar ideas and to conform.

Information technology workers, geeks, nerds, hackers, all stand at the forefront of economic and social progress in this country

I'm truly appalled by this statement. Although tech workers, geeks, et al. may have contributed significantly to the economic progress of the US, it's debatable whether they are at the forefont of it and they certainly aren't anywhere near the forefront of the social progress of the US.

On the economic side, the tech boom started with the creation of the http protocol by a group of hep people at cern not techies and without the efforts of the materials science people, Moore's law would have died a while ago. Also the SEC's efforts to open up the stock markets to the public have certainly helped to create the current economic prosperity.

On the social side, I believe that the gay/lesbian rights people, the pro-choice and pro-life groups, as well as the minority and women's rights groups have had more profund and lasting effects on US society and culture then techies have or will have for quite a while.

Like a previous article, this article puts techies in a privileged position in society with special powers and thus special responsibility. Thus when one of the important geek/techie/hacker companies (ie 2600) it's a big disappointment and something that should be immediately corrected. Unfortunately, this aristocratic view is mistaken. People are more likely to notice a general walkout of sanitation or transit workers than a general walkout of the programmers/sysadmins of companies. Although being able to email others or shop online is convenient, it can be easily replaced if the net disappears, however, it's a lot harder to deal with your garbage not being picked up or the buses and trains not running.


"Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity." --Albert Einstein


Argh!!! (2.66 / 3) (#59)
by scheme on Sun Oct 22, 2000 at 11:08:56 PM EST

Oops, I hate it when I accidently post something twice.


"Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity." --Albert Einstein


[ Parent ]
not as clear cut as you say (2.50 / 2) (#63)
by streetlawyer on Tue Oct 24, 2000 at 11:42:42 AM EST

Many of them have been challenged, and time and time again the courts have held that as long as the site is not intentionally defaming the company in question, or trying to steal business from it by having a similar name (trademark infringement), it is OK. General Motors' legal department calls 2600's actions "trademark infringement" but this is patently absurd, and they are simply bullying 2600.com, hoping for an easy win.

No, not. The courts have not held "time and time again" -- very few of these decisions have actually been made, because the preferred method of settling disputes is arbitration through ICANN channels.

"Intentionally defaming" is not part of the test; it's quite hard to defame someone in the length of a URL (siggyblowsgoats.com might be an example, as it suggests that you blow goats, which is defamatory but siggyisahorsesass.com is not defamatory because it makes no specific claim; it's merely abusive).

The action for trademark infringement is, IMO, wrong, but it is not "patently absurd". It's exploring a grey area of trademark law, and there is no overwhelming legal principle at stake. Indeed, quite how a programmer with no legal training would go about deciding what was "patently absurd" is something beyond me.

2600.com are actually making a good point here, and are fighting battles Ralph Nader-style; one by one, through systematic challenges and publicity. This has more of a track record for success, particularly in the USA, when compared to the kind of grassroots union activism you seem to be advocating. Stunts work better than picket lines; it's a bit unfortunate, but it's the truth.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever

2600.com: Out of the frying pan, into the oven. | 63 comments (22 topical, 41 editorial, 1 hidden)
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