Head Of Anti-Counterfeiting Lobbying Group Says He's Going To Make Counterfeit Techdirt T-Shirts

Head Of Anti-Counterfeiting Lobbying Group Says He's Going To Make Counterfeit Techdirt T-Shirts

from the does-he-think-he's-making-a-point? dept
Every so often when people find out about the position we tend to take on copying, they hit back with what they think is a "gotcha" of something along the lines of "you wouldn't feel that way if someone copied your stuff." They really do. All the time. There are a number of scraper/spam blogs that copy and repost Techdirt's content, and it's really no big deal. As we've noted for a long time, all of the content that we publish directly we've declared to be in the public domain, so feel free to copy it with some caveats (which we'll discuss below). Last week, we launched our latest T-shirt, the "Copying is Not Theft" shirt:

Head Of Anti-Counterfeiting Lobbying Group Says He's Going To Make Counterfeit Techdirt T-Shirts
Head Of Anti-Counterfeiting Lobbying Group Says He's Going To Make Counterfeit Techdirt T-Shirts

New Zealand Court Grants Kim Dotcom's Request To Have Extradition Hearing Livestreamed On YouTube, Despite DOJ Protests
from the sorry-doj dept
The Kim Dotcom extradition appeal is now under way, with the first question being whether or not the courtroom drama could be livestreamed on the internet for a global public to watch. The request was originally made by Kim Dotcom and his lawyers, but the lawyers for the US government opposed... because... well, just because.
"US defends mass surveillance programs with 'If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear' but opposes live streaming of my hearing," Dotcom, who attended some of the hearing, said on Twitter.
Honestly, it's not at all clear why the government lawyers are opposing this other than to just oppose stuff and be generally obstructionist. However, it doesn't appear to have worked. A little while ago, Dotcom's lawyer Ira Rothken announced that the court had agreed to allow live streaming:

Court Documents Show FBI Had To Bail Out Oakland Police With Its Bigger, Better Stingray
from the stand-back-and-let-the-pros-handle-this,-son dept
Cyrus Farivar of Ars Technica has obtained court documents showing the Oakland Police Department had to call in the feds -- and their IMSI catcher -- to track down a suspect wanted in connection with a shooting of an off-duty police officer.
According to new government affidavits filed earlier this week, the Oakland Police Department (OPD) used its stingray without a warrant in 2013 for several hours overnight as a way to locate a man accused of being involved in shooting a local police officer. The OPD called in the FBI when that effort was unsuccessful. The FBI was somehow able to locate the suspect in under an hour, and he surrendered to OPD officers.
The only reason these affidavits even exist is because the judge presiding over the prosecution of Purvis Ellis ordered the government to submit declarations detailing how the devices were used to locate him. Two declarations -- one from the FBI [PDF] and one from the Oakland PD [PDF] -- shed some additional light on the now-ubiquitous cell phone-tracking technology.
Neither law enforcement agency sought a warrant for their Stingray deployments. Both declarations claim none was needed because of "exigent circumstances." Given that this occurred before the DOJ instituted a warrant requirement for the FBI's Stingray use, it's unlikely any evidence is in danger of being tossed.
The Oakland PD's declaration states the same thing: no warrant was sought because of "exigent circumstances." Similarly, there appears to have been no warrant requirement in place for the Oakland Police Department at that time. That doesn't mean the court won't find that the use of a Stingray device (or, in this case, two of them) requires the use of a warrant, but even if it does, the good faith exception is likely to apply -- especially in the FBI's case, as its warrant requirement was still thee years away. In both deployments, pen register orders were used to obtain subscriber info. Because exigent circumstances dictated the requests, no judicial approval of the orders was needed.
Ellis' lawyers are hoping the judge will find the circumstances surrounding the Stingray deployments to be not nearly as "exigent" as the government claims.
Prosecutors argued that because the three men involved in the altercation were at large, there was a clear exigency. Ellis’ defense, meanwhile, has countered that because the OPD had declared the scene “secure” 14 minutes after Karsseboom was shot, there was no exigency. This issue remains unresolved.
On one hand, securing a crime scene doesn't immediately dispel perceived exigency. As the government points out, the shooting suspects were still free and roaming Oakland. On the other hand, the amount of time that elapsed between the Oakland PD's response to the reported shooting and the eventual location of Ellis by the FBI -- 15 hours -- suggests some of the exigency may have dissipated by the time the FBI fired up its tracking device.
Whatever the case is, the Oakland PD's call for assistance suggests its equipment was already outdated.
“It's unclear from the Oakland declaration how continuous the operation of their equipment was,” Brian Hofer, chair of the City of Oakland Privacy Advisory Commission, told Ars. His newly created commission has been scrutinizing the city’s procurement process for surveillance and has pushed for new policies overseeing its use.
“We believe that Oakland only had an older 2G/3G Stingray, based on public records in our possession,” he continued. “It is possible that the FBI already possessed a Hailstorm or similar 4G capable device at this time, or an older 2G/3G system but with enhanced amplification, or maybe Oakland's equipment was simply malfunctioning."
The shooting occurred roughly two years before the PD attempted to secure a Homeland Security grant to pay for the Hailstorm upgrade, which would have allowed it to track the suspect. The FBI's newer version had no such problems. The Oakland PD spent ten futile hours searching for Ellis. The FBI located him roughly an hour after deploying its Stingray. It also deployed something else along with it. From the FBI's declaration:
At one point, in an effort to reduce the error radius and increase the accuracy of the location of the cellular telephone, a cell site simulator augmentation device was deployed into the interior of the apartment building. This device is used in conjunction with the cell site simulator and has no data storage capability whatsoever.
Farivar spoke to Daniel Rigmaiden -- the person who first uncovered government use of Stingray devices in criminal investigations (prior to that, it had only been deployed in war zones by the military) while serving time for tax fraud -- who suggested the "augmentation device" might be something made by KeyW or one of its competitors. These devices passively collect connection info and are small enough to be carried in an agent's hand.
Rigmaiden also points out something else this incident shows, however inadvertently. All the money being spent by local law enforcement agencies might be better off spent on other things. Not having a Stingray device isn't the end of the world -- especially when the FBI is willing to put its devices and technical expertise to use at a moment's notice.

So far there's been a great response to it, but some people seem really upset by the basic message. On Twitter and in our comments, we've had a few people pull out the "Oh, well how will you feel when I copy that shirt!" line of thinking that they'd found some sort of gotcha. The oddest, of all, however, was John Anderson, who apparently runs something called the "Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group" insisting that he's going to counterfeit our shirt.

Yes, yes, he's obviously just being snarky and thinking he's making a point, but it still seems odd for someone who insists he's against counterfeiting to basically say he's planning to counterfeit our shirt. At the very least, it actually gives us a platform to make our point: if he really wants to do so, he can absolutely go and make those cheap $5 shirts. But they won't sell. Why? This is the whole point we've been trying to make all this time. The reason people buy shirts from us is because (1) they like the shirts and (2) they want to support Techdirt. Somehow, I get the feeling that the community that John Anderson has built up around his Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group aren't exactly the kind of people who would jump at an offer to buy "Copying is Not Theft" T-shirts, even if they are 25% the price of our T-shirts. 

This is the point that so many fail to get when they freak out about people copying. If you've built up a community of people who want to support you and people who like and are interested in what you do, there's nothing to fear from copying. It's only when you don't have that kind of support, or when you're trying to force something on people that they don't want that you suddenly have to worry about copying. 

This is why we've always pointed to the same response when people say they're going to copy us and prove that we really are worried about copying or that copying really is theft. It's not. Here's what I wrote nearly a decade ago and it's still stands true today:
We have no problem with people taking our content and reposting it. It's funny how many people come here, like yourself, and assume you've found some "gotcha." You haven't. There already are about 10 sites that copy Techdirt, post for post. Some of them give us credit. Some of them don't. We don't go after any of them. 

Here's why: 

1. None of those sites get any traffic. By themselves, they offer nothing special. 

2. If anything, it doesn't take people long to read those sites and figure out that the content is really from Techdirt. Then they just come here to the original source. So, it tends to help drive more traffic to us. That's cool. 

3. As soon as the people realize the other sites are simply copying us, it makes those sites look really, really bad. If you want to risk your reputation like that, go ahead, but it's a big risk. 

4. A big part of the value of Techdirt is the community here. You can't just replicate that. 

5. Another big part of the value of Techdirt is that we, the writers, engage in the comments. You absolutely cannot fake that on your own site. 

So, really, what's the purpose of copying our content in the manner you describe, other than maybe driving a little traffic our way? 

So, if you really want to, I'd suggest it's pretty dumb, but go ahead.
This same thing holds true for counterfeiting goods as well. When we launched our first shirt, the Nerd Harder shirt, we saw a few copycats spring up on Teespring, complete with the language claiming that the shirts were from Techdirt, when they were not. We reached out to Teespring telling them we had no problem with them leaving up the T-shirts, but we would appreciate it if they didn't say that supporting them was supporting Techdirt. That's been consistent with our position all along, that in the realm of trademark, the one thing that does make sense is when it's used as a form of consumer protection. If buyers might be confused about who is really endorsing the product, that's a reasonable concern. But someone copying our shirt without pretending it's from us? That's totally cool. In fact, maybe they can make it better. 

I mean, it's not like we even came up with the phrase "copying is not theft" either. It's the name of a truly wonderful song that Nina Paley wrote and illustrated:
Did we "steal" her song in taking the title and making it a shirt? Hell, no. We made a new thing. We took something that she did and we built on it to offer something new (cool T-shirts) to a different audience (ours), and so far, it seems to be working. If John Anderson thinks he can compete with his audience, he should go for it. 

Hell, we'd be happy to compete with anyone doing so, because we know the message resonates with our audience. I'm not so sure it would resonate with the audience of some random person trying (and failing) to prove a point. So, bring it on. 

And, yes, we've even made it extra easy for folks like John Anderson. If he likes, we've made the original image available as both a vector SVG file and a high-res PNG. So go ahead, John Anderson from the Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group. Go ahead and counterfeit our shirt. Knock yourself out. I imagine you'll sell somewhere close to zero of them. Though the members of your group may find it odd that the head of a Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group's first response to seeing a T-shirt he doesn't like is to talk about counterfeiting it. Right, John? 

Anyway, if you'd like to make a point to John Anderson and the Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group, here's your opportunity. Buy one of our lovely Copying is Not Theft T-shirts.

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