17 February 2012

Cleaning Out the Smokehouse

Just a few miscellaneous link sausages left in the smokehouse this afternoon...

  • Jonathan Bailey offers a useful list of myths about the DMCA. It omits the most important one, though: That an ISP (as defined by the DMCA) needs to worry only about infringing files... and can ignore infringing users. Section 512(i) — the critical element in Ellison — explicitly requires both a policy and "reasonable implementation" of that policy for "repeat infringers." This is the smokescreen that is being used by many filesharing sites: They seldom close down repeat infringers (and when they do, allow them to sign up with a new user name, sometimes using the same credit card/bank account/PayPal account), yet claim complete compliance with the DMCA.
  • The new Consumer Finance Protection Bureau is proposing a rule defining who is a "larger" collection agency and credit reporting bureau (PDF) that will be subject to direct supervision similar to that for banks. There's a lot to like, and a lot not to like, in this proposed rule... which has no substance; it merely determines who, not how or what.

    One entity that will definitely be subject to supervision is TransUnion, one of the Big Three credit-reporting agencies. One thing that will be interesting is to see how the pending rules will change the terms of transferring that particular evil empire from one set of vultures to another. Really, now: revenue of $1.2 billion for being a bloody database?

  • Staying in Chicago for a moment longer, let's hear it for having no judgment or sense of perspective in the schoolhouse, eh? It's bad enough to see the pitiful standards in public schools; it's entirely another to see, presuming the accuracy of the story, both a suspended teacher and the suspending administrator acting like idiots. The administrator overreacted by jumping on something without bothering to learn its context. The teacher should have been much more sensitive to making the context clear. And both of those are required to serve the students.