I'm Brian. I'm an intellectual property attorney and I moderate some stuff on Reddit, like IAmA. Ask Me Anything.
Hey! I practice IP law with my brothers in Southern California. I primarily do trademark, copyright and litigation work. My brothers do patents and litigation.
I also moderate stuff on Reddit, like IAmA. Ideally, I'd like to host some AMAs here. This is kind of a test to see how it goes at an early stage.
Ask me stuff!
Edit: This was fun. Thank you guys. I'm headed out for a bit. :)
Sure, I'll kick this off with a bang. ;)
What do you think about the recent /r/science announcement they will be cancelling AMAs and spez's response to it?
I think Steve calling out Science for removing content isn't applicable to the current issue so it's kind of a red herring. Reddit seems to want mods and admins to be editors/tastemakers except when it doesn't.
Reddit seems to have decided they don't want the Science mods to be tastemakers at the expense of the higher production content and there's a lot more debt with Science AMAs than run of the mill IAMA AMAs just due to the scheduling, level of sophistication, and mod vetting to say 'these people are legitimate scientists with something important to say.'
This is also an issue I've talked to Steve about after escalating through Reddit's employees. Reddit's employees seem fairly married to a task related to upping user engagement statistics. This seems to have meant carefully looking at users stats and then encouraging content that people quickly scroll, click, vote on, etc.
To Steve's credit, he seems to take the issue seriously, at least when I've brought it up. It just seems like the rest of Reddit drags its feet. I generally cherry pick the most egregious examples of the algorithm failing miserably. Neil Patrick Harris had a stalled out AMA for several hours, for example, because someone already front paged that day. It's a hard sell to say "come to IAmA! we have a great audience and your content is what reddit wants!" when there's something as ham-fisted as a literal throttle on the content redditors are after—like NPH, or NASA AMAs. It's also a point of embarrassment for social media/pr teams if their client is huge and doesn't get any traction on a platform. They view it, rightfully so, as tarnishing their brand.
I like Steve. I hope he can figure something out that works. I just hope it's sooner rather than later.
In the meantime, Science is folding a lot of their AMAs into IAmA, so hopefully increasing the organic audience size and user fluidity between the two subs gets some great AMAs in front of as many eyeballs as possible.
The throttling of content from subreddits is infuriating and partially responsible for our AMA problems in r/science. We have several prolific users that are extremely effective at getting content to the frontpage, so we constantly had to compete against them. I'm convinced that the algorithm changes over the past year have further consolidated karma within the hands of power users.
I definitely agree that it seems to favor people who do nothing but post with low effort content all day long. r/all and r/popular aren't places I visit anymore. I get more out of Twitter where there's more control over who I'm looking at because I can follow primary sources and respected journalists/experts. That fell to pieces on Reddit somehow.
Ah yes, the irrelevant, utter-nonsense metric madness that for-profit advertising models have wrought the internet over. The founding fathers of the web would kick our collective asses for being that stupid.
If you build a quality community, everything else takes care of itself. How did we forget the simple truth?
It kind of drives me nuts, but one of the more lamentable things is that the smartest most successful people who came of age around 2003 spent their entire adult lives figuring out how to make people click ads. So that's the paradigm we have on the web now.
Red herring or not I thinks it speaks to spez’s attitude towards the situation. Instead of addressing their grievances he tried to turn it around and blame the /r/science mods when the simple fact is that no matter how hard they try to promote their AMAs, it’s unlikely their efforts will ever allow them to compete with all the other easily digestible content that makes the front page.
I also have a follow up question, if you don’t mind, how does IAmA intend to handle the science AMAs that get folded into your subreddit? Will some /r/science mods be joining your team to assist you or are you just going to handle them the same as every other AMA?
@nate is already on our team and pitching in. I'm pretty open to ideas for how best to host science AMAs. We've hosted tons in the past with NASA that do really well.
Steve isn't the best politician. It's important to avoid going negative if at all possible. I don't think he's a dick at heart though. He's mostly an engineer and tackles problems. I think he's just frustrated he's getting a black eye for a problem he feels like he's addressing. So there's a bit of a disconnect there.
I'm nallen on reddit, and nate as well. I'll be working on folding things in. Probably not to the same degree, and it's a different subreddit with different ways of doing things, but I'll help people out.
A legal topic of interest to me has always been server emulation. Slightly specifically, video game servers. They've always operating in an area where it was assumed running a server emulator was legal if it was completely reverse-engineered from scratch with no use (or viewing even) of copyrighted code by the emulator developers.
Oracle v Google has thrown that into question, but it's still an ongoing case. I once asked VideoGameAttorney on reddit if they were legal and why or why not and he just replied that they're infringing on copyrights and didn't elaborate further.
Do you have any experience in this area of law? If so, what's your view on the legality of emulating another company's server software to allow a proprietary client to connect to it?
I've done some copyright litigation and helped with cases that deal with licensing issues, but I couldn't tell you more about this case than Wikipedia could. The Court of Appeals for the DC circuit decided that the code was copyrightable and that Google's use wasn't fair use or de minimis. SCOTUS denied cert. and that's the ball game.
I'm not a software engineer but I wouldn't build off of proprietary code absent some sort of killer licensing that won't ever change (which seems unlikely).
Sometimes courts make decisions or the laws are written in a way that makes you cock your head and go, "well, that's a bitch."
Is SCOTUS' job to merely interpret the Constitution as strictly written or can they "negate" a law they feel is potentially harmful to society despite it being technically Constitutionally sound?
Here in Canada our SC evaluates whether a law or piece of legislation violates the Charter of Right & Freedoms which is rather broad in its protections and rights afforded to citizens, (e.g. Section 2 on the fundamental freedoms) and so offers them a great deal of interpretational latitude where greater societal impact can be accounted for.
Whereas I get the impression that SCOTUS is more or less bound to be strict Constitutionalists. Is that the case?
SCOTUS makes law from the bench. Scalia's originalism was mental gymnastics he only really deployed when it was convenient for his argument. Originalism was on shaky ground anyway as an idea seeing as the founding documents were all built on borrowed ideas.
Huh, interesting... so before Scalia was SCOTUS more "interpretational" and "big picture" in their approach than they are now? I listen to More Perfect (SCOTUS/Constitutional podcast), which I know you are aware of as well, but they haven't really covered this even though now I think it would be a great episode. ;)
SCOTUS has gone through different eras. Some are more flexible than others. The Lochner Era is all dead law at this point, for example. The Lochner court and its principles butted heads with the executive and legislative branch about New Deal legislation to try to pull the country out of the fire. The Nine got stuck on economic ideas that weren't compatible with keeping people from starving to death.
A lot of property rules are built around history coming out of the feudal system. Some of them are old rules and concepts designed to keep wealth from pooling and never moving. One of those ideas is the rule against perpetuity which still exists today. It's, in theory, supposed to prevent people from leaving wealth to their estate indefinitely. I think that's a concept that could be built off of for Intellectual Property as well.
The whole concept behind copyright, trademark, patent is that the State is granting someone a temporary monopoly right. I honestly don't know how long that right should exist to be considered fair to the creator without imposing a societal hardship.
That was a lot of words to tell you that I don't really know.
I don't know if this applies to your field of knowledge but I suppose that if people ask me to fix their microwave because I'm a "computer guy" you can give your opinion to @deimos about which license should be chosen for tildes source code? As far as I know he's currently going for AGPL but he wanted input on the topic. Hope he'll find some time to pop in and partecipate directly to this topic :)
Picking a license is highly dependent on what you want to do and what you want to accomplish. There's a lot of resources out there to go through and I'm sure he's capable of getting the lay of the land without my help. I never mind taking a quick glance at something if I have time though.
I replied to @go1dfish with some basic knowledge I gathered around, you can check it here
Not a specific thread (yet, we could always start one), but here's my reasoning for AGPL: https://docs.tildes.net/technical-goals#license
As you said, it's a commitment to make sure that something like the reddit situation isn't even a possibility, and people should be able to contribute with confidence that their contributions will always be kept open.
I think explicitly making an exception for API clients is a good idea, I'll probably need to have an API usage agreement or something similar.
Can you restrict the use of advertising in any 3rd party clients utilizing the API strictly through a usage agreement? E.g. Preventing a free "ad supported" version on top of charging for their premium "ad free" one.
What about limiting the costs of the 3rd party clients, can you ensure they remain cost free or is that unrealistic and unfair in your opinion?
Those would be my biggest concerns as we have seen that model play out with regards to reddit apps on iOS and I would hate to see a mobile app able to tarnish the ad-free, opensource ideals of the site.
I was pretty sure to have seen a topic somewhere but I can't find it. Maybe it was on reddit or in an email exchange or on the gitlab issue tracker. Or maybe in one of the doc?
The main reason for a so strict license is to be sure that the source code of tildes will never be used for profit, even after forking it or whatever else.
I'm not an expert on licensing though so I can't really advise on this topic and would like to see opinions from more experienced people :)
There was a recent thread and article in wired that reviewed a recent proposal to change the intellectual property laws for audio performances recorded before 1972 to protect them until 2067. For me, I get a lot of echoes of the old attempt by Google to digitize a huge library of old books from this story.
How do you see this proposed bill fitting into existing law and rulings when it comes to intellectual property? Are you nearly as concerned as Lawrence Lessig seems to be about this bill?
I think extending copyright to that length is absurd. It's no longer about making sure an author's interests are protected but making sure a corporation has a right to an asset in perpetuity, even when the historical and educational value is greater than their interest in the asset. That's my quick and dirty perspective. I haven't looked at it too closely.
What sort of things should be built into the site to make AMAs better? I know in my own limited experience that some people who host AMAs often have trouble with responding to the right comment (UI issue most likely) / using the correct username, etc. while hosting AMAs on reddit has issues with properly marking multiple users as the AMA answerers, managing calendars, validating users as AMAers... to the point where people have built entire third-party solutions to some of these tasks.
What features are critical for ~ to make AMAs a better experience for Mods, users and the question answerers (is there a good term for that?)
For all subreddits: A native calendar feature. An AMA intake feature that's built into email/modmail. Better management of multi-guest AMAs. The ability to post comments ahead of time (this is probably a monetizable idea, if you charge a nominal fee, like a dollar, for a shot at loading up a comment when an AMA goes live). URL reservation system where you can build your AMA in private and go live at a scheduled time. Better image verification (Check out TruePic, they do a cool job with it, it's in my bio up top for my proof).
I'm not sure how ~'s moderation system is going to work or how AMAs are going to work. There's a lot of room for improvement on what Reddit does though. The initial step is probably just getting people comfortable doing them here. A big issue on Reddit over the years has been people afraid the community will treat them unfairly and that it'll be memorialized forever as a colossal failure. It's important to hold someone's feet to the fire when necessary—but a system to keep people from burning someone to the ground for no reason, like not answering questions fast enough (comments like "crickets" or "I bet OP won't answer this one!") is just lowest common denominator bandwagoning.
These are some great suggestions!
We really need to figure out AMAs here, site-wide flair options would be a nice thing as well, at least in ~science and all the sub divisions. It helps readers understand who they are talking to to a bit without being too personal. AMA + flair is a neat thing.
I should ask a question:
How do you take so many cool vacations with young kids?
Perhaps not the type of question you're looking for but I'll go for it.
What are some lesser known online repositories of interesting public domain materials/tools?
I'm already aware of archive.org, Gutenberg and the option in Google searches to filter by license-type, but am interested in other sources or tools that you might be aware of. Thanks!
I can't give a competent answer to that.
ReCap is probably my favorite extension though for making court cases more accessible though.
That's OK. Thanks!
Piracy I think is a symptom of bad distribution networks. Netflix and Spotify are pretty good examples of people being willing to pay for services with a convenience factor rather than just wanting something for free. There's probably still a convenience factor to getting anime through piracy. Consumers aren't going to hunt that hard for a legit source if there's an easy pirate option.
There's a more interesting issue that pops up in anime and furry communities. People commision art from each other but fail to sign work made for hire agreements to transfer the rights. You could build a whole world and persona/fursona around a commissioned piece of art and the original author is the rights holder to the image and all derivative work. That's a big problem just kind of hanging around, especially with personal branding being such a big deal.
The bad distribution network is a pain. My most recent gripe is buying ebooks on Amazon. I don't like Amazon's ebook reader on android, and to use my preferred one I need to strip the DRM from their books. It is literally less effort for me to purchase the book on amazon and then go pirate a copy elsewhere than to download a copy to my computer and strip the DRM from it.
In a forum I go to Twitter embedding was diabled due to this:
Federal judge rules that embedded tweets can represent copyright infringement
Any opinions or insights you can share on the ruling?
Is the blue text a link? It's not letting me click to anything.
I probably messed it up.
That's a case that conflicts with the Ninth Circuit. I'm pretty sure it's going to come back to the realm of sanity but I'm not sure how. We'll see what the appellate court does I guess. That's the sort of circuit split that SCOTUS would resolve if someone has to petition for cert.
I'm kind of guessing here. I don't have a crystal ball and I don't know where they are procedurally right now.