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Node 541

by Corion (Patriarch)
on Mar 08, 2001 at 03:30 UTC ( #62865=monkdiscuss: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Earlier today, somebody posted quite controversial matter here, together with a question on how that code worked. That code can be used to circumvent the infamous DMCA, some new-fangled copyright law, which extends copyright in both, time and space. I didn't react to this as I saw the node first, because I thought "What the hell, it's been on Slashdot already". merlyn then raised some awareness in the Chatterbox that anything getting close to the DMCA might mean undue publicity for this website and lawyers talking to vroom, which would both be unpleasant to vroom and the Perlmonks members. With this new awareness, I censored that node, removing the possible objectionable material and leaving a "censored" note in that place (without much further explanation).

I left work soon after that and on the subway, I had time to ponder and some problems did arise :

  • Was it OK to censor that node ?
    In my eyes, yes, it was. A quick action was needed to prevent possible harm to vroom and this site, and no permanent damage was done. vroom can restore the node to its original glory, if he decides to do so, but the consequences of having that node there without vroom being aware of it warranted the censorship in my eyes.
  • Would I have censored such a post, had it been by a site member ?
    This is a very tough question for me. I see my job as editor mostly as the job of a janitor who cleans up the mess others leave as root node. Content editing is not something I strive to do - people show the appreciation of content with their votes. Any serious and sensitive member wouldn't have posted the code out of consideration for the monastery, but there are hot-headed members both low and high in rank (I don't exclude myself here, but luckily you can't see all the nodes I've written but never posted). In this case, I would have had to talk with that member and try to get a consentual solution or at least the permission to blank the node until vroom has seen it.
  • merlyn raised another question : What does the existence of editors mean for Perlmonks ?
    Does this mean we are liable for the content ? Does it mean we are responsible for the content ? As stated above, I see my function as purely janitorial, cleaning up formatting errors (on my own) or typos (on request), but never acting (neither on my own nor on request) on nodes themselves - but this is exactly what I did earlier.
What this rant boils down to is the question for some discussion / guidelines on how to handle really controversial posts, not of the epic dimensions whether Perl is better than Python and how we all together look down at Ruby but more of the worldly dimension that buys expensive fur coats for lawyers wifes.

Any discussion welcomed !

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Node 541
by arturo (Vicar) on Mar 08, 2001 at 03:45 UTC

    I get pulled in both directions by this. The DMCA is, IMO, a crap piece of legislation. It shouldn't be a law. So it's a Good Thing to fight it, and civil disobedience is one way to do that. The questions arising from that are:

    • is posting an offsite (I take it) link to the code in question an effective way to contribute to the civil disobedience against that law?
    • is posting an offsite link to the code liable to involve vroom in any more trouble than a threatening letter from a lawyer?

    How many holes are there in the dam already? I don't care if they have an army, they can't plug all of the ones that now exist. And anyhow, a link from site A to site B is not another hole in the dam. (If site B is 'neutralized', so is site A). So is no doubt far down on the list of organizations that will get contacted about any linkage. (this is all predicated on the assumption/vague recollection that it was an offsite link).

    First, though, and foremost, is the question WWVD? It's his site. Despite the fact that he (or EveryDevel) is responsible, legally, for making sure that non-DMCA compliant code is not linked, it should ultimately be his call whether to take the risk. So it boils down to the question of whether editors are reasonable proxies for vroom / EveryDevel. And no doubt the legal status of that is yet to be worked out (if it even matters); but from yer basic moral standpoint, you did the right thing in acting from uncertainty.

    Now, should vroom etc. decide they wanted to help fight the DMCA in this manner (or at all), and they requested you replace the censored information, you should do so.

    The way I see it (long story short) you were watching vroom's back. 'nuff said. Them's my thoughts on the matter.

    Philosophy can be made out of anything. Or less -- Jerry A. Fodor

Re: Node 541
by footpad (Abbot) on Mar 08, 2001 at 04:48 UTC
    Personally, I think you did the right thing. While I'm normally a voice for moderation, restraint, and other niceties with regard to questionable nodes, I do not believe it's in anyone's interests to place vroom at risk.

    The constitutionality or appropriateness of the the node in question is irrelevant. What is relevant is that any ambulance chasing MPAA/RIAA toady could place an injunction on the Monestary and initiate an extensive and (for vroom) expensive process that could, as merlyn suggests, lead to the closure of the site. There have been many, well-documented cases where the threat of litigation has been enough to shut folks down. The best of us may be able to code rings around their shopping carts, but we cannot hope to match the deep pockets supporting the MPAA/RIAA in their respective legal battles. These are multi-billion dollar organizations who can hire and pay for legions of lawyers without denting their war chests.

    Yes, we should watch vroom's back and do our best to ensure that he's not placed at undue risk by the material presented in the site.

    As far as who posted it, I don't believe that matters. As we're supposed to vote the node and not the poster, so too should we moderate and/or edit. If I, tilly, Ovid, or any other monk posted that stuff, even under the guise of an ObFu, I would expect it to get pulled.

    While I don't believe the editors are liable, per se, for the content, I do believe your jobs are to help vroom keep a handle on the daily decisions that need to be made. You're not exactly janitors, but lieutenants in his service. You have certain authorizations to act within the areas under your command. Don't second guess your decisions unless there's a huge outcry over them.

    Bottom line, we take few chances when defending against trolls. Why should we be less vigilant in reducing the risk of stupid attorney tricks?

    If you're not sure that such a process is that expensive, read up on merlyn's experiences, who (if I'm recalling correctly) has spent a quarter of million dollars defending himself for something he thought he needed to do. I believe that much of that money still needs to be raised.

    For myself, I once worked for a consultancy that let a worker go because she was essentially useless. She sued, claiming sexual discrimination. She had no evidence, no case, and no hope of winning. However, after three years of battling her ambulance chaser in court, the owners of the company finally caved and paid her off some $30K in settlement blood money. During the process, they were unable to completely focus on their deliverables. They lost employees, clients, projects, and much money. Friendships were destroyed because of the stress the owners were facing. In the end, the owner that orginally started the business finally quit. Thankfully, I was able to locate another position before they went under, but I'm convinced that had that lawsuit not been filed, that company would be in a far stronger position than it is now.

    Given this, you can see why I fully support any actions designed to prevent that insanity from being visited on another.

    Vroom's given us a nice place to visit, chat, learn, and share. Let's not let some troll ruin the party by stirring up the lawyers.


    P.S. BTW, turnstep, IIRC, the comments in the message before it was censored suggested that there was a political motive to the post.

    Update: Turnstep brings up valid points in reply; however, I respectfully disagree. The post in question is, after all, little different from the warez post that got reaped a little while back. If we do not condone one illegal activity, why would we condone or appear to condone a different activity that is (currently) just as illegal?

    The Unisys problem isn't quite the same, as they're not (unless they've changed their stance recently) targeting .GIF users.

    The comparison to 2600 is, however, quite apt. While we generally discuss unrelated activities, there are times when we've crossed close enough to their topics that the right lawyer could make it seem we're in bed with them. This brings me back to my original point: we shouldn't take that chance.

    And, for the record, I think the MDCA and MPAA are completely out of line, unfair, and unconstitutional. However, it is currently the law (in this country) and I do not wish to see vroom placed at risk because an AM decided to get political. If you want to post the code in question, do so. Feel free. Just don't do it on someone else's liability dime.

      The constitutionality or appropriateness of the the node in question is irrelelvant. What is relevant is that any ambulance chasing MPAA/RIAA toady could place an injunction on the Monestary and initiate an extensive and (for vroom) expensive process that could, as merlyn suggests, lead to the closure of the site. There have been many, well-documented cases where the threat of litigation has been enough to shut folks down.

      I do not agree with this - it should be the content, not the fear of litigation that prompts any censorship. Yes, we live in an imperfect world, but do you really think that this site will get closed down for posting something like this? The MPAA (or others) can send a letter from their attorney "asking" PerlMonks to remove the code, and we (TINW) would probably do so. If not, we could always keep it and enlist slashdot in our defense (PerlMonks has some friends in important places there).

      To further play Devil's Advocate, shouldn't the very links to the source code be removed as well, as the MPAA has gone after mere hyperlinks, as evidenced by the 2600 case? Shouldn't we also remove all GIFS from the Monastery, in case they were made with unlicensed GIF encoders? After all, this is another corporation that is not afraid to go after people on the web.

      My point is yes, we should draw a line, but not at this particular script. I also just noticed that the node in question still has the code in it (albeit in a "hidden" form), and if that comment afterwards was by the original poster, I concede that it was probably partly a political statement.

Re: Node 541
by turnstep (Parson) on Mar 08, 2001 at 04:06 UTC

    I think the node should have been left like it was. It is not our job to determine the legality of posts such as this, and, in this case, the question is definitely a murky one. Are we supposed to read every obfuscated code, make sure it does what it claims, and then check whether it breaks any laws, local or international? In this case, most people are aware that this type of code is probably illegal, but my mindset is to leave it up until contacted by somebody. If the musical powers that be want to take the time to write a letter to PerlMonks asking that the code be removed, then they can do so. I'd rather keep being a janitor and a librarian, and stay away from the business of content monitoring. I understand this particular case is very tricky, but do we really "know" that the code is illegal, or have we just heard it is from the media? If we post it, and take it down at first request, then nobody can take issue.

    Moreover, the original poster was (as I undertand it) asking how it worked, not blantantly thumbing her nose at the music establishment and encouraging copying of potentially illegal code. As far as liability, it's pretty clear that this is a computer language site, and not a warez site.

    In summary, I'd rather /msg vroom about questionable content and let him handle as he sees fit. I don't fell it is the editor's job to handle content, period.

(tye)Re: Node 541
by tye (Sage) on Mar 08, 2001 at 10:01 UTC

    I didn't have strong feelings about this when it happened and thought it was probably the "safe" thing to do.

    Having thought about it for a while now, I really think it was a mistake (not that I fault Corion, just that I think this is something we should decide to not do in the future). And there are a lot of reasons why.

    What was the risk of leaving the node up for "a while"? (Pardon me for being a bit vague in places as it has been a while since I reviewed this stuff -- besides I'm just a vague kind of person.) Well, recent legislation clarifies that ISPs can be held liable for copyright material that they "host" even if they weren't the ones who put the material there. Sounds pretty serious. But, they are only liable if they fail to remove the material after the copyright holder has requested that they do so. So not even the new industry-friendly laws managed to make ISPs responsible for hand-filtering everything that passes through their gates.

    So the risk that vroom and the Monastery faced was: vroom might soon receive a (probably rather nasty) letter from some lawyers. If, soon after that, vroom chose to remove the material, then that would be the end of it (IMHO).

    Of course, PerlMonks isn't an ISP, so things can be a bit more complicated. A while before the recent laws, some on-line services were held liable for "bad content" because they actively edited the content that they hosted.

    So by actively editing questionable content, we actually increase the risk of legal problems for the Monastery.

    I'm glad that the legal issues point us toward no editing of content (tho, IANAL) because I think the moral and practical issues point us in the same direction.

    I am getting more and more interested in spending the effort (probably vroom's effort, unfortunately) to rename the editors group to be the janitors because the word "editors" holds too many of the wrong meanings.

    The editors of a publication take a great deal of responsibility for the content of said publication and do a lot of work adjusting usage, syntax, style, etc. Feel free to send me comments (in public or private) suggesting how I could/should change the usage, syntax, style, etc. of my nodes, but I don't want anyone trying to make those changes for me. And I don't think we want editors making those changes for others in general.

    Changing of content is a very slippery slope. Any changes of content that we decide are acceptable need to very clearly distinguishable from those that aren't. Possible copyright/license violations aren't an easily delimited set so we shouldn't jump on that particular slippery slope.

    Title changes, changes in Categorized Questions and Answers, and changes requested by the node author are the only content changes I'm willing to support at this time. Those are very easy to delimit.

    Well, I guess there is one other form of content change that I support: The reaping of unpopular nodes using the system currently in place, when vroom deems it appropriate, or under some future system(s) such as users submitting their own nodes requesting that they be deleted (but not by letting users just delete their own nodes, though that is another kettle of fish that I won't try to fry here).

    In summary, I really think it is best for all if the editors strictly refrain from modifying content except for those specific exceptions I noted above.

            - tye (but my friends call me "Tye")
Re: Node 541
by dws (Chancellor) on Mar 08, 2001 at 06:30 UTC
    The aforementioned 7-line script doesn't contain the keys necessary to decrypt DVDs. That, MIT argues, makes it legal (or, rather, doesn't make it illegal).

    Regardless, this is a good discussion to have, since this type of issue is bound to come up again in one form or another.

    In this case, I approve of this form of preemptive censorship. It's not polite to wave a red blanket (a purported DVD cracker) at a bull (the RIAA) when a third party (vroom) is innocently standing behind the blanket. For the vast majority of people here, this is the wrong forum to pick a legal fight. It could be disasterously bad for the entire community. If vroom decides otherwise, let him make that call.

Re: Node 541
by merlyn (Sage) on Mar 08, 2001 at 04:02 UTC
    merlyn raised another question : What does the existence of editors mean for Perlmonks ?
    I did not.

    I think my thrust was basically along the lines of:

    • In theory, there should be no reason not to discuss DeCSS here.
    • In practice, vroom probably has neither the deep pockets nor the will to fight the MPAA on Monestary turf.
    Since the MPAA has been winning injunctions left and right, it's probably easier just to forbid this controversial subject here, and discuss it elsewhere where the pockets are deeper and wider.

    -- Randal L. Schwartz, Perl hacker

Re: Node 541
by strredwolf (Chaplain) on Mar 08, 2001 at 13:17 UTC
    When I saw the Slashdot node, I thought.... hey, another use of Perl to teach cryptography. Nice. I jumped over to the monestary to post it. Found out that it was posted by another monk, who's intent was "Hey, this is a cool thing" rather than "Lets be political here and node everything to be like (obscure encription method to be named)". That was my intent too. Besides, we have rsa-in-3-lines-perl already.

    And then I read merlyn's warning... which I belived was valid, but misplaced in it's context. Probably the only time I downvoted him.

    I'm all for a scientific study of the code. I posted up a question regarding "read+" et al, which tye asked.

    But Corion's censoring now makes me fear that all my nodes, nay, everyone's nodes, can be edited by an unauthorized third party. I only expect two partys to edit nodes I submit: vroom and the site owners, and myself.

    /msg'ing vroom would of been the best idea. Implimenting a "hide until aproved" feature for vroom to check would be even better. Out and out censoring w/o a heads-up? Bad Idea(tm).

    One last point: I belive there may be a few sites which actually deconstruct the code, either C or Perl, to show how it would work. In this case, pointing monks to those sites would help (even if it duplicated efforts of those who posted on Slashdot. But then, we can say "these were found on Slashdot in that article....")

    Update: Corion sent me a message making it clearer on what editors should or should not do. I must agree with tye that editors should only move a node, but not mess with it's contents. I would reserve the "last resort/extreeme case" for the editors, once throughly discussed between the editors and vroom (a la MAPS RBL); but I feel that this wasn't the case -- it was a first-strike censoring. I didn't see this node's contents. I wish I could, it would allow for a better call.


      I respectfully disagree, once again.

      Having the DeCSS code posted on this site, when it has clearly been the source of large legal bills and site shutdowns, is a clear and present danger to the monestary.

      Those of you who do not understand the phrase large legal bills resulting from innocent behavior have not seen the site about my ongoing criminal case. Please do so.

      vroom cannot afford this. I barely was able to, and it's taken every cent I've made from every book I've published, and working 60 hour weeks on top of it.

      I think the right action was taken. Immediately remove the node that could have caused serious damage to vroom's wallet, and possibly a fatal blow to the monestary. And if after reviewing the risks, vroom wants it back, he can put it back.

      When you see a child with a hand on a hot stove, you remove it immediately. It doesn't matter that you're not the parent or the babysitter. You know that the action invites danger.

      -- Randal L. Schwartz, Perl hacker

        No, the clear and present danger only comes after the cease-and-desist letter arrives and vroom decides to ignore it. Taking pre-emptive action just increases "our" "exposure".

                - tye (but my friends call me "Tye")
        I must agree with tye here, not only with his opinion but in addition to what I've seen with many cases posted in the Usenet group (NANAE). Not until it's noticed by the other party should it be removed/censored/etc. (And I have to use legal terms here, folks, apologies about that.) A proactive, preventive stance can equally damage the monestary, by ruining it's perception with the public.

        Besides, when the (proper) paper cease and decist comes in, the monestary can gather more support by subsituting it for the questionable node (This looks to be the current trend). Also, the paper document is much more authentic than a possibly spoofed e-mail. Anyone reading NANAE knows this, save for the dumb kooks.

        While I sympathize with your legal difficuties, legal threats are just that: threats. The courts haven't recognized e-mail as a reliable transport of legal documents; only served documents and US Postal Mail (afaik) are authentic.


        Merlyn is absolutely right, and those other folks are wrong.

        MPAA is presumably going to argue copyright infringement. You do NOT have a right to violate someone else's copyright up until the time they notice it and ask you to stop. Indeed, by the time they notice it you could be liable for damages. Even if you take the offending text down immediately.

        The benefits to posting controversial code in this instance are minimal. We all know where to find this code if we want to. Indeed, we can post it on our own web sites. If we don't post the code ourselves then there is no reason to demand that Vroom do so.

Re: Node 541
by mirod (Canon) on Mar 08, 2001 at 14:36 UTC

    Just a couple of comments here:

    • I think the node should not have been removed. Auto-censorship is even worse than censorship, it means that the MPAA has succeed in scaring us and that effectively they are the law. I know merlyn has been burned by a big company going after him, but I don't think its appropriate to let this fact rule the site's policy. Plus IANAL but I don't think you risk much until you receive a C&D letter BTW, although Corion trick is neat I don't think it would protect the site in court. HTML encoding can hardly be described as a protection mechanism.
    • As for the janitors, I completely agree with the name change. We should never act as editors but the temptation is there every time we touch a note, so yes, janitors is fine.
    • And finally, as I raised the point about the janitors responsability, I don't know the US law, and the French law is pretty murky on the subject, but it seems to me that there is an important distinction between somebody who does not interfere with (or filter) the content that's published, like an ISP or a telco, and someone who does, like a publisher.
      vroom is somewhere in between, but the more he interferes with the content and the more he moves towards liability. Actually the best defense might be that he does not touch the content, completely handing over this task to (possibly non-US to avoid them being in trouble!) janitors. This looks dumb but it might legally be the best strategy to make it the official policy for the site. Not that I think that it would do any good to PM as a community mind you, but caving in to the mere shadow of a threat really bothers me.
Re: Node 541
by dsb (Chaplain) on Mar 08, 2001 at 19:56 UTC
    I guess of all the voices that are being heard on this, mine will seem the least significant and most unrecognized. But that may be a good thing.

    I believe the censorship of the node was wrong. Some of the proponents of the censorship have posted arguments that make me believe this even more.

    Arguments that all nodes should be monitored and censored when necessary for fear of legal action from multi-billion dollar industries, is exactly the kind of attitude that those industries what organizations like PerlMonks to have. They bully their way into "legal" rightness with their "deep pockets". The second we start thinking in such a way that we do their dirty work for them we start losing major ground in the battle do away with laws like the DMCA. I refuse to live a lifestyle that is governed by the fear of what consequences will befall me for doing the right thing, when that "right thing" is conflict with what the "powers that be" would like to see.

    If censorship of the node is necessary however, then I think the question should be one of INtent, not CONtent. Had the posting party written something like, "Hey, check out this link. Let's all pirate DVD's!!!", then censorship would've been prudent. After all, that is not the kind of "ethic" that is promoted here. But that was not the intent. The poster asked a simple question about how what is probably a complicated program to some, works. That IS the kind of ethic that is promoted around here. The attitude of ask a question get an explanation pervades this place. But as soon as the fear of litigation sets in, that's all thrown away in the face of a "potential" legal battle. And hey, the initial contact in each instance of DMCA lawsuits has been a letter urging the defendant to "cease and desist" and all that. So, there probably would have been ample opportunity to make a political statement.

    Ultimately the decision should have been left up to vroom. A simple /msg to him to make him aware of it would have solved everything. People seem to be so into looking out for his interests, yet no one contacted him BEFORE action was taken. What if his interests is to take that stand against the DMCA?

    That's all I have to say about that.

    Amel - f.k.a. - kel

      I could not disagree more. For the monastery's sake, listen to Merlyn, and let's not turn this into a discussion of "Them and Us"...

      Corion was right to take the child's hand off the hot stove immediately. Let Vroom review it when he gets in, and make a decision whether it should be posted or not.

      I think a situation like this is best left to those who will be most at risk : Vroom et al.

      I love this place. It has helped me every step of the way on my journey through Perl. I see no reason why we should jeopardise this great resource for ourselves and those who have not yet found it!

      Update : dammit, I'm not whoring for xp here. These are my thoughts on a genuinely controversial matter and I really don't want to see Perlmonks negatively affected.

      Azatoth a.k.a Captain Whiplash

      Make Your Die Messages Full of Wisdom!
      Get YOUR PerlMonks Stagename here!
      Want to speak like a Londoner?
        But the stove wasn't turned on!

        There is no current threat from this code. The people that wrote DeCSS did wrong, they reverse engineered code to find some "secret" key. This is nothing like that.

        We demand rigdedly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!
      I could not agree with you more. The question as to censor should of been intent, and not content. From my understanding, the MPAA and the RIAA, in their respective claims, are arguing content. However, since the node in question wanted to know how it worked, not "cool, time to rip DVD's...", censorship would be ill advised (unless under legal threat -- to which vroom had said it would be taken down).

      As to clearly illegal items, such as warez (copying w/o licence aproval) -- items tested though the courts and found to be illegal -- a clear censoring would be in order. But then, we would of downvoted it by the hundreds, and the janitors would have to pry it out of the Node Reaper's hands. :D


Re: Node 541
by Blue (Hermit) on Mar 08, 2001 at 18:51 UTC
    Here's some thought on the matter. First things first, if you are unsure what to do, covering a friend's back is always a good thing to do.

    I'm was about to use a phrase that I hopened never to hear here, which started with "IANA...". I wonder, if by editing for content, we make ourselves responsible for content, when before the content was "owned" by the poster (a previous discussion that came up about chatterbox logs).

    I have to agree with mirod when he says "Auto-censorship is even worse than censorship, it means that the MPAA has succeed in scaring us and that effectively they are the law." This is completely true. That doesn't make what they do less scary. I don't know if I would recommend the monastery to take a stance on it, because of how scary they can be. But that's "take a stance" in either direction, to allow the scare tactics to work by removing it, or to promote the discussion.

    All in all, from my non-existant knowledge of law, I woudl say that leave the original post as the responsibility of the original poster. Regardless of the fact is was an AM, by controlling the content we admit that we are responsible for controlling the content, and therefore open ourselves up to problem due to other's posts.

    =Blue might be eaten by a grue...

Re: Node 541
by vroom (His Eminence) on Mar 09, 2001 at 00:44 UTC
    I was as unsure of how to play this one as most of you. It's a shame that we have to worry about these sorts of things. I appreciate merlyn and others for watching my back so to speak. I would hope that the worst that would happen is the RIAA asking us rather forcibly to take it down at which time we would most likely comply. I thank all of you for your opinions on the matter as well as those of you who had this place's best interests in heart when acting on or alerting me to this content.

    vroom | Tim Vroom |
      Sorry, but does this mean it is back, or not? or just haven't decided yet?

      BALLOT: A multiple choice exam, in which all of the answers above are incorrect!
        I think it will be "hidden" until a final word from the courts comes through.


Re: Node 541
by BrotherAde (Pilgrim) on Mar 08, 2001 at 17:21 UTC
    As of medieval tradition, churches are places where secular law does not apply. You frequently had outlaws seeking asylum in churches.

    Does this not also apply to monasteries?

      In Medieval days the Church had the ability to scare the public with excommunication and this gave them considerable political power. Tim Vroom does not have the ability to threaten the government with excommunication and make it stick.

      And even with this power there are quite a few stories of people given sanctuary in monasteries which the civil authorities nonetheless seized. For the one that came first to my mind, visit Chapter 11 (The Slow Poisoners) of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds and search for the word "Barri". Then read the tale of La Tophania. (OK that is not truly Medieval. But even then sanctuary was often more theoretical than real.)

      An additional note. That is a book that is mentioned quite often, and despite having been in print for upwards of 150 years still sells. However virtually all mentions you will encounter only talk about the first three chapters...

Re: Node 541
by LD2 (Curate) on Mar 08, 2001 at 21:54 UTC
    I think since you were looking out for vroom and other PM here, that censoring such a node was not a bad choice. If vroom thinks differently, he can always repost it. Hopefully he'll comment on this thread and let us all know his thoughts on this matter as well as other nodes that are / will be similar. In these cases, it can be a difficult choice. What if a PM here created code that does somehow cross a certain boundry - would be it censored? Or commented on how well done it is? I'm not sure what the right answer would be. I think if it was at least a member of this site, one could talk to that particular person and discuss either editing the node to the comfortability of vroom or not edit it at all (depending on the outcome of the discussion). I think the editors were created mainly to fix nodes that do not have the correct tags or to edit them in a responsible fashion, but not to change particularly the content (please correct me if I'm wrong). I think if the content shouldn't be here.. well.. the good ol' Nodereaper will eventually take care of it. I DO think that the PM here should be responsible for their posts here at the Monastery. If a PM posts something inappropriate, the editors or vroom or whoever sees the post has the right to discuss it with the PM who posted it. Hopefully a positive outcome will come out of the discussion (possibly in the meantime, the post may be edited to the comfortability of vroom). It's a thin line with editing... but it's definately appropriate if there may be a problem with legality issues...I don't think any post is worth causing vroom legal issues.

    Update: good point turnstep

      (minor point)

      I DO think that the PM here should be responsible for their posts here at the Monastery. If a PM posts something inappropriate, the editors or vroom or whoever sees the post has the right to discuss it with the PM who posted it.

      I think corion would have done so in this case, except for the fact that it was posted by the mysterious Anonymous Monk. Most of the more controversial posts will probably come from Anonymous Monks, especially if the poster knows it is controversial and does not want it traced back to him/her.

Re: Node 541
by mikfire (Deacon) on Mar 08, 2001 at 22:31 UTC
    For what little this may be worth, I feel Corion acted with good intentions and did what Corion felt was necessary. I also understand merlyn's motivation and, to an extent, agree with the stove analogy.

    I think, however, this may set bad precedence and maybe there needs to be a new rule for the janitors about not messing with content. Not that I expect the janitor's would do this under anything less thean extreme duress, but merely for the legal pose it allows.

    In this case, I think the reaction was a little over the top. My understanding is that the evil lawyers must first give a cease & desist order. These things usually have a time limit (ie, comply within 72 hours or we take you down ) and it would have given vroom plenty of time to react as he saw fit.

    I would also argue, although this gets very close to court battles and vroom ending up in places he would rather not be, that the code so posted had no keys and was therefore useless in circumventing their encryption scheme. I would also argue the intent of the posting was not "Let's upset the MPAA/RIAA", but a discussion of the code itself and how it worked. Unfortunately, both of these points would likely require lawyers and judges.

    My very limitted 0.02 USD worth,

      This is exactly why I posted the root node - I felt that I set a precedent which I in retrospect (that is, the 4 hours between editing the other node and posting this root node) felt needed much more discussion. I'd like the editors to be janitors, but a case like mine would come up sooner or later anyway and thus I felt some public discussion of the matter was in place.

      There seems to be much consent here that such content-editing should not take place here - I welcome that. What the future will bring for controversial nodes is still a bit unclear for me, since I have not yet heard back from vroom about any of this. Personally, I'd feel better with the permission to possibly take a node offline until vroom has had his word over it, but on the other side the voices favoring a "they have to come here first" strategy, would make my life much easier, as I wouldn't have to worry about whether a node was even that borderline.

Re: Node 541
by Blue (Hermit) on Mar 09, 2001 at 00:15 UTC
    How's this (which sould be self-obvious):

    I take full and sole responsibility for the content of my posts. I give full permission to vroom or any of his appointed entities to remove or edit any post of mine for any reason or no reason whatsoever without placing any responsibility to do so.

    There. If we all did something like this, it wouldn't be censorship (which I oppose), but rather a favor to prevent any ill consequences of the post. It also puts the burden of any post on me, so that no legal troubles fall on the monastary through removing or not removing a post. We've grown large enough that a 'terms of use' agreement might be a good idea to protect the monastary would be a good idea. I was once told that a contract is there to protect all parties. This topic will come up again, maybe in a different format - professional slander is an easy one to imagine. Let's make sure we're covered, and move on.

    I don't like censorship. I hate censorship. However, I think Corion acted completely correctly, first by watching out for the Monastary, and then, more importantly, bringing the topic up. This has more reach then just this single post, and we need to hash it out now, well before any "cease and desist" letters start flying for any reason.

    =Blue might be eaten by a grue...

Re: Node 541
by merlyn (Sage) on Mar 09, 2001 at 21:23 UTC

      I wouldn't say they are "going hard" after the code. Both articles merely say that the MPAA is "looking at the code" and that's it. Sure, they have a bad track record, but so far they have made no moves.

Re: Node 541
by jdporter (Chancellor) on Oct 05, 2006 at 20:22 UTC
Re: Node 541
by gregor42 (Parson) on Mar 27, 2001 at 19:23 UTC

    The One Thing that you cannot do, as an entity, is to "thumb your nose" at the DoJ.

    Take a moment & think about all of the companies (ahemicro$oft) that have attempted to do so in recent memory. (coffcoffnapstercoff)

    Though it was a difficult choice to make (I doubt you wanted to have to do it) you made a good decision.

    I'm quite sure I'm preaching to the choir (or the brotherhood, as it were) I for one find this legislation outrageous, and believe that it Must Be Stopped. But I can accomplish that by posting the code on my own site & going down that road, myself. There is no need to bring down the monastery..

    Of course, simply put, IT SUCKS that we can't just have a nice chat about how the code works, like we would any other 7 lines of code....

    Wait! This isn't a Parachute, this is a Backpack!

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