Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

posted by Fnord666 on Saturday November 28 2020, @01:53PM   Printer-friendly
from the while-you-were-out dept.

The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure has a call for donations against the Unitary Software Patent Trolls after Thursday's disastrous Bundestag vote. On Thursday in Germany, the Bundestag voted on ratification of a proposal for a Unified Patent Court, largely seen as purely a vehicle for introducing software patents into Europe. As software patents in the US were on the way out, introducing them into Europe would bring them back into the US after further "harmonization". Thursday's vote is the result of the software patent lobby changing its strategy in Europe by creating a central patent court outside of the control of the individual member states under which it would make its own rules and avoid democratically elected legislators.

FFII is now calling on its supporting companies and on the open source community to donate to crowdfund a Constitutional Complaint in Karlsruhe. Stopping the UPC in Germany will be enough to kill the UPC for the whole Europe. Politicians willfully ignored the problem that the UPC violates the “Rule of Law” principle, as the EPO still cannot be sued for maladministration, where there are 4 pending complaints in Karlsruhe, which should be issued in early 2021.

Next steps are a vote in the Bundesrat, according to Stjerna’s blogpost

Legal Committee of the Federal Council is currently scheduled for 02/12/2020

Federal Council can therefore be expected to make its final deliberation on the draft legislation in its 998th session on 18/12/2020

–Dr Stjerna blog, Status of the UPCA ratification proceedings in Germany (12/12/2016, latest update on 26/11/2020) https://www.stjerna.de/restart/?lang=en

German government believe that they can ratify before the end of the year, as they consider the UK still a member of the EU till 31st December. The agenda of next votes have been designed on purpose to ratify the UPC before the end of the year.

This plot twist is time-dependent and hangs upon a loophole in Brexit. Thus the time between now and New Year are crucial for preserving the ability to use or develop software in Europe. Again, this is about the uses to which software may be applied, not distribution. Usage is covered by patent law, distribution by copyright law.

The FFII is a pan-European alliance of software companies and independent software developers. It is currently working to neutralize the Unitary Patent project, which is a third attempt to introduce software patents into Europe. The previous two attempts failed, but only because of the joint efforts of thousands of companies to defend against software patents in Europe.

Previously:
(2020) UK Formally Abandons Europe's Unified Patent Court
(2020) Deadly Blow to the Pox of Software Patents in the EU
(2018) Software Patents are Harmful
(2018) A Case for the Total Abolition of Software Patents


Original Submission

Related Stories

A Case for the Total Abolition of Software Patents 43 comments

Gervase Markham has a thorough blog post about a case for the total abolition of software patents. He makes his case based on their complete lack of promotion of innovation and aims at identifying the principles involved. The feasibility of eliminating them may be a ways off due to the heavy politics involved so the idea may seem like a very distant policy possibility.

One immediate question is: how does one define a software patent? Where is the boundary? Various suggestions have been made, but actually, this question is not as important as it appears, for two reasons. Firstly, if we can demonstrate that there is a group of clearly identifiable patents which are harmful, or harmful when enforced in particular situations, then we can adopt the principle that such patents should not be granted or should not be enforceable, and where one draws the exact line between them and other patents becomes a secondary, practical, definitional issue beyond the initial principle. Secondly, some methods proposed for dealing with the problem of software patents do not actually require one to define what a software patent is. For example, one proposal is that one could change the law such that no program written to run on a general purpose computer could ever be said to be infringing a patent. In this case, you need a definition of "general purpose computer", but you don't need one for "software patent". Given these two points, I don't intend to spend time on definitional issues.

Currently software patents are a problem affecting the US and prohibited in the EU due to Article 52 of the European Patent Convention in 1973 (EPC). However, they are currently being pushed by the European Patent Office (EPO) in the name of "harmonization" despite being invalid. Many consider the fact that Europe remains unafflicted by software patents to be a moderating influence on the US market, holding back a free for all.


Original Submission

Software Patents are Harmful 19 comments

Cisco VP/CTO Jonathan Rosenberg has written a blog post about how harmful software patents are to industry. On top of being vague but also transferrable, they can be used offensively by grantees which are not involved in any aspect of making or using the technologies to which the patents apply, an aspect which has caused ongoing, grievous harm to computer-using companies for a long time now. Something needs to change and, so, after outlining the nature of the problem, he closes with two brief solutions.

Friends and relatives who are not in the technology industry always ask me if I've ever gotten a patent. For them, a patent has this sheen of accomplishment. They believe it means you invented something, that you are an innovator, that you've done something no one has done before. I give a little chuckle, tell them that yes, I have a few patents (I actually have 90 issued U.S. patents), but that it's not really a big deal, and thank you for asking. In reality, I'm being polite. I don't want to burst their bubble, nor do I want to launch into a long tirade. Because, the reality is, that patents — and in particular — software patents — are a plague upon the industry. They hamper innovation. They cost companies millions and millions of dollars in frivolous law suits. They waste time and energy from people who just want to build products. They are anathema to the Internet. Software patents are harmful.

Software patents have three key characteristics which have resulted in their harmfulness. They are vague in terms of what is actually invented. They can be passed along as property. You can sue for infringement without making the product to which the patent applies. Lets cover each in turn.

Software remains covered by copyright, as a form of creative expression. Again, while software patents is a problem mostly contained to the US, they are becoming a threat for the EU. Even as the European Patent Convention specifically exempts software from patentability, there remain prolonged efforts to circumvent the law and establish software patents in effect. After all, what do laws matter if companies can be convinced to universally ignore them?


Original Submission

Deadly Blow to the Pox of Software Patents in the EU 11 comments

The Fed­er­al Con­sti­tu­tion­al Court of Germany (FCC) has delivered a decisive win for software users and developers around Europe. In a recently-published court decision, 2 BvR 739/17 (in German) from February, it has declared that the Act of Approval to the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPC) is void. The Unified Patent Court has been widely considered to be a shell for bringing software patents into Europe through the side door, in violation of international treaties which prohibit by name patents on programs for computers.

The Act of Approval to the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court ("the Act of Approval") to confer sovereign powers on the Unified Patent Court is void. In its outcome, it amends the Constitution in substantive terms, though it has not been approved by the Bundestag with the required two-thirds majority. This is what the Second Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court decided on a constitutional complaint in an order published today. In its reasoning, the Senate stated that, in order to safeguard their right to influence the process of European integration by democratic means, this, in principle, also entails the right of citizens that sovereign powers be conferred only in the ways provided for by the Basic Law. An act of approval to an international treaty that has been adopted in violation thereof cannot provide democratic legitimation for the exercise of public authority by the EU or any other international institution supplementary to or otherwise closely tied to the EU.

Once more for emphasis, software is protected by copyright law and that governs distribution. Patents govern usage and function, regardless of origin. So had the EPC gone through and forced software patents into Europe, neither clean room nor independent implementations would have protected either end-users, software-using businesses, or developers.

Politics: UK Formally Abandons Europe’s Unified Patent Court 49 comments

brexit means brexit

UK formally abandons Europe's Unified Patent Court, Germany plans to move forward nevertheless:

The UK has formally ditched the Unified Patent Court (UPC), a project to create a single pan-European patent system that would fix the confusing mess of contradictory laws currently in place.

In a written statement in the House of Commons on Monday, the British undersecretary for science, research and innovation Amanda Solloway noted that: "Today, by means of a Note Verbale, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has withdrawn its ratification of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court."

The reason is, of course Brexit. "In view of the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union, the United Kingdom no longer wishes to be a party to the Unified Patent Court system. Participating in a court that applies EU law and is bound by the CJEU would be inconsistent with the Government's aims of becoming an independent self-governing nation," she said.

[...] The whole idea of the UPC has been fought for over a decade now, making many its adherents borderline fanatical in making it a reality, even more so given frequent setbacks. In their unerring support, however, many seem willing to overlook or turn a blind eye to serious problems, not least of which is the mess that is the European Patent Office (EPO).

[...] The EPO is, of course, a big fan of the UPC and insists the UK leaving is a mere trifle to the larger European dream of a single patent system; a system that would give it significantly more power:

"These economic benefits for European companies and especially SMEs will not be affected by the announcement of the United Kingdom," it insisted in its submission to the German government.

"Even without the UK, the UP package will lead to significant simplification and cost reduction for the companies of the participating EU member states, which is also largely recognized by European companies."


Original Submission

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
(1)
  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Rich on Saturday November 28 2020, @02:39PM (3 children)

    by Rich (945) on Saturday November 28 2020, @02:39PM (#1081864) Journal

    I'm not sure their efforts will help. As all the past actions have shown, they might slow down the inevitable, but that might be well calculated in by those driving the changes.

    What might help, maybe, is if they "discover" a Chinese-Communist-Party memo detailing an economic war plan to use software patents to drive the German auto industry and their suppliers to their knees and take them over under value, bleed their assets, and shut them down to only keep the badges for China-made vehicles. Best with detailed company names, applicable patent counts for "applied for", "granted", "acquired", "to be aquired", just short of actual numbers, damage figures in million dollars, earliest possible takeover dates, and latest shutdown dates.

    If that discovery is credible, the spook will be gone in a week.

    • (Score: 2) by Rich on Saturday November 28 2020, @04:24PM (2 children)

      by Rich (945) on Saturday November 28 2020, @04:24PM (#1081880) Journal

      It occured to me that with the number of lawyers in the involved circles, the paper would not avert but accelerate the process, after all there's money to be made in court. It would be mandatory that the paper also outlines a strategy that to reduce offensive cost, such cases have to be brought by lawyers that have been recruited from the bottom of the profession and are willing to lend their names for $20/hr while all the actual paperwork is done by students and graduates of the CCP International Law University, Beijing. (But that still doesn't reduce the money to be made on the defense side... sigh.)

      • (Score: 2, Touché) by Runaway1956 on Saturday November 28 2020, @05:00PM (1 child)

        by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Saturday November 28 2020, @05:00PM (#1081891) Homepage Journal

        So, a Steele Dossier, rewritten?

        --
        "no more than 8 bullets in a round" - Joe Biden
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 29 2020, @06:11AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 29 2020, @06:11AM (#1081994)

          For others like me, who didn't know what it is: [wikipedia.org]

          The Steele dossier, also known as the Trump–Russia dossier, is a political opposition research report written from June to December 2016 containing allegations of misconduct, conspiracy, and co-operation between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and the government of Russia during the 2016 election.

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28 2020, @02:41PM (38 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28 2020, @02:41PM (#1081865)

    The problem with the U.S. and the U.K. is that we have a FPTP system. Various parliaments have a proportional representation system and over the years the pirate party has been gaining seats in these parliaments to combat the big pro IP corporate lobbying (despite the fact that IP extremists insisted that the pirate party would just be a short lived fad years back). The pirate party has even gained seats in the EU parliament recently.

    We need a proportional representation system in the U.S. if we want to tackle more issues with nuance.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28 2020, @03:22PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28 2020, @03:22PM (#1081872)

      How will a proportional representation system help in the US, when the German system has decayed to become essentially one party with five different names? "Egal wie man wählt, am Ende kommt immer Merkel raus!"

      • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 29 2020, @10:01AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 29 2020, @10:01AM (#1082002)

        "Egal wie man wählt, am Ende kommt immer Merkel raus!"

        So who will be your boogeyman after Merkel is out of politics next year? And now you probably whine with the rest of the reality deniers that Corona is not here and how evil Merkel with her "science" is taking your rights away to cause death in the streets.

        How will a proportional representation system help in the US, when the German system has decayed to become essentially one party with five different names?

        What bullshit. Agenda of smaller parties can be advanced through something called "consensus". You know, the opposite of perpetual war. You should try it sometime.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by looorg on Saturday November 28 2020, @04:13PM (35 children)

      by looorg (578) on Saturday November 28 2020, @04:13PM (#1081877)

      The grass is somehow always greener on the other side. Having a proportional system isn't some cure all, it comes with its own set of issues and problems. So having lots of small parties is not exactly good either, you get paralyzed as every party is supposed to get their taste of the action or trying to get a multitude of parties to agree on things is quite hard. So you end up with lots of people being disappointed in this system to.

      The Pirate party is not some kind of roaring success. They now seem to be a vehicle that pops up here and there, exist for an election cycle or two and then go away. The original one, Sweden appointed one horrific leader after another that was more into various fringe issues then the original cause, is non-existing at this point and it seems to movement have been taken over by people in the Czech Republic, Luxembourg and Iceland.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pirate_Party [wikipedia.org]

      • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28 2020, @04:31PM (7 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28 2020, @04:31PM (#1081881)

        In Sweden they were frozen out by the media. The state media in particular made a point of ignoring them and going as far as to snub them by not inviting them to panel discussions even though other ministers of parliament were present. Instead the media called on neonazi groups to fill their seat. Then once out of office, the Pirate Party unofficially abandoned its core values of copyright (and patent) reform, Internet neutrality, and privacy protections.

        In Finland, they never really picked up on the core issues and went straight into the fringe stuff, the least controversial of which is drug legalization.

        Iceland was active for a while, but nothing has been visible lately, at least not at an international level.

        Czech and Germany have been where they've remained focused on the three technology values. I would say there is a causal relationship between that focus and acquisition of elected positions.

        • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28 2020, @05:08PM (4 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28 2020, @05:08PM (#1081892)

          Unfortunately the mainstream media is a huge part of the problem. That's what much of the Internet reform (ie: relaxing section 230) is intended to do, to turn the Internet into the mainstream media. Because the mainstream media is losing viewership special interests must force their censorship onto other platforms as well.

          Unfortunately the solution is for some people to actually go out there and inform people IRL. They must post flyers everywhere, talk with people, etc..., it must be a persistent long term thing, and not rely on modern government controlled communications, and inform people of the issues. Inform them of why free speech is important and why laws that protect it are important and how the legal system may prevent free speech from being expressed (ie: the legal system responsible for the cableco and broadcasting monopolies and how information gets to your house via cable channels and how alternative views are prevented from getting onto those channels. How payment processors may block views they don't like).

          Maybe the old brick and mortar newspaper model (the problem is that often times the audience is the product which creates a conflict of interest between advertisers and newspapers).

          This has a cost and people have to pay bills. It's not easy, it required hard work.

          Some of it also boils down to individual responsibility, it's up to every individual to be informed to some extent but how can they be expected to be informed about issues the media never even talks about (or if they talk about it they are one sided)? They have to seek it, demand the government doesn't do anything to prevent the dissemination of information.

          It's not easy, it required hard work.

          • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Grishnakh on Saturday November 28 2020, @05:54PM (3 children)

            by Grishnakh (2831) on Saturday November 28 2020, @05:54PM (#1081900)

            it must be a persistent long term thing, and not rely on modern government controlled communications,

            Given the claims made in this thread about the mainstream media, it seems incorrect to call this a problem of "government controlled communications"; after all, in western nations, the press is free. Instead, it seems that the problem is that the media has its own interests that it pushes, which may or may not coincide with those of powerful people in government, and in this case, the interests of the media run counter to those of the pirate party.

            Unfortunately, this is one of the problems with these checks and balances. Historically, a free press served as a check to the power of the government, by providing a source of information that people could turn to which would not have the bias of those running the government. However, what do you do when the press and the government have a common interest in suppressing something? Well these days, we have the internet with things like YouTube and various message boards which have more freedom than the press (which can choose not to report things it doesn't want aired), but as we're seeing, this also invites lots of misinformation and disinformation. Let any wacko have their own "news" site, and suddenly we have people believing that there's satanic cannibalistic pedophile groups in the basements of pizza parlors, and people electing candidates to Congress who believe this insanity. One nice thing about having a mainstream media is that they filter out utter garbage like that.

            • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28 2020, @07:02PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28 2020, @07:02PM (#1081913)

              "the interests of the media run counter to those of the pirate party."

              Of course this doesn't mean the interests of the pirate party run counter to the public interest. It just means that the media is less inclined to give the pirate party the due attention it may deserve and they may in fact give opposing views undue credit and attention in favor of those viewpoints.

              It should be noted that broadcasting monopolies are implemented and enforced by the FCC, a governing body. Cableco monopolies are also often implemented by various regional governments so it is, ultimately, governing bodies responsible for which interests can get their viewpoints expressed on cable (even if it's indirectly by providing those special interests with the monopolies that allow them to censor views they don't like). Those cables traverse public property in order to get their message from private corporations to your home and there are laws that regulate this.

            • (Score: 4, Interesting) by bzipitidoo on Sunday November 29 2020, @12:11AM (1 child)

              by bzipitidoo (4388) on Sunday November 29 2020, @12:11AM (#1081962) Journal

              On the issue of intellectual property, the media will never tell it straight, and would rather not even mention it. Media owners believe in copyright, the more extreme, the better. Not even PBS can resist the forces. Journalists, whether at PBS or elsewhere, think that by burying or spinning copyright, they're protecting their own.

              Journalists, authors, and artists also think copyright gives them more bargaining power. Often it does, but sometimes it backfires, actually making it illegal for authors to use their own work. Probably everyone has heard the story of exploitative music labels screwing naive new musicians with the very bad contract that gives them a big advance that is actually a loan, not a payment, taking advantage of youthful ignorance of just what an advance is. Then the band is stuck working the rest of their careers trying to get out of debt to the music label. Hollywood Accounting further tightens the chains.

              Authors of comics used to get a raw deal too. In the days before the first blockbuster superhero movie of any kind, Superman in 1978, because Hollywood used to think a superhero movie couldn't possibly succeed, and like the campy 1960s Batman TV show wasn't serious enough, comic book writers were given to understand that comics weren't worth much, were the lowbrow, uncouth, lightweight alternative to Real Fiction in the form of The Novel, and thereby part suckered and part pushed into accepting bad deals. What do you do when all the publishing houses evince the same attitude, that comics aren't worth much?

              The creators still getting a raw deal from copyright are scientific researchers. It's standard for researchers to have to turn over all rights to whichever journal is willing to publish a scientific work. The reason for that is that copyright has always been an impediment, and by demanding such extreme control, journals seek to be free of any obligation that might hinder the dissemination of the scientific findings. A typical journal contains the works of hundreds of researchers. Everyone realizes it would be totally impractical for a journal to have to routinely seek the permissions of several hundred people every time they want to do anything. Or, at least, that was the rationale. Scientists were rarely compensated through copyright. It's Publish or Perish, and that is really a system of patronage. The productive scientists get to keep their high paying jobs in academia or whichever government and private labs still exist. Those working in industry often have some sort of Work For Hire arrangement, in which anything they invent is the property of their employer.

              And the rest of the public? Totally shafted, of course. Kept docile by the dangling of the promise that one day, you too could write the next big thing and go from being a nobody to a Big Name Author, just like J. K. Rowling. The odds of winning the lottery are better than that chance, but it still works, helped by the appeal to the ego, that if you do manage to make it big that way, it will be because you merited it, and weren't just lucky.

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 29 2020, @02:43AM

                by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 29 2020, @02:43AM (#1081973)

                Anyone that puts their own interests before the public interest with respect to what they publish, what they don't publish, and how they spin what they do publish is not a true journalist.

                To be clear, the mainstream media is not journalism. It's propaganda.

        • (Score: 1, Troll) by looorg on Saturday November 28 2020, @05:52PM (1 child)

          by looorg (578) on Saturday November 28 2020, @05:52PM (#1081899)

          What "neonazi" groups would that be? As far as I know the actual neonazis never get invited to anything. The one that lefttards call "neonazi" represents 20ish percent of the voting population so it would be somewhat hard to ignore them.

          There are rules for whom gets invited to the national debates on TV. PP never reached those numbers or representation in parliament to get invited, their success was almost entirely on the EU-level. But they never managed to turn those numbers into anything useful nationally. They really have none to blame but themselves for their demise.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28 2020, @06:57PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28 2020, @06:57PM (#1081910)

            That would be the Swedish Democrats party. They got representation in debates, despite having no seats in European parliament at a time when the Pirate Party of Sweden had both Christian and Amelia. It was a while back, obviously. Treatment by the media went downhill from there.

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28 2020, @04:58PM (25 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28 2020, @04:58PM (#1081890)

        "you get paralyzed as every party is supposed to get their taste of the action or trying to get a multitude of parties to agree on things is quite hard."

        Maybe this is a good thing.

        If no one agrees on something then why should we have a two party system that forces legislature through that no one really agrees on?

        • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Runaway1956 on Saturday November 28 2020, @05:12PM (24 children)

          by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Saturday November 28 2020, @05:12PM (#1081893) Homepage Journal

          Yeah, my thoughts go along those lines as well. If congress does nothing then it's unlikely that they have cost me anything. In general, the less congress does, the better for everyone.

          "No man's life, liberty, or property are safe
          while the congress is in session." attributed to Mark Twain,

          --
          "no more than 8 bullets in a round" - Joe Biden
          • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Grishnakh on Saturday November 28 2020, @06:05PM (23 children)

            by Grishnakh (2831) on Saturday November 28 2020, @06:05PM (#1081901)

            If Congress does nothing, then you don't get appropriations bills passed, and the government shuts down. You can't run a government that way: if the government isn't even running, or spending money to actually run the country, then before long things really fall apart. If you're going to run a government that way, you might as well give up and disband the union and break it up into smaller pieces where people *do* agree on how to do things.

            Basically, the prior AC post I think highlights an important question: should we have a two-party system that forces through legislation that no one agrees on, or a multiparty system that's paralyzed because no one can agree on anything? In the first scenario, at least you have an effective government, even if it's doing a lot of stuff no one really wants except some elite group in power. In the second scenario, the government is going to break down, and either get replaced with the first kind of government, an authoritarian system, or the country will break up.

            Perhaps the answer is that large, diverse nations simply are not viable under a democratic system, unless that system is really a sham designed to keep a cadre of elites in power. Look at the countries that seem to do pretty well under democratic systems, such as Norway or Japan or South Korea: these are usually small (but not always, Japan is #11 in the world), and very homogenous. Now look at a country that seems to have very effective governance, despite being extremely large and diverse: China. Sucks to be a Uighur there, but given their economic success over the past 40 years and their handling of Covid, you can't argue that their governance is ineffective. It does seem that being able to brutally squash internal dissent actually works to make your country economically successful when that's what the leadership wants. However, there's a downside: soft power. China has none. How many people outside South Korea and Japan like to watch anime or listen to K-pop, even when they can't understand the language? Lots. How many people listen to or watch Chinese movies/music outside of China? None. America has shown how important this is, with the export of its cultural capital worldwide.

            • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28 2020, @07:15PM (1 child)

              by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28 2020, @07:15PM (#1081917)

              I don't think that a multiparty system will result in nothing getting passed because no one agrees on anything. I think there are things that most people do agree on and those things will get passed. Just the issues that few people agree on will struggle more to find an appropriate compromise that most people can get on board with. There is no reason to rush legislation through like there is no tomorrow. We can give everyone time to process the proposed legislature to give their input and find an appropriate compromise before allowing it to pass.

              "It does seem that being able to brutally squash internal dissent actually works to make your country economically successful when that's what the leadership wants."

              I don't think we should be willing to have our right to dissent crushed in the name of 'economic success'. I also think economic success is possible without having our right to dissent crushed just like it's possible for us to have our right to dissent crushed and still be economically unsuccessful.

              • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28 2020, @09:15PM

                by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28 2020, @09:15PM (#1081933)

                We should also avoid the assumption that every law constantly needs changing. Perhaps this is a useful assumption for politicians and legislatures to make because it justifies their continued existence and gives them something to grandstand over but it's not one that should automatically be made.

                For instance there are some laws that should be tweaked. Copy protection lengths should be reduced for one thing and there should be other similar tweaks to IP laws in general. Other laws, like the first amendment and section 230 of the CDA, should probably be left alone for the most part.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28 2020, @07:30PM (6 children)

              by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28 2020, @07:30PM (#1081918)

              It does seem that being able to brutally squash internal dissent actually works to make your country economically successful when that's what the leadership wants.

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_Union [wikipedia.org]

              Do you want to tell us the Soviet leadership did not want to make their country economically successful?

              • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28 2020, @09:47PM (5 children)

                by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28 2020, @09:47PM (#1081937)

                They wanted to enrich themselves at the cost of the proletariat.

                • (Score: 5, Touché) by barbara hudson on Saturday November 28 2020, @11:40PM (4 children)

                  by barbara hudson (6443) <barbara.Jane.hudson@icloud.com> on Saturday November 28 2020, @11:40PM (#1081952) Journal
                  Sounds like the current administration.
                  --
                  SoylentNews is social media. Says so right in the slogan. Soylentnews is people, not tech.
                  • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 29 2020, @03:14AM (2 children)

                    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 29 2020, @03:14AM (#1081975)

                    Hunter Biden might already be collecting that 50% cut of foreign bribes for his dad Joe Biden, but technically the "current administration" is still Trump. Despite gaslighting and projection that would claim otherwise, we currently have an unusually non-corrupt administration. It hasn't been this good in over half a century. We're about to have that change, but not until 2021.

                    Uh, BTW... do you also believe Obama was "scandal free" like they said?

                    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 29 2020, @06:23AM

                      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 29 2020, @06:23AM (#1081997)

                      About Obama, remember who the other guy was

                      As I marked my vote, I was praying to God to forgive me for what I was doing. Even though I have been a lifelong Republican, I could not vote for that man who I perceived to be about the most heartless, arrogant, man-of-the-wealthy I had ever seen.

                    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 29 2020, @11:12PM

                      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 29 2020, @11:12PM (#1082146)

                      How's that kool-aid tasting? Least corrupt? Most peaceful? You've really detached from reality bub!

                  • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Sunday November 29 2020, @06:15AM

                    by fustakrakich (6150) on Sunday November 29 2020, @06:15AM (#1081996) Journal

                    And the previous, and the one before that, turtles all the way down...

                    --
                    La politica e i criminali sono la stessa cosa..
            • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Saturday November 28 2020, @10:43PM (1 child)

              by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Saturday November 28 2020, @10:43PM (#1081941) Homepage Journal

              That brutal squashing has worked short term for many regimes down through history. Not so well long term for most of them. The Chinese are unique though. I suppose it will continue to be effective, until it stops being effective. Maybe it will take another Cultural Revolution before things change for them. Not that I wish another upheaval on them, but that seems to be the way change happens in China.

              --
              "no more than 8 bullets in a round" - Joe Biden
              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 29 2020, @12:44AM

                by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 29 2020, @12:44AM (#1081965)

                There is a breaking point when you go below the two party system. In a one party system everyone in the country is a member of the same party and all politics are decided by members of the party. Assuming of course that the are no corruption and everyone has equal voting rights within the party, it's no different than a direct demoracy. I'd postulate that a two party system is the worst democratic system and an infinite party (first party) is utopia. I think the most stable is somewhere in between, where spontaneous irrational laws are stifled by agreed upon policies of the representative parties. In any case the ideal democratic governing body should be representative of the population.

            • (Score: 3, Insightful) by sjames on Sunday November 29 2020, @03:00AM (3 children)

              by sjames (2882) on Sunday November 29 2020, @03:00AM (#1081974) Journal

              You say that as if shutdowns due to lack of an appropriations bill is unheard of in the U.S.

              • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Sunday November 29 2020, @06:00PM (2 children)

                by Grishnakh (2831) on Sunday November 29 2020, @06:00PM (#1082074)

                They aren't *that* frequent, but also they've never lasted more than a month. When they have happened, the economic effects have been disastrous. On top of that, they aren't really shutdowns: parts of the government keep operating. Personally, I think that when they have a government shutdown, EVERYTHING should be shut down federally, and that includes the military: soldiers should not get paid, and the military should stand down from anything it's doing. If your country is too stupid to keep itself running continuously, it doesn't deserve to have a defense force.

                • (Score: 2) by sjames on Sunday November 29 2020, @08:10PM (1 child)

                  by sjames (2882) on Sunday November 29 2020, @08:10PM (#1082100) Journal

                  There have been 4 in the last 20 years, that's 20%. That's a lot for something that has well defined deadlines that can be foreseen years out.

                  That puts the U.S. solidly in the lead for shutdowns with many governments that have multiparty systems having had no shutdowns.

                  The big difference seems to be holding legislators feet to the fire. In many countries if the legislature can't even manage to come up with a budget, they're all fired.

                  • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Monday November 30 2020, @02:23AM

                    by Grishnakh (2831) on Monday November 30 2020, @02:23AM (#1082192)

                    4 in 20 years is a lot compared to better-run countries, yes, but it's not like they're having one every 6 months or every year.

                    But yes, shutdowns are mostly unique to the US and its completely broken system of government. There should not be cases where the executive and legislative branches are at odds with each other so much they can't even pass a budget. In parliamentary democracies, this doesn't happen because the executive is chosen by the legislative branch, instead of by popular vote; in the very rare case that the two can't agree, a vote of no-confidence is called and new elections are held for parliament, which then creates a new administration.

                    The best thing the US could do at this point is to hold a new Constitutional Convention and write a new Constitution. The old one sucks. It's weird how it's treated as some kind of holy document by so many Americans, when in reality it creates a horribly flawed system. I'll admit it was a good try back in 1789, since they didn't exactly have a lot of examples to go off of at the time, and I guess they were trying not to emulate the British too much since they had just fought a war of independence with them, but it's been well over 2 centuries now, and other nations have now shown us how to set up better forms of government. It's time to trash it and start over. Sticking with the current Constitution is like sticking with Windows 98 or IE6.0.

            • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Arik on Sunday November 29 2020, @05:45AM (4 children)

              by Arik (4543) on Sunday November 29 2020, @05:45AM (#1081989) Journal
              "If Congress does nothing, then you don't get appropriations bills passed, and the government shuts down. You can't run a government that way: if the government isn't even running, or spending money to actually run the country, then before long things really fall apart."

              This is what the archons want you to think - and do not doubt they'll play that out as far as they can.

              But the truth is, the government isn't necessary, or even beneficial, in trying to 'run' the country.

              The country doesn't need to be 'run' - it's not like a big company, it's an entirely different thing. The government doesn't make it run better by micromanaging it - quite the opposite, as it means constant temptation to rob Peter in order to pay Paul or vice versa. That tendency, unchecked, allowed to run rampant, is the problem we face, not a solution.

              The country would run a hell of a lot better if the government was forced to run on a much smaller budget, and to focus on it's core responsibilities.

              Of course we both know that there are elements that would do everything they possibly could to see the country burnt to the ground by the end of the year instead. Just so they could say "see, we told you everything would fall apart if we weren't running it. Now give us back our budget!"

              But a competent government with 10% of the budget would be better than just a competent government. The size of the federal budget in particular is, at this point, so huge that it's a problem in and of itself. You could run every single politician and bureaucrat out of office and replace them with verified saints and they would still be corrupted by it once in office.

              The trick isn't necessarily to break down into smaller units (though obviously democracy functions a bit easier on a smaller scale) but *to narrow the field of play* until it's small enough virtually everyone can understand and agree. There's virtually no one that objects to the functions of the watchman state, and it objectively benefits everyone. But as we shift from the concept of the watchman state to the concept of the moral state, that changes completely. As the state expands, it must rely less on consent and agreement, more and more on brute force. Less and less on building consensus, more and more on "we won (by a tiny margin) so suck it up, loser!"

              The stakes are simply too high for anything else. Again, the size of the budget, the REAL budget, not just the direct expenditures, but all the unfunded mandates - absolutely staggering. Even a 1% margin on it - staggering. There's an old saying that every man has his price.

              The President of the USA receives $400,000/year in salary. And on the face of it, that should be fine, really. Lots of people live on minimum wage, 400 grand a year isn't bad. Especially considering you get free residence and bodyguards etc. so it's all profit... but no. The thing is, running for President costs way more than you'll make in a 4 year term. Most candidates spend hundreds of millions, win or lose. Bloomberg spent over a billion and didn't even get a nomination!

              So there has to be a lot more than $400k/year to make that back. And the same math holds up for many other offices. Then we wonder that D.C. is corrupt?
              --
              If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
              • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Sunday November 29 2020, @06:24AM (3 children)

                by fustakrakich (6150) on Sunday November 29 2020, @06:24AM (#1081998) Journal

                What I can't understand is why we let the bureaucrats make us do all their paperwork for them. The tax department for example, they can either send us a check or send us a bill. One way or another, they will get our signature. If we have any questions, we can go to them. *Don't call us, we'll call you*.

                --
                La politica e i criminali sono la stessa cosa..
                • (Score: 2) by bzipitidoo on Sunday November 29 2020, @02:54PM (2 children)

                  by bzipitidoo (4388) on Sunday November 29 2020, @02:54PM (#1082031) Journal

                  The Tax Preparation industry, that's why. H&R Block, Turbo Tax, and others of that ilk lobby to keep income tax complicated and scary. The IRS has a lot of your numbers, but actually isn't allowed to fill in those blanks for you. Instead, those numbers are used against you, as a gotcha if there is any discrepancy between their numbers and what you report. The industry wants you, the taxpayer, to believe that you could go to jail for getting your taxes wrong, even if it was an innocent mistake. This fear is helped by the IRS's reputation for hard a$$, guilty-until-proven-innocent enforcement. They don't believe in innocent mistakes. They believe everyone cheats. But if you buy and use tax prep products, the industry guarantees they'll shield you from that. I really wonder how they have any power to do that, and suspect the protection they offer is greatly exaggerated.

                  • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Sunday November 29 2020, @04:32PM (1 child)

                    by fustakrakich (6150) on Sunday November 29 2020, @04:32PM (#1082052) Journal

                    I really wonder how they have any power to do that...

                    Because we give it to them, by reelecting their puppets for over 40 years. Ask yourself, why do we do that?

                    --
                    La politica e i criminali sono la stessa cosa..
                    • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Sunday November 29 2020, @05:52PM

                      by Grishnakh (2831) on Sunday November 29 2020, @05:52PM (#1082071)

                      Because we're stupid, that's why. In other countries, it isn't like this: the tax authority sends you a pre-filled form at the end of the year showing what they think your income and deductions are, and what you owe or what they owe you. You can either sign it and send it back in (with payment if necessary), or you can amend it if you have information they missed. It isn't like this in the US because of tax-prep lobbyists as stated earlier, but in other (typically European) countries, they don't seem to have this problem or corruption.

            • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 29 2020, @05:48AM (2 children)

              by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 29 2020, @05:48AM (#1081990)

              How many people listen to or watch Chinese movies/music outside of China? None.

              I think you're off here. There are many Chinese movies with production values and attractivity, especially those originating in HK. Similar with music, though again strongly linked with HK, but not as dominant with respect to Korea and Japan.

              Anything east of Burma is going to be prime market for China.

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 29 2020, @03:31PM

                by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 29 2020, @03:31PM (#1082039)

                The most recent Chinese movies I saw was the sci-fi movies The Wandering Earth (流浪地球) [wikipedia.org] and Shanghai Fortress (上海堡垒) [wikipedia.org] both from 2019.

              • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Monday November 30 2020, @02:26AM

                by Grishnakh (2831) on Monday November 30 2020, @02:26AM (#1082193)

                You keep mentioning HK. HK was under a democratic system until very recently; the new security law has really kinda killed much of what make HK special. Many HKers have now left the country, and after Covid, many more will probably follow, perhaps to UK where they've been given special status.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 29 2020, @10:05AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 29 2020, @10:05AM (#1082003)

        The grass is somehow always greener on the other side. Having a proportional system isn't some cure all, it comes with its own set of issues and problems. So having lots of small parties is not exactly good either, you get paralyzed as every party is supposed to get their taste of the action or trying to get a multitude of parties to agree on things is quite hard.

        At least it's not easy for extremists to take over. And please, look at America, it's fucked for a generation since Republicans have blocked everything under McConnell and enabled a dictatorial state through inaction. People always bring out this drivel about "inaction" from multiparty systems, yet it is always the one where majority rules for many years that tends to be the one that decays the fastest.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28 2020, @05:21PM (8 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28 2020, @05:21PM (#1081894)

    Continued existence of small and medium businesses in scared new masked world is not in any politician's plans anyway, and megacorps can easily extort from captive users many times the money they spend on lawyers and judges.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Grishnakh on Saturday November 28 2020, @06:11PM (7 children)

      by Grishnakh (2831) on Saturday November 28 2020, @06:11PM (#1081902)

      What are you talking about? There isn't some kind of conspiracy to kill small businesses. Doing so would be devastating to the economy in any nation. Big businesses are important economically, sure, but they don't comprise the bulk of any nation's economy, and you can't run an economy with just a handful of huge businesses. Just look at restaurants: corporate chain restaurants have their place, but there's countless smaller restaurants out there because you can't get a unique dining experience in a chain, plus you can get much better food at independent eateries. What happens when you shut down all the independent places? Lots of people simply stop eating out, killing a big sector of the economy. People who eat at fancy michelin-star restaurants (or other nice restaurants not quite at that level) aren't going to suddenly switch to eating at McDonald's or Friday's; they're just going to stay at home. It's just like "art-house" theaters: close those down, and the patrons aren't going to just switch to watching the latest comic-book movie at the local AMC; they're going to stay at home and watch stuff on their 75" 4k TV.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28 2020, @06:47PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28 2020, @06:47PM (#1081908)

        Your impassioned speech would have sounded totally convincing in April '20. But now at the end of November?

        Cancer isn't some kind of conspiracy to kill your body. Doing so would be devastating to metabolic activity in any organism. And still, a simple stem cell with a simple mutation that lets it ignore the checks on expansion, will make you suffer and die. It, and its progeny, will even all die themselves in that event, but it does not stop cancer from being the #1 cause of death.

        You do not need a perfect coordinated conspiracy of evil geniuses to destroy everything. Free agents acting in what they perceive as their self-interest, do manage it perfectly well on their own. Enough of ideology, or greed, or stupidity, to ignore the signs and sail past the point of no return, is all that is required.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by barbara hudson on Saturday November 28 2020, @11:48PM (5 children)

        by barbara hudson (6443) <barbara.Jane.hudson@icloud.com> on Saturday November 28 2020, @11:48PM (#1081955) Journal
        Who cares if they shut down? When things return to a new normal, new ones will open up. Massive subsidies to restaurants in the meantime are stupid. Most fail within 5 years, pandemic or no pandemic. The same for airlines - there are few that haven't gone bankrupt one or more times pre-pandemic. Let them go broke. Instead of wasting money on supporting dead businesses, support the displaced workers directly.

        This means money, real education (not the shitty job retraining schemes that mostly benefit the scams that spring up in the wake of such schemes and leave people a year later without any real qualifications, just a shitty certificate).

        --
        SoylentNews is social media. Says so right in the slogan. Soylentnews is people, not tech.
        • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 29 2020, @10:13AM (2 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 29 2020, @10:13AM (#1082005)

          When things return to a new normal, new ones will open up.

          You should learn some reality before spewing bullshit. People need to survive until that time without your dead littering the streets. That means precisely the opposite of what you advocate for. Stopgap measures are not because economic tailspin because invisible hand or something, it's because of external factors. Do you understand "external factors"?

          https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20201117-why-reskilling-wont-always-guarantee-you-a-new-job [bbc.com]

          The idea that the precarious position workers find themselves in today could be solved by training is particularly illogical, says Lafer, who has been studying job-training schemes in the US since the 1980s. People are out of work because the pandemic has shuttered huge swathes of the economy, not because of a lack of skills. “If job training was ever going to work it's not now,” he says.

          • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Sunday November 29 2020, @05:58PM (1 child)

            by Grishnakh (2831) on Sunday November 29 2020, @05:58PM (#1082073)

            People need to survive until that time without your dead littering the streets

            Right, and that's why they gave out money to people who earned less than $75k (or whatever it was), to keep people from starving. You don't need to keep businesses open, doing zero business, for this: just give money directly to the low-wage workers so they can buy food. The business owners should have saved more money if they wanted to keep the business open; otherwise, they can simply declare bankruptcy and get the same stimulus check their low-pay employees get (assuming they don't make that much; if they made a lot of money (>$100k), then they should have plenty of savings to last through the crisis.

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Grishnakh on Sunday November 29 2020, @05:55PM (1 child)

          by Grishnakh (2831) on Sunday November 29 2020, @05:55PM (#1082072)

          I do agree with this one. If businesses are going to be shuttered, it's better to support the displaced workers directly rather than giving handouts to business owners and hoping they'll "trickle it down" to the workers. After things return to normal, people will start new businesses. After all, that's why we have bankruptcy laws: failed businesses can go belly-up without their owners being wrecked financially, and creditors (usually big banks and landlords) will just have to eat the loss, since that's the risk you take when you give a loan to someone.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 29 2020, @11:44PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 29 2020, @11:44PM (#1082154)

            Took you less than 24 hours to flip 180 degrees on your previous statement.

            Now the PR dept's line is "Yes we fully intend to bankrupt you all, but you should hope the govt will "support" you till we decide to let "things return to normal"!" Got it.

  • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28 2020, @06:14PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 28 2020, @06:14PM (#1081903)

    The plot thickens! /s

(1)