When patent trolls are outlawed only outlaws will patent trolls … or maybe only outlaw trolls will have patents …

From TechDirt:

trollIt should come as little surprise to hear that a judge (in East Texas, of course) has told a defendant he may not refer to the plaintiff suing him as a “patent troll.” This actually is quite reasonable for a variety of reasons. Obviously, the term has extremely negative connotations without a clear definition, opening it up to serious misuse. Also, there isn’t anything illegal about being a patent troll anyway (yet). It is bad for innovation and it’s bad for the patent system — but the reason such actions are so popular is that, for the most part, they are perfectly (if ridiculously) legal. With that in mind, focusing on name calling clearly isn’t the best way to get out of the lawsuit. Still, it is rather amusing that things would reach such a level that this would even merit a judge ruling on the term.

Will his honor please issue a ruling keeping them out from under bridges unless some patent billy goats are nearby?

Are patent trolls where they get patent leather?

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Who would Jesus sue? Maker of religion-themed computer-game threatens critics

Quoth TechDirt:

Left Behind Games, makers of (somewhat controversial) religiously themed real-time strategy games … apparently isn’t happy that its video games were reviewed negatively across the blogworld. So, they did what any video game company would do: they improved their game. Oh… no, they didn’t. … They simply pulled out the lawyers and threatened to sue a bunch of bloggers for posting “false and misleading” content about the games. Of course, opinions can’t be either false or misleading, so they’ll have quite a case on their hands.

So guess what story/opinions are now being spread far and wide across the interweb? A text book case in how not to do this.

Allow me to take this opportunity to thank the legal system for protecting providers of false and/or misleading opinions … a/k/a me.

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Bubble 2.0? Website wants to be the Netflix of books

The site: BookSwim.com.

Quoth Mashable: For about $20 per month, you’ll get three books mailed directly to your house. There are other plans available if you’re ambitious and would like more books sent to you on a monthly basis.

So I’m paying you $20 a month instead of going to the library? Well, Mashable thinks so: “The hope for Bookswim is obviously to capitalize on the laziness of book readers who don’t want to go to the library.”

How big an audience is that?

(Me and TechDirt seem to be thinking along similar lines of late — see Bubble 1.0 Hype Ideas Brought Back To Life By 2.0 Companies)

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Press falls for another claim that Facebook is destroying the economy

The meme goes on…

Over at the usually reliable CNET they’ve done a one-source story about how companies’ are limiting employees’ access to the site.

Half of businesses are restricting employees’ access to social-networking site Facebook, due to concerns about productivity and security. According to research by security company Sophos, 43 percent of workers polled said their employer blocks Facebook access completely. A further 7 percent said access is restricted depending on whether it’s required for a particular job.

So far 51 fools, I mean respected journalism outlets have run this story or variations on it. A random look at four of those 51 stories showed NONE quoting anyone except an executive with the clearly unbiased company Sophos.

Best line of bad journalism comes from the alleged newspaper The Telegraph: “ LloydsTSB, Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs have reportedly banned the site …”

REPORTEDLY?!?! That’s short hand for we didn’t make any phone calls to try and confirm it. The moon is reportedly made of green cheese. I am reportedly Queen Marie of Romania.

God, I hope TechDirt is going to redeem journalism on this one too. They’re my only hope at this point.

If anyone needs me I’m spending the rest of the day expunging anything to do with journalism from my resume.

BTW, Raw Feed has a nice example of a similar phenomenon happening with coverage of pollution in Beijing (which nicely ties up all of the day’s posts — wasn’t that good of me?). Media reports opposing results on Beijing smog.

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Never mind the mortgage industry meltdown, it’s Facebook that’s destroying the economy!

I love it when a really stupid idea starts to gain traction in the opinion-sphere. The current one is that workers who spend time on Facebook are costing the economy X billions per year.

I first encountered it at a blog called TechBlorge which starts off with uses a very suspect (because it is soooo self-serving) fact from a company and then follows that up with anecdotal evidence:

Social networking site Facebook could cost Australian businesses up to AUS$5 billion (US$4 billion) in lost productivity, according to Internet filtering company, SurfControl. “Our analysis shows that Facebook is the new, and costly, time-waster,” said SurfControl’s Dr Richard Cullen. “There are Facebook groups dedicated to slacking off at work, some of them are specific to employees of a single company.”

brokenThis is then followed up with a comment about the number of people in Aussie corporations who the author sees on Facebook. To the author’s credit he then points out a discrepancy in the company’s numbers (“The only problem with this calculation is that currently Facebook has just 224,000 Australian members, not 800,000 members.”). I would have lead with the fact that the company’s numbers make no sense — but that wouldn’t have been nearly as sensational.

Now TechBlorge is a blog and not, as we all know, held up to the standards of accuracy that I’d like to think pervades actual journalism. But wait! What’s this? Good lord, now there are 57 stories on this — each dumber than the last says I without reading barely a one of them. Kudos to SurfControl’s PR people for getting people to swallow this one hook, line, sinker, fishing pole and all.

Let’s ask ourselves two questions:

  1. Has the amount of time people spend goofing off at work on the computer really increased? Wouldn’t these goofer offers just be doing something else if they weren’t at Facebook (or wherever else)? Lets remember a reality here — thanks to the PC we now live in a world with the BEST, most experienced solitaire players ever.
  2. Do you think a company that sells “internet filtering” services to corporations might not be the best source for this study?

I would love to say that this shows why we need real journalists and shouldn’t just rely on bloggers. Actually that’s true — it’s just that we need real publications to be practicing real journalism and not this crap. The Reuter’s story doesn’t even quote anyone besides SurfControl! Guys next time save yourself some “work” and just run the press release.

Facebook is indeed involved with a time waster, but it’s the press that created it.

(Hooray for TechDirt which got the story right.)

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