Full Movies on Twitter and Section 230

Full Movies on Twitter

There’s an interesting situation in regard to Full Movies on Twitter being posted without repercussion. I can’t pass an opportunity to discuss any situation at Twitter but, in full honesty, I absolutely find this a fascinating from a legal perspective. It’s not just a matter of me piling on.

Twitter and other Social Media websites are generally immune to being sued for the content posted on their platforms under Section 230 of Title 47 of the United States Code. What I find interesting is the number of people who think this section makes Twitter immune to fines in this situation.

I’m a bit of a legal buff but not a lawyer. Therefore, if any actual lawyers out there wish to correct me, please have at it!

Is Posting Full Movies on Twitter Illegal?

Absolutely. Those movies are owned by entities with copyrights. Anyone who posts something like that on Twitter is subject to prosecution. This usually ends up with users banned from the social media platform rather than fines but repeated offenses will land the offender in the courts.

Is Twitter in Legal Trouble for what Others Post?

Reading the first few stories on this developing situation there are a number of people citing Section 230 as a reason Twitter and Elon Musk as the owner are under no legal peril. I disagree. Now, Twitter is absolutely not responsible for what other people post, that’s true.

The Motion Picture Industry and others actively monitor Twitter and other social media platforms for copyright violations. These entities and their agents then make copyright strikes against the person posting the movie, song, or other copyrighted media.

Once the automated system sees a copyright strike, the content is generally removed until a full review can be managed. There are problems with this system as well; people can and do use copyright strikes as weapons against social media users they dislike rather than as legitimate complaints. Let’s not get into that today.

The problem here is the copyright strike system seems to be broken. So, the industry is fulfilling their legal obligation but Twitter is failing to remove the movies after the strike. I think this is a serious violation and could end in enormous fines. Copyright infringement has stiff penalties pushed through the legal system by the entertainment industry. Stiff. Real stiff. Large fines for each violation. Every violation. Tens of thousands of them, potentially millions. As long as the copyright strike system remains broken more and more violations are piling up every minute.

Conclusion

Posting full movies on Twitter is a violation by the user and not Twitter under Section 230. Failing to promptly act on copyright strikes is outside the scope of Section 230. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Twitter shut down at least temporarily.

Naturally, I could be wrong and invite those with actual legal expertise to correct my mistakes.

Tom Liberman

The Twitter lesson: Workers and Management

Twitter Lesson

There’s a Twitter lesson to learned and it involves both workers and management. A lot of my friends find delight in the apparent demise of Twitter and I can’t say I blame them. I find it an interesting opportunity to examine the relationship of workers and management to the success of a business endeavor.

It seems to me; most people are not learning the correct Twitter lesson. A large group of people blame Musk for the ongoing situation. A second group blames lazy workers not willing to put forth enormous effort to save the company. What’s the reality? Let this Libertarian answer all your questions.

Twitter’s Problems

In order to determine the appropriate Twitter lesson, we need to fully understand the difficulties the company faces. Twitter was never immensely profitable. It had a couple of good years where income exceeded expenses but it largely lost money. Now, add the enormous loans new owner Elon Musk must pay back and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the company is in deep trouble.

This being the case, the simplest solution in these situations is always to cut payroll. That means firing people. So many people the platform is barreling toward destruction. This solution means Musk must hope his remaining employees will do the jobs of two or more people while still earning their current salary.

I wrote about when this sort of expectation can work in an article about Reciprocity if you’d like to read that. I’m not going to discuss it further here.

What is the Twitter Lesson?

With one side calling workers lazy and the other blaming Musk for his business decision it seems like one of those two things must be the Twitter lesson, right? Wrong.

So many people want to blame lazy workers and so many people want to blame bad management. It’s the same when a business succeeds. Half the people want to give the credit to management for financing the operation, hiring the people, creating the business. A second group of people claim it is the workers who achieve the success. It is their efforts that build value.

The problem is both groups are right and wrong at the same time. The business owner who comes up with an idea, hires people, takes out loans, and builds a company should be lauded for this effort. It’s dangerous from a financial point of view and she or he should be praised. Meanwhile, the workers who buy into the vision and perform the day-to-day tasks are absolutely vital to success. Without them there is nothing.

This seems very obvious to me and I think most people, after reading this, will agree. Yet, before reading this, people eagerly and vocally assign all the credit to the owner or to the workers, ignoring the cooperation between the two groups required.

That’s the Twitter lesson. It’s workers and management that lead to success and to failure. Sure, in this case, Musk badly overvalued Twitter and took out a big enough loan that success became a near-impossible task.

Crony Capitalism

The entire situation is further complicated by the fact politicians now pass laws and extend financial aid to favor one company or attack another. This Crony Capitalism is something I’ve talked about elsewhere but it is part of the equation.

The reality is Musk’s previous ventures were largely financed by taxpayers. Government agencies gave him direct money and tax breaks. That fact plays no small part in what is happening today but is, perhaps, a topic for another day.

Conclusion

My conclusion is pretty simple. A business does not succeed or fail solely because of workers or management. Good managers and good executives value their employees’ contributions. Good employees recognize that management and executives want the business to succeed and often have to make difficult decisions.

Tom Liberman

Hard Work without Reciprocity at Twitter

Reciprocity

The fallout from the Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter is all over the news and a story about Musk demanding hardcore work from his employees brought to my mind the concept of reciprocity.

The idea of reciprocity is fairly simple. If you do me a favor, I feel an obligation to return that favor. It’s sort of like a personal version of the Social Contract I wrote about a while back. In this case, Musk is asking his employees to work considerably harder, whatever that means, in order to save the company.

The Reactions

While reading comments, I found that reactions largely come in two flavors. The majority of people argue hard work is expected and if the employees don’t like it, tough. Get out. On the other hand, some argue that overworking your employees is not a recipe for a successful company.

Does Musk ask for Reciprocity without Giving it?

My thoughts are probably closer to the second group but my real problem with Musk’s ultimatum is simply the expectation of reciprocity. I’m of the opinion Musk has a long record of working his employees hard and taking more than the lion’s share of the profits for himself.

He fired nearly four thousand Twitter employees largely without bothering to even look at the work they do. He fired people without notice. He implemented policies that ended doing far more harm than good.

I see no evidence Musk will reward hard-working employees who work enormous hours of overtime. If, by some miracle, Twitter begins to turn a profit, Musk will take most of the money for himself.

Working Hard with Reciprocity

Don’t get me wrong. If you work for a struggling company and have confidence the owner will work with you, reward you for your efforts, pay you when profits return; I’m all for working extra hard. If you don’t believe your boss will do so, all you’re doing is giving the boss your money. Your time is money, your money, not the boss’s money. Yours. A boss who tells you that you must work extra hours without pay and doesn’t plan on giving you a reward at the end of the day is stealing from you.

Working Hard without Reciprocity

It’s hard for me to imagine anyone thinking Musk is the sort of person who gives reciprocity. He threatened the same work hard or go bankrupt scenario with SpaceX not long ago. He ran SolarCity into bankruptcy. The much-famed Hyperloop is now abandoned along with all the people who poured their hard work into it.

The Boring company is a mess. The Gigafactory in Germany is largely unable to start because of water issues of which he was warned, long in advance. I could go on.

Conclusion

I am not telling Twitter employees how to react to this offer. That’s their business. If they believe Musk will eventually reward them for working long hours, if they think said work can somehow save Twitter, have at it. They have families, obligations, quitting is not an easy thing to do.

I’m just saying, if you give something, the other party isn’t obligated to reciprocity. In this case, I wouldn’t expect it.

Tom Liberman

Twitter and the Professional Athlete

Chris LongAs anyone who reads my blog regularly knows I’m a huge sports fan and being from St. Louis that means I follow the Cardinals, Rams, and Blues pretty closely. It is a story from the St. Louis Rams that caught my attention today.

Most people are aware that a number of professional athletes use Twitter to Tweet their thoughts. This can be a revealing insight into their lives although I don’t follow any athletes nor do I read many Tweets. Chris Long of the Rams was being interviewed after a practice session during what are called OTA (Organized Team Activities).

In the interview he was asked what it was like to be back on Twitter. Long took a break from using Twitter during the off-season but is now tweeting again. If you watch the interview I linked he is asked the question at about 1:00.

He started to give the boring sort of answer that athletes often give to questions of that nature but then stopped himself, thought for a moment, and gave what I thought was an incredible answer. “It hasn’t felt that great,” he said. “I was actually happier in general when I wasn’t on it.”

What was his reasoning? Happily he went on to explain with a forthright honesty that came out loud and clear to me. “It’s just sobering. Twitter is an awful reminder of what’s out there … it’s bad, it’s bad.”

Chris was talking specifically about the LeBron James situation. James, arguably the best player in the NBA and potentially one of the best in the history of the league, is in the midst of his fourth straight NBA Championship series of which his team has won the last two. The air-conditioning went out early in the game and by the last quarter James began suffering severe cramps. He was unable to finish. A lot of nastiness ensued from Twitter. James is both very popular and much hated. That’s its own story. Let’s get back to Chris Long.

“They probably think the same thing about me, but, oh well,” said Chris with a shrug. I can tell you for a fact that there are quite a lot of people out there saying extremely hateful things about Chris Long. I read comments on stories all the time. Long doesn’t “probably think” people are saying nasty things about him, he knows it. In Long’s return to Twitter he defended LeBron with supportive tweets.

As a professional athlete and as a man who uses Twitter, Long cannot claim immunity from attacks or say that people shouldn’t be cruel. People have the right to say vile and nasty things about Long and James. That being said, I can only imagine the immense self-loathing that must fill a person in order for them to spew such awful things. I know some of my readers will think I’m exaggerating the level of vitriol on Twitter. I’m not. When you read some of the comments it is an “awful reminder of what’s out there.” The hate and the anger that boils just below the calm surface of our everyday lives. In your neighbor perhaps, or the person next to you in line at the grocery store, or a co-worker. It’s sobering to think of someone so close, so filled with anger.

Would that everyone could worry more about themselves and less about others.

And that’s what Long’s little speech reminded me. What is Libertarianism all about?

It’s not getting to do what I want. It’s about having discipline, self-control, and a sense of personal responsibility so that I can do what I want and let you do what you want.

Good for you, Chris Long. A tip of the hat.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Broken Throne
Next Release: The Black Sphere

The best laid schemes of Dongles and Men

Twitter FiringThe tech world is currently in an uproar because of this.

In a nutshell there was a conference for developers using an open-source programming language called Python in which two male attendees were supposedly making crude jokes about dongles and forking. Both are legitimate computer terms rich with humor potential. Use your imagination. A female attendee grew disgusted with the jokes and snapped a picture of the men and tweeted about it.

The result is that one of the men telling the jokes was fired as was the woman.

To give some clarity I’d like to elaborate on the male dominated culture of IT. It’s male dominated. It’s nerd dominated. Nerdy males sometimes don’t have the best social skills. Ask anyone who knows me. However, it can also be misogynistic. Really, really misogynistic. I’ve seen some things. My job as a technical trainer takes me to many different companies and I’m often immersed in the backroom getting things setup before class. I’ve seen women IT staffers treated like garbage. I’m talking, “Go get us coffee” type behavior. Crude jokes about body parts. I’ve seen women employees who needed help from the IT staff treated in humiliating fashion, forced to almost beg. I’m not saying it’s common, I’m not even saying I’ve seen it frequently, but I’ve seen it.

It’s quite likely that the women who tweeted the message was just fed-up after being immersed in that atmosphere. It’s quite likely that the men meant no harm or even knew they were being offensive. I don’t know, I can’t say for sure. Maybe she lied and there were no crude jokes? Maybe the guys were intentionally trying to humiliate her? It’s impossible to say.

What is clear is that two people have lost their jobs. Why?

I’ll take it at face value. They told some off-color jokes. She was a little peeved and tweeted it. That’s the end of their part in this. What happened next has to do with the companies that employed them. One company decided to fire the jokester. When the internet storm began to slam the other company because of the tweet-instigated firing, they fired the tweeter.

In the end a company can generally fire people for any reason other than one protected by the government; age, sex, race, religion, etc. If they want to fire, they can fire. The publicity from the tweet was bad for both companies although the old adage that there is no such thing as bad publicity isn’t without merit. Both companies were afraid and that’s the crux of the issue.

Ok, I’ll finally get to my opinion. What is happening to the United States? We have become a nation of cowards. Our politicians tell us to be afraid, our media tells us to watch out what we say, our employers fire us for the least sin. We eagerly attack anyone who makes a mistake and roast them on the spit of public opinion. Fear is not our friend. Fear is the enemy. When we embrace fear, and that is all the two firings represent, we destroy freedom.

My most recent novel, the Sword of Water addresses the concept of fear directly. There are two characters who embody the opposite ideas of how to treat fear. I’m going to include an excerpt here from both of them.

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High Priest Amalagaz talking to his son:

“Do you see what a little fear injects into the relationship?” said Amalagaz with a smile as he leaned back on the cushions, a satisfied smile on his face. “As I have told you many times, you must befriend fear, you must take it close to your heart and understand it completely, fully, intimately. Without fear you cannot rule. Without fear your subjects will overthrow your throne and burn you on a pyre. They will rape your wife and they will murder your children. You must instill fear in their hearts and then they are yours. You must make them afraid of you. Your enemies must fear you and they will react to your moves. Your allies must fear you and they will do as you say. If your enemies don’t fear you then they will take the initiative, they will deploy their forces with vigor and energy. If they fear you they will hide in their citadels and await your approach hiding behind useless defenses, slowly sapping their will to fight, waiting for you to conquer them.”

Taragaz stared raptly at his father, “Fear.”

“Yes, my son. It is not limited to your enemies; it is your most potent weapon in driving your people. Tell them the enemy is plotting against them, tell them the enemy is waiting to destroy them, tell them that the enemy is lurking behind every shadow and they will do anything to stay safe. They will throw their own children onto the flames to keep the fear at bay. Lie to your people to inflame them. Wipe out a little village on your border and claim it was your neighbor’s rapacious armies. Tell them that an unknown enemy is building a fleet, arming ten thousand soldiers for an invasion and they will jump up and shout your name as they kill anyone who speaks against you. The voice of reason is the first casualty to the blade of fear.”

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Jon Gray to Silenia:

“There’s always reason to fear,” said Jon waving his hands to both sides. “The world is a dangerous place. Someone might be lurking around every corner, waiting to stick a dirk in your ear. You could fall off a horse, you might slip on the ice and break your leg, get an infection, die. You might fall out of a tree because you climbed too high and smash your brains on a rock.”

“So, you’re telling us to just do anything without thinking about the dangers?” said Sorus. “Come now, Jon. These are children. Do you mean to frighten them?”

“She is already afraid. Fear is the great enemy,” said Jon. “Fear can destroy a man or an entire nation.”

“Or a little girl,” said Silenia trembling but standing firm before Jon.

Jon nodded his head and smiled narrowly at the girl, “Exactly. I say that there is much to fear. Sorus suggests we must use caution because of those dangers. He is not far wrong, but we must never succumb to fear. Fear is the tool of evil. Fear is the tool of the despot. The first time you hid from your siblings you did so because of fear. Did that help you?”

“No,” said Silenia, blinking back tears as the memories flooded into her mind with such vividness that she suddenly felt back in that place, hiding, always hiding. “Eventually I had to come out and they used the flat of the knife on me,” she sniffled.

“Yet was it ever easier to hide the next time and the time after, wasn’t it?”

Silenia nodded her head, pursed her lips together, and stifled another sob, “It got easier each time.”

“Fear is the enemy,” repeated Jon. “Sorus, when you were a boy and the others were being chosen as squires did you stand up, did you shout out?”

Sorus shook his head, “I was smaller, sickly.”

“Did not standing up serve you well, each time you failed to say something was it easier to remain silent the next?”

Sorus nodded his head, “Yes, each time was easier, but it did work out in the long run though. You arrived in Elekargul and now I’m here.”

“True enough,” said Jon. “But would you rely on luck, on coincidence, to drive your life?”

“No,” said Sorus, Jerichi, and Silenia in the same whispered tone.

“When your father first murdered an innocent in front of you, Silenia. Did you say anything?”

Now the girl was crying, “No, I didn’t say anything.”

“Why?”

“I was afraid.”

“Fear destroys nations,” said Jon. “People think that it’s fine to say nothing when they see an atrocity, when they see evil. It’s easier to let it be than to get involved, it’s dangerous to try to stop something like that. When you let evil have its way, when you stand idly by, then people who do evil are emboldened. They think they can do more evil and no one will stop them. A petty man with a petty life sabotages a good man to get ahead. An inferior warrior gets an ally to weigh down his opponent’s armor and gains a promotion. Then he becomes a captain, then a general and he promotes his equally unethical companion. Then the battle is lost, the war is lost. All because the person that saw it happening was afraid to step in and do something.”

“But they might die if they step in,” said Jerichi his hands now at his side and his voice barely audible.

“They might,” said Jon. “They often do.”

“What good does it do if they die?” said Jerichi.

“What you are asking me is, ‘What good does it do to conquer your fear and act?” said Jon with a snort. “It makes a nation strong. It inspires those around you to do the same.”

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Would you take the advice of Amalagaz or of Jon?

Make no mistake, the firings were based on fear. So many other options were available. I’m not going to discuss them today. Fear won again.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water
Next Release: The Spear of the Hunt