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For those that don’t know, Easylist is a block list used in popular ad blocking solutions such as uBlock Origin, Adblock Plus, etc.

Details of why it was removed have been provided later in the comment thread.


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    Wait…. what? How the hell is blocking a domain circumventing anything? There is a store down the street, am I circumventing it by choosing to not go through their door?

    The argument that a copyright holder has the right to understand who loads their content is an interesting one, though. But, they can easily, and more accurately, do this by forcing people to create an account, instead of forcing them to opt-in to dealing with a third party that does surveillance as a service.

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      In my opinion, (and I don’t mind losing internet points for saying it) this is a pretty strong argument and a logical consequence of current DRM related laws.

      If you view the content, you are subject to the DRM on that content, and the law expects you to comply.

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        Can anyone force me to walk into a store?

        Can anyone force my browser to visit a certain domain?

        https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/1201 says:

        (3) Nothing in this section shall require that the design of, or design and selection of parts and components for, a consumer electronics, telecommunications, or computing product provide for a response to any particular technological measure, so long as such part or component, or the product in which such part or component is integrated, does not otherwise fall within the prohibitions of subsection (a)(2) or (b)(1).

        My reading of that is that no, my browser is not required to respond to any DRM scheme. It does not need to connect to some domain if I don’t like it.

        I’ll grant you that by choosing not to respond, I’m circumventing a really really shitty DRM scheme. Zero fucks given, and I’m entirely within my rights if the way I read that law were correct and I were in the US.

        Of course someone might consider the web page to be a computer program…

        The other possibility is that such an ineffective DRM scheme would be laughed out of court as being .. well, not an effective scheme.

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          Presumably the analogy would be more like walking into a store, but skipping that pesky bit with the cash registers. Using an ad blocker would be a circumvention tool in this darkest-dimension version of DRM.

          Anyhow, I agree with you 100%, living in the United States I’m well within my rights to attempt to secure my privacy against advertisers.

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            Presumably the analogy would be more like walking into a store, but skipping that pesky bit with the cash registers. Using an ad blocker would be a circumvention tool in this darkest-dimension version of DRM.

            It wasn’t really meant to be an analogy. Just a consideration of what kind of positive action can be required of me or my tech gadgets.

            But if we wanted to look at it as an analogy, I still think it would be a sound one. Consider a “DRM” scheme that asks me to walk in to a second store after being given a DVD in one store (suppose that the purpose of the second store is to subject me to their advertising, after which they are satisfied with me enough to allow me to view the DVD). I don’t care, so I walk straight home with the DVD, and put it in the player, and it plays fine. There, I just trivially circumvented a completely broken DRM scheme that would’ve required me to do something I don’t suppose anyone should be able to demand of me anyway. I didn’t sign or verbally agree to any contract; the former store just gave me the DVD after I requested it.

            That’s exactly what happens with the browser. I request a resource. I get that resource, and it links to other resources. I don’t care about the other resources, so I carry on to view the first resource I was given.

            How is this DRM at all? There really is nothing to circumvent, so I don’t see how anti-circumvention laws could apply.

            Quoting the same uscode text again:

            (B) a technological measure “effectively controls access to a work” if the measure, in the ordinary course of its operation, requires the application of information, or a process or a treatment, with the authority of the copyright owner, to gain access to the work.

            (B) a technological measure “effectively protects a right of a copyright owner under this title” if the measure, in the ordinary course of its operation, prevents, restricts, or otherwise limits the exercise of a right of a copyright owner under this title.

            There was no technological measure. There was literally nothing to effectively control access to a work. I was given the unprotected work, period.

            But if a web page is considered software, then by analogy preventing access to the third party server could be akin to cracking software by preventing the instructions of its protection scheme from properly executing. I think it’s a stretch but there’s probably someone mad enough to disagree.

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          First of all, no internet points should be lost for voicing your opinion.

          If you view the content, you are subject to the DRM on that content, and the law expects you to comply.

          If someone hands me a print out of the page, is that circumvention of the DRM? Should I be forced to mail a DRM provider to tell them that I’m reading a printout that someone gave me? No, that’d be ridiculous.

          A DRM model where the content is delivered to you in a readable form, but you have to pay for it after the fact (if you want to read it), is like one of those disclaimers you sometimes see in the signature line of an email “If this email wasn’t meant for you, you should delete it immediately or face our legal department!” – It’s simply unenforcable, and stupid. If you don’t want me to read it, shrink wrap it, or restrict me in some other way from accessing it first. There are lots of sites that do this successfully, it’s a solved problem.

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        Admiral, the owners of the domain, have posted a followup on their blog.

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          I suppose that this (ad-blocking lists) would eventually become a legal battle was kinda inevitable, but I really fail to see why I should trust Admiral’s judgement on these matters.

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            You shouldn’t.

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              Agreed. If Admiral expects to succeed at their percieved goals in any more than a symbolic way, however, they’re going to have to establish some level of trust with people that don’t want to see ads.

              On their blog, the seem to be concerned with signaling that they have user’s concerns in their heads. To me, using a DMCA takedown notice against an ad-blocking list seems like a rather poor way to try and engage this conversation. Given how easily DMCA-based systems have been abused on platforms like youtube, this is a super poor way to open up this sort of dialogue.

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                It’s very strange.

                A domain name cannot be copyrighted which means that Admiral just broke the law: this DMCA request is invalid and likely in bad faith.

                GitHub may be required to honour an invalid takedown request until the copyright owner responds and challenges it in order to maintain their safe harbour protections, but weirdly the DOJ may take action against Admiral now as well.

                I hope this will be interesting.

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            Someone should make a code hosting site that’s hidden behind TOR. Literally just run some sort of open source repository software and make sure it’s not leaking physical location info.

            I really need to get up to speed on the latest anti-censorship tech. I think namecoin, IPFS, etc. are all woefully underused at this point. You can’t serve a DMCA request to a blockchain or a DHT.

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              I think namecoin, IPFS, etc. are all woefully underused at this point.

              Agreed. However, I see no reason why people taking part in the hosting of a block chain or dht with illegal content couldn’t be prosecuted.

              The sad part is that people care in principle, but not enough to lift a finger in practice. The problem is part technical – these things work best when there are people behind fast lines dedicating dozens of gigabytes of storage (and a nontrivial amount of computing power) for use, 24/7. That’s a big deal for the average netizen. And then there’s the fact that the internet is very hostile against p2p. People are stuck behind NATs – ones that they could configure if they knew how, but also ones that are controlled by their ISP via locked-down home routers or CGN. Then there’s data caps…

              It does not help that people running things like Tor exit nodes get threatened by authorities. And people are afraid of Freenet because they hear it’s a safe haven for child porn. These networks would provide better anonymity and plausible deniality if they were used at a massive scale. But as long as they stay small, it is easy to map the entire network (pinpointing every user), and with a map of the network + some (state-level) traffic analysis, it is probably not too difficult to deanonymize users. I definitely wouldn’t bet my life on these technologies (except, perhaps, in a one-hit access via some open wifi in a public place).

              I doubt these networks will grow significantly unless participation is made as simple as opening a web page in the browser.

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              The site in question is hosted from a few different domains, the IP of the site in question: I just blacklisted the whole thing.

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                List of Admiral’s domains. At least, the known ones.

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                  what a waste of potential for so many novelty sites!

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                    Thanks! Just added the entire list to my private blocklist.

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                      You striminal!

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                  My take on their response (INAL).

                  Because viewing an ad is a DRM mechanism, not viewing an ad is bypassing the DRM and subject to the DMCA.

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                    I find it unlikely a judge would agree so fast to that since Google themselves have announced their intentions to create an ad blocker that is built-in to google chrome.

                    I also think the DMCA takedown process was designed for fast-path and pain-free copyright infringement resolution and this isn’t that, so a judge is unlikely to be amused by this bad-faith move.