The High School Science Club Got Fined for Its Management Methods

December 4, 2023

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

I almost missed this story. “Google Reaches $27 Million Settlement in Case That Sparked Employee Activism in Tech” which contains information about the cost of certain management methods. The write up asserts:

Google has reached a $27 million settlement with employees who accused the tech giant of unfair labor practices, setting a record for the largest agreement of its kind, according to California state court documents that haven’t been previously reported.


The kindly administrator (a former legal eagle) explains to the intelligent teens in the high school science club something unpleasant. Their treatment of some non sci-club types will cost them. Thanks, MSFT Copilot. Who’s in charge of the OpenAI relationship now?

The article pegs the “worker activism” on Google. I don’t know if Google is fully responsible. Googzilla’s shoulders and wallet are plump enough to carry the burden in my opinion. The article explains:

In terminating the employee, Google said the person had violated the company’s data classification guidelines that prohibited staff from divulging confidential information… Along the way, the case raised issues about employee surveillance and the over-use of attorney-client privilege to avoid legal scrutiny and accountability.

Not surprisingly, the Google management took a stand against the apparently unjust and unwarranted fine. The story notes via a quote from someone who is in the science club and familiar with its management methods::

“While we strongly believe in the legitimacy of our policies, after nearly eight years of litigation, Google decided that resolution of the matter, without any admission of wrongdoing, is in the best interest of everyone,” a company spokesperson said.

I want to point out that the write up includes links to other articles explaining how the Google is refining its management methods.

Several questions:

  • Will other companies hit by activist employees be excited to learn the outcome of Google’s brilliant legal maneuvers which triggered a fine of a mere $27 million
  • Has Google published a manual of its management methods? If not, for what is the online advertising giant waiting?
  • With more than 170,000 (plus or minus) employees, has Google found a way to replace the unpredictable, expensive, and recalcitrant employees with its smart software? (Let’s ask Bard, shall we?)

After 25 years, the Google finds a way to establish benchmarks in managerial excellence. Oh, I wonder if the company will change it law firm line up. I mean $27 million. Come on. Loose the semantic noose and make more ads “relevant.”

Stephen E Arnold, December 4, 2023

PicRights in the News: Happy Holidays

November 28, 2023

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

With the legal eagles cackling in their nests about artificial intelligence software using content without permission, the notion of rights enforcement is picking up steam. One niche in rights enforcement is the business of using image search tools to locate pictures and drawings which appear in blogs or informational Web pages.

StackOverflow hosts a thread by a developer who linked to or used an image more than a decade ago. On November 23, 2023, the individual queried those reading Q&A section about a problem. “Am I Liable for Re-Sharing Image Links Provided via the Stack Exchange API?”


The legal eagle jabs with his beak at the person who used an image, assuming it was open source. The legal eagle wants justice to matter. Thanks, MSFT Copilot. A couple of tries, still not on point, but good enough.

The explanation of the situation is interesting to me for three reasons: [a] The alleged infraction took place in 2010; [b] Stack Exchange is a community learning and sharing site which manifests some open sourciness; and [c] information about specific rights, content ownership, and data reached via links is not front and center.

Ignorance of the law, at least in some circles, is not excuse for a violation. The cited post reveals that an outfit doing business as PicRights wants money for the unlicensed use of an image or art in 2010 (at least that’s how I read the situation).

What’s interesting is the related data provided by those who are responding to the request for information; for example:

  • A law firm identified as Higbee & Asso. is the apparent pointy end of the spear pointed at the alleged offender’s wallet
  • A link to an article titled “Is PicRights a Scam? Are Higbee & Associates Emails a Scam?
  • A marketing type of write up called “How To Properly Deal With A PicRights Copyright Unlicensed Image Letter”.

How did the story end? Here’s what the person accused of infringing did:

According to Law I am liable. I have therefore decided to remove FAQoverflow completely, all 90k+ pages of it, and will negotiate with PicRights to pay them something less than the AU$970 that they are demanding.

What are the downsides to the loss of the FAQoverflow content? I don’t know. But I assume that the legal eagles, after gobbling one snack, are aloft and watching the AI companies. That’s where the big bucks will be. Legal eagles have a fondness for big bucks I believe.

Net net: Justice is served by some interesting birds, eagles and whatnot.

Stephen E Arnold, November 28, 2023

Microsoft, the Techno-Lord: Avoid My Galloping Steed, Please

November 27, 2023

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

The online site defines “responsibility” this way:


1 : the quality or state of being responsible: such as
: moral, legal, or mental accountability
: something for which one is responsible

The online sector has a clever spin on responsibility; that is, in my opinion, the companies have none. Google wants people who use its online tools and post content created with those tools to make sure that what the Google system outputs does not violate any applicable rules, regulations, or laws.


In a traditional fox hunt, the hunters had the “right” to pursue the animal. If a farmer’s daughter were in the way, it was the farmer’s responsibility to keep the silly girl out of the horse’s path. That will teach them to respect their betters I assume. Thanks, MSFT Copilot. I know you would not put me in a legal jeopardy, would you? Now what are the laws pertaining to copyright for a cartoon in Armenia? Darn, I have to know that, don’t I.

Such a crafty way of  defining itself as the mere creator of software machines has inspired Microsoft to follow a similar path. The idea is that anyone using Microsoft products, solutions, and services is “responsible” to comply with applicable rules, regulations, and laws.

Tidy. Logical. Complete. Just like a nifty algebra identity.

Microsoft Wants YOU to Be Sued for Copyright Infringement, Washes Its Hands of AI Copyright Misuse and Says Users Should Be Liable for Copyright Infringement” explains:

Microsoft believes they have no liability if an AI, like Copilot, is used to infringe on copyrighted material.

The write up includes this passage:

So this all comes down to, according to Microsoft, that it is providing a tool, and it is up to users to use that tool within the law. Microsoft says that it is taking steps to prevent the infringement of copyright by Copilot and its other AI products, however, Microsoft doesn’t believe it should be held legally responsible for the actions of end users.

The write up (with no Jimmy Kimmel spin) includes this statement, allegedly from someone at Microsoft:

Microsoft is willing to work with artists, authors, and other content creators to understand concerns and explore possible solutions. We have adopted and will continue to adopt various tools, policies, and filters designed to mitigate the risk of infringing outputs, often in direct response to the feedback of creators. This impact may be independent of whether copyrighted works were used to train a model, or the outputs are similar to existing works. We are also open to exploring ways to support the creative community to ensure that the arts remain vibrant in the future.

From my drafty office in rural Kentucky, the refusal to accept responsibility for its business actions, its products, its policies to push tools and services on users, and the outputs of its cloudy system is quite clever. Exactly how will a user of products pushed at users like Edge and its smart features prevent a user from acquiring from a smart Microsoft system something that violates an applicable rule, regulation, or law?

But legal and business cleverness is the norm for the techno-feudalists. Let the surfs deal with the body of the child killed when the barons chase a fox through a small leasehold. I can hear the brave royals saying, “It’s your fault. Your daughter was in the way. No, I don’t care that she was using the free Microsoft training materials to learn how to use our smart software.”

Yep, responsible. The death of the hypothetical child frees up another space in the training course.

Stephen E Arnold, November 27, 2023

A Rare Moment of Constructive Cooperation from Tech Barons

November 23, 2023

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

Platform-hopping is one way bad actors have been able to cover their tracks. Now several companies are teaming up to limit that avenue for one particularly odious group. TechNewsWorld reports, “Tech Coalition Launches Initiative to Crackdown on Nomadic Child Predators.” The initiative is named Lantern, and the Tech Coalition includes Discord, Google, Mega, Meta, Quora, Roblox, Snap, and Twitch. Such cooperation is essential to combat a common tactic for grooming and/ or sextortion: predators engage victims on one platform then move the discussion to a more private forum. Reporter John P. Mello Jr. describes how Lantern works:

Participating companies upload ‘signals’ to Lantern about activity that violates their policies against child sexual exploitation identified on their platform.

Signals can be information tied to policy-violating accounts like email addresses, usernames, CSAM hashes, or keywords used to groom as well as buy and sell CSAM. Signals are not definitive proof of abuse. They offer clues for further investigation and can be the crucial piece of the puzzle that enables a company to uncover a real-time threat to a child’s safety.

Once signals are uploaded to Lantern, participating companies can select them, run them against their platform, review any activity and content the signal surfaces against their respective platform policies and terms of service, and take action in line with their enforcement processes, such as removing an account and reporting criminal activity to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and appropriate law enforcement agency.”

The visually oriented can find an infographic of this process in the write-up. We learn Lantern has been in development for two years. Why did it take so long to launch? Part of it was designing the program to be effective. Another part was to ensure it was managed responsibly: The project was subjected to a Human Rights Impact Assessment by the Business for Social Responsibility. Experts on child safety, digital rights, advocacy of marginalized communities, government, and law enforcement were also consulted. Finally, we’re told, measures were taken to ensure transparency and victims’ privacy.

In the past, companies hesitated to share such information lest they be considered culpable. However, some hope this initiative represents a perspective shift that will extend to other bad actors, like those who spread terrorist content. Perhaps. We shall see how much tech companies are willing to cooperate. They wouldn’t want to reveal too much to the competition just to help society, after all.

Cynthia Murrell, November 23, 2023

EU Objects to Social Media: Again?

November 21, 2023

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

Social media is something I observe at a distance. I want to highlight the information in “X Is the Biggest Source of Fake News and Disinformation, EU Warns.” Some Americans are not interested in what the European Union thinks, says, or regulates. On the other hand, the techno feudalistic outfits in the US of A do pay attention when the EU hands out reprimands, fines, and notices of auditions (not for the school play, of course).


This historic photograph shows a super smart, well paid, entitled entrepreneur letting the social media beast out of its box. Now how does this genius put the creature back in the box? Good questions. Thanks, MSFT Copilot. You balked, but finally output a good enough image.

The story in what I still think of as “the capitalist tool” states:

European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova said in prepared remarks that X had the “largest ratio of mis/disinformation posts” among the platforms that submitted reports to the EU. Especially worrisome is how quickly those spreading fake news are able to find an audience.

The Forbes’ article noted:

The social media platforms were seen to have turned a blind eye to the spread of fake news.

I found the inclusion of this statement a grim reminder of what happens when entities refuse to perform content moderation:

“Social networks are now tailor-made for disinformation, but much more should be done to prevent it from spreading widely,” noted Mollica [a teacher at American University]. “As we’ve seen, however, trending topics and algorithms monetize the negativity and anger. Until that practice is curbed, we’ll see disinformation continue to dominate feeds.”

What is Forbes implying? Is an American corporation a “bad” actor? Is the EU parking at a dogwood, not a dog? Is digital information reshaping how established processes work?

From my point of view, putting a decades old Pandora or passel of Pandoras back in a digital box is likely to be impossible. Once social fabrics have been disintegrated by massive flows of unfiltered information, the woulda, coulda, shoulda chatter is ineffectual. X marks the spot.

Stephen E Arnold, November 2023

The Power of Regulation: Muscles MSFT Meets a Strict School Marm

November 17, 2023

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

I read “The EU Will Finally Free Windows Users from Bing.” The EU? That collection of fractious states which wrangle about irrelevant subjects; to wit, the antics of America’s techno-feudalists. Yep, that EU.

The “real news” write up reports:

Microsoft will soon let Windows 11 users in the European Economic Area (EEA) disable its Bing web search, remove Microsoft Edge, and even add custom web search providers — including Google if it’s willing to build one — into its Windows Search interface. All of these Windows 11 changes are part of key tweaks that Microsoft has to make to its operating system to comply with the European Commission’s Digital Markets Act, which comes into effect in March 2024

The article points out that the DMA includes a “slew” of other requirements. Please, do not confuse “slew” with “stew.” These are two different things.


The old fashioned high school teacher says to the high school super star, “I don’t care if you are an All-State football player, you will do exactly as I say. Do you understand?” The outsized scholar-athlete scowls and say, “Yes, Mrs. Ee-You. I will comply.” Thank you MSFT Copilot. You converted the large company into an image I had of its business practices with aplomb.

Will Microsoft remove Bing — sorry, Copilot — from its software and services offered in the EU? My immediate reaction is that the Redmond crowd will find a way to make the magical software available. For example, will such options as legalese and a check box, a new name, a for fee service with explicit disclaimers and permissions, and probably more GenZ ideas foreign to me do the job?

The techno weight lifter should not be underestimated. Those muscles were developed moving bundles of money, not dumb “belles.”

Stephen E Arnold, November 17, 2023

Google: Rock Solid Arguments or Fanciful Confections?

November 17, 2023

green-dino_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb humanoid. No smart software required.

I read some “real” news from a “real” newspaper. My belief is that a “real journalist”, an editor, and probably some supervisory body reviewed the write up. Therefore, by golly, the article is objective, clear, and actual factual. What’s “What Google Argued to Defend Itself in Landmark Antitrust Trial” say?


“I say that my worthy opponent’s assertions are — ahem, harrumph — totally incorrect. I do, I say, I do offer that comment with the greatest respect. My competitors are intellectual giants compared to the regulators who struggle to use Google Maps on an iPhone,” opines a legal eagle who supports Google. Thanks, Microsoft Bing. You have the “chubby attorney” concept firmly in your digital grasp.

First, the write up says zero about the secrecy in which the case is wrapped. Second, it does not offer any comment about the amount the Google paid to be the default search engine other than offering the allegedly consumer-sensitive, routine, and completely logical fees Google paid. Hey, buying traffic is important, particularly for outfits accused of operating in a way that requires a US government action. Third, the support structure for the Google arguments is not evident. I could not discern the logical threat that linked the components presented in such lucid prose.

The pillars of the logical structure are:

  1. Appropriate payments for traffic; that is, the Google became the default search engine. Do users change defaults? Well, sure they do? If true, then why be the default in the first place. What are the choices? A Russian search engine, a Chinese search engine, a shadow of Google (Bing, I think), or a metasearch engine (little or no original indexing, just Vivisimo-inspired mash up results)? But pay the “appropriate” amount Google did.
  2. Google is not the only game in town. Nice terse statement of questionable accuracy. That’s my opinion which I articulated in the three monographs I wrote about Google.
  3. Google fosters competition. Okay, it sure does. Look at the many choices one has:,, and the estimable Mojeek, among others.
  4. Google spends lots of money on helping people research to make “its product great.”
  5. Google’s innovations have helped people around the world?
  6. Google’s actions have been anticompetitive, but not too anticompetitive.

Well, I believe each of these assertions. Would a high school debater buy into the arguments? I know for a fact that my debate partner and I would not.

Stephen E Arnold, November 17, 2023

Buy Google Traffic: Nah, Paying May Not Work

November 16, 2023

green-dino_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb humanoid. No smart software required.

Tucked into a write up about the less than public trial of the Google was an interesting factoid. The source of the item was “More from the US v Google Trial: Vertical Search, Pre-Installs and the Case of Firefox / Yahoo.” Here’s the snippet:

Expedia execs also testified about the cost of ads and how increases had no impact on search results. On October 19, Expedia’s former chief operating officer, Jeff Hurst, told the court the company’s ad fees increased tenfold from $21 million in 2015 to $290 million in 2019. And yet, Expedia’s traffic from Google did not increase. The implication was that this was due to direct competition from Google itself. Hurst pointed out that Google began sharing its own flight and hotel data in search results in that period, according to the Seattle Times.


“Yes, sir, you can buy a ticket and enjoy a ticket to our entertainment,” says the theater owner. The customer asks, “Is the theater in good repair?” The ticket seller replies, “Of course, you get your money’s worth at our establishment. Next.” Thanks, Microsoft Bing. It took several tries before I gave up.

I am a dinobaby, and I am, by definition, hopelessly out of it. However, I interpret this passage in this way:

  1. Despite protestations about the Google algorithm’s objectivity, Google has knobs and dials it can use to cause the “objective” algorithm to be just a teenie weenie less objective. Is this a surprise? Not to me. Who builds a system without a mechanism for controlling what it does. My favorite example of this steering involves the original search system circa 2000. After Mr. Clinton lost the election, the new administration, a former Halliburton executive wanted a certain Web page result to appear when certain terms were searched. No problemo. Why? Who builds a system one cannot control? Not me. My hunch is that Google may have a similar affection for knobs and dials.
  2. Expedia learned that buying advertising from a competitor (Google) was expensive and then got more expensive. The jump from $21 million to $290 million is modest from the point of view of some technology feudalists. To others the increase is stunning.
  3. Paying more money did not result in an increase in clicks or traffic. Again I was not surprised. What caught my attention is that it has taken decades for others to figure out how the digital highway men came riding like a wolf on the fold. Instead of being bedecked with silver and gold, these actors wore those cheerful kindergarten colors. Oh, those colors are childish but those wearing them carried away the silver and gold it seems.

Net net: Why is this US v Google trial not more public? Why so many documents withheld? Why is redaction the best billing tactic of 2023? So many questions that this dinobaby cannot answer. I want to go for a ride in the Brin-A-Loon too. I am a simple dinobaby.

Stephen E Arnold, November 16, 2023

Cyberwar Crimes? Yep and Prosecutions Coming Down the Pike

November 15, 2023

green-dino_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb humanoid. No smart software required.

Existing international law has appeared hamstrung in the face of cyber-attacks for years, with advocates calling for new laws to address the growing danger. It appears, however, that step will no longer be necessary. Wired reports, “The International Criminal Court Will Now Prosecute Cyberwar Crimes.” The Court’s lead prosecutor, Karim Khan, acknowledged in an article published by Foreign Policy Analytics that cyber warfare perpetuates serious harm in the real world. Attacks on critical infrastructure like medical facilities and power grids may now be considered “war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and/or the crime of aggression” as defined in the 1998 Rome Statute. That is great news, but why now? Writer Andy Greenberg tells us:

“Neither Khan’s article nor his office’s statement to WIRED mention Russia or Ukraine. But the new statement of the ICC prosecutor’s intent to investigate and prosecute hacking crimes comes in the midst of growing international focus on Russia’s cyberattacks targeting Ukraine both before and after its full-blown invasion of its neighbor in early 2022. In March of last year, the Human Rights Center at UC

Berkeley’s School of Law sent a formal request to the ICC prosecutor’s office urging it to consider war crime prosecutions of Russian hackers for their cyberattacks in Ukraine—even as the prosecutors continued to gather evidence of more traditional, physical war crimes that Russia has carried out in its invasion. In the Berkeley Human Rights Center’s request, formally known as an Article 15 document, the Human Rights Center focused on cyberattacks carried out by a Russian group known as Sandworm, a unit within Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency. Since 2014, the GRU and Sandworm, in particular, have carried out a series of cyberwar attacks against civilian critical infrastructure in Ukraine beyond anything seen in the history of the internet.”

See the article for more details of Sandworm’s attacks. Greenberg consulted Lindsay Freeman, the Human Rights Center’s director of technology, law, and policy, who expects the ICC is ready to apply these standards well beyond the war in Ukraine. She notes the 123 countries that signed the Rome Statute are obligated to detain and extradite convicted war criminals. Another expert, Strauss Center director Bobby Chesney, points out Khan paints disinformation as a separate, “gray zone.” Applying the Rome Statute to that tactic may prove tricky, but he might make it happen. Khan seems determined to hold international bad actors to account as far as the law will possibly allow.

Cynthia Murrell, November 15, 2023

Copyright Trolls: An Explanation Which Identifies Some Creatures

November 14, 2023

green-dino_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb humanoid. No smart software required.

If you are not familiar with firms which pursue those who intentionally or unintentionally use another person’s work in their writings, you may not know what a “copyright troll” is. I want to point you to an interesting post from The write up “PicRights + AFP: Une Opération de Copyright Trolling Bien Rodée.” appeared in 2021, and it was updated in June 2023. The original essay is in French, but you may want to give Google Translate a whirl if your high school French is but a memoire dou dou.


A copyright troll is looking in the window of a blog writer. The troll is waiting for the writer to use content covered by copyright and for which a fee must be paid. The troll is patient. The blog writer is clueless. Thanks, Microsoft Bing. Nice troll. Do you perhaps know one?

The write up does a good job of explaining trollism with particular reference to an estimable outfit called PicRights and the even more estimable Agence France-Presse. It also does a bit of critical review of the PicRights’ operation, including the use of language to alleged copyright violators about how their lives will take a nosedive if money is not paid promptly for the alleged transgression. There are some thoughts about what to do if and when a copyright troll like the one pictured courtesy of Microsoft Bing’s art generator. Some comments about the rules and regulations regarding trollism. The author includes a few observations about the rights of creators. And a few suggested readings are included. Of particular note is the discussion of an estimable legal eagle outfit doing business as Higbee and Associates. You can find that document at this link.

If you are interested in copyright trolling in general and PicRights in particular, I suggest you download the document. I am not sure how long it will remain online.

Stephen E Arnold, November 14, 2023

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