New York's Premier Bro State Senator Greg Ball Plagiarizes, Gets Busted, DGAF About It

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Listen, nerds: Greg Ball doesn't care about your plagiarism allegations.
When we last checked in with upstate-dwelling State Senator Greg Ball, he was making virulently anti-immigrant statements to score some cheap political points. Now, just as cheaply, he's playing to the other side of the house, sponsoring a bill to ban killer whales from New York's water parks and aquariums, as the Albany Times-Union reports. Ball dubbed it the "Blackfish" bill, and the Times-Union points out it's "largely symbolic," given that there aren't any killer whales in New York at the moment and we're not exactly a bastion of marine mammal entertainment. Still, at least Ball isn't anti-immigrant and pro-whale torture, right? That'd be an unfortunate combination.

But the Times-Union noticed a more interesting piece of Ball's bill, namely the part that his office plagiarized outright from a 17-year-old kid. Donald Julius Rapier, a junior at Lindblow Math & Science Academy, wrote this op-ed for the Huffington Post in January. Ball's staff was apparently quite taken with one passage, which appears verbatim in the bill.

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Poll: Who's the More Horrible Media Troll, Richard Cohen or Lori Gottlieb?

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Image via Washington Post
Contestant 1: Richard Cohen
It's been quite a week for people writing what appear to be deliberately stupid editorials, but then, isn't it always? Earlier this week, the internet was in an uproar over Richard Cohen, Washington Post columnist and musty old bigot, who finds a new way to bum us out almost every Tuesday. As a reminder: the last time Cohen seriously upset people was with a column on Travyon Martin, suggesting that he did deserve to be profiled and maybe murdered a little, since he was, after all, young, black, and wearing a hoodie. And who could forget Cohen's delightful piece on Roman Polanski, who, after all, merely "had sex with a 13-year-old after plying her with booze" and obviously did not deserve any silly old rape charge?

But Tuesday's column was a last straw for a lot of folks. Amid a mumbling piece about how the Tea Party doesn't like Chris Christie, thus making him un-electable as president, Cohen busted out this nugget, about how the rightwing sees Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio:

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Is Albany's Proposed Anonymous Online Comments Ban 'Mischaracterized?'

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Since Wednesday, we've been following news of pending legislation in Albany that would make illegal anonymous online commenting in certain contexts.

That proposed piece of law would require the removal of any comments posted on a website by an anonymous poster "unless such anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post" if someone complains about that comment.

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NY's Proposed Anonymous Web Speech Ban: Is It Related to a 1974 U.S. Supreme Court Ruling?

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Yesterday, the Voice reported on pending legislation in Albany that would ban anonymous online speech. We took the time to catch up with New York State Sen. Thomas F. O'Mara and Assemblyman Dean Murray, who sponsored the bill, to see what they had to say. Quickly put, their basic idea is that the proposed legislation would cut down on cyber-bullying -- such as untrue, and unsigned, comments you might come across in a message board or on a blog.

Uncertainty over the Constitutionality of the bill persists, however, with one expert telling us: "I would like to see an argument -- and I haven't seen one -- that would authorize a legislature to determine what can be posted or not posted on a private website...the Constitution does not talk about websites or anonymity. The cases over the years suggest that the legislature has no business trying to tell editors what to print."

During our convo, we asked Murray about this. He countered that it was constitutional, citing the 1974 Gertz v. Robert U.S. Supreme Court Decision as evidence that the First Amendment does not protect against the falsehood-based mean-mongering you come across on the internet.

So what the hell is the Gertz decision, you might ask?

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The People Trying To Ruin The Internet: Joe Lieberman (UPDATE)

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At the Voice, we have been regularly following internet policy developments. We figured it would be cool -- maybe even a public service? -- to ID people who keep pushing for web-killing proposals such as SOPA and PIPA in this new, occasional feature: "The People Trying To Ruin The Internet." Enjoy!

Sen. Joseph Lieberman didn't need SOPA/PIPA to make our list!

Just look at the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee chair's lengthy record on internet policy issues.

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Here's Why Thomas F. O'Mara and Dean Murray Want To Ban Anonymous Online Speech

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Earlier today, the Voice brought you news of pending legislation in Albany that would make New York-based websites, such as blogs and newspapers, "remove any comments posted on his or her website by an anonymous poster unless such anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post."

For state Sen. Thomas F. O'Mara and Assemblyman Dean Murray, the gist of the would-be law is to prevent cyber-bullying.

Murray does not think that this violates free speech or presents constitutional concerns.

"It absolutely in no way infringes on anyone's rights. They are absoltuely free to say whatever they like. However, if the statement is challenged by the target or the victim of those statements, they have two options. They can either identify themselves or put their name to the statement, or the statement will be removed. This is not reinventing the the wheel. This has been the standard letter-to-the-editor policy that has been in place for hundreds of years," Murray told the Voice.

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Anonymous Online Speech: Soon To Be Banned by Albany?

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The Voice's Steven Thrasher just brought this to our attention.

Legislation is pending in Albany that would make illegal anonymous online commenting, City & State tweeted this morning.

Looks like Wired was among the first to report on the measure.

The bill's backers, according to the mag, want to curtail "mean-spirited and baseless political attacks" and "spotlight on cyberbullies by forcing them to reveal their identity."

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The People Trying To Ruin The Internet: Bob Goodlatte

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At the Voice, we have been regularly following internet policy developments. We figured it would be cool -- maybe even a public service? -- to ID people who keep pushing for web-killing proposals such as SOPA and PIPA in this new, occasional feature: "The People Trying To Ruin The Internet." Enjoy!

G.O.P. Rep. Bob Goodlatte has represented Virginia in Congress since 1993. His recent support of the Stop Internet Piracy Act has gotten flack from all political parties, including many libertarian-leaning Republicans, who now want to unseat him largely because of his intellectual property policies.

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Do BitTorrents Bolster Music Sales?

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Though record labels have often claimed that piracy threatens artists, a new study suggests that unauthorized file-sharing via BitTorrent might not hurt music sales: in fact, it might boost them.

Economist Robert Hammond, of North Carolina State University, gathered data music album download data from a BitTorrent tracker between May 2010 and January 2011. He paired this info with the albums' sales stats, as to assess any causal links between piracy and sales.

His findings?

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IP Address Does Not Even ID a State, Judge Decides in Landmark BitTorrent Lawsuit

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Just a few weeks after a New York judge decided that an internet protocol address is not enough evidence for lawsuits against accused illegal file-sharers, a California judge has ruled that an IP address can't even pinpoint one's state.

As detailed by CNET, the judge tossed out lawsuits against 15 John Does said to have illegally shared pirated adult movies via BitTorrent. The judge said that the court "lacks jurisdiction because the geolocation tools relied on don't always accurately identify the state in which the IP address is located."

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