Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
EFF Responds to Bird's Legal Threats to Boing Boing (boingboing.net)
320 points by justanother 66 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 213 comments



OPG v Diebold suggests a countersuit under 502(f) would prevail in this case. (Disclaimer: I was a plaintiff in this case, we won, EFF were our lawyers.)


Only to the extent any damages are incurred as a result of removing or disabling access to the content, which hasn't happened. See 17 U.S.C. 512(f)(2) (emphasis mine):

(2) that material or activity was removed or disabled by mistake or misidentification, shall be liable for any damages, including costs and attorneys’ fees, incurred by the alleged infringer, by any copyright owner or copyright owner’s authorized licensee, or by a service provider, who is injured by such misrepresentation, as the result of the service provider relying upon such misrepresentation in removing or disabling access to the material or activity claimed to be infringing, or in replacing the removed material or ceasing to disable access to it.


The countersuit wouldn't be to quantify damages from its removal (since not removed) but rather a preliminary injunction seeking declarative relief that the takedown was found invalid.


I guess you could file a claim for injunctive relief in anticipation of a suit, but that sounds like a waste of time and attorney's fees IMO. Also, you can't counterclaim unless you are a defendant, and you don't need to counterclaim to have such a claim tossed anyway. All the defendant would have to do is file a 12(b)(6) motion (failure to state a claim) in response to the original pleading.


Please read OPG v Diebold, because that's what we did and won in federal court, establishing court precedent and resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars of fines levied against Diebold.


I did read the decision. My opinion is that the action was poorly executed, unless the point was to prematurely expend time and effort in an attempt to make case law in the absence of Diebold actually instigating a suit. IMO the would-be defendants should have waited and filed a counterclaim and 12(b)(6) motion. Case law probably would have resulted this way as well.

Also in footnote 11, the court notes that "Plaintiffs appear to have conceded at oral argument that their claims for injunctive and declaratory relief are moot and that a decision on their claims for damages will be a sufficient adjudication of their rights."

According to the decision, plaintiffs asked for and received $5,185.50 in restitution and unspecified attorney's fees, which I suppose could have been in the hundreds of thousands range if you spent too much on attorneys. The "hundred of thousands" of dollars were the result of a settlement and were not ordered by the court.


How is this not a simple case of barratry?


No litigation has taken place yet.


So, simple question, but: what is the legal reason I, not a customer of Bird and having never signed an EULA in their app, can't just take a Bird scooter off the street and just keep it in my house, even as decoration without modifying it? What law protects a business model that relies on leaving property all around town, completely unencumbered? (I know about the police auctions, but that's not the question here.)


Wait til you learn about cars!

People literally leave them all around the city, for hours or even days at a time. Completely unencumbered as well, and taking up prime public space that could be used by the public in so many other ways. You just need a jack and a tow truck, you can go around collecting as many as you want and keep them. They've been abandoned after all, because someone has walked away from them.

(Obviously sarcasm, but as a non-car-owner I get a kick out of people freaking out about these scooters taking up public space. Meanwhile every street in the city is full of cars with one person in them and has two lanes of free or heavily subsidized parking. It's clearly a massively less efficient use of public space, and no one ever talks about that).


As far as I'm aware, your parent's question is fundamentally in error -- the legal reason you can't take Bird's scooter is that it belongs to Bird. This is the same reason you can't take anything else; there's no conceptual difference.

Whereas with cars, there is a special legal difference which allows tow trucks to confiscate random people's cars even though the cars are neither the property of the tow truck owner nor abandoned. Cars do not enjoy any special privileges. They are the subject of a special legal burden.

To take possession of a Bird scooter, you'd first need to establish that it was abandoned property, which seems like it would be difficult to do. But maybe it's easy! Consult your local law of abandoned property.


Cars are explicitly licensed by the government (for a fee) to use the government-owned roads and resources, and specific laws exist about leaving a car parked on one of these roads (where and how long). Similarly cars left on private property need to be left there with permission of the property owner. Otherwise fines and removal occur, and yes, eventually you DO lose ownership of the vehicle.


The same roads that everyone else also pay for via taxes (car owner targeted taxes and fees are nothing comared to road costs) and can use freely with any vehicle. Vehicles that are more or less taxed.

Try a bike. Try a skateboard.

The roads are not there for cars, they existed prior, and the car owners are not what is paying for our roads.


>>(car owner targeted taxes and fees are nothing comared to road costs)

This is actually false if add all taxes related to cars (which would include sales taxes on cars, repairs, and parts)

When most people say that they only account for gasoline taxes, often even excluding the Fuel taxes collected by the Commercial Fuel tax programs as they are accounted for differently.

Yes Gasoline Taxation on gas does not equal road maintenance, but all taxation on cars does meet and and often exceed the road costs


Car owners pay registration fees and and gas taxes for the privilege to use the public roadways. Bird and the like just dumped their property (which makes them money) on public right-of-ways without paying for the use like every other industry does.


That is not so easy to say, the division of taxes/cost vary by jurisdiction. Where I live, gas taxes go to provincial government which maintains only highways. Municipalities have to build/maintain urban roads, and their only funding source is property taxes (which are paid by everyone, regardless of car ownership (or scooter club membership))


I've heard this argument before too that Bird is a private, for-profit company. The company itself isn't riding around on the scooters, real people are riding them to solve real transportation needs. I don't see why it matters what kind of payment plan they're on for their transportation. Should leased cars not be allowed on the road either?

Not sure where to start about taxes, but for one thing we came pretty close to repealing the gas tax in CA a few months ago so that doesn't seem to be a necessary condition. And some people just happen to pay almost no property tax at all because they got here first (prop 13) but they still get access to all the same schools and fire and police services. Taxes are paid by the public at large, to benefit the public at large, you're not paying for the specific services you're using when you pay taxes. In fact it's exactly the opposite, these things are public goods.

In addition as other comments mentioned, the scooter companies are paying registration fees and taxes. At least in some cities, and I'm sure if they stick around it'll soon be in all cities.


> but for one thing we came pretty close to repealing the gas tax in CA a few months ago

That was a recent increase to the gas tax that was up for repeal, not the whole gas tax.


Yeah, parent comment neglected the fact that drivers are paying via taxes and fees. Those may not be sufficient to pay for external costs, but that's how the roads are typically paid for.


Roads are paid for, in large majority, by property taxes. Gas taxes and registration fees don’t even come close to half.


You might be paying taxes and fees to license them but you could well have paid nothing to that city. I can drive through your city (unless you have tolls or entry passes, but the vast majority of cities don't have those). I can just use your streets for free.


There are federal, state and local taxes on transportation fuels. So sure, if you drive through the city without filling up your car there then you got a free ride on that city's roads, but not the state and interstate highways leading to it. But that's one of those things that averages out due to large numbers, and where it doesn't there is usually some rebalancing of revenues by government entities.


State routes? You probably are driving on a state route to/from that city. Also, cities can get funding from the state for road projects, so they do get access to this pool of money.


By this logic people shouldn't be able to walk on streets, nor ride their bicycles, nor drive in places we haven't paid taxes?


If it were correct. The overwhelming majority of road costs are paid through property taxes.


where I live, a car, even a large one, is like $200/yr to register. If you want a bedroom the size of a car? you'd pay more than $1000/month.

so while they are licensed, they are certainly not paying market rates for the use of these right of ways.


This is why it is so much cheaper to live in a roadgoing vehicle than to live in a similarly sized rental room in spite of the hugely lopsided maintenance cost difference between the two options.


in Austin they (Bird/Lime/Uber/Lyft/etc...) pay a license fee to the city.


> Obviously sarcasm, but as a non-car-owner I get a kick out of people freaking out about these scooters taking up public space. Meanwhile every street in the city is full of cars...

I don't follow...these things aren't comparable. Cities have developed a common infrastructure over decades to facilitate car ownership and usage in everyday life. While they may do the same with rental bikes and scooters in the future, they have not yet done so.

We also have a rich body of legal literature pertaining to car ownership, storage, usage and property laws. Likewise, we don't yet have those precedents for rental scooters stored on sidewalks. What we do have is a rough patchwork of sidewalk and property laws we can try to extrapolate from. How's that for efficiency?

That you get a kick out of peoples' dissatisfaction about this, for the reason you stated, suggests to me that you don't actually understand why they're upset. I don't think most people are strictly concerned about how literally space-efficient the scooters are; rather that they have a tendency to be parked on a sidewalk. People would get pretty upset if cars were suddenly parked on sidewalks without oversight too.


If you don't like the car analogy, how about bikes? After all, kick scooters are parked in the exact same section of the sidewalk that bikes are (the "furniture zone"), and are frequently even locked to bike racks.


Visit the Netherlands, a society where bikes dominate, and you'll see how that is handled.

For example, in many cities once every week every bike parked in a public area is labelled with a little color ribbon. The colors rotate according to a fixed schedule, so that it can be verified if a bike has been parked for more than two, three, four weeks. If a bike has been left unattended for more than N weeks (where N can vary) it gets towed away. They all get stored someplace out of town, and once a month the bikes that haven't been reclaimed for M months get sold for cheap.

In other words, there are systems for how long you can leave your property unattended in public before it ceases to be your property.


I'm curious about the dominance of bikes in the Netherlands from a different direction.

The primary reason there's no system for handling abandoned bikes in the US is not that nobody uses bikes. Bikes aren't especially common, but the issue of an abandoned bike isn't going to come up -- ever -- because of the extreme frequency of bike theft. An abandoned bike will quickly be stolen, just like a non-abandoned bike. Bird's scooters don't have this problem because they're tracked. But the background reality of bicycles may contribute to jzl's (false) impression that you should be legally able to just take scooters that aren't locked down.

How much of an issue is bicycle theft in the Netherlands? How long would you expect to be able to own one before having it stolen?


Years ago I saw somewhere that an estimated two million bikes are stolen each year on a population of (then) fifteen million people. So that averages out to once every seven years if everyone rode bikes, but if we remove the really young and old that's probably closer to once every six years.

This does not represent my experience at all, I've had bikes stolen once every three years on average. It won't surprise you that students learn to buy very cheap second-hand bikes with very big bulky locks really quickly here.

On the plus side, I've never been worried about junkies mugging me. They steal/sell bikes for drug money instead, and I honestly wonder if that is a uniquely Dutch thing.


On the west coast, bike theft is common. Junkies and/or homeless people steal them and sell them for parts. Or change parts around and paint them so they can't be identified.

Also, there's supposed to be organized rings where bikes stolen in Portland are trucked to Seattle (so they're much harder to identify as stolen) and vice-versa.


Don't the scooters generally get rounded up to recharge every couple days? That sounds like a good system but I don't understand how it's relevant.


I wouldn't know, I'm not in a place where Bird operates. But it was just an example - if it is like you say, it sounds like a different type of system should be put in place instead (probably some form of licensing).


The bike analogy seems more applicable, yeah.


Bikes are parked on bike racks, which is to say, in a place designed to store bikes. Scooters are parked — rather, strewn — across the side walk chaotically with no regard for those of us actually trying to walk there.

Sometimes scooters are parked on the side of the road. Sometimes scooters are parked in a ditch beside the road. Bikes rarely are.


> Bikes are parked on bike racks, which is to say, in a place designed to store bikes.

Speaking from my experience in Shanghai, where bicycles are common, there's no such thing as a bike rack. (Well, I have seen racks for rental bikes. But none for individually-owned bicycles.)

Rather, supermarkets, university buildings, apartment complexes, and other places which are likely to receive a lot of incoming traffic have bicycle parking lots, and if you're somewhere else, you park on the sidewalk.


Isnt it the job of the government to make sure there is infrastructure in place for bicycles and motorcycles? That is what they did for cars after all.


Bike racks? Really? I've never lived in a town that had them until my current city - and even then, there are really only in areas with enough traffic for them.

Scooters can be parked at bike racks. Are there enough bike racks to park the scooters at the bike racks? would the situation be similar if all of those scooters were bicycles or if bicycles were as cheap as scooters?


Stealing is stealing, regardless of whether the property is unattended. There are legal procedures for abandoned property however.


I'm not talking about stealing. I'm talking about the commenter's perspective I quoted.


>Obviously sarcasm, but as a non-car-owner I get a kick out of people freaking out about these scooters taking up public space. Meanwhile every street in the city is full of cars

There are laws for cars including but not limited to federal highways laws, state/city/county/municipal traffic laws and parking laws. Those laws authorize what you refer to as “leaving them around the city”, you can only leave your car around the city if it’s in compliance and authorized by the law, the Law often specifically penalizing leaving your car in certain situations (ex. in front of fire hydrants; in handicap spaces without permits; in traffic lanes). Their are no laws blankety authorizing scooter companies to adbadon and/or sell their products/goods/services on public sidewalks or roadway. Generally speaking most states/counties/cities/municipalities will have laws specifically prohibiting the same subject to various penalties without prior authorization, permits, etc... consider the number of stories in recent years about kids lemonade stands being shutdown and fined for operating without licenses.

Depending how old you are you might remember pay phones, phone booths, or coin operated newspaper stands...definitely you are probably familiar with atms and vending machines. What if a “tech startup” just started cluttering streets and sidewalks with those. That too would be illegal and not at all similar legally to cars being “left around the city”. Maybe another example is farmers markets, think if a “tech company” just started setting up farmers markets wherever they wanted without prior authorization.


> You just need a jack and a tow truck, you can go around collecting as many as you want and keep them. They've been abandoned after all, because someone has walked away from them.

As anyone who has had their car towed when it was legally parked (buddy of mine once got towed from his own assigned spot) this is pretty much spot on. The difference is so far Bird isn't ransoming their property back.


If people were leaving cars on sidewalks and beaches I could see similar levels of outrage.


If you park a car at a random spot it will get towed. Are there really scooter parking spots put up by the city, and are bird paying parking fees?


> If you park a car at a random spot it will get towed.

As I point out in another comment, this is not because being located in a random spot is sufficient to establish that an item is abandoned property. (If it were, the tow truck company would be legally entitled to keep your car!)

Rather, there is legislation which specifically allows towing of cars in certain areas, subject to certain rules. There is no such legislation for scooters.


It's great that you don't own a car. Cars are a part of modern day life. Some of us don't want to go without one though. The non-car owners will just have to deal with it. All the cars are in legal spaces. I don't even really have a problem with the scooters either, they're kind of fun to tool around on the weekend when I park my car somewhere downtown and want to run around and experience the city.


The parking spaces for cars are specifically marked by the city.

Your sarcastic analogy would make sense if people just parked cars anywhere they wanted without repercussions.

I would have no problem if the city took away parking spots for cars and said park them there.

I wish I could give you more than 1 downvote.


> The parking spaces for cars are specifically marked by the city.

Is that true in the US?

In Ireland, by default you're allowed park on the side of the road. There are exceptions, ie you can't cause an obstruction to traffic, block an entrance, park where road markings prohibit it, or within certain distances of a junction. However, if none of the above apply, you don't need to find a marked parking space - you can just park.


Of course it is true. The curbs are painted colors to let you know if you'll get a ticket and signs are posted.

Most cities in the US make big money off parking violations.


Apparently people don't like the cars argument, so let's try bikes instead. If I leave my bike locked up outside somewhere, and you cut my lock and take it home, that's theft. You can't just steal bikes because they've been left on public land.

My property doesn't cease to be my property just because it isn't on my land. Registration or licencing doesn't come into it. "Finders keepers" is not a law.


> You can't just steal bikes because they've been left on public land

What is the anticipated solution when you leave your bike on my private land? I've seen loads of bird scooters left on private property, and I don't see what the property owners are supposed to do. Call the police every time?


If somebody has abandoned their property on your property and you want it gone, you can move it off your property. But it still doesn't become yours, and you definitely don't need to call the police about it. Going back to the car analogy, if i park my car in your private parking lot, you can have it towed. It doesn't become your car. Same with a bike - you can move it off your property, but you can't steal it, because that would be stealing.

Is there some sort of mental block happening here where people are forgetting how the world works because they hate scooters so much, or do you guys really not understand the fundamentals of property law and common sense?


> you can move it off your property

And where should I put it? I don't want it on the sidewalk, and I don't want it in mystreet. I can't put it in the trash because it's someone else's property. That's essentially what I meant by "anticipated solution."

Note I never suggested it would become mine, so a good portion of your comment is responding to someone else. And I'm not sure who you are referring to by "you guys," but I can honestly say I have never before been in a situation prior to these scooters that someone just left their valuable stuff on my private property and I had to deal with it. Are there equivalents to towing companies I can call for random valuable crap that belongs to someone else?



Yea, people who know of property rights can get pretty disgusted at people who don't.


Wouldn't that be the same legal reason you can't just take any scooter off the street and keep it in your house?


But, why not? Let's say a (regular) scooter or even bicycle has been sitting on the sidewalk for a couple of days. Is it illegal for me to consider it abandoned and just take it? Consider the case of an item that actually is abandoned. Don't property owners have some amount of legal responsibility to not leave an item in public unlocked? Granted, "unlocked" might be the key. You can't ride a Bird scooter without the app. But it isn't exactly locked in the same way as a bicycle.

[Downvoters: I'm not saying that I think I should be able to grab a Bird off the street, I just want to hear the legal explanation of how this works.]


> Let's say a (regular) scooter or even bicycle has been sitting on the sidewalk for a couple of days. Is it illegal for me to consider it abandoned and just take it?

In California, if you find it and choose to take charge of it, you become a depositary for the legal owner. Additionally, if it is worth $100+, and you can't locate and return it to the owner within a reasonable period, you are required to turn it into the police or sheriff depending on the jurisdiction in which it was found. It may become yours if the owner doesn't claim it from the police/sheriff within 90 days, with some additional requirements if it is worth more than $250.

If it was intentionally abandoned by the owner this doesn't apply.

EDIT: Source, Civil Code § 2080 et seq..


The legal argument of course is that Bird has intentionally abandoned their scooters in the public way, and this is the general consensus of my many friends in the local DA offices. (Translation: they don't think it's a crime and they won't prosecute any such cases even if for some reason someone is ticketed or arrested for it.)


> The legal argument of course is that Bird has intentionally abandoned their scooters in the public way, and this is the general consensus of my many friends in the local DA offices. (Translation: they don't think it's a crime and they won't prosecute any such cases even if for some reason someone is ticketed or arrested for it.)

They clearly haven't abandoned them as that applies generally to property; if you are in fact charging rental fees, you haven't intentionally relinquished the right to control something, as you are exercising that right by charging others for the right to temporarily exercise some portion of it.

There may be rules regarding public rights of way which impact this, though the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has already rejected the claim that property left unattended on a public sidewalk is therefore abandoned and subject to deprivation when the City of Los Angeles used that as an excuse to take the goods belonging to the homeless without due process, so I think what is really going on in those DAs offices is people have made the decision “we don't like what Bird is doing so we aren't going to enforce the law when people commit crimes against them.”

https://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-9th-circuit/1611251.html


As discussed elsewhere, that case is not applicable. Bird has left their former property on the public right of way intending to others to use it. If they are not locally permitted to do so, then this act constitutes abandonment. If they are permitted to do so, prosecutors won't prosecute.

In contrast, the homeless person has not left there property around for the express purpose of letting others use it.


> As discussed elsewhere, that case is not applicable. Bird has left their former property on the public right of way intending to others to use it.

Intending to rent it to others for use, yes.

> If they are not locally permitted to do so, then this act constitutes abandonment

No, it doesn't. It may constitute violation of whatever ordinance does not permit it, but the Lavan v. LA case is directly on point, that whatever regulatory powers local jurisdiction has, a property owner not intending to entirely relinquish control has not abandoned (and the state cannot without violating the due process clause of the 14th amendment treat them as having abandoned) property merely because it is unattended on a public way in violation of some local control. (They may have the right to take the property with due process from the person who remains, until that process has been given, the owner, but that's a remedy against the owner, not abandonment by the owner.)


While the law is generally built upon extending similar cases to novel situations, you're stretching too hard here to bring in case law that is too easily distinguishable from the matter at hand.

While I concede that your position is correct academically, I've successfully argued my position in court several times (pro bono, since I only take on criminal def when I believe in the case), so I'm confident that my position is correct where it matters.

And if you're ever actually practiced in the California court system, you would know that you only need to convince a single appellate judge statewide to make valuable precedent. (Because in California, a lower court can follow the precedent of any higher California appellate ruling.)


So if ZipCars are parked in a public parking lot, can we steal those under that logic? How about city-owned bike share bikes?


both of those cases are permitted, ZipCar explicitly rents spaces which are marked as theirs. I'm also not sure they use public parking lots, I've only encountered them in private lots and garages.


I wonder what the FMV is of a Bird scooter. These things cost about $500 new (just guessing please feel free to correct me), and with charger. But used it would be maybe $200-$300 depending on battery and aesthetic condition, and without any warranty. And then without the charger it would be worth somewhat less. Probably still over $100, but perhaps not that much.


Useful answer, thanks!


It depends on the jurisdiction, but a lot of places have laws around found property... often a finder would have rights to truly abandoned property, but there are usually laws in place that establish a procedure for determining if something is truly abandoned or just lost/misplaced/stolen.

Usually that process involves turning the property in to the government, and waiting some period of time for the original owner to claim it. If it is not claimed, it would become yours.

I don't know of any law that requires property on public space to be locked. There may be laws saying you can't leave property in public for more than a certain amount of time, but I am pretty sure none of those would allow anyone to just take the property.

https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/lost_property

https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/abandoned_property


In the UK there is the crime of 'Theft by finding' [0] when you find something you think is abandoned and take it, but do not do anything to determine if it really was abandoned, as opposed to lost, unattended, etc. The Wikipedia article suggests similar offences exist elsewhere...

0. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theft_by_finding


Yes, it is illegal for you to consider it abandoned. In the US, at least, "abandoned" has a specific legal meaning which involves intent: "Abandoned property refers to any personal property left by an owner who has intentionally relinquished all rights to its control. When property is intentionally abandoned, it belongs to no one until it is found and when it is found, the title (ownership) transfers to whoever finds it and possesses it with the intent to take ownership."

https://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/abandoned-per...

Property owners don't have any legal responsibility not to leave an item in public unlocked. That might be careless, but it's not illegal.


In the US, at least, what constitutes "abandoned" property differs from state to state and even within the states at the county/municipality level.

If Bird leaves a scooter in the road, for someone else to use, they have relinquished the right to control the device, and it is thus abandoned; the alternative is that they are deliberately littering or committing various other property infractions or misdemeanors.


Bird clearly maintains the right to control the device because it unlocks the scooter to be used by customers and causes a light to blink so it can be found by "chargers" at the end of the day.

Regarding statutory violations, first of all Bird is probably not littering because the scooters are (arguably) not trash. Second, where the scooters are impounded by cities and other municipalities, it is for parking violations or other statutes against them. As a private citizen, you would have no more right to take their scooter than you would to take my car that was illegally parked.


> If Bird leaves a scooter in the road, for someone else to use, they have relinquished the right to control the device, and it is thus abandoned

No, if they are charging use fees, offering money for people to choose charge them, etc., they have not relinquished all rights to control.

> the alternative is that they are deliberately littering or committing various other property infractions or misdemeanors.

That's a big false dichotomy.


You can argue that, but you can't just go around stealing things that are sitting on the street or sidewalk. Can you take the doormat outside a door on a building? Or take a sign on the sidewalk? No. Take a sign that the city has left just screwed into a metal pole?


If its not yours, you can't take possession of it. Just because it is currently resting on a sidewalk doesn't mean that it is any less the property of someone. Besides, most cities have a formal process to determine if a vehicle really is abandoned.

My neighbor has a sign on the dash of his van explaining that it is in working condition, is able to be moved, and is definitely not abandoned. Obviously he got complaints from other neighbors in the past about it.


Cars are very different from scooters; not in the least because cars are individually identified and licensed.


What nonsense is this? A license plate affects ownership law? The scooters can be individually identified too.


The point was that leaving a vehicle in a parking space is not an indicator of abandonment because ownership of a vehicle is based on registration, not physical possession. The same is not true of scooters, and that makes all the difference.


Registration is for tracking ownership, paperwork that is filed up to a month after ownership changes. It doesn't create ownership.


The short version is:

Every state has regulations on the exact process by which private individuals can be deprived of their property rights due to "abandonment." Not a single one of those regulations is as straight-forward as "finders keepers."


On the one hand you have property rights, which some siblings of my current comment argue are inalienable concerning the scooter. "Don't touch my stuff!"

On the other hand you have the ground occupied by or encumbered by said property, which is also property, owned by somebody, often the public, and likely intended for some other purpose besides storing your property. "Don't make your stuff our problem!"

Different places balance the two interests in different ways. Most provide some legal framework or mechanism by which your private property rights can become subordinate to public property rights, i.e. your property is declared abandoned, or simply seized based on a nuisance or safety argument.


I think this would be a jurisdiction-specific question. Where I live, you are not entitled to just keep found items, but should return them to lost and found instead.


Generally speaking theft requires an intent to deprive an owner of property. It's a crime to take my bike intending to deprive me of it, but it's not a crime to take my bike while attempting to return it to me.

Property owners do not have any obligation to lock up their items.

There are sometimes very specific laws regarding found property when the owner cannot be located, generally these involve turning the property over to the state first.


Abandoned property laws vary by jurisdiction. Typically they involve reporting it to the police/authorities.


No, because if a scooter is just left lying around on the street it is abandoned property and so generally there is no law against taking it.

Which is the same problem that Bird is facing--in cities where they aren't actually permitted by the appropriate authority (city, county, etc.), Birds are abandoned property. In cities where they have been granted a permit to conduct business activities, the question is more nebulous, but thus far DAs are decisively on the side of not treating it as a crime.


> No, because if a scooter is just left lying around on the street it is abandoned property and so generally there is no law against taking it.

Is there a citation for this in CA? can you just take abandoned property and claim it as yours without a single paperwork step?


Are parked cars also abandoned then?

I'm not so sure scooters with GPS tracking and contractors looking for them would be considered abandoned in the eyes of the law, even if they have been left in an unpermitted location.


Usually after a certain time frame, for example 3 days in LA, the car is considered abandoned. Fortunately my neighbors don’t dime me for those weeks I stay in code rushing.


I don't live in LA, but surely that doesn't make the car publicly available for taking. It would be impounded or something, with the owner having to pay to retrieve it.


I think the key issue is around “abandonment” which requires a bit of “intent”. These guys intend to go and pick these up. The same is true for a car as other pointed out but more importantly when I park my car I intend for it to be where I left it.

“In law, abandonment is the relinquishment, giving up or renunciation of an interest, claim, civil proceedings, appeal, privilege, possession, or right, especially with the intent of never again resuming or reasserting it. Such intentional action may take the form of a discontinuance or a waiver.“

-It would make cool artwork! -I dislike seeing scooters strewn about all over the city.


I'm definitely not going to leave my laptop on the table while I go to the bathroom if you're in the café. And I'm definitely not going to invite you into my office or my house, ever.


Can you take a random UHaul truck off the street and keep it in your garage? You can find those things all around town.


Look, I'm not gonna say that it's super-duper legal to do what you are saying.

But (in SF at least) walking by Civic Center BART on Market Street, in broad daylight, you can gawk at least 10 homeless people per hour shooting up black tar heroin directly across from about five or more uniformed SFPD officers and then witness no arrests for such flagrant behavior [0]. Hell, if you've not seen a homeless person shit in the middle of the street on a Tuesday, you need to get out more.

Like, Bird/Lime/whatever may be sending out these notices to Cory Doctorow's blogosphere Zeppelins [1], but ain't no cop in SF (and likely in nearly every other city in the US) is EVER going to prosecute you for making a cheapo scooter into a vase for growing your weeds in. Like every single other person that isn't on the books at these scoot companies (and ~90% of the people in them anyway), all members of the legal system have better things to worry about.

[0] https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/A-Bay-Area-New-Y...

[1] https://xkcd.com/345/


In the unlikely case this was a genuine question, property law.


Probably the same law that covers other thefts?


This looks like a form-letter DMCA takedown thing (good tip-off: referring to Cory Doctorow as "one of your users") so while Boing Boing isn't wrong to refuse to honor it, making a galactic big deal out of the shock-and-awe caliber of their legal response has a weird feeling to it, sort of the same as Eric Raymond's "I'm your worst nightmare" response to a Microsoft recruiter form-email.


> This looks like a form-letter DMCA takedown thing

No, it doesn't. I mean, yes, it clearly is crammed to fit into a DMCA takedown template, but it's making a novel argument about the underlying infringement justifying the takedown being not direct or vicarious infringement of copyright under any usual theory by infringement by multiple-step-indirect sharing information about alleged circumvention technology (under a novel theory of what qualified as anti-circumvention technology) and providing vague inspiration for theft (which wouldn't be relevant to a DMCA takedown even if it was true and illegal to do; as the EFF notes, the basis of the charge here cited by Bird is false and, even if it wasn't, inspiring or even outright encouraging illegal conduct is Constitutionally protected outside of narrow circumstances that don't even arguably apply here.)

> so while Boing Boing isn't wrong to refuse to honor it, making a galactic big deal out of the shock-and-awe caliber of their legal response has a weird feeling to it

It's a technique to get attention for (1) the novel and legally indefensible way Bird is trying to suppress information they don't like, and (2) the fact that others who are targetted should be aware that it is indefensible so that similar intimidation directed at others will not succeed.


How many examples of pro-forma DMCA takedown notices based on anti-circumvention claims would I have to provide for you to concede that this, too, is a pro-forma DMCA claim?


Form letter or not, this is a big company throwing its weight around with spurious legal threats. They can go fuck themselves and they should be told as much, loud and clear and in full view of the public.

This sort of thing is toxic and destructive to a free society.


Nah. Bird is a high profile startup with lawyers who know exactly what kind of BS they're peddling, and have likely successfully intimidated smaller blogs in the past with those same tactics.

Boing Boing + EFF are 100% right to make this interaction very visible, so others can learn 1) how slimy Bird is, and 2) how to respond to it if they find themselves in a similar position but do not have the means to get a proper lawyer/organization like the EFF on their side in a timely manner.

The ESR thing is an internet tough guy interacting with a tech recruiter trying to fill his quota, a much different situation.


I think all I'm saying is that they probably could have done this without EFF's public help, since, again, it's just a bogus DMCA takedown notice.

For however "high-profile" they are and however competent their lawyers are, this is a form letter, sent by someone who doesn't even know what Boing Boing is.


Right, but I think the point of the article is to admonish Bird for sending bogus DMCA take down notices. The EFF might be overkill, but it makes for a good story and generates more interest in the real story, which is that Bird is sending bogus takedown notices.


Your parent comment mentioned "one of your users" which I can only take as disingenuous since the full second sentence of Bird's letter to the mutants begins "Specifically, one of your users, Cory Doctorow, is promoting ...".

While perhaps some rando HN commenter can profess to not know what an "ESR" is (above, and sure ok fine, insert xkcd here), it doesn't seem likely that Bird doesn't know what a Boing Boing / Doctorow is. But even if they stamped out a boilerplate takedown with Linda Kwak's attestation that she has ".. a good faith belief, and do[es] solemnly and sincerely declare .." then it's on her, that's the rules of the DMCA takedown game, don't hate the players.

It seems far more likely that Bird knows full well what they were getting into here.

If you are reading this I urge you to go to eff.org and smash that donate button.


I wasn't familiar with the story of Microsoft and Eric Raymond, but I just went and read it. Man, that was very difficult to get through.

For others who haven't read it: http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=208


Yes, that was difficult indeed. But not, I think, for the reasons you mean:

FURTHER UPDATE: I had my serious, constructive converstation with Microsoft last year, when a midlevel exec named Steven Walli took me out to dinner at OSCON 2004 and asked, in so many words, “How can we not be evil?” And I told him — open up your file formats (including Word and multimedia), support open technical standards instead of sabotaging them, license your patents under royalty-free, paperwork-free terms.

I believe Steve Walli went back to his bosses and told them that truth. He is no longer with Microsoft, and what little he’ll say about it hints that they canned him for trying to change their culture.


Stephen Walli actually is back with Microsoft these days :-)

It was a rather different time. Personally I wouldn't have been as rude or have named names but it wasn't unreasonable to have a bit of fun at Microsoft's expense. This was Microsoft's "Linux is a cancer" period when they even had a senior exec whose charter was basically going after Linux (among other things).


For someone who wasn't around for all of that fun, thank you for helping add a little context to his words.


I should clarify that I totally understand his position against Microsoft, and agree with his points that you quoted.

As for whether or not that redeems him for acting like a badass to a run-of-the-mill recruiter, the jury is still out on that one.


Yes, I see your point. I sure felt his email was very unprofessional, but I don't think that at the time he was acting in a professional capacity. For a personal email I felt it was more acceptable and he didn't really have a go at the recruiter himself, not directly so.


Whatever happened afterwards, what happened before was that a random recruiter sent a random person on the Internet a form email.


It was a different time back then, hardware vendors had to sign exclusivity agreements, they were in general big bullies back in the day.


ESR paints himself as a big bully here too. If that is how he interacts with other people, then it helps me to understand why he dropped out of school and never really had a traditional job. (Note: I had to find that info on Wikipedia because I have never heard of this guy; ironic considering he touted starting the open-source movement and likened himself to Richard Stallman and Linus Torvalds).

I am very very thankful that our industry has evolved beyond this type of character.


"""I indicated to him that I thought somebody was probably having a little joke at his expense, and promised him an email reply. Here is my reply in its entirety:

...

UPDATE: For those of you who missed the subtlety (which was a surprising lot of you) I was quite polite to this guy on the phone. """

It seems to me that in the phone conversation, ESR made it pretty clear that he was not seriously considering it, and that he was going to reply in a strange manner.

I think he has a weird sense of humor, for sure, but I don't think he was particularly bullying that particular recruiter -- he was putting on a show of bullying Microsoft, because that was both his thing (as an early Open Source proponent) and fashionable at the time.


Yeah when I was typing my reply I forgot that he had a prior conversation over the phone. Still, the ego comes off a little too strong for my taste. I'm curious about how he feels today with Microsoft starting to embrace the open source community more.


He was kinda-sorta relevant in the 90s? I think? I like his Unix programming book.

Currently, his hobby appears to be posting wingnut craziness on his website.


Ditto.

The Art of Unix Programming is a great read.

Just make sure you don't read his blog.


The hardest part for me is that sometimes, just sometimes, his blog has some great little nuggets of insight and usefulness, but the signal to man-with-opinions-and-noone-said-no is just ... too low. :(


I think we haven't evolved past this. Torvalds seems to be exactly this kind of character.


Why are you judging?


I am kinda glad they do make a big deal out of it. Hopefully it will give Bird pause before sending out any more of these letters to other journalists who may write on the subject.


When corporate lawyers go out of their way to look like morons, why interfere?

It needs to hurt when someone tries to pull something like this. With no public feedback loop in place, these types of people end up running things.


This seems different because Bird was actually making a legal threat and knew what they were doing. That's why the EFF stepped up.

What ESR did was play with a clueless HR person.


On the other hand, there's value for those in the position to do so doing the shock-and-awe thing now and then. Pour encourager les autres in its proper ironical sense.


What’s weird is that we’ve come to a point where form-letter legal threat nonsense is common and we’re all expected to just deal with it. This sort of thing deserves to be exposed and the perpetrator publicly shamed. Your example of ESR is totally different as the recruiter hadn’t done anything wrong.


I bet Bird's inventory is vanishing now that word is out, and they are legally flailing about to try it stop it in any way they can. Too bad I can't short them, it was a naive business model from the beginning.


Phew, so many people would probably argue that a locked bike isn't my property once I leave it on the street.

After staying in Norway, where people leave MacBooks unattended, and doors and bikes unlocked, it riddles me how tolerant other societies are when it comes to theft.


Anyone remembers Monster vs Blue Jeans Audio / Kurt Denke? When a bigger company tries to legally bullshit the small guy and it falls very very flat.

> Not only am I unintimidated by litigation; I sometimes rather miss it.

https://www.audioholics.com/news/blue-jeans-strikes-back


Anyone have leads on where to buy these at auction?


Can anyone say what the common source of the impounding of these scooters is landlords, parking enforcement, business owners?

Couldn't any "dockless" transportation device technically be considered abandoned once a user get's off of it leaves it where it lies? In the absence of having agreements with the local municipality could this be a fatal flaw in the business model?

It seems like there could be an "incentivized" marketplace for the proactive impounding and subsequent auctioning of these no?


Sounds like a lot of cities are handling them like abandoned cars.

Honestly I'd love to find an auction with these.


Boing Boing should crowdfund some money to convert a bunch of scooters and give them away outside Bird HQ.


That would actually be illegal.

EDIT: Missed that you can buy them from impound lots - that would be legal. Converting one you found on the street would not.


No, it wouldn't.

It would be illegal to steal scooters for that (or any other, because theft) purpose, but a central part of the discussion and the original story is that they are available at police auction because they keep getting seized.


Why? Assuming the scooters are being bought at auction from impound lots like the article says.


Ah, I didn't realize that the scooters can be legally obtained from an impound lot. Very clever!


Are the actual scooters worth the effort?


Is there no way to countersue Bird Scooter for economic harm?


What economic harm have they caused?


They've caused Boing Boing to burn a bunch of lawyers' time for no good reason.


Might have a case under SLAPP laws


Can I take a (working) scooter on the street and use the 30 USD kit? After all, it's an item on the street. What legal action can Bird take? Just curious.. Can I take legal action if I throw my stuff around the street and then start taking legal action if someone re-uses it?


You're describing theft. Bird didn't abandon their scooter, they know where it is and intended for it to be there.

As noted in another thread here, something being left on the street doesn't mean it's legally abandoned, whether it's a car, a wallet, or an electric scooter.

Most jurisdictions require the (former) owner to intentionally relinquish ownership in order for something to be considered abandoned.


The point is that Bird are leaving their own stuff on the street without asking for permission first. In Sydney that would be considered littering, which is a punishable offence. Similarly if you leave your car for too long in the same car spot, the council will send you an impounding notice and, ultimately, tow the car and send you the invoice.


I wonder if you could just collect them and bring them to the sheriff since they are blocking a public right-of-way, etc.


Quick question. If I start a business that used public streets as storagespace. Am I in the clear as long as I put GPS trackers in the boxes?


I think the law would be on your side regarding theft of the boxes. You still might be punished for misuse of public space.


> Can I take a (working) scooter on the street and use the 30 USD kit? After all, it's an item on the street.

No, just like you can't take someone's bicycle or a stroller if the owner isn't nearby.


But that's not what the BB article is about


Very different. With other bicyle's or strollers, you have the presumption of private ownership--that someone else owns them, was using them, and intends to keep using them without interruption of their ability to do so.

But Birds, Jumps, et al, have deliberately left their scooters in public spaces for others to use. And that makes all the difference, legally.


You're being quite disingenuous in multiple threads about this. They're not left out for anyone to use. They let certain people use the scooters after getting explicit permission.


Nope, not being disengenous. You can use the scooters without paying or getting permission in the app first, you simply lose the benefit of the electric boost.

Source: there are a dozen in front of my office and I just used one to go a block without using the app. Works fine if you're willing to use human power.


I can't find anything on their website that suggests such a use is any more purposeful than taking someone's personal bike off a rack. And I found a page saying it beeps at you in complaint because you're not authorized.


This is just such a bad faith argument.


Yes, you can. In fact, in California, and in most US states, you can make a citizen's arrest of the someone (assuming you're a citizen), haul them to the nearest police station, and book them for petty larceny.


Yes, you probably can, if you have the intention to eventually return it to them. After all, Bird left them lying around on public property for others to use.

So long as you don't attempt to claim the scooter as your own (i.e., sell it), you're probably fine.

At any rate, no DA is willing to prosecute someone over this. They have more important things to do with their time and resources.


I wonder if Bird could start going after people in civil courts over "stealing" their scooters.

Could be a new revenue model for them when all the towns kick them out.


You need to actually read the BB article, they were talking about people who were buying them from impound after their owners had abandoned them and not paid the fines


No, because then many more people would go after them for various other torts, including trespass, property damage, etc. It's not a can of worms they want to open up.


I don't think anything is stopping people from going after Bird now if they thought their claims were meritorious and I'm not sure if Bird going after scooter thieves would change that.


If wishing to hurt Bird someone could litter the town with look alike scooters that Are seemingly unlocked by the app but are modified to be extremely slow.


It’s like the Bird team has never heard of the Streisand Rffect before.


Just discovered that boingboing has one of the only readable, reasonable privacy policies I've ever seen on a news site https://boingboing.net/privacy

Its not perfect and I wish there was an ad/sponsored post/tracking free paid version, but it was refreshing.

Edit: has anyone ever seen one that just turns tracking off if you sign up? All I've ever seen is the removal of paywalls, sometimes ads, but never tracking


> has anyone ever seen one that just turns tracking off if you sign up?

Check out ars technica, I think they may offer that


I couldn't find such an option, where is it? Their policy looks pretty standard-creepy from all I could find


Yeah, and checked and couldn't find any mention of the feature outside of comments, which is weird, but I can confirm that when logged in and opening random articles, the only domains hit are arstechnica.com, arstechnica.net and cdn.arstechnica.net.


I could have sworn they used to claim to offer no tracking for subscribers, but I can't find it now, so I guess either they changed that or it never was.


“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.”

George Orwell



Spuriously attributing quotes to Orwell is a long standing tradition. As Abraham Lincoln said: "The problem with quotes on the Internet is that it is hard to verify their authenticity".


I'm pretty sure that one is from Neville Chamberlain, actually.


The attribution might be spurious; the insight isn't.


I thought the quote was pithy, but it didn't quite sound like Orwell to me (who I have read a lot of, though not recently). "What someone else doesn't want printed" is a formulation that doesn't quite mean _truth_; Orwell felt seriously about the journalist's responsibility to be truthful and it seemed like he might have made a finer distinction. Quick search and lo.

Orwell is claimed by partisans of all kinds due to his great reputation as a moral thinker and his willingness to criticize political actors & ideologies across the spectrum. Consequently his writings are often misquoted, misattributed or taken out of context. The "rough men stand ready to do violence on our behalf" one is a classic example.


The concept of truth is notably absent from this quote though.

Printing what someone doesn't want printed is just as likely public relations.

I get that what it's (probably) going for is bringing truth to light but truth is exactly what seems to be so slippery these days.


https://quoteinvestigator.com/2013/01/20/news-suppress/

Quote Investigator is as authoritative as the internet gets on these things.


[flagged]


It's a common Korean name.


It looks like some people took offense with my comment but I had no reason to think that Linda Kwak is a Korean name. I can see from her profile picture on Linkedin that she is, indeed, Asian. If that's what caused the downvotes, that people felt offended, thinking I was making an ethnic joke, then I'm really sorry.


>If that's what caused the downvotes, that people felt offended, thinking I was making an ethnic joke, then I'm really sorry.

No, we get that it was a bird quack joke. It's just that jokes and puns don't really add to the discussion, and are better suited to places like reddit.


If that is the case, then the downvotes are misplaced. The HN Guidelines say nothing about humour (good or bad) in comments. Perhaps some users feel that joking is forbidden because we are all serious and important scientists and engineers here, but that is just a personal and subjective opinion.

Now, finding that my joke was a bad joke, I can understand and appreciate, but that business about "this isn't reddit" has got to stop. We are not reddit. Everyone knows that. Reddit probably knows that. The HN guidelines in fact have something to say about that sort of misconception. There's no reason not to crack a joke now and then. To be a serious person doesn't mean to have a stick up one's arse.

Edit: Anyway the point is really not the karma and the downvotes. I was simply worried that my joke was taken as targeting Korean people, which was not at all in my mind. If someone got offended because they don't like people joking on HN, well, guys, are there more of you than my karma? If not, tough.


If that is the case, then the downvotes are misplaced. The HN Guidelines say nothing about humour (good or bad) in comments.

HN Guidelines do specifically say don't talk about downvotes.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

HN Guideline: Please don't comment about the voting on comments. It never does any good, and it makes boring reading.

It's all about signal to noise ratio here. You weren't the only one that posted the same obvious joke and all the comments were downvoted. No big deal.

On the topic of HN guidelines, the following can be construed as particularly snarky:

If someone got offended because they don't like people joking on HN, well, guys, are there more of you than my karma? If not, tough.

HN Guideline: Be civil. Don't say things you wouldn't say face-to-face. Don't be snarky.


Like I say, I didn't mind the downvotes, I minded the possibility of having offended with my original comment.


Just don't joke about people's names OK? Best case scenario people are going to think you are unfunny. Average case scenario, people will think you're racist. She could have been white married to an Asian man and what you said would still have come off as quite racist.


>> Average case scenario, people will think you're racist.

I think you're carrying this a little further than is justified, now.


I'm telling you my honest estimation of the reaction of educated people to your comment. You have obviously incorrectly estimated the response to your comment, maybe you are also incorrectly estimating what most people would think about it?


I hate those scooters. Went running with some friends in San Jose a few days ago and they were scattered all over the sidewalks. A real hazard for pedestrians.

Hopefully cities will enforce strict rules against blocking sidewalks and confiscate any scooters left in unsafe spots.


In my neighborhood, while I do see the occasional scooter or bike share bike parked across the sidewalk, far more annoying are the cars parked in their "driveway" that block part or all of the sidewalk


That's illegal, though, for exactly that reason, so I'm not sure what your point is, other than that you have a problem with scofflaws in your neighborhood.


My point is that scooters are not new offenders (or even the worst offenders) of blocking the sidewalk, but no one complains about the cars, that's just accepted.


Cars blocking anything (at least where I live, including driveways which are part of the sidewalk) have a very short TTL. Usually within 10-30 minutes the car is gone and some towing company is slightly happier.


There's lots of reasons to dislike DPT, but they sure are efficient at removing illegally parked cars.


> but no one complains about the cars

No one in your neighborhood perhaps. This varies considerably.


The cars parked across the sidewalk are individuals parking their car at home. Bird scooters littering the sidewalks is a business model. How do you not understand the difference?


I don't care who owns the vehicle, I care about who uses it and how much in my way it is.

The car might be a rental too, doesn't really make a difference.


If the homeowner left the scooter there would you feel better about it? What if it was his own personally owned scooter?


I still wouldn't be happy but yes, I would be happier. A resident homeowner/renter has far more right to utilize the public property in front of their residence than some [multi-]national corporation, just like residents have the right to vote for their representatives and the businesses don't.

I tolerate far worse externalities from my neighbors because they're my neighbors and I want to minimize pointless conflict for their emotional benefit as well as mine. Business that create externalities in my neighborhood for the sake of corporate profit, on the other hand, can either pay me and my neighbors in cash to deal with the externalities (with a decent profit margin for our time and effort) or they can go f* themselves.


That is incorrect. Ownership of private property grants no special rights over the use of adjacent public property.


Reread what I wrote. A resident homeowner/renter - that's literally the definition of a town, county, or state constituency. Living there (which only a human can do) grants you special rights to decide how that public property will be utilized, developed, and regulated by voting in representatives.


No that's not how it works. Blocking public sidewalks is illegal (although inconsistently enforced) in almost every city, regardless of who lives there.


A second bad thing that's equally bad to a first still ends up with double the bad things, which is worse than the single original bad thing.


It seems like people really enjoy them around Denver. It’s become a common sight to see a pair of people paused on a street corner, looking at their phones in unison.

I have also wondered about the practice of leaving the scooter simply just anywhere after a ride is done. They are left on sidewalks, and gutters, in driveways, and are often plainly in others’ way. How does this not constitute littering or obstruction of a public walkway?


> How does this not constitute littering or obstruction of a public walkway?

Yes and the company is also using the public right of way to store their inventory.


Good grief. Food trucks use public roads and sidewalks as their dining rooms. Half of the lanes on the roads are designated for buses I'll never ride. Homeless use sidewalks as encampments. And we're worried about scooters? How about in places like New York were the damned bike share racks take up half the sidewalk? How about graffiti "street artists" that paint their nonsense on privately owned buildings? They're displaying their "inventory" on property they don't own.

People seem to hate on scooters because it's "private" and people might be profiting somehow. It's trendy for the get-off-my-lawn crowd to hate on the Ubers, Birds, AirBnB and other similar businesses. "Hacker" used to mean people that didn't care much about the status quo, but here on "Hacker" news, it sounds like a bad threat on NextDoor or some kind of homeowners association meeting complaining about the mauve garage door on Mrs. Davis's house. Many of the people hating the scooters because they're "storing their inventory on public property," don't seem to have any problem Torrenting movies they didn't pay for or stealing other content they don't own. It seems the trend is "it's ok to steal from private companies because I shouldn't have to pay for stuff, but it's not ok for private companies to profit off of public infrastructure."


>Homeless use sidewalks as encampments

Yep, near downtown Denver there are signs about how after a certain date, any private property shall be removed from public walkways. This was targeting homeless camps. It should extend to scooters left littering the sidewalk too.

>Food trucks use public roads and sidewalks as their dining rooms.

Food trucks park in legal parking spaces or designated food truck areas - this is strictly controlled in most areas. Individuals use sidewalks as a dining room, since it’s legal to stand on a sidewalk and eat.

>How about in places like New York were the damned bike share racks take up half the sidewalk

How about it. Exact same problem? Can we do something about this too?

> How about graffiti "street artists" that paint their nonsense on privately owned buildings? They're displaying their "inventory" on property they don't own.

That’s not blocking a sidewalk or otherwise impairing use of a public asset. People can paint their private building however they please.

> Many of the people hating the scooters because they're "storing their inventory on public property," don't seem to have any problem Torrenting movies they didn't pay for or stealing other content they don't own.

That’s a stretch. I don’t see how use of a network or minor copyright infringement is related to leaving scooters on the sidewalk. Again, it doesn’t deprive others of the use of any public resource.

>People seem to hate on scooters because it's "private" and people might be profiting somehow.

No. Actually, people are complaining that these scooters are left everywhere, in the way littering the streets and sidewalks.


I used a Lime bike for the first time while on vacation with my girlfriend in Seattle. After a long day of walking it was incredibly nice to just get on a bike, go 10 blocks, and put it off to the side.

The experience of first finding the bikes was surreal. They were littered everywhich way across public spaces. One in the middle of a busy sidewalk that people had to walk around, one dumped off beside an obscure tree outside a convention hall, one hiding behind a vendor booth (for which I assume the vendor was stashing for the commute back or just that was the easiest place to leave it), etc.

Then, I felt like a public nuisance while trying to log in and get the bike unlocked while people where having to walk around me.


> I hate those scooters. Went running with some friends in San Jose a few days ago and they were scattered all over the sidewalks. A real hazard for pedestrians.

I'm sure you can walk around them. Calling them "real hazards" is stretching things to a ridiculous level. Yes they're messy, but they're not hazards.


People with movement disabilities can't just walk around obstacles in the sidewalk. To them, scooters left lying all over the sidewalks are definitely hazards.


"lying all over the sidewalks" is a different scenario than the typical encounter. Cones "all over the sidewalks" are an equal "hazard" but it happens infrequently and is not a reported problem. Where is this coming from?


If that's the case, then let's remove the bike-share racks.


Cities typically issue permits for the bike share racks and work with the bike companies to ensure they are installed in safe locations.


An actual hazard? Can't you walk around them? It isn't correct for them to be blocking access, but I too spend time in San Jose and the vast majority of the time, they're parked on the sidewalk, but far from blocking it unless you need to walk 6-abreast.

I personally love those scooters. They open up mobility in a way that public transport can't. I'm more concerned about dangerous, mentally ill, drug addicted homeless people robbing or harassing me. A scooter never shit on the sidewalk.


Creating a hazard for pedestrians is sufficient grounds for impoundment. The fact that other hazards also exist doesn't change that.

Second, the issue of whether the impoundment is justified is really quite irrelevant to the issue of whether the conversion of a bike legally purchased from the impound lot is legal - which is the subject of the EFF note. That bike is the purchaser's property, to do with as they choose, and people who generally treat ownership as a sacrament would be hypocrites if they started making exceptions whenever it suited them.

Lastly, even aside from both of those issues, the attempted invocation of DMCA is clearly bogus. It's a horrible law generally, but still explicitly precludes the kind of abuse they were attempting. For them to go after the very person who had anticipated their behavior and worked to have those provisions added is ... well, not bright. It's a very stupid hill to die on, but if they and their fans want to then I'm glad to see them held up to ridicule.




Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: