opinions, everybody's got one...
Saturday, May 04, 2002
Copyright is often a misunderstood concept. Lawmeme offers a tongue-in-cheek exploration of Top Ten New Copyright Crimes. Nicely done.
typos and scavengers
I'm not afraid to say that I find an online dictionary useful. But, spelling mistakes do happen, and sometimes the problem isn't ignorance of the correct spelling of a word, or the lack of tools like www.dictionary.com.
Sometimes the mistakes happen because one hand types a letter faster than the other on a keyboard. Such was the case when I typed in the URL for www.dictionary.com a few minutes ago. d-i-c-t-i-o-n-y-r went into the address bar of the browser. Up came a page from an online company that lives at the interstices of the web, apparently harvesting misspellings of high traffic URLs to inflate statistics of visitor rates. The misspelled URL redirects the traffic to another page. I can only guess that these traffic rates are shown to advertisers to sell them placement on a search engine run by the company.
While I didn't want to be on the search engine in the first place, insult was added to injury by a message box asking me the following:
Would you like to set your homepage to 'http://www.dotzup.biz/home1meta.php'?Thanks, guys, but no thanks. Really, no thanks. Please don't modify the settings on my browser.
vote for famous trials
The Famous Trials web site of Doug Linder is filled with writing about many of the most publicized legal battles of all time. Some extremely well written articles are joined by great links to other resources on the cases. For instance, in addition to giving us an insight filled view into the Scopes trial, Linder includes, amongst many others, a link to a first-hand account of the trial by H.L. Mencken.
While this site has been around a while, and has received accolades from around the web, the author is asking for input about new trials he is considering adding. The trials being considered are:
Witches in Those Days - Salem Witch Trials Archives
The Salem Witch Trial Achives is filled with pages from the "Salem Witchcraft Outbreak of 1692." Some fascinating documents can be found on their site, including a good number of original court records, and more readable transcriptions.
Winterthur Helps Out the National Gallery of Arts
An exhibit in Washington, DC, at the National Gallery of Arts this summer is borrowing resources from Delaware-based Winterthur museum. Winterthur has loaned the District's Museum 300 objects for their "American Vision" exhibit, including six matching pewter tankards made by an obscure silversmith named Paul Revere.
If you get the chance to visit the National Gallery's presentation, and like it, you might want to travel a couple of hours north to the Delaware museum just outside of Wilmington. Or, if you are into American antiques, you may also find the trip worth taking. Winterthur houses another 85,000 objects, including "furniture, textiles, paintings ceramics, glass and metalwork."
Saving Delaware's Horseshoe Crabs
While statues of dinosaur's are being displayed in fancy colors and dress along the streets of Wilmington beginning this month, some really old residents of the area, older than the dinosaurs, are visiting the Delaware coast over the next few weeks.
Around for probably 350 million years, horseshoe crabs come to land around this time each year for their annual spawning. Now that the Delaware legislature has honored them with a nomination as Delaware's official marine animal, maybe Glenn Gauvry will get some help in his one man mission to flip over horseshoe crabs turned upside down and unable to upright themselves.
As the head of Delaware's Ecological Research and Development Group, his group publicizes the "just flip 'em" campaign. The article also makes mention of the importance of the horseshoe crab's copper-based blood to medical testing, their role in the ecosystem, and their use as bait.
If you find yourself on a Delaware beach over the next few weeks, and see one of these visitors from ancient times struggling to turn rightside up, you might want to lend a hand. They're not as fancy as Wilmington's dinosaurs, but they've been around a lot longer.
Friday, May 03, 2002
Signs of Prehistoric Wilmington
Hey lady! Let go of the tail or I'll eat this guy's head.
[update: A map of dinosaur locations, a photogallery, and an article about some of the artists. (5/4/02)]
Thursday, May 02, 2002
Denise Howell of Bag and Baggage has written an excellent article for the Law Library Resource Xchange called Law Meets Blog: Electronic Publishing Comes Of Age. It's filled with some great suggestions for law firms and legal organizations, and has links to a number of legal web logs worth visiting.
The IRS spearheaded an effort to find some taxes they believed were slipping through the cracks. The results shocked even them:
A government effort to persuade people and companies to come forward with questionable tax shelter arrangements has netted 577 disclosures involving more than $16 billion in claimed deductions, the IRS announced Thursday.For a four-month period, "accuracy-related" penalties were not assessed against those who made a disclosure. This helped people who thought that their tax situation might be legally questionable less afraid to step forward.
a movie waiting to happen
Two murders, a stolen cell phone, a button pressed mistakenly, an answering machine recording a conversation detailing the murders, and the machine's owners recognizing the voices in the recorded confession. A plot that could only happen in the movies? Try Baltimore.
tom stoppard on law and society
You may be familiar with Tom Stoppard's work as a playwright, or as a screenplay writer. So when he is asked to write an article called: "The question is: why should anyone obey anyone else?," he begins by stating that he should not be the first choice in approaching this inquiry. But answer it, he does. And by all means in an admirable fashion:
The essence of liberty is not that my interests should be tolerated, but that I should tolerate yours; and if this truism is to be saved from seeming to be no more than a pious utterance for form's sake, it may not be enough to keep a sharp look-out for what is close and threatening. We may need to look backwards through a long lens at the relations between individuals and between the individual and the state.Further on the topic of tolerance:
To take away freedom is to take away humanness. A society in which the individual is beset by ranks of nannies, secret policemen and a hundred kinds of authority joined together to make you behave in the way you would, according to authority, voluntarily behave if only you weren't so misguided and ignorant, is, the Romantics insisted, a deeply immoral society.Now that we've supplied you with a few snippets of the essay, I hope that you give the article a visit for yourself. Stoppard was a good choice for this topic, despite his modesty.
wilmington returns to the stone-age
The city that was recently overrun by California attorneys in the Hewlett Packard legal dispute has been invaded again this week.
<aside>It was sometimes difficult to tell a California litigator from a Delaware barrister, last week. The only difference I noted, in some instances, is that male Delaware lawyers often wear only white dress shirts to court, and Californians tend to be a little less conservative, choosing to mix blue shirts into their wardrobe</aside>
It's a little easier to pick out these new visitors. They're the ones who look like dinosaurs.
A fund-raiser combining public art with corporate sponsorship has brought 48 dinosaur statues onto the streets and sidewalks of the City of Wilmington. The one in front of the Daniel Herrmann Courthouse is playing a saxophone in honor of the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival, held across the street in Rodney Square every year. There are some photos in the linked article, but I'll try to take some pictures of these guys for tomorrow.
newark explores curbside recycling
A group called the Conservation Advisory Commission (CAC), which was almost shut down by the Newark City Council a few months ago not only has a new life. They have new motivation to ponder ways in which the city might be more environmentally friendly. A workshop on Tuesday, attended by approximately 25 people, considered such topics as curbside recycling, solar panels on city government buildings, and placement of recycling bins in areas easily accessible to University students. The committee doesn't have the power to implement ideas like these because of their role as an advisory board. But, their research and suggestions can provide the City Council with ways to make Newark a better place to live. I'm generally pleased with the way the City of Newark handles issues. I'm happy to see the CAC around to explore these topics.
enron off-the-books methodology helps charity lock up criminals
An interesting corporate books shuffling has resulted in putting other people in jail too. Check out how this Georgia prison is being run by a corporate sponsored charity.
Wednesday, May 01, 2002
If you've been following the news about the Hewlett v Hewlett Packard case, you know that the Chancery Court decision has been released in the case, and that the Chancellor decided that Plaintiff Hewlett didn't meet the burden of proof to allow the results of the merger vote to be overturned. The decision is online, (pdf) courtesy of findlaw.
don't adjust that dial
Your internet radio isn't broken. It might just not be broadcasting today.
I'm not certain that there's ever been a time when a person can hear such a great variety of music as they can today. Well... not today. Today is a day of silence on the web. I'm not a big fan of "a day without" movements. I've seen people try to push forward a number of different memes on the web, such as a day without blogs, a day without driving, and even a day without underwear. Today has been proclaimed a day of silence. Rather than music, many stations will play "silence" with public service announcements popping up every once in a while. Other stations will continue to broadcast music, but with a heavy dose of PSAs placed into the mix.
Why no music? Why PSAs? "Sound recordings performance royalty" rates for Internet radio stations go into effect on May 21st. The amount proposed is considerably more than the revenue generated by many stations. Many of these stations are hoping that people who listen in will take a moment or two to write an email to a Senator or Congressman. Because of the costs, the sound of silence that you hear today may be the same sound you hear on your favorite internet radio station when the royalty rates go into effect on May 21.
I'm a big music fan, and the chance to hear new songs on the web has influenced my buying decisions considerably. I very rarely listen to the radio anymore, except if it's online. But I do buy music based upon what I hear on the net.
Tuesday, April 30, 2002
kennedys show class
Boston Latin Academy was visited by a US Supreme Court Justice and a US Senator yesterday. Justice Anthony Kennedy and Senator Edward M. Kennedy spent an hour with a class of 23 students, asking and answering questions. The idea behind the visit was conceived of by Justice Kennedy as a response to the events of September 11th.
The Miller family wants nothing to do with Miller Beer. They just want to post pictures of their family on the web, and keep in contact with each other. Their web site, www.millertime.com politely informs you at the bottom of the page that if you were looking for the home page of Miller Beer, that you should follow their link to www.millerlite.com.
Repeated efforts by the Milwaukee brewer to force the family to give up millertime.com prompted Mark Miller and his family to file a complaint against Miller Brewing in U.S. district court.How would you rule under the Anti-cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act? What argument would you make for either side? [Update - reading the arbitrator's opinion, I was surprised to learn that the domain name had previously been placed for sale through a domain name auction house. Which may make a difference and explain the arbitrator's decision. (5/4/2002)]
warbirds, whales, and military pollution
Should the environmental laws apply to the military? Is the endangered species act making it difficult to defend our country? Should pollution be ignored when it comes from military training?
Bombing exercises were recently called to a halt by a federal court on a US territory in the South Pacific when it was discovered that migratory birds were being killed. The military is concerned that the ruling may impact other military actions, and the Pentagon is asking for exemptions. They've received some responses from this request:
The administration's call for broad environmental exemptions for the Pentagon has been strongly opposed by environmental groups, governors and state attorneys general, and public interest groups. The military is among the nation's largest polluters, and it manages 25 million acres of land that provide habitat for 300 species listed as threatened or endangered.A sonar system to detect new "quiet" submarines is also coming under attack by environmentalists. The sonar can confuse, and kill whales and other "noise sensitive marine mammals."
I understand the need for military preparedness, and laws applied without the exercise of reason and common sense are dangerous in themselves. But when you continue to carve out exceptions to laws and rights regarding free speech, privacy, the environment, and so on, something can be lost forever.
Monday, April 29, 2002
action figures and dolls
A thread in metafilter today on the death of the creator of Barbie brought to mind a conversation with a group of friends this weekend over Korean barbeque. The topic had turned to advertising on television.
In one commercial that came up, a GI Joe action figure pulls up in a Red Nissan sportscar to pick up Barbie, leaving behind a dejected Ken doll. I remember seeing the commercial, but never heard that legal action had come out of it. The GI Joe manufacture sued Nissan Motor Company over it.
It's not the only litigation that has happened when it comes to dolls and action figures. There is a difference between the two. I know there is. But the courts don't necessarily see it that way. The people at the Villanova Sports & Entertainment Law Journal have said so. The Legal Battles of G.I. Joe: The Jurisprudence of Distinctive Fingernails, Action Figures, Ninjas, and Distinquished Marines is a nice survey of GI Joe in court. The law regarding intellectual property just wouldn't be the same without the involvement of this action figure.
I have just returned from a wedding in western North Carolina. The wedding was wonderful and the chance to visit relatives was priceless.
Also priceless was the clean healthy smell of the air; the sounds of the birds chirping; and the lush color of green. The contrast from my experiences in Delaware was staggering.
Sunday, April 28, 2002
10 environmental problems in Delaware
An excellent article in May's Delaware Today magazine called Dirty Little Secrets enumerates environmental concerns that should be drawing the attention of people in Delaware. They came up with this list after speaking with many top state officials and experts, from sources such as the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Division of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), the Delaware Sierra Club, the Delaware Nature Society, Green Delaware, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and many others.
Here is their list, which they indicate is not necessarily in order of importance. The article is not online, but it is worth reading because it not only spells out the issues in detail, but also gives an idea of what is being done (or isn't being done) to resolve these problems.
post immigration and naturalization service
What shape will the agency once known as the INS take? It appears that it might become two agencies, from the description on Delaware Congressman Mike Castle's website. Castle was one of the co-sponsors of the bill that calls for restructuring of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The bill passed in the House, and is now being reviewed in the Senate.
One agency would be responsible for patrolling borders. Another would be responsible for handling immigration services. I guess the hope is that by narrowing the mandate of each agency, they would be more effective at meeting the standards imposed upon them. These statistics aren't encouraging:
The INS has long backlogs of visa and other petitions -- 4.9 million petitions were pending before the INS at the end of September 2001 ?? a seven-fold increase since 1993. 250,000 illegal aliens have been ordered deported yet are now missing and cannot be found by the INS.The reorganization of the agencies better get finished soon. It appears that there's a lot of work that needs to be done.
Once upon a time, American farmers had a choice of over seven-thousand different varieties of apples to grow. They can now pick from only about a thousand. In Fruits We'll Never Taste, Professor Beth Ann Fennelly writes that: "...over 90 percent of the crops that were grown in 1900 are gone." What harm might a narrow gene pool cause?
Fennelly is a teacher of English, so her chosen topic may seem to go a little astray of her education. But that's only until you realize that she isn't just writing about fruits and vegetables. She also talks about languages that are being lost. There are concepts in other languages that really don't have a one-word-to-one-word translation in English.
In my girlhood I thought that each word in English had its exact equivalent in every other language, and language study was the memorization of these codes. I later learned that each language is a unique repository of the accumulated thoughts and experiences of a community. What do we learn about a culture by examining its language? The Zuni speak reverently of pena tashana, a "long talk prayer" so potent it can only be recited once every four years. The Delaware Indians have a term of affection, wulamalessohalian, or "thou who makest me happy." The Papago of the Sonoran Desert say Sbanow as the superlative of "one whose breath stinks like a coyote."And it's not just the loss of languages that bother her. It's the loss of the richness of complexity in the world. Different ways of thinking, of seeing, of caring, and of living. She doesn't offer any suggestions on how these things might be protected. But, raising an awareness of our loss is a start.
better mental health coverage?
A 941 page long manual may be the key to better mental health coverage when it comes to large employers and health benefits. The American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) is at the heart of a debate that might see mental illnesses being covered by health plans on an equal level of parity with physical ailments. It appears that President Bush is backing parity, and will make an announcement to that effect on Monday. But, a question remains - should equal health benefits apply to all of the "diseases, disorders and distresses" within the book, or only the most serious of them?
It's 90 years this month that the Titanic sank. It took almost seven decades to locate the ship, and little in the way of salvage has been conducted. That will possibly change, and maybe soon. The founder of the ship would like to keep it where it is. The ship is in international waters, and a law making its way to treaty status in the UN doesn't allow something to be salvaged that's more than 100 years old. Chances are good that the treaty will go into effect this year. That may speed up the salvage process for the ship, regardless of the fact that the discoverer of the site would like to see it untouched.