opinions, everybody's got one...
Saturday, July 27, 2002
playstation in australia
Playstation modification chips (aka mod chips) were at the heart of a federal case in Australia. Australia has a law similar to the United State's Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), which can impose criminal charges for distributing software or hardware, or both, that circumvents techology used for copyright protection:
Mod chips are add-ons that typically have to be soldered to a game console's main circuit board. Properly installed, they defeat copy protection measures built into the consoles, allowing users to play games originally sent to different geographic markets, backup copies and bootleg discs. Hackers have also seized on mod chips for Microsoft's Xbox as a way to run homemade software on the console.The Court ruled that the technology that the modification chips circumvented was not a "technological protection measure" under the Australian law because "it also prevents legal activity, including the playback of imported games and personal backup copies of games." Note that the Australian ruling has no impact upon US courts, and is no indication of how a ruling might go under the DMCA.
safire on blogging
I expect that the New York Times article Blog (reg. req'd), by William Safire, will earn its author a number of emails hoping to help him expand his definition a little:
Blog is a shortening of Web log. It is a Web site belonging to some average but opinionated Joe or Josie who keeps what used to be called a ''commonplace book'' -- a collection of clippings, musings and other things like journal entries that strike one's fancy or titillate one's curiosity. What makes this online daybook different from the commonplace book is that this form of personal noodling or diary-writing is on the Internet, with links that take the reader around the world in pursuit of more about a topic.I know I'm tempted to send one off to him. There is no such thing as an "average Joe or Josie," which is what makes weblogs such compelling reading.
battle over biotech moves to court
Syngenta has brought a couple of lawsuits in District Court in Wilmington alleging patent infringement against competitors such as DuPont and Monsanto, and others, over seeds to grow genetically modified corn and genetically modified cotton. The plants have been altered to make them resistant to certain types of insects.
what you buy matters
That's the tagline of a UK site called Get Ethical which enables you to purchase ethically responsible products. They also have some very fascinating reading on their online magazine - Ethical Matters. I really like this site. Anyone know of similar online shops in the US? Get Ethical doesn't deliver outside the UK.
declaration of independence
From The Stylistic Artistry of the Declaration of Independence, by Stephen E. Lucas:
The Declaration of Independence is perhaps the most masterfully written state paper of Western civilization. As Moses Coit Tyler noted almost a century ago, no assessment of it can be complete without taking into account its extraordinary merits as a work of political prose style. Although many scholars have recognized those merits, there are surprisingly few sustained studies of the stylistic artistry of the Declaration. This essay seeks to illuminate that artistry by probing the discourse microscopically--at the level of the sentence, phrase, word, and syllable. By approaching the Declaration in this way, we can shed light both on its literary qualities and on its rhetorical power as a work designed to convince a "candid world" that the American colonies were justified in seeking to establish themselves as an independent nation.A beautiful essay on the power and language and philosophy of the Declaration of Independence.
Friday, July 26, 2002
public humiliation as punishment
A new reality show, on a Denver station, shows pictures of men convicted of soliciting prostitution. Denver's cable access station aired Johns' TV on Thursday. They're not the only ones:
Many newspapers across the country routinely publish the photos of men convicted of soliciting prostitution, among other crimes, and several other cities have already started TV shows featuring johns: "BUSTED" in Orlando, Fla. ; "Shame TV" in Charlotte, N.C.; and in Calgary, Alberta, the "Calgary Ho Down."The Calgary show actually appears to be a web page by a citizens' activist group, which has received coverage by local stations rather than a government sponsored action. I couldn't find more on the Orlando show referred to by the San Francisco Chronicle, but the City of Orlando does post pictures of people who have been arrested, but not yet convicted, of certain offenses including prostitution on a page titled Busted. Charlotte's Shame TV is a real television show, airing on the government channel.
The ACLU is working in Denver to try to stop the broadcasts, claiming that the family members of those shown are the ones who end up being punished, and that the publicity as punishment exceeds the penalty described by the law. Here's the official word from Denver's Mayor Wellington E. Webb, who introduced the program in his final State of the City address. The pictures will also be shown on the City's website.
Denver and Charlotte's Shame TV aren't breaking new ground. Kansas City has broadcast John TV since 1997. Still, I can't help but find myself agreeing with a columnist from Little Rock, Arkansas, who had the following warning when a similar program was proposed there at the end of 2000: "I say to all of you who think this is a good idea, BEWARE! You might be surprised at who's face may appear on such a program." Of course, she was talking about some local politicians.
good news for internet radio?
A trio of legislators introduced the "The Internet Radio Fairness Act" in the US House of Representatives today, in an effort to aid small webcasting radio stations. The bill would remove much of the financial hardship on small businesses (less than six million dollars in gross revenues) that broadcast music over the web. The Digital Media Association is very positive about the bill, and has provided a copy of it online (pdf). The Radio and Internet Newsletter is also excited about the legislation. While this would benefit a very large number of webcasters, the question, with five weeks left before the House adjourns and hundreds of stations already closing, is might it have come too late?
Delaware in the civil war
Civil War Treasures from the New York Historical Society, [Digital ID aj50001]
Thursday, July 25, 2002
A public interest citizen-run advocacy group in Minnesota, Citizen's League, has started a weblog called The Pulse, which looks at what governments are doing in other places to consider how their lessons learned might benefit Minnesota. Another group, doing something similar but on a wider scale is Citistates, which I discovered from The Pulse. This is a great idea, and I would love to see a citizen's group in Delaware doing something similar. (Link via Blog the Organization! which has the potential to turn into a really wonderful resource. Its focus is "news and commentary on the use of weblogs by organizations.")
delaware's copy of the constitution to return
Delaware's copy of the constitution of the United States will be making a return to Delaware in December of 2003, when it will be displayed in the renovated state archives building. Each of the original 13 states had a copy so that they could meet with their legislatures, and decide which of the original 12 amendments to the constitution they wanted to ratify. Delaware was the only state to actually mark upon their copy which amendments they accepted. The federal government is retaining ownership rights over the document because it is legal proof that the constitution was ratified, and will be "loaning" the copy to the state. I'm looking forward to getting a chance to see it.
happy 50th anniversary, commonwealth of puerto rico
It's a celebration that half the population of Puerto Rico may likely ignore. Puerto Ricans have been US citizens since 1917, but it wasn't until 1952 that a constitution was passed declaring them a commonwealth. The governing document went into effect on this date, 50 years ago, but focused more on the local operations of government than the status of the island in its relationship with the United States. The Puetro Rico Herald is running a number of stories on what being a "commonwealth" means to Puerto Rico, including one called Commonwealth Drove the Modernization of a Caribbean Backwater, and another on an effort to get more Puerto Ricans who live on the mainland to register to vote to give the island more political power in Washington, D.C.
On Tuesday, legislation was passed to strengthen laws regarding 1.6 million miles of pipeline in the US used to transport oil and other petroleum products and natural gas. The following paragraph just jumped out at me while reading the article:
An average of four major pipeline accidents causing death, injury or propertyThe law calls for more safety inspections, and greater penalties for companies that "don't keep their pipelines in good condition."
now policing for 60 years
A police officer in the Milwaukee Police Department, Lt. Andrew Anewenter, has been carrying a badge for sixty years. Now 86 years old, this article calls him "one of the oldest active police officers in the country." Totally amazing.
freedom of the school press
Should a university newspaper be free to print stories without fear of oversight by one of the school's deans? High school principals have the right, under a Supreme Court ruling, to read the school paper before it is distributed. The answer may come from the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
thousands of new crimes
The number of federal crimes that a person might be charged with almost doubled recently, under a bill that would have given statutory authority for prosecutors to indict under a new class of attempted crimes. The provision was part of the corporate fraud bill that is being examined by the House and the Senate.
Wednesday, July 24, 2002
blogging for businesses
I'm happy to see that Chapter 8, Using Blogs in Business, from We Blog: Publishing Online with Weblogs is now online -- before the book has even been released for sale to the public. I think that the many possible uses of a business weblog can bring positive results to those willing to try one out. This chapter does an excellent job of describing how a blog can focus upon knowledge management, project management, and improving communications within a business atmosphere. It also includes an exercise you can follow to set up a blog for your business.
You're an attorney employed by a movie studio, and you're asked to draft a letter to the Marx Brothers. The working title to the movie they're making is somewhat similar to a movie that your studio released five years earlier. It's your job to ask him not to use that title. You get a letter back, signed by Groucho Marx, which includes the following:
You claim that you own Casablanca and that no one else can use that name without permission. What about ?Warner Brothers?? Do you own that too? You probably have the right to use the name Warner, but what about the name Brothers? Professionally, we were brothers long before you were. We were touring the sticks as the Marx Brothers when Vitaphone was still a gleam in the inventor?s eye, and even before there had been other brothers?the Smith Brothers; the Brothers Karamazov; Dan Brothers, an outfielder with Detroit; and ?Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?? (This was originally ?Brothers, Can You Spare a Dime?? but this was spreading a dime pretty thin, so they threw out one brother, gave all the money to the other one, and whittled it down to ?Brother, Can You Spare a Dime??)and also
It wouldn?t surprise me at all to discover that the heads of your legal department are unaware of this absurd dispute, for I am acquainted with many of them and they are fine fellows with curly black hair, double-breasted suits and a love of their fellow man that out-Saroyans Saroyan.It's no wonder at all that a link to this letter is listed under "related resources" on the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse web site.
Tuesday, July 23, 2002
accounting for the music industry
The California Senate's Judiciary Committee heard testimony from singers and entertainment attorneys today. Are the largest recording companies underpaying royalties to musical artists? Or, is the hearing part of power negotiations on the behalf of performers who want to have the terms of their contracts changed? Is the situation of Sam Moore a typical one:
Among those testifying, singer Sam Moore, formerly of Sam and Dave, recalled learning in his 50s that his retirement fund would be $67 a month because his record label never reported income to his pension fund.In light of accounting irregularities being discovered throughout other parts of corporate America, it's a timely issue worth looking into, regardless of how it's characterized.
moon rocks for sale
From the what-were-they-thinking department, employees of NASA were charged in the theft of moon rocks. OK. They look like rocks. The people selling them can't prove the rocks authenticity without possibly being arrested. And, they aren't something that you can sell on a street corner. Just where would you sell something so unique? How about the web site of the Mineralogy Club of Antwerp, Belgium?
a cleaner california
The state with the largest market for automobiles in the U.S. now has a much stricter emissions law, which would go into effect in 2006. On Monday, Governor Gray Davis signed a bill into law which would drastically reduce green house gas emissions. There weren't any any positive responses coming from the automobile industry over the new law, and even talk of federal challenges from that quarter. However, legislators from some other states have announced that they will be looking at the law to see if it is something that they would also like to put into place.
The Zacarias Moussaoui case is causing us to consider some aspects of self defense representation that may stick around a long time after the case is resolved. How much access to legal help should a defendant in a terrorist case have, when the potential exists for that defendant to pass along information through someone to a terrorist organization? Things such as the identities of intelligence operatives, or other such classified information. Then again, as Moussaoui wrote in a motion to the court:
I have nobody to investigate the case for me outside [the detention facility], to contact witnesses. I have no access at all to news. No right to TV, to newspapers, to radio. No phone. No printer. That [is] the only way for them to win this case: To have no oppositionSo, what's the solution? It's something that we do need to be spending some time considering.
Monday, July 22, 2002
Here is an interesting twist on a copyright notice from a Woodie Guthrie song...
This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright # 154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don't give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that's all we wanted to do.
This blog entry has been boinging around this dithered glish net. Not necessarily in that order.
save a cub foundation
Rudy De Bock provides insight and perspective with his photography of bears. This picture and the others, are only to be used to promote the SAC Foundation site. Their webmaster tells me that they are on the verge of an english language version of the site. Once that is available, we can know more of the purpose and methods of the SACFOUND. And Rudy, we are looking forward to your next visit to the States!
Sunday, July 21, 2002
If you've been reading this blog for a while, you may notice that I like to point out articles dealing with the Amish. The law tends to affect them in strange and unusual ways because they aren't the people that many of our laws are written on behalf of, and they don't have much of a voice. Mostly, they just want to live their own lives simply, and peacefully.
Imagine that you're on a bus tour through Amish lands in Pennsylvania, and the opportunity comes up to feast with the Amish in one of their homes. Of course, they are going to charge you for this, but I'd expect a good meal, and a chance to see a different lifestyle. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania would like to see the Amish who feed tourists get restaurant licenses and be subject to occasional health inspections, fearful of such things as e.coli outbreaks. Now, if many of them went ahead and procured licenses to serve food as restaurants, they would be running into zoning laws which don't allow restaurants in agricultural districts. Chances are in the future that your bus might just pull up in front of a McDonalds or Burger King.
allen iverson and legal commentary
Allen Iverson's recent legal troubles have not only earned him a high level of media attention, but also a bit of scrutiny from people who write about legal issues. A couple of articles that I found interesting were Allen Iverson and the Presumption of Innocence and a Philadelphia Inquirer article that compares the investigation of the Iverson case with another that didn't involve a celebrity:
The two cases suggest what many would already assume: that police give preferential treatment to cases involving people of prominence. In this instance, however, it would appear Iverson's prominence did as much to hurt as to help him. If anyone benefited, it would seem to have been his alleged victims, Charles Jones and Hakim Carey, whose charges received prompt and unusually extensive attention from police.Sometimes the price of fame is having to live under a microscope. [July 22 -- A gag order was issued in the Iverson case today to help avoid the problems that publicity might raise in a high profile proceeding:
Municipal Court Judge James DeLeon barred police, the district attorney's office, and the lawyers involved from talking to reporters about Iverson's criminal case. He said he would revisit his decision after Iverson's preliminary hearing, scheduled for July 29.This was probably a good idea considering all of the press that the case has been receiving locally.]
It was only a matter of time before someone set up a satire page dealing with the Terrorism Information and Prevention System (TIPS). Now you too can report TIPS informants. (via greplaw)
Later: It appears that the TIPS program, which would have used volunteers to conduct domestic surveillance has been scrapped. The links from Brad Templeton's site above (with the interesting domain name "www.all-the-other-names-were-taken.com") still make for some good reading. In addition to being the chairman of the EFF, he also started the newsgroup rec.humor.funny.